Joining the growing ranks of IP communications service providers specially attuned to the needs of very small business entities is San Diego, Calif.-based Telcentris.
Whereas Telcentris has for years been offering hosted IP PBX services to businesses of all sizes both directly and through its reseller channel up till now, the equipment and services have been sold a la carte.
The StartupBundle, announced today, takes a different route to the same destination. It is a complete, bundled, one-size-fits-all deal.
The thinking behind this? "People in general like package deals," Telcentris director of sales Tad Nikolich told Enterprise VoIPplanet; "they like bundles."
But there is a more important reason: "We've really seen a trend for companies of this size companies that have 4 to 10 employees pretty much all ordering the same stuff from us," Nikolich said. "So it seemed natural to combine, to bundle together, the things businesses were asking for into a nice comprehensive package that pretty much gives them everything they want plus a few extra features they may not think they want."
Even nicer when you consider that the StartupBundle is priced roughly 30 percent below the comparable components bought a la carte.
At the core of the offering is the on-premise hardware. The phone choice is the Polycom 335 model with HD audio (although upgrades to higher-end phones are an option).
Also included is a VoIP router. "With our hosted PBX product, we always require one of our routers deployed," Nikolich explained "even though they may already have a router."
There are three reasons for this, Nikolich explained: "One, it allows us to go in and troubleshoot when there are problems we have a device we can log into and pull reports from. Two, it allows us to have the phones registered locally, rather than over the Internet. Three, it provides a level of QoS at the customer site, so we can prioritize calls over any data going out, if it's a shared data line."
The final hardware item although Telcentris won't insist on this is a data switch. Customers who opt to use their own switches will be responsible for creating V-LANs if they have voice and data on the same LAN side.
"If we provide a data switch, then we can manage those V-LANs as well," Nikolich said. "It's just cleaner. It's a new switch, not some old hub daisy-chained to who knows what."
Beyond hardware, depending on the size of the bundle ordered, the customer receives from 4 to 10 of the following:
- PBX phone lines with unlimited dialing throughout the U.S. and Canada
- DIDs (direct inward dialing phone numbers)
- voicemail boxes (with voicemail-to-e-mail functionality)
- fax-to-e-mail accounts
In addition to a DID for each phone, the system comes with a primary phone number that can be directed to a receptionist or to the system's professional automated assistant. If the customer has an existing primary number, it can be ported to the Telcentris system.
An extension dialing scheme two-digit, three-digit, whatever the customer wants is set up. Or, again, if the customer has an extension scheme, they can opt to continue using that. In any case, for companies with multiple locations, employees can use extension dialing to reach any other employee at any location.
StartupBundle comes with a full compliment of PBX features like caller ID, hold, transfer, music on hold, find-me/follow-me, audio conference bridge, and auto attendant (as mentioned). And it's all managed via an online portal.
We alluded to upgrade options above, and several are available. As mentioned, customers can opt to upgrade from the 2-line Polycom 335 to a 3-line Polycom 450 ($4/month extra) or a 4-line 550 ($5/month). (These higher-end phones also have larger screens and more single-touch buttons.) A conference phone is available for companies with conference rooms. A PoE (power over Ethernet) switch is another option as is professional installation ($499).
"It's pretty easy to set up," Nikolich told VoIPplanet. "Probably two-thirds of our customers opt for self-installation. You just unpack the phones, put them on the desk, plug in the router with a little instruction from us on a scheduled, assisted, self-installation and training session over the phone. Phone-coached self-installation is included in the bundle price.
No term commitment is required for the Telcentris StartupBundle service. Pricing starts at $199 per month for a four-phone system. There is a one-time provisioning fee that can be waived in return for a term commitment.