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IP telephony coming of age in India

In an interconnected world information physical location doesn't really matter. You could be sitting in India, China or Malaysia and doing business globally, writes Puneet Mehrotra.

india Updated: Sep 07, 2008, 00:07 IST
Puneet Mehrotra
Puneet Mehrotra

In an interconnected world information physical location doesn't really matter. You could be sitting in India, China or Malaysia and doing business globally. However an important area is service. What happens if your customers are in USA and UK you don't want them to be more than a local call away?

Setting up physical offices for a small and medium sized business may not always be feasible. Web based telephony company Tringme this week launched a service which allows you to get worldwide phone numbers with no headache or contract or hidden fees. You can forward these calls to your Skype, GTalk or even your existing mobile or fixed line nos. anywhere you wish. In other words your can have its very own customer call centre for unbelievably low rates ranging from free to 4 cents a minute.

Sound great right? Well that's IP Telephony at play and a huge revolution in telephony is brewing.

Common man's telephony

If you thought a mobile connection was the best it could get you still haven't seen IP Telephony at play. Right from costs to the way we access calls it may all soon change. Says Yusuf Motiwala of Tringme "VoIP has been a boon for long distance internet telephony for quite a while now even-though it's mainly accessible from PCs. A key problem which hasn't been well-attended so far is a way for a common man who doesn't have a PC to use VoIP (popularly known as "internet telephony") to make really cheap worldwide calls."

So how does the VoIP reach the common man. The answer is creating a bridge between mobile phone and VoIP services. Yusuf adds "Mobile-VoIP can be an answer to this problem since mobile penetration rate is increasing by many folds every year." In effect it would mean reduced calls by almost 90% with more facilities like conferencing and lots of power packed features.

Add to this are features like SMS based calling where you send an SMS to the IP Telephony operator and they connect you with any phone no. in the world.

The problem areas

In India alone, there are over 200 million mobile users compared to 5 million broadband users. Problem starts when for mobile-VoIP solutions one needs smartphones and also reply on GPRS and data networks.

The equation is MobileVoIP= smart phone + data connection + great connectivity

Talking about smart phones even a boasted figure won't go over 10% of the total mobiles sold. So that's something clearly out of the common man's reach and one of the biggest hurdles in taking mobile-VoIP forward. Says Yusuf "In developing countries like India, more than 80% mobile users do not have data connection on their mobile. And for the remaining ones who have it, data connection is poor to have any effective real time communication like VoIP."

The way forward

In the mobile VoIP equation what if smart phones can be bypassed. Remember I once mentioned Blackberry is a choice because of ignorance as there are ample free software available to convert your non-smart phone into an email receiving and sending device. Same is the case with VoIP. Take for instance's upcoming launch of a service which allows a low-end mobile phone to make VoIP based calls without installing anything.

The last word

IP telephony will probably do to telephony what we cannot even imagine right now. As bandwidth gets better and connectivity is no longer a concern IP telephony is an area likely to grow and companies like Tringme deserve kudos for giving a huge fillip through web based applications.

Puneet Mehrotra writes on technology.

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