The Definitive Guide to Hosted PBX

The Definitive Guide to Hosted PBX
The Definitive Guide to Hosted PBX
This comprehensive guide contains:
The VoIP-News Hosted PBX Buyer’s Guide
The VoIP-News Hosted PBX Service Plan Checklist
10 Questions to Ask Your Hosted IP PBX Provider
The VoIP-News Hosted PBX Comparison Guide
Copyright © 2007, Tippit, Inc., All Rights Reserved
Learn what an IP PBX system can do for you and understand what
issues you should consider during your decision-making process.
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
Copyright © 2007, Tippit, Inc., All Rights Reserved
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
Executive Summary
Hosted PBX Overview
Market Overview
The Benefits of Hosted IP PBX
Basic Features
Advanced Features
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
Executive Summary
Hosted IP PBX systems have changed how small and medium businesses
use their voice communications. They are the modern heirs to the
historic Centrex (Centralized Exchange) systems that were the ultimate
in business communications for the past thirty years. But hosted IP PBX
systems are cheaper and far more capable than their predecessors.
Modern hosted IP PBX systems literally deliver multinational enterprise
capabilities to even the smallest of businesses, often at a cost lower
than the far more basic systems they are replacing. This Buyer’s Guide
explains the Hosted IP PBX market and tells you what to look for in a
proposed system.
New IP phones are getting
sleeker and more advanced.
The bottom line with hosted IP PBX systems is that they provide an easy
way for small to medium (and even some large) businesses to move to
VoIP and get a wide range of new features and capabilities for their phone
systems. If upgrading from a traditional phone system, the savings can
be substantial and the new service will pay for itself immediately.
In this Buyer’s Guide you will find details on what to look for, how to
buy, what you can expect to pay, and how to get the most out of your
investment in VoIP.
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
Hosted PBX Overview
A PBX (Private Branch Exchange) is essentially an automatic switchboard
for telephone systems. It provides the same basic functions for any
business or enterprise that the ranks of telephone operators with
handfuls of wiring plugs did in old movies. Those essential features
are to provide switching and connection between any two (or more)
telephone users.
Any system that does this automatically for telephone calls within an
organization is a PBX. The reason businesses move to PBXs is to avoid
requiring that every employee have a direct line to the public telephone
system, each of which incurs a connection and line charge. Instead, a
smaller number of lines get shared by all the users and managed by the
PBX. This saves money and is more efficient.
The reason businesses
move to PBXs is to
avoid requiring that
every employee have a
direct line to the public
telephone system,
each of which incurs
a connection and line
All IP PBX (Internet Protocol Private Branch Exchange) systems are
basically exchange and extension managers for calls based on the
Internet protocol – also known as VoIP and Internet telephony. The
essential advantage they offer to small- to medium-sized businesses is
the ability to add features that have only been affordable or available
to large businesses up to now. VoIP and Internet telephony are usually
also more cost effective when looking at long-term operating costs due
to lower monthly fees and much lower costs to connect and complete
Hosted vs. Premise PBX
There are two primary types of PBX solutions for business: hosted IP
PBX and premise-based IP PBX. Hosted systems take most of the
switching and intelligence of the system and move it offsite to a remote
location where it is managed by the service provider. Equipment at an
organization’s site is limited to the phones themselves, some dedicated
routing equipment and perhaps a switch to provide emergency access
to the older traditional TDM (time-division multiplexing) telephone
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
As a result, hosted systems are usually quicker and cheaper to install
and set up. They offer a standardized set of services. Because they are
hosted remotely, there is less maintenance for a business and no need to
perform upgrades. The downside is that upgrades often must wait until
the service provider is prepared to offer them. There is less flexibility
and fewer options in configuring the system.
In contrast, premise-based PBXs require servers and more switches to
be located at the business site. The organization also has to be prepared
to install, manage and upgrade them. The downside is a higher startup
cost, the need to manage and maintain the system, and more difficulty
growing the system in the future. On the other hand, the organization
can upgrade to new features at will and has full ability to configure the
system any way it likes.
You’ll want to select a hosted IP PBX provider carefully. Some specialize
in organizations of a particular size and can turn out to be unable to
scale up beyond a certain number of users. On the other hand, others
are unable to provide affordable service for a very small organization.
The typical scenario for a hosted provider is that there are no or basic
fixed setup costs, then the company pays a monthly charge per user. In
contrast, premise-based systems feature a larger initial cost that covers
servers, software, switches and gateways. However, after the initial
setup, ongoing costs can be much lower. It is also easy to predict the
cost of growth with a hosted IP PBX, but scalability and expansion can
be much harder to predict with premise-based IP PBXs.
The bottom line: hosted PBXs are best for small businesses but good
for medium-size businesses as well. They’re also good for businesses
with a lot of remote users or those that anticipate rapid changes in size.
Premise systems are best for large, stable businesses with predictable
volume that need custom features or to integrate the phone system
into multiple business operations.
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
Market Overview
The hosted VoIP market is a profitable one for service providers because
they can take advantage of rapid technological advancements in
IP networks and in the software and services that can run across IP
networks. In particular, hosted IP PBX systems are easy to scale and add
new services to. Despite that, the primary reason that small and medium
businesses are attracted to VoIP in the first place remains cost savings.
The inherent advantage of completing all pure VoIP calls (both ends of
the call are on a VoIP platform) for free means that basic phone service
is bound to cost less using VoIP. In combination with already heavy and
aggressive price cuts on traditional phone services, new hosted VoIP
systems provide immediate cost savings and ROI (Return on Investment)
when upgrading from a traditional phone system.
New hosted VoIP
systems provide
immediate cost
savings and ROI when
upgrading from a
traditional phone
Other main reasons that small to medium businesses are adopting
VoIP include access to features that are either not available or at all or
cost-prohibitive on older phone systems. Examples of these include
integration with desktop and office software like Outlook, call routing
features, and IVR (interactive voice response) features, all of which used
to be extremely hard to set up and prohibitively expensive for small
In addition, hosted IP PBX providers have also eliminated a previous
big criticism of hosted VoIP by often removing the need to purchase
equipment – even the phones themselves – and instead rolling a lease
cost into the monthly per-user fee. Market research and surveys indicate
that lower total cost of ownership and better system management are
the primary factors for small businesses moving to hosted VoIP, but that
the technology is still misunderstood and early miscues such as poor
voice quality have led to misperceptions in the market.
The “perceived wisdom” about VoIP is that call quality is poor and the
technology is difficult to implement. But the truth is that more than
80 percent of small businesses surveyed have responded that they are
satisfied or highly satisfied with their decision to make the change. In
fact, modern VoIP systems have better call quality than regular phones
and hosted IP PBX systems in particular are extremely easy to install.
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
According to a new study from market research firm ABI Research, the
global market for hosted services will exceed $34 billion in 2012, of
which the North American portion (where most of the cable operators
pursuing the small business market are located) will amount to $11.6
Another market research company, In-Stat, believes that strong growth
in hosted VoIP will remain steady and will exceed 3 million seats in
service by 2010. There are currently about 400,000 seats in service in
the U.S., the majority in the small and medium-sized market.
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
The Benefits of IP PBX
The benefits of an IP PBX to any enterprise are similar to and different from
the benefits of a VoIP system in general. Downsizing to one network of
communication instead of two creates clear cost savings and a reduction
in basic infrastructure wiring. Furthermore, there are significant savings
from the lower basic cost of completing external calls. But IP PBX goes
even further, bringing greater benefits to enterprises with increased
manageability, upgradeablity, and enhanced feature sets.
The specific benefits of an IP PBX over traditional phone systems or PBXs
include the following :
A cleaner and simpler infrastructure.
Lower operating costs.
Simplified equipment and maintenance.
Unified communications.
Improved scalability and growth.
Improved features for business operations.
Specific Benefits
Traditional Telephone
Conference Calls
Special equipment is
Easily conference large
required for more than three numbers.
people. Mobility
Very difficult to set remote
users up in systems if they
are local.
Easily add remote users of
any kind.
Can only provide traditional
phone services, albeit
complex ones.
Can be programmed
to provide internal and
external apps of all kinds.
Dedicated voice lines
More efficient use of
provide known quality levels network.
but no flexibility.
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
Basic Features
Residential and very low-end VoIP providers often claim to offer
business-class PBX services, but except for very small organizations,
that just isn’t the case. Even the most basic businesses now require a set
of capabilities that would not have been possible even for the largest
corporations 20 years ago.
In addition to the default PBX features like call switching, call completion,
call connection, call termination and accounting, the following should
also be found in any hosted IP PBX system:
Call Routing Features
Automated Attendant: An automatic system to answer phones
with the ability to build phone menu systems, add call menus,
transfer to voice mail and create flexible and programmable rules
to handle all of these features.
Call Menus: Flexible call management menus with user selectable
options – a more advanced version of the traditional phone tree/
menu systems. A better-quality system will let you have multiple
sets of menus and even change them based on time or on
information gleaned from caller ID.
Managing Extensions: Features to help the phone system
administrator, such as the ability to add new extensions, remove
unneeded extensions, change extension locations and much more
from a Web-based control panel.
Call Forwarding: Automatic, programmed or manual call
forwarding to any number.
Call Transfer: The ability to transfer calls between extensions
without going back to a central switchboard.
Call Parking: Essentially a group hold – put the caller on hold in a
waiting area so that any other phone system user can pick the call
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
Messaging and Management Features
Voice Mail and Voice Mailboxes: Any IP PBX should allow an
almost infinite number with far more flexibility than regular phone
systems – more advanced features would include the ability to
record all incoming and outgoing conversations automatically.
Call Hold: Placing callers properly on hold with no drop off in
queues with user selectable hold music and programmable
options about handling hold time length.
Conference Calling: Handling multiparty conference calls,
internally and externally.
Web-Based Management and Administration: To make it quick
and easy to manage your phone system directly from a Web
browser – this can include the ability to add configuration and
management functions as well.
User Directory: Some form of user directory and address book
that is part of the phone system and is centrally updated.
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
Advanced Features
Other IP PBX features can get extremely specific, and the precise mix of
features can make a big difference to business operations. Most of these
advanced features come under areas like helping with remote office and
remote users, or programmability and flexibility of the system.
Scalability: The ability to rapidly grow or reduce the system under
your control. Better systems can scale to handle hundreds of users.
Rights Management: Allowing different groups of employees
different rights within the phone system for management,
administration, usage and more.
Group Management: Managing groups of callers and call
Call Queue Management: Providing visibility into and the ability
to manage incoming call queues. This can include specific call
management as well as general system management of rules and
varying loads, hold times and so on.
Programmable Routing and Scheduling
Call Routing: Setting up programmed rules to route calls based
on flexible criteria like caller ID or time, or even next available
extension in the designated call management group.
Scheduled Call Routing: Handling incoming calls differently
based on time received – and even setting up several systems of
call management that are all different depending on time of day or
day of the week.
Automatic Ring Back Features: Features to automatically return
calls based on various programmable criteria.
Call Screening: The ability to routinely screen calls as they come
Call Monitoring: The ability to silently monitor calls as they
progress for purposes like sales training and customer support.
Barge in: The ability to break in to a call between two other people
– usually related to call monitoring.
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
Remote User Features
Branch Office Support: The ability to manage and remotely
administer extensions at other offices just as easily as if they were
Features to Support Remote Users as if Local: One of the most
powerful features of IP telephony is the ability to have remotely
located employees work and appear to external and internal
callers as if they are local.
Hoteling: Allowing users to make any physical phone in the
system act as if it were any other number, so that any user can
make any phone on the system act as if it were their own phone
for any period of time. This feature is particularly useful for
Unifying/Integrating Office Systems
Full Outlook/Email Integration: Incoming calls can be matched
with contact management records and outgoing calls can be
initiated from within Outlook so users can click on contact
management systems records and dial from within Outlook or
other applications.
Voice mail to Email: Sending all voice mail from a mailbox to an
email account where messages can be opened and listened to on a
PC – as well as stored and managed.
Data Network Integration: Some form of integration into your
basic data network so that ‘click-to-call’ functionality, integration
with office document, email systems, or even full blown CRM
systems can be added.
Click-to-Dial: Some form of click-to-dial to go from a number
on a PC screen to a call on the phone without having to dial the
numbers yourself.
Unique Features
Integrated Voice Response: The system includes the ability for
callers to navigate through menus using phone keypad or voice
Analog and IP Handling: Many IP PBX systems can manage both
VoIP phone and regular telephone systems at the same time –
although not all functionality is available to regular phone users.
This feature is useful for managing merged groups or multiple
IP Fax: A fax system integrated into the IP phone system. You
cannot use regular fax machines directly on IP phone networks
without some kind of interface.
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
Presence Features and IM Integration: Presence features indicate
the status of a user of the phone system to all other users and even
to external callers if features are supported. These indications can
be as extensive as to indicate location, kind of devices by which
communication can take place, and transfer between routing
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
Hosted PBX systems vary considerably in cost but prices have been
coming down for the past couple of years due to rapidly increasing
competition in the small business market. Even so, costs are very unlikely
to dip below the current lower end of the price spectrum since that is
getting close to the low-end pricing for the most basic residential phone
systems. Prices typically range from about $35 per user per month to
as high as $300 per user, per month for expensive, high-end solutions.
There are often additional setup costs that are one-off and in addition,
the lower costs do not always include equipment. Some vendors rent
equipment separately, some include the rental in the monthly fee and
others require equipment to be purchased.
Hosted IP PBX pricing
is fixed per user and
entirely predictable.
Monthly costs are
always a flat fee per user
per month.
ROI can be very difficult to estimate since it depends mostly on the
system being replaced. If you are upgrading from an old legacy system,
then a hosted IP PBX is going to save you a considerable amount in
operating costs, depending entirely on your current call costs. It is easy
to look at the future costs of a system for hosted IP PBXs because pricing
for these systems is fixed per user and is entirely predictable. Get quotes
for installation, setup and equipment costs. These should either be ‘free’
(which means rolled into the monthly cost) or a fixed fee for installation,
setup, and a fixed fee for the cost of equipment. Monthly costs are
always a flat fee per user per month.
The difficulty comes if you are comparing hosted IP PBX with a premisebased IP PBX because predicting costs on premise-based equipment
is much harder. Purchase and installation costs can be difficult to
determine precisely until full engagement on a purchase, and ongoing
maintenance and call charge costs can be hard to determine. The typical
scenario is that the longer you keep a system and the more users you
have, the more likely it is that a premise-based solution will compare
The bottom line: if you are upgrading from an old phone system,
you will save money with a hosted solution no matter what. If there is
any uncertainty in terms of call volume, growth, scalability and usage
pattern, you are likely to be better off with a hosted solution. If you are
a small business (20 people or less) you are also better off with a hosted
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
Hosted PBX Service Plan Checklist
What to ask before you buy.
Before you begin to negotiate with a hosted PBX provider, you’ll want
to gather some basic information about your current situation. Use this
checklist to get organized:
r How many employees are in your organization?
r How many locations do you have that need VoIP service?
r How many remote or mobile users do you have that will not
have a local office?
r What are your current broadband connection details —
bandwidth, type, lines and so on? Make sure to have as much
information available as possible, including current supplier
and level of service.
r What is your current network load and available unused
bandwidth? Your provider may want to test your network to
determine this information for themselves, and if you don’t
have enough you may need a network or broadband upgrade.
r What type of servers does your system run on? Your service
provider may need the manufacturer name, model number
and, most importantly, operating system details.
r What are your existing phone system details? Manufacturer,
number of lines, connections and so on.
r Do you have any need or desire to keep existing lines?
r Will you only be upgrading part of your organization?
r What is your budget? Your total project cost limits and target
cost per month per user?
r What is your mix of calling? Average amount of internal, local,
long-distance and international calls per month. If you don’t
know, have a few months of recent phone bills handy.
r What is your percentage of inbound versus outbound calls?
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
Once you have this information, you’re ready to begin talking to a hosted
PBX service provider. Specify your business requirements up front and
make sure you know which you are prepared to drop in return for a
lower cost. In practice, you are likely to have a few business features in
mind that, along with basic phone features, are must haves. Everything
else will be optional, but keep an eye to the future if possible.
Typical issues that can change costs involve:
r Do you need an incoming 800 number?
r Do you have a receptionist/phone operator or do you want an
r Do you need to be able to make conference calls? How large,
how many and across how many locations?
r Do you need a call center?
r Do you need integrated voice response (voice menus)?
r Do you have someone available to manage the system for your
employees or are they going to have to do it themselves?
r Do you need to integrate with Outlook or other office systems?
r How fast are you going to need to grow the system and how
r What level of service and SLAs (service level agreements) do
you need?
IP PBX Buyer’s Guide
Hosted IP PBX systems provide small- to medium-sized businesses
with abilities and features that are available to large enterprises,
while providing the potential to reduce long-term operating costs
considerably. As with any rapidly growing technology, there is a wide
variety of providers and a range of features at widely varying prices.
Hosted IP PBX systems can cost as little $35 per month per user (or even
less in large installations) with no setup costs, but the costs can increase
as required features and the complexity of a system grows. It is more
important to make sure that your system has the basic features that
you require now for the operation of your enterprise and for its future
growth than to drive the cost to the absolute bare minimum. Unless you
are already using an efficient IP telephony system, you will save money
no matter what.
You should look for the following in any upgrade to hosted IP PBX:
Basic operating cost reductions due to lower call charges, the need
for only one communications network and lower maintenance
A minimal investment risk, because your enterprise data network
is your new backbone and it is already in place and functioning
Straightforward installation costs based on tested, reliable
components connecting to a system your IT personnel already
Improved efficiency and operations within your organization.
New features that can improve your business’s effectiveness.
It is the last of these points that is most important and critical to the
success of the upgrade. This is where the power of converged networks
– combined voice and data networks – really comes into its own in terms
of providing your enterprise with more tools, capabilities and options
than it previously had. The cost savings are essentially a bonus.
You can find out more about who offers what features using our Hosted
IP PBX Comparison Guide.
How to save money, get service guarantees and make sure your provider will work for you.
10 Questions to Ask Your Hosted IP PBX Provider,
Before You Sign a Contract
Signing up for a hosted IP PBX provider is just like signing up for cable TV; the provider
is trying to lock you in to a long-term contract at terms that give them the most profit,
while you’re just trying to get the service and features you need at the lowest possible
price. Plus, there are always hidden costs.
The key to avoiding a contract with more (or less) service than you need is asking the
right questions. This list covers what questions you should ask before you sign on the
dotted line. If you have specific concerns such as advanced call center features that
might affect your business, you’ll want to add them to the list as well.
1. What is the contract termination policy?
You want to know whether you can get out early without a penalty and what the
other termination costs might be. Unfortunately, providers — and particularly their
sales teams — often try to lock you into long-term contracts. This is common practice
throughout the communications industry and you may not be able to avoid it, but
you can do your best to remove arbitrary and excessive early-termination penalties.
Several of the newer hosted IP PBX providers are reacting smartly to the situation by
providing service with no installation or termination penalties. Be sure to check the
policies on equipment, as well as those that apply to the basic service.
2. What startup costs are there beyond setup and equipment fees?
This is where you want to look for hidden costs. Find out exactly what you’ll need
to get service. Ask if phones, extra servers, interface cards and other add-ons are
included or if they cost extra. If you have the “wrong” kind of network (one that
doesn’t work with the hosted provider’s VoIP system) will you end up needing new
cards and extra software? Can you use your existing broadband service? If not,
can you switch your broadband supplier without penalty (and preferably at an
additional saving)?
It’s easy to get sucked into a deal with installation and equipment costs at $100 or
less per seat, but that’s often for a minimal configuration. You might find out later
that you need add-on equipment. Be particularly careful about phones; if the phone
is free, it’s quite likely to be extremely basic, and you may need more features. Think
of the phone as a piece of equipment you use all day, every day, and you’ll get an
idea of why you want the best phone.
Copyright © 2007, Tippit, Inc., All Rights Reserved
The Complete Guide to IP Telephony Solutions
3. What day-to-day usage costs are not covered by my service plan? What are the
rates for international calls, for example?
This is yet another place where hidden fees lurk. Make sure there aren’t any addon fees for important features; some providers charge more for conference calling,
others for different forms of long-distance and still others for some advanced
features. Make a quick list of all the communications needs that you have, then ask
about all the items so you can forecast prices accurately. This is particularly true if
you make a lot of international or toll-free calls or if you need extensive inbound
toll-free calls. One bright spot is that this is an area where you can’t really lose — all
hosted IP PBX solutions are cheaper for actual calls than any non-IP or non-VoIP
4. Can the system handle outbound and inbound faxes out of the box? Can I just
plug in a fax machine or do I need special equipment?
Faxing is a hidden gotcha of VoIP. Many older systems can’t handle faxes, while
others require a special faxing module. The bottom line is that just because you
have a phone line with VoIP, it doesn’t mean you can plug a fax into it. Make sure
you’re covered and find out what it will cost. A typical solution is to obtain an extra
box or adapter for a fax line, which will cost extra. But some solutions are smart
enough to route faxes beyond the adapter and deliver them to email inboxes as
well. Check the details before you bite.
5. Do I need add-ons or extras to handle old-style analog phones that I already
have or that remote or branch offices have already installed?
Fortunately there is a solution to this issue that can save you some money. If you
have offices that already have extensive, modern analog phones, some provider
systems will work with them as transparently as with more advanced SIP (Session
Initiation Protocol) and VoIP phones. That can save you as much as a couple of
hundred dollars per phone. This is particularly important for remote branches or
offices, especially if you need to do a phased rollout. You will need to double check
what features are supported on analog phones and how they are operated. If it is
too difficult to transfer calls for example, this feature, even if it is supported by the
provider, might as well not be there.
The Complete Guide to IP Telephony Solutions
6. How does the system handle remote and mobile workers?
The key here is to find out whether the experience is the same for a telecommuter
in a rural area as it is for someone at a head office and how it will handle people on
the road.
If you don’t have mobile or remote requirements, obviously this isn’t a concern right
now, but in time it may be. And if you do have remote and mobile employees, then
you need to find out what the provider can and cannot do for you. Some providers
can handle any mobile or remote phone almost as easily as an extension in the main
office, but others cannot. Creative solutions might save you more money than going
to a system that can handle remote employees. For example, getting a single line
for a remote employee on a different plan then using your system’s call-forwarding
features might end up being more cost-effective. Since many hosted IP PBXs handle
remote users very well — including ‘road warriors’ who travel a lot — this can be a
great extension for your business.
7. If I underestimate my requirements and need a major upgrade or my company
grows, what are the additional costs for upgrading?
There isn’t too much you can do here — miscalculating requirements is going to
be a problem no matter what. But you can minimize the pain with a provider that
is willing to work with you and that provides good service. At least find out what
the issues might be down the road as you’ll need to know how to handle business
growth anyway.
8. How do you guarantee your quality of service?
Quality of service is a big differentiator among providers. What you want to know
here is, if you have issues with quality, how you’ll get support, who you should
contact and how fast fixes will happen. When there is a complex problem and your
network equipment supplier, your broadband supplier and your service provider
are all pointing fingers at each other, you want a provider that will step up to solve
the problem.
These are all questions to ask the provider directly. If they can’t more than satisfy you
in this area, look elsewhere. Your communications system is vital to your success, so
don’t put yourself in a position of being held hostage by an incompetent provider. It
obviously helps if your broadband supplier and your IP phone provider are one and
the same, but regardless, if they aren’t willing to even step up to try to solve your
problems, then how good will they be at actually solving them? Take the time to
understand all the issues. For example, if there is a major backhaul network failure
The Complete Guide to IP Telephony Solutions
(the network that connects most of the Internet together in the background), then
your provider is unlikely to be able to do a single thing about it, but check if they will
at least provide failovers to an old-style analog line for emergencies.
9. What about emergency services — do you provide full 911 or E911 services?
Will dispatchers know my location automatically — and how about remote
This is a flat-out requirement that many VoIP providers don’t like to talk about. If they
don’t have a solution right now, they ought to have one in the pipeline. Fortunately,
since 911 compliance has been made a federal mandate, the problem is being solved
very rapidly. But do ask how the system will know things like location for someone
on the road. And that leads us to the last question...
10. How do I know you are going to be around in two years, let alone three?
Communications and VoIP is an industry of consolidation and aggressive competition.
Find out if your provider is stable and make sure your contract is binding even if your
provider gets acquired. Ideally, you want the new provider to take up your contract
with no change, while giving you the option of moving on without penalty if you
don’t like the new arrangement.
Hosted IP PBX System Comparison: Part 1
SmartVoice Plus
Auto Ring Back
Branch Office Support
Call Center Support
Call Monitoring
Call Queue Management Yes
Call Routing
Group Call Management Optional
Integrated Voice ResponseOptional
Integrates with Email
IP Fax Support
Scheduled Call Routing
Telepresence Features
Voicemail to Email
Ease of Installation
Management &
Global Phone
VoIP/Hosted PBX
Hosted IP PBX Enhanced Plan
ClearEdge Pro
Global Tone
Pre-configured phones, you
plug and go
Easy to administer,
Installation mostly managed manage and update
by the vendor – web-based from anywhere with an
management tools
Internet connection.
Web-based office
Straightforward – some
management direct from
phones, rest of
management and
administration from clean
web interface
Cisco, Polycom, Thompson,
and a few more
analog phone (no LCD
Cisco , Polycom, Toshiba, support possible), Cisco
Swissvoice IP Phones, and IP phones, and
analog phones
Polycom IP phones
Standard VoIP encryption
Based on Covad's network
and Cisco equipment –
Calls routed over private
good security overall.
Training manuals and 24/7
Product documentation,
phone support
Printed, online and callin service included
Approx $40 per user per
$40 to $50 per user
$34.75 per month per
phone plus some
hardware setup and
broadband costs
Low cost plan with three tiers
ranging from a small feature
set to a robust feature set –
features and price quoted are
for enhanced package. No
support for existing phones
Medium range hosted plan
from established vendor –
supports existing phones – Low cost plan with good
options for smaller
feature set and support
companies as well
for existing phones
Set-up is web-based
and takes only a little
over a half hour plus
Easy set up and
integration with existing installation of phones,
Unified, browser based
Online management
Phone Support
Works with analog and
digital phones
Any SIP compliant
phone -- Polycom,
Cisco, Softphone
Encrypted VoIP: strong
Phone Authentication:
strong Management
Security: strong
security and
Excellent customer
satisfaction ratings
Pricing Per User
Starts at approx. $40
per month – for over
ten users rapidly drops
to $20 per month
Integrated Online Help,
Training Videas and
24xy phone support
As little as $22.50 per
user per month for
10,000 minutes or $40
per user per month
unlimited - plus T1
VoIP-News Comments
AccessLine is a good
option for small
businesses that want
low costs and don't
require the most
advanced features
Lower cost plan with
straightforward options
– supports existing
analog phones with
additional ATAs
Basic web-based
administration and
* All systems include automated attendant, call forwarding, call holds, call menus, call parking, call transfer, conference calling, managing extensions, user directory, voicemail and voice
mailboxes, and web-based management and administration.
Copyright Tippit, Inc., 2007. All Rights Reserved.
Hosted IP PBX System Comparison: Part 2
Auto Ring Back
Branch Office Support
Call Center Support
Call Monitoring
Call Queue Management
Call Routing
Group Call Management
Integrated Voice Response
Integrates with Email
IP Fax Support
Scheduled Call Routing
Telepresence Features
Voicemail to Email
Ease of Installation
Management &
Packet 8
Voice as Service
Extension Plus
Business VoIP
EasyVoice Global
Smoothstone COMPLETE
Unlimited Nationwide
Optional add-on
Optional add-on
Optional add-on
Optional add-on
Optional add-on
Optional add-on
Optional add-on
Optional add-on
Optional add-on
Optional add-on
With add ons
With add ons
With add ons
Subscribers only need
to connect the phones
and do an online
Installation mostly
managed by the vendor –
web-based management
Installation totally managed by
vendor. Web-based tools for
Installation totally managed
by vendor. Web-based
tools for management.
Extremely simple.
Web-based network monitoring,
management and control
Fully managed by vendor
and provides web-based
network monitoring,
management and control
Supports all IP phones - plus
can provide IP trunking to onpremise IP and TDM phone
Supports all IP phones
Calls routed over private,
nationwide network. Uses Cisco
equipment. Optional: SPAM and
Virus filtering, managed firewall,
email content management
Standard VoIP encryption
Installation is seamlessly
handled by M5's Active Service
Management team of trained
experts who provide custom
configuration and training.
M5 Service Portal allows 24/7
system administration including
modifications of contact lists,
directories, and passwords.
Users can also access online
billing tools and system
Web-based tools for
three levels of
management and
Basic web-based
administration and
Phone Support
M5 is compatible with Cisco IP
Equipment is housed in multiple
carrier-grade facilities, with the
same state-of-the art safety
features protecting the best
networks in the world.
All plans include one
adapter and business
class phone. Supports
Packet 8, GN Netcom, Supports Cisco phones
Duet, and other phones and will begin to support
and headsets.
LG phones
All phones are SIP
phones. Edge device is
ICSA-certified and sits on
customer's LAN. Calls not
routed over the public
Standard VoIP
Maintenance, support, changes
and upgrades included. 95% of
support requests resolved within
24 hours. 95% of customers
would confidently refer M5 to
other businesses.
cards, web and classroom
Printed, online and call-in
Printed, online and call- based training,account
manager and tech contact. service included
in service included
Printed, online and call-in
service included
Pricing Per User
$60/month; $75 one-time + cost
of phone
$39 per user per month
plus activation costs
$54.95 per user per month
$39.95 per user plus cost
of phones if you don't
already have IP phones.
VoIP-News Comments
Very good customer word-ofmouth service with a respectable
range of features and
competitive pricing.
For more information see the VoIP News
Very low cost plan but
with lesser range of
features than other
$32-$50 per user plus network
access / broadband costs
Solid support, good
Totally managed solution aimed
reliability, does not support at medium-sized enterprises.
existing phones
Good service levels and uptime.
Solutions For Service Providers Center.
Copyright Tippit, Inc., 2007. All Rights Reserved.
Very simple and
straightforward solution
that does not offer
advanced features but in
return offers an extremely
easy-to-learn and -use
Tippit, Inc.
514 Bryant Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: 415-318-7200 / Fax: 415-318-7219
[email protected]
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