Infrastructure provider Voxbone has added WebRTC to its networks, so that end client companies and their customers should benefit from it without the need to install loads of networking equipment.
UC Insight(UCI):Tell us about your company.
Dries Plasman(DP):We are a local telecommunications operator in 52 countries. We have a telecommunications license in each and a connection to the local telecommunications network. In many of them we offer our own phone numbers. We connect the phone networks in these countries with a global private data network, so if somebody calls one of our numbers we convert the call to VoIP, put it on our data network and transfer it to anywhere in the world.
So if a telephone operator wants a phone number from another country, they use Voxbone in wholesale. Companies like Deutsche Telekom and others will use Voxbone: six out of ten conferencing providers use Voxbone. Skype has its Skype numbers and we power a large part of those.
Every operation is automated and can be controlled by a web portal, so if you want a call to South Korea you go to the portal, click and a second later it’s live. Also we focus on quality of service; over the last four out of five years we’ve had an uptime of 100%.
Recently we have added a WebRTC service. We have a global private data network which we use to connect telecommunications to customers, and we wanted to leverage it . We saw WebRTC as a perfect fit for a number of reasons: it offers click to call as a standard, which hadn’t been done before; this is why click to call hasn’t been popular until now. Now that it’s a standard we can add it to our data offering, so we can receive a call from a WebRTC client, or browser with WebRTC, and transport it to our data network anywhere in the world. This adds two main benefits: the quality of the service of the call is high, which it might not have been if it had been international before because of the quality of the Internet connection; second we add security because we put our private network between the Internet and the corporate customer. So they’re safer from denial of service attacks from the Internet.
UCI:And now you’re pushing it towards the customer care market. Why is that?
DP:First, WebRTC is an initiative from Google, and the reason Google started with it is that more and more Google Search has moved from the desktop to the mobile phone. From the desktop you might click on an ad that links to another website, for mobile search what a person really wants is not to look at a website but to call customer service or restaurant bookings or something. This is something Google has been promoting over the last two years with its click to call app because its revenue is higher than when someone simply clicks to another web page. So Google is very interested, which is one of the drivers for Google to boost its WebRTC initiative.
So WebRTC is about click to call, it’s not suitable for one individual calling another simply because to call from one person to another you need addressing and routing. That’s not part of WebRTC, it’s not designed to do that.
UCI:Is it expensive to the client company?
DP:It becomes a lot cheaper to use compared to a toll-free phone number, which is very expensive to the enterprise although of course it’s free to the end customer. So if companies can replace toll-free numbers with calls coming in through WebRTC over an IP network they will save a lot of money.
UCI:OK, so who’s doing well out of this so far?
DP:This year is really the year of experimentation. There’s a lot of buzz around WebRTC, there are a lot of companies testing it, but it’s going to take until next year until it really hits the market. In terms of who’s doing it so far, you have Google of course, leading the initiative. You have all the VoIP equipment manufacturers enabling their equipment for WebRTC because it’s a new revenue opportunity. We’ve had a lot of interest at Voxbone because we’ve added a private data network to WebRTC and at the moment we’re the only company to have done this.
UCI:So how long do you think it will be before we see this ‘live’ in the market? Are any major brands using it yet?
DP:On a large scale, nobody yet. We are in the beta phase with ten customers, mostly in cloud conferencing and contact centres, and one has a WebRTC click to call button on its website, complementary to the phone number. It’s an experiment, they use it for their own hotline. Today a lot of customers are trialing it, playing with it a bit for a limited amount of their business. WebRTC is still new, it changes every month, which is the main reason a lot of big companies haven’t started using it yet. They only use it when it’s mature.
Next year will be the year when the early adopters and the tech industry will start using it, andthe rest of the industry might take five years before it really takes off.
UCI:Dries Plasman of Voxbone, thank you.