RealTime IT News

Voxbone Pitches Inbound VoIP Services

Voice over IP (VoIP) service providers have primarily pushed the technology as a cheaper alternative to traditional landline phones. Now, it may also be a way for smaller companies to look a lot bigger in the global pond.

VoIP service provider Voxbone uses the Internet-based architecture as a platform to provide inexpensive local telephone numbers and inbound telephony services to companies anywhere in the world.

This means that a customer in Germany, Italy or one of the 35 other countries signed up by the firm thus far can dial a single number and be connected with a Voxbone company client.

Companies pay Voxbone about $7 to $11 per month per number in each country, without worrying about individual contracts and local taxes, Rodrigue Ullens, one of the company's co-founders, told internetnews.com.

Voxbone also takes care of partnerships with the local telecommunications carriers in each country, and makes any necessary arrangements, he said, noting that this process "can take a long time and be very complicated."

Once a local number is assigned, all voice traffic is routed over the Internet through Voxbone's point-of-presence (POP) system in Brussels. A second origination center was just launched in New York City to provide services to more than 250 carriers and the North American business market.

"You can reach all these customers worldwide that you couldn't reach before," he said.

Voxbone does not provide services directly to company customers, but works with carriers to provide VoIP channeling services to more than 1,200 cities worldwide, explained Ullens.

Current Voxbone customers include Net2Phone, which buys blocks of numbers and VoIP access services from Voxbone and then resells access to its customer base. Cordia, a wireline and VoIP service provider based in Orlando, Fla., is another customer.

Skype could be either a customer or a competitor to Voxbone, said Ullens, noting that he has had some discussions with the VoIP company. The smart money is that Skype will be a competitor, though, especially as it expands its business and continues acquisition activities.

Voxbone started as a consulting business and only dialed into the communications services a couple of years ago. Since that time it has been growing roughly 30 percent per month as it rides the VoIP wave of popularity.

By the end of this year, there will be close to 10 million VoIP subscribers in the U.S., and more than 32 million by 2010, according to a report released earlier this year by eMarketer.

Consumers and businesses make the switch to VoIP because of its lower cost, and ability to mingle voice, video and data services along with voice traffic, said eMarketer.

In fact, Voxbone is looking to parlay the Internet's capabilities as it works with developers to create new services such as voice blogging and VoIP virtual communities, said Ullens.

One developer, for example, has created a voice community that allows people anywhere in the world to gather in a virtual party-line conference room to practice speaking German.

Developers create new services by integrating Voxbone's API into their programming, explained Ullens.

"Developers who do not know anything about telephony can use our VoIP phone numbers and telecommunications services to extend their applications."

Not everyone is an easy sell on the origination technology, though. Customer call centers stand to benefit the most from Voxbone's low per-country telephone number cost, but are skeptical when it comes to VoIP reliability.

"It's difficult to get them to understand that the quality can be as good as a landline," said Ullens.