Wednesday, 18 May 2016

VoIP vs. Termination vs. Origination Services

When many people think of VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), they most likely think of cheap or low cost Internet-based telephone services that are a direct replacement for their traditional PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) POTS line (Plain Old Telephone Service).

What many people don't realize is that most telecom services are a collection of discrete individual telecom service components  "bundled" into a "package" commonly known as.... telephone service, or VoIP service.

These bundled packages will typically include services like "local" outbound and inbound calling privileges.  Many jurisdictions require the service provider to include 911/e911 emergency calling (which is not free as some may think). Then for a premium, you can add-on national and/or international calling privileges. Then, one of the biggest hooks is to sell people "unlimited" calling at some other premium package price tag.

Along with all the calling features, they may also offer voicemail, call forwarding, call blocking, auto-attendant, etc, etc, all at incremental premiums that add up quickly, $+$+$+$+$...

Now that we are on the same page of understanding that POTS and VoIP phone services are just a collection of smaller services that are packaged together into a bigger service package, I would like to circle back to the beginning where I started this topic and talk about the very basic essence of VoIP phone service - simple outbound and inbound phone calls.

"Outbound" and "inbound" calling are actually two separate services - typically bundled as if a single service that we think of as "telephone service".

In the POTS/PSTN world, having outbound calling service only, by itself, is almost unheard of.  Same with inbound calling (i.e. having a phone number to receive inbound calls only).  These two services are almost always bundled as one.  Most people would be  very surprised to learn that VoIP phone service can be sliced and diced into discrete separate inbound and outbound calling services.  

However, in the VoIP world, especially the BYOD DIY VoIP world, inbound and outbound calling are often clearly identified and sold as separate services.  It is possible, and common to only have "outbound calling" service with a VoIP provider.  It is also possible, and somewhat common, to only have "inbound calling" service with a VoIP provider.  In most cases, a person, or company, will subscribe to both inbound and outbound calling service at the same time (but, as separate subscriptions).  I have been purchasing VoIP service this way for many years, now.

Most people would be surprised to learn that it is possible to only have inbound calling service with one VoIP provider and then only outbound calling service with a different calling service.  While any person interested in BYOD and DIY VoIP can setup their ATA/IP-Phones VoIP accounts to do this for themselves, this methodology is more typically found in the configuration of IP-PBX systems.

In the case of IP-PBX systems, the PBX can be configured to subscribe to multiple VoIP services and then (once configured) by dial plan determine which inbound calls flow through which VoIP provider and to which local extension to direct the inbound call to.  The same goes for outbound calls.  The IP-PBX, once configured accordingly, will determine which VoIP provider will route outbound calls according to the outbound call destination, as determined by the PBX dial plan.

When purchasing, or subscribing to inbound/outbound calling services through BYOD DIY VoIP providers such as, CallCentric, Flowroute, etc.,  you will encounter new terminology such as "termination" and "origination".

Termination Service
In the VoIP world, the term termination service is in fact "outbound calling" service.  When you purchase termination service, it is typically on a "prepaid" basis.  Prepaid termination service will decrement your account balance based on a per-minute/per-call basis.  Termination service allows you to call any other PSTN or mobile phone number anywhere in the world at per minute rates determined by the VoIP provider.

That's all termination service is - just simple outbound calling to other telephone numbers around the world.

Typically, in the BYOD DIY VoIP world, there is no differentiation between "local calling", "national calling", or "International calling".  Termination service is just plain-Jane outbound-only calling to most anywhere - makes no difference as to where you are calling from or to.

Termination destination fees determine your calling rate.  They are not typically determined by how far the called party is physically located from you as we often think of with PSTN phone service.  In other words, typically there is no distinction between local, national, or international calling.  However, there are typically different rates within any given country and between different countries.  Typically, the VoIP provider will publish a detailed list of calling rates for within Canada, or within USA, or between Canada and USA, as well as a specified rate to each and every other country around the world.

For example, with any of the BYOD DIY VoIP services I use, it makes no difference whether I call my neighbour across the street, or a friend who lives across the country.  Canada wide calling is the same rate no matter how close or far within Canada I call.  Or, it makes no difference whether I call someone in New York City, NY, USA or Los Angeles, California, USA, the termination rate I pay is the same USA rate..... on average 1.0 cent/minute.

Origination Service
In the VoIP world, the term origination service is essentially the privilege of having a "telephone number" assigned to you (for a small monthly fee) so that anyone, anywhere can call and reach you on your VoIP phone.

That's all origination service is - simply the ability to receive inbound calls via your assigned telephone number from other PSTN connected telephones around the world.

In the VoIP world, phone numbers are referred to as DID's.  DID is an acronym for "Direct Inbound Dialing".  So, when I need a VoIP phone number, I purchase a DID from my VoIP provider.  DID's are typically reachable from any Mobile or PSTN connected telephone.

With typical BYOD DIY VoIP services that I use, origination DID service is rented by the month and prepaid using my existing account cash balance.  Purchasing (i.e. renting) a DID on a monthly basis allows you to have a dedicated PSTN reachable phone number.  Typically, I only pay between $1.25 - $1.95/month for my DID phone numbers.

In simple form, inbound calls are also charged to you the customer on a per-minute basis, just like termination service is.  On average, I will pay between 1.25 cents - 1.5 cents per minute for inbound calls to my VoIP DID connected phone(s). 

Along with origination service, many VoIP providers (but not all) can also enable e911 emergency calling service on your account.  This service is typically a $1.50/month add-on charge and will be associated with your DID phone number.

In its simplest basic form, VoIP phone service consists of either receiving calls via a DID (origination), or placing outbound calls to PSTN phone numbers around the world (termination).  Everything else is just bundling of extra features, usually at extra cost ($$$$).

Bare bones origination and termination service is by far the cheapest way to make and receive world-wide VoIP-based phone calls to and from PSTN connected telephones.

Happy VoIPing!