• May 12, 2005
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

Fiberlink and Skype Connect for Mobile VoIP

Enterprise security and mobility vendor Fiberlink Communications and VoIP provider Skype Technologies are teaming up to deliver mobile Internet phone services to enterprise customers. Fiberlink will bundle Skype's inexpensive IP calling system with its own Extend360 mobile access software. Extend360 will provide strong encryption, network detection, and security protocol adherence to the package, expanding on Skype's ability to reach out to a variety of platforms. By taking VoIP mobile, the Skype-Fiberlink partnership addresses important issues for field personnel. Because Skype's peer-to-peer call software works from any Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, or Pocket PC-enabled device, and is available in 22 languages, mobile sales and support agents will have uninterrupted access to contact lists and voicemail wherever they go, and will be reachable via their office phone numbers. SkypeOut, an add-on that allows low-cost calls to traditional wired or mobile phones, will reduce the cost of calls from the road, according to Skype. Fiberlink's contribution, Extend360, is a mobile workforce management tool that gives the IT department much-needed peace of mind when the field force needs to connect to corporate data through channels that might not be secure. According to Jim Somers, director of marketing for Fiberlink, "Extend360 sniffs out access routes wherever the user needs to connect, but first it puts the most up-to-date security in between the access point and the device, incorporating antivirus, spyware detection, firewall functions, and more." "Skype's association with Fiberlink lends it an air of legitimacy as an enterprise player, and provides a consistent revenue stream," says Michael Disabato, service director for network and telecommunications strategy for the Burton Group research and consultancy firm. The ability to promote and distribute through Fiberlink's extensive channel of enterprise customers also is a major plus. "For Fiberlink this is another step in helping its customers' network managers control remote access." The integration is not yet complete: Full integration of Skype with Extend360 could be complete in four to six months, but no firm date has been set at this time. "We already have a client that allows companies to prebuy minutes for SkypeOut in bulk and assign access PINs to mobile workers," Somers says. This makes the transaction invisible to users, and allows tight tracking of usage. Together, the partners will provide compelling cost savings and security to Fiberlink's list of nearly 600 enterprise customers. "When Fiberlink discovered that three out of ten mobile workers in their customers' organizations were using Skype anyway, and were billing their SkypeOut minutes through PayPal back to the company, the opportunity was clear," Disabato says. "Corporate finance departments don't like to see PayPal on expense reports." Somers says: "Peer-to-peer networking also carries an inherent risk to the enterprise and its data. Similar to instant messaging several years ago, P2P Internet telephony is making the transition from a consumer technology to business use." Related articles: Cisco and IBM Lead the IP Telephony Market
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