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Will Amazon Be Your Phone Company?

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March 06, 2012

Will Amazon Be Your Phone Company?

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

A number of IP communications companies are rolling out services "in the cloud" -- more specifically, Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).   While there are no hard statistics, everyone from Aculab (News - Alert) to Metaswitch are using Amazon's cloud. You can even get a hosted version of Microsoft Lync with voice support on Amazon.

Aculab has been working with Amazon's cloud for what feels like years, initially providing an API sandbox for telephony developers building apps. At IT EXPO last month, the company rolled out the cloud as generally available (i.e., production quality). Available features include international inbound PSTN service and outbound PSTN service, play, record, TTS, conferencing (for up to 400 parties), transfer, DTMF, CPA, live speaker detection, and answer machine detection.

This week, Aculab is sweetening the pot by offering services for just one penny per minute for both inbound and outbound calls.   An Aculab spokesperson said the company is able to "dramatically cut" pricing due to the volume of traffic it is now handling. During its beta period, Aculab Cloud logged 3 million minutes per month in January 2012.

Metaswitch's Accession MCS (Mobile Content Sharing), announced at Mobile World Congress (News - Alert) 2012 a few weeks ago, is delivered as a cloud service. Accession MCS is designed to deliver rich multimedia interaction between two mobile devices or a fixed line and mobile endpoint, enhancing personal and business calls and chat sessions. A look at the Accession MCS product brochure PDF has a diagram with the Amazon EC2 cloud service clearly labeled as a part of the functional components involved. 

A lot of people have put Digium's (News - Alert) Asterisk into Amazon's cloud and Twilio has built its business on the combination. If Digium gets into the (telephony) services business, it is likely those service would first appear on Amazon and built around Asterisk (News - Alert) SCF (Scalable Communications Framework). This would give Digium the ability to provide a branded turnkey Asterisk service or services for resellers, who could then simply and quickly turn around and offer the service as a per-seat option complete with Digium-branded phones.

For people who want the latest and greatest, VOIP Connections announced it is the first company to put Microsoft Lync 2010 on Amazon. Features supported include inbound and outbound calls, plus conference call dial-in functionality. VOIP Connections offers DID numbers for cities around the world, cutting out long-distance charges for callers.

All of these services, along with the slow migration from TDM to IP, mean Amazon is starting to become a key behind-the-scenes player in the voice business. Given AT&T's (News - Alert) penchant for outsourcing services, Amazon and AT&T could end up intertwined into a very interesting relationship down the road.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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