Voyager is poised to deliver the breakthrough Internet telephony product it has hinted at - a service which works from phone to phone, over the Internet, but without need of a computer.
The product, which will be called Voyager Phone in this country, was developed by Voyager's 80% parent OzEmail, in conjunction with two St Kilda-based electronics companies.
OzEmail has begun setting up points of presence for a limited launch this month, in locations in Australia, New Zealand, the USA and UK. As was the case with the Global Fax Router launched by by Voyager late last year, distance charges will be set at half Telecom's standard rate - with the clear implication that they could go lower.
OzEmail has promised a wider rollout in February and March and is looking to affiliate with ISPs in other markets to offer both call origination and termination services. In exchange for a percentage of affiliate revenue, OzEmail is undertaking to provide a shrinkwrap business solution, including hardware, customer service documentation, training, node hosting and management and also a settlement exchange service for the costs incurred in terminating other affiliates’ calls.
On registration with the Voyager phone service, each customer is issued with a PIN. To make a call the customer dials into a local Voice Interface Node (VIN) access device via the public switched telephone network. The call is received and transmitted across the Internet to another VIN, which hands it on to the telephone network in another city or country. Each VIN can handle up to 20 simultaneous calls.
These processes are managed globally by the Control Node (CN), a managed facility on Sun Microsystem hardware in Palo Alto, California. It is the CN which interprets the destination phone number and tells the originating VIN which remote VIN to contact. It also maintains an audit trail of all calls in the system and checks billing. OzEmail claims it will have built full PABX functionality into the network by the end of the year.
Voyager will initially make the service available to its own Internet subscribers, but will open it up to all consumers later, as more resources are added.