Phonebooth.com is a US based virtual telephone provider that is most notable for its low cost, high quality cloud based IP VoIP service. The Phonebooth On-Demand service offers HD voice over a proprietary network across the US, which enables Phonebooth to offers unlimited local and long distance calls for a set fee of $20 per user per month. The way this works is that Phonebooth.com is owned and operated by Bandwidth.com, which has been a major IP CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier) in the US, since 1999 and owns its own nationwide network. This means that Phonebooth’s On-Demand service benefits from real HD voice and high quality and performance, also though there are
Carrier-class IP Infrastructure
Phonebooth does have some limitations but their underlying carrier network is certainly not one of them. Having a parent that is a major IP carrier has many advantages. One of which is that the underlying infrastructure required for IP communications is already in place. Bandwidth.com for instance has geographically dispersed IP data centers across the country connected via a robust carrier-class IP network. It is access to this ubiquitous IP network that provides the platform for Phonebooth.com to supply their 30,000 plus customers with low cost minutes for both local and long distance calls.
The calls are certainly of high quality and low cost but the catch is although they claim unlimited calls that feature is actually capped at 2.500 minutes per month so you may end up with over-use charges.
Service Plans and Pricing
The good news is that with Phonebooth there are no contracts or set-up charges and you can cancel at any time. This makes it very attractive for a starter package if you are a small start-up entering the VoIP market for the first time as you can enter and exit cheaply and quickly.
Phonebooth.com has only one service plan called Phonebooth OnDemand and it provides unlimited calls per user per month for a flat fee of $20. This is very low fee for the service, features and functionality provided but there is a catch. Phonebooth.com has a fair usage policy that rates ‘fair usage’ as being 2,500 minutes per user per month. Now that is very low, as remember VoIP counts incoming and outbound call minutes, therefore any minutes used over that limit will encounter a fee of 1.9c per minute. This extra minutes fee is also very low, but it is something that you need to be aware of if you are a heavy phone user – unlimited does not mean unlimited, there is usually a fair usage condition in the small print.
There is another service plan run by the parent Broadband.com, which is suitable for very small businesses, that is free for the first 200 inbound call minutes. After that limit is reached calls are charged at 3c per minute. But be warned no outbound calls are presently possible but this is a strictly incoming phone service. Additionally, this service is not really Phonebooth.com so we will leave it for another article.
Features & Functions
Phonebooth OnDemand is a low price, low frills cloud IP telephone service so don’t expect an abundance of advanced features and functionality. However saying that OnDemand does meet the requirements for most if not all SMBs when it comes to traditional phone services. Furthermore, the features that OnDemand does provide, it does well. For instance, OnDemand has HD voice, and intelligent call routing that take advantage of Broadband.com’s nationwide carrier-class IP network.
What OnDemand also offers is two free business numbers, unlimited number of auto-attendants, groups and voice conferences.
In addition, there are all the typical IP virtual telephone services and features, such as auto attendants, advanced call transfer and routing to other phones and extensions (Find me-Follow me). There is also unlimited voicemail to email transcriptions and you can access the service portal through a standard web 2.0 website to administer and manage your phones and account.
However that is about as good as it gets for your $20, as there is no fax capability, no call recording, call queuing or messaging/email support. There is also no integration with business applications such as Outlook, Salesforce or other Messaging/CRMs contact management systems although that should not be expected at this price point. However what is a major failing at even this low price is the inability to customize the auto attendants greeting, this and very poor management tools really let the system down.
Phone and Accessories
Phonebooth OnDemand’s service only offers phones from Polycom and Yealink but there is no mobile app or softphones. Furthermore, although Phonebooth.com should be able to support any SIP based phone as they are communicating over Broadband.coms IP network it isn’t clear from their website how easily you could configure your own SIP phones.
Again, with Support, Phonebooth’s OnDemand delivers a mixed bag with some good and some bad features. For example, there is an online help center with a FAQ (frequently asked questions) section for self-help. However, there is no way to contact Support via either web chat or worse even email. The only alternative is to call the Support number but that isn’t always possible when your telephone system is down.
Phonebooth OnDemand does not offer a mobile app or desktop softphone.
One other good point regards Phonebooth’s OnDemand service is that there is no contract required, no service activation or cancellation fees and no risk. It will however cost you a fee to take any numbers given to you by Phonebooth should you wish to port to another service. This is something that you should consider as one of the problems with Phonebooths OnDemand is that there is no clear if any road to expand and to scale the service. Therefore, once your business out-grows OnDemand’s limited features you will invariably be forced to upgrade to another service provider.
Phonebooth Pros and Cons
- High Definition voice
- High Quality Network
- One-low price, $20 per user.
- Easy Setup. Instant Activation.
- Unlimited minutes in the US
- No contract, no risk.
- Low features compared to competitors
- Low acceptable user ceiling
- No Mobile app or Softphone
- No upgrade path
Frequently Asked Questions
Phonebooth’s OnDemand service is a high performance, low cost, low frills virtual IP telephone system that delivers HD voice and very cheap calls based on a low set fee per user. The drawbacks are that the feature set is basic and there might not be all the features that your business requires. There is also a caveat regards the ‘unlimited calls’ as Phonebooth bases this on a low rate of 2,500 minutes – so expect to be billed for over usage.
For a small business, Phonebooth may fit the bill if you are content with no fax, mobile apps and very limited features but where cost is the priority but there is no roadmap to upgrade as you go, so it might be just a first short term solution. On the other hand, OnDemand is extremely easy to use due in part to its simplicity and lack of buttons and knobs. The call quality delivered through High Definition voice is also excellent.