This article originally appeared in the Sept. 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY
Vitelity LLC is well known in open source circles. Now it’s moving to raise its profile with those that aren’t already familiar with its solutions and its work in the open source community.
Chris Hall, CEO of Vitelity, recently spoke with INTERNET TELEPHONY about the company, its new marketing campaign, and its recent move into cloud services.
How and when did Vitelity get started?
Hall: I started it in 2003 by myself. It was a time when open source had just started, with voice over IP and Asterisk (News - Alert) just finally becoming stable. I just decided to do it.
What does Vitelity sell to whom?
Hall: We’re a wholesale voice over IP provider. We sell to other VoIP providers, and we sell to a group of more intermediate expert users, people who can use Asterisk.
What kind of service providers buy Vitelity services?
Hall: Many other VoIP operators. We have smaller cable operators that buy from us to sell to their clients. On our retail side are just advanced businesses or home users who know how to configure their own equipment and want something that’s simple and has a lot of features.
Who does Vitelity consider to be its primary competition?
Hall: Our competition might be somebody like Bandwidth.com or a regional CLEC like PAETEC (News - Alert).
How exactly does what Vitelity offers tie into open source?
Hall: We run a lot of our stuff on open source, and we’re a big player in the open community. We’re the largest Asterisk provider. We provide [services] to more Asterisk users than any other company.
Why do customers pick Vitelity over the competition?
Hall: Because of time to set up, and our features – we have features nobody else has. We have a lot more products people can resell of ours. A lot of our products are more polished than what the competition offers. And we have a larger footprint.
Tell us about Vitelity’s products.
Hall: We have an SMS product that is completely polished, so you can send and receive text messages from your iPhone (News - Alert) or Android phone or your web browser. We also have desktop software. We have an Internet fax product that is custom brandable and competes with eFax.
We have hosted servers and a hosted PBX that are completely brandable. In fact, all of our products are brandable, so you can use your own brand.
What important trends does Vitelity see in communications today, and how is it moving to address them to meet customer needs?
Hall: We see that the industry is moving a lot to a hosted platform. More and more customers are pushing toward hosted PBX, that sort of thing. So what we’re trying to do is roll out our services to a more hosted-style platform. Originally our hosted PBX was based on TrixBox (News - Alert) and some of these others. We’re in the process of writing our own because TrixBox doesn’t quite have all the features customers want, plus it’s a lot of overhead to have each customer on their own TrixBox server. In July we rolled out our own hosted PBX solution. It’s different in the pricing structure and features; it’s much more feature rich because it’s based on the many products we have that our competition doesn’t. Most of our competitors don’t have Internet fax. They don’t have the SMS products that we have. Most of them don’t even have the hosted PBX side. And we offer free voicemail. We offer free unlimited devices that you can connect to our network. So our own hosted PBX has all those features combined into one platform.
What does your network look like?
Hall: We own our own data centers in Denver that we built from scratch. Also we own a short- haul private fiber network. We also rent fiber from Los Angeles to Denver, and Denver to Miami, so we have our own nationwide IP backbone. Because we do a lot of hosting we also host our own IP network; they sort of go hand and hand.
Why is your network where it is?
Hall: [Denver] is where we started. Denver is in the top 10 of the best lit states. And we’re very central – getting access and having low latency to everyone was very important.
What is Vitelity’s go-to-market?
Hall: Mainly it’s word of mouth and knowledge – people know who we are. We don’t have a big [marketing] push. Most of our sales come from just word of mouth. We also do trade shows like ITEXPO (News - Alert), which we’ll be attending this month in Austin.
But you’re working to expand your marketing efforts, correct?
Hall: Right. This summer we began reinventing ourselves with our hosted PBX platform and also by doing a complete rebranding and rewriting our user portal to make it a little more user friendly. We changed our logo, the way we market ourselves, and we hired new marketing people. The goal is to increase potential customer awareness and to reinvent the image.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi