BabyTEL offers P2P VoIP through Facebook
Canadian voice-over-IP provider babyTEL next week will announce a new Facebook application that will bring VoIP peer-to-peer calling to the social network.
BabyTEL's application -- with the enviable Facebook application name "Telephone" -- isn't the first voice-oriented application on Facebook. For instance, VoIP pioneer Jeff Pulver has begun positioning his long-incubated Free World Dialup project as a social media play, starting with a Facebook voice mail application. Also on Facebook (live or in development): VoIP and click-to call apps from Jajah, Jangl, YackPack, RebTel and Truphone, plus a conference call app from Iotum.
However, babyTEL does have some unique distinctions. Rather than focus on click-to-call capabilities, like many VoIP-oriented Facebook applications, babyTEL's Telephone is a pure peer-to-peer-style service, a la Skype. The application is also fully integrated into Facebook such that a typical use would involve a user clicking on a person in their Facebook friends list and then -- if that user has also installed "Telephone"--initiating a VoIP call directly to that friend.
Another unique aspect of babyTel's approach is that its service relies on the company's existing VoIP network -- which serves residential and business customers in Canada -- for routing and completing calls initiated from Facebook.
"We're a voice-over-IP company," said babyTEL CEO Stephen Dorsey. “Our whole network has been up for over two years. Our social VoIP application is superimposed over that network. That's our big differentiator -- we do central control of calls made out on Facebook."
The Telephone application is live now on Facebook, but babyTEL will officially announce and begin promoting it next week. In addition to person-to-person calling, Facebook users can also send voice messages to their friends. babyTEL's free VoIP application is listed under "chat" and "mobile" sections of the Facebook application directory.
Dorsey sees social network-driven VoIP as one of many applications that can help VoIP providers break out of the mold of competing solely on price.
“Today [with VoIP] there’s too much selling on price: ‘Ours is cheaper,’” Dorsey said. “VoIP is a whole new paradigm, and this Facebook app is part of it. You just can’t do that with traditional telephone service.”
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