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October 10, 2012

Verizon Launches VoIP Service Called Virtual Communications Express with Google Apps Integration

By Ashok Bindra, TMCnet Contributor

Recently, Verizon (News - Alert) has launched a new cloud phone service for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) called Virtual Communications Express. Verizon’s new VoIP service integrates with Google (News - Alert) Apps. Thus, offering click-to-call functionality from email, calendar, and chat, wrote InformationWeek reporter Kevin Casey.

The report indicates that Virtual Communications Express also includes telepresence, visual voicemail, and other features common in unified communications (UC) and private branch exchange (PBX (News - Alert)) systems.

IDC analyst Matt Davis said, “I think the main thrust of this is to bring PBX features to companies that don't have the budget or in-house resources to manage a full-fledged PBX or UC system."

The IDC (News - Alert) analyst sees the new service as a "market-building exercise" for Verizon. Research conducted by the firm shows that SMBs are reluctant to embrace virtual PBX or other hosted communications services, despite such platforms being tailored for companies with limited budget.

Verizon Product Management Director Tom Dalrymple said, “I would put Virtual Communications Express in the UC category, just minus the heavy lifting.” "There's no design required. Plus, you don't have to have the Cisco-certified engineer configure it for you."

According to the product management director, deployment takes seven days. However, if the user is porting existing numbers, it could take twice the time. But, Verizon will issue temporary numbers in the interim.

For SMBs planning to reduce capital expenditures, Verizon has a rental plan. While others can buy it. The report indicates that Verizon’s VoIP phones will cost between $20 and $35 per user, depending on the number of users and the configuration.  

Although, there is no technical limitation on the total number of users, Dalrymple stated that the VoIP service will likely appeal SMBs with employees between 20 and 70.

Concurrently, media reports indicate that rivals like AT&T and Comcast (News - Alert) are also exploring the VoIP market.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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