Simicomm Lowers IP PBX Startup Costs

Simicomm's open-source PBX supports auto-provisioning for IP phones.

IP PBX startup Simicomm hopes to elbow its way into the open-source market IP PBX market for small and medium-size businesses with the Sept. 10 release of its first offering.

Simicomm released for general availability its new EasySpeak PBX, based in part on the open-source Asterisk, with a series of enhancements that make the product much simpler to set up and use, according to CEO Dennis Barnum in Madison, Wis.

"We feel our system is much more intuitive, so you dont need the level of expertise to use it [compared to the base Asterisk code]. A local systems integrator that uses Asterisk said it requires 10 hours of development to get it running for a customer. Thats unacceptable for the average small business," he said.

The self-configuring Linux-based IP PBX can be up and running in about 15 minutes. It requires a dedicated server for operation. Users can plug a phone line into the Linux server, then plug their IP phones into the Ethernet ports, and they are automatically provisioned and given an extension number based on the order in which they are connected.


Read a review here about the Asterisk 1.2.1 open-source PBX.

Other Asterisk-based IP PBXes require that a channel be created for the phone, and files for extensions, voice mail and other functions have to be configured. Other steps that involve the IP address, Web interface, server name and auto settings also have to be configured. Simicomm estimates that such efforts take about a half hour for each phone to configure those settings.

The EasySpeak PBX to date can auto-provision IP phones from Polycom, Linksys and now phones manufactured by Snom Technology. Simicomm on Sept. 10 announced the addition of Snom to its list of auto-provisioned IP phones.

The EasySpeak PBX can also work with analog phones, which require that users obtain a line card from either Digium or Sangoma.

Beyond existing IP phone support, Simicomm is looking to add the ability to auto-provision IP phones from Aastra and Siemens Communications, Barnum said.

Simicomm, which competes with rivals such as Fonality, also made its offering more affordable for SMBs by offering a lease option of $50 per month for 24 months for the IP PBX software. The one-time charge for the software is $995.

Although large players such as Cisco Systems and Microsoft earlier this year added new offerings and programs targeted at SMBs, Barnum believes they are still too expensive for the average small business. "We are really looking for those that dont want to spend $10,000 for a system. Cisco and Microsoft are more expensive to implement," he said.


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