Recently, I have come across some interesting outbound IVR ( Interactive Voice Response System) implementation. While it may not be the best outbound IVR arrangement, but it sure is the cheapest and most reliable in the circumstances in India. Just to mention, majority of the outbound IVR applications dial out a number, plays a recorded message and disconnect. It does not capture any response from the called party.
How is this outbound IVR implemented ?
It uses a EPABX ( Electronic Private Automatic Branch Exchange ) which has minimum one PRI card in it as well as few FXO/CO lines. Then it uses normal SIM ( Subscriber Identity Module) of all available GSM operators available in India ( GSM Cards available on many EPABX models in India). There are also few equipment called “E1 PRI ISDN GSM Gateway” which allows connecting multiple SIMs at one end and E1/PRI link at the other.
Apart from this, it uses normal CTI board with E1/PRI connectivity and one smart outbound IVR with database connectivity.
Now, the role of the smart outbound IVR is :
1. The outbound IVR is designed such that it is able to detect the operator once it picks the phone number from database to make an outbound call.
2. Once it detects the operator, it seizes a channel from CTI board which corresponds to the SIM of the same operator in the “E1 PRI ISDN GSM Gateway”. So, it uses the same operator SIM to make the outbound call. If it is landline number, it uses the FXO/CO line to make outbound call!
So, at the end, it is just a very smart ‘least cost routing’ feature available in many EPABX models!
How does t benefit ?
In India, operators have various tariff plans where one can make unlimited calls anywhere across the country in its same network. For example, an Airtel Mobile subscriber can make unlimited number of calls to any other Airtel number all across India. If it is not unlimited, then it is very big number for a fixed cost.
Whereas, if one uses normal PRI or E1 links from telecom operators, they do not have this kind of tariff for users. So, making he outgoing calls from SIMs than PRI lines are much cheaper than making outbound calls from PRI lines.
Big call centers or hosted IVR providers may subscribe to PRI lines from all telecom operators, but the the hardware and software cost will also be enormous, apart from maintenance problems. So, it is observed that, many people are using this kind of arrangement for making outbound Bulk voice calls.
While talking to some telecom operators, they have no idea about this practice. Some people had told me about demerits of using SIM to make calls like network congestion, signal problems etc!
This is quite interesting implementation of outbound IVR in India!