CenturyLink is a communications and data company offering cloud, data, security, voice, and managed IT services, servicing media and entertainment, health and education, financial and retail, and local, state, and federal government verticals among others. CenturyLink also offers attractive bundling deals for internet / data and voice services as an all-in-one package.
Size of business served
CenturyLink offers managed voice solutions for small, medium, and enterprise-sized businesses. Plans vary depending on business size and need.
CenturyLink offers contract plans that vary from 1 to 3 years, as well as month-to-month pricing. Hosted VoIP plans include a cloud-based solution as well as software and hardware, reducing CAPEX and eliminating the need for an on-site PBX solution. SIP trunking allows companies with a functional legacy PBX to remain on a familiar system while connecting to the cloud and reducing the need for in-house IT support.
Hosted PBX features per-seat pricing, and includes seven types of seats for a customized approach. Basic, standard and premium stats meet the needs of most stationary employees and features level up from tier to tier. Conference seats allow for colleague-to-colleague or service representative to vendor or customer interaction on a larger scale, and receptionist seats provide a console for administrative, managerial or secretarial staff.
Virtual seats provide for remote, telecommuting, or mobile employees. Softphone seats turn PCs into a phone for employees that don’t need a full-time desktop assigned to them, and voicemail only seats can be used for off hours, after hours, or overflow situations.
Existing numbers can usually be ported in at no extra charge. Fully hosted PBX systems can normally be provisioned and installed within a two weeks or less, depending on what kind of service is required. All plans require a QoS network, and CenturyLink strongly advises bundling internet and VoIP services.
Legacy PBX equipment works with CenturyLink services in most cases. Equipment brought in by the customer must be maintained, updated, and managed by the customer, as must be PCs which are used as softphones, and customer-side mobile phones.
With CenturyLink’s hosted PBX, equipment is provided by CenturyLink and is maintained and supported by the provider. It is unclear whether the equipment is part of a lease-to-own program or if it must be returned upon contract termination.
A variety of desktop phones, including basic, receptionist, and conference models, are available depending on the type of seat being provisioned. Models that include color screens, touch screens, HD voice and HD video are available.
The support channels offered by CenturyLink include direct telephone support (including 24 / 7 technical support), an online portal, a comprehensive Knowledgebase, multiple articles, whitepapers, getting started guides, and case studies, and research and testing tools as well as a developers lab. Specialty engineers are available for custom solution development and support.
The service level agreement guarantees up to 99.99% network availability depending on the package purchased and whether or not CenturyLink internet is part of said package.
Caller ID, call waiting ID, call forwarding, call waiting and call transfer are only a few of the basic features offered by Century Link business phone service. Also included are personal ringtones, hunting, last call return and 3-way calling. For an additional fee, features like business voicemail can also be added.
Hosted VoIP offers Unified Communications features such as “all-in-one-place” messaging, sequential and simultaneous ring, remote office working options, and an Outlook Toolbar that turns every PC into a workstation / phone hybrid.
Direct Inward Dialing (DID) and functional directories keep things running smoothly internally. Remote call forwarding allows workers to stay connected on the move, and prevents complete breakdown in communications if brick and mortar sites are rendered inoperable.
The advantage of CenturyLink’s fully hosted PBX is the ability to spread out workers between locations without additional CAPEX costs, and to utilize space more effectively when it is not full of costly equipment. Users can integrate with mobile phones, PCs, and other devices to maintain a presence anywhere at any time.
CenturyLink provides a variety of fail-safes to their e911 service, including multiple paths of completion for calls to emergency services and the ability to register specific handsets with different locations.
Quality and reliability
The geographically diverse data servers owned and operated by CenturyLink span the globe, completely eliminating single points of failure and preventing loss of communications even if weather or natural disasters cause local brick and mortar worksites to be temporarily unavailable.
Softphone calling is available with virtual seats. Both PC and desktop phone calls are crystal clear and HD voice and video are accessible with enabled models. When paired with CenturyLink high-speed internet, call quality is even more improved. Uptimes of 98.5-99.99 are guaranteed depending on whether or not the customer also has CenturyLink internet.
CenturyLink’s contact center solutions advertise compatibility and integration with “industry leading desktop and CRM programs”, but further details are available and it is unclear whether this applies solely to enterprise solutions or whether smaller businesses can take advantage of CRM integration.
CenturyLink provides specific pricing only for bundled specials (internet + business line) on their website; prices range from $70-$90+ per month for such bundles, which are designed for small business use and are apparently per line only.
Mid-range and enterprise companies are encouraged to contact CenturyLink for specific per-seat pricing. Best pricing is available to customers who sign a 3 year contract and combine internet / data services with business VoIP seats.