Extending its work with value-added resellers into the VoIP realm, VocalNet Inc., a CLEC and provider of wholesale and retail VoIP services, has launched iPBX SOHO, a VoIP service for small business that can be tailored to meet a variety of customer needs and deployment scenarios.
VocalNet can provide a complete hosted-PBX service, including unlimited local and long-distance calling, and PBX features, plus T1 service, effectively replacing the phone company.
If a customer already has a PBX, or is more comfortable with a PBX on premises, VocalNet can provide what it calls its E-PBX (Enhanced PBX) service, with VoIP for long-distance and free calling among customer locations. The biggest customers with 200 or 300 people will have to have a box, so hosted maybe is not best for them, says Bill Adams, vice president business development for VocalNet.
VocalNet uses its own customer-premises device working with the PBX.
VocalNet also can provide a T1 connection, or customers can use their own broadband service. They can bring their own [T1], or our partners can sell them T1, but, if they go with our T1, we will guarantee quality of service, Adams explains.
VocalNet also offers different levels of service. The fully hosted PBX service with all features is $59.95 flat rate per seat. Or, customers can opt for lines with PBX features for $39.95 per line plus 3.9 cents per minute for calls between states, and 4.9 cents per minute within a state.
Deals for Resellers
The flexible services model includes flexible deals for resellers.
Some resellers sell a PBX at a small margin because they think they will make it up on moves adds and changes, says Adams. With VoIP, customers can handle their own moves, adds and changes, so that revenue goes away. The VocalNet hosted service provides a way to replace it.
With us, they get a recurring commission based on the billing of that customer every month. Sometimes for a $100,000 switch the reseller takes 5 percent. But if they take a $100,000 system through me, they can make $50,000, but as just a little every month, depending on the contract. It depends on how you want satisfaction, he adds.
The hosted service is sold as a straight agent program where they sell the service and we manage it, says Adams. We also sell wholesale to them, where they do first-level technology support.
Some partners still want to sell the PBX, but they want to be in the VoIP business too, a scenario VocalNet can handle with its E-PBX service.
The customer premises device is a 1-rack-unit PC that replaces a router, and plugs into both the T1 and a VLAN switch. It prioritizes voice traffic and monitors the customers network for call quality, so VocalNet can give a quality-of-service guarantee. The company also provides LAN test tools to its resellers. That is usually the biggest problem, to get that customer network up to snuff, says Adams.
The service is based on the open-source IP PBX software, Asterisk. VocalNet has extensively adapted the system, creating many applications on its own particularly to provide advanced call-center applications, Adams says. The system support third-party application development. We often work with partners to develop applications for their customers, says Adams. For example, in the hospitality industry we have interesting applications that we have developed with partners.