Just finished reading a very interesting post on “How To Start A VoiceSite With Rs. 1 Lakh” by Veerchand Bothra from Netcore. Bothra writes that, apart from content, all one needs is Rs. 65000 ($1625) to acquire an E1 line (with 32 connections), Rs. 8000 ($200) per month to operate it, Rs. 35000 for a server and the open source application Asterisk to run the service. I’d mentioned asterisk earlier here in the context of using it for Voice over Internet Protocol, but there are issues around terminating a VoIP connection in a public service telephone network (PSTN) in India. That issue doesn’t apply to the use of asterisk for a Voice Portal.
Bothra believes that Asterisk is to Voice Portals, what Apache has been to websites. He believes that there’s a critical mass for voice based services now, making STD or local calls is no longer expensive, the billing system has been put into place, and payment mechanisms have evolved as well. A very interesting read, here. Why it interests me is because voice portals have been critical for some VAS players in the market – particularly OnMobile and One97; this has historically been a high margin business, and this revelation, if true, could lead to a commoditization of the voice portal business. I think there will still be one significant issue – that of marketing the service, but imagine what this could do for local and regional voice related services. Mobile currently provides a closed loop – the telco collects the money from the consumer for using these services, so that’s another issue for a service running billing independent of a telco.
What’s your take on this piece – Do you think such voice sites will work? Has Bothra missed out on some of the issues with setting up and running a voice portal? Do let us know