Wholesale VoIP providers usually offer carrier-grade service to enterprise-level businesses. Wholesale VoIP carriers manage and maintain networks, routes, and softswitches. Competitive wholesale VoIP providers may offer redundant, self-healing networks with multiple T1 access points and direct and white routing. Wholesale providers generally offer wholesale SIP origination and termination anywhere within their network. Wholesale VoIP carriers also offer billing solutions such as incremental, real-time billing and complete call detail records (CDRs) for billing and troubleshooting purposes.
Wholesale VoIP carriers may also offer individual virtual numbers (or DIDs) to businesses or even individuals, rather than requiring bulk purchases. Some VoIP wholesale companies also offer hosted PBX services to businesses of all sizes.
Types of Service
Wholesale VoIP providers can sell their services directly to businesses, or they can sell them to resellers, carriers, and agents, who then sell them to businesses. VoIP wholesale companies manage and run networks, provide wholesale SIP termination and origination services, and enable direct inward dialing (DID) and line provisioning.
Who Uses VoIP Wholesale Companies?
Wholesale VoIP carriers provide routing (including least cost routing, or LCR) and other services to:
- VoIP providers
- Telcos and ITSPs
- Wholesale carriers
- Calling card companies
- Wireless network operators
- Call back services
- Call shops
- Competitive local exchange companies (CLECs)
What Wholesale VoIP Providers Do
Wholesale VoIP carriers typically offer some or all of the following services:
- Origination (including toll-free numbers and DIDs)
- Line provisioning
- Network management
- Billing services
- Toll free numbers
- Fax support
- Pre- and postpaid accounts
- TDM/gateway switching with PSTN
That's great, but what do all those terms mean?
Collocation is the managed sharing of servers and bandwidth. Larger companies might have the space, personnel, and knowledge to manage their own servers and bandwidth, but small companies are often better served by renting space and equipment in a managed server farm, and leaving the maintenance to others. It's often more cost effective as well, as multiple customers share the cost of running a colocation center. Think of it as a server timeshare.
Termination is the final IP point on the network, using the open source session initiation protocol (SIP) or sometimes H.323. If a caller in Phoenix calls someone in New York City (or Berlin), there is likely going to be a 'last mile' of connectivity using the public switched telephone network (PSTN) rather than the Internet. The last point of presence (PoP) using the Internet is the VoIP termination point. At this point, there is a switch (often TDM, or time-division multiplexing) and, usually, signal conversion. The best wholesale VoIP company will have multiple wholesale SIP termination points in each country.
Origination is essentially the first IP point in the life of a VoIP phone call, or the SIP handoff between technologies. While many companies may now have an IP PBX where the VoIP call originates at the handset, the origination point for most VoIP calls is still going to be the publicly switched telephone network (PSTN). Origination is the segment between the caller and the switch to a VoIP endpoint.
Line provisioning is the distribution of unique phone numbers and the setup and initiation of those numbers using the integrated services digital network (ISDN). Provisioning involves deciding upon various features and then configuring switches, ports, gateways, and more. Some wholesale VoIP providers (facilities-based) offer the advantage of rapid provisioning, while others can take days to weeks to provision a line.
Billing services can vary widely from wholesale VoIP carrier to wholesale VoIP carrier. Some wholesale VoIP providers offer LCR services and multiple rate tables. Most offer incremental billing. Some wholesale VoIP providers provide billing solutions to their resellers, which can include:
- Detailed CDRs
- Real-time call tracing
- Carrier access billing (CABS)
- Multiple payment options
- Support for multiple currencies
- Credit controls
- Pre- and postpaid billing options
- Grace periods
- Flexible billing periods
- Customer/vendor self-care
Network management includes services such as monitoring for voice quality, signal consistency and uptime, re-routing due to changes in rate tables, and traffic prioritization. Facilities-based wholesale VoIP providers such as Gafachi will monitor servers and data, switches, and more.
Toll free numbers through wholesale VoIP carriers offer much broader availability (and SIP origination), with thousands of US rate centers and additional international locations. Most wholesale VoIP providers will offer discounts for bulk purchases. Some wholesale VoIP services will offer inbound toll free origination and outbound toll free termination.
Fax support at the wholesale level usually means including T.38 termination services using TDM and dedicated gateways, all of which helps alleviate (if not eliminate) jitter, latency, and packet loss. T.38 fax support is also known as Fax over IP (FoIP).
Pre- and postpaid accounts translates into greater flexibility for wholesale clients. Prepaid accounts are generally used by wireless networks, call backs, and calling card companies that encourage topping off of accounts or feature minute limits. VoIP service providers and resellers offering business VoIP PBX services are more likely to offer postpaid accounts. A VoIP wholesale carrier offering both services taps into a broader client base.
TDM/gateway switching is usually the way that a call over the Internet is transitioned back to the plain old telephone system (POTS). TDM switches will still convey digitized packets, but they use standard copper wires. The best wholesale VoIP carrier will generally offer an interface (gateway) with the physical TDM switch along with the VoIP network.
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