Internet phone company Bandwidth.com just announced a service that could be a boon to new companies that don’t have an office, much less a phone system — Phonebooth Free.
It’s normal for a startup nowadays to use personal cell phones for all calls. But there are probably many companies that would rather not, either to appear professional or protect their privacy. That’s where Phonebooth Free comes in.
Think of it as either an office phone system for a virtual office, or as a version of Google Voice that’s designed for businesses rather than a single user. Companies who sign up get a new business phone number. When someone calls the number, they’ll hear a normal company directory (“Press 1 for sales, press 2 for support,” etc.), and when they select an option, they get redirected to the correct cell phone. You also get a text transcription of voicemails.
Cary, North Carolina-based Bandwidth.com plans to make money off this service in a few ways. For one thing, it could be an on-ramp for its pay service, PhoneBooth OnDemand, which enters general availability today and costs $20 per user per month. Also, with the free version you only get 200 minutes per month, but companies can buy more time. And Bandwidth runs advertising with the transcripts.
The company has also added a new feature to both versions of Phonebooth, called Contact Us Plus. This is a widget that replaces the static “contact us” page on most company websites with a widget showing all your Phonebooth extensions, as well as links to your accounts on social networks. And if a customer clicks on the phone number, their computer starts dialing the company.
Bandwidth.com says it’s self-funded and profitable. It recently launched a network for voice and telephone applications.