Commander Phone Comparison Monday 06 November 2017 @ 00:02

Business Phone System Comparison


If you’re in the market for an NBN-ready business phone system, Commander phone and Virtual PBX should be at the top of your shortlist. 
Both are alternatives to Telstra and Optus. But, when you dive deeper, each solution has distinct advantages and disadvantages. So how do they compare?


Choosing a business phone system: Where to start?


A business phone system can be a big investment. (It is, after all, at the heart of your office productivity). Typically, you can expect to invest $3000 - $5000 over several years. So before you dive in, you'll want to do your homework.

Compare Australia's top phone systems

Researching and shortlisting phone systems can take months. If you run a small business, that's time you definately don't have. To short-cut this process, download our FREE guide to choosing a cloud phone systemThis detailed guide compares the current prices, features and inclusions from Australia's top 6 business telcos, including Commander Phone and MyNetFone Virtual PBX.  

 Download the FREE Guide to Cloud Phone Systems


Scenario: Sally's Salads

Phone systems are rarely one-size-fits all. You'll make your decision based on the unique needs, budget and technical requirements of your business. So to give life to our Commander / Virtual PBX comparison, we’ll be using Sally’s Salads as a hypothetical case study, to make the requirements in our comparison more concrete.


Sally – the owner of Sally’s Salads - isn’t big on telephony, but it’s one of the areas that has become painful as her business has grown.

Twelve months ago Sally's business was in a garage, delivering ready-to-eat salads to offices in her local area. Today, she operates a commercial kitchen and an admin office, and has hundreds of customers across the state.


Sally's Salads - Commander Phone System Comparison


But, while her business has grown, her telephony hasn’t. Until now, she has been running her business using a mix of landlines and mobiles:

Commercial kitchen = 1 landline (local number)

Admin office = 1 landline (main number) + 3 x staff mobiles

Home office = 1 landline (main number)

Having separate phone and mobiles services was a quick and easy way to grow. But it was always a temporary solution. It's getting harder to handle calls, and Sally has noticed staff and customers starting to grumble.

With dreams for even more growth, Sally knows that it’s time to consider a business-grade phone system.





Part 1: Understand business needs and wants 


Listing pain points / needs

Before she can begin to compare different phone systems, Sally needs to get to grips with her business requirements. A good way to start is for her to simply list out the pros and cons of the current setup. After some thought, Sally identifies some key issues and wants.


1. Missing important calls
2. Unable to transfer / manage calls between sites
3. Rising costs of internal calls
4. Rising costs of ‘opening hours’ calls
5. High monthly cost of 3 x landlines


1. Simple fixed-cost bill – no surprises
2. Keep all existing landline numbers
3. Work from home and receive calls as usual
4. Easily divert calls if staff are out of office
5. One handset for every admin staff member


The token 'IT friend'

With her requirements defined, Sally has a chat with an IT-savvy friend. This friends is able to translate her general needs and wants into specific features and capabilities. These requirements are set out in Part 2.


Part 2: Define phone system requirements 


1. Cloud-based phone system + desktop handsets

Sally’s IT friend is adamant about her choosing a hosted phone system. Her friend points out that cloud systems have many advantages over on-premise PBXs. Most convincingly, a cloud phone system doesn’t require any technical knowledge to setup or maintain.

The beauty of a cloud phone system is that Sally can connect all three locations, and thereby enable her staff to transfer and manage calls internally. To facilitate call handling, Sally would like for her and her three admin staff to have their own phone numbers, extensions and handsets.

She would also like a separate handset for her home office and a desktop handset for the commercial kitchen. The home office and kitchen already have phone numbers, so she would like to keep them the same.

Summary: 1 phone system, 2 existing numbers, 3 connected sites, 4 new numbers and 6 handsets in total.


2. Auto attendant for main line

Sally’s admin team has different departments: sales, marketing and accounts. But they only have one main line. This means her staff spend a lot of time answering calls on the main line and then separately organising call backs. This process is confusing and unprofessional.

Sally’s IT friend explains that an Auto Attendant feature will solve her problem. An Auto Attendant (sometimes called an Auto Receptionist, Welcome Menu or IVR) greets callers with a spoken list of options that callers can select by dialling the corresponding button on their phone.

For example: Welcome to Sally’s Salads. Press 1 for home orders and office catering – Press 2 for our latest menu – Press 3 for accounts and billing – Press 4 for other enquiries.

When callers select a menu item, they are automatically routed to the appropriate department or user. This eliminates the need for repetitive transfers and manual call backs.


3. Auto attendant to play store hours

Sally’s kitchen staff tell her that they get lots of calls from customers wanting to check their opening hours and arrange in-person pickup. MAMILs like to make sure they can stop by on their morning rides, and weekday commuters like to know they can drop-in after hours.

Sally’s IT friend has suggested that she should setup a second Auto Attendant so that callers can listen to a recording of the opening hours. This will save her staff having to answer the phone and repeatedly give out the same opening hours information.

 Hunt groups - Commander phone system feature comparison

4. Multiple ‘hunt groups’

Missed calls are a persistent challenge. Customers ringing the landlines often find them engaged, and staff have great trouble answering calls at peak order times. They’ve been making do by quickly taking down caller details, hanging up and calling back from their mobiles.

Sally is persuaded that she needs to setup hunt groups. As she understands this feature, when callers contact Sally’s Salads the phone system rings a group of people (instead of just one line). In this way, it ‘hunts’ for the next available staff member in a defined group.

Sally wants to setup three Hunt Groups:

Sales Hunt Group: Ringing all sales staff at the same time until picked up

Accounts Hunt Group: Ringing all accounts staff for two minutes, then ringing her office number

General Hunt Group: Ringing her receptionist first, then overflowing to the marketing manager, then finally, going to her direct office line


5. Call ‘follow me’ for staff extensions

One of Sally’s resolutions is to work from home more often.

But this only makes sense if she’s contactable. She wants to setup a home office, with its own extension number and handset. And she needs a way to divert calls to that number when she’s out of the main office.

One appealing solution is a ‘follow me’ feature. This would divert office calls to any landline or mobile she wants to use, and can be switched on and off in seconds. The follow me feature is suitable not only for Sally, but for her field sales staff – who are often travelling.


6. Unlimited call inclusion

Sally is conscious of rising costs. She really wants a phone system that works like her mobile plan, with unlimited calls to Australian landlines and mobiles and free calls between numbers on the same account.

At this stage she doesn’t need international calling.


7. IP communications

Another aspect of her telephony costs is the monthly landline rental. She’s currently paying for three separate services, using old-fashioned phone lines. But her IT friend has mentioned that cloud-based phone systems can make calls over the internet - allowing her to eliminate landline rental.

Moreover, the NBN has just become available in her area, and she’s keen to switch the business. Moving to IP communications would allow her to move away from old landline technology and get NBN ready.


Part 3: Commander Phone vs Virtual PBX 


After developing her requirements, Sally now has a good understanding of how to compare different phone system providersGiven her desire to be ‘NBN ready’, eliminate landlines and connect phones over multiple sites, Sally feels that a cloud phone system is the way to go.

While there are many options for business telephony, Sally decides to focus on two providers: Commander Phone and MyNetFone Virtual PBX.


1. Price and plan comparison


Commander Phone - Comparison Table


1.1 Monthly charges

Sally discovers that Commander and MyNetFone charge in different ways. This explains the big difference in total cost.


Virtual PBX

MyNetFone charges based on the number of calls that can be made at the same time. ('Per line' pricing). They do not charge per user or per handset. With Virtual PBX, Sally will pay a flat rate of $220 per month. She can connect all 6 of her staff, with capacity for up to 4 calls at the same time.


Commander Phone 

Commander charges ‘per user’ where every active handset incurs the same $39.95 plan fee. That means Sally will pay $239.70 per month, but every user will get their own separate line. That means her business could manage up to 6 calls at the same time.


Line pooling = Big savings 

In Sally’s case, two of her handsets (the home office and the café) are likely to receive fewer calls than those of her admin staff. By choosing MyNetFone Virtual PBX, Sally can ‘pool’ her lines over all sites and all users – providing her admin office users with ample capacity, and avoiding having to pay extra for handsets that rarely get calls.


1.2 Mobile call inclusion

Sally notices another important difference in the mobile call inclusion. MyNetFone offers ‘unlimited’ plans which allow unlimited calls to Australian mobile numbers.

Commander, by default, charges 25c per Minute for calls to mobile. However, they do offer an optional ‘add on’ for mobile calls.

Sally guesses she’ll use at least 500 mobile calls in a month. With Commander Phone, that will cost her an additional $50 per month, on top of the monthly plan fees. Based on her requirements, she can’t go past the unlimited mobile call inclusion offered with the Virtual PBX.


1.3 Ad-hoc call charges

Not all call types are included in the plans. So Sally explores those too. She notices that calls to 13/1300 numbers are better value with the Virtual PBX (25c per call) compared to Commander Phone (44c per call).

Although Commander comes out on top for international calling, beating MyNetFone by as much as 1c a minute for selected destinations. However, Sally does not expect to do much business overseas (for a while at least).


2. Desktop Handsets

T42G - Commander Phone Handset ComparisonT46G - Commander Phone Handset Comparison

Both Commander Phone and Virtual PBX can be used with desktop handsets. But they have slightly different approaches.


2.1. Beware the 'no return' fees

Commander includes one handset per user (as part of the $39.95 monthly charge). In effect, phone handsets are provided at no cost upfront. However, this is an ongoing rental. Sally would not own the handsets. So, if she wished to switch to a different provider, she would have to return them.

Even more alarming, a close reading of the Commander T&Cs revealed that she could be charged a $200 ‘no return’ fee (per handset) if her handsets aren’t returned to Commander within 30 days of cancellation. Ouch!


2.2. Buy it now, own it now

MyNetFone allows customers to use as many handsets as they require, with no 'per user' limitation.

While MyNetFone handsets are not ‘free’ they are often discounted as part of a longer-term contract . MyNetFone also operates on a bring your own device model, where you can bring your existing handsets or purchase them outright directly through them or your preferred retailer.


3. Phone numbers   New business numbers and number porting costs

3.1. New local-area phone number

Sally will need 4 new local-area numbers to go with her 4 new handsets. Both Commander and MyNetFone provide a a certain amount of phone numbers as part of their plans. With Commander, Sally will get one local number per handset – whereas with MyNetFone, she’ll receive 10 - 100 numbers (depending on the plan chosen).

Things get a little trickier when it comes to bringing her existing (kitchen-café and office) numbers. In order to move her numbers to a new provider, Sally will need to ‘port’ the number.


3.2. Transferring existing numbers

With Commander, she’ll have to pay an upfront ‘porting fee’ to transfer her numbers. The fee is the same across the industry, and varies based on the type and amount of numbers that need to be transferred. Commander have quoted porting fees as high as $500.

By contrast, MyNetFone makes porting free. This can save customers hundreds of dollars, before they make a call. If Sally goes with MyNetFone Virtual PBX she'll be ahead from day one.


4. Hunt Groups / Auto Attendants   Unlimited Hunt Groups and Unlimited Auto Attendants for Cloud PBX

Based on her requirements, Sally needs to operate multiple Hunt Groups and Auto Attendants. With MyNetFone, she has unlimited Hunt Groups and Auto Attendants. And she won’t pay anything extra.

This is a big difference to Commander Phone, who provide the first one free – then charge an extra $10 per month for each Auto Attendant or Hunt Group. Sally estimates that with Commander she will pay an extra $20 per month on top of her monthly charges (and the additional mobile call charges).

Those small fees really add up!


5. Call diversion options     Call diversion and call forwarding features for cloud phone systems

Both Commander and Virtual PBX offer features for diverting calls. The MyNetFone feature set is a little more sophisticated, and perhaps, a little more complicated.

MyNetFone Virtual PBX provides a ‘follow me’ feature. With this, Sally could have calls ring through to her mobile or home office phone if her desktop phone went unanswered. This is more powerful than a simple diversion because it can ring a series of numbers one after the other.

Another diversion option, for the whole office, is Time of Day routing. This means that any calls that come through the main number, after work hours, will be sent to a certain voicemail or a certain number. This is not a feature that Sally needs today – but it is good to keep in mind.


6. Mobility Mobility and mobile app calling from a business phone system

Another key point of difference is mobility. Commander Phone offers a mobile app which can be purchased for $4.95 per user, per month. With this app, Sally would be able to make and receive calls on her office number, and manage her business phone service on the go.

MyNetFone does not offer an app, although calls can be easily diverted to a mobile number. Virtual PBX can be managed through an online portal – but not an ‘app’ per se.


7. Technical support comparison   Technical support for cloud phone systems

While both hosted PBX solutions offer simple plug-and-play technology, unforeseen issues can arise.

For technical issues, the MyNetFone Virtual PBX is backed by 100% Australian-based support. The technical support lines are available during business hours. For emergencies, out-of-hours support is available.

Commander technical support is available between 8am – 12am Monday to Friday AEDST, 8am -7pm Saturdays and 9am – 6pm Sundays. However, parts of the Commander customer support are based overseas – not in Australia.


Which Business Phone System is Best?


Both Commander and Virtual PBX offer are great alternatives to traditional telcos. For Sally, Virtual PBX comes out on top based on a lower monthly price (with more inclusions) and the freedom to own handsets outright. 


Searching for a new phone system?

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