* Taking VoIP to the masses
Australian telecommunications specialist Gotalk has a range of products and services for the business and consumer markets and is distributed in New Zealand through Synnex.
It has enjoyed huge success with its calling card business – with around a 20% share of the international calling card market in Australia – and is muscling in on the big telcos with its own carrier grade exchange centre.
When it comes to VoIP John Stuart, Gotalk marketing general manager, says his company aims to make the technology simple for the masses.
“We make it as easy as possible for people to use it and that’s the main selling point. The reality is that a phone call is just a phone call – customers just want it to be as cheap as possible,” he says.
In particular Stuart points to the massive success Gotalk is experiencing with its USB phone stick, which has all software pre-installed so customers can just plug and talk.
Stuart says he’s noticed laptop resellers are now bundling the phone stick with all new purchases. Gotalk offers a free hardware device that combines landline, broadband and VoIP services and also acts as a wireless broadband modem. He insists Gotalk is focused on hardware and will continue to bring its full range of products into New Zealand this year. “We’re still developing the market here. However I’d like to reassure resellers that we won’t be selling VoIP or broadband products direct and don’t want to do any promotions that undercut the channel in any way.” Stuart says his company is in discussions with a major mobile carrier in New Zealand to offer a combine mobile and phonecard service this year.
* Infrastucture provider offers WiFi option
Historically known for routers, switches and adapters Netgear is also a strong player in the VoIP and digital entertainment markets.
Launched last year Netgear’s Skype WiFi phone is a mobile phone enabling end users to make free internet calls to anyone in the world with Skype.
A key feature of this phone is that it frees users up from their PC, allowing them to be connected anywhere within a WiFi network to which they have access. The phone works anywhere in the world a user has secured or open access to a WiFi network - home, office or public hotspot that doesn’t require browser-based authentication. Additionally Netgear’s RangeMax Wireless Router with Smart MIMO technology is equipped to optimise Skype. RangeMax routers avoid interference from neighbouring wireless networks and eliminate dead spots to maintain the most reliable, high performance network connections, superb for Skype.
Not so long ago VoIP was an emerging technology and as such was plagued by problems. However, with increasingly convergent technologies coming to market and many consumers embracing the concept of free calling, VoIP is set to become a mainstream reality.
* Can security and EFTPOS systems be easily linked to a VoIP system?
Yes. You’ll need an interface to connect analogue devices to the VoIP system. Usually this is a small box that allows you to plug in an analogue device - such as a fax machine or EFTPOS terminal.
* Will the VoIP service increase my broadband bill?
VoIP calls consume data as part of the customer’s monthly broadband data usage allowance. Typically VoIP calls can use 10MB to 40MB for every hour of calls. The customer needs to consider how long they talk on the phone each month and whether their broadband service has an unlimited download quota.
* What happen to my VoIP service if usage exceeds the monthly quota?
The amount of data depends on how the equipment digitises voice, generally the larger the amount the better speech quality.
Some ISPs only count downloads in usage allowance while others count both downloads and uploads. If the monthly quota is exceeded the customer either faces an increased broadband bill or won’t be able to make further VoIP calls.
Watch out for:
* can you carry the financial cost of the project if there are delays?
* have you got the staff to resource the implementation? If not, what measures are you going to take and budget accordingly.
* do you know the vertical market your customer operates in? There’s no point in playing out of your depth and looking like a cowboy.
Make sure your proposal includes:
* Does it address all the customer’s requirements? Attention to detail is critical so ensure the responses tie back to the RFP.
* Don’t put in useless technical information in a bid to impress, just make sure you answer the requirements.
* Describe the staff you’ll assign to the project and include their certifications.
* Make sure the customer knows your credentials, include previous voice and data network implementations you’ve completed. It helps if you can take a prospect to a reference site during the proposal review period.
* What ongoing support can you provide to the customer? Do they have staff members at each site capable of supporting the equipment or will you be able to provide on-site assistance in a reasonable timeframe?
Explaining your service:
You need to tell them about any matter that affects the service or its quality
* What type of service are you offering?
* Is your network based locally or overseas and what effect will this have on end users?
* Who has ownership of the network infrastructure? Do you own or lease the network infrastructure?
* How does the phone and line numbering system work?
* Do you offer priority assistance for life threatening medical conditions?
Explaining the technical requirements.
You need to tell them about any special requirements to support the service
* What hardware and software is required for each service option?
* How does the equipment work?
* What type of broadband, cable or wireless connection is needed? This includes minimum specification of personal computer required to install and configure the software and minimum ADSL service speeds suitable for the service.
* Are there compatibility issues that need to be addressed – with modems or firewalls for example?
* What warranties/guarantees and service standards – such as availability and reliability – apply?
* What options are available for customers to control access to and limit use of the service? This includes call barring and access control features.
* Are there any restrictions on reconfiguring the hardware?
Explaining it’s limitations:
You need to specifically highlight any limitations to the service.
* Is it a substitute for a fixed line service and can the fixed line be cancelled?
* What access is there to emergency services and will the emergency services be able to locate the caller’s street address?
* What will happen if power is lost, will the service be available to call emergency services?
* What is the voice quality and what type of problems may be experienced?
Costs related to the service:
You need to tell them every aspect of the charging arrangements.
* What are the billing & payment options?
* How are all of the charges calculated?
* What is the effect of ISP throttling the service when data limits are reached?
* What sort of contract or terms and conditions are being offered?
* Do you contact customers to advise of changes to terms and conditions?
* Are there any special conditions or fees that apply if a customer wants to cancel the service?
Source: Communications Alliance