Updates on 01/18/2013...
8x8 and Fonality are two heavyweights in the business VoIP arena. Both made big splashes at this year’s ITEXPO West, and are constantly innovating. Fonality will soon be rolling out its Web Client as the third of the Fonality Five, joining Voicemail Transcription and Fonality Mobile on the marquee. 8x8 is scaring the competition with its new Virtual Office and Virtual Office Mobile platforms.
Shared Features - Standard Call Features, Advanced Call Hunting, Auto Attendant, Call Recording, Call Rules, Call transfer, Intercom, Desktop Integration, Dial-By-Name Directory, Paperless Fax, Enhanced Voice Mail, Find Me/Follow Me, Holiday/Custom Scheduling, Intercom, Music, Remote Access, Speed Dial, Virtual Extensions, Web Portal
Having firsthand experience with both of these companies, we can say for sure that these are powerful platforms, and, knowing these companies the way we do, we can also say for sure that both companies have set their sights on the cloud. It’s entirely possible that in a year’s time, both companies will have even more features, and most likely stay at a competitive price.
Let’s start with the absolute basics: the price. Given that 8x8 will match most competitor quotes, it’s something of an automatic draw. 8x8 will charge you a pretty penny if you have only a few phones, but Fonality won’t even let you into the game with under five phones. Both 8x8 and Fonality have yearly contracts and prepaid options.
8x8 has an exclusive partnership with Polycom, so you can only use certain phones. Fonality, though, is even more restrictive, as they will only allow you to use a small range of phones. Fonality must provision specific phone models to work with HUD, and 8x8 takes a more open approach, even if slightly. Have to give 8x8 a nod in that department. Both Fonality HUD mobile and Virtual Office 4 work on a wide variety of tablets and smartphones.
8x8 includes up to 35 hours (1GB) of recording as part of their basic plan, but Fonality holds that feature back unless you are a Fonality Connect + subscriber.
8x8 has both paper and paperless fax support. Even 8x8 themselves will admit that their fax solutions aren’t perfect, and they even say that if you want to keep an analog phone line for faxing, they won’t discourage it. There’s nothing cheap about their paper fax plans. Their paperless fax is available free with Virtual Office Pro. Fonality offers only paperless faxes, but at a very reasonable rate. Inbound faxes get sent to your email directly. The biggest cost is the optional number porting fee. Otherwise, you can use your regular phone number or get a new DID for $10.
For ring groups, aka blast groups, 8x8 will include one group of up to nine numbers. Fonality is a little more stingy, I’m afraid, and won’t include any blast groups with basic plans. Point goes to 8x8.
8x8 offers support for third party overhead paging equipment. It isn’t easy to set up, but it can be done. Fonality offers no support, but if you look through their forums, you’ll see some success stories. Fonality doesn’t expressly forbid overhead paging, but it doesn’t go out of its way to support it. Another point for 8x8.
Both Fonality and 8x8 offer access to their respective production studios for customized prompts, greetings, etc., but neither company will give a freebee. That round is a draw.
8x8 offers the premium add-on of Switchboard software to better route live calls. While it remains to be seen what new features the future will bring, but Fonality HUD, which is included in every Fonality solution, more than covers what Switchboard does. This one goes to Fonality.
For phone tech support, Fonality will let you have after hours support at a hefty price tag, and 8x8 has a large number of hours, but not 24/7. 8x8 has 40 hours per week of live chat support. Fonality has email support but no live chat. I’d call that one a draw.
Finally, Fonality has Voicemail transcription as part of their “Fonality Five,” for, coincidentally, $5/mo, and 8x8 doesn’t offer transcription at all as of this writing. That’s another big win for Fonality.
The Final Bell - Price matching aside, I give this one to Fonality for how powerful the Fonality Heads up Display is. 8x8, Inc. offers a number of backwards-compatible features, but Fonality is willing to put their money where their future is, so to speak. However…having had a sneak peek at what both 8x8 and Fonality have in store for the future at ITEXPO, I think that 8x8 just may have the brighter future, and I look forward to a rematch.