Perhaps you’re on the fence about switching from an analog phone service that utilizes a gigantic, inefficient in-office phone system or PBX. So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, the basic information every customer wants to know, how much does everything cost?
In this post, we’ll examine the business phone services offered by Comcast, AT&T, Cbeyond and Vonage. Then we’ll compare those plans to what you will get with Telonium.
Let’s start with our company to set up the comparison. For $24.95/month/extension you will receive unlimited local/long distance calling (which includes the contiguous 48 states) with absolutely no contract. For $10 more, we will include our virtual fax, which saves paper, ink, and remedies the issue of endless fax spam advertisements.
Since Telonium does not rely on a hulking in-office PBX (and instead, is hosted in a secure data facility with multiple redundancies), say goodbye to expensive installation fees and monthly maintenance!
That said, next we’ll look at the phone services AT&T offers small businesses. If you browse their website, then find a link to “small business,” you will encounter multiple advertisements for mobile phones. But we’re looking for a phone service with local/long distance calling, so I kept searching.
I found a tab entitled “local,” and I clicked it to find three different calling plans. The first (the one I was looking for), “Unlimited Local & Long Distance for Business,” is actually a bundle of local and long distance calling options. According to AT&T’s website, “AT&T Business Unlimited Calling™ II allows you to call anywhere in the U.S. anytime for one flat rate.”
I thought, one flat rate? Awesome! But I found no links to how much the product actually costs. Instead I had to call customer service, give my address (Atlanta), and I finally got a price…$72/month. This price includes one line. When I inquired how much additional extensions might cost, I was told that I could only find out that information once I’d placed my order and committed to a one-year contract.
When I decided to research Atlanta-based, Cbeyond, a T1 phone provider, I encountered even more difficulties. In fact, it was impossible to find a comparable local/long distance plan for small businesses.
When I checked out the company website, I was excited to read, “Cbeyond offers fully-loaded services and flexible packages that come standard with all the voice and broadband business basics you’ll need.” HOWEVER, I couldn’t find any information regarding the price of said packages. I had to send in a quick quote, then a customer service representative contacted me the following day.
Apparently, the base package includes a minimum of six lines, at a total of $400 per month. And because the service is T1 (broadband) and thus includes internet, whenever someone uses their phone, your internet will slow down. If all six lines are in use, your internet will be 20 percent slower.
Additionally, with Cbeyond, you must sign a three-year contract. If you attempt to terminate your service before three years, you may have to pay a five-figure fine.
Now time for Vonage!
When I found their business page, there were several plans, but only two were unlimited local/long distance. The first, entitled “US & Canada Unlimited,” included a special introductory offer of $9.99/month for the first three months. After that, the price shoots up to $24.99/month. Oh, and you must sign a one-year contract.
As a fellow VoIP company (well sort of), Vonage requires that a customer have high-speed Internet and a Vonage adapter that connects your phone to the Internet.
But then I read the small print. “Unlimited” calling is restricted to residential calling. According to their website, “Unlimited calling and other services for all residential plans are based on normal residential, personal, non-commercial use.”
The only other unlimited local/long distance plan Vonage offers is the “Small Business Premium Unlimited” plan. For 49.99/month (plus taxes and fees), you get unlimited local/long distance calling in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. You also get 500 minutes of outgoing fax service. Though once your minutes run out, Vonage will charge 3.9 cents for each additional minute. This plan makes no mention of the possibility of adding more extensions. However, with “Vonage Extensions,” you can forward your calls to your mobile phone. But that’s it.
Again, you will need high-speed Internet and a Vonage adapter.
So finally, (drum roll, please) let’s look at Comcast’s plans for small businesses.
I found myself on the main site for “Comcast Business Class,” then clicked the link to “phone” then “plans and pricing.” Most of the plans were actually bundles. You can get a phone line plus Internet or one phone line plus TV, etc.
Other than that, you’re stuck with “1 Full-Featured Phone Line” for $44.95/month that includes unlimited local/long distance. For an additional $7/month, they will include “full featured phone line equipment,”?!?!?! and for an extra $5/month they include voicemail. Again, there is no mention of adding extensions, only additional (basic) phone lines at $24.95/month.
And there you have it:
AT&T: You must call to get a quote. (Unless you live in Atlanta, then $72/month)
Cbeyond: $400/month for minimum package
Comcast: $44.95/month (plus $7 plus $5…so more like $56.95)
Telonium: $24.95/month (add $10 for unlimited faxing and it’s $34.95/month)
Oh and don’t forget, with the other companies who are merely providing phone services, you’ll still have to pay for the maintenance of your in-office phone system.
Ready to switch??!!