PBX Review: 8x8 Virtual Office

by Gerry Blackwell

You won’t need a VAR or a consultant to set up this small-business hosted PBX service.

The hosted IP PBX model just went mass market.

VoIP pioneer 8x8 Inc. is partnering with IP phone maker Aastra USA to market 8x8’s Virtual Office PBX service bundled with the co-branded 8x8/Aastra 6755i IP phone in Office Depot stores across the country. (See our coverage here.)

VoIP Planet, had a chance to test the bundle recently. 8x8 set us up with a small PBX connecting three home offices in different corners of the continent. We were impressed.

The 6755i, a 39-button screen phone, is by no means the cheapest IP phone on the market at $199, but based on our testing, it’s a pretty good one. Most of the time, audio quality on the 8x8 system was markedly superior to what we're accustomed to on the PSTN.

Prices for 8x8 Virtual Office—which 8x8 first started actively marketing in 2006 and which it says is already in use by over 16,000 businesses—start as low as $4.99 a month (but you pay 5.9 cents a minute for long distance calling with that package.)

In our test system, each phone was provisioned with the $49/month Unlimited Extension plan. It includes a DID (direct inward dial) number, standard PBX features—auto attendant, user-configurable voicemail, voicemail as e-mail, ring groups, one-number access, etc.—plus unlimited calling to landlines in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the UK.

The company also charges a $39.99 one-time activation fee, whichever service plan you choose.

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This article was originally published on Wednesday Jul 29th 2009
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