More than the PSTN
The Call Manager applet runs separately from the configuration page, where you can set up selective call forwarding, messaging and many other options. I set up my account to forward all calls originating from my home number to my cell phone. I dialed my BroadVoice phone and this not only worked, it passed the originating caller ID for display on my cell. I set all calls to trigger notification e-mails, reporting caller ID. This worked, too. I set it up to ring differently if calls came in from a specific number. This did not work. I configured my account to send all voice mails to my e-mail inbox as WAV files. This worked, as did dialing *86 to retrieve them by phone. Stutter tones alerted me to voice mails, just as with the PSTN. Greeting and password setup, similarly, followed familiar PSTN routines. Similarly, one can activate most, if not all, of the Call Manager features by using star-number combinations on a phone keypad. Click here to read about Microsofts entry into VOIP.On the minus side, BroadVoices GUI leaves some user-friendliness to be desired; its not intuitive or optimally organized. How one goes about setting up messaging options, for example, is buried on a messaging page under "voice management." The good news here is that BroadVoice has figured this out, and is doing its users and itself a big favor by rewriting a lot of the Broadsoft app server GUIs into something that should lower their volume of tech-support calls. In addition to a major reorg, this also will include a portal to voice-mail messages that runs independently of a subscribers own inbox, the same way ISPs offer Webmail pages.The official launch of the new portalas well as more news about priceis scheduled for the Voice on the Net show in Boston the week of Oct. 18. BroadVoice engineer Les Berry told me Friday that a final code review had just taken place the day before. App server testing, in turn, had introduced some hiccups into the logon process on the days I put the service through the most testing. I could not raise my Call Manager applet for several hours at one point. At press time, it was still rejecting the first logon attempt and accepting the second, on a subsequent page. Hopefully, this will be ironed out with the cutover. At no time did it affect actual phone functionality. In addition to BroadVoices standard unlimited plan, a $9.95 plan offers unlimited in-state calling and metered minutes thereafter; a $29.95 business plan come with the same feature set as the standard $19.95 plan but is geared for a true business volume of calling; BroadVoice assures me that they can tell the difference from their network statistics. A virtual PBX offering is in the works. In sum, I would certainly recommend BroadVoice to those contemplating VOIP, and Id recommend VOIP to those contemplating cheaper, more customizable and clickable phone service. The difference among service providers will probably lie in subtle details and geographies, and the risk of picking the wrong one is negligible. BroadVoice is as good a place to start as any. Technology Editor Ellen Muraskin can be reached at Ellen_Muraskin@ziffdavis.com. VOIP/Telecom Topic Center Editor Ellen Muraskin has been observing and illuminating the murky intersection of computer intelligence and telephony since 1993. She reaches for her VOIP line when the rain makes her POTS line buzz. Check out eWEEK.coms VOIP & Telephony Center at http://voip.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.