Company offers virtual U.S. phone lines

Canadian-based call centres or businesses handling large numbers of calls from the U.S. no longer have to lease expensive T1 lines, says an American provider of SIP trunking services.

BandTel LLC says its new VirtualUSA service lets organizations receive U.S. telephone and toll-free numbers through Internet transport and the long distance telephone company of most countries around the world without adding any equipment.

Joel Maloff, vice-president of Newport Beach, Calif.,-based BandTel, said that a number of providers block VoIP-based long-distance calls, forcing large organizations who want to have phone numbers with U.S. prefixes to lease expensive T1 lines. With VirualUSA, BandTel can provide 1-800 or direct dial phone numbers from any of 3,000 U.S. cities for “a few cents a minute” per call.

“For those that have not been able to have these services because they’ve been cost-prohibitive, this opens up an entirely new market for them,” said Maloff.

“This kind of service helps to even the playing field.”

Canadian telecommunications analyst Eamon Hoey said the service could indeed lower costs, but he’s not sure there are many Canadian companies with call centres large enough to take advantage of it.

“What’s of interest to Canadian call centres is that wider user of IP technology and the downward pressure on rates,” he said. “It gives them another source where they can go” for transport. Maloff said BandTel has a “relatively modest” number of Canadian customers for its SIP trunking service, but couldn’t say how many.

“It really is an empowering service because the costs are so much less than they would have been in the past,” he said.

The services uses BandTel’s electronic numbering server and SIP switching infrastructure to create a virtual extension of U.S. telephone and toll-free numbers. These can be answered at any foreign public switched telephone network termination point. The server translates between a traditional telephone number and an IP address for completion via the Internet. U.S. Direct Inward Dialing (DID) or toll-free calls using VirtualUSA services are received at the international location.

VirtualUSA works even if the customer doesn’t have an IP-PBX or an ATA device for receiving native SIP, said Maloff. The call can be terminated through an interexchange carrier, and from there to the customer.

Maloff said that VirtualUSA is aimed at companies with at least 100 phone lines. It can be bought through integrators or distributors who handle telecommunications equipment. It sells direct to companies with more than once office or more than 500 employees.

Maloff couldn’t outline pricing, saying it depends on the volume of calls and where the organization buying the service is located.

BandTel was founded in 2004 as a spin-off of CD Communications Service, a creator of interactive voice response applications for American shopping centres.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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