A hosted VoIP service relieves an organization of the technical and administrative burdens associated with employing the internet to provide phone services. If a business or other organization has a high speed, high-capacity internet connection there are a many companies able to support VoIP services over their line.
These companies offer their services in a manner similar to the business model established by the cellular telephone market. That is to say, most VoIP providers offer a home version and a business version. For each of these markets they offer a limited package and an unlimited package. Some also offer specific international packages and other specific “enhancements”. The geographic scope of coverage and the volume of usage, in addition to what can be a long list of features, are all included in combinations designed to appeal to different segments of each market.
Vocalocity PBX offers businesses unlimited local and long-distance calling. You can keep your current number and a Web portal interface permits users and administrators to configure and manage their own services. Directory assistance (411) and emergency service (911) are also included.
8x8 Virtual Office offers four plans. Their most popular, Unlimited Extension, provides calling to the US, Canada, Puerto Rico and includes Guam, the US Virgin Islands, France, Spain, United Kingdom, Italy and Ireland for good measure. In addition, 8 x 8 customers can talk to each other no matter where they are in the world. Calls to mobile phones are included in an optional package..
Vonage is probably the best-known of the hosted VoIP providers. Their basic small business plan provides 1500 minutes monthly. The Small Business Unlimited plan permits unlimited calls throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Aptela has three basic plans; VoIP Unlimited, VoIP Professional, and VoIP Basic. The unlimited package includes long distance, local calls and faxing anywhere in the US. The professional version provides 250 minutes a month for nationwide long distance and local calls. There is a fee per minute for additional calls. The basic package simply offers local and long distance calls for a fee per minute. Aptela's Mobile plans extend their VoIP service to mobile phones.
Nextiva Office provides a Web portal interface so the customer can manage the options and features of their voice over IP phone system. Among their many other features are voicemail and voicemail-to-email. From e-mail the user can manage their messages and delete or forward voice mails as they choose.
The major players offering hosted VoIP services can all be described as “feature rich.". Only a few of the features they offer in their complete packages have been noted here. Providing an interface whereby their customers can configure the features and options to match their business needs is a valuable tool SMB customers should expect. Call quality and reliability are unlikely to be an issue with any of the top hosted VoIP providers.
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