We all know Internet killed geography long time ago. Just like TiVo took the live TV out from the clutches of time and Slingbox freed your TV from your living room, there is one company that thought about enabling any phone company on earth worth its name to let their ‘phone numbers’ set free anywhere on the Internet and make money along the way.
It is not always that a Pakistani origin new-age Internet company makes a wonderful product that not only proves to be a financial success but is also an excellent example of innovative thinking and visionary excellence.
Meet DIDX – DID Exchange, the star product of Super Technologies. Without exaggeration, an attempt to describe Super Technologies, its various products and its contribution to the telecommunication regulation politics in Pakistan will consume a full blog on its own. The company that started its journey from the (then) innovative idea of Internet faxing back in 1987, morphed into a VoIP service company with a Pakistani network, changed to a hosted VOIP platform and finally, the team hit the sweet spot (incidentally as a by-product) of becoming a marketplace for an unusual telecommunication resource that nobody had not spotted before in the same context.
So what is DIDX and what do they do?
One of the core forces behind DIDX is Rehan Ahmed Allahwala. Rehan works alongside his American mates who front the company worldwide in commercial and marketing domains. Rehan leads the team that works on new ideas and commercial gymnastics. Suzanne Bowen is the CEO of the company (and out of her interest in the Pakistani Telecommunication market which, as a by-product, has given him a partner like Rehan – she’s a lurker at TGP too!) The company has a number of developers working OUT of Pakistan. So while it would be technically wrong to call this a ‘totally Pakistani venture’ because of the mix of fine people from so many places, the strong Pakistani contents in their HR is a matter of pride for all of us back at home.
DIDX is about selling and buying an unusual, untapped asset that a lot of telecos are sitting upon – the E.164 numbers they give out to ‘their’ subscribers who take one (or more) service from them. Most of the time, the teleco focuses on the service it is providing and tends to overlook the ‘affinity’ that those numbers carry and the possibility of that affinity being marketed and traded – anywhere on the Internet.
DIDX is the opposite of traditional call-termination market places. In these call-termination market places, participants compete to terminate your call at the cheapest of the rates possible. At DIDX, participants compete to sell their ‘DID numbers’ to those who value them because of their ‘callers’ having a certain affinity or proximity with those numbers. DIDX participants generate revenue because either the number is used from their very own network (for which they get paid anyway by the caller) or from foreign networks (which, again, pay them the termination charges). The only hidden cost of the DIDX participant here is the Internet bandwidth that is utilized for each of the call that originates as a VOIP call from their SIP box to the wild Internet and end up at the original user’s MSN, Google Talk or FWD soft phone (it could be a hard one as well).
Explained in even simpler terms, DIDX enables any telephone company to procure some cheap Internet bandwidth, host a box on that bandwidth, and start selling their telephone numbers to worldwide buyers. Since these numbers would be used by individuals seeking to ‘receive’ calls from the old telephony world to their voiped-up digital universe, there is a very high over-subscription that is possible because not everyone would be using the service all the time. Selling a million odd numbers via DIDX, for example, for $10 ea could give a juicy business figure to a lot many telecommunication companies especially outside North America.
On the other side of the eco-system, DIDX suddenly enables voip islands, like Skype and MSN a steel bridge back to the 4 billion people on earth that still are stuck in the older telephony universe. It takes little time to appreciate the impact that DID has created on VoIP worldwide.
Ever since DIDX went out in the wild, its participants are growing. While the list is long, Skype, Google putting them up as their partners and (just today), Jeff Pulver the grand daddy of voice over IP announcing the partnership of FWD with them are rock solid proofs of the brilliance of the idea and the company behind it.
So best wishes for DIDX, Rehan and Suzanne, and we hope you keep innovating the voip space!