Hover Networks is a cloud based IP/PBX service based in Western New York and supplies IP voice services to over 10,000 customers in 20 states and 7 countries. Notable for its rapid growth Hover Networks has doubled in size each year for the first five years it has been in business, it has also been a nominee for INC 5000 for its spectacular growth between 2010 and 2015.
Hover Networks, however follows the traditional customer plans and pricing offered by their competitors in the business IP voice industry, which is the three tier model targeting small, medium and large organizations. In Hover Networks case, the three tiers are named Soho, Office and Enterprise respectively.
However, rather than differentiate the three service plans by features and functions, which is a common method used by many of their competitors, Hover Networks have gone with common features across all service plans. Therefore, all the features in enterprise are available in Soho and Office. This is convenient for Hover Networks and proponents of this service method as they only have to support one build, however it can mean that customers are paying for features and functions that they do not need and will never likely even use. The positive side to this though I that even customers on the Soho plans will have access to advanced bundled features.
As there is no difference between the technical offerings across the service plans, we can consequently consider them all under one review.
Technical Features and Functions
The first thing that is notable about Hover Networks feature set is that they have streamlined the features on offer but without really affecting the operational efficiency of the system. The features on offer cover all the required functionality required by small to mid-level companies without being overwhelming.
Hover Networks offers a main business telephone number, toll free numbers and additional local numbers in addition to porting an existing business number to the system. This is all standard stuff that everyone else offers, and Hover Networks ties this in with customized recorded greetings, which can be time orientated so that you can have different greetings depending on the day or time of day, for example an out-of-hours or holiday greeting.
The way that Hover Networks works is that calls can be diverted through to configurable extension and as a result, Hover Networks can try different extensions in sequence so that calls are not missed. This they feature they call intuitive transfer, and it is similar to find-me/follow me feature found in most virtual IP phone services.
In addition, there are basic call groups and call queues to help you manage the system and group extensions and queues more efficiently. Hunt groups and configurable call routing provides some granularity and additional complexity but adds to the systems efficiency when handling calls centrally for remote offices branch offices (ROBO). Calls are queued or transferred transparently to the caller as they will be hearing customizable music-on-hold or if they wish to go through to voicemail.
The voicemail features on offer are again basic but functional, as there is voicemail transcription to email and a virtual email box for each extension.
Other notable features are call recording as features that can be on demand or set up to record all incoming or outgoing calls by default. Hover Networks saves the recorded calls as .wav files. However, the most notable feature and the only one that seems to differentiate Hover Networks from its plethora of competitors is call conferencing. With Hover Networks, call conferencing is enabled by default on all plans and there are no restrictions to the number of participants, this is notably different from any other voice services, which typically have restricted number of participants. Furthermore, Hover Networks conference call feature has great management and administration features such as PIN creation for participants as well as notification and reminders are sent to participants prior to the conference call. In addition, administrator cal block participants and collect advanced conference call date regards number and information on the participants, time of call and much more.
Management and Redundancy
Hover Networks is based upon PBX technology and is hosted in a cloud based fully redundant data center to maximize system availability and reliability. Similarly, customer configurations, data and the customer’s profile are automatically backed up for the customer ensuring the high availability and security of customer’s data.
Furthermore, there are good administrative tools for monitoring system usage in real time. Hover Networks tools all each extension to be viewed for incoming/outgoing data and statistics. Similarly, administrators can also see system wide statistics for all extensions and product reports.
As we have just seen features and functions are uniform across all of the service plans, so what differs between Soho, Office an Enterprise?
- Hover Soho – $39.99 based on a three year contract and with unlimited calls and faxes but limited to 1-10 users
- Hover Lite – $34.99 based on a three year contract and with unlimited calls and faxes limited to 11 – 99 users
- Hover Enterprise – $29.99 based on a three year contract and with unlimited calls and faxes limited from 100+ users
Hover Networks have produced a cloud based IP PBX service with limited but fully functional features that provide good service without overwhelming or bloating the system. Management and administrative features are similarly limited but functional for small to medium businesses. Pricing is competitive for small to medium companies and Hover-Lite is probably the most attractive for companies with 10-99 users. However, these prices are based upon a three-year contract, which is very unattractive for a cloud-based system – most competitors now market there services based on being contract free. Whether the pricing and contract lengths prove to be uncompetitive for such a basic features service will remain to be seen, but so far, Hover Networks has over 10,000 customers, and are doubling in size year on year so they must be meeting the expectations of their customers.