8×8 Hosted PBX…Not For Me Thanks.

The folks over at Packet8 today issued a press release stating, “8×8, Inc. Hits New Milestone for Packet8 Virtual Office Service With Over 10,000 U.S. Companies Subscribing.”

That’s nice. Packet8 were on the short list of vendors considered for a hosted PBX project that I’m involved with, but at the end of the day the business went to Junction Networks. Why you ask? Two simple reasons.

1. Billing Model

Packet8’s billing model is typical for the the industry. You pay $xx/phone/month for “unlimited” domestic long distance. Perhaps a little less for metered long distance with x00 minutes included. This often doesn’t make sense when dealing with SOHO users. Often times our staff travel, so we don’t always use many minutes each month at every phone. Also, we sometimes need multiple extensions in one location but don’t want to pay a monthly fee per device.

Junction Networks OnSip hosted PBX service is basically run on a pay for usage model. Not pay per end-point. All calls that touch the PSTN are billed at a per-minute rate. Calls between extensions are free, as are calls to/from external SIP URIs. This can create a significant savings while giving us the flexibility to use as many phones/extensions as we need without considering the monthly cost.

2. Technology Model

Packet8’s business service requires that you buy the hardware from them. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, in their case the phones are analog and connected to an ATA device. This is a significant step backwards for those of us who are already accustomed to having SIP hard phones on our desks. My personal favorites are the Polycom IP600 or Aastra 480i CT.

A SIP desk phone can access more than the two lines provided by the typical ATA device. The lines are virtual, often creating a nice rollover or hunt group capability right on the phone. My IP600 is presently set to handle four lines, only two of which are from Junction Networks. A SIP desk phone is also going to offer better integration of business class features like conferencing, transfers to other locations, etc. It’s just better. I wouldn’t want to go back.

3. Cheaper Calling To Western Europe

I know I said two points earlier but this just occurred to me. Junction Networks long distance rate to many countries in Western Europe is the same as their domestic long distance rate. Since I work for a UK based firm this also adds up to savings every month.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that 8×8 is a good company and probably a good choice for some people. As the largest player, and the only solid publicly traded company in the space they deserve a good hard look. I just found that Junction Networks approach to be more innovative from both the business and technology perspectives.

Our hosted PBX project rolled out last quarter. Thus far it’s running well. We’re hoping to transition away from some of our old PBX arrangements at various locations in the coming months.