Disrupting with simplicity

Comms Business caught up with Graeme Geddes, head of Zoom Phone & Rooms, to find out more about the company’s evolving call routing and management options.

Zoom Phone, the cloud phone service from Zoom Video Communications, recently expanded the footprint of its PSTN service. It also launched a new, simplified plan for companies with offices across the globe. Zoom Phone is now available in 40 countries. New additions are in the EU (14), Latin America (9), and Asia-Pacific (3).

Graeme Geddes, head of Zoom Phone & Rooms, explained its aim is to “help customers consolidate their cloud video conferencing and telephony needs into a single solution.”

That means replacing legacy telephony systems with Zoom Phone. The company can offer this, Geddes explained, because “Zoom has a global backbone of 18 different data centres, network connectivity, and interconnects”. This newer offering leverages all of that previous work, as Zoom Phone uses the same architecture as the video conferencing platform.

Starting with video software and adding voice has advantages. Geddes explained that “it’s a lot easier to go from video down to voice from an architecture perspective. It’s not as easy to do that the other way round.”

The vision

Zoom Phone has a mission to untangle the world of global telephony. Geddes said, “We’re really pushing the boundaries of how we blend these worlds together in a really seamless way. If I’m on a phone call, I can push one button and escalate into a video meeting. Or if I receive an inbound call and I want to transfer someone into a meeting, rather than saying ‘Please hang up, here’s some details to join the meeting’ – why can’t I just conference them in? We’re really looking to blend these two worlds together.”

This might be the vision, but Zoom is realistic about business readiness to migrate entirely to the cloud. In the near-term, some end-users will require hardware integrations. Geddes said, “We work with folks like Yealink and Poly to support people that still need desk devices – particularly in verticals like retail, hospitality, and financial services. Not everyone is ready to move to softphone only, so we also have our hardware partners.”

Zoom has recently addressed some security and privacy concerns. Geddes said, “Zoom takes [security] extremely seriously and we’ve been doing a lot of investments in this area. [Zoom Phone is] not a separate product, it’s part of the same architecture – so the benefits of all of the investments we’ve made extend into our phone service as well. For example, we did an encryption update to the platform back in May where we moved our cypher, from a technical perspective, from ECB to GCM. That extended across the entire platform. The phone service, for any of our Zoom clients, is leveraging GCM 256.”

These security upgrades have trickled into Zoom’s hardware partnerships. Geddes explained that Zoom has worked with desk phone providers to move from 128-bit encryption to 256-bit encryption, something that he says had not been done before.

When asked whether he anticipates most Zoom Phone signups will come from existing Zoom users, or those replacing traditional phone lines, Geddes took a balanced view. He said, “I would say we originally anticipated our big base of video customers [might see Zoom Phone as] a natural extension of their existing platform. But more recently we’re seeing a tremendous amount of growth from customers that are brand new to the Zoom platform and are coming in with a full-scale replacement of their existing services – both voice and video at the same time.”

Shifting the industry

Zoom Phone has also launched a new option for customers when procuring telephony services. This is particularly significant for companies with operations in numerous territories around the globe, where there were usually two options: on-premise with complex hardware and local carrier contracts in each market, or with other cloud providers that offered complicated plans or were tied to specific geographies.

Geddes explained that the company set out to “disrupt with simplicity”. The new global select plan allows businesses to buy a single plan to service 43 different countries and territories. This is costed at a single price per user, with unlimited domestic calling, and a local phone number. This simple plan with a single price across markets, Geddes said, is “really disruptive in the market”.

Zoom Phone has also launched an international calling add-on that lets users make unlimited international calls to over 18 different countries for a single price per user.

When asked what future expansions might look like, Geddes gave a measured answer. The company would like local dial-tones in every region, but this is based on costs. “There are other vendors out there that have global calling options, but they are at a price point where no one ever buys it. Zoom has taken a different philosophy where our 18-country unlimited international calling add-on is extremely fairly priced. It’s an attractive option for customers that make a lot of international calls. [The service is] starting with 18 but the hope is that, over time, we would include additional countries within it.

“We’re not stopping here. Our goal is to continue to add and expand into different countries and territories. As we add additional locations, the intent is to fold them within that big global plan.”

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Charlotte Hathway

Charlotte is the editor of Comms Business and writes content to inform and educate the Channel about the latest technology and business developments from across the industry. Prior to her current role, she wrote for other MA Business titles New Electronics, Land Mobile and Critical Communications Today. Before moving into journalism, she spent five years working in public relations and has worked with various technology companies spanning telecommunications, cyber security and software development.

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