Fred Attalla knows he has no business installing a new IP-based phone system. He is quick to admit he's not technical.
But for his real estate office, Points Nor'East Properties, in Portsmouth, N.H., it was about time to take the phone system into the current century.
"We're one of the guinea pigs," he said of the new Voice over Broadband (VoBB) system from Whaleback Systems that was installed in the nearly 200-year-old office building. "And it's worked out pretty well."
Whaleback offers a different twist on VoIP. Instead of telecom managers having to deploy complicated systems and disrupt the entire network, the folks from Whaleback do it for you. They come in, drop an IP PBX on premises, sync up the handsets and that's pretty much it. The users see no additional operational costs or hassles.
Ken Stess, vice president for corporate and business development for Whaleback, said the company's line fills a void in SMBs, where updated voice systems are necessary, but often out of reach financially or too much of a burden for small IT shops to install. Being software-driven also makes it easy to use.
Stess said Whaleback takes the same approach as phone companies from decades past. A flat monthly rate covers all calling costs, upgrades and added features. The hardware and software is also included. A typical Whaleback system, which has 24/7 support and monitoring to ensure everything is flowing, runs about $50 per line. In contrast, a user-installed and user-managed
According to Stess, the platform is most effective in deployments of about 300 lines or less, though the system can support up to 1,500 without additional costs. He said some of Whaleback's deployments are for as few as five phones.
The Whaleback system, dubbed the SMB 1500, has all of the features of a larger VoIP deployment, including multi-line phones, desktop messaging, caller ID, intercom, remote access and road warrior functions, shared and bridged lines, group paging and conferencing calling.
Attalla said his staff uses the call forwarding feature, where they can send their desk phone to any other phone so they don't miss important calls at home or on the road.
"Being on the go is part of our business, so we needed a phone system that would help our clients quickly connect with an agent regardless of his or her physical location at any given moment," he said.