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GotVMail Provides Inexpensive Virtual PBX Service For Small Businesses

When Instant Technologies, a small 10-employee instant messaging (IM) startup, was looking for a way to manage its incoming phone calls, it turned to GotVmail, a software vendor that is offering small businesses an inexpensive suite of voice communications services for a monthly subscription fee.

“We didn’t want to spend a lot of money for a system that was basically going to give us a directory and telephone extensions,” said Carl Tyler, chief technology officer for Instant Technologies, who said he was looking at PC-based PBX systems costing between $2,000 and $3,000. Instead, for just $25 a month, Tyler gets a toll-free number, a corporate directory that allows callers to dial by extension or by name, and which routes calls to appropriate phone numbers, including cell phone, home, or VoIP numbers.

The idea behind GotVMail is simple: most small businesses lack the capital—and the support resources—to purchase sophisticated telecommunications equipment that provides a professional appearance to the world. As a result, most of them either purchase a basic voicemail service from the local telephone company, or use a first-generation unified messaging service targeted mostly to consumers.

Thus GotVMail sells a monthly virtual PBX service that offers a suite of virtual on- demand voice communications services for a monthly subscription fee. No equipment or software purchase is required. For a price beginning at just $9.95, GotVMail provides a toll-free number that links to a main customized greeting, multiple mailboxes, integrated messaging of voice mail and email, and easy Web-based administration. Callers can be diverted via extension numbers or by a name directory, just like in large corporate phone systems. Voicemails and faxes can be delivered via MP3 and PDF attachments, and call forwarding to cell phones, home phones, or remote offices, can be done live.

For virtual companies, like Instant Technologies, in which employees can be scattered among different offices, the live routing of calls is especially useful, as it gives the appearance of a unified, highly professional company without the large upfront costs required by an investment in capital telecommunications equipment and software.

In addition, GotVMail was the perfect “front end” to Instant Technologies’ existing VoIP service, due to the inbound call management, and organizational call processing capabilities, said Tyler. Like many small businesses, Instant Technologies was using VoIP to lower its outbound long distance and international call charges. But for inbound calls over VoIP, callers must know the employee or department’s direct number; calls to standard VoIP lines cannot be routed to other employees or departments. In addition, standard VoIP doesn’t offer the small business the professional appearance of an automated attendant.

GotVMail works with both VoIP as well as tradition PSTN services. Employees can make or receive calls from any type of phone (VoIP, cell, PSTN) and still receive the benefits of the GotVMail virtual PBX service.

Launched in 2003, the GotVMail service currently has more than 10,000 subscribers, according to the company. The firm is headquartered in Newton, Massachusetts; further information can be found at the GotVMail Website.