With the ongoing popularity of Mobile VoIP, it is estimated that the Mobile VoIP market will triple in size over the next four years. Many entrepreneurs are coming to this industry as the market is growing rapidly. If done properly, it can become a profitable business.
To start your own VoIP business, there are few infrastructure requirements, apart from creating a sales/marketing infrastructure. Here is a brief guide into the requirements to start a mobile VoIP business:
Step 1: Set up a VoIP infrastructure, comprising of hardware and software
- Softswitch with Billing– Softswitch is the heart of the VoIP business and controls all transactions, customer records, call routing and invoice billing, report generation in both pre-paid and post-paid business model. Softswitches come in various ratings, primarily based on the concurrent transactions it can handle; for example, a softswitch which can handle 1000 concurrent calls or a softswitch which can handle only 400 concurrent calls. Apart from concurrent calls, there are parameters like stability, security, scalability, ease of operations, call connectivity efficiency, call routing mechanisms and other features, which will dictate the choice of softswitch. Generally, the softswitches come with inbuilt billing; but if it does not, then one needs to invest in separate billing software. However, it is better to opt for softswitches that has integrated billing functionality in order to ensure hassle-free business transactions.
- Bandwidth Optimization & Tunneling Software – This software component is very necessary for retail operations, where the internet quality at customer end may not be consistent. And, it also helps service providers offer their services in geographical areas where VoIP calls are blocked by firewalls. This software, installed on the server side, ensures that customers have a smoother quality experience, even if the internet throughput in their 3G/ Wi-Fi connection is not always adequate to support VoIP calls.
- Servers & Hosting – The above software is generally installed on enterprise class servers which are hosted in Internet Data Centers (IDC), and which can offer an always-on service with quality bandwidth and 24/7 power/air conditioning, while ensuring your services never go down. One can lease server/bandwidth from IDC’s around the world, the location of the IDC being dependent on your target market and/or quality of service of the IDC.
Step 2: Mobile VoIP Applications
If you opt for the retail VoIP services, then you will need to provide the applications which consumers will use to originate calls. For full-blown retail services, service providers need to purchase the following software solutions:
- Mobile Dialer – This is a mobile app, which your customers will download on their mobile phones, in order to make VoIP calls. There are multiple mobile VoIP clients available in the industry, but one should choose the one that offers branding facility to the service providers, so that your brand will be present and visible to the customers. Apart from this, the mobile application must be stable, have good voice quality, be able to support bandwidth optimization requirements, and have an easy user interface which allows clients to make calls even if they are not a technology geek.
- PC Dialer(software for making calls from PC’s) – One needs to offer their customers this facility as many retail customers make calls from their personal computers (PC’s). This is also a software application, which needs to be downloaded by the customer before they can make any calls. The PC dialer choice will also depend on the brandable options and quality features which are similar to the Mobile VoIP application.
- Calling Card – One needs to offer calling card facility to retail customers, who want to access VoIP services, but do not have internet availability in their mobile phones or have a pc/device access at the time of making the calls. In order to offer this option to customers, you will need to ensure that your softswitch supports calling cards and has a DID (Direct Inward Dial) or local telephone number configured with it. Here, DID is a local telephone number that your customers will dial into – thereupon be greeted by an IVR voice system, which will ask them to enter their destination number and the call will be connected.
- Call Shop– If you are planning to offer retail services, the call shop feature is a must have for doing business in many countries, wherein customers go to call shops to make cheap long distance calls. This feature allows call shops to manage multiple customer calling infrastructures, from pc/ devices/ mobile phones. And, can identify and bill the consumer accordingly and easily, while maintaining full control of their operations. REVE Systems’ Softswitch, iTel Switch offers a very advanced call shop feature, which is used by many retail service providers around the world.
Step 3: Your own website, with Credit Card payment gateway support
If you are in the VoIP business, you will get potential customers from all around the world. In order to provide services efficiently to your customers from various geographies, you will need a fully functional website supported with payment options like Credit Cards, PayPal etc. So, customers can pay you seamlessly and use the services.
Step 4- Inter-Connecting with Terminating Carriers
In order to terminate the calls to your customers, both in retail and wholesale business, you will need to interconnect with multiple carriers around the world who will offer you various termination destinations. It pays to connect with more carriers so that you have enough choice of rates and destinations, both in terms of cost and quality. For example, if you are terminating calls to USA, different carriers will offer different rates and quality of services – so you will need to choose these carriers based on their market reputation and quality achieved during your interconnect tests. These carriers offer destination rates in USD/ min terms; for example, rate to USA could be 0.008 – which means for every 1 min of a single call terminated through their network, they will charge you 0.008 USD. The termination cost is the single largest variable cost for VoIP operators and hence, you will need to be diligent in choosing carriers and maintaining your accounts with them.
Step 5- Finally, find some customers
Like in other businesses, here you will also need to find customers after you are done establishing the infrastructure and other basic requirements. So, whether you are in the retail or wholesale VoIP services, you will have to find customers and offer competitive rates with good quality of services. In terms of maintaining quality of services, two important parameters will be your infrastructure- quality and quality of terminating carriers. So, make sure that you choose the right ones.
Step 6- Customer Support
Once you have started acquiring customers and get customer transactions/ calls, you will have to ensure the customer support, so that you can address your customer problems. If you are serving a global customer base, you will also have to ensure full 24/7 support, in order for your customers to reach you whenever they have any service disruption. At REVE Systems, we offer 24/7 support to all of our customers, through our network of support engineers. It is a fully functional support portal with trouble ticket opening and live chat facilities.
Check out the infographic below to get a brief idea about how to start a Mobile VoIP Business-