Panasonic partners with BroadSoft (News - Alert) to offer the Panasonic KX-TGP551 cloud-based phone service for businesses with up to seven employees. Unlike competing hosted services, there is no per-user or per-extension monthly fee. The Panasonic (News - Alert) Cloud Business Phone System is priced at $39.95 per hosted voice connection (direct phone number) per month with each connection supporting three simultaneous calls; there is no extra charge for extensions.
Panasonic System Networks Company of America, a long-time leader in premises-based telephone system hardware for small and mid-sized businesses, has entered the cloud-based or hosted communications market with the new Panasonic Cloud Business Phone System.
Panasonic is responding to its small business customers who are looking for an easily managed solution that does not require a large capital investment or complex installation and management. To meet this need, Panasonic has partnered with software provider BroadSoft, offering the new Panasonic Cloud Business Phone System for businesses with up to seven employees. The offer is comprised of Panasonic’s KX-TGP551 SIP Cordless Phone System, a corded handset base station and up to six associated cordless handsets at the customer premises, with BroadSoft’s BroadWorks switch providing the call control as a hosted service.
The benefits of cloud-based or hosted services are well-defined. Such solutions are gaining popularity, or at least garnering high interest among businesses, as a way to reduce equipment costs and ensure reliability, redundancy and disaster recovery. Hosted or cloud solutions eliminate the hassle of deploying on-premises equipment that requires ongoing administration and maintenance. The security of a fixed-rate (pay-as-you-go), quickly deployable hosted solution is appealing, particularly in a challenging economic environment.
Panasonic KX-TGP551 ships with the base station (with corded handset) and one KX-TPA50 cordless handset ($299.95 MSRP), serving two users out of the box; five additional KX-TPA50 handsets can be added for a total of six cordless handsets. In addition, the TGP551 base unit has six Busy Lamp Field (BLF) buttons that show which handsets are in use. These same buttons can also be used as One Button Transfer keys, allowing a receptionist, for example, to easily transfer a call to one of the cordless phones.
The system supports up to seven employees (users) in all. Since the base system comes with one corded phone and one cordless phone, just one additional cordless phone has to be purchased to support three users. Four additional cordless handsets can be purchased as needed. One line or hosted voice connection (direct phone number) supports up to three simultaneous calls, so a single hosted voice connection can support all seven users with one main business number and six extensions. Each cordless handset can be provisioned as an extension (e.g. 555-5000 Ext. 1, 555-5000 Ext. 2, etc.) or as a unique phone number (e.g. 555-5001, 555-5002, etc.); the system supports up to eight unique phone numbers. Incoming calls are routed accordingly, either through the main base station to the correct extension or directly to the unique phone number.
If desired, one or two additional hosted voice connections can be purchased to provide a second and third direct phone number. This is convenient, for example, to a home-based business that may want to segregate personal (home) phone calls from business calls, or a small office with three departments that require separate direct phone/main numbers and separate voice mailboxes.
Set-up is simple. The base station is plugged into an Internet broadband connection on the customer premises, and the service and phones are activated easily online. Additional hosted voice connections (lines) and telephony features are configured using an online Web-based tool.
- Unlimited local and domestic long distance calling (international calling is available for an additional cost)
- Voicemail and voicemail-to-email
- Call forwarding to a cell phone
- Auto Attendant (additional cost)
- Music-on-hold (basic, non-customizable music is free; customizable music is $3.99 per month)
- 3-way calling (5-party with optional conference server)
- Call block/call restriction
- Call waiting with Caller ID
- Call hold
- Call hunting
Availability and Pricing
The Panasonic Cloud Business Phone System (KX-TGP551) is available as of August 2011 at the following online stores: Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, OfficeDepot.com, Staples (News - Alert).com and Frys.com, as well as Fry’s Electronics retail stores. Suggested retail price for a basic package with one corded phone and one cordless phone is $299.95, plus $39.95 per line (hosted voice connection) per month with each line supporting three simultaneous calls ($25 one-time account setup fee). As a SIP-based system, the KX-TGP system (first introduced in May 2010) is specifically designed for the SIP-based open source PBX (News - Alert) market and hosted SIP environments. KX-TGP is currently tested and certified with BroadSoft’s BroadWorks hosted PBX switch and with Digium’s Asterisk open source PBX software. Panasonic is currently confirming interoperability across other switches, such as the Metaswitch hosted platform and the FreeSWITCH open-source telephony platform, but certifications are not yet complete (KX-TGP is not available for Panasonic’s own KX-NCP or KX-TDE PBX systems at this time.)
To find out more about Panasonic System Networks Company of America and BroadSoft, visit the companies at ITEXPO West 2011. Happening now in Austin, TX, ITEXPO (News - Alert) is the world’s premier IP communications event. Visit Panasonic System Networks Company of America in booth #513. Curtis Hartmann, senior director of Solutions at BroadSoft, is speaking during “How MNOs Can Leverage a Cloud Platform to Deliver UC.” Don’t wait. Register now.
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Sandra M. Gustavsen, business VoIP analyst, contributes her Business VoIP column to TMCnet. To read more of Sandra's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell