Two parts of the release explain a bit about what is going on:
The "Phone In" and "Phone Out" service will enable consumers to make high-quality, low-cost PC-to-phone and phone-to-PC voice calls over the JAJAH network to more than 200 countries using Yahoo! Messenger, the leading instant messenger application in the United States with nearly 97 million users worldwide (comScore, February 2008).
Since 2006, Yahoo! Messenger users have been able to use "Phone In" and "Phone Out" to make and receive voice calls on their PC to and from landline and mobile phones. With low rates and premium voice quality, users can talk for hours and save on their phone bill. This deal means JAJAH will take over the provision of the telephony infrastructure, payment processing, and customer care for Yahoo!'s premium voice users who make and receive voice calls through Yahoo! Messenger.
So essentially Yahoo is centralizing all the PSTN interconnection for Yahoo!Voice with Jajah. I don't know what their infrastructure was previously. If I had to guess I would say it was probably a series of SIP gateways connected out to various SIP service providers who provided the PSTN connectivity. In today's environment that would seem to be the logical way to set it up. Now, though, Yahoo appears to be simply outsourcing the entire PSTN-interconnect side of operations over to Jajah.
What will be interesting to see is how this might work for existing Jajah customers. Will Yahoo!Voice customers be able to call Jajah customers at no (or low) charge? And vice versa? Will Jajah's various web integrations such as "click-to-call" now be able to work with Yahoo!Voice customers? There are some interesting integration ideas that could happen here. We'll see what emerges.
Given that Jajah just announced today it's managed service offering, having a brand like Yahoo as their first customer is a huge win! On today's Squawk Box podcast (recorded at 11am Eastern US time), we're going to talk to Jajah co-founder Roman Scharf about what this all means. In advance of the call, Alec Saunders has posted these charts from Jajah that show their platform:
and their VoiP backend:
Between that and the information in their news release, it sounds like quite an interesting set of services.
The reality is that as much as many of us want to completely bypass the PSTN and have an all-IP network, we're going to have this beast known as the PSTN around for quite a long time and companies will be needed who can provide the best possible interconnection between the two and manage the integration as the evolution toward IP continues. Jajah clearly aims to be a player in bridging those worlds.
If you'd like to discuss this more - or simply listen in to the discussion - please do join us on today's Squawk Box. It's a live call-in conference call recorded at 11am Eastern US time. It's controlled through Iotum's "FREE Conference Calls" Facebook application which the link to the show provides information about how to install. It should be a fun discussion!
[Full disclosure: My employer, Voxeo, does provide hosting (including PSTN connectivity) for voice applications which may or may not compete with pieces of Jajah's vision (I don't know yet).]