Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo


Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

A new Internet protocol (IP) voice network was launched this week by of Cary, NC. The company hopes to attract businesses interested in advanced features, such as the ability to make one phone number ring several phones, but who don’t want to pay for all the old phone infrastructure. It already has one very big customer: Google Voice.’s chief technology officer, T.R. Missner, says the fundamental advantage of his company’s network is that it’s not bound by any legacy technologies, such as switches, used by the traditional phone system. Missner says that switches can create idiosyncracies in a network, leading to better or worse service depending on geography. But an all-IP voice network, such as’s FlexNetwork, should offer consistent services everywhere, he says.

Though says it built this network and owns it, in today’s world, that doesn’t mean the company laid any cable. Instead, it involves weaving together a system of Internet circuits, IP routing technologies, and connections to other telephone providers. “The hardest part and the longest pull is the interconnections with all of the various [carriers],” Missner says.

The FlexNetwork also offers interfaces that customers can use to write voice applications that take advantage of the network’s features. It can provide its customers with local phone numbers in any part of the U.S., for example. makes money by charging customers for those phone numbers, or minutes served.

Missner declined to talk specifically about Google Voice, but FCC filings from earlier this year reveal that provides the backbone for the service, which offers users one number that can be used to reach all their phones, and provides a number of additional features such as voice-mail transcription and the ability to receive text messages as e-mails.

Ifbyphone, a phone automation services company based in Skokie, IL, also uses’s network. Ifbyphone CEO Irv Shapiro says that the introduction of all-IP networks allows businesses to “treat the telephone like we treat a Web browser.” He explains that, just as companies can build applications that automate services for their customers through a Web browser, similar applications can now be delivered over the phone.

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Tagged: Computing, Communications, networks, networking, telecommunication, VOIP, voice, Google voice

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives


Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me