The move to IP radically changed the telephone business, lowering barriers to those that want to offer voice solutions. Now the same thing is happening with video programming.
Takis Kyriakides says his company, netTALK, is among the companies that is benefitting – and helps consumers benefit – from this shift in the phone services world. And now it’s working to do the same in the TV-based content delivery business.
The company is best known for netTALK DUO. Kyriakides compares the netTALK solution to the popular magicJack. The netTALK DUO, however, doesn’t require the use of a computer, as does the magicJack solution, he says. And netTALK has CLEC status, which means it has porting capabilities, so its customers can keep their existing phone numbers even as they drop their existing phone service and move to netTALK. (It also means that the legal issues that magicJack is grappling with as a result of its court battle with AT&T (News - Alert) won’t affect netTALK.)
The netTALK solution includes local and long-distance phone service within North America; a U.S. phone number; call waiting, three-way calling and caller ID; voicemail to e-mail; 411 and enhanced 911 services; priority call forwarding; a customer portal; and technical support.
Nearly 400,000 customers (excluding softphone customers, which adds another half million, according to Kyriakides) in the U.S. and Canada rely on netTALK DUO for their voice services. The device sells for $69 and includes the first year of service; after that, the service sells for $29.95 per year.
The Florida-based company’s VoIP app was the No. 1 seller in the Social Networking category on iTunes Canada and the No. 1 seller in the Telephones category on AMAZON.CA (News - Alert). And the company in mid April announced that its netTALK DUO VoIP device and digital phone service are now being sold at Dell.com.
“Not only is Dell (News - Alert).com one of the largest internet retailers, it is also one of the best channels for the netTALK DUO,” says Kyriakides, “Dell.com reaches an informed customer who seeks value, a perfect match for the incredible value, call clarity and unmatched customer service of the netTALK DUO.”
While two-year-old netTALK has traditionally relied on online channels to market and sell its product and related services, the publicly-traded company recently raised $2.5 million from an existing investor to market its products more widely and to expand its distribution to bricks-and-mortar partner locations.
Meanwhile, netTALK is working to take its model of delivering ultra-low-cost phone services and applying it to TV services.
“I complain with my DirecTV (News - Alert) that I have to pay $150,” says Kyriakides, adding that netTALK plans to unveil consumer video products that address the current state of the economy.
“We’re never going to be a one-product company,” he adds.
The company signaled that intention earlier this year when it unveiled netTALK TV at the Consumer Electronics Show. The Wi-Fi enabled device, which can work in conjunction with netTALK DUO, is a set-top box of sorts. Kyriakides says the solution, which will sell for approximately $50 a year, will give customers a choice of about 10 to 15 channels. The idea is to allow customers to select and pay for only the content they want, he says, rather than requiring them to buy content bundles as the cable TV, DBS and telco TV providers currently do.
When asked whether netTALK has or is trying to get cable TV franchises as part of the effort, Kyriakides told INTERNET TELEPHONY that the company has hired an attorney in Washington to “work toward certain licenses.” The company is “positioning itself with different licenses to circumvent problems” like access to content, he says.
Noting that the Roku box has sold 1 million units in a short period of time, Kyriakides comments: “The same thing that happened to VoIP, it’s happening to the television. Now the walls are coming down.”
Edited by Jennifer Russell