Intermedia Launches Hosted PBX VoIP Service

Paul Mah

Small and mid-sized businesses considering hosted PBX service just gained one new option as of the beginning of this month. Intermedia, which holds the reputation as the world's largest provider of Microsoft Exchange hosting, has launched a hosted PBX with unlimited domestic calling and extension dialing. In addition, the company says its new service comes with unified communications (UC) capabilities such as voicemail-to-e-mail and click-to-call.

 

Subscribers to the hosted PBX service will be able to use VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol technology, to make or receive phone calls without having to invest in any back-end equipment. A robust Internet connection is required to the tune of about 90 kbps per call though, and a hosted Exchange account from Intermedia is also required. In addition, hosted Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) service is required to enable the UC features.

 

In return, users get access to a plethora of features, such as a voice menu to greet callers and channel them to the correct staffer, extension dialing, and the ability to define hunt groups. Hunt groups are predetermined phone numbers that are routed directly to the appropriate department (e.g. sales) so that calls can be dealt with promptly.

 

In addition, voicemails can be sent to an e-mail inbox as a .wav attachment, a feature that greatly facilitates mobility. What caught my attention though, is the "Find me/Follow me" feature in which employees can be contacted even when out of the office by simply setting up a mobile or home number that will ring if the main number isn't answered. And as you would expect from a hosted service, the relevant administration is done online through Intermedia's HostPilot Control Panel. In a nutshell, there is absolutely no need for users to concern themselves about the underlying hardware or licensing details. You can see the full list of features here.

 

Having served as the decision-maker in the acquisition of PBX solutions a couple of times in the past, I feel that there is a gap in the solutions available to the small or branch office and those catered to mid-sized or large business. Often, smaller businesses are forced to invest in high-end PBX systems they can ill-afford, with the alternative being cumbersome individual phone lines that don't scale well beyond a couple of dozen users.


 

For its service, Intermedia apparently recommends Linksys and Polycom IP phones, while customers who will be using softphones are advised to go for CounterPath Corp's X-Lite. Full configuration support will be extended for recommended options; though softphones and hardware supporting standard SIP should work, Intermedia does not offer any guarantee on that front.

 

As part of a promotional rate, Intermedia is offering this hosted PBX service at $25 a month, excluding taxes, for the first three months. Customers will, of course, need to acquire their own IP phone and pay for any international toll charges incurred. Note that the creation of hunt groups is subject to a monthly fee beyond one free hunt group that is included.

 

Depending on your business sector, the price could either be just right, or come in as a little steep. The plug point is that costs are predictable, and because the various VoIP phones or software setup can be used for configured for another hosted PBX provider or an in-house deployment, this might be the perfect interim solution for some businesses.



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Aug 29, 2010 5:38 AM Alex Alex  says:

I have had VoIP phones since 2007 and in spite of a few idiosyncrasies, they are great phones. With the service I ordered, I pay about $10 a month and can call landlines in something like 38 countries as much as I want for no additional charges, as well as cells in a few plus I have incoming phone numbers in three different countries (US, Korea and New Zealand). The beauty of the VoIP phone is that I plug it right into the router and can stay in touch without turning on my computer.

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Sep 17, 2010 2:47 AM Greg Greg  says:

Does anyone know where to find Intermedia's Hosted PBX international toll rates?

I have signed up for this service and set up 2 users + voice menu in a matter of hours - a nice extra feature is that you upload your own menu files, so you can customize them using a plethora of audio editing apps. I went for the Bria upgrade to the softphone for the Outlook synchronization - very easy to use and fairly clear with a $25 Logitech stereo headset + noise canceling mic.

The only thing that is a little disappointing is the intrinsic lack of "ring back" functionality if "Find me" is set to another phone number with voice mail that kicks in before the 30s of ring time have elapsed. You end up losing the nifty feature whereby your voice mail is e-mailed to your Intermedia Exchange account as a .wav file.

Either way, I'm optimistic, and like the simplicity of a good SLA coupled with integrated management of e-mail and PBX for all my users; it was the SLA that steered me away from Google Voice, which has a similar feature set.

Also - set up your Voice Menu line first if you want it to be the first in a block of phone numbers. Then set up your users immediately after - you'll likely get a sequential set of phone numbers that way.

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Sep 30, 2010 2:57 AM Virtual Office PBX Virtual Office PBX  says: in response to Alex

"I have had VoIP phones  since 2007 and in spite of a few idiosyncrasies, they are great phones..."

Our business even recycled our analog phones because its hard to see them on the stock room eating dust. With ATA adapters, it worked well with our system.

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Feb 3, 2011 9:33 AM Yvonne Yvonne  says: in response to Alex

Hi! Agree that hosted PBX service is a great advantage to our communication needs. I recently learned a lot about hosted PBX on http://www.tollfreeservicereview.com/ while doing a research for the Improcom provider. Though it is quite difficult to select a provider since so many has flooded the market. But still, the search continues....

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Jan 24, 2014 3:52 PM kisspeter kisspeter  says:
Interesting article. I would add mizutech as an attractive VoIP hosting provider with their new on demand offer: http://www.mizu-voip.com/Services/VoIPHosting.aspx The idea is that you can start your VoIP server in a few minutes on the cloud, without any upfront investment; and here I mean a true server (not shared, not virtual) Reply

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