Popular Telephony Inc will announce during the next week a deal with global fiber optic network operator Level 3 Communications Inc to broaden the connectivity of Popular’s fledgling, low-cost peer-to-peer VoIP system.
At the CeBit trade show, which begins Thursday in Hanover, Popular will announce global calling capabilities for a 2-cents-a-minute flat fee using its enterprise P2P engine, said Popular founder and chief executive Dmitry Goroshevsky. The deal will also enable number portability for its US customers, as well as enhanced emergency 911 capabilities, he said.
We will release the savings when we release the offering, but I can tell you it will be three times cheaper than anything which is coming close, Goroshevsky said.
That includes entrenched enterprise VoIP services, such as 8×8 Inc’s Packet8 service. And compared to consumer VoIP systems, such as Vonage’s, it will probably be 10 times cheaper, Goroshevsky said.
Popular, which in the US is based in New York and has operations in Israel, France and China, has fewer than 50 workers. The company has received an undisclosed amount of venture capital financing.
And Goroshevsky claims it has a unique approach to peer-to-peer communications with its Peerio engine.
The company, which began in 2001, last month launched its beta P2P platform, PeerioBiz 1.1, which enables PBX and instant messaging functionality. The free release is aimed at small- to medium-sized companies.
At the same time, Popular also launched its Peerio One + One IP terminal, which can be plugged into a LAN to enable direct calling to public networks.
As with other P2P systems, Peerio differs from earlier Centrex PBX models, in which PBXs are a centralized architecture housed on carriers’ premises. P2P also is different from customer-premise equipment PBXs, which also require a centralized PBX to host call switching and routing functionality.
Peerio is a portable middleware that does away with traditional telephony infrastructure by moving the intelligence from a centralized PBX to an actual phone handset. The Peerio system requires no servers, proxies, gatekeepers or an actual PBX.
Because Peerio eliminates routing in a centralized PBX, it offers significant cost savings. After all, users don’t need to buy or maintain a server.
Our slogan is, You don’t need a server, Goroshevsky said. From our perspective, a server is just an unnecessary piece of equipment.
Popular also does not charge a monthly fee for extensions or stations with outgoing number. We’re providing you with the same services as Centrex but for free. Popular does have a monthly $9 subscription fee per station.
It’s really the cheapest way possible today. We are enabling that only because of one simple reason: We are not managing anything in between the enterprise and the backbone.
In other words, the infrastructure is in the self-managing P2P network, he said.
Peerio, which supports various protocols, including SIP, also differs from other P2P networks on the market, Goroshevsky said.
He calls it the only reliable, redundant and transactional engine on the market. It acts almost like a database, but it’s fully distributed and it’s scalable up and down, he said. You can create very small metrics, which you cannot do with a regular P2P . . . including Skype, but can also create a very large network.
Peerio is redundant in that it creates no super nodes, which work as network relayer and proxy server, handling data flow and connections for other users. Skype, the popular consumer P2P VoIP service, does not allow users to choose whether they want to ever be treated as supernodes, which has spawned a minor controversy.
And, in order to target the enterprise market, Peerio promises reliability, Goroshevsky said. If a computer within the Peerio P2P network crashes, information in the network will be stored — unlike in a server environment, he said.
We assume that these end points can go up or down anytime — we need to manage the data in a way that is not corrupted when some or all computers are down, he said. That redundancy is unique — no one else provides that kind of functionality.
However, some companies, including other P2P telephony vendors, such as New York-based Fusion Telecommunications International Inc, don’t see a role for P2P in the enterprise.
Fusion sells both carrier-style and P2P VoIP. From Fusion’s perspective, where we provide enterprise solutions, we don’t use peer-to-peer, said Fusion COO Matt Rosen. We believe that business customers are focusing on the carrier grade VoIP services.
Part of the reason why Fusion doesn’t sell its P2P VoIP to businesses is security concerns, Rosen said.
But Goroshevsky said Peerio is secure because it is distributed.
There are a lot of psychological barriers with peer-to-peer systems in terms of security, Goroshevsky said. People are afraid because peer-to-peer technologies were associated mostly and primarily with file sharing and illegal activities.
Rosen said P2P has not been very well received in the business environment unless it was a closed network within the enterprise. He said P2P can traverse or bypass corporate firewalls. Plus, there are concerns of enterprise machines becoming supernodes.
While Popular claims to have overcome such technological barriers, Goroshevsky acknowledges that P2P is not yet mature for large enterprises, but simply because large enterprises only like to take on technology that has a track record. Initially, Popular is targeting the SME market.
Looking ahead, there is no way the larger enterprises will not use P2P because, Why should you use something that is more expensive and harder to maintain? Goroshevsky said. Initially, he expects Peerio would coexist with the server networks of large enterprises before becoming truly server-less.
I cannot say to the enterprise customer, this technology is 100% mature for 10,000 users, but it will be.