Today, I spoke with Fonality's
CEO Chris Lyman and Amon Prasad, Director of Information Technology for BLADE Network Technologies
. BLADE Network Technologies is a former subsidiary of Nortel and get this - they selected Fonality’s Asterisk-based PBXtra over a comparable system from Nortel. Even though Nortel offered their former subsidiary a discounted price, it was still much more than PBXtra. Chris and Amon explained to me that Fonality was able to offer PBXtra at less than 50 percent of the cost of a proposed Nortel system and that included junking the existing Nortel phonesets with all new VoIP phonesets
. Ecstatic over this "win" besting a well-known PBX manufacturer, Fonality stated, "BLADE is one example of how Fonality is now regularly beating out incumbents including, Cisco, Nortel and Alcatel in the small to medium business (SMB) market. PBXtra is now deployed in more than 2,000 SMBs with over 45,000 users in 37 countries."
Amon told me that one of the main reasons BLADE chose PBXtra was that it scaled better and was easier to manage than a Nortel system. He also mentioned that Nortel's digital and IP hybrid solution has hard system limitations, which require a significant system overhaul to increase capacity beyond 90 seats.
"Fonality's PBXtra is extremely attractive to me since it allows me to worry less about my phone system, so I can focus more time on my regular job. In Fonality’s support model, everything is easily included so if there is new software, I get it for free. Nortel was trying to charge me around $5,000 a year just for service and support, but high quality service and support comes free from Fonality." said Amon Prasad, director of information technology at BLADE.
"We were excited to find out that we can now have employees work from an IP phone at home or a softphone on their laptop while keeping their same four digit extension," said Prasad. “Fonality makes this process so much easier because we can give remote workers a handset at their home or remote office and they can plug it into their DSL/cable line and be connected. It’s just that simple."
"Signing BLADE is just another proof-point that the SMB market is ready for another option. They are sick and tired of overpaying for a phone system that has a limited feature set." said Chris Lyman, CEO of Fonality.
"Sick and tired is right! For the cost of one Nortel system, I could get two Fonality systems and still have change left over!" said Amon Prasad, director of information technology at BLADE.
The tradional PBX manufacturers (Nortel, Avaya, Alcatel, etc.) as well as Cisco will have to come down in price to compete with a plethora of low-cost, feature-rich, IP-PBX phone systems on the market. Even low-cost handsets based on the SIP standard will help drive prices down. Unless there is a compelling case for an "expensive" handset, built-in video/webcam for instance, or a presence-aware OCS 2007 phone such as the Polycom CX700
, the traditional PBX manufacturers will no longer be able to charge exorbitant prices - and that is great news for the enterprise looking to deploy VoIP.