In a nutshell Voxbone provides services for telephone numbers also called DID numbers. The provision of these numbers to communication service providers exists so any type of company can be a VoIP company, it could be a call conferencing company, or it can be a call center.
There are a lot of businesses, a lot of services that in fact use telephone numbers because when you have a service which is Internet based, and you offer telephone service using IP telephony for example, of course customers want access to those numbers. So you have the choice of either being a licensed operator to provide these numbers or you outsource to get the numbers form someone else.
“We realized a couple of years ago that as more and more companies were launching services internationally, a lot of companies are global because the Internet is global and in such a situation a lot of companies needed phone numbers not just from the US but also from a lot of different countries so they could operate from day one in as many countries as possible” said Rod Ullens, CEO and co-founder of Voxbone, specifically when questioned on their recent move into Hong Kong.
The decision was then made for Voxbone to launch a company that would focus on obtaining telephone numbers from as many countries as possible and to provide these in wholesale to anyone who needs it for their own services.
In June of this year Voxbone started offering services without the need for 3G or wifi. This shift was innovative to say the least and became a focal point for the company. There are lots of mobile VoIP solutions out there and some of them are a software that you install on your mobile device. Let’s say you have a smartphone, you could download an application, it can be something like Nimbuzz or Truephone or some application that allows you to place calls international calls over wi-fi. When you make an international call this application detects that there is a wi-fi available and forwards the call over the wi-fi connection over the internet instead of routing the call over the traditional telephone network.
Rod notes that this plan works today, but the problem with such a solution is that you don’t have wi-fi everywhere. This ties you down to specifically be in a wi-fi hot spot which makes the solution not as feasible or not as practical if you want to use it anywhere you are. The solution stands to the benefit of providers who offer mobile VoIP like Voxbone, where you don’t actually see that when you use the service you’re not using wifi or some 3G network, but rather a local number instead of an international number. This local call is made using a local DID number and then the call arrives to Voxbone and then Voxbone then forwards the call over the Internet to the customer.
Rod Ullens gives the following example. “Suppose you are using a mobile phone application in the US and you want to make a phone call to someone in London, in the UK, your application will detect that it is an international call, it will detect that there is no wi-fi where you are, and instead of dialing a +44 number which is an international number, it will dial a local New York number, for example, if you are in New York. And then of course you will not have to pay the international call, but you will only pay a local call. The call will then be forwarded over the internet to the UK for a rate that is much lower than what you would have paid if you had made this international call from the beginning. So thats the idea, to benefit from mobile voice but without the 3G or wi-fi coverage.”
Critics might claim that quality is lost in the process, but Rod insists that quality is not sacrificed for convenience. The reason? Your call goes out from your phone just as if you made a direct international call which will be “bounced” off Voxbone and sent to its destination intact and without loss. Basically the idea is to use the Internet as the shortest way possible and to forward the call internationally over a private backbone.
Recently Voxbone was a part of the ClueCon conference, where they had an amazing presentation on scalability, which, in today’s technology climate, is a very hot topic. The Voxbone R&D Manager spoke about what Voxbone did to build a completely redundant and scalable network. The presentation stems from the fact that there is an impression that the carriers out there are sometimes afraid to use open source components in their Internet work.
“We believe with the right experience and the right people in the company, its [open source] actually a very efficient and very scalable solution that you can deploy for your network. So we wanted to show with a real case, which is our own network that having open source components in your network is actually something that can be very flexible and very affordable” Rod commented in response to the business world’s fears..
Voxbone transports a lot of voice minutes, very reliably, and they could not do what they have done today without open source. When they launched their service it was decided from the very beginning that Voxbone wanted something very automated where the customers can select to reach continents. The call is forwarded, the customer can do lots of configurations themselves; it was not possible to do that with standard equipment when we launched our service.
When asked what types of companies should consider services like those offered by Voxbone, Rod had this to say, “Ours is very specific to voice but in a general way I think reliability is something indeed that every company should consider but there are ways to make it very easy. As a service provider what we’ve tried to do is have a network that is very redundant because thats our job, but as a user of our services if you are for example, a call center, you might not have the expertise to build all thats required to share numbers between continents, and that’s where we step in to help”
Reliability and assurance is what Voxbone offers those that use their services. By ensuring up time, and redundancy, any company from the big to the small can benefit from using Voxbone, especially if a lot of work is done in various countries, which as stated before, is becoming more and more common.
If you look at what Amazon is doing with its cloud-based solutions and so on, they are managing all the redundancy and all the complexity around it because its their job, but then the users using their service don’t have to worry about that anymore. Thats the same kind of strategy Voxbone has tried to put into place. We don’t sell our service to consumers so we don’t have to worry about all the marketing and all the customer care and so on but we do worry about the reliability and scalability at the corporate level.
In terms of the industry keeping ahead of the game and providing services as new trends emerge, Rod stated that companies too often try to innovate before they even know what the client wants. This works against companies, and Voxbone, while innovative, keeps in close communication with their clients in order to ensure that growth is with the client, not leaps and bounds ahead of them. So their only worry is to have as many innovation tools that they can provide to the customers. Essentially, all going back to the ease of use and ease of creation within the open source platform.
Voxbone has a busy 2009 schedule, with presentations at both the Las Vegas PrePaid Solutions Expo, and a September IT Expo.