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Our last review of Phone.com dates back to 2014 and since then the Newark NY based company established in 2007 has revitalized their product line. Phone.com has done way with the flat price per user business model and revitalized their feature set for a more flexible pricing hierarchy that will suit small medium businesses.
Designed for the SMB
Furthermore, Phone.com has retained the flexibility of being accessible for any communication sources whether that is a VoIP phone, a mobile, landline or a computer so there is no requirement to purchase specialist phones or equipment. In addition, Phone.com is designed to allow easy administration and configuration through a web accessible portal, which allows both administrators and users to configure their extension remotely from any internet enabled device. The benefit of this is that users can configure their own extensions for features such as find-me/follow-me whereby they can configure by preference a list of phone numbers to be rung either in sequence or simultaneously. Additionally, users can also use the portal to access their voicemail and check their extensions reporting and accounting records.
Previously Phone.com had a flat service plan with price differentiated by whether you selected the ‘pay as you go’ option that entered at $9.99 per user per month with calls charged at 2.5 to 3.9₵ per minute or if you selected the unlimited free call option at $19.99 per user per month. However, that has now changed and Phone.com has come into line with the typical business model of its competitors, whereby pricing is determined by the amount of free minutes available. Consequently, Phone.com now has three price plans, which is common across their competitors’ service and pricing plans. At the entry level there is the Base plan which comes with 100 free minutes and is priced reasonably at $9.99 per user per month, the Plus Plan that 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.
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
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 100 free minutes, there is the option to purchase bundles of additional free minutes at between $35 to $169, which could extend the free minutes available to you by up to 5,000 minutes. In addition if you elect to change the status of an extension from pay as you go to unlimited an upgrade can be purchased for $23.99 per month. Therefore, Phone.com provides a very cost effective solution for a hosted IP/PBX for the 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 $12.99 for premium locations such as Hong Kong, Bahrain and Brazil.
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 such as , an auto attendant, IVT, call forwarding, call blocking, find me/follow me, 3 way calling (conferencing), and even call recording though that comes at an additional cost.
However, it is not just voice recording that is deemed advanced and come 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 Phone.com’s advanced features such as the option to have a fully redundant network.
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 has brought itself in line with its competitor’s business models, which makes it easier to evaluate against head to head comparisons. This of course makes Phone.com more competitive and it’s pricing and toll free minutes policy makes it very attractive to SMBs. The focus on the SMB market makes it a very attractive solution in itself but additionally, Phone.com’s international reach also makes it very attractive to businesses with a foreign footprint even though international calls are not catered for in the unlimited or free bundles. However, some of the features that Phone.com deems advanced and worthy of an extra fee should be bundled as part of the package.
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