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Mobilizing VoIP

Speakeasy takes the popular voice alternative on the road.

Most small-business entrepreneurs are now well aware of the economic benefits and flexibility advantages of using VoIP for their office communications needs. Now, it's time for lesson two: How to leverage VoIP's benefits while on the go.

A big-box retailer, hearty competitor to many a small business, may seem an unlikely teacher for this lesson. Yet, Best Buy is doing an increasingly good job of addressing the technology needs of its small-business customers. As part of the Best Buy for Business concept, the retailer operates its own national VoIP service provider­--Speakeasy­--catering to the small-business market.

Speakeasy, based in Seattle, was already a nationally known VoIP service brand when Best Buy acquired it in 2007. Thousands of small businesses in the U.S. use Speakeasy Hosted Voice, and late last year, Speakeasy introduced the first mobile extension of its platform, targeted at iPhone users. EasyVoice Mobile for iPhone extends an existing Speakeasy customer's wireline calling package, including a call management feature and free calling to more than 20 countries, to a device that has become standard issue to small-business owners.

Call management functions run through Remote Office, an application that integrates with an iPhone contact list and allows iPhone users to make and receive calls via their desktop office phone number. Users can also hold, forward, access voice mail and do pretty much anything they would while at the office. "It gives the impression that you're always available," Chatterley said.

He added that the big telecom companies still do a poor job of addressing evolving small-business calling needs, delivering cellular plans targeted at small firms, but not comprehensive applications covering both the fixed office and the mobile office. Ironically, a big-box retailer may teach them a lesson, too.

Dan O'Shea is a Chicago-based writer who has been covering telecom, mobile and other high-tech topics for nearly 20 years.

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This article was originally published in the February 2010 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Mobilizing VoIP.

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