Fonality, Inc., headquartered in Culver City, California, was founded in 2004 by a serial entrepreneur to create the worlds first truly affordable enterprise-class phone system for business of all sizes.
The company's initial product was underwritten by a small group of investors that funded the development of an Asterisk variant, known as PBXtra, designed to run on off-the-shelf hardware.
In 2006, Fonality received its first round of venture capital, and additional funding in 2007 propelled the firm to announce a partnership with Dell Computer to sell VoIP phone systems to their customers. Along the way, the firm also gathered some substantial industry recognition for its products and services, including being named as a Deloitte & Touche Rising Star in 2007, and a winner of the Fierce VoIP Fierce 15 for 2008.
Today, Fonality is a developer and marketer of cloud-based business phone systems and unified communications solutions for small and medium-size businesses, targeting all markets, including small office/home office, SMBs, and the enterprise.
Of note, Fonality announced late last year that it recorded its one billionth cloud call in 2009 an impressive feat for a firm that got its start just a few years before the worldwide economy headed south.
Fonality is also somewhat unusual in the VoIP marketplace in that it chose to play on both sides of the industry offering both a premises-based solution (PBXtra) and a cloud-based service, named UNBOUND, which is presently available in the United States, Canada, and Australia. The company has dubbed this strategy the "wide net", as it is designed to cast a broad swath across the voice communications industry.
PBXtra starts at $595, can be ordered online, ships the next day, is easily self-installed by the customer, and eliminates the need for costly third-party service contracts. This premises-based solution includes features such as Auto-Attendant, FindMe, conference bridges, and call center functionality. The PBXtra system provides a local server option for the cloud that ensures the security and stability of a premises-based system with the reduced maintenance of a hosted solution.
UNBOUND includes the same core features as PBXtra, but then adds unlimited domestic and international calls to selected countries, dedicated virtual, local, and toll free phone numbers, the ability to keep existing phone numbers, and emergency 911 functionality. In addition, the system includes free calling between phones, zero-configuration, support for teleworkers and branch offices, voicemail to e-mail conversions, system monitoring, and automated configuration backups. It also integrates with third-party applications such as Outlook, Google, and Salesforce.
The system includes a Polycom desk phone for each employee, and features what the company calls Anywhere Management, which allows the solution to be managed from a Web-enabled browser anywhere in the world. Customers simply plug phones into an existing high speed Internet connection, and they are ready to go.
Fonality claims that its hosted solutions can be rapidly deployed, with smaller organizations up and running in a matter of minutes, and enterprises ready to go in hours. Phones are pre-programmed and are simply plugged into the network.
Fonality solutions are available in three editions.
Fonality Connect is an all-inclusive offering that provides VoIP service, including a phone for every employee, a phone number for each phone, basic features and support. The plan includes unlimited calling between ten countries and competitive rates worldwide. Supported features include auto attendant/receptionist, personalized greetings, advanced call forwarding, voicemail-to-e-mail conversions, and Web-based management. Available options include conference rooms, toll-free numbers, virtual extensions and mailboxes, paperless fax, mobile integration, CRM integration, and wireless extensions and softphones. Fonality Connect starts at $30.00 per user per month with no contract and a 30-day money back guarantee.
Fonality Professional and Enterprise editions offer additional benefits, such as dedicated hosting, private site-to-site networking, on-site data backups and redundancy, a wider selection of phones and calling plans, local toll connectivity, and premium support. Fonality Professional starts around $15.00 per user per month and Enterprise starts around $20.00 per user per month, without an optional calling plan.
Fonality also provides some of the most comprehensive support seen to date. Basic coverage is included as a standard offering with every solution and provides e-mail, phone, and 24/7 emergency support. Premium support options are also available for Fonality Professional and Enterprise. Hardware is fully covered under the cloud subscription and will be replaced if damaged. Fonality also offers full E911 support, with every extension provided with an E911 address that is easily updateable to the Fonality database, which in turn is linked to the PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point).
The company recently announced a partnership with SugarCRM, which brings together cloud-based business phone systems with CRM (customer relationship management) tools. Two levels of connectivity are provided: the Basic Connector integrates screen pop-ups and click-to-call using the Fonality phone system from the SugarCRM Web interface; while the Advanced Connector provides integration for call centers.
Further information on the Fonality solutions can be found at www.fonality.com. Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation®, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.