Summary:

Twilio is opening up a public beta for a low-latency VoIP network, which route calls more directly over the internet. The end result will be more natural, higher-quality voice conversations.

Twilio on Monday launched a public beta that will improve the quality of its VoIP calling services by applying the same principles of public phone switching to internet communications. The technology, called Global Low Latency (GLL), is aimed at making end-to-end VoIP calls more reliable and thus more acceptable to its growing base of enterprise users.

When a call is made over the public-switched telephone network (PSTN) it takes the most direct route, traversing a series of switches along its way. An internet call doesn’t necessarily take the most direct route, sending its packets to far-flung routers and re-assembling itself at the receiving end.

Jeff Lawson Twilio Mobilize 2013

Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio, speaking at Mobilize 2013 (c) 2013 Pinar Ozger pinar@pinarozger.com

Twilio is basically forcing its VoIP calls to take that most direct route through its regional communications nodes. The end result is better call quality through fewer dropped packets, less jitter, and less crosstalk caused by the delay in the time a word is spoken and heard by the listener.

Twilio has been using the technique in its VoIP transport network for the last 18 months – as do many other telecom providers – but the beta will expand GLL to end-to-end VoIP calls made through any browser.

For example, a company like Airbnb – which happens to be one of Twilio’s customers for SMS communications – could allow renters and hosts to finalize details of a booking through browser-based voice chat. If both parties are, say, chatting in the same city in Spain, it makes little sense to route the call over the Atlantic to Twilio’s point of presence in the U.S. Instead, the call would go through the nearest European node.

Twilio, however, thinks the biggest benefit of the service will be for its growing base of enterprise customers, which are using its simple APIs to set up business communications networks. So in the case of an enterprise collaboration tool, a remote employee working a few miles away from HQ will get a more direct line into the office, rather than see his conversations routed all over the world.

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