Costco is selling a small business voice over IP phone system powered by Microsoft's Response Point software directly to customers through its Costco.com Website.
Quanta Computer's Syspine Digital Operator Phone System, which includes a base unit appliance with a four phone-line analog telephone adapter, four desktop phones and Response Point phone system software, is currently listed on Costco.com for $1,799.99, with additional packages of two VoIP phones available for $279.99 each.
Specifically designed for SMBs, Response Point is a full-fledged IP PBX system that doesn't require Active Directory or a DNS server, which helps small businesses minimize licensing costs. The Syspine system includes voice-recognition technology that ties into a company's internal phone directory and integrates with the Microsoft Office Outlook address book.
Response Point is capable of supporting up to 50 VoIP phones, which means a 50-seat small business could purchase all the VoIP hardware they'd need for around $8,200. However, that doesn't include installation services, which have traditionally been VoIP VARs' bread and butter.
Trevor Dierdorff, president of AMNet, a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based solution provider, says the task of setting up a VoIP system is beyond the realm of plug-and-play.
"It is fairly complex: You have to have a network cable to run to each phone, and a switch that does DHCP, so that the phones can find the base unit," said Dierdorff. "Hopefully what will happen is that someone buys a system, and will be directed to a VAR who knows how to set it up."
Richard Sprague, senior director in the Response Point group at Microsoft, says the partnership with Costco is simply aimed at getting Response Point-powered VoIP systems in front of more small business customers. Customers seeking installation help can find VARs through the Microsoft Website, and the channel will benefit from the opportunity to provide ongoing services to them, according to Sprague.
"These new customer relationships can lead to recurring revenue opportunities for the VAR from maintenance, support, VoIP services, ancillary networking services and computer sales," Sprague said in an email to ChannelWeb.
Later this summer, Microsoft will release the first service pack for Response Point, which includes digital voice services, also known as SIP trunking in the VoIP channel. While earlier versions of Response Point allowed only analog lines to be connected to the PSTN, small businesses will be able to connect to the PSTN over the Internet, and that'll bring the benefits of cheaper calls and easier management, according to solution providers.