Los Angeles-based GlobalTouch Telecom has two faces: a public face, and a private one.
The public face, SIPTalk, is a retail VoIP offering, packaged both for residential and business customers, with both metered and unmetered plans covering the U.S. and Canada, with both call termination and DID (direct inward dialing) numbers all over the world.
The private face, described by chairman and CEO Greg Welch as “our core product,” is a private-label or ASP VoIP platform called SIPTalk-Pro that the company offers to resellers, marketing companies, and carriers.
What makes GlobalTouch unique, in Welch’s view, is the company’s end-to-end product architecture. But it didn’t start out that way.
“When we started this company in 2003,” Welch told VoIPplanet.com “my goal was to get involved in VoIP more from the standpoint of being a reseller of somebody else’s technology.” “I kicked the tires on probably about 100 companies that said they owned their own VoIP technology,” he continued. But investigation quickly revealed that these companies were little more than aggregators of others’ products and services. “Buy product from 20 different vendors and cobble it all together and that’s what they called it their ‘own’ VoIP product,” Welch observed.
That was not a model that appealed to the startup team.
“We do not license anything from anyone,” Welch stressed. “Our applications are our own, we own them, we manage them, we control them.” Indeed, GlobalTouch has built their solution from the ground up, from the session border controller (softswitch), to the co-processing and termination infrastructure, to the telephony functions and features, to the softphone code, to the graphical user interfaces.
The wizard behind the curtain
While there are other suppliers of VoIP-as-outsourced-service, Welch suggests GlobalTouch can go farther in providing a complete offering than most competitors. “We can provide all the front end, the phone numbers, all the functions and features of the technology, terminating of the calls, delivering of the devices—and if a customer wants it, we can even do billing for them.”
GlobalTouch can provision ASP deployments very quickly, according to Welch. “If you’re a cable company, if you’re an ISP, and you want to start selling VoIP, literally, you can roll out our technology and have it up and running within 60 days. You can be in business as a VoIP provider, without having to spend $2 to 5 million in CAPEX or OPEX,” he told VoIPplanet.com.
“Maybe you’re a marketing company and you want to be the next Vonage,” Welch went on. “Same thing. You can private-label our technology and roll it out to your customers –in 60 days. Everyone thinks it’s your brand and your product and your technology.”
Partnering for reach
As a practical matter, you can’t get phone numbers today without CLEC or ILEC status, which GlobalTouch does not currently have. It gets its numbers from a web of CLEC and ILEC partners it has stitched together that reach all over the world. “They push the inbound call that hits that phone number, to our technology,” Welch explained.
Especially for international traffic, GlobalTouch partners with major carriers to terminate calls. “For India it might be VSNL, which is the largest phone company in India,” Welch said. “It might be Bharti [another Indian telco giant] it might be AT&T, or Qwest.”
Indeed, GlobalTouch maintains multiple, redundant partnering relationships as a fundamental matter of quality control. “We’re constantly watching the quality of the call,” Welch explained. “If there’s a degradation of service or of quality, we can immediately route all calls to Mumbai [Bombay] from VSNL to Bharti, or from Bharti to AT&T, literally in a matter of seconds. It’s all monitored internally with our processes.”
Residential retail customers formed the foundation for GlobalTouch’s business, early on. “It’s a lot easier to go gather residential customers,” Welch told VoIPplanet.com. “It’s easier installation—they just plug in the customer premise equipment and they have dial tone and everything works.”
By contrast, serving the enterprise market—whether in retail or in the ASP model—is complex and challenging, involving far more programming and development work. “They want to do voicemail, they want to do call forwarding,” Welch explained. “Maybe they have headquarters in Washington D.C., and ten satellite offices throughout the U.S., and they’ve just hired three independent consultants, in Texas, Georgia, and Florida, and they want to basically hang them all off their PBX with our IP product,” he theorized.
“But those are your sticky customers,” he added, tellingly.
Today, the private-label/ASP side dominates GlobalTouch’s strategy—and its balance sheet—making up more than 80 percent of the business. That segment, in turn, splits about 60 percent residential to 40 percent enterprise. But in both ASP and retail, the mix is swinging toward the business end.
A culture of automation
A hallmark of GlobalTouch’s approach to doing business is maximum efficiency.
Case in point: the SIPTalk.com [retail product] website. “It looks just like Packet 8, or any other retail-facing VoIP product,” Welch told VoIPplanet.com. But provisioning a residential account from the site is almost totally automated. “The only thing manual for us is—when the order is processed, the credit card charged, welcome letter sent, etc.—when the physical device is packaged and shipped. That’s the first time a human body touches anything having to do with that order.”
GlobalTouch is currently working on automating the far more complex provisioning of business accounts.
“When you have customers who have very sophisticated ACDs [def.],” Welch said, “and they want to set up queuing. and want to have seven different customer care levels—one being a first-level support agent, number seven being a senior tech—and you want to route accordingly and push things in and out of a queue, and accommodate multiple languages, it gets more sophisticated.”
Nevertheless, Welch asserted, “within the next six months, we will have from—call it a 2 seat to a 50 seat PBX—we will have the same amount of automation as we do on our residential product.”
“It’s just our core belief.”