Voice over IP is old hat for telcos, but among many small to midsized businesses it remains an unknown quantity capable of features that are often ignored, say executives with Allworx, a subsidiary of Windstream that has made its own VoIP gear since 1998.
Allworx Corp. is today unveiling a new VoIP system that is designed to help SMBs take greater advantage of unified communications capabilities. These capabilities include seamless connections to mobile devices during active voice calls, as part of a system that also delivers Gigabit Ethernet services, enhanced security and easy migration from what the SMBs are doing today.
Allworx is offering the new system in a bundle with Windstream Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: WIN) data services or through value-added resellers. The engineering firm was originally acquired by Paetec, which was itself acquired by Windstream. (See Windstream Completes Paetec Buy.)
The goal is to help SMBs move beyond basic calling features -- which is all that most of them use today -- to the full range of UC and other capabilities that VoIP can offer, says Chris Hasenauer, general manager of Allworx.
"This is our third generation of VoIP servers and it continues the path we've been on for 10 years," he says. "Twenty years into VoIP's existence, ti is still a mystery for many SMBs, and unified communications is still unknown to average customers. But the phone systems are still important to them and many are evaluating a new phone system. There is just not a lot of understanding of what the new technology does for them."
Allworx commissioned a survey by Hanover Research in which 74% of SMBs said voice communications are extremely or very important to their businesses. Sixty-eight percent were aware of VoIP, but less than one-quarter are using advanced features -- most still consider three-way calling, conference calls and music-on-hold as their primary features.
What the Allworx Connect series is designed to do is bring them Gigabit Ethernet connectivity -- in varying amounts depending on the model -- in equipment that features fast processing and solid-state memory storage at attractive pricing options, with three codec options including the newer G.729 codecs bundled in. On top of this, Allworx runs its new System Software 8.0 which supports features including integrated mobile connectivity, allowing voice calls to move from a desk phone to a mobile phone during an active call.
All of this is offered in a manner that supports VoIP and advanced features as a managed service, because the on-premises device can be managed remotely, removing the complexity from the SMB, which may not have IT staff on premises, Hasenauer says.
To simplify pricing, Allworx doesn't sell seat licenses. Advanced features are licensed by the server, not the seat, so SMBs know the upfront cost and don't have to pay for additional seats. The only exception to that is the Reach mobile app, which involves a client download on a mobile device and is sold per-user.
The Allworx approach is to get inside the company with the new system and then introduce additional features as the businesses get more comfortable with them. While SMBs don't have to be engaged in the management of their devices, they can control basic things such as moves, adds and changes, in a simplified system that doesn't require IT support.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading