CenturyLink Business VoIP Service for Small Businesses
CenturyLink announced a new voice over IP service targeted toward very small businesses with between one and ten employees. The new service runs on the Broadsoft BroadCloud platform, which is hosted and managed by BroadSoft in BroadSoft’s own cloud. CenturyLink has branded this new service “CenturyLink Business VoIP”.
CenturyLink offers VoIP services to larger business in which CenturyLink hosts the hardware and the BroadSoft BroadWorks platform in CenturyLink’s own cloud. Both the SMB and the LMB offerings have similar functionality; however, for the SMB play, it is more economical for CenturyLink to use the BroadCloud-based offering with its accompanying on-boarding capabilities as opposed to the heavier lifting required to on-board smaller customers when using CenturyLink’s own hosted offering.
Business VoIP is a direct sell from CenturyLink, and it is not (yet) available from CenturyLink partner companies. CenturyLink has set up an outbound sales group of approximately 250 agents to call CenturyLink SMB customers educating them and inviting them to replace their POTS lines with the new service.
Two Business VoIP options are available:
- Package 1: Provides approximately 50 telephony features including visual voicemail, unlimited domestic long distance, a softphone, IM/presence, mobile UC, and high-definition audio and video. This subscription is $25/user/month. UC functionality is provided using BroadSoft’s UC Communicator which is skinned and branded CenturyLink Business Communicator.
- Package 2: Provides the same 50 telephony features and unlimited domestic long distance. No UC features are included. This package sells for $20/user/month.
Subscription terms can be month-to-month or a two-year contract will give a lower price.
Subscribers can buy IP phones from CenturyLink, bring their own VoIP phone (CenturyLink published a list of compatible IP phones), or CenturyLink can provide an analog telephone adapter so that existing TDM phones can work with the service.
Additional optional features include auto attendant, hung groups, group paging, call recording, etc. CenturyLink hinted toward future bundles, but no details were disclosed. A CenturyLink DSL connection with at least 12 MB/S is also required.
Here’s What I Think
This service will prove to be lower cost to many existing CenturyLink SMB customers who are using CenturyLink’s analog services. I know because I happen to own a small business that has two locations with four CenturyLink analog lines (voice and fax at each location). I find CenturyLink’s analog lines expensive compared to most VoIP services out there, so any cost savings will be a boon to SMBs who are very price sensitive.
The service still requires a DSL connection, and it does not offer fax capabilities. CenturyLink said that organizations using fax machines will need to keep an analog line.
I think CenturyLink should create a bundle that at a minimum would include voice and DSL. Fax could be added as a simple low cost add on, which would still save SMBs money over having a dedicated analog line just for faxes.
CenturyLink hinted that other services, like Office 365, may be included; however, I don’t particularly find this compelling unless there is some integration between CenturyLink’s own services and Office 365. For example, my small manufacturing and retail business already uses Office 365 for email, online file storage, and UC capabilities.
Overall, Business VoIP should be a good move for CenturyLink. This service will allow CenturyLink to keep customers who may be considering giving up their CenturyLink analog lines in favor of a solution from Comcast, 8x8, RingCentral or another VoIP provider. Plus, it will be less expensive for these SMB customers. Seems like a win-win for everyone.