Unified Communications: PhoneFusion

By Jeff Goldman
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Jonathan Hollander first created the technology behind PhoneFusion, he says, to solve a problem he faced constantly as a computer consultant in the '90s. "I couldn't leave my office and get a phone call while I was out, because people were calling me on multiple phones and at multiple numbers," he says. "I needed a solution for people to be able to reach me."

And so, Hollander says, he put together a simple, straightforward find-me/follow-me application. "And every time somebody called me, they realized what was happening and they asked if they could use it," he says. In response to those inquiries, he first created PhoneBox Etc., then launched PhoneFusion in 2005 as a revamp of the offering.

The company now has three core products—the unified communications solution PhoneFusion One, the distributed call center application PhoneFusion Intelegen, and the reseller/partner offering PhoneFusion ESP.

What really makes PhoneFusion stand out from the wide range of competing providers in the marketplace, Hollander says, is the flexibility of its offering. "We target the small business community, and what we find is that small businesses have their own definitions of what they'd like to do for their employees with unified communications—and so we give you the ability to turn on or off any piece of our system," he says.

Those piecesinclude everything from conference calling to outbound fax—as well as a PC-based Control Center application. "Everything you can do over the phone, you can also do on the desktop application," Hollander says—for example., you can record a call either by clicking a button in the desktop app, or by dialing ##7 on your phone.

Hollander is quick to stress that VoIP is only one small part of PhoneFusion One. "We can offer a 99.99 percent uptime guarantee because we don't necessarily have to get you the call on VoIP," he says. "We'll send the call to your VoIP box and send it to your cell phone, so if your VoIP box isn't working, we can still get you the call. We can guarantee to get the call to you."

Fusion VoiceMail Plus interface
PhoneFusion's new VoiceMail Plus application
(click to see full size image)

And that includes reconnecting dropped calls as needed. "If you're on a cell phone, and you go through a tunnel and you get disconnected, the person who has called you using your unified communications number will hear that you were on a cell phone and you were disconnected—and if they push one button, we'll reconnect the call again for them," Hollander says.

There are two basic pricing levels for PhoneFusion One: Standard, without VoIP, for $9.95 per month, and Premium, with VoIP, for $29.95 per month. Optional add-ons like virtual attendant or click-to-call are available for an additional monthly fee. A new $3.95 Basic plan was recently added, which includes just a voicemail box and three find-me/follow-me locations.

The $3.95 plan, Hollander says, is designed to capitalize on the modular nature of the offering by allowing customers to purchase only the functionality they need. "You can build your unified communications package from the ground up as you would like it to be used—either as a small business of five people or so, or as a medium-sized business with 100 users that wants to offer specific functionality to those users," he says.

The company's second offering, Intelegen, is a Web-based distributed call center solution that's based on the same technology as PhoneFusion One. "You don't need any special equipment," Hollander says. "In fact, there's a place on the Web site where, as a supervisor, if you want to listen in on a call, you just enter your phone number and we connect the call to you wherever you are—and you can then listen to the call."

And the reseller/partner program PhoneFusion ESP, Hollander says, is fully brandable, whether the partner is reselling PhoneFusion One, PhoneFusion Intelegen, or a combination of the two. "As a service provider already, you can offer unified communications products on top of your existing offering, totally white labeled from us," he says.

At Spring VON.x last week, the company launched its newest product, Fusion Voicemail Plus, a free visual voicemail application for smartphones (see image, above). It's currently available for Windows Mobile, with BlackBerry, Palm, Symbian, and J2ME versions in the works.

Giving Fusion Voicemail Plus away for free, Hollander says, is part of a larger effort on PhoneFusion's part to help small businesses understand the advantages that come with unified communications. "We believe in unifying communications, and we need to get people to understand what that means," he says.

Adapted from Voipplanet.com.

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This article was originally published on April 02, 2008
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