Competition in this space is crazy. We ID 20 companies doing things right.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

June 24, 2019

11 Min Read
Twenty, 20, SD-WAN providers
Jörge röse-oberreich/Shutterstock

Hosted PBX providers operate in what’s long been a price-driven market, but they’re increasingly required to provide more than just a dial tone, including integration with broader platforms like unified communications (UC).

The competitive landscape for hosted PBX is being impacted by consolidation, with smaller providers merging to become more competitive with larger UCaaS providers, and UCaaS providers buying companies to bolster what they offer. We spoke with analysts and a member of the Channel Partners Editorial Advisory Board to find out what it takes to succeed in hosted PBX.

While the newer, smaller players in the space are continuing to see aggressive growth curves, it is not at the expense of the larger, established players as they continue to experience growth as well, said Julie Dzubay, WTG’s vice president of sales operations, and editorial advisory board member.


WTG’s Julie Dzubay

“The service providers in the hosted PBX space continue to roll out innovative enhancements to the services they offer,” she said. “The flexibility of having a dynamic service hosted in the cloud versus static equipment sitting on the customer’s site provides an environment where providers can develop new features and functionality, and quickly roll it out to their entire client community. Early adopters to hosted PBX service have embraced the faster pace of innovation and look for their hosted PBX providers to continue adding functionality that drives efficiencies and a better customer experience for their clients.”

Raul Castanon-Martinez, 451 Research’s senior analyst of workforce collaboration, said there is an increased emphasis on AI-enabled capabilities which, together with a tight integration with business applications, aim to provide knowledge workers with the means to optimize their work.

“This includes features such as intelligent transcriptions that provide a summary with action items from a meeting, for example, or analytics that help us understand how we interact with other team members and the impact this has on team productivity,” he said.


Jon Arnold

Jon Arnold, principal analyst at J Arnold & Associates, said there will always be exits by players who can’t make enough money doing this, and there will always be new entries since the barrier to entry remains low.

“Since it’s hard to build loyalty, a lot of SMBs will change horses when a better deal comes along, and there will always be local players in every market,” he said.

Based on feedback and recent news reports, we’ve compiled a list, in alphabetical order, of 20 hosted PBX providers that are making the most of the current competitive landscape and charting success. We intentionally made the list different from our CP List of UCaaS providers, including as many providers as possible that weren’t on that list.


Arnold cited 3CX, an open-platform PBX for Windows, Linux and the cloud, as a successful provider. It also is a 100% channel company with 250,000 customers globally.

Cost is a big factor in hosted VoIP, he said.

“Offering rich features is always a good move,” he said. “Aside from price, though, the biggest factor would be service reliability and quality of experience. These offerings are almost always OTT, and many cannot match the … service provided by incumbents. So, the closer they can get to having carrier-grade/business-grade quality, the more effective they’ll be.”


Tim Banting, Ovum’s principal analyst of workspace services (collaboration), along with Arnold and Dzubay. cited 8×8 as an successful provider,

“With the move to software-based solutions, voice is seen more as a utility, albeit a vital one,” Banting said. “Indeed, customer’s expectations have changed — we are seeing customers looking at more integrative suites that encompass voice, video, conferencing, messaging and, in some cases, customer care/contact center functionality.”

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Banting also cited AT&T Collaborate as an effective solution. It’s a cloud-based solution that blends voice and collaboration. It start with voice and includes features such as employee availability, instant messaging, conferencing, file sharing, team workspaces, and call center services.


Dzubay said Broadvoice is providing innovating solutions for clients. It combines cloud PBX, UC and collaboration features with virtual call center in one UCaaS platform.

“In the past, the role of the PBX provider and vendor was to minimize issues and downtime,” she said. “Today, a good hosted PBX provider is viewed by businesses as a trusted adviser that enables employees to improve their performance and provides ease of business for their customers.”

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Arnold cited CoreDial as a successful provider for SMBs.

“Collaboration and communications applications are seen as a priority in enabling new ways of working — [for example], remote and flexible working,” Banting said. “They also help to improve operational efficiency, employee productivity and engagement. Many customers are also looking toward a cloud-based subscription model rather than premises-based deployments. This lowers the upfront risk, the capital expense requirements are significantly less and switching costs are reduced as cloud-based UCaaS providers usually offer annual contracts.”


Arnold also cited Dialpad as a successful provider for SMBs. Last month, Dialpad announced a global expansion, opening a London office with new channel sales leadership, expanding partnerships with ScanSource and Avant, and a new extended digital based footprint. The company’s London team will specifically focus on building channel sales momentum to meet growing demand for cloud communications solutions in Europe.

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Arnold also cited Digium as a successful provider for SMBs.

“The hosted PBX providers that are viewed as the most effective by the channel are those providers that deliver on functionality and capability,” Dzubay said. “From the initial setup of the system and individual users, through the integration of the system to the appropriate applications, the implementation of appropriate security requirements all the way through to training on the management capabilities including administrative functions and reporting, when the system is set up to function effectively and provides the ongoing visibility the customer needs to manage their business, that is the measurement of an effective hosted PBX solution provider.”

EvolveIP-300x200.jpgEvolve IP

Dzubay cited Evolve IP as an effective hosted VoIP provider. Its UC solution provides enterprises with voice services, business collaboration tools like video, chat, web conferencing and screen sharing, and handsets and softphones.

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Castanon-Martinez said a player that does “exceptionally well” with its channel strategy is Intermedia.

“They have a strong commitment to their partners, which is reflected in the reliability of their service and recently announced quality of service capabilities that further support this commitment to their partners,” he said.

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Castanon-Martinez cited Jive as a successful hosted PBX solution. LogMeIn relaunched Jive, the cloud-based UC platform it acquired early last year.

“This was already a successful product in the market but is now relaunched as part of GoTo, the company’s new brand for its UC and collaboration suite of products that includes its flagship meeting and webinar offerings, GoToMeeting and GoToWebinar, as well as a new conference room product called GoToRoom,” he said.

MegaPath-300x200.jpgMegaPath (Fusion Connect)

Arnold cited MegaPath, now a Fusion Connect company, as a successful provider. MegaPath’s portfolio includes cloud communications, business internet, and managed network and security services.

Earlier this month, Fusion filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy after its acquisitions of MegaPath and Birch Communications’ cloud and business-services business failed to meet performance projections.

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Mio, an emerging vendor, is among adjacent players that add value to bigger players, Castanon-Martinez said. It aims to help enterprise customers deal with the coexistence of multiple collaboration tools, making Microsoft Teams, Slack and Webex Teams fully interoperable, he said. Mio received the award for best innovation for collaboration at Enterprise Connect this year.


Momentum Telecom is providing innovating solutions for its clients, Dzubay said. Its cloud PBX services can be accessed outside of the office from a cellphone, PC, handset or a home phone.

“The growing preference for cloud services is cutting into premises-based equipment sales with many vendors reporting flat or declining revenue from traditional PBXs,” Banting said. “Those vendors with a foot in both camps — [for example], both premises-based and cloud-based solutions, seem unwilling to make the difficult strategic choice of no to some customers (for example, premises-based) in order to better serve others. This crisis of prioritization continues to haunt a number of established vendors and the newer cloud-based players are not saddled with trying to appease an installed base of existing customers.”

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Another adjacent player worth noting is NextPlane, Castanon-Martinez said. Through NextPlane’s ConverseCloud service, companies globally can communicate within their company, as well as collaborate externally with their partners, customers and suppliers. NextPlane’s customers are a part of the largest connected global network of companies with more than 750,000 enterprise users exchanging more than 500 million messages daily on collaboration platforms.

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Castanon-Martinez cited PGi among new entrants to the market, “although these are long-established players in the communications space that have now added UCaaS to their portfolio.”

“PGi launched the GlobalMeet UCaaS offering, with a strong focus on providing knowledge workers with AI-enabled capabilities designed to save time and improve productivity,” he said.

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Arnold cited as an effective solution for SMBs. This month, unveiled an overhauled version of its Communicator softphone, an application for users to manage all channels of business communications from any Windows or Mac desktop computer or laptop. The company provides cloud-based communication and collaboration solutions to more than 30,000 businesses across the United States and Canada.

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RingCentral-300x53.pngRingCentral was cited by Arnold, Banting and Dzubay as a successful provider.

Banting said an effective hosted PBX solution offers: global reach or, at the very least, spans multiple regions; good security and standard certifications for their data center infrastructure (SSAE 16 AND SOC 2); customization and integration capabilities; “excellent” customer support and reference customers; and flexible contracts that don’t lock customers into long terms (for example, an annual commitment —not three years).

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Arnold cited SkySwitch, which provides a white label platform for hosted telecom resellers, as a successful provider for SMBs. Earlier this month, SkySwitch announced its integration with ConnectWise, in which ConnectWise Manage will simplify UCaaS client management for users by offering a suite of productivity-boosting features.

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Banting cited Star2Star as an effective hosted PBX provider. In April, Star2Star announced its participation in the CenturyLink Marketplace Provider Program. Inclusion in the program allows Star2Star to offer its Full Spectrum communications solution to businesses via the CenturyLink Marketplace.

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Dzubay cited West as an effective hosted PBX provider.

“The ‘consumerization of IT’ … continues to drive and influence workplace expectations,” Banting said. “Consequently, this is accelerating demand for cloud-based services, BYOD demands and intuitive user experiences. The ease of use of consumer apps such as WhatsApp and Facetime has created the expectation of frictionless communication and, in turn, lead companies to expect enterprise solutions that offer simple and unified business tools. The update process of mobile app stores also drives the expectation for new functionality that upgrades ‘over the air’ which is constantly current and adds valuable features or fixes bugs with each release.”

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Banting cites Windstream as an effective hosted PBX provider. This week, Windstream Enterprise announced it is relaunching its Virtual PBX for Hospitality (HvPBX). Windstream Enterprise’s enhanced birtual PBX now uses a Mitel hospitality solution built to integrate with hotels’ existing hospitality management applications and mobile devices.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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