Illinois Eavesdropping Bill Garners Controversy

An Illinois eavesdropping bill has passed both the Illinois House and Senate, which makes it a class 3 felony to record other people’s private conversations with police officers. Though the law was meant to offer citizens more leeway when it comes to free speech, detractors say the law is too vague to be immune to misuse by law enforcement looking to cover up bad behavior.

The bill passed with overwhelming, bipartisan majority votes in both houses; 106-7 in the House on and 46-4-1 in the Senate. It says that unlawfully recording a private conversation with police or an attorney general, assistant attorney general, state's attorney, assistant state's attorney or judge is now a class 3 felony that is punishable by two to four years in prison. Illegal call or video recording of a private citizen is now a class 4 felony, which earns the offender one to three years in prison.

The legislation was intended to replace a previous eavesdropping law that had been struck down by the state Supreme Court, which did make it a crime for citizens to record conversations with police or anyone else without the other person's permission.

According to the court’s ruling, that law "criminalize[d] a wide range of innocent conduct" and violated free-speech rights. In particular, the court noted the state could not criminalize recording activities where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Even though it was intended to make things better, in the post-Ferguson era, the bill drew swift and sharp criticism from some corners.

“There's only one apparent reason for imposing a higher penalty on people who record police in particular: to make people especially afraid to record police,” said the Free Thought Project. “That is not a legitimate purpose.”

However, it’s important to note that the law doesn’t prohibit all recording of police interactions with citizens, but is rather tied to privacy expectations. It makes it a felony to surreptitiously record any “private conversation,” which it defines as any “oral communication between two or more persons,” where at least one person involved had a “reasonable expectation” of privacy. Citizens' public encounters with police would not be covered under the law, and are therefore legal.

The issue here is clarity as to what constitutes “public” and “private” interactions.

“Citizens can’t be expected to know for sure precisely which situations give rise to an expectation of privacy and which don’t,” said IllinoisPolicy.org, in a posting. “The Illinois Supreme Court said that police don’t have an expectation of privacy in ‘public’ encounters with citizens, but it did not explain what counts as a ‘public’ encounter. So if this bill becomes law, people who want to be sure to avoid jail time will refrain from recording police at all, and the law will therefore still effectively prevent people from recording police.”

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Call Center Giant Has Big Plans for Utah Expansion

Call Center Giant Has Big Plans for Utah Expansion

December 23, 2014

inContact, a leading provider of cloud contact center software and contact center agent optimization tools, is known throughout the industry for its rapid expansion and growth. As such, the company is emphasizing that good news with the announcement of its latest project, a nearly 350,000 square foot campus and headquarters in Sandy, Utah.


“inContact's explosive growth during the past two years, which has seen the company double in size to almost 1,000 employees, along with the expectation of similar expansion in the near future, is the primary driving force behind inContact Center,” the company noted in a release. According to published reports, Raddon Development and Workers Compensation Fund will begin building the campus in early 2015, with an expected completion of the first structure by March, 2016.

"In the last year, inContact grew the employee base by 28 percent in Utah, and by 65 percent overall throughout the U.S. and the world," noted Paul Jarman, CEO at inContact. "With the construction of inContact Center, we plan to create a world-class employee experience with room to grow into the 2020s."

The new campus will begin with a 125,000-square-foot building with plans to include two additional buildings for a total of more than 350,000 square feet of office space throughout the project. To accommodate the influx of new people to the area, inContact Center, as it will be called, will feature a four-story parking structure with 1,093 spaces in addition to street-level parking lots and spaces.

News of the project was greeted with enthusiasm by city leaders.

"We could not be more pleased to welcome inContact as a key corporate partner in our recently unveiled city center, The Cairns," said Tom Dolan (News - Alert), mayor of Sandy City. "The corporate headquarters of inContact will provide much-needed and well-paying jobs in a development that will be a true live, work, and play atmosphere with a variety of retail and restaurant choices, ready access to transit, residential options and outdoor amenities, all within walking distance of their front door."

VoIP Helps Grow Franchised Businesses Without Headaches

VoIP Helps Grow Franchised Businesses Without Headaches

December 23, 2014

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, Business VoIP Contributor

When the history books are written about the most important technologies that helped small businesses compete with and even get ahead of large companies, there’s a good chance that voice over IP will make the list. For a growing business, traditional phone service often represents a significant cost, and its questionable flexibility means the company is always running to catch up with its telephony needs. Voice over IP (VoIP), of course, is inexpensive and highly scalable, allowing companies that are growing and expanding to add capacity and capabilities.

In a recent blog post, VoIP solutions provider Nextiva profiled its customers MaidPro, a residential and commercial cleaning service founded in Massachusetts in 1991. The company is in the process of expanding its franchise business, and as a result, it had significant telephony needs.

“When we originally built our model, the only option was to get copper,” said Jeff Wechsler, VP of R&D and Technology at MaidPro. “To be able to handle multiple calls simultaneously, you’d have to get multiple lines, and it became very expensive and cumbersome.”

Its goal was to provide franchisees with easy to use and easy to set up telephone service. Nextiva’s service can be activated by simply plugging an IP phone into an Internet connection, which means a franchise can be up and running on the same day, and it can have access to the kind of support it needs to avoid having to cope with IT-related headaches. According to Wechsler, the company is charged a flat monthly rate payment structure instead of being charged per-minute, which has improved their franchisees’ profit margins. These features have led to greater usability for franchises, who are better able to concentrate on growing their business rather than wrestling with phone service.

“One of the real benefits we’ve always found with Nextiva is that their infrastructure is designed in such a way that it makes it very usable for franchised and distribution organizations,” he explained, noting that franchises that require support can simply call Nextiva’s Support Team for immediate assistance.

For growing businesses or those that have strongly seasonal or cyclical needs, a well-supported cloud-based voice over IP solution sold by a company that act like a true business partner can be an invaluable tool for saving money, boosting efficiency and providing employees and customers with access to advanced telephony features at affordable prices. In a franchised business such as MaidPro, the need for flexible telephony becomes easy to handle, as opposed to the complicated, expensive nightmare it would be with traditional telephone systems. 

Edited by Alisen Downey

Stream Offers a Look Back at 2014

Stream Offers a Look Back at 2014

December 23, 2014

Recently, TMC had the opportunity to pick Stream Technology’s brain on the innovations we saw in 2014 from the creators of the first-of-its-kind IoT-X connectivity solution.

Stream’s William Podrasky takes us through the paces of the year that was for Stream and the IoT: 

TMC: What are some highlights of 2014 for your company?

William Podrasky: IoT-X is an industry-first, multi-connectivity management platform. It supports cellular, satellite low power and wide area networks (Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Bluetooth…). The platform represents a powerful and disruptive technology that enables Service Providers to manage any connectivity regardless of protocol, and to monetize all the connectivity needs of their customers.

IoT-X is also an API driven integration, enabling quick and low-cost implementation.  IoT-X requires little to no Capex cost and the per-connection fee is highly attractive, so Service Providers can extend their M2M/IoT business capabilities with minimal investment. IoT-X’s flexibility is such that it can work with any incumbent management platform, extending its capabilities, and uniting disparate platforms, or as a standalone platform fulfilling the M2M/IoT needs of a Service Provider/Carrier.  

IoT-X opens up Stream’s management technologies and backhaul infrastructure to Service Providers (Cellular, Satellite, Low Power) and Multinational Corporations, and coupled with an industry leading service enablement platform, global connectivity and an eco-system of best of breed IoT partners, IoT-X delivers a comprehensive solution set to Service Providers and Enterprises. IoT-X, Powered by Stream, is a new breed of collaborative network Enabler.

TMC: What were some obstacles or challenges you faced in 2014? 

WP: Stream is seeing tremendous demand for its services in the M2M/IoT market, so ensuring we prioritize our resources to respond to the global demand is the key focus for Stream. In addition, there is much confusion in the market surrounding the IoT. This creates challenges when engaging with customers and partners that are often misinformed on the process and components to build an end-to-end M2M/IoT solution.

TMC: What were the top IoT connectivity solution trends and innovations this year?

WP: In 2014, the IoT industry started to realize the need to support devices across a range of communication protocols. If the IoT is going to reach the projections of billions of connected devices, then the critical connectivity support layer cannot be fractionalized around silos of enablement platforms; there has to be a cohesive solution across cellular, satellite and low power to enable the scalability required to meet the IoT potential

TMC: How do you think the industry improved this year? What are some challenges that companies overcame?

WP: The IoT is a conversation in every boardroom and executive strategy meeting. This has raised the visibility and opportunity for all companies serving the IoT. We are in the early stages of a multi-year growth acceleration in the IoT as the IoT becomes pervasive across every market in the world. Companies no longer have to educate their market on the IoT and its potential value, but there is much work ahead to help distill the enormous amounts of information regarding the IoT into relevancy for their target markets and customers.

TMC: What are some technologies that you are particularly excited about that were introduced or really highlighted in 2014?

WP: The Data Exchange model that wot.io introduced is a game changer for the IoT. ARM’s mbedOS is a compelling effort to deliver a solution stack for the IoT. Stream’s IoT-X as noted above is the next generation of IoT connectivity enablement platforms.

2014 was a big year for the IoT, big data and all things connected. 2015 is ready to be an even bigger year for Stream and IoT development. If the many predictions are true, we’ve only just begun.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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New HQ Planned for inContact

December 23, 2014

inContact, a leading provider of cloud contact center software and contact center agent optimization tools, is known throughout the industry for its rapid expansion and growth. As such, the company is emphasizing that good news with the announcement of its latest project, a nearly 350,000 square foot campus and headquarters in Sandy, Utah.

“inContact's explosive growth during the past two years, which has seen the company double in size to almost 1,000 employees, along with the expectation of similar expansion in the near future, is the primary driving force behind inContact Center,” the company noted in a release. According to published reports, Raddon Development and Workers Compensation Fund will begin building the campus in early 2015, with an expected completion of the first structure by March, 2016.

"In the last year, inContact grew the employee base by 28 percent in Utah, and by 65 percent overall throughout the U.S. and the world," noted Paul Jarman, CEO at inContact. "With the construction of inContact Center, we plan to create a world-class employee experience with room to grow into the 2020s."

The new campus will begin with a 125,000-square-foot building with plans to include two additional buildings for a total of more than 350,000 square feet of office space throughout the project. To accommodate the influx of new people to the area, inContact Center, as it will be called, will feature a four-story parking structure with 1,093 spaces in addition to street-level parking lots and spaces.

News of the project was greeted with enthusiasm by city leaders.

"We could not be more pleased to welcome inContact as a key corporate partner in our recently unveiled city center, The Cairns," said Tom Dolan (News - Alert), mayor of Sandy City. "The corporate headquarters of inContact will provide much-needed and well-paying jobs in a development that will be a true live, work, and play atmosphere with a variety of retail and restaurant choices, ready access to transit, residential options and outdoor amenities, all within walking distance of their front door."

ZTE Debuts Voice-controlled Star 2 with China Mobile RCS Support

December 23, 2014

  By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Chinese device and infrastructure powerhouse ZTE has debuted its Star 2 flagship mobile handset, a voice-controlled smartphone that can take advantage of China Mobile’s (News - Alert) VoLTE and rich communications services (RCS) network functionality.


The main wow factor is how extensive the voice functionality is. All phone calls, third-party applications and media playback can be enabled without touching the device, so users can simply speak to open, close and toggle between apps, take a picture, start a radio stream and so on. Users can also select wake-up triggers or keywords for the device to avoid making unwanted calls and the like.

Further, ZTE (News - Alert) Star 2’s voice control technology will integrate with RCS voice messaging and call features from China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile carrier by subscribers. China Mobile is in the middle of a VoLTE launch, as well as a commercial trial of RCS services. Together the initiatives open the door for offering over-the-top (OTT)-style apps as network services. Spearheaded by the GSM Association (GSMA), RCS specifications include enhanced phonebook service capabilities and enhanced contacts information such as presence and service discovery, a variety of messaging options including chat, emoticons, location-share and file-sharing, and enriched calls with multimedia content, including sharing content during a voice call, video calls and video sharing (“see what I see”) functionality. The Star 2 will allow all of this to be access and controlled in a hands-free environment.

"For ZTE's newest flagship device the goal was to offer superior voice-control functions that redefine the smartphone user experience," said Adam Zeng, executive vice president for ZTE.

The move to settle on voice control as a differentiator is something that the company has heavily invested in: The Android (News - Alert)-based handset offers platform-wide voice control and an intuitive user interface, supported by more than 1,000 patents (of which 158 are related to voice recognition). And, the company is also relying on Audience’s (News - Alert) eS704 Advanced Voice Processor and “VoiceQ” technology. The latter keeps the phone in a low-power but always listening mode to respond to verbal commands; ZTE boasts that it has a response time of 1.2 seconds and a 90 percent success rate even in noisy environments.

"Voice, as the most natural user interface, is offering a new level of disruptive capabilities that can help catalyze a new innovation cycle in the smartphone space,” said Robert Schoenfield, vice president of Greater China for Audience.

The ZTE Star 2 features a five-inch dual-layer Gorilla Glass 3 screen, 13 MP rear camera and 5 MP rear camera. It also features a Qualcomm (News - Alert) Snapdragon 801 processor with a 2.3GHz quad-core CPU and 16GB ROM, 2GB RAM internal memory and a 2300mAH battery. The Star 2 is priced at about $400.

Edited by Alisen Downey

‘Knowing is Half the Battle’: The Rise of Data and Business Intelligence

Children of the 1980s undoubtedly remember that classic ending line from the “G.I. Joe” animated series: “And knowing is half the battle!” That belief is one of the driving forces of business intelligence (BI). Since the days of G.I. Joe, BI has steadily grown, and is rapidly maturing and bringing with it an array of new uses, such as data management.


Organizations are looking for better ways to put BI to work, and as such, BI is becoming directly embedded in a lot of organizations’ standard operations. Embedded BI is on the rise, and that brings with it a lot of change in everyday operations. Smart Data Collective recently took a look at just what kind of impact this new concept was going to have in operations, and as it turned out, the potential impact was staggering.

While BI doesn't strictly need to be embedded into operations directly—indeed, stand-alone BI systems do have purposes as well—adding BI and data management to operational systems helps provide new perspective for users, a better idea of how not only that operation fits into the organization as a whole, but even, to some degree, how it works with the wider market. Embedded analytics tools open up the floor to more users, and allow more users to see what's going on in the field without having to put a lot of limits on just who can get in. If data is more readily accessible, more of the business can proceed in the same direction, instead of just going in the direction the business was last told to move in by the higher-ups in the field.  Plus, budget justification can also be simpler, as departments can tailor budgets around areas in which the company itself is moving.

Even customers can get in on the improved data, seeing where a company is going and potentially even offering input from there, which has several key benefits of its own. Customers who believe that said customers have an impact on a company's overall decision making processes are likely ready to stick with that company, believing that the company cares about the input of customers. If a customer believes that he or she is with the business that has his or her best interests at heart, the thought of proceeding to a competitor just doesn't enter the picture. Plus, with new trends emerging in the business community as a whole—like moves toward self-service operations and data discovery—the importance of embedded BI measures will only climb from there.

Of course, as is commonly the case here, we're dealing with something of a future technology, and that generally means there's some wiggle room here in terms of potential accuracy. It may take some time for embedded BI to reach its full magnitude, and it may come in fits and starts. But the idea that making more data available to the organization as a whole is a good thing is certainly a valid idea. It helps when everyone's rowing in the same direction, so to speak, and the only way to do that is to give everyone an idea of just where the company is rowing to. Indeed, knowing is half the battle, and embedded BI is the kind of thing that can make that half a lot easier to win.

Edited by Alisen Downey

Business Intelligence Hackathon API (BIHAPI) Continues to Highlight WebRTC Developer Interest

December 23, 2014

By TMCnet Special Guest
Marcin Franczyk, Front End Developer, Orange Polska

The perception among young developers, geeks and people who would like to change real-time  communications into open minded, smartly integrated and fully ready to enable further transformation of the global society, has been exposed inside BIHAPI contests.

BIHAPI (Business Intelligence Hackathon API), the contest dedicated to popularization of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) provided by telecommunications operators, the web, and smart city services, has already shown intense interest. It has come in the context of intelligent and friendly solutions, mash-ups of telecom functionalities and open data provided by the cities, which have demonstrated great opportunities and the potential for Smart Cities and their citizens that can enrich daily life.

Following that, the contest is poised to really make the changes of perception by citizens as to their understanding of what being part of a digital environment and can become. In fact, the impact will be to drive the network operators and service providers into completely new service areas.

The Web RTC communication, proposed for the contest by API, had in the background building a bridge between telecommunications networks and the web for communications services. The goal is enrichment and support of the citizens’ lives as well as inside modern industries. In short to let them to use data for their purposes and let them become more fully engaged participants in local digital society.

The WebRTC API, exposed in the BIHAPI, allows materializing this vision. Extension of the already available functions, by adding Web based interface for human and/or machine real time communication services, shows the huge potential of such data-oriented proposals.

The BIHAPI contest jury has chosen the most interesting 67 projects from more than 100 ideas. These selected projects were qualified to the 2nd stage, e.g., development. Among them, several brilliant ideas have been proposed by the creative ecosystem, using features of Web-based communication in real time (via WebRTC API).

These ideas, just to name a few, are mainly a combination of web-based audio and video communication services with user localization and online notification:

  • Active events
  • Social sharing
  • Communicator
  • Recommendations

Within this context, it can be said, that the proposed services are addressed to different groups of people: young for online communication and sharing, and older citizens for support, communication to be in touch with the family or guardians, advises or recommendations.

The final judgment and selection of winners will be known in January 2015. You can follow up on www.bihapi.pl.

Edited by Peter Bernstein

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Gigabit Network Speed Becomes Affordable Thanks to Yealink

Yealink (News - Alert) has been working on hi-tech Voice over IP (VoIP) communication terminals since 2001. The company’s products have grown to include IP video phones, IP phones, and Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT (News - Alert)) phones. Yealink has a worldwide market in more than 140 countries, successfully establishing a service network around the world. Yealink IP phones provide support for HD voice, rich telephony features, and zero-touch provisioning.

A few months ago, Yealink added the SIP-T23G Gigabit VoIP phone to its list of products. The Yealink T23G is a professional 3-line VoIP phone that offers HD Voice, a 132x64-pixel graphical backlit LCD screen and Dual-port Gigabit Ethernet. In addition to also having an intuitive interface with large, easy to use keys, it has call management features such as XML Browser, call forward and transfer, as well as 3-way conferencing. It is considered to be a perfect solution for a gigabit based network infrastructure.

Earlier this week, VoIP Supply announced that it was making the Yealink T23G available. VoIP Supply is a leading supplier of VoIP equipment as well as offering complete VoIP solutions in North America. Jeff Quinn, who is the product specialist at VoIP Supply, said "The SIP-T23G is a perfect fit for small or home offices that need a great sounding HD voice phone that's affordable, reliable and has future-proof Gigabit connectivity."

These days, we are seeing more people working from a home environment, or using their own mobile devices to constantly be on the road. Teleworking is becoming the normal way for businesses to operate, as it is a way for them to cut costs. With employees working from home, small to midsized businesses (SMBs) can cut costs on overhead and reduce the amount of time and productivity lost to commuting. One of the most important elements of teleworking is the communication system implemented to allow employees this flexibility.

Since an IP call is the same whether it is made across the street or across the country, an immediate saving that SMBs can expect to see is in their phone bills. The popularity of services such as Skype (News - Alert) has led to an explosion of VoIP programs, apps and hardware that let you bypass traditional phone switching networks in favor of digitized, over-the-internet voice calls, instant messaging and video conferencing.

There are several companies that have been working on software that is easy to use and ties in all of the services mentioned above. Because you are no longer restricted to being in the office, business executives can use telepresence and video conferencing to cut down on travel costs. The idea that you are able to include everyone that is needed for a meeting, regardless of their location, means that business decisions can be reached at quickly leading to everyone being more productive while realizing savings from various departments.

While being able to conduct business from your office or home is convenient, security is still very important. Yealink uses SIP over Transport Layer Security (TLS/SSL) for enhanced network security. The SIP-T23G is compatible with 3CX, Asterisk (News - Alert) and Broadsoft Broadworks which provides interoperability with leading soft switch suppliers.

Edited by Alisen Downey

Business Technology in 2015: NetEnrich’s Big Five Predictions

Business Technology in 2015: NetEnrich's Big Five Predictions

December 23, 2014

With 2014 on the way out—even JibJab has finally released its 2014 year in review video—and 2015 about to dawn bright and cold for most people in the northern hemisphere, the predictions are coming out hot and fast for just what's going to happen in the upcoming year as we know it. There are possibilities aplenty, of course, but for NetEnrich, the future is heavy on the information technology (IT). Thus, NetEnrich offered up projections for the upcoming 2015, with five big predictions on tap.

First, NetEnrich expects that IT will fully embrace the digitalization concept. The pace of innovation, coupled with the increasing demands of the business environment, means that IT needs to have a better handle on business processes. That can be brought about fairly simply with digitalization, since IT has a major handle on such operations to begin with. With the organization fully digitized, therefore, IT can understand much larger portions of the operation.

To that end, NetEnrich expects IT departments will be more of service providers than dictators, delivering the material that the other departments need to get the job done since IT will already be better able to see just what needs to be done in the first place. That's also going to mean a lot more in IT automation, as IT will have a lot more on its plate than its former focuses of repair and maintenance and the like. Many of those tasks will become automated, giving IT the time and resources needed to focus on growth drivers.

Additionally, NetEnrich looks for new technologies to emerge and help drive major new changes in IT infrastructure. As developments in cloud-based systems, big data mechanisms, the mobile workforce and beyond all add input to the overall operation, so too will IT need to change to accommodate these. After all, some of these will prove to be, at least in part, some of those major growth drivers discussed earlier, and IT cannot be seen as impeding growth. Finally, NetEnrich looks for niche providers to start getting heavily noticed, as that new infrastructure will require new tools not only to construct it, but also to operate it. These tools will require specific knowledge, and as such, will require specific operators to fully understand and relate that understanding to companies.

There's a wealth of possibility running through NetEnrich's predictions. While indeed, a lot of it is fairly straightforward—IT will get out of the company's way and be a growth contributor instead of informing everyone else why certain tools can't be used, and the providers of disruptive technologies will be doubly valued not only for the technology in question but also the ability to understand it and how it fits into the operation—some of it is quite unexpected. It's also not universal; the idea that every IT department would voluntarily hand over control to automation doesn't seem likely. Some are rather dedicated to the idea of a fiefdom, after all. But certainly there will be plenty of organization-minded IT departments who will seek to be a better part of the larger organization, and that's a development that will spur a lot of growth all around.

When 2016 arrives, we'll be able to see just how right NetEnrich was with its predictions. But based on what we've seen so far, it's likely that the servings of crow and humble pie NetEnrich will have to eat on December 31, 2015 will be slim indeed.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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