iBurst recently launched their own VoIP service called iCall. But with a myriad of other competing VoIP services, some already well established and cheaper like Skype, how does iBurst plan to win over the local market?
iBurst’s new VoIP service named iCall, allows users to make local landline calls for 61c per minute and mobile phone calls at R 1-57 per minute. Users can further call various international destinations at greatly reduced prices.
The iCall rates are however far more expensive for international calls than services like Skype and LowRateVoIP, which for many consumers is the reason they use VoIP, to call family and friends overseas. iBurst need to add something new to the mix to get these loyal users to move over to their service which raises the question as to how they will lure people onto their network?
iBurst says that it comes down to quality. “Anyone who has ever used Skype knows that under less than totally ideal conditions, call quality is not exactly exceptional and this is mostly because the call is literally being routed halfway across the world. Because the iCall platform ‘sits’ on iBurst’s local network, call quality is drastically improved,” said iBurst.
“Call quality is furthermore improved because iCall uses Internet bandwidth not shared with iBurst’s usual data bandwidth,” the wireless provider pointed out.
iBurst further said that their higher international call rates are linked to the higher quality they guarantee.
“iBurst has high quality termination for local landline and GSM traffic, something international VoIP operators do not have. iBurst investigated routes to local destinations via cheaper international carriers. However, testing proved that poor quality is coupled with cheap prices,” they said.
“Many international routes to local GSM numbers in particular are via “grey carriers” and quality is extremely poor due to highly-oversubscribed Internet bandwidth being used to terminate these calls.”
The convenience of paying for a service in Rands and dealing with a local company is another reason which iBurst feels will make their service attractive to local consumers.
“iCall subscribers are also able to pay for airtime in local currency which is a huge advantage now that the rand’s rally against the dollar is well and truly over.”
Using third party
iBurst said that they are currently using a third party to terminate their calls, but they are investigating possible interconnect agreements with other operators, a move which could prove to be advantageous.
“We terminate currently via a 3rd party but are in negotiations with Telkom, Vodacom, MTN and Cell C for interconnect.”
Without interconnect agreements iBurst’s voice traffic will be routed via an international operator, something that is not uncommon in the local VoIP arena.
While local consumers have limited choice regarding broadband services, the fiercely competitive messaging and VoIP environment is a truly international market which means that broadband users are spoilt for choice.
Only time will tell whether services like iCall from iBurst or Broadband Talk from MWeb will sink or swim in the highly competitive VoIP market.