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GotVoice: the SMTP of Voice Mail.

Mike Arrington has written about GotVoice, a service that collects all of your voice mail into one inbox.  It does this by calling each of your voice mail systems periodically throughout the day, and collecting the voice mail from them.  Conceptually, this is just like have one email client poll multiple SMTP servers, and collect your email.  Except, of course, that this is far more primitive.

Returning to Carl Ford’s feature interaction post, this is a perfect candidate for passing a call off net to a third party.  In a SIP world, if I choose to use a third party voice mail provider, then the network proxy should simply route the call to my chosen voice mail provider.  Traditionally, UM systems have offered the opposite functionality; they grab an unanswered call back from the network, and force it to the UM system.  They do this because of inconsistent feature implementations on networks.  For instance, in the GSM world the network can be programmed (by end users, no less!) to offer different behaviour and different voice mail systems on call forward busy, call forward no answer, or call forward.  No such facility exists in the PSTN.  GotVoice takes a polling approach, which is workable but will incur network charges to poll and retrieve the voice mails.  The best approach would be to have the voice mail all deposited on the server of the customers choice from the beginning.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Andrew June 5, 2006, 4:18 am

    "which is workable but will incur network charges to poll and retrieve the voice mails."

    Do you mean wireless network charges? As far as I can see, they can poll my (generally Octel, or some Lucent derivative) box via PSTN provided I give them my PIN, so they shouldn't incur network charges (negligable if any)

    Your point isn't lost, I agree with you. If carriers operated on platforms VXML/SIP etc., and didn't rely on proprietary messaging gear, they would be open to third party solutions for a variety of vendors ie: LD deregulation, it woudl actually increase revenue in the long term and create partners rather than competitors.

  • Alec June 5, 2006, 4:32 am

    Even if they're not paying for wireless minutes (which I agree, is unlikely), they're still going to be paying for PSTN charges. For a free service, even small PSTN charges are an expense.

  • Carl Ford June 5, 2006, 12:53 pm


    Thanks for the discussion and you bring up good points. IMHO the issue on UM's is state. Scott Bradner would tell me I should be able to use a cookie to when voice mail is left behind. I dont have to poll and in theory the presentity of my voice mail box could be marked available, once.

    More on Jeff's Blog.

    Kind Regards,


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