Obihai Technology, makers of the popular OBi line of VoIP telephone adaptors, will soon offer a managed service that extends the capabilities of a low-cost OBi100 or OBi110 analog telephone adaptor to provide powerful office phone system functionality to small businesses.
The service, called OBiPlus, has entered the “latter stages of beta testing”, according to the company’s web site. Obihai is currently seeking a limited number of small business users to beta test the service using devices they already own and VoIP or land line services to which they already subscribe.
Among the OBiPLUS key features:
- Custom prompts: Provides a consistent way to direct callers to the proper group or extension;
- Cloud Service Voice Mail: Access a VoIP service’s voice mail from any Satellite extension;
- Daytime/Nightime Mode: Adjusts the way calls are handled depending on the day or time of day;
- Cloud-based configuration wizard: Step-by-step instructions for setting up the system;
- Call “parking”: Callers can be queued or “parked” and then retrieved by individuals or groups. Parked callers will hear music and/or a customized message.
Service subscriptions will include live phone and email technical support.
Subscribers will gain access to a system set-up wizard on the company’s OBiTALK portal that configures one of the devices at the customer’s premises as a “Master OBi”, which delivers all advanced features and manages incoming and outgoing calls.
The wizard will register up to 10 “Satellite OBis” running the stock factory firmware with the Master OBi. Two satellite devices can be installed in locations outside the local network — for example at an employee’s home or a remote office. Satellite OBis can also have their own “private” lines, which are managed independently.
Either a $50 OBi110 or $44 OBi100 can serve as a Master or Satellite OBi. Four separate IP-based calling services (up from two on the stock device) can reside on a single OBiPlus Master OBi. The services work independently of one another, or as trunk groups that transparently route calls through available channels.
One or all four of the services can be provided by Google Voice, which, until the end of this year, is offering free unlimited calling throughout the US and Canada as well as voicemail. Also any SIP-based service can be used, allowing for multiple incoming and outgoing calls to/from a single number.
An OBi110 used as a Master OBi can additionally support an analog land line service.
With the service, Obihai is targeting the small business market under 10 seats the company believes is ignored by existing VoIP and legacy telephone services.
“Small businesses spend much more than they have to on their phones,” said Sherman Scholten, Vice President of Marketing at Obihai. “With OBiPlus, they’ll have the communications features every business needs, in an easy-to-use package priced at a fraction of what they pay now.”
Though final pricing has yet to be set, the OBiPlus service is expected to cost around $300 per year. Hosted or so-called “Cloud” PBX services aimed at the small and medium business sector typically charge somewhere between $35 and $50 per seat per month. These services typically include a phone number, outgoing and incoming call services, and a small number of number of channels for concurrent calls.
Obihai believes that offering full PBX functionality that is unbundled from the actual phone service can save typical business users thousands of dollars each year. Obihai offers full and easy-to-use PBX functionality and a low-cost business VoIP service such as VoicePulse or CallCentric provides calling service plans, phone numbers and concurrent voice channels (one channel is needed for each ongoing call).
For example, a small business can sign up for a VoicePulse business plan and receive four channels of concurrent calls, plenty for the needs of most, at very significant savings over standard telephone systems providers.
A business utilizing the OBiPlus service and VoicePulse would experience telephone costs that are a fraction of the cost of even the least expensive virtual PBX and VoIP service providers, and many thousands of dollars less than large phone carriers such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T.
The company continues to seek beta testers who will receive a full year of OBiPlus service at no cost once the final product is released. Beta test application information, as well as a full product and feature description can be found on Obihai’s website.