Phone.com Turns Voice Mail Into E-Mail

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Year-old business IP telephony provider Phone.com has added a voice-mail-to-e-mail option to its flagship “Virtual Office” service for the SMB customer.

Phone.com, which launched last November after acquiring the coveted but dormant domain name “Phone” (TelecomWeb news break, Nov. 8, 2007), argues that voice mail transcribed into e-mail eliminates the need for users to log in to a voice-mail account or to play messages from a PC or a phone. The service, called “Text-Voicemail,” also allows the review of voice mail from within a noisy environment or in other situations when a phone call is impossible or PC is not available. The text voice mails can be sent to any e-mail account specified, which obviously includes such push e-mail accounts as those offered for BlackBerry service.

The system also results in the creation of messages that can be stored like any other text file, searched and even forwarded to others. The messages aren’t free, though. Each voice mail converted to text is billed at $0.25, but a business does have the option to turn the service on and off at will via the Phone.com account Web interface.

“With the introduction of our new Text-Voicemail service, our customers can enjoy additional added value from their Virtual Office service along with the other benefits from our robust set of features,” said Ari Rabban, CEO at Phone.com. “Our Virtual Office service is growing strongly since we launched back in December 2007, establishing Phone.com as a major player in the virtual PBX, toll-free numbers provider and small business market.”

Phone.com is fairly unusual in the hosted business VoIP market in that it can use either TDM or VoIP for last-mile delivery of its service. Indeed, it can deliver calls to almost any phone number in the world, including wireless service. Using “Virtual Office,” which supports as many as 100 users, a business gets one or more phone numbers, which can be toll-free, and callers hear a menu prompting them to dial what could be as many as 100 extensions. The call then is sent to whatever numbers are programmed by the user.