An Internet telephony service provider (ITSP) provides Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and digital telecommunications services to either residential or commercial enterprises. Digital telecom services eliminate the costs associated with traditional phone services and allow individuals or companies to make substantial cost savings with no loss of quality. With a general knowledge of ICT it is a relatively straightforward manner to set-up in business as an ITSP. At each stage of the process other services exist to enable the correct management of your telecommunications business. A common benefit citied by ITSPs for selection of this business model is the scalable nature of the service and how it allows an enterprise to build their business free from the traditional high capital expenditure costs of ownership that other telephony solutions would entail.
Stages to Consider when setting up as an ITSP
There are three stages to consider when setting up as an ITSP. These are the choices over which VoIP platform or switch to use, which VoIP carrier to chose and the selection of end user equipment. These decisions are all explained in more detail below. Furthermore, information is given on a number of suppliers at each stage to enable the potential ITSP to make and informed decision.
1. What does VoIP Platform or Switch do?
Firstly, you will require a VoIP platform or switch. This platform provides the class five features for your service. Class five includes features such as voicemail, hunt groups and call-forwarding. A number of companies who offer VoIP platforms are reviewed below to assist in the selection of this first stage in becoming an Internet telephony service provider.
2. Why is VoIP Carrier important?
The next requirement to establish as an ITSP is to engage a VoIP carrier. This is known as a class four service. Considerations to make when selecting a VoIP carrier are coverage and origination. For this reason it is important to check the footprint of a particular carrier in your target market before engaging their services. Factors such as quality and the availability of support should also be given careful thought before any decision is taken. Many companies will offer automated support as part of a free package and some companies even offer free support from human operators. With the large number of VoIP carriers in the market it is worth spending sometime comparing the features and support packages that come as standard.
3. Selecting End User Equipment
The final requirement is the choice of end user equipment or software. Some ITSPs may prefer to allow the client to use their own equipment whereas others provide this directly. Using an analog telephone adapter (ATA) allows existing equipment to be used in the ITSP system within substantial additional costs. Alternatively, an IP phone is a popular choice that gives access to the class five features directly from the phone unit.
Companies who can help you become an ITSP
Below, the details a number of companies who provide the services required to become an ITSP are given alongside of the factors that might affect your decision to engage these services.
Enswitch from Integrics
Enswitch from Integrics offer a soft-switch that provides commercial carrier grade telephony services. The features include multi-tenant hosted PBX, toll-free and number translation services. Using a service such as Enswitch allows an ITSP to scale their services and facilitate high volumes of concurrent calls.
A2Billing from Star2Billing
A2Billing is another service that is available for free and uses open source software for Asterisk to provide billing services for class four and class five softswitch services. The enterprise offers residential, commercial and prepaid billing. Getting started with a service like this is as simple as downloading the software and reviewing the enclosed documentation.
Multi-tenant PBX from Thirdlane
Thirdlane offer supported solutions for their multi-tenant PBX. The company has become a popular choice for ITSP because of their powerful end user features which include features that go beyond the basic VoIP package. The company also sells telephony equipment and other devices suitable for the ITSP to offer to their clients. Their built in support function aims to reduce the amount of reliance upon operators. Furthermore, the company offers pre-programmed support in multiple languages to allow an ITSP to expand their business on a global basis.
ICTBroadcast Service Provider Edition from ICTBroadcast
Integrated companies such as ICTBroadcast provide packages of services that include all the features an ITSP requires. ICTBroadcast are an established company who are known for the quality of their coverage and the level of support offered. ICTBroadcast even offers free technical support. Furthermore, they support Voice, SMS, Email and Fax broadcasting and deliver a wide range of real time metrics to enable ITSP to offer exception service to their clients. Their scalable auto dialer allows both billing and routing. It makes use of multiple nodes of open source Asterisk PBX that eliminate the bottlenecks a single Asterisk PBX can cause. A variety of packages are available that run across a multiple number of servers, further details of the specific software running on each server can be seen here. The open source architecture of ICTBroadcast allows ITSP enterprises to deploy solutions that are tailored to their particular market and to meet the needs of business customers who frequently require specific customization within their ICT systems.
QueueMetrics from Loway
For an ITSP data and user metrics are very important. The same is true for your clients. Those managing call centres use a range of metrics to assess the efficiency of campaigns and to ensure their employees are operating according to company protocol. QueueMetrics from Loway offer a range of services designed for the requirements of operations managers call centre team leaders, call agents and IT managers. The same software allows these distinct groups to see the metrics that are important for their role. For example, agents can see the inbound call traffic volume and data on the calls they are handling. Team leaders are given access to data on agent availability; real time reporting and remote monitoring for call quality purposes.
In summary, becoming an ITSP and generating a sustainable revenue stream from business or residential customers is now an option open to any individual who wishes to spend a little time researching the market. The proliferation of companies who offer support for Asterisk based business solutions and the use of Opensource software means that customized features are possible for each client of the ITSP without substantially increasing expenditure. An ITSP can be created on a global basis to meet the telephony needs of clients in a wide range of situations and by choosing a reliable provider of VoIP platform and carrier seamless integration into existing networks is a simple matter.