December 1, 2003

6 Min Read
Lighting a Fire Under VoIP

By Tara Seals

Posted: 12/2003

Lighting a Fire Under VoIP
By Tara Seals

Voice over IP may be ready to explode,
but the timing on the explosion will depend on identifying companies that can
use VoIP to improve their business operations and reaching them with a clear
value proposition.

To that end, Net2Phone Inc. subsidiary Net2Phone Global
Services (NGS) is going after small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a
suite of prepaid/ postpaid VoIP solutions. The Max Private Voice Network (PVN)
allows enterprises to use private network VoIP to call between international and
local offices for free, along with the ability to make off-net calls to any
phone in the world, regardless of user location or PBX infrastructure.

Max PVN is interoperable with analog and digital PBXs, and
regular and IP phones, connected using a software-based management system. It is
available as a premise-based or hosted solution, and supports private WANs and
public Internet use. The enterprise can choose a prepaid or a postpaid billing
system.

Hosted or otherwise, Max PVN targets small to mid-sized
businesses with remote international offices as a sweet spot. While large
Fortune 500 enterprises have generally already tied their networks together
using a TDM infrastructure, SMEs cant afford those fixed costs, explains
Bryan Wiener, president at NGS.


Image: The Max Private Voice Network

In that target market, around 40 percent of the costs for
telecom for the company are interoffice so if you have an office in the U.K,
and one in Turkey and one in the States, you spend a lot of money just
communicating with your colleagues, he says.

In the United States, NGS specific target market is SMEs
that have operations overseas, such as businesses in Miami with branch offices
in Latin America, for instance.

Weve done a lot of surveying and the vast majority of
them right now are using the PSTN to call to and from, says Wiener. And
for a very low-cost deployment, say $5,000, they can take all of their Latin
American offices and put them on Max PVN, and the return on investment is less
than three months by saving on long-distance.

Net2Phone is partnering with VARs, systems integrators,
corporate bandwidth providers and PBX resellers to sell Max PVN solutions
globally. Because the Max PVN builds on businesses existing
telecommunications solutions, distributors are able to either bundle or upsell
Max PVN as part of an overall IP solution. Distributors receive a percentage of
the recurring revenue generated from off-net global calling, compared with a
one-time sale of telecom equipment and services.

For the premise-based version of Max VPN, NGS has taken
elements of the Net2Phone platform to create software that can reside on a
Windows PC server within the corporate enterprise.

So lets say theres a U.K. headquarters, they would
have a server there and all the offices would communicate via that server, and
all interoffice calling would be set up through that server, so it would be a
private network, explains Wiener. For interoffice calling youre not
hitting the Net2Phone network, youre hitting the private network thats set
up at the company.

For the hosted version Net2Phone partners with system
integrators, PBX vendors or other partner in the customers country, who host
Max PVN in their networks. Businesses then hook up to the partners
hosted Max PVN, so its almost IP Centrex-like, says Wiener.

A lot of companies are sales and marketing companies and
dont have any technical people and dont want to be bothered, he
explains. This way they can just buy extensions from the provider in-country
thats hosting it, and they can buy prepaid time, so they can regulate their
long-distance usage, and they can really manage, from a budgetary standpoint,
their telecommunications costs.

The solution also contains an off-net component, in which
Net2Phone acts as an international long-distance carrier. When someone wants
to make calls outside their office network, say to a potential customer in
France, that then signals to our platform and we take the phone call and we
terminate it, says Wiener. We bill based on either a prepaid or a postpaid
platform.

NGS says there are further advantages to Max PVN beyond cheap
interoffice long-distance. Whats really cool about this is that people arent
just using it for their own offices; theyre extending the network to their
supply chain, whether its customers or purchasing agents or whomever, says Wiener. You can hand out an extension and then an IP
phone or a device that sits off a PBX, and you can communicate with anyone who
you want to extend your network to…but they dont have to be a part of your
private network, you dont have to get your LAN guys involved, you just need
to have public Internet access.

Another benefit is mobility; Max PVN enables a follow-me
function. This morning, for instance, I spoke to one of our top sales guys,
who normally is based in Australia, today hes traveled to Saudia Arabia,
explains Wiener. His PVN extension is 4701, so normally Id dial into our
local number here, get a dial tone, and then dial his extension. But since hes
on the road he took his IP phone and put it in a suitcase, and he was able to
plug into broadband at the hotel, so [dialing] 4701 reached him in Saudia
Arabia.

PVN also allows on-the-road employees to use the corporate
VoIP ability. Users can call into the office PBX, ping a particular
extension for the PVN, then dial out.

Because the Max PVN integrates prepaid functionality,
businesses can opt to control spending with features such as PIN creation. The
corporation can choose who has permission to call into Max PVN and then out
off-net, by issuing PIN numbers. The prepaid platform and functionality
allows the flexibility to protect security on the network, as well as regulate
phone usage, says Wiener. One of the biggest fears is that you dont
know your telephony costs until the end of the month.

So will the focus on the mid-market pay off for NGS and for
VoIP, sparking the waited-for explosion? Wiener is bullish. Its still
very, very early on and I think the vast majority of businesses and consumers
are not using VoIP service, says Wiener. But it used to be that you spent
most meetings convincing people that wow, this is an emerging technology, and
why they should buy off on it. That just doesnt happen anymore, you jump
right into why this solution fits your needs … and Ive never seen a clearer
value proposition.

Links

Net2Phone Inc. www.net2phone.com

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