… but how many iNum numbers are out there to be called? and where do prospective customers one find them?
First available to users in November 2008, iNum has been an international calling initiative launched by Voxbone, a supplier of local telephone numbers to communications service providers worldwide. For instance PamFax uses Voxbone to provide inbound fax numbers in 29 countries.
The iNum initiative has been assigned an International country code +883 1500 with the goal of providing a single “1-800” type of number that can be accessed from any country. They call it “one number for the world”. An iNum number can be accessed through 15 service providers, such as British Telecom, either free or at a low “per minute” cost. For instance, making calls to an iNum number from Skype uses Skype credit at 2.3 cents/minute. Calls to iNum numbers made through Rebtel or Truphone are free.
If they cannot be accessed through a service provider, iNum has multiple access points around the world – four in Brazil, twelve in Canada, 13 in U.S, etc. (Scroll down here for a list.) Using them one can call an iNum number for the cost of a call to any of these access numbers.
This week iNum received a significant endorsement with the addition of Google Voice as an iNum service provider. The good news: calls from Google Voice to an iNum number are free; the bad news: Google Voice remains available only to U.S. locations. (For instance, it’s not available for Canadians, etc.)
Bottom line: iNum remains an international calling service that has become another proxy for the adoption and implementation of IP-based communications. Adding Google Voice certainly provides significant additional credibility to the viability of such a service.
On the other hand Voxbone’s biggest issue with iNum has to be attracting businesses to the concept of a universal toll-free (or low cost) phone number. Certainly Skype’s Click-to-Call initiative has gained more traction and immediate visibility. When I go to Google Local in a Skype-enhanced browser and find several local restaurants with a Free Call icon (3 out of 7 listings), you get a better idea of how “free calling” as a marketing tool plays out in local markets.
Can iNum get the same level of visibility and traction for businesses targeting international Markets?