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Verizon Highlights Simplicity with New Cloud UC Service for SMBs

TMCnews Featured Article


November 08, 2012

Verizon Highlights Simplicity with New Cloud UC Service for SMBs

By Sandra M. Gustavsen, Analyst, Business VoIP


Verizon (News - Alert) is offering a new hosted or cloud-based unified communications (UC) service for small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) called Virtual Communications Express. The new offer includes a business-grade phone service for voice communications, but also integrates with Google (News - Alert) Apps for the multimedia and collaborative capabilities that modern businesses are seeking to enhance productivity and improve their competitive edge. The new Virtual Communications Express service, launched on October 10, 2012 nationwide, supports any size business, but is most effective for businesses with under 125 employees, according to Verizon.


The key to the new hosted offer is simplicity. Verizon has designed and packaged Virtual Communications Express to be “simple to buy, simple to implement, simple to administer, simple to use.” This simplicity is absolutely necessary to smaller businesses that require reliable phone service, but may not have the capital to invest in on-site phone system equipment or may not have the technical resources or IT expertise necessary for installation and on-going maintenance.

Hosted or Cloud UC services like Verizon’s Virtual Communications Express are gaining popularity as a way to eliminate the hassle and cost of deploying an office phone system. Start-up is quick. It is easy to add new users as growth occurs and simple to subscribe to new services as these become available. A hosted service can also address redundancy and disaster recovery with servers co-located at the Service Provider site or remotely located within the Service Provider network. So, in lieu of an on-premises telephone system and the associated monthly telecom, data costs and perhaps even IT personnel, customers simply pay a predictable monthly fee to utilize the hosted service for all of their communications needs.

Highlights

  • Virtual Communications Express utilizes BroadSoft technology for call control and includes standard PBX (News - Alert) features such as auto attendant, music on hold, hunt groups, three-way conferencing, call forward, hold and transfer. But, there is also more advanced functionality important to today’s workers who are on-the-go and often away from their desks, namely simultaneous ringing of alternate phones (a desktop phone, a mobile phone or a home phone) and Office Anywhere, a standard feature that forwards incoming calls to an alternate device (i.e. a mobile or home phone) and displays the user’s office extension in the Caller ID when outgoing calls are made. Visual voicemail lets users conveniently receive their voice messages in e-mail inbox.
  • Customers can subscribe to Google Apps (purchased separately from Google) to add UC functionality, namely click-to-call from Gmail, Google Docs and Google Calendar. Google Apps users can view and manage presence status information and send instant messages to other Google Apps users. Video chats from a Gmail inbox are also possible, including sharing and editing documents in real-time.
  • Three desktop phone models and one conference unit from Polycom (News - Alert) are currently available for rent or purchase, keeping the offer uncomplicated and free from too many choices. Users can choose the 2-line SoundPoint IP 335 phone for cubicles, lobbies or breakrooms, the 3-line SoundPoint IP 450 for office workers with medium call volumes or the 6-line large-screen SoundPoint 650 IP for executives and attendants. The SoundStation IP 6000 conference phone is suitable for midsize conference rooms. All of the devices feature Polycom’s HD Voice technology. A mobile client is planned for early 2013.
  • Web-based Administrator and User Portals are straightforward and allow users to easily configure and manage phones, employees, features from a Web browser.
  • The level of support is a critical differentiator in cloud UC services. The new Virtual Communications Express service is backed by Verizon’s IT Help Desk for 24x7 support, including unlimited help desk calls and on-site visits (Basic, Advanced and Premier support levels are available). An on-premises appliance or ‘probe’ (from BroadSoft) is deployed at every customer site and provides data to Verizon for diagnostics and problem-solving remotely. Additionally, Verizon’s carrier-grade, fully redundant network provides stability and reliability.

Availability: Verizon Virtual Communications Express is available as of October 10, 2012 nationwide and includes unlimited domestic local and long distance calling. Two pricing models are offered. An out-of-the-box, all-inclusive offer aimed at very small businesses is $35 per user. Larger organizations that want to buy stations and trunks in varying quantities for efficiency will pay about $18-$20 per user.




Edited by Brooke Neuman







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