The voice communications market is inexorably moving away from the traditional PSTN model to one based on IP services that delivers voice traffic via the internet. This has seen a shift away from established service providers to a new generation of wholesale carriers offering services to other businesses supported by technologies such as IWS (Instant Wholesale Service).
Understanding the wholesale voice termination market
So, what does a wholesale VoIP provider do? Essentially they offer origination and termination services as well as routing, providing these to carriers and service providers. Before we go on we need to understand these terms in a little more detail.
- Origination means customers can get access to numbers worldwide
- Wholesale termination provides access to a voice network
- Routing determines how the call reaches its destination
These wholesale businesses support carriers, other VoIP service providers and other resellers which might include call back services, wireless network providers, or even call shops.
As the market matures, wholesale termination providers face a number of threats. Routes and the rates associated with them are fluid and constantly change. Wholesalers need to be able to monitor and respond quickly to these changes or they could end up paying too much. At the same time, they need to ensure good call quality. The cheapest route may not be the best, so it’s something of a balancing act. Of course, all of this business is carried out online, but that in itself can lead to issues in the clarity of negotiation.
The other major issue for wholesalers is liquidity. VoIP service providers tend to follow a standard monthly billing pattern which means there can often be a delay in the wholesaler getting paid for its services.
What’s IWS and how does it help?
Instant Wholesale Service (IWS) offers a possible solution to all of these challenges. It’s a fairly new innovation and offers wholesale VoIP in a more advanced form. It’s particularly attractive to new businesses that are looking to gain a foothold in the VoIP space.
The major advantage of IWS is the ‘instant’ element of the solution. This means that payment delays are eliminated, minimising delays, improving cash flow and thus helping with liquidity so the business runs more smoothly. It offers a safe and secure payment portal that allows payment to be requested at any time.
There are other benefits to the use of IWS too. Accounts can be customised to suit the needs of each client. This can be achieved without the need for any extra paperwork as IWS operates in an automated fashion. It makes the whole process of offering wholesale VoIP services far simpler to administer, opening up the market for new players.
Selecting a wholesale provider
If you are looking to sell on VoIP services and are seeking a wholesale provider, IWS is something that you need to be aware of and should be high on your list of priorities. There are, however, other things you need to look at too.
Price is, of course, a major factor in the decision. But more important is value for money, the cheapest service may not be the best in terms of quality and reliability and you won’t retain customers if you can’t offer them a decent service. It’s therefore vital to recognise that price is only part of the equation.
Customer service is a key factor too. Smaller providers are sometimes able to be more responsive to client needs than larger ones. When service is important, factors such as whether clients have access to a dedicated account manager to look after their business start to matter. You should also look at what services are included in the basic price and which you’ll be charged extra for. Understanding this will help you to compare wholesale providers on an equivalent basis.
The VoIP market is a fast-moving one so you need to ensure that your wholesale provider is using the latest technology and has plans in place to upgrade and keep up with the latest developments. Don’t neglect the need for reliability, however – you may not always want to be on the cutting edge of technology! Experienced providers such as IDT will have an established infrastructure that means they can deliver a consistent and reliable level of service.
Another important factor is scalability. Whether your business is expanding or you need to be able to cope with seasonal demand variations, you need a VoIP provider that can respond to your needs. IWS can be a major factor here, thanks to the degree of self-management involved. It’s also important to look at how easy it is to add new groups of numbers or cope with servicing an extra branch office and the degree to which this can be achieved using a portal and self-service.