BT Business has expanded its communications offering for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with the launch of a cloud-based, business-grade IP voice service, BT Cloud Voice.
The operator said its new service would deliver all the traditional office phone system call features and quality, delivered via a BT Business internet connection, to provide a more flexible and future-proofed offering.
The system includes features such as intelligent call handling, conferencing, recording, desktop-sharing, softphones and smartphone integration.
The service will have three licence options: Basic, the entry-level functional service; Connect, for office-based firms with more demands than simply calling; and Collaborate, for firms with mobile or home workers that want to be able to use features such as audio-conferencing.
Users will receive an IP phone and a BT call plan designed to be shared among multiple users, with minutes to be purchased at the company level. All calls made using the system will run over BT Business’ network, said BT.
Buyers will be able to manage their service through an online portal, allowing companies to tailor and manage their own requirements, and perform a number of self-service functions, including licence management, adding and removing users, and setting call preferences without the need for BT to dispatch engineers.
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BT said that, because the services are hosted, this should bring further savings for users by eliminating the need for elaborate maintenance contracts.
Graham Sutherland, BT Business CEO, said that 60% of SMEs in the UK were already using cloud-based applications to some degree, so the introduction of a cloud-based telephony offering could be seen as a natural step for a lot of the firm’s customers.
“BT Cloud Voice is a highly reliable and flexible business communications system and future-proofed solution for SMEs,” he said. “There are no initial hardware costs or engineer visits, and calling plans can be easily shared across the business.
“Our customers expect great value and high-quality products and BT Cloud Voice delivers on both counts,” said Sutherland.
In August, BT Business launched a range of plans aimed at SMEs including free 4G access and unlimited Wi-Fi.
Its latest product launch comes hot on the heels of a number of new communications offerings pitched at the smaller end of the market, and a government drive to encourage small businesses to apply for grants to upgrade their broadband.
Last week TalkTalk Business launched an SME-focused business broadband package that it claimed could save users close to £1,000 when compared to some equivalent BT services.
Virgin Media Business also unveiled a service for small businesses, saying that UK businesses were at risk of losing out to international competition if they scrimped on their communications budget, and courted entrepreneurs by running a fleet of free taxis around major cities and floating its CEO, Peter Kelly, down the Thames in a black cab.