Changes to call charges to UK 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers

This summer the communications regulator Ofcom is introducing a new initiative called UK Calling. UK Calling has been designed to make it clearer and easier for everyone to understand how much it costs to make a call from consumer mobiles and landlines to all 0845, 087, 09  and 118 numbers (also known as ‘service numbers’).

From 1st July 2015, the cost of calling all 0845, 087, 09  and 118 numbers will be made up of two parts:

  • An access charge: This part of the call charge goes to your phone company, charged as pence per minute.
  • A service charge: This is the rest of the call charge. The organisation you’re calling decides how much you will be charged and will tell you this.

When numbers are printed or advertised on websites you will see a message like this to communicate to you the service charge for that number.

“Calls cost XXp [or XXp per minute] plus your phone company’s access charge.”

Ofcom is requiring all major phone companies, including Voxhub, to introduce these changes. The access charge from Voxhub will be 3p +VAT per minute. Voxhub has no control over the service charge part of the costs.

Other points to note:

  • The changes do not affect calls made to ordinary landline numbers (01, 02), 03 numbers or mobile (07) numbers.
  • Neither do they affect calls made from payphones, international calls, or calls to the UK when roaming overseas.
  • All calls to Freephone numbers (which begin 0800 or 0808) we be made free from mobile phones, just as they are from landlines.
  • If you operate any 084 or 087 numbers you will need to ensure that your service charge is clearly displayed wherever you advertise or promote the number. The service charge must be prominent and in close proximity to the number.

To find out more, go to

Posted in Industry, News, Voxhub

WebRTC: Game changer or time waster?

At this coming weeks European VoIP Summit, I am speaking on the panel titled, WebRTC – Game changer or time waster? This is a subject that has been discussed to death over the last couple of years at industry gatherings. The title of the panel discussion seems to indicate that some are beginning to tire with WebRTC.

I am not sure how it happened but at some point WebRTC has been implanted into the industry psyche as a wonder technology that will be a huge disruptor in telecoms. I think that a lot of this hype emanates from ‘thought leaders’ like Dean Bubley whose Disruptive Analysis blog introduced many to WebRTC. Dean’s early reporting of WebRTC should have woken people up to the technology but I cannot help but wonder that anyone still undecided by it’s importance might be those that will be sitting it out.

The format of panels makes it difficult to discuss a topic in any real detail. So just in case my panel session does not give me the chance or you are not attending this weeks VoIP summit, here are some of my thoughts on WebRTC and who I think is best placed to benefit from the technology.

WebRTC is a user to user technology, it connects two or more people at the browser level and provides the plumbing to then share text, video and audio content directly. The obvious uses are instant messaging, conference applications and voice calls but there are a multitude of uses where WebRTC can add features to existing services. Regardless of the application, there must exist a strong user model to form the foundation of any WebRTC application. So service providers without a strong user model will find it difficult to capitalise on WebRTC. The majority of VoIP providers and channel resellers that I know in the UK have focussed on providing telephone replacement services and have little or no multi-user based services provided by web interfaces. They lack the foundations to build WebRTC services. Online services providers with a social media focus, community sites or those that have a strong user model are better placed to provide WebRTC based services. Communities like LinkedIn for example. Our team at Voxhub developed a strong user telephony model right from the beginning and this has meant that we have found it relatively easy to incorporate WebRTC into our existing services.

WebRTC is a developer technology, it adds capabilities to the browser that opens up a world of applications that otherwise required cumbersome and proprietary plugins to achieve the same result. Competent JavaScript developers can bring their existing skills to WebRTC. This greatly increases the number of people that can create WebRTC applications. In my opinion the World Wide Web exists today only because it was easy for people to write HTML. The greater the number of people that can get involved, the greater the potential and chances of success for a technology. JavaScript is slowly becoming the dominant programming language on the Internet. So it will be online service providers and those with strong development teams that will be best placed to capitalise on WebRTC. It often amazes me at the VoIP industry events how few people I meet are from Internet software backgrounds or have any development ambitions further than their own online management portals. The telecom industries’ reliance on selling rather than developing is a huge weakness. The whole channel market relies on selling products and services developed by other people. So perhaps it is those with reliance on others to develop or provide WebRTC services for them that view it as a time waster?

WebRTC is an enabling technology. It is just one important component that goes towards the overall movement of software replacing and enhancing traditional markets. At the moment everyone in the telecoms industry is concerned with service differentiators, WebRTC provides an opportunity to develop those differences but only to companies that are prepared to invest in service and software development. WebRTC might prove to be a game changer for some but in my opinion the game changer for the industry is software.

Posted in Uncategorized

10 Years: Hello Ofcom

Before we started Voxhub it wasn’t our first thought to pay a visit to Ofcom. We were Internet people and had never had any need for dealings with the Telecom regulator.

I had been reintroduced to VoIP technology by a friend, Daniel Pocock, in the early part of 2004. When I last tried it in 2002 it looked promising but had not captured my interest as something that was ready for widespread use. Daniel wanted to start a VoIP wholesale business and at the time I was still trying to clear my commitments to start work on Voxhub.

Daniel needed to apply for telephone numbers through Ofcom and although this process is reasonably straight forward at the application level he was concerned that he had to justify the application. You were given blocks of 10,000 numbers for each area code and the 0207 area for example was running low. Daniel really wanted this area code as it represented a large target audience for his customers.

At that time, I can confess to knowing very little about how the UK Telecom market operated at a technical, process or business level. I had been one of the few that had worked already for 10 years in the Internet industry which was pretty rare at the time. I knew domain names and how they operated, so I assumed that the central process of allocating and managing numbers would be very similar.

Daniel invited me along to his Ofcom meeting as an example of a potential wholesale customer for the numbers.

The meeting seemed to be going well. However, as the meeting went on it became apparent that we were being pushed away from our original goal of applying for new numbers. One of the Ofcom team was a porting specialist and he was adamant that we needed to focus on porting since most people wanting services already had telephone numbers. He also gave us the impression that porting was something that was very straightforward to do.

Fantastic, I had learnt some useful facts about telephone numbers from the experts and helped Daniel have his application granted. A perfect day.

STOP, present day reader. All is not as it seems. This appears to be story of hopeful people, getting advice and heading off in to the future with everything they need to provide new and innovative services to the market.

Roll forward six months to just before we launched Voxhub. Daniel had his number allocation, they were however not live on the UK telephone network though due to the time it takes to get new number ranges up and running. Porting seemed like a distant dream too with no movement from any other communications provider Daniel had contacted. We had some 0845 numbers but these were only good for testing.

Roll forward another six months. The 0207 numbers were live for Daniel. However, we needed a full UK coverage of just over 600 area codes and porting to be able to continue.

We had hit our first major stumbling block. We needed numbers and the ability to port numbers that had been explained to us as a simple thing to do by Ofcom. Our loyalties to Daniel were being stretched as he couldn’t supply what we needed. So we started to look elsewhere.

What we discovered was that other companies were also finding it difficult. One in particular, Magrathea, had got further with porting. They had about 20 area codes due to be ready for porting any day but only for BT numbers. Although, this turned out to still be another 3 months.

So with porting being such an important process and it being so simple. Why is it that Magrathea took another 3 years to get porting working for all area codes with just BT?

Daniel was forced to give up his wholesale dreams and is now a leading contributor to open source telephony and Debian Linux. We ended up buying his wholesale business so we could continue to operate his telephone numbers.

Roll forward to 2015. Ofcom are still the regulator for our industry and have played a largely observer role in number porting. It is my opinion that number porting in the UK has actually gone backwards over the last ten years. During 2014 Voxhub had significant problems porting with BT IPExchange which seems to have been set up as a service with no thought to number porting.

I will come back to porting in a future blog post with some ideas that I think could improve the processes for both consumers and providers.

Posted in Industry, Voxhub

2015 is 10 years of Voxhub

It is hard to imagine what we have been doing all this time, but it was 10 years ago this year that Chris Young and myself started Voxhub.

The actual anniversary date depends what you consider to be the event that marks it all. The service launched on the 14th of February 2005, the domain was registered on the 24th December 2004 and work was started from the end of the summer before that. Personally, I think our launch date represents the real anniversary, as it was then that the first customers came on board.

Looking back to 2005, we knew it was going to be hard work but we didn’t know what we were really getting in to on the Telecoms side of things. As Chris and I sat down to begin developing the service, our Internet focused experience and approach was about to clash with the regulated and anti competitive practices of the Telecoms market.

Our initial goals focused around building a Web App that would control your telephones, give you greater flexibility with browser controls, freedom to work anywhere and ultimately did much more than a traditional phone system. Back then we were used to phones being fixed devices that were constrained by out of date phone systems, in-flexible communications companies and decades old public telephone exchanges. We wanted something different and that was what we started with as our idea. To achieve this we have had to become both a telephone network and an Internet company in one, with a lot more work on the infrastructure than we originally planned for.

Over the coming months I will write some more about what we have been up to over the last 10 years, look at how things have changed, how some things in the industry are still holding us back and look forward to what we will be doing over the coming years.

When the 14th of February 2015 arrives Voxhub will be 10 years old.

Posted in Voxhub

Known Future Ltd becomes Served Up Ltd

Our service is called Voxhub but our Limited company name since 2002 has been Known Future Ltd

After 10 years as Known Future Ltd we decided that we wanted a name that better fits the type of business we are now. We chose Served Up Ltd. since we are a service creation company and we already had the domain name!

We will continue to focus day to day on our Voxhub service but we intend to introduce new services under the name of Served Up Ltd one day in the next 10 years.

The official date at companies house for the name change was the 3rd June 2013. Our company number remains the same and nothing has changed apart from the name.

If you require more information about this change please call us on 020 3030 3000

Posted in Uncategorized

Voxhub win ITSPA 2013 Awards

At this years ITSPA awards we were finalists for the Best Business ITSP (Medium Enterprise) and Most Innovative Service awards.

At the awards ceremony held at the Houses of Parliament we won the award for Most Innovative Service and received Highly Commended runner up in the business category.

We won the innovation award for our Voxtop Apps Platform. It was fantastic to be recognised for our hard work with Voxtop and to have been selected from a list of finalists that had very impressive entries.

If you are a customer and want to know more about Voxtop then take a look at the Voxtop website or give us a call. At the moment it is free for existing customers.

More Information

Posted in Uncategorized

We are finalists in the 2013 ITSPA Awards

The finalists for the 2013 Internet Telephone Service Providers Association (ITSPA) have been announced today.

Voxhub are finalists again in the Best Business ITSP (Medium Enterprise) category. We might have won this award in 2012 but whatever happens on the day it is great to be a finalist.

We are also finalists in the Most Innovative VoIP Product/Service category for our Voxtop Apps Platform.

Best of luck to all the finalists at the event which will be held at the House of Commons on the 6th of March 2013.

More information available at the ITSPA Awards Website

Posted in Uncategorized