Voxbone has announced iNum, a global telephone number that enables anyone to establish a local presence anywhere in the world.

An abbreviation of international numbers, iNums use the new ‘country code’ +883 created by the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) to let VoIP users anywhere in the world receive calls using standard phone numbers.

Initially, the calls will mainly connect users of different VoIP services.

Eventually, callers will be able to dial iNums directly from traditional phone lines in any location.

Rodrigue Ullens, CEO and co-founder of Voxbone, said iNum was a new kind of phone number for a new kind of world that was about local presence and global relationships, not about distance or national borders.

"We believe the new geography is defined by the markets, customers and vendors that businesses need to connect with most," he said.

"We need ‘local’ communication with these people—whether calls originate on public-switched or VoIP networks, whether they are truly local or ‘virtually’ local."

Ullens said the ITU approved Voxbone’s testing of iNum in June 2007.

It began testing +883 numbers in remote networks then began a preview with several service providers, Jajah, Mobivox, Gizmo5, Ribbit, iotum, Rebtel, Voipbuster, Voxeo and Voipuser.

Among wholesale voice carriers, Arbinet, Belgacom ICS, Level 3 Communications and Stealth’s Voice Peering Fabric are already routing +883 calls today.

Since recognizing the new country code requires an update to the switch routing tables of all wholesalers, international carriers and retail providers, +883 calls must traverse participating carriers’ networks to connect.

A list of all such carriers and their rates for iNum connection appears on the www.inum.net site.

To create a number with “local” PSTN access around the world, Voxbone worked with the ITU to establish the 883 country code, in the same way that 44 is the country code that refers internationally to the United Kingdom and 1 to the United States.

Voxbone provides iNum numbers for free to carriers and service providers, Ullens said.

As the number wholesaler, Voxbone will receive calls to these numbers and deliver them to the appropriate service provider. In this way, it connects incoming calls from PSTN callers as well as calls between different VoIP islands.

Some iNum participating carriers will resell iNum numbers to their customers so they can receive calls; other participants will merely route (terminate) calls to the new numbers.

Most participating carriers will even deliver calls to iNum numbers free of charge to their users, effectively providing free connectivity between their network and remote networks.

“Customers and prospects who see an advertised iNum telephone number that costs little or nothing to dial will be just as inclined to call an international business as they would any business physically located nearby or in-country,” said Ullens.

“We see iNum encouraging more people to call globally, enabling business subscribers to have wider interactions with callers from new markets,” he added. “For carriers, iNum will increase call minutes and generate additional revenue through innovative global services.”

Ullens described iNum as a natural extension of Voxbone’s role as an online DID (direct-inward-dial) warehouse.

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