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Vonage Review: Flexible Calling With The PBX-led UCaaS Solution

Read our Vonage Office review

It is perhaps a little surprising that there has not been more crossover between the business and consumer cloud communications markets.

In the general IT software market, it is very much par for the course for vendors to target home and business audiences simultaneously. Microsoft offers a perfect example, as does Google.

Vonage Talk Clever
Vonage uses cloud technology to help commercial and residential customers talk clever with VoIP.

But in UCaaS, there seems to be an unspoken rule of separation. We haven’t yet seen, for example, WhatsApp making a play for the team collaboration market, just as we haven’t seen any of the big enterprise cloud vendors launching video messaging apps to muscle in on Facebook Live’s territory.

Consumer and business developers alike use the same technology. Clearly it is just the purposes which do not align so well.

One company which breaks that mould is Vonage. Tracing its origins back to 2000, New Jersey-based Vonage has based the core of its business around selling residential VoIP subscriptions, launching in the UK in 2005. The key benefits it offers consumers, assuming they already have a broadband connection, are lower call costs than traditional phone carriers and no landline charge.

Over the past five years, however, Vonage has significantly re-shaped its business to move into the business market. This has been driven by a spate of acquisitions of existing UCaaS vendors, gaining their traction in the channel as well as their product portfolios.

This has resulted in Vonage developing two business solutions of its own – a single line VoIP service, drawing on its expertise in residential VoIP lines, and Vonage Office, a cloud-based hosted telephony and UC system.

In this review, we will take a closer look at Vonage Office, and ask if the company’s experience and expertise as a residential VoIP carrier has given it any advantages in the cloud communications market.

As always, please remember that CommsTrader is a completely independent news and information service for the Unified Communications industry, and does not play any role in promoting any particular brands or products.

What can it do?

Vonage Office is a cloud-based business communications solution built on a hosted PBX platform with a range of UC features.

As with most hosted cloud telephone systems the key benefits Vonage Office offers are simple plug-in deployment, ready scalability and subscription based pricing with no upfront costs.

One of the big advantages Vonage has is that it owns its own private Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) network, so it isn’t reliant on other carriers. MPLS is known for providing high quality performance in different communication media. Customers therefore get access to enterprise-class infrastructure, without the cost and hassle of installing it yourself, with high QoS guaranteed by direct management.

Vonage Office subscriptions are available on a simple three-tier basis:

  • Standard: Monthly subscription includes 1000 call minutes to UK landlines and mobiles
  • Business 1000: Includes 1000 call minutes to UK landlines and mobiles, plus pairing of multiple devices
  • Business Unlimited: Unlimited calls to UK landlines and mobiles, plus pairing of multiple devices

In addition to the inclusive call minutes to UK numbers, there is the option of a global calling add-on, which provides unlimited calls to landlines and mobiles in 32 countries, plus unlimited calls to landlines only in another 30.

Customers get a choice of UK area codes and numbers, leveraging the ability of cloud PBX systems to offer local dialling even if agents are in a remote location.

Vonage Office comes with all of the call handling features you would expect from a PBX, such as voicemail, anonymous call reject, busy lamp field, speed dial, call forwarding and call return. In terms of handsets, Vonage offers a range of Polycom desktop and conference phones to purchase which are compatible with the system, as well as a Gigaset DECT.

Alternatively, there is also a Vonage Office app for smartphones, tablets and for desktop which includes a fully functioning softphone. With device pairing, you can have calls routed to your desk phone, desktop computer and mobile all at once, and answer using whichever is most convenient. This provides full mobility to access the Office phone network wherever you are, plus in the office you can use your computer to manage calls, with one click answering, call direct and so on.

Vonage BusinessDepending on your subscription, Vonage Office also offers conference calling for up to 50 members, plus 6-way calling with a group autodial feature so you call all colleagues at once.

Call Monitoring is available on Business 1000 and Business Unlimited plans. Administrators can also set up calling plan rules and authorisation protocols to manage the types of calls certain users are allowed to make or receive, for example international calls. Call recording is available as a paid-for extra.

What we like

The pairing of multiple devices – desk phones, desktop computers, laptops, mobile – is extremely easy to set up and makes the system extremely flexible. It means Vonage Office is just as well suited to running a traditional desk phone-based office network as it is supporting remote workers and a distributed workforce, it makes BYOD very easy and all workers have the flexibility to work and communicate from different locations as required.

Who is it for?

Vonage Office does offer open-ended scalability, and Vonage provides tailor-made solutions for enterprises built on the Office platform. But by and large, Office is aimed at the small to medium sized market – growing businesses which want no complications with their comms system, but need something which can expand with them, perhaps into different locations.

What is it compatible with?

Vonage Office supports a number of Polycom VVX range desk phones, Polycom IP range conference phones, and the Gigaset S650s DECT wireless phone.

What does it cost?

Vonage Office plans are priced as follows.

  • Standard: £12 per user, per month.
  • Business 1000: £15 per user, per month.
  • Business Unlimited: £17 per user, per month.

All prices are excluding VAT. The World Option international calling plan is an additional £3.33 per user, per month plus VAT.

Where can I get more information?

For details on the different business cloud plans, special offers, contact details and more, take a look at the Vonage Office Phone Systems page.

CommsTrader Opinion

Vonage has brought plenty of lessons from its experience as a residential VoIP carrier to the world of UCaaS. It understands the attractions of simple price plans, with straightforward, no jargon deals which let customers know exactly what they are getting for their money. It harnesses all of the power of IP telephony to offer affordable rates, especially its unlimited call international add-ons, and the flexibility to choose UK geographical numbers as required. Plus it understands the benefits of running its own MPLS network, and the QoS guarantees that allows it to give.

Added to that expertise, Vonage has developed a very popular cloud PBX solution. It offers flexibility, scalability and multi-device support to the core office telephone system features you would expect, all with outstanding call quality and high resilience.

Are you a Vonage Office customer? What are your thoughts about it? What place do you see cloud PBX solutions playing in UCaaS as time goes on? If you want to join in the discussion, feel free to post a comment below, and why not share this article on social media and get others involved too.

This article is part of the July Series of the Technology Track on Cloud Communications, follow the link to see all published and planned articles.

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Summary

Flexible hosted PBX solution for growing businesses.

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Written by Paul Newham

Paul Newham

Hi I'm Paul, I specialise in technology, covering telecoms, cloud and IT infrastructure and digital marketing.