Startup business telephone systems company Phone VoIP was born out of the Canterbury earthquakes with its founders saying it should do well in an environment where fibre is making inroads into the traditional copper telephony links.
VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol. VoIP software is used to conduct telephone-like voice conversations across internet protocol-based networks, and the VoIP phone service is often cheaper than traditional public-switched telephone network.
Managing director and owner Bob Thayer and sales manager Philip Harris are firm believers in the internet-backed digital PABX (private automatic branch exchange) phone system, which Harris said he first ran across when he lived on the Gold Coast. He sold Linux-based VoIP software while in Australia.
The digital PABX system allows a company to set up systems such as transferring to extensions, call logging and voice mail.
An installed Phone VoIP system typically retailed from $5000 providing as many extensions as required. Smart phones can also be made an extension of the network.
Thayer said he had worked for a long time for a business brokerage, Christchurch Business Sales, in which he retains a shareholding along with Ron Dougall.
He was now firmly committed time-wise to the new VoIP venture that was a reseller and constructor of the parts of the internet-based telephony system that were connected together for clients.
He moved to one side of the business brokerage because of the impact on that business of the earthquakes. For Phone VoIP's startup he hired a unit in Woolston in September.
The pair say some of the benefits of a Phone VoIP system is a significant saving on call charges of up to 60 per cent. They offer hardware such as a Hewlett Packard server used within the integrated system at a competitive cost.
If a phone system is to be installed into a large building site needing significant telephony wiring, the company brings in contractors to do that cabling.
"VoIP is here. Finally people are beginning to understand what it is ... that you can use the internet to these phone calls and you don't have to pay these horrendous prices ... 99 per cent of our business is building telephone systems," Harris said.
Sales had started well but then scaled back over the Christmas holiday period, he said.
Phone VoIP uses 3CX to provide a VoIP solution for use in a Microsoft Windows environment. Harris gives an industry quote, saying the transformation from analogue telephony to digital telephony is going to be as profound as the shift from typewriter to word processing.
"I've got this feeling that Christchurch will be the most VoIPed city in New Zealand because they're not going to put copper cable back in the city – it would be just silly if they did that.The VoIP system also fitted with the earthquake environment of Christchurch where modern optical fibre – which provides a base for the internet – had survived well.
"It's all going to be fibre and that's ideal for us – we just follow on behind. We're going to be approaching the schools because Enable [Networks – a fibre network provider in Christchurch] is starting to hook up the schools."
That being said the company can use an analog telephone adapter to enable customers to keep their traditional hands but convert the existing PABX system to digital. The Phone VoIP system also allows customers to keep existing phone numbers.
Thayer said the main obstruction to setting up the new business was competitors such as Telecom NZ and Vodafone tying their customers into three to five-year contracts.
However, he and Harris were convinced the cost savings would see their business model win out. As far as they knew they were the only specialist VoIP installation firm in the South Island.