Vocalocity, based in Atlanta, Georgia, was founded in 2003, and continues today as a privately held hosted VoIP services provider. Its goal is providing the nationwide small business market with value, reliability, and customer service for their phone system and service needs.
Vocalocity targets companies it calls micro-enterprises—those with less than 25 seats per location, such as organizations that include financial and professional services components, legal offices, medical facilities, and other high-call-volume operations.
Vocalocity’s market research into this micro-enterprise business segment has influenced some of their product requirements:
- Easy to get: a product that can be downloaded directly from the Internet, without the need to rely on a service provider or value-added reseller to provide a solution.
- Easy to deploy: knowing that that most micro-enterprises have limited IT resources, the product should have plug-and-play simplicity, requiring just Internet access and IP-enabled phones for system deployment.
- Easy growth plan: businesses will adopt VoIP services and features at their own pace, so the addition of new features, such as find-me/follow me, conferencing, and integration with mobile phones should be determined by the requirements of that unique business.
- Low cost of ownership: both first cost (investment) and recurring (operating) expenditures should be reduced wherever possible, thus minimizing the communication services overhead for a smaller firm.
Rather than using widely available ‘off the shelf’ or open-source software, Vocalocity utlizes proprietary technology developed in-house to deliver its plug-and-play implementation and on-demand ease of use. One of the company’s claims to fame is their assertion that a new user can have a phone system fully functional and running within 15 minutes of receiving their phones.
That process actually begins by setting up the account online, which is followed by an e-mail to the Account Administrator with login information, user guides, contact information for support, and an invitation to attend daily new-user training sessions. The phones arrive three to four days later, pre-configured for the account, so that they are ready to make and receive calls once they are plugged into a broadband connection. Doubters can view a YouTube clip of this process at http://vocalocity.com/company/mythbuster.cfm, in which a five-station system is set up in around 12 minutes.
Vocalocity supports a number of third-party phones, including SoundPoint executive stations with HD voice technology and the SoundStation conferencing phone from Polycom; low cost desk stations from Linksys; a cordless phone from Aastra ; plus the X-Lite and eyeBeam softphones from CounterPath Corporation. The company backs the manufacturer’s one year warranty on all IP phones purchased through Vocalocity, with any IP phone proven to be defective within one year of purchase replaced free of charge.
The company also has some interesting solutions for e-mail-to-fax communication. All inbound faxes are delivered to a designated e-mail address as either a PDF document or .tif image, and all outbound faxes are delivered by sending an email to 1XXXXXXXXXX@fax.vocalocity.com, where the body of the e-mail becomes the cover page and all attachments become the subsequent pages of the outbound fax.
Vocalocity service prices range from $14.99 per user per month for the Virtual Extension plan, which includes direct inbound dialing and direct outbound forwarding; to the Unlimited Extension plan at $39.99 per user per month, including free in-network calls, plus free calls to the U.S. and Canada. Standard features such as voicemail, caller ID, call transfer, call forwarding, and so on, are part of these plans.
The company also provides a number of add-on features that allows customers to purchase only the enhanced services that they need. These include local, geographic, or toll free numbers to establish a customer presence in a particular area; fax service, call groups, and call queuing. These additional services range in price from $4.99 to 39.99 per month.
Of note: The company’s service plans have no contracts or cancellation fees, as their philosophy is that customers should continue to use the service because they are happy with it, not because they are trapped by a contractual obligation.
Further information on the Vocalocity solutions can be found at http://vocalocity.com/company/index.cfm. Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.
Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2009 DigiNet Corporation®, All Rights Reserved
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation®, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.