A few days ago, we opened Radio Handi up for public testing. This new service enables people to create communities about any subject or affinity group, and to communicate asynchronously (via email, sms, etc) and real-time (via conference calls). We’re already up and running in some 40 countries, with both PSTN and VoIP dial in. Neat stuff, and this kind of international reach have been impossible even a couple years ago. We’re currently peering with Gizmo and SIP Broker, and unofficially, we hear that people can reach us via Google Talk.
We’re inviting any VoIP provider to peer with us, simply map the shortcode HANDI (42634) or *HANDI to our public SIP URI (sip:firstname.lastname@example.org, more options such as spanish language prompts coming soon). We also support direct inward dialing to email@example.com where nnnnnn is the group or channel number for a voice community. If you’d like to support direct inward dialing, we suggest the code *RHnnnnnn (*74nnnnnnn) where nnnnnn is a 6-16 digit number. Our tagline for the service is The Party Line for Planet Earth, and through VoIP peering, we can make this happen.
We’re also inviting VoIP providers to sponsor PSTN dial-ins in their countries, similar to what SIP Broker is doing. We’ll insert an audio ad into the greeting so that every caller on the dial in knows about your VoIP service. Both arrangements are models that other enhanced service providers can follow. The enhanced service provider gets free or subsidized PSTN access (for example for traffic report services), while the VoIP provider gets exposure to callers dialing in from fixed and mobile lines in their region.
In general, VoIP providers should copy what mobile operators are doing by using five digit SMS shortcodes for enhanced services, and apply this to enhanced voice services. It’s easy to map a shortcode to a SIP URI, and this is one way that VoIP providers can add value to their service offering beyond dirt cheap voice minutes.