Spokn Competing With Skype’s Internet Telephony Services

WATBlog recently went for a press conference in India’s Telecom industry and vigilantly watched a major launch in the internet telephony business. Geodesic announced their Internet Telephony – Perfected, Spokn at the conference at Intercontinental, Mumbai.

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Kiran Kulkarni, Managing Director, Geodesic covered their market segments in his presentation -

  • Enterprises
  • Teleco Operators
  • Retail
  • Portals and Publishers
  • Device manufacturers

Spokn being on an acquisition spree has accquired an Uruguay-based company recently allowing messaging and collaboration solutions for Telecom operators, with deployments across 12 carriers in Latin America, South Africa and Asia. Kiran stated that people don’t pay for desktop platforms but for mobile-based apps.

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In the communication arena they have Mundu IM, SMS, Speak and push mail with 55,000 SMSes sent each day through Mundu SMS. While Mundu Radio leads the content and information areas. They have plans of starting Live TV, streaming video and entertainment database. For building communities they have multiple widgets for social networking sites and IM referrals. Business Standard and Aircel are among their customers with a 1.5 million retail user base.

Kiran further said, “Spokn is an important offering that has the potential to redefine the way voice communications and the Internet synergize. There is a huge and growing scope here and our stakeholders can look forward to many exciting developments from Spokn that changes the way people communicate.” Spokn was hence defined as a mix of access models and not just any other internet telephony. They claim that the service is first in the world to allow users to communicate with others from over 40 countries at the cost of a local call.

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Anil Raj, Business Head, Spokn took over from there beginning with a The Economist magazine cover in his presentation citing “Internet has Killed the Phone Business.” The market according to him was rewarded with the innovation of the internet. He also highlighted the point that Spokn was trying to make use of both internet and telephony worlds to give power straight to the consumers and not to the regulators.

Acquainting Spokn as a part of the Global Telecom industry, Anil brought up their Singaporean regulator licensed by IDA. Like TRAI in India, there’s an IDA in Singapore. They are also looking to partner with more operators (carriers) in India who will be be handed over the Spokn traffic.

In a tongue-in-cheek manner, Anil mentioned that they are already tied up with a company owned by a Parsi guy from Mumbai. Ashhar Farhan, CTO, Spokn created their own communication protocol which they claim that no company of the Spokn’s size owns. The presentation also said that Spokn has the leading fraud managemnet statistics with fully PCI complaint of 0.5% in the VoIP arena, while Skype at the same time is 5%. Calls through Spokn were said to be secured on the LTP network and can be also tapped for security concerns like terrorism.

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“Our pricing would be a fraction of what other operators charge for local calls.” This was Anil’s response when one of the media personnel at the conference asked him a question about Spokn’s call rates. He also added that users can acquire local phone number for $ 1 per month within 5 minutes on the web.

Small and medium businesses could benefit from their service since they have clients abroad while Spokn was devised mainly for family and friends who make long distance calls. The callback feature of Spokn was also identified as one of the most convenient features on an internet telephony service. Whereas their VMS offering will help users to record their message reducing the trouble of typing an SMS.

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Farhan took over from there mentioning challenges that a user faces to make a call via internet, since people they wish to speak might not be online always. Spokn is also a technologist but they are very market facing and with a local number for users life becomes much easier for long distance calls.

He said that computer to PSTN calls were still not permitted by the government. But they still enable calls to any number by dialling the 7-digit Spokn code. To succeed Spokn are looking forward to a good capex plan, more IM servers and a healthy advertising & marketing budget.

Kiran added his insights to one of the questions raised by the media that Spon being an online brand they wouldn’t be investing much in offine advertising. They are looking to embrace social media as they also have their own widget on a user’s Facebook page. They were also signed up with more that 60,00 channels through aggregators which might strengthen their content variety.

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