June 2008 | Volume 11/ Number 6
i2Telecom Delivers the Best of VoIP and Wireless
By: Richard "Zippy" Grigonis
Until recently, leading edge communications has been divided into two realms: Voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone service over wired networks, particularly the Internet — which makes U.S. long distance and international calls amazingly inexpensive — and the pricier world of cellular smart phones, voice-enabled PDAs and similar wireless devices. Mobile users resorted to using prepaid calling cards to save money, all the while wondering if the fabulous economics of VoIP could be infused into the world of communications “portability”.
Users need not ponder this question any longer. i2Telecom (News - Alert) International, Inc. (www.i2telecom.com) develops proprietary high-quality VoIP products and services in precisely this area. They can deliver international and domestic long-distance calling services to subscribers (as well as streaming video and text chat) at remarkably low “Internet rates”, thanks to VoIP technology, the company’s own services network and the Internet itself.
i2Telecom® first grabbed the public’s attention with the unbeatable combination of a Plantronics (News - Alert)® headset and its VoIP Service Access Module (VSAM), the VoiceStick® (www.voicestick.com) — a 64 megabyte USB memory stick that incorporates a free, preloaded softphone. Users were offered three ways to make and receive calls anywhere in the world where broadband Internet was available: i2Telecom’s i2Bridge® service, a software phone for PCs or Macs, or a conventional phone using i2Telecom’s analog telephone adapter (ATA). The VoiceStick® device can work with any telephone or business phone system (such as a PBX (News - Alert)) to access i2Telecom’s global VoIP network and advanced routing methods to complete most of the call over the Internet — thus, you pay for only for the “last leg” of the connection.
VoiceStick® and i2Bridge® also introduced such impressive features as Global Call Forwarding, which automatically forwards your incoming calls to a different phone number anywhere in the world. For example, you can have all calls to your VoiceStick® number forwarded to your hotel in any city in the world for free. Moreover, customers can make unlimited calls worldwide to other VoiceStick® subscribers, also at no extra cost.
Recently, i2Telecom® announced the beta version of its new service, MyGlobalTalk™, which won a Best of Show Award at TMC (News - Alert)’s Internet Telephony Conference and Expo East 2008. (The company’s innovative technology has won many awards, including Internet Telephony Magazine’s “Product of the Year 2007” and Unified Communications (News - Alert) Magazine 2007 “Product of the Year Award”.)
MyGlobalTalk™, bolstered by i2Telecom’s most advanced patented technology, enables any cell phone user to realize the economic benefits of IP communications, regardless of the wireless carrier handset maker or the type of wireless carrier voice/data plan involved. Moreover, MyGlobalTalk™ can perform its feats without the need for local Internet access, such as an Internet “hotspot”. No fancy dual-mode WiFi (News - Alert) phone is required either — you can enjoy the same features using your existing mobile handset.
With MyGlobalTalk™, you can call anywhere in the world for as low as 2 cents per minute.
First, you sign up for the service at www.MyGlobalTalk.com. During the sign-up process, you’ll receive your MyGlobalTalk™ phone number and will be asked a few questions in order to automatically configure your account. Next, you enter the phone number of the phone you plan to use with the MyGlobalTalk™ service. If you have a smart phone, you then select which data plan you have (e.g., IP Messaging, SMS Messaging) — this may be automatically configured on your smart phone.
You then input your credit card information, and place US$15 or more in the online prepaid “phone bank”. After completing the sign-up process, a text message will automatically be sent to your cell phone. By clicking on the link in the text message, the MyGlobalTalk™ application will download to your cell phone. After downloading, you make sure you’ve got an Internet connection, and then you click on an icon, thus launching the installation process. You then make a selection that enables you to place International Calls, International Calls and U.S. Domestic Calls, or All Calls. After a brief period, you can start making calls for all international and U.S. domestic long distance calls, dialing them as you normally would, without any need for Internet access.
The current Mobile VoIP Beta Version 2.0 is quite impressive, with its support of low-cost international and domestic telephone calls. Upcoming releases will include speed dial and access to enterprise VoIP-enabled communication products currently available from such companies as Microsoft, Nortel, Avaya, Cisco (News - Alert), Vertical, and Mitel.
MyGlobalTalk™ is being released in phases. During the first quarter of 2008 it became available to customers in the U.S. and the U.K. with smartphone handsets running under Windows Mobile® 5.0/6.0. Subsequent releases will be accessible from anywhere in the world and will include support for BlackBerry (News - Alert), iPhone and Symbian-enabled handsets, while at the same time adding new features
Paul R. Arena, Chairman and CEO, is the founder of i2Telecom International, Inc. Arena is no stranger to visionary innovation. An aggressive entrepreneur, he’s participated in the successful completion of over $2 billion of combined financings during his 30-year career. These ventures included cable television, colorization of black and white motion picture films, mercury detection devices for drilling rigs, ATM debit cards, color video telephones, color fax technology and various types of manufacturing, commercial real estate for hotels and shopping centers, and multi-family housing projects.
Mark Hewitt, i2Telecom’s Chief Strategic Officer, says, “We’re all about the convergence of communications and entertainment media. The company is focused on developing and delivering a plethora of innovation in the VoIP and broadband world. We are best known for the popularity of our VoiceStick® USB device and soft client phone that many companies have copied. Recently we have adjusted our legacy softswitch architecture to a new edge or session border controller service delivery platform that is capable of global scale. The company itself has built a strong intellectual property portfolio, which is necessary to have a defensible position as one launches successful products into today’s complex marketplace.”
“Paul Arena, who comes from the world of Wall Street, developed this vision with a clear understanding of what’s necessary to build a highly sustainable technology company,” says Hewitt. “At one point, we had six Ph.Ds in our development lab, putting together many of the critical components of central IP that will drive the future of Internet appliances, VoiceStick® applications, microgateways and a variety of other innovative devices and technologies.”
Hewitt has over 26 years of experience in communications and entertainment technologies. He started his career in Alaska with the creation of a paging network that was later acquired by Craig McCaw. He was then elected Chairman of the Public Utilities Board to help rebuild the state’s utility infrastructure, including the telephone, electric, water, sewer, and steam/hot water utilities. Hewitt later joined Motorola (News - Alert) Communications, where he first worked on the design of the trunk radio system (core to the Nextel system), the ARDIS Network (core to the Blackberry system), and finally the IRIDIUM system’s ground segment support and network design. Later, he joined Frontier Communications as Senior Director, Engineering and Product Development, where he was responsible for technology in the emerging IP systems field before Frontier was acquired by Global Crossing (News - Alert). Frontier was one of the first to introduce Session Initiation Protocol (“SIP”), now an industry standard, into the Softswitch Consortium formed in conjunction with Level 3. Mr. Hewitt later joined I-Link as Senior Vice President of Business Development and Product Marketing, where he launched the first softswitch/IAD in the United States. The associated service became the first national broadband voice network in the United States and was subsequently licensed to Net2Phone. Mr. Hewitt has operated as CTO at a number of communications, portal, and entertainment device companies. He’s well known in the industry as a visionary and a technology guru.
i2Telecom’s Chief Marketing Officer, Larry Stessel, is a seasoned senior-level marketing executive with over 30 years’ experience in the entertainment and media industries. His colorful career with Sony Music included responsibility for the marketing strategies for Michael Jackson (including “Thriller”, the biggest-selling album of all time), Babyface, Gloria Estefan, Celine Dion, Charlie Daniels Band, Pearl Jam, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Luther Vandross and numerous others. Mr. Stessel was implemented all strategic marketing plans for the international market as it related to U.S.-based artists, and he was responsible for all of the activities of the marketing, sales, promotion, media relations, creative services, artist development, touring and video production departments.
For all its impressive work thus far, the i2Telecom® team is just beginning. “MyGlobalTalk™ is a foundation technology that will propel the exponential growth of our customer base,” says Mark Hewitt. “We’ll also pursue other new and exciting patentable innovations involving mobile handsets, maximizing the value of our intellectual property along the way.”
As for what the future holds, the words “Session Initial Protocol” and “unified communications” are critical elements in the company’s roadmap. The company that converged the cost-effectiveness of IP communications with mobile devices will undoubtedly unify and converge other technologies and services, as well. We’ll be keeping a close watch on i2Telecom® and their exciting new offerings. IT
Richard “Zippy” Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC’s IP Communications Group.
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