Facebook and saving on GSM roaming.

What does one have to do with the other? Well not much, except that 2 of my Facebook friends, Pat Phelan and Florian Seroussi have formed an alliance between their two companies who both specialise in roaming SIMS. Florian is US based, and Pat in Ireland, together they will conquer the world!

You can read more about the new alliance on Pat’s blog.  Good Luck to both of you!

Which Google?

I was notified today that we are on page 1 on Google! That is if you search for “voip reseller” you will find the Flat Planet Phone Company at anywhere between line 1 and 11, depending on what country you are in.

It seems that rankings are done differently in different countries. As an a USA focused person I look first at google.com, but I am seeing different results all over the board.

If you are next to a computer, and you probably are if you are reading this blog :-), please go to google and type in “voip reseller”, please let me know where we are ranked in your country! You can reach me either on Facebook, by searching for Moshe Maeir or at google at flatplanetphone dot com. Thanks!

iotum – Better Late than Never

I am few days late on this…

While the rumors have been floating around for awhile (you can learn a lot, by following people on twitter and facebook…especially if they post that they are doing due diligence!), iotum finally announced that they had closed an investment with VERDEXUS. Randall Howard has joined iotum’s Board of Directors and has been appointed Chairman of the Board.

You can read the full press release here, and Alec Saunders’ post here.

As in my previous post today, I must note that both Alec and Howard Thaw, the founders of iotum are great guys! From Alec, a leading blogger, I have gained tremendous insight into the Voice 2.0 world, and I can’t wait to see what they will do with the new investment and management infusion.

Alec & Howard – All the best!

Dean Elwood joins Truphone

Dean Elwood, the co-founder of Voip User announced today that he is joining  joined Truphone in October. In a business space  with lots of nice guys, Dean is one of the nicer ones. I am happy he was able to turn his hobby (voip) into a full time paying pursuit. Together with TJ (Tjardick Van Der Kraan ), Dean founded a few years ago, voip-user.org, which has developed into a leading  voip resource.

At Truphone, Dean will be the Platform Director. “Platform” as Dean explains, relates to a backbone that supports and enables the operation of additional products which Truphone will release itself, and to ultimately enable third party developers to create applications on the Truphone network.

Dean brings to Truphone an unique understanding of the market and is already announcing a new application.

One project at Truphone that I have been involved with for a few months, and since before joining officially, is a new Click to Call application, launched today. There are several click to call/callback/speak type applications already on Facebook. The differentiator here, and the interesting part about this application (and also the hardest part) is that we’ve embedded a JAVA based softphone right into the heart of Facebook. This makes the experience from a user point of view seamless with the Facebook environment. The user never leaves Facebook, they speak into Facebook. Additionally, the “call me” button for this application is not restricted to your own profile page – it functions as a Facebook attachment, which means it can be dropped onto a friends Wall, or added to a Facebook mail message or any other attachment-accepting application which exists on Facebook now or might do in the future.

While, I was unable to get it going, it sounds like a great product. Of course the question remains as Om Malik wrote a few days ago, do voice applications have a place at all on social networks at all? So far the stats are rather disappointing, to say it mildly.

Good Luck Dean!

LNP coming to Israel December 1st, well not exactly…

The Israeli mobile providers have put up a strong lobby to prevent this (I wonder why…), but – Number Portability will come into effect December 1st in Israel. In theory you will be able to port your numbers in between Mobile carriers, or Landline carriers, but not from one to the other. Another catch is that if you live in Tel Aviv, you can port your number to another carrier like the cable company, but you can not port your number outside of the Tel Aviv area. So for example if you move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, you can not take your 03 number with you. Something about not enough 03 numbers (like 212 in NY) to go around.

This is actually another anomaly of the Israeli numbering system, since you can port your 03 number to a national carrier like 072, or 078 and then move with your 03 number. The lack of coherent planning is not surprising since just last year the whole mobile numbering system was overhauled and everyones mobile number was changed. You won’t believe this but that program was explained as a solution, so callers would know what mobile network they are calling based on the number! Now a year later they are introducing Number Portability, which makes the whole change introduced last year — redundant.

I guess that is what happens when the Minister of Communications changes once a year…

(Thanks to Yair Hakak from the Israel M of C, for explaining this to me)

Packet Joins the Mobile fray (With a non VoIP service!)

A number of my fellow bloggers have reported on the entry of Packet 8 into the mobile market. Packet 8 as you probably know is one of the veteran VoIP and IP PBX suppliers.  Their new product does not have much in common with their traditional business. But does put them face to face with the calling card, call back and callthru industry for international calls.
Maybe that is why my friend Pat had a few questions about the new service.

Basically it is a traditional calling card product. You call an access number from your mobile, get a dial tone and dial your  number. As many travellers know entering all those numbers is a pain. Packet 8 saves your the ache of typing in many numbers.  They install a small program on your phone which detects that you are calling an international number and it routes the call to a local access number via your regular cellular connection.

This local access number is pointed at a Packet 8 gateway which then routes the call the same way if you would make an international call from your wired Packet 8 VoIP phone. So in truth this is not a Mobile VoIP service. You use your cell minutes to make the call. The savings are two-fold, one – you do not need to dial extra digits and codes, since the s/w does that for you and two – you pay a calling card rate for overseas calls instead of the hefty rate your cell phone company charges you.

The advantage of such a solution over the Mobile VoIP providers such as Truphone, Fring and others is that you do not need a data or Wifi connection. Just use your regular cellphone minutes and dial!

You did buy a IP PBX, didn’t you?

Sales of IP PBXes are set to pass, or have already passed the sales of traditional PBXes (depending on what report you read.)

Our main business is setting up hosted IP PBXes, which are of course connected via SIP trunks to the customer. I was very surprised to find out that many companies that purchase IP PBXes use them only for internal calls in the office. Externally they are still connected to their traditional carrier via a T1/E1.

The sad part is that many of these companies don’t even know what they are missing. They don’t understand the advantages and costs savings of routing calls via SIP! We recently met with a PBX distributor who has sold over 200 IP PBXes from a tier one manufacturer, without connecting any of them to a SIP trunk. Recently one of his customers, requested a SIP solution. Neither the reseller, the distributor and the manufacturer support were  able to connect them up…

Our technical manager, Dovid Bender spent 2 days working with them, and they are now happily connected. My question is – why aren’t SIP connections more common? After all you did buy a IP PBX didn’t you??

What will those funny named VoIP companies do next?

If you are a reader of this blog, I am sure you have heard of all those VoIP companies with the funny names. Jajah, Nonoh, Jangl and Jaxtr are just a few.

Actually anyone can start a company like that (though you need to hurry before the funny names are all used up…), open source software and SIP standards makes it easy to build and deploy — but what do you do once you built the service??

If you take the beaten track, offer free calls initially to pull in the customers and then charge low rates, how do you stand out from the competition?? How do you build customer loyalty? What will prevent your customers from jumping ship to a new low cost provider?

I have my own ideas, how to do this, which I will try to elaborate in a later post. Another way to do it is to keep on coming out with new services as one of the funny named VoIP companies is today. Since they put an embargo on their press release for a few more hours and I am going out, I will let my fellow bloggers tell you me more details.

This morning I tried out the new service. It works