Packet8 Overhauls its Virtual Office

by Sean Michael Kerner

New productivity enhancements are rolled out for the hosted IP PBX service.

8x8 Inc. is improving the productivity features of its Packet8 Virtual Office hosted IP PBX.

A long list of new features is now available to Packet8's Virtual Office subscribers in an upgrade the company has dubbed "the productivity suite release."

"Strategically, we had been focusing on reliability and voice quality, which is always assumed," 8x8 Inc. Director of Marketing for Virtual Office, Dave Immethun told VoIPplanet.com. The Packet8 Virtual Office service has been in market since March 2004 and currently serves upwards of 14,000 extensions.

Immethun explained that with the new productivity suite release, Packet8 is transferring responsibilities from the system owner/manager to the actual extension holders. One of the drivers of productivity and user control is the new Extension Manager feature found on the Virtual Office web portal. Extension holders can now go directly to the portal and set all of their call features including user preferences, forwarding rules, and one-number access.

The new One Number Access (ONA) feature lets extension holders have calls ring on as many as four different phone numbers—simultaneously or sequentially. Other enhancement to Virtual Office are items that users of full-featured traditional PBXs would likely take for granted, including caller ID blocking, call waiting disable, call return, voicemail call return, and Internet outage handling features.

While the number of managed IP PBX offers in the market seems to be growing almost daily of late, 8x8's Immethun sees a number of differentiators for the Packet8 Virtual Office solution.

"Packet8 and Virtual comes from a solid VoIP pedigree," Immethun explained. "8x8 as a company holds close to 80 patents on voice and video over all types of transmissions."

In fact the Virtual Office solution is mostly a home built tool based on technology that 8x8 owns. Former 8x8 subsidiary Centile Inc had developed a softswitch called intraswitch, which, together with some licensed code, forms part of the basis of Virtual Office.

Immenthun went on to point out that if you're looking for hosted IP PBX solutions on a subscriber model, offered by a publicly traded company (8x8 is NASDAQ listed), the choices are actually quite few.

Packet8 Virtual Office charges range between $9.95 and $39.95 per month per extension.

This article was originally published on Thursday Oct 20th 2005