New Skype for SIP Features Improve Business Functionality

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New Skype for SIP Features Improve Business Functionality

In December, Skype will announce some new features for Skype for SIP (beta), which will make it more business-friendly. Skype for SIP, which is now part of Skype's Business Control Panel (BCP). Skype for SIP will support DID routing by supporting the SIP To field. You will be able to add an extension number to a Skype name you used in the Skype for SIP profile. When a call is routed to the SIP PBX the extension number will be in the To field for direct routing of the call to an extension.

One fascinating feature Skype is working on is "silent keyboard", which will automatically silence your keystrokes from being sent to the remote party. As far as I know you can't decrypt the keystroke sounds into the corresponding keys, so really Skype is doing this for a better user listening experience. Kind of a cool feature, especially if you're half listening to the caller and are Tweeting, checking your Facebook page, and sending emails.

Select your CallerID
Importantly, in mid-December Skype will let you select multiple CallerID phone numbers. You will be able to choose your landline number for the outbound calls. Skype will leverage RFC3325 for the remote party ID. This will allow you SIP-based IP-PBX to insert the phone number it wants to present for outbound calls going through the Skype network. Skype will honor the request and present the number to the caller (CallerID). Obviously, Skype will have a stringent number verification process to make sure you are not CallerID spoofing the White House, a bank or some other institution for nefarious or pranking reasons. In fact, I'm told Skype will launch a new number verification process in mid-December for security purposes.

I'm told that Skype is working on more detailed corporate reporting for the BCP. Corporations want to known where their telecom expenditures are going, so Skype will be adding better reporting to track costs per employee. Currently, the detailed report for SIP calls through the Skype network does not break it down by employee as shown by this screenshot of my Skype for SIP account.
skype-bcp-sip-call-report.jpg
Skype Attacks SIP trunking Space
Skype appears to be serious about going after the SIP trunking space in the enterprise. SIP trunking is a very hot market with dozens of players in the U.S. alone. With the additional featuring coming in December, I wouldn't be surprised if corporations seriously consider Skype for SIP. My only concern is the pricing might be a bit high. They price it via SIP concurrent calling channels on a monthly basis.

Number of channels:
Up to 2   - €19,95 ($29.89)
3 to 4      - €11,95 ($17.91)
5 to 9      - €9,95 ($14.91)
10 to 19  - €7,95 ($11.91)
20 to 29  - €6,95 ($10.41)
>30        - €4,95 ($7.42)

While the cost per channel does go down as you add more concurrent channels, it does add up. For instance, assuming you are an SMB with 10 concurrent channels, that's €7,95 ($11.91) X 10 channels = €79,5 / $119.10 per month. This $119/month doesn't even include the minutes yet. Of course, I need to compare $119/month for 10 channels vs. traditional PSTN channels (analog/T1/E1). In that case, $119 is pittance compared to what traditional analog or T1/E1 trunks cost. Further, a more accurate comparison would be with other SIP trunking providers. Fair enough.

So first I randomly picked Bandwidth.com for comparison. Their SIP trunks cost $30 (€20.02) per trunk for unlimited inbound and local calling along with a long distance rate that can be under 2 cents per call. Skype wins that round as long as you order more than 2 SIP trunks. VoIPVoIP offers service with pay-as-you-go plan that has no contract, no monthly fees, and it's just 1.9 cents a minute calls to anywhere in the USA, Canada, Europe and 20+ countries. Since there is no monthly SIP trunking charges, Skype loses that round. I'm sure if I look around I'll find many other SIP trunking service providers offering no monthly charges for SIP trunks and only charging you for actual minutes used. Thus, I think Skype may have to more aggressively price their SIP trunking if they want to succeed in the SIP trunking space.


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