I thought that most of the technology we were going to see in the next few months was going to be primarily focused on online technologies for collaboration and data sharing. What I’m seeing is also growth of “online technologies” that are focused on leveraging voice over the Internet to provide smaller businesses with virtual phone systems.
These service are all similar in that they often provide some level of service for free, but for a low monthly price provide PBX services such as auto-attendant, voice mail, call transfer and a range of other PBX like functionality. They also charge, per minute fees to handle your phone calls, delivered via the Internet.
Two of the newest entrants I’ve come across are Toktumi, which was at Demo and Junction Network’s OnSip
With Toktumi, you connect your regular telephone to your computer using a special phone adapter. If you are online, the call will ring to the telephone you have connected to your computer. If you are not online, the phone call will go to voice mail or be forwarded to another telephone number. Either way you get a full range of PBX benefits.
With Junction Networks onSIP you use a special Internet protocol, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), to connect SIP enabled phones to the Internet. Other users, using the SIP protocol can connect to you (and you to them) for free. You are only charged for calls off of the network – such as calls to (or from) a land line phone or cell phone. With onSIP you are not billed per user but billed according to usage. If you have 30 users, your cost is the same as if you had 10 users – the pricing difference is their usage.
When deciding what type of telephone system you should purchase for you company – you really need to consider how your company will function now and in the next 12 – 18 months.
If you want (or need) a traditional phone system, you might want to consider a managed phone system (such as that offered by M5 Networks) that operates over private data circuits. This type of system is rock solid, stable and has very clear voice quality.
If you like the flexibility of a more virtual phone system, often best suited for a smaller business, then choosing one of the phone services mentioned in this article, or from Gotvmail, VirtualPBX.com or Ringcentral is something you could consider as well.