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Over-the-top operators who leverage IP and VoIP services are not new. In the US, companies like Vonage and Ooma have wide name recognition today.
But hold onto your hat: a new wave of cloud-based enablers has emerged who can spawn hundreds, if not thousands, of new Voice over IP businesses.
The young “grandfather” of these enablers is Telinta (founded in 2002), a firm who’s built an enabling softswitch and billing platform, well-known for its stability and flexibility. In fact, Telinta is one of the pioneers of this type of platform.
What Telinta does is take the most costly components of IP telecom services — the switching, the billing engine, and the intelligence to run this type of business — and host them in the cloud.
I met Telinta’s VP of Marketing and Sales, Anthony Stiso, at the ITW show. Anthony gave me an insightful brief of their business and the big opportunities — and even bigger incumbent disruption — these enablers and their progeny will bring to market.
|Dan Baker, Editor, Top Operator: Anthony, what Telinta has done is shrink wrap the immense technical knowledge required to start a telecom business. And I understand your customers are the service providers themselves, not end users or business consumers.|
Anthony Stiso: That’s right, Dan. Our customers are VoIP service providers who want to sell the full gamut of telecom services — voice, wireless, Hosted PBX, calling cards, and so many other things.
What we deliver is the cloud-based intelligence to start your own VoIP service provider business, without investing capex in your own infrastructure.
So tracing the flow of a PSTN call using VoIP, we first see it from TDM analog converted to digital IP by a DID provider. Our customers can use our switch to then route the call to one of their termination carriers who then converts the IP call back into analog, sending it back to the PSTN to reach the called party. Telinta’s cloud-based softswitch platform provides the intelligence to make that happen.
|And it’s not just basic telephony, but a much broader range of Voice-over-IP telecom services.|
Yes, calling cards and pinless services, for instance, are in many countries highly attractive to immigrants from other countries. For example, people who move to the US from Brazil want an economical way to call home.
The end users go to a retail store and buy prepaid calling cards offered by our service provider customers to call home for, let’s say, $5.00. Or perhaps they visit one of our customer’s “Call Shops” and use booth 5 to make their call. That service is quite similar to the phone booths of yesteryear, except instead of dropping coins in the phone, you pay the cashier.
Hosted PBX service is another key service we mainstream, enabling our customers to provide a feature-rich solution to their business customers. Just about every significant business in America has some type of PBX, so the opportunity for our customers to grow is very attractive. And the beauty of what we offer is it’s all hosted, so there’s no PBX equipment on-site.
|Please tell us about the OTT enabling platform your customer uses.|
Dan, our Telicore platform (see diagram above) provides the VoIP service provider with a complete solution to run their business, a command center to configure everything in one integrated administrative portal.
Telicore orchestrates the wide variety of things needed to deliver finished VoIP services to customers. For example, the business likely needs phone numbers, it needs someone to originate the traffic, someone to terminate the traffic, and then switching in-between to make it all work. It needs a seamless billing solution. In the US, it enables easy access to your E911 service provider. Your customers can even top up their wireless account with money using APIs to mobile top-up providers in our platform.
Now our “Virtual Office”, that’s the solution that’s dazzling customers and we recently won an award for. The end use customer simply goes on-line and signs into a self-service menu to custom-tailor their own VoIP service in the cloud.
They select the services they want: “Yes. I want voice mail and an auto-attendant. I want to select my own phone number. Oh, and I’d like six extensions like a PBX routing calls to: my mobile, my home, my office, my wife’s office, my wife’s cell phone, and my partner’s cell phone. Press one for Sales; press 2 for customer service. During business hours, I want to route like this. On weekends, I want to route them differently.” In short, our customers can provide the ultimate self-service experience to their users.
|Wow, I can see this Virtual Office gives the flexibility we only dreamed our local LEC could provide, though we know it would be horrendously costly for them to provision. But by combining IP, cloud hosting, and knowhow, you’re making it real.|
Dan, the nice thing is that our customers’ end users don’t even need an IP phone to use Virtual Office. It can work with any phone that they use, which is revolutionary.
As a service provider, you can do business across multiple languages, currencies and time zones. You are not bound to serving customers within your local region, because you don’t need to send an installer to the customer premise. You can easily go from regional to national to even global.
Basically we enable anyone to create their own VoIP service and market it under their own brand. The service provider can even have its own resellers, using their own brand too. And each distributor channel down the chain doesn’t have to say, “We are using Telinta’s technology.” Our services are totally white label, and our customers often position our platform as their own technology. And by enabling resellers in this white label way, you boost aggregate traffic and growth.
Many aspects of telecom get cheaper by the dozen. So as your volumes grow, you’ll get better pricing per minute from Telinta and perhaps from even your termination providers too.
|What about mobile service?|
Dan, we offer a mobile solution that can easily integrate into other solutions, for example where our customers can provide a mobile extension to a Hosted PBX via our brandable mobile softphone app. This solution, called TeliGlobe, can be used with both Android and IOS devices. It can be offered in conjunction with other services, or as a stand-alone service for both prepaid and postpaid mobile OTT VoIP calling.
Our TeliSIM MVNO solution even allows our customers to offer highly profitable mobile roaming services to travelers, at significantly lower prices. We have roaming agreements with over 600 operators. Just about anywhere there’s a GSM signal, you can use TeliSIM. It’s very unique.
TeliSIM is a SIM-card based solution and is not an OTT solution, but uses the GSM network. Of course, TeliSIM and our OTT TeliGlobe solution can be integrated so that end users have a choice of which to use. For example, they can use TeliSIM when they are out on the street, but use TeliGlobe when they are back at their hotel and connected to WiFi.
|Who are your service provider customers and where are they located?|
Telinta is a very global business and we serve customers in the US and around the world.
We are easily within reach of just about anyone who wants to open their VoIP service provider business. And our minimum charge is $400 a month, so for a predictable, affordable monthly fee, you can own your own phone company.
So an entrepreneur who can capture a lot of business from one large office complex or chain of restaurants could launch a profitable telecom business using cost-effective VoIP. Many of our customers are not technically savvy: they are just people with a good business sense. Because this is a hosted solution, they do not need to be engineers. We take care of that for them. We offer 24x7 live Technical Support to help them resolve issues and answer questions.
|And how does the customer get training?|
Training? Training is a very big selling point. We know that if a customer is new to the business, opening a VoIP business may seem intimidating. So as soon as someone signs up with us, we schedule a series of interactive training sessions with one of our senior staff members.
This is hands-on training, so by the end of the training, customers are configuring the switch themselves.
We show them how to configure VoIP Termination carriers and other providers needed. It’s very cool. We can introduce them to our partners too if they have not yet selected their own providers.
|What sort of partners do you work with?|
Dan, having a comprehensive ecosystem of partners is absolutely vital. Remember, we supply the switching and billing solution, but you might also need IP phones, VoIP termination, DID phone numbers, and other things. So we introduce our customers to a wide collection of partners in areas we know our customers are likely to need.
And we do it in a vendor-neutral way. We say, “You can use any providers you’d like.” While other companies may force you to do things their way, we let customers use any providers that meet their needs. Some other switching providers force you to buy termination from them exclusively.
Recently a customer approached us and said, “OK, here’s what we pay. Can you do a better job?” And we looked and noticed they were paying 10 cents a minute on termination in a destination that’s normally a half a cent a minute.
So by taking off that inflated cost, we more than offset the Telinta $400 minimum monthly fee.
|Isn’t it a bit scary for the customer to come in and get pushed off to a partner to deliver the various components?|
At first glance it maybe seem that way if customers prefer to deal with a single vendor. However the flip side is our customer gets to select the price and quality that best meets their needs. They aren’t locked in with any one vendor.
We also say, “You are not obligated to use our partners, but these are companies we know are stable, reputable, work well on our platform and we’ve negotiated special rates with them for Telinta customers. Of course, you don’t have to use them.”
Our pitch to customers is straightforward: whether your VoIP business is new and just starting out, or you’re already well-established, Telinta can help you.
|Anthony, thanks for this nice briefing. It’s one thing to provide a soup-to-nuts telecom solution, but Telinta’s ability to provide integrated solutions for Hosted PBX, mobile, and Virtual Office and more at only $400 a month — well, that really sweetens the pot. Good luck with this.|
Copyright 2017 Top Operator Journal