Adds collaboration features to its own cloud phone service.
Cloud telephony provider Fonality said the IP phone services included in Microsoft and Google’s cloud productivity suites were not a threat.
“We’re not seeing those as direct competitors as yet,” said Marc Englaro, managing director for Fonality Australia and Fonality’s international vice president of sales.
Neither of the telephony services supplied by Microsoft or Google were registered with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) and therefore did not have to comply with legislated levels of service, Englaro said.
“In Australia we are classified as a carriage service provider (like) Telstra, Optus and AAPT. We provide a telephony service that’s regulated by the TIO. That regulatory framework gives customers the assurance that if a telco isn’t doing the right thing that there are penalties associated with not delivering a service.
Google and Microsoft’s telephony services also fell short in features compared to a dedicated telephony platform, Englaro said.
Google Voice, the IP telephony program within Google Apps’ Gmail, was “fairly basic” compared to enterprise products such as Fonality, Englaro said. Google Voice users in Australia could not make calls to the PSTN phone network, although this feature had been available in the US for about 12 months.
“It’s more a proof of concept about making phone calls over the ‘net. It’s not a system designed for inbound calls”, for example, Englaro said.
“A lot of companies would want their telephony system to provide PABX functionality. Even our smaller organisations are quickly adopting call-centre style capability to maximise the service they provide to their customers.
“That means routing calls to the next available agent, reports on how many calls are answered quickly, understanding the profile of their customers’ calling and making sure they’re doing a good job looking after them. You can’t do any of those things with Google Voice. It’s not really in the same class.”
While Microsoft’s Lync, based on the enterprise-grade Office Communicator IP telephony platform, was much more sophisticated, it required third party products to connect to the PSTN network, Englaro said.
“You can’t plug a phone line into a Lync server without going through some third-party gateways,” Englaro said.
The Lync Online service was not classified as a phone service and couldn’t make emergency calls or be held to regulated standards, Englaro said. The service wasn’t carrying calls in Australia yet according to his research, he added.
“The only announcements I have seen (say) that voice will come later. It will be a little like Skype, is what I expect. A voice-over-IP service that is intended to make cheap phone calls but not intended to be a replacement for a telephony service,” Englaro said.
Fonality had recently added call-centre capabilities to its on-premise and cloud services such as call distribution, and statistics on unanswered calls and the speed of answering calls.
The vendor had released collaboration features through its HUD interface. These included “drag and drop” to transfer calls, presence management, enterprise-grade secure instant messaging and integration with third-party programs such as Outlook for caller identification.
An iPhone app brought many of the PABX features to the Apple platform and gave users the choice of routing calls over the 3G data network, WiFi or the GSM mobile phone network.
Customers on Fonality’s cloud service, Fonality Connect, paid $39 per month for free calls to landlines in Australia, 60 minutes of free calls per user (cumulative) to mobile phones and a Polycom IP handset, Englaro said.
Up to 95 percent of Fonality Connect customers fell under the 60-minute mobile cap and paid nothing more for their phone usage each month, Englaro said.