Mountain View, California-based startup Nuvoiz was founded in 2005, and launched Version 1.0 of its SIP-based Nuvoiz Communicator VoIP software in February of this year at the DEMO 07 Conference. This month, Nuvoiz announced an upgrade to Version 1.5, greatly increasing the product’s potential mobility by adding support for 3G networks.
Company CEO C. Jin Koh says his aim in founding the company was to move VoIP beyond a reliance on hardware. “I believe that telephony systems are going to be way more ubiquitous, and that the hardware eventually is going to fade away and be replaced with flexible software that is easily portable,” he says. “Therefore, we have a software-based phone that runs on a PC and on smartphones, over any kind of network—Wi-Fi, wired LAN, and 3G.”
Simply put, the idea is to bring a turnkey, Skype-like experience to small and medium size businesses. Many such businesses, Koh says, are currently turning to Skype because of its ease of use. “We’re going into the market and saying, ‘Now you can get this Skype-like user interface, a similar set of features—and by the way, it is enterprise-class, it connects to your existing enterprise PBX systems, it offers you the ability to provision and administer your clients, and it also runs on 3G and Wi-Fi,'” he says.
One of Nuvoiz’s core strengths, Koh says, lies in the ability to hand off calls seamlessly between access points on a Wi-Fi network. “If you’re walking around a big location with multiple access points, you are able to have conversations without noticing delays or dropped calls—while today, if you try to use a Skype Wi-Fi phone and walk around an airport, you will get delays and even dropped calls,” he says. Moreover, Nuvoiz provides seamless handoffs between Wi-Fi and 3G connections for both voice and data sessions.
Koh says the back-end software can work with any legacy SIP-based PBX—and thanks to what he calls “very small, intelligent NAT and firewall traversal technologies,” the software can work with any network topology. The client software works on any Windows-based PC or laptop, as well as on any Windows Mobile handset.
And it sounds good. I spoke to Koh from a landline in California while he was in a hotel room in Tokyo, talking via Nuvoiz on a laptop connected to his hotel’s Wi-Fi network—and aside from some brief tinny moments that would be familiar to any VoIP user, the call was consistently clear.
The solution is available both as a hosted offering for about $3 to $4 per user per month, and as a pre-configured appliance for about $10,000. Most larger companies, Koh notes, will want to host the solution internally, while a business with less than 50 or so users can just use the service on demand. “Then we host the services, and they just download the clients to their laptops and connect to our servers,” he says.
Since the launch in February, Koh says, the company has been in talks with distributors and resellers both in the U.S. and in Japan, where the company also has an office—and it already has one enterprise customer in Japan with about 5,000 deployments.
Koh says there’s a real need for this type of solution, with the ease of use of Skype but with enterprise functionality added to the mix—and with a focus on softphones, not hardware phones. “A lot of us are, more and more, using a telephone that is software-based,” he says. “For me, I have a small business with three offices around the world, and I’m talking to you right now as if I’m in my office. This is the magic of the softphone.”