Birch is a technology service provider to small, mid-sized, enterprise and wholesale businesses.
Size of business served
Birch Communications offers VoIP solutions for small, mid-market and enterprise businesses, including basic business lines, analog, PRI or SIP integration, fully hosted PBX systems, and cloud solutions.
Birch offers 1-3 year contracts as well as value month to month plans. The basic business phone service plans include three options:
- BirchNet Value
- BirchNet Basic, and
- BirchNet Essentials (also called BirchNet Complete when combined with Internet)
The Value lines include unlimited local minutes and long-distance charges of 6.9 cents per minute. They are suitable for a local line fax machine, elevator line or alarm.
Basic service line upgrades include
- local toll calls
- deluxe caller ID and call waiting, and
- call hunting
This lowers the per-minute long distance charges drop to 4.9 cents per minute.
Essentials / Complete lines expand the available features to 13, with call forwarding and distinctive ring, and 1500 free long distance minutes per line are added (additional minutes are 4.9 cents per minute.)
Toll-free services, Unified Communications and voicemail are add-on features. Long distance minutes included with Essentials / Complete plans can be pooled between lines (including mobile lines), and also include DSL. BirchLink is a hosted VoIP solution that includes business phone lines, SIP trunking, PRI, and mobile integration. These plans are designed to be combined with Birch Data and Internet services if desired. Plans can be unlimited or metered, and switching between plans is allowed but requires a new agreement.
TotalCloud PBX plans eliminate on-site PBX costs and significantly lower CAPEX for equipment, providing a cloud-based solution with high-quality phones and options for upgrades at a low cost. Plans are scalable and up or down depending on the user needs. SIP trunking allows fractional T1 usage without high premiums, and PRI trunking provides up to 23 lines per trunk, unified messaging, audio and video conferencing, and international calling. Virtual Receptionist can also be added for a per-month fee. Cloud solutions mean that service can be set-up and integrated even in the event of a new location, a move, or other events that make on-site a problem. Current numbers can be ported in if desired. Contracts vary in length, and early termination fees and additional charges may apply.
Besides built-in softphone capability, Birch provides a range of desktop phones with VoIP system installation. They also vend mobile phones and tablets compatible with Birch systems for unified communication that works across a range of devices. Desktop phones with full color and touch screens and HD audio are available. Other accessories such as analog phone/fax adapters can also be implemented. Phones can be purchased outright, or the cost spread out over 2 years, minimizing initial CAPEX. Customers can utilize their own equipment (including mobile phones) as long as it is compatible with the Birch system. All equipment supplied by Birch as part of a customer agreement is fully maintained, managed, and updated as needed by Birch. Customer side equipment must be managed by the customer.
Support for Birch business VoIP customers is available via phone, email, or the article rich online help center. Technical support has a dedicated line and a ticketing system on the company website. The service level agreement guarantees 100% uptime, and Birch data centers have been awarded the SOC3 seal of assurance. Systems can be made PCI and HIPPA compliant, and a secure remote user VPN assigned if necessary.
Birch does not have as many features as some other VoIP providers, but the basics are there.
- Caller ID
- call waiting
- call forwarding
- call transfer
- call return
- call trace
- call hunting
- 3-way calling
- Direct Inward Dialing
- distinctive ring
- call rejection
Total Cloud PBX customers also benefit from features such as
- extension dialing
- music on hold
- sequential or simultaneous ring
- paging / intercom
- web login assigned seats
- call parking and retrieval
- voicemail or fax to email
- Six-way calling can be implemented
- busy lamp fields integrated, and
- mobile phones brought into the system for easy remote working
Over 40 features are available in all. Add-on features include a receptionist, console, additional numbers, toll-free calling, and call monitoring or recording. Even more comprehensive enterprise class feature sets are available on request, but details are not available without a sales representative.
The main advantage of Birch is the ability to hook into existing systems (key, analog, or PBX) and integrate mobile fully. The cloud hosted VoIP solution eliminates the need for expensive CAPEX and provides a failsafe in case a business location becomes inaccessible. Remote workers can connect from anywhere using softphone or mobile phone options. The ability to bring in devices (including mobile devices) or to purchase phones directly from Birch (with costs spread out over the contract term) makes Birch an attractive option for customers who prefer to own their equipment over leasing. Physical handsets are moveable within locations with a modem, and E911 service is supplied (but the location of the phone must be registered, and some ported numbers may not have this functionality.)
Quality and reliability
Birch has a fully redundant network and service level agreement promising 100% uptime for all critical elements of the customer solution. Historically, the company has a 99.999% uptime, and the SLA promises a 99.99% uptime for infrastructure and network availability, excluding maintenance time. Hardware is warranted, and components will be replaced at no cost in case of failure; data restoration is also provided. Phones that support audio and video conferencing are equipped with HD capability. Jitter is less than 5 milliseconds, packet loss is below .1%, and latency is less than 5 milliseconds, resulting in clear calls with no static or delay under most circumstances.
Birch services are easily integrated with analog, existing PBX, key, or other systems, and compatibility with mobile phones tablets and other devices is a priority. Reporting is available, but there is no data on CRM integration.
While enterprise systems are quoted on a case by case basis, and all plans are fully customizable, Birch does provide base pricing for their most popular business VoIP and hosted PBX plans. BirchNet (basic business phone) plans start between $33.95 and $36.95 per month per line. Some long distance is included on the highest tier, and long distance minutes can be shared between lines and mobile. For hosted PBX systems, seats start at $15.99 per month on metered plans and $7.99 per month for unlimited plans. Phones vary in price depending on features; they can be purchased outright from Birch or paid out over the course of a 2 year contract.