Friday, July 28, 2006

Affordable VOIP for Filipinos

In this discussion thread in the J Spot, Sky Internet VOIP is considered by Angelo to be quite an overkill. Although Voice Over Instant Messenger is ok, but is that the only solution we can afford best? This is especially so for companies who wants to have their own phone number and accept calls from overseas to discuss business.

If you recall in 2002, PLDT started offering their cheaper overseas phone call service for something like US$0.40 cents a minute to the USA. Although VOIP offerings online can be cheaper than that.

BayanTel VOIP charges US$0.10 per minute. The company will also be deploying IPTV as part of the bundle in 2007.

Globelines Broadband VOIP Softphone is currently pegged at US$0.05 per minute offered to more than 50 destinations such as the USA, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and Korea. Recently, non-telco providers Mozcom and VOIP Global Inc. joined the fray too.

There are also Filipino VOIP providers in the USA, such as Pinoy VOIP, that are also offering Manila phone numbers. This way, Manila callers can feel or assume that they are calling a Manila office when it is actually in the USA.

Even Microsoft is getting in the fray seriously as it open its mobile division with an initial roll-out of its VOIP phones targeted at OFWs, in partnership with OWWA.

In businesses today, especially in the IT outsourcing arena, VOIP plays an important technology in the globalization of markets. The Philippines rank second in the world for having a high concentration of call centers. That would not have been possible if not for technologies like VOIP. Penetration rate for VOIP is expected to reach 65% in two years.

VOIP is also providing opportunities for the schools in rural areas to improve their nfrastructure by tapping into these technologies. One school for example is Catanduanes State Colleges. (I miss this place!)

Websites are also expected to integrate VOIP features as an additional customer service and interaction too. Leading the pack is eBay whose VOIP roll-out is being done in partnership with Skype. Its initial roll-out included the Philippines.

Internationally, VOIP phone companies are becoming more creative. Like in this case, AdCalls Dialers shall advertise Wi-Fi TV and provide free sampling of its programs. It is interesting to note that the Philippines is one of the many countries that have downloaded the AdCalls software.

Another interesting development that happened lately as well in this scene is when movie actress/personality Dina Bonnevie joined Fusion Telecommunications International last June 2006 as its Director of Overseas Market Development.

On another note, VOIP can only be offered by companies that are 60% owned by Filipinos. Some may see this from a protectionist standpoint though. There are pending bills in Congress today filed by Senator Mar Roxas and Congressman Simeon Kintanar that intends to liberalize this. What makes the Philippines interesting as well in the VOIP space is that we are the first country, even ahead of the USA, to declare VOIP as a value added service, not voice.

Despite these challenges, VOIP is considered to be a promising venture in the Philippines as the government is on high gear in embracing VOIP.

On the handset side, Nokia N80s entry signals more wireless VOIP handsets to come in 2007. This will be definitely exciting.


rick said...

You mentioned VOIP is a value added service, not voice. Does this mean I can open a long-distance calling center "Tawag Center" using VOIP technology and not get closed down by the NTC?

I thought that only telco providers can provide VOIP service to the public.

digitalfilipino said...

Hi Rick. Although NTC declared it as a VAS, it required service providers to register with the agency.

hip2b2 said...

VoIP is currently making inroads as a landline replacement or toll-bypass. How about VoIP in the MNO space in the Philippines? I personally still believe that the telecommunications companies are still in the best position to operate this. However, smaller players can use it as a means of entering a space that is dominated by the bigger players.

rick said...

Hi Janet,

So does that mean this kind of VOIP operation can be approved? Has anybody been approved?

digitalfilipino said...

Hi Rick. From what I know, NTC has approved several VOIP providers already.

Ritz said...

VOIP providers here in Cebu set me up on my laptop a VOIP technology and I can call in the USA clearly, as if I'm just calling from the States. It's even exciting when you can talk to your business prospects...

digitalfilipino said...

Hi Ritz. Thanks for sharing. Who is your VOIP provider?