IDT Corporation has been a visionary in the VoIP space for almost two decades and I’ve always been impressed with the company’s technology and range of solutions in the SIP trunking and hosted PBX spaces. Recently, they have become very aggressive in the UC space, going after a channel and looking to be the disruptor in the market they helped create in the 1990s.
In an in-person interview, IDT/Net2Phone President Jonah Fink told me he thinks his company will keep people up at night. For example, IDT has had decades to build out its international infrastructure which includes POPs and nodes in five cities in Brazil as well as London, Hong Kong, Chile and Peru. They offer unlimited calling to Mexico and Canada as well as a core hosted PBX/SIP trunking plan which consists of South America, Western Europe and Central America.
Not all companies have the need to call internationally so they have another incentive up their sleeve as well. They provide free Polycom phones which become the property of the customer at the end of the contract term. “All of this for $19.99 – a fully loaded service which has features which compare to the $45/month service of some of the newer competitors in the space,” said Jonah.
Some of these features include a calling queue, call reporting, CDRs custom welcome greetings, call transfer and failover.
In addition to a great value for customers, agents and channel partners get a shot to win incentive prizes like $5,000 drawings.
An interesting area of differentiation for the company is they are in it for the long haul – heck, if the last twenty years hasn’t proven that, what will? Jonah said they don’t have an exit plan – contrasting the company from so many players in a market with frequent M&A. In addition, they have 600 people on the phones who can help customers program IVR, auto attendants and help with other issues customers might have.
More differentiation comes in the investment Jonah says they make in their “human beings.” He explained others are spending exclusively on their portals while IDT also invests in its people. He said emphatically, “Others want a sexy portal, we want a sexy customer service experience, “he continued, “That’s our strategy”
If you’ve ever flown on an airplane in the last 15 years, you have likely seen ads for IDT calling cards and Jonah wants you to rest assured the company has come a long way from calling cards and cyber-cafes. In fact, he said he took the best of these experiences – connecting calls in war zones in Africa and brought them to the US. He went on to say, “We know about CODECs.”
The bottom line is we have a huge race for customers coming in the future and companies like RingCentral, 8×8 and Vonage will be gunning for IDT and vice-versa. IDT is a no small company at almost $350 million in market cap meaning the fight for marketshare in the hosted UC space will have a lot of muscle behind it.
What I’ve been seeing in the market is an increased demand or cloud-based telecom services meaning the market is growing nicely and there is likely room for all the major cloud vendors to keep growing for a long while.