Voxbone's iNum Service Connects Islands of HD Voice
High-definition (HD) voice technology has a lot of benefits. It vastly improves the audio quality of voice calls. In practical terms, it makes it easier for callers to understand different accents, and reduces the fatigue resulting from constantly having to guess whether a certain sound was, for instance, an "s" or an "f". But HD voice also has one big problem: It requires end-to-end IP connections to deliver its super-clear sound.
One solution is to have the IP calls all travel over a single VoIP service or network. That's what Skype and other VoIP services do. Another is to have all calls travel over a corporate IP backbone – something that's not available to the average individual. A third is to have calls travel from one VoIP service to another. If the two services connect or "peer" directly rather than via the PSTN (public switched telephone network), it will preserve call quality. Peering exchanges like Stealth Communications' Voice Peering Fabric and XConnect exist for such purposes.
But different VoIP services often have different ways of identifying subscribers. With Skype, it's Skype user names. With others, it might be SIP (session initiation protocol) URIs (uniform resource identifiers) or something else. Voxbone's iNum service offers one possible solution to that incompatibility. It provides a single global numbering system for VoIP subscribers based on the ITU-designated country code 883. It transports calls over Voxbone's global IP backbone, and connects directly with various VoIP service providers. The providers route calls to numbers starting with +883 directly to the iNum network for delivery to iNum subscribers. A different but overlapping set of VoIP services provide iNums to their subscribers to receive calls on. Calls between the two sets of providers are by definition end-to-end IP connections.
As a result, Voxbone's upcoming announcement this week at the HD Communications Summit that the iNum network now supports HD voice should come as little surprise. The arrangement provides a simple way to ensure end-to-end voice clarity, by routing all calls through iNum. In the short term, in fact, this benefit may overshadow the ultimate goal of iNums: to allow callers from the PSTN anywhere in the world to dial the same +883 number to reach a given subscriber. At the same time, the new capability will increase the incentive for VoIP providers to connect to the iNum network, and to start issuing iNums themselves. And that will in turn bring the ultimate goal of global connectivity via iNums closer.