How do ‘all your pieces’ fit together to become a Phone Company ITSP ?

Probably the question that is not asked but always answered when making an introduction of Bicom Systems’ Products is the one in this title.

With so many pieces it is rather understandable why confusion may arise and yet having explained this many times now, recipients reply unanimously with confirmation that it all makes sense. For this reason it seemed only appropriate to write it down and make some other supporting diagrams and videos that really demonstrate the turnkey nature of all these pieces.

Quite simply, Bicom Systems can deliver the most turnkey telephony company with the most features and functions on the market.

We start with our platform, SERVERware. SERVERware comes in two editions, SERVER Edition and NETWORK Edition. See links for supporting diagrams.

SERVERware provides virtualisation and redundancy. In the SERVER Edition the virtualisation means that many application services can be set on the same server, The Primary Controller. These may include : PBXware MultiTenant or Call Center PBX Editions, TELCOware or other items such as Email Server, Web Site a vanilla Asterisk or Trixbox or FreePBX even. Each is contained within its own Virtual Private Server (VPS) and as such

The Server Edition can then in turn be set to mirrored redundancy, using a Secondary Server, so that should the Primary Controller Server fail the Secondary takes over.
Although similar options exist with VMware, Serverware uses Virtual Servers and so the voice quality is best served by keeping the voice traffic on the CPU rather than in a virtualised manner. Serverware also has added security features such as being set in the CHROOT and ………………..

In the Network Edition, the roles of the original two servers change. Firstly all application services are now present on dedicated hosts. The Controller is then freed to perform two functions: duplicating data from the hosts to its own hard disks and monitoring the hosts that in the event of failure of a host that the services on the lost host will be reallocated to the next available host. As the cluster expands the duplication of data may be performed to a SAN.

The Primary Controller is mirrored to a Secondary Controller so that should the Primary fail the above two functions will continue.

Typically in an ITSP scenario one of the application services in its own VPS will be the Multi Tenant Edition of PBXware. It is here that the core telephony takes place from registrations to enhanced services and telephony billing that rates CDRs.

Then on another VPS may be a Call Centre PBX Edition of PBXware if a customer has a dedicate requirement. Often with Call Centers there is a need to access the MySQL database, run detailed reports and thrash CPU with Call Recordings, as such resource needs to be identifiably dedicated. This way a heavy usage call center can latter be moved to its own resource or indeed even for its component part be split to dedicated servers.

If a provisioning platform such as TELCOware be used then it too will have its own VPS on either the server or network edition of SERVERware. The provisioning starts with the CMS (Content Management Systems) creating a web site where visitor can peruse hard and subscirptions products created in the Shopping Cart Products & Services with a view to ordering. To place orders visitors must sign up and create an Account.

TELCOware does not have any real telephony, everything is virtual. After receiving an order it uses API to send instructions to PBXware to provision the service, registrations, DIDs, IVRs or similar. There are wizards in place to assist with this.

According to the subscription bought it will then generate an invoice at the end of the period which will reflect the subscription and any extra call spend made, drawing CDRs from the switch it is associated with. This could be one or many PBXware or even another system, Asterisk based or not.

Upon the invoice being settled by manual payment or automated with a supported gateway such as worldpay,, linkpoint, paypal, skrill … funds will be attributed first to the subscription and then if available to the call spend fund on the telephony account on the associated softswitch.

In addition to these products, Bicom Systems also has a wide variety of supporting Desktop Applications which continue the turnkey theme through to the End User and allowing your ITSP effort to simply have what others do not and stand out from the competition.

Please feel free to look through the supporting material, however nothing quite compares to an online demo and please do ask for Account Manager, the linking piece, to contact you in your language of preference (English, Spanish, French or Portuguese). As well as the architecture there is a whole lot of other advice to be provided and Marketing Materials and Support.

Invitation to a Multi-National

Here was a recent pitch to a Multi-National : you may wish to adopt to your own purposes:

I was passed your details by Fierce Voip. Possibly you were looking at our how to become an ITSP whitepaper.

If you can elaborate your interest I should more than happy to provide as service.

For our part, we were the first company to take Open Source Telephony Engines and deliver turnkey products. Increasingly the work is for running large hosted service provider models. The largest so far is 50,000 subscribers for ******. Yes ! Even the phone manufacturers use us !

By the nature of the technology it would be a lot simpler and controlled, never mind cost effective for an organization such as ******* to put in place ‘one large softswitch system’ but with multiple location redundancy to deal with natural disaster & acts of terror.

This of course beckons the question if ‘one’ system can cater for all possible needs of such a diverse organsisation. Any simple declaration of a perfect system is naive. What we have been able to do at Bicom Systems however is provide ‘best-fit’ custom development for the cost of ‘off-the-shelf’. A simple example for NASA was to design a conference facility that permitted the administrator to listen to twenty conference simultaneously while accessing 600 contributors around the world to pull in.

Let me know your interest and doubtless I can contribute further.



Thirdlane vs PBXware (Part II : Cost of Entry)

thirdlaneThe idea that Thirdlane is more cost effective or cheaper than PBXware is the single largest misconception that we have to deal with when customers are choosing between Thirdlane and PBXware MultiTenant with its softswitch capability.

To be clear, this is an issue confined uniquely to VoIP Entrepreneurs starting new businesses and facing many unknowns of how much market they will obtain. For Old Hacks, who have a little more certainty of their markets, revenues, and ROIs, the issue has long passed onto minimising the pain of managing a real business and getting the features that matter to customers.

Curiously, the point at which this turn seems to take place is low. 100 extensions and the burden of managing the Thirdlane platform appears to overwhelm Service Providers. Suddenly, the original investment that will never be recouped is gone. References available.

Here are some, well actually many items to consider about costs. Combined, we really do believe you will come to the agreement that the notion that Thirdlane costs less is simply not true:

  • ASSUMPTION: That because PBXware Multi-Tenant PBX has more features in a professionally organized manner – “it simply must be a greater cost” – just because PBXware has more features and functions does not mean it must be a more expensive product. Our business model is based around ‘Starting Partnerships’. We wish to work with those who have the local presence to take us further faster and will gladly work with you to get you started in your endeavor. Increasingly, we have many more products that can be put through distribution channels to help us both build later business.

  • The wish to get started at the lowest “base” becomes blinding: Almost as above, but we have time again seen start-ups so preoccupied with their status of ‘starting out’ that they seem almost compelled to try to ‘associate’ themselves with the most barebones infrastructure they can possibly find. Even though options are available for no more cost, and possibly less cost, that would provide them a base to reach to the stars and have in place the necessary architecture and structure that their businesses might move forward.

  • Bicom Systems simply has more: if you start to add up the options that Bicom Systems has : Telcoware Provisioning Platform, Integrated Telephony Billing, Desktop Applications, Call Center PBXs – then the total will increase. Comparing just the Thirdlane multi-tenant pbx product to PBXware, PBXware’s entry offer can be less upfront capital to get started.

  • Future Proof 1: Once your first server is filled, how to then expand the network in a seamless manner so that it is clear where each customer registration group is being kept.

thirdlane pbx

  • Future Proof 2: The investments needed to stay in this market are not decreasing. Mobile Integration, Desktop Integration, CTI, Alarm Monitoring, Call Center, Video… Each need dedicated teams and to sustain this requires large revenues that are only possible with the distribution of large systems.

  • Marketing: Any new business needs marketing material and ideally support in generating business. Bicom System provides extensive marketing material at source to its partners as well as market research and suggestions of positioning. Through case studies and internet marketing we have also been able to promote partners.

  • Support: Bicom Systems does not charge $175.00 / hour for support, it is a flat rate, unlimited support. $175.00 is of course no money at all to a startup ITSP‘if you assume you do not need support’. If, however, it is after your existing budget is eaten up and the customer is screaming at you and that customer is paying you $20 per month, the problem takes six hours to solve, then, suddenly, you don’t even have a business model and all the investment to date is beginning to look like sunk costs.

  • And then what?: It does not start and stop with getting a bit of software. The whole operation of running an ITSP raises questions. Not least ‘what the next customer wants’. Bicom Systems Account Managers exist to advise on that next customer and, if necessary, provide custom work.

  • TELCOware: The customer comes to your web site, they choose their subscription, enter their details, the money is taken, the account is provisioned, the order is sent to get the phones out in the post, and you are still in bed. Not yet ready for this dream, possibly – but it would be good to know it is ready for you when you are.

  • Making a Quick Decision does not mean Making a Bad Decision: As said above, Bicom Systems simply can give you more either today or as your business grows. We are very used to getting you started. We implore you, take a breath and let us do what we do best and find you a way to have the best platform from which to move forward. It may just save you from putting all your savings down sunk, then spending the next two years trying to work back to the same start position through agony, before having the investment to start again. If the words seem harsh – the references are available.

So, what is the answer? No idea :) Until we talk to you and get to know your business fully and properly.

Read the first part of this series here.

UPDATE 12/12: We reviewed the Thirdlane website again in hopes to update this post. Unfortunately the only update to their website is the removal of their prices.

Other posts on Thirdlane:

If you found this useful or can add, please feel free to post and of course visit our whitepaper on How to Start an ITSP or watch the video below.

The Side You Should Be ‘Aware-Of’ in this Business…

The technical side of a modern phone company…

As a developer and network engineer, understanding the way today’s hosted phone systems works is a fairly easy task. Yet such a profile is not found in every person that is willing to start in this business. In general, there are two profiles that look to start in this business more often:

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