Designed for the SMB (Small and Medium-Sized Business)
Phone.com is inherently designed to support the SMB market. To this end the Newark based company has endeavoured to retain the flexibility of being accessible on any communication device. This means the service is available on a VoIP phone, a mobile phone, standard landline, or even on a computer. This saves you having to outlay on specialist hardware.
Moreover as Phone.com is designed with the SMB in mind the product is designed from the ground up to be easy to administer and configure through an internet accessible portal. Ease of administration is a critical feature with SMB virtual telephone systems as it allows both administrators and even the users to configure their phone extensions remotely from any internet enabled device. The benefit of having a user enabled self-service portal for configuration is that it greatly reduces the designated administrator’s workload as the users can configure their own extensions. This might seem a trivial point but you really do want users to self-configure features such as find-me/follow-me whereby users will configure devices to be contacted on by preference, such as a list of phone numbers to be rung either in sequence or simultaneously till one is answered. Additionally, not only does self-service portals reduce the administration burden it allows users to access their voicemail and check their extensions reporting and accounting records.
Pricing and Plans
The Phone.com service is separated into two service plans; Pay-Per-Minute, and an Unlimited Minutes plan.
The choice of payment plans has on the one hand a Pay-Per-Minutes Plan. With this plan Phone.com has three additional price plans. At the entry level there is the Base plan which comes with 300 free minutes and is priced reasonably at $12.99 per user per month ($9.99 if paid annually in advance), the Plus Plan comes with 500 free minutes costs $19.99 per user per month and the Pro Plan that comes with 1,000 free minutes costs $29.99 per user per month.
On the other hand with Unlimited Minute plans the costs are for Base, Plus, and Pro at $29.99, $37.99 and $59.99 respectively per user extension per month.
Unlimited Minutes Plan:
Interestingly, Phone.com takes a slightly different view to their service delivery, to most of their competitors, as there is no difference between the feature sets available with the Base, Plus or Pro service plans, they all offer the same basic set of features and functions. Unfortunately that is not as good as it initially sounds as what Phone.com decides to be advanced features come at an additional cost – but as the basic feature set amounts to over 40 functions, including options such as auto attendant, IVR, call forwarding, voice-mail to email amongst many others that may not be a major issue to an SMB – however more about that later.
New Service Plans – Range of Phone Number Options Available
Where Phone.com does excel against their competitors is with regards their service plans that offer unlimited minutes as these are actually free calling minutes, including notably toll free minutes. As a result all minutes whether inbound or outbound are included within the free minute’s allocation for each service plan. Moreover, bundles of free minutes can be purchased separately, for example if you elect to have the base plan with 300 free minutes, there is the option to purchase bundles of additional free minutes at between $18.50 for 500 additional minutes to an additional $725 if you wish to extend the free minutes available to you by up to 25,000 minutes. However, if you decide to change the status of an existing extension from pay as you go to unlimited there is an upgrade path but it will cost $23.99 per month per extension. Hence, because of the flexibility in configuring an extension as pay-per-minute or unlimited the Phone.com service provides a very cost effective solution for small to medium business.
Another differentiator between Phone.com and many of its competitors is the range of phone number options available to the customer. Phone.com supports local, toll free and vanity numbers just like their competitors but where Phone.com differ is that they can also offer International numbers albeit at an extra cost. However, pricing of $4.99 for Australia and the EU nations is reasonable as is $14.99 for premium locations such as Hong Kong, Bahrain and Brazil.
Phone.com Review – Standard Features
This is perhaps where Phone.com is lacking as although it has most if not all of the basic features expected from an SMB class PBX it does seem to charge extra for ‘advanced’ features their competitors would consider standard. For example Phone.com supports over 40 features such as call handling and management functions:
- auto attendant
- Caller ID (Outgoing)
- call forwarding
- call blocking
- find me/follow me
- 3 way calling (conferencing)
- call recording (additional cost)
However, it is not just voice recording that is deemed advanced and comes at an additional cost, many other functions, which you would expect to have bundled with the feature set are also deemed worthy of an additional fee. An example of this are the voicemail-to email, mobile apps, HD voice and call queuing, which would normally be expected to be bundled within the feature package and not be charged as extras. However there are some worrying things with regards to Phone.com’s advanced features such as the lack of an option to have a fully redundant network.
Mobile Apps – Including VoIP
Phone.com has mobile apps available for both Android and IoS based Smartphones. One of the design principles behind Phone.com virtual telephone service is that it should be functional to run the business of a smartphone. Therefore, to that end Phone.com has made a very well integrated mobile app. The mobile apps differ slightly but both have complete functionality and seamless transitions without any lag or jerkiness. Indeed, Phone.com in this respect rivals their far bigger competitor RingCentral.
Phone.com’s mobile app allows you to do everything you could on a basic extension as well as enter the administration portal. This makes your smartphone a very useful administration tool especially if you are out of the office a lot. Some other notable features of the mobile app is it allows you to switch between using your carrier minutes and Wi-FI VoIP to make calls using your business number. Several other vendors have this outbound calling feature but few transition so gracefully as Phone.com. With Phone.com you simply select the carrier or VoIP call option on the mobile app and that is it.
Other key features of the Phone.com mobile apps that differentiate it from its lower end rivals is that it also supports enhanced visual voicemail, SMS texting, Faxing, and video conference calling. Moreover you are doing this over your Phone.com extension and not your mobile carrier network. Additionally the Phone.com mobile app is easy to download and configure albeit there is one caveat you should be aware off. If you want to be able to use WiFi VoIP on the smartphone to make business calls you need to set the extension type to mobile if not you will default to making calls over the mobile carrier network.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
A regular extension shared the pool of available minutes that you have - ie. 300 minutes on a basic plan. However some extensions may be heavy users and benefit by upgrading to an unlimited extension, which as its name suches has unlimited minutes available subject to fair usage.
You can choose between Apple IOS or Android mobile apps and they are available on the Phone.com website. On first opening the mobile app you will first need to authenticate your phone with Phone.com. Once this is achieved you can then configure the app by entering the mobile and business numbers associated with the phone.
You can set your caller ID within your Phone.com account settings. There are three ways you can do this:
- You can change your extension settings.
- You can change your phone number setting.
- Change the caller ID settings mobile app on your smartphone.
First you will need to set up your phone.com menu. A menu lets your caller choose an extension number, receive a customised greeting and listen to any messages you might configure. All of these items are dependent on you creating a voicemail greeting and you do this by Adding a Menu Greeting. You should give this process some thought and planning as it is the initial contact that customers will have with your company so you want to make it a good one. Once you have configured your menu you can add the forwarding options and then activate the menu. You are then ready to receive inbound customer calls.
Reliability & Availability
A fully redundant network, which is a network with high availability built into the design typically through multiple data centers and hubs across the country should be a given and not an extra. A businesses telephone system requires high levels of reliability and the service provider should be able to demonstrate four or five, nine levels of reliability and availability, it is something a customer should be expecting not paying extra for.
Phone.com pricing and toll free minutes policy makes it very attractive to SMBs. The ability to assign local numbers to foreign business entities also is a major advantage as you can make international calls at local rates. This makes it very attractive to businesses with a foreign footprint however you should be aware that those international calls are not free, they are charged as local calls in both the unlimited and the free minutes bundle packs. However, it is not all good news as some of the extra or premier features that Phone.com charge additionally for, such as call recording or video conferencing, will be found in standard feature packs from their competitors. In addition, should be bundled as part of the package.