April 04, 2013
GCS Helps VoIP Providers Collect Access Charges
By Joan Engebretson, Contributing Editor
Voice over Internet service providers are accustomed to making their money exclusively on the flat monthly fees that their customers pay. But as Global Convergence Solutions (News - Alert) CEO Neal Axelrad explained, VoIP providers could have a new revenue source – collecting per-minute access charges on calls that terminate to their customers from other VoIP providers.
“Whoever owns the DID runs the [cash]register on that customer,” said Axelrad, in a reference to the direct inward dial phone numbers that are assigned to end users of VoIP services so they can receive calls from users of traditional phones.
Currently, some VoIP providers get those numbers from companies like Level 3 that are certified as competitive local exchange carriers around the country. CLEC certification is currently required to obtain phone numbers, which the CLECs then sell to VoIP providers. As Axelrad explained, however, the CLECs are the ones who continue to collect terminating access charges on calls to those numbers from customers of other VoIP providers.
GCS (News - Alert) aims to pave the way for VoIP providers, rather than the CLECs, to collect these fees through a software offering called Dynamic Network Inter-Carrier Synch Exchange (dNISE) announced last week. The offering builds on work that GCS previously undertook in developing an operations support system/ business support system platform for VoIP services.
By using the GCS platform, Axelrad said, VoIP providers can peer with one another and exchange phone number information. “You eliminate middle men who aren’t bringing value,” he said, adding that GCS will keep phone number information up to date.
Currently calls from one VoIP provider’s customer to another’s require a look-up in a third-party database operated by a company such as Telcordia (News - Alert) or Neustar, said Axelrad. But although there has been talk of one of those companies implementing something like dNISE, he said that has not yet happened.
In a related development, the FCC is considering giving VOIP providers direct access to phone numbers, potentially eliminating the need for the VoIP providers to buy phone numbers from CLECs. The commission later this month will consider an order to initiate a trial of direct phone number access for VoIP providers.
If that capability were to move beyond the trial phase, it would appear that it could eventually eliminate the need for dNISE. But Axelrad did not appear particularly upset about that possibility.
Because dNISE leveraged GCS’s earlier work, he said there “wasn’t a big development investment” in creating dNISE.
Edited by Rich Steeves