Fonality Debuts With Low-Cost IP PBX

Fonality today came out of stealth mode with the launch of its PBXtra IP PBX for small businesses.

This is our coming out, says Fonality founder and CEO Chris Lyman. He says the company has been selling PBXtra since October 2004 and now serves nearly 10,000 lines in 30 states and four countries. The company also has developed a dealer network of more than 300 resellers in 40 countries.

Lyman says PBXtra is designed for the 48 percent of business users that work for companies with less than 100 employees. Until PBXtra, he says, they had two choices a key telephone system or a PBX if they were willing to spend $15,000 or more. PBXtra is an IP PBX at a key system price, he says.

PBXtra is available for $995 and includes a server running Linux and features built on the Asterisk open-source IP PBX software. A version with call center functionality is available for $1,000 more.

Handsets, which are shipped with preconfigured extensions, are an additional charge and range from $150 to $300 each depending on the manufacturer and the feature set. PBXtra supports phone sets from Polycom Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., SwissCom and snom Technology AG. The system works with any SIP-based softphone, but Lyman recommends Xten Pro from Xten Networks Inc. or another with built-in echo cancellation.

The system is simple enough to be installed and set up by an office manager, says Lyman. It can be outfitted with PCI cards to connect to POTS lines or it can hook into a T1; DSL and cable do not provide the level of quality needed for voice calling, he adds. Installations with more than 20 phones may require a reseller should a new router be required.

Fonality resellers primarily are network and systems integrators, though interconnects also are a target for the company.

Management for both users and administrators is done via a Web portal.

Available features include click and call from your PC, four-digit dialing, Microsoft Outlook integration, MP3-based music on hold, unlimited extensions, unlimited voice mail, and automatic desktop notification of callers.

Lyman says Fonality is adding about 100 resellers per month, and the channel in June surpassed sales — in revenue and volume — of the direct sales staff. Partners earn a spiff on hardware based on their volume and a monthly recurring commission if the customer also connects through Fonalitys VoIP network, an option of the offer.

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