Astricon 2009 Interview

Recently I was interviewed by Erik Linask, TMC’s Editorial Director for Astricon 2009. Below is a transcript of that interview.

Erik Linask: This year marks the 10th birthday of Asterisk. What has driven its growth over a decade?

Jim Dalton: Pent-up demand for a reasonably priced PBX solution for small and medium businesses.

EL: What is your company’s involvement with Asterisk?

JD: TransNexus maintains the OSP module in Asterisk. OSP is the Open Settlement Protocol for secure peering among VoIP peers.

EL: Who is your target customer and what are their biggest pain points?

JD: Our target customers are any service provider who offers A to Z VoIP termination services. They use the TransNexus software for least cost routing, number portability, traffic reports, profitability analysis and billing.

EL: How does Asterisk help address your customers’ pain points?

JD: Actually, there is very little intersection between the TransNexus customer base and the universe of Asterisk users. Nevertheless, we like to be involved with Asterisk because we think it will become more than just a PBX. Asterisk and a couple of other open source telecom projects are the most significant leading indicators for the future of telecommunications. If you are not watching developments in the Asterisk community, you have your head in the sand.

EL: What are the key differentiators of your product over others on the market?

JD: Focus and Price. For twelve years our focus has been on VoIP routing and accounting. From the beginning our solution architecture has been based on a standards based routing and CDR collection server. This is quite different from traditional least cost routing and billing solutions for telecom.

Traditionally, these solutions have been customized to interoperate with each switch vendor’s proprietary routing table and CDR format. Customization for many different vendors is very expensive, but that is just the way it was in telecom.

The TransNexus approach, however, is based on the OSP protocol, which is an XML-based standard for authorizing, routing and accounting for IP transactions. It is a simpler approach with much better scalability.

For example, we have customers that manage over forty million routes with the TransNexus OSPrey routing and CDR collection server. By comparison, a softswitch or session border controller is limited to a routing table of just two million routes or less.

Price is the second differentiator. Since our standards-based architecture is simpler and more efficient, our costs are lower, which means we are profitable even though our solution is significantly lower in price than the competition.

In addition, we are the only vendor that offers a free 90-day evaluation trial complete with technical support and remote training. We have had multiple customers save more money using TransNexus software during the free evaluation trial than they paid us at the end of 90 days. I do not know of any competitor that can profitably offer a solution with a payback period of zero months.

EL: You are speaking at AstriCon 2009—describe your session and tell our readers why they should attend it.

JD: My session will be a tutorial on Number Portability. In the US, 40% of all calls are to telephone numbers that have been ported to a different service provider. If you are routing calls on the dialed telephone number, then 40% of your calls will be mis-routed! The call will still complete to the called party so end users will not know the call was mis-routed, but the cost of routing a call to the wrong carrier who then has to forward the call to the correct terminating provider is very expensive. So this tutorial will explain the basics of Number Portability technology and how Asterisk users and correct their call routing with Number Portability and most importantly save on termination fees.

EL: What else do you expect to see or hear at AstriCon that will be particularly interesting or innovative?

JD: Astricon attracts an eclectic group of innovators. You never know what you will learn at Astricon. That is what makes Astricon interesting.

EL: Where do you see the Asterisk market in five years?

JD: Asterisk will continue to be used in new ways that folks never imagined. But more importantly, Asterisk will have a greater share of the PBX market.