San Jose, CA
[Inphonex] Extensions and Forwarding
I recently signed up with Inphonex for VOIP service. Here's what I have learned about them so far.
You can get a free account from Inphonex that lets you call anyone else who has an Inphonex account. You can choose your own 7-digit virtual number (if it is not already taken). Also, anyone can IP-dial a virtual number using the format firstname.lastname@example.org. Inphonex supports G711, GSM, iLBC, and G729. I'm not sure if that is the complete list.
If you want to dial out to PSTN numbers, you can set up a pay-as-you-go account starting with a payment of $9.95. Calls to mainland US and Canada numbers cost 2.5 cents per minute. There is also an extensive set of "unlimited" plans, which I have not explored. For incoming calls, you can get a DID in the US, Canada, or UK. A US DID costs $7.95 per month with no added fees. 911 calls cost $25 each. $25 sounds like a lot, but the monthly 911 fees charged by some providers could easily exceed that amount in a year or two.
With a paid account, you get up to 5 virtual numbers. Additional blocks of virtual numbers are available for an annual fee. Virtual numbers behave just like extensions on a PBX. In fact, I'm going to refer to virtual numbers as extensions from this point on. Calls to the PSTN from all extensions can be charged to the one pay-as-you-go account. Each extension has its own voice mailbox. But more importantly, each extension has its own credentials, so you can set up an adapter or soft phone to ring when that extension is called. Extension phones can be in different rooms in a building, or they can be in different parts of the world.
You can designate which extension should ring when a call comes in on your DID, and you can change that selection at any time from the control panel. It's when you explore Inphonex's forwarding facility that things start to get interesting. Forwarding is set up separately for each extension. Inphonex describes the forwarding actions as consisting of three steps:
You can specify one of the following actions:
- Ring the extension normally.
- Send incoming calls immediately to voice mail. In other words: do not disturb.
- Ring a list of numbers that you specify in the control panel. You can specify whether to ring the numbers sequentially or simultaneously, and for how many seconds. The numbers in the list can be either extensions, or PSTN numbers, or a mix of the two.
For calls that fall through from step 1, you can specify one of the following actions:
- Send to voice mail.
- If the call was not answered in the specified time, ring another list of numbers either sequentially or simultaneously for a time that you specify.
- If the phone(s) was busy, ring yet another list of numbers either sequentially or simultaneously for a time that you specify.
In both of these lists, you can specify any mix of PSTN numbers and extensions.
If the call is still not answered, send it to voice mail, if enabled.
Each extension can make and receive calls, either to the PSTN or another extension, independently of calls in progress on other extensions.
I have used this service for only a short time, so it's too early to write a review. And I have not explored all the combinations of options described here. But so far, everything is working well. In cases where I was confused about how something worked, customer support has responded to my emails promptly, even over the New Year holiday. Shared call appearance ("sip extensions") open up a lot of possibilities for individuals and families who live in more than one location. I'm impressed with the set of forwarding facilities, especially the way they seamlessly integrate SIP and PSTN phones. I finally have more forwarding options than I know what to do with!
Beverly Hills, CA
I used inphonex for over 3 months, and overall they were reliable (never went down, afaik) but they were also expensive. Their 'Canadian' DID at first had some issues. They were offering me a Hamilton area number, and when I told them that this was not local for the people trying to reach me they gave me a Toronto based one, but instead of charging me $7.95, I ended up paying about $10.95.
Overall they were good, but I found cheaper and just as reliable options. However some of their "unlimited" plans are pretty good deals, and I might look at getting one of them sometime later on.