Start-up internet telephony company ITXC Corp (Internet Telephone Exchange Carrier) is making what appears to the crucial leap to link internet telephony service providers (ITSPs) to every telephone number in the world. The service will enable users to connect to any phone number over IP or a combination of telephone and IP using a conventional telephone, or the more common personal computer and special software – it depends on the requirement of the ITSP.
Founded by former AT&T Corp VP Tom Evslin, who also secured investment from the telephone giant, ITXC describes itself as a value-added minute broker. The company’s WWeXchange Service, due to be launched next April, will enable ITSPs to connect together to give internet telephony users many more connecting points than they gave at the moment. ITXC will make its money by handling the ‘handshake’ and the termination of the long-distance call, creating call detail records and adding a percentage before passing them on at the wholesale rate plus a markup to the ITSP concerned, which will then charge the end user whatever retail rate it feels it can get away with. ITXC will negotiate a maintain the bilateral agreement that ITSPs must maintain in order to be able to connect between each other. At the moment, these ITSPs only maintain relationships between a few ITSPs typically, says the company. ITXC is accepting applications from ITSPs with the appropriate terminating facilities – the local loop – which ITXC will verify as sufficient as well as so-called minute owners, such as debit card owners. A call to an ITSP will be routed as far as possible over the internet and use traditional long distance services where the internet does not reach. A gateway is needed at the ITSP if the user is to use a conventional phone, otherwise a PC with internet telephony software is used. ITXC will also act as a kind of call-back company, it says as the outgoing rates are so cheap in the US it may cost less to route a call from say, Brazil to the UK through the US, and ITXC aims to facilitate that through its experienced buying staff. With AT&T as an investor, it begs the question of how AT&T and the other large telcos will let ITXC get away with a plan that will eat into its long-distance revenues. ITXC claims that telcos the size of WorldCom overseas talking to it right now and some large telcos in the US have asked to use the service incognito at the moment. New Brunswick, New Jersey-based ITXC also has an agreement with internet roaming company iPass to provide the back-end settlement. Its service is offered by more 200 ISPs worldwide.