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Verizon Offers Over-the-Top SMB Cloud Communications Service

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October 17, 2012

Verizon Offers Over-the-Top SMB Cloud Communications Service

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

Verizon (News - Alert) Enterprise Solutions has rolled out "Virtual Communications Express," an over-the-top cloud communications service for small to medium-sized businesses (SMB). Company officials say you can run the service on "any" broadband connection and get HD voice service tied into Verizon's customer cloud.

Features included in Virtual Communications Express include support for G.722 HD voice over Verizon's VoIP network – you aren't going to get HD if you dial a number outside of the company's VIPER SIP exchange – a Web console to add and adjust features, support for Google (News - Alert) Apps for Business and unlimited local and U.S. long distance service.  The Office Anywhere services forwards calls from an office to a mobile line, and also performs caller ID aliasing to enable outgoing calls made via a mobile or home phone to appear with an office phone number. It also offers enhanced hunt group and call queuing.

Simultaneous ring and call forwarding to multiple numbers and visual voicemail are also included.  

With a downloaded App from the Google Apps marektplace, users get click-to-call from Gmail, GChat and Google Calendar, and can indicate presence in the Google environment as well.

Qualification and setup is designed to be easy and not require a truck roll. A business would first run a Javascript pre-qualification tool to determine if there's enough bandwidth to support the number of phones and other apps to be run, along with looking at router and firewall configurations to see if any adjustments are necessary.

Once the LAN is cleared and ready to go, the service is priced on a per seat or per line basis, depending on the number of end-users that need phone numbers, with a starting price of around $35 per month per line. Business can choose either to purchase or lease a certified phone from Verizon, with three Polycom (News - Alert) desk phones and the classic speakerphone currently on the list.  

Phones are pre-configured, so all the business has to do is wait for the phones to arrive and then plug them in so they can identify their location.

As a part of the service, Verizon provides an implementation coordinator to own the qualification and installation process. Verizon says it can put a business on new phone numbers within seven business days and port existing numbers over within 15 days.

Verizon believes this offering will be attractive to businesses that have 20 to 200 DIDs, typically running between five business lines up to two PRIs for calls. 

I'm interested to see how this offering squares up on a non-Verizon broadband connection, and if it will pick up any ground against a hoard of other SMB cloud offerings currently in the marketplace. Numerous independent regional and national cloud telephony offerings have already established themselves and the cable companies see the SMB market as their own because they can offer faster and more responsive customer service.

Edited by Braden Becker

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