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Jajah One Step Closer to Free Calls
Robin Joseph Mathews
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Jajah, a Silicon Valley company that strives to lead the next generation of communication (VoIP 2.0) is leading an initiative for the Indian Diaspora. The company has been servicing India since it serviced its launch in 2006. The new initiative provides calls between India and North America and the U.K. at a cost of just 7.30 cents or Rs 3.20 per minute, far less than most telecom rates. The company’s “global community” phone services will be introduced soon which will connect family members, friends, and business partners in India to the large NRI community abroad.

Jajah’s lead investors include Sequoia, Globespan Capital Partners, T-Online Ventures (Deutsche Telecom) and Intel capital.

Venky Ganesan, Managing Director, Globespan Capital Partners, the firm that invests in information technology companies, proclaims “By harnessing the intelligence of the Internet, and delivering superior quality, economical phone service over any phone, Jajah is helping Indians all over the world to connect in the most sensible way.”

The salient point of the service is that no phone cards, telephone headsets, no hidden fees nor service contracts are required; consumers can make calls over any existing landline or mobile phone. With a free account on jajah.com, the company’s website, the call can be initiated. The caller’s phone will ring and a voice prompt will tell that Jajah is connecting the call. To make a call on smart-phones like Blackberry, Treo and others one has to visit mobile.Jajah.com and enter the number to be called or click on a contact in the address book to place a long distance, or international call.

Jajah is set to revolutionize the Indian telephone market. It is not unduly concerned of the low Internet penetration in the country. The initial target market comprises of the 5 million strong NRI communities in North America and the U.K. Their families, friends, and business associates in India will add up another 10-15 million to this number. These people are mostly technocrats, professionals, and businessmen, and already make use of the Internet for business and personal communications. Meanwhile, the Internet usage in India is rapidly increasing in the metro areas and is expanding at a fast rate into the semi-urban areas and small towns. This in concert with the high growth of smart phones will fuel Jajah’s growth.

The company is also working on new solutions that wouldn’t require an Internet connection to make a Jajah call. It hopes to demolish the barriers in global communication through innovation, technology convergence, and device ubiquity.
“Our long term commitment is to make voice free. Our program for the global Indian community is a powerful step in that direction,” says Roman Scharf, CEO and co-founder of Jajah.

Ganesan has played a key role in ringing in the new ‘telephone service’ into India. A successful entrepreneur himself, he combines the expertise of an entrepreneur with that of an investor.

Ganesan claims, “The next 36 months will redefine what we know about global communication today. I am convinced that Jajah will be leading this change.”

The company began its operations in early 2006 and it already has 2 million users, and it says that it has a capacity to handle a whopping 4 billion customers. The telecom scenario in India, like the one in the global arena, is one where the Internet will play an increasingly important role with bringing down the cost of calls before becoming nil, if it ever happens, and it is Jajah’ ambition to drive this revolution.

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