CallFire's BYOC Program Scales Voice Broadcast to Carrier Grade

Carriers and VoIP resellers can now offer calling campaigns and virtual call center services profitably.

By Adam Stone | Posted Feb 18, 2009
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On March 1, Los Angeles-based "cloud telephony" service provider CallFire will introduce its "Bring-Your-Own-Carrier" licensing program, an effort to help carriers and VoIP resellers bring CallFire—the company's SIP-based voice broadcast application—to market profitably.

CallFire lets users set up calling campaigns or virtual call centers through an on-demand, pay-as-you-go, API-driven platform. The system is based on Asterisk Auto Dialer and Asterisk Predictive Dialer, ready-to-use open source tools that help CallFire market its services at a price affordable to SMB users.

Prior to the BYOC release, CallFire had no licensing program that addressed the needs of larger carriers and resellers, according to CEO and co-founder Dinesh Ravishanker. Calls would utilize CallFire termination, whereas the new program allows carriers to tap CallFire’s services while making use of their own SIP termination.

"We simply weren’t licensing on a per minute model which would then allow them to capitalize on their own very aggressive rate structures. It wasn’t worth their time" to resell CallFire, Ravishanker said. Under the BYOC effort carriers can make best use of the low-cost arrangements they already have in place with the major long-distance providers.

The presence of larger-scale carriers means CallFire will need to accommodate an evolving user base. Ravishanker said the company has invested heavily to ensure it can meet that challenge.

"It took a significant change in the way our Voice over IP platform is architected to handle multiple long-distance vendors," he said. In particular the company has added a least-cost routing engine which can support multiple carriers, each with its own pricing structure.

That in-house construction effort took about six months, about 40 percent of which was spent just putting the system through its paces.

"Whenever you are architecting a system that is built to handle enterprise scalability, [quality assurance] is always one of the toughest parts of the job," Ravishanker said. "When you are trying to scale to levels that have never been scaled before, a lot of design is driven by what you think might happen, so you have to find ways to emulate tripling or quadrupling your volume. You need to do those emulations successfully, to test the system at volume and scale."

As it ramps up BYOC, the company is continuing its ongoing marketing programs. A white label program allows a reseller with little or no in-house VoIP expertise to mount its own branded site in a week at a cost of $500 a year plus minutes. The basic reseller program allows resellers to advertise CallFire services on the web with their own coupon codes, with no setup fees or other costs.

These marketing efforts have helped CallFire to grow steadily since its founding in 2006. The company now claims about 10,000 registrants and 3,500 active users.

The BYOC program is aimed at organizations that resell Tier 1 connectivity. With potentially thousands of such entities in the marketplace, Ravishanker said CallFire will initiate its marketing efforts among those who have already expressed an interest in reselling the product.

"We’ve got customers who have been waiting for this solution," he said. It was that demand that first spark development of the BYOC program, "and because the solution was bred from necessity, we feel that the market does already exist."

As the marketing plan extends beyond these initial interested parties, Ravishanker said he expects to have little trouble in identifying further targets. "The great part is that the big carriers are all known and they are easy to get to, so direct sales efforts are all that is required. It’s not like consumers, where would have to have all these banner ads and other things. In this case it is very straightforward," he said.

As its seeks out those relationships, CallFire likely will find itself making inroads into the political community. The company drew attention to itself last year through its facilitation of calling efforts by MoveOn.org in support of the Barack Obama presidential campaign.

Among its more recent political clients, the company is facilitating efforts by Massachusetts-based MassEquality.org, a gay and lesbian advocacy organization.

"We have this very large nonprofit following, in part because we allow volunteers to work from home very easily, but also because we have earned a reputation in that industry," Ravishanker said. "When someone like MoveOn.,org uses you, your name starts to get around."

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