VoIP, By Any Other Name, Set to Expand

By now, anyone with half a brain and a hope of saving money, has given or is giving serious consideration to switching their telecom needs to VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol. Besides the obvious benefit of saving money, they’ll cut their dependence on major telecom carriers and will help move their companies into the 21st century. It’s a move that makes sense.

Now, word is coming out that their faith has not been misplaced. A new report shows that the enterprise media gateway market – also known as VoIP gateways – is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.1 percent during the forecast period from 2014 to 2020. The market is expected to reach $2.37 billion by that same year of 2020.

“The term ‘enterprise media gateway’ is used in context of audio and video data type,” said Transparency Market Research, which issued the findings. “Enterprise media gateway broadly refers to the devices that convert voice signals into digital signals and carry signals over the IP-based network.”

What that means in plain language is that increasing deployment of IP communication applications and services in enterprises, due to rapid and cost-effective deployment, has led to the growth of the global enterprise media gateway market. Furthermore, the growing demand for SIP trunking and cloud-based services is an additional factor driving this market.

The report helps in understanding the forces behind the popularity of enterprise media gateways, and also provides a breakdown and review of various factors affecting the market growth, which are appropriately described as market drivers, restraints, and opportunities.

The report includes the study of enterprise media gateways based on the size of enterprises using IP-based telecommunication solutions such as small-sized enterprises, medium-sized enterprises, and large-sized enterprises, and includes a comprehensive assessment of stakeholder strategies and the imperatives for succeeding in the business.

It shows that those who’ve chosen VoIP have chosen wisely. The others? Left in the dust, apparently.


Does Net Neutrality Stand A Chance in the Courts?

The order is still not out, but the press has hailed the victory for President Obama on Net Neutrality. It is rare that history works the way people say, and I think the image of foreboding that comes most to mind is President George W. Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier with the “Mission Accomplished” sign behind him.

The order, once it is truly out, will be in the hands of the attorneys and will be contested, and I strongly expect the court will be sympathetic to the carriers’ perspective that this was an overreach by the FCC to claim the Internet falls under Title II (and 720).  

Congress is inclined to geld the FCC unless it has to do with spectrum licensing, which is one of the few revenue-gain opportunities Congress sees that will help the budget.

So with the order voted on, where does that put the opportunity?

Lawyers / Lobbyists

An effort to stay the order is already underway and if successful, the court may have tipped its hands about its perspective on the FCC’s implementation of this order. Bottom line: A lot more money will be spent fighting the order.

Wall Street / Investors

While the stock market is always efficient, it’s also a place where rumors enable speculation and risk.  The Time Warner Cable sale to Comcast seems to be a ‘canary in the coal mine’, suggesting that the FCC order will survive the stay in the courts. Wall Street has Time Warner Cable stock trading over the Comcast offer price because they see the opportunity for Comcast to vacate the deal, and Time Warner Cable to go to a higher bid. On the equipment side of the markets we should assume that small cell and DAS investments are safe and still required for the continued buildout on the edge. As for the Core, with the FCC suggesting that it is going to be monitoring IP Interconnection, it suggests that a wait and see attitude is prudent.  

Engineers / Network

Friends have suggested that all capital outlay will be slowed as a result of this order and particularly that Verizon and AT&T have little to gain by moving forward. However, as Verizon continues to migrate its landline plant to the frontier, the wireless expansion needs to continue. One possibility I see is that Ethernet and Fiber solutions become a separate part of the contract of that Internet connectivity. This in effect makes the prioritization and separate segmentation a different service. As for connectivity to Content Delivery Networks, Netflix seems to be a clear winner, but it’s unclear at this point if other CDNs can get the same bang for buck.

Consumers / Developers

First of all, sorry to lump you in together, but one thing I think the order does is accelerate the aggregation to the cloud. Developers are going to end up putting more of their solutions on Amazon Web Services and other cloud hosting systems. Likewise I see more apps being in the consumer’s future. You smartphone is going to be your gateway to the future even as the FCC tries to regulate the experience. 


Georgia Governor Declares Telework Week

The Governor of the State of Georgia, Nathan Deal, has declared the week of March 2-6 as “Telework Week.”

“Teleworking can have an immediate impact on reducing vehicle emissions, traffic congestion, strain on existing infrastructure, air pollution, and increasing commute mobility,” Governor Deal said. He added that just one person teleworking in the state would mean driving 2,000 miles and 50 fewer hours spent commuting.

The capital city of Georgia is notorious for its suburban sprawl, which could make teleworking appealing to its residents.

Georgia Commute Options is a project of the state’s Department of Transportation to encourage residents to consider telecommuting at least part of the time.

“We thank Governor Deal for his continued support of Georgia Telework Week, now in its sixth year,” Georgia DOT State Transportation Planning Administrator Cindy VanDyke said. “We know that many employers in the region with telework programs, including the Georgia DOT, have experienced increased employee productivity, and they certainly have made a difference in the region’s traffic congestion and air quality. We hope that employers will utilize this week to implement a telework program or investigate viable alternatives through the resources that Georgia Commute Options offers.”

Georgia Commute Options is encouraging residents to log telecommute hours on its website. It is also offering cash incentives to people who want to try other commuting alternatives to driving alone, including public transportation on carpooling, in addition to telecommuting.

Although telecommuting has been touted as a solution since the ‘90s, when the Internet began to come into wide use, the software and infrastructure wasn’t quite ready to support telecommuting on a wide scale. Web conferencing and broadband networks make telecommuting a viable option for many people these days.

The Atlanta area alone might benefit from more telecommuting. The area is already an economic engine in the South, home to many major companies, such as Coca-Cola, UPS and Delta Air Lines, among others. The city also already has a major media presence, home to CNN and TBS. Given the area’s already existing high-tech workforce, persuading them to avoid the long commutes in the region might be an easy sell.

The End of the Snow Day: How Videoconferencing Can Keep Classes Going

March 04, 2015

By Steve Anderson
Contributing TMCnet Writer

Somewhere there's a horde of college students — not to mention high school students and beyond — sharpening pitchforks and preparing torches fit for the angriest of mobs after that headline, but it's a fact that's impossible to deny. The recent blast of snowstorms that crippled large portions of the East Coast, and even beyond, have made some consider the value of technology to keep class schedules on schedule, even when inclement weather would otherwise shut down operations. That's put videoconferencing systems front and center, as the Boston Globe described part of a larger technology package that may stop the snow day.

Several examples of conferencing in education are already on hand, starting with Berklee College of Music assistant professor Stephanie Kellar, who put an online conferencing system called Zoom to work during snow days in a bid to continue teaching. Since Berklee College of Music is located in Boston—which as we know has been hit with repeated and prolonged snowstorms over the last few weeks—such a tool is helping to keep students on track. Kellar described the Zoom system as having “...kind of saved the day...” in a system in which Monday classes were regularly canceled due to snowstorms hitting on the weekend.

Yet Kellar wasn't alone here; Chestnut Hill's Pine Manor College saw something similar as Dean Diane Mello-Goldner—who teaches a sports psychology class—asked students to send in selfies of various yoga poses for extra credit. Worcester's Anna Maria College actually went so far as to ask faculty to “weather-proof” class plans, focusing on ways to allow students to carry on with learning even when roads are impassable and, in some cases, the power is out. Even in cases where it's not taken quite so far, some professors are recording lectures in advance and making same available online to make up for lost time, while others are getting in touch with individual students, and even sometimes just replanning calendars to accommodate inclement weather.

While this is a terrific use of technology, it's also likely to be one that ultimately changes school as we know it. How long will it take for some enterprising student—or students—to look at this and say, hey, I missed class due to snow, but we had the class online so I didn't really miss class. If we can use this technology for class in inclement weather, why can't we use this technology all the time? More importantly, why am I paying ridiculous-thousand dollars a year for school when it can all be put on Skype (News - Alert) for pennies on the dollar? Indeed, why can't it? We're already starting to see this, and about the only thing really holding a completely online educational system back is a combination of public perception and vested interests. Of course, issues of bandwidth are also involved here; some don't have the kind of Internet access at home required for such things. But as broadband expands its footprint, what's to stop us from holding classes online all the time and reducing the school's footprint down to a few rooms for video sessions and a couple common rooms for proctored testing as need be? Savings on heating, water, groundskeeping and a host of others would be quickly realized and the cash returned to the taxpayer.

There's a lot of possibility when it comes to videoconferencing in the classroom, and we may well be approaching a position where people start demanding its use as a cost-savings measure. Only time will tell just how far it goes, of course, but the end result should still prove noteworthy, and may well ultimately change our school days as we know same today.

Yealink Introduces Video Conferencing Systems

IP Phones Channel

March 02, 2015

Yealink Introduces Video Conferencing Systems

By David Delony, Contributing Writer

Yealink, a company best known for its IP Phones, has announced that it is moving into videoconferencing with two new systems: the Yealink (News - Alert) VC120 and Yealink VC400.

Both phones feature broadcast-quality video with 1080p resolution and video at 30 frames per second. Other features include dual-monitor support and screen sharing, the ability to record to a USB device, as well as SIP and H.323 interoperability with other hardware and software a company is using.

The VC120 and VC400 include a codec, a camera, a microphone array and a remote control. The microphones have a 360-degree pickup range, which means that anybody in a conference can be heard, even if they walk around a room.

The camera also has an 18x optical zoom with pan and tilt controls, making it easy for it to be moved to capture a videoconferencing subject as well.

The VC400’s codec distinguishes itself with a multipoint control unit that allows for conferences with up to four participants rather than point-to-point conferences.

Video conferencing has emerged as a mainstream business communication tool in recent years as companies look to cut costs on travel. Many companies are finding that it’s easier and faster to simply schedule a conference rather than send employees to remote offices, booking flights and hotels. With the reduced need for travel, videoconferencing might even help the environment.

Video conferencing systems used to be expensive, complicated, proprietary affairs but standards like SIP have emerged that make video conferencing much cheaper and easier to implement with existing communications equipment.

Improvements in broadband have also made video conferencing viable even for smaller businesses, with networks able to handle smooth video with relatively little buffering or choppiness. Skype (News - Alert) has also introduced many ordinary people to video conferencing, so it’s a technology they’re already familiar with when it’s implemented in the office.

Both systems are available for sale from IP Phone (News - Alert) Warehouse.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Back to IP Phones Channel

XO COMMUNICATIONS Unveils Hosted PBX Features

March 02, 2015

XO Communications has announced that it has released a new suite of communications features for its hosted PBX (News - Alert) (HPBX) service.

“In today’s highly mobile business economy, enterprises need their employees to be able to collaborate anytime, anywhere using high-quality voice, data, video and other apps on company provided and personal devices,” said Jake Heinz, senior vice president of marketing and product at XO Communications (News - Alert). “The XO HPBX features are designed to meet the collaboration needs of businesses of all sizes in this rapidly expanding market.”

The new features include instant messaging, presence, integration with Outlook, as well as desktop and document sharing.

XO is also stressing its ability to work with mobile devices. With the updates to its HPBX, XO is also including the WorkTime application. The app lets users send and receive calls, as well as making video calls and sending text messages using their work phone numbers, even on their personal smartphones. All communications from within the app will appear to come from an employee’s company phone number.

All of these features allow employees to get in touch with each other no matter where they happen to be.

Hosted PBX systems like those from XO appeal to a growing number of businesses because they let IT departments offer new features to their employees without having to install any additional hardware or software. They’re also managed by a third party, which eliminates a lot of the headaches that come with maintaining complex PBX systems. Infonetics (News - Alert) predicts that the market for cloud PBX and unified communications will reach $12 billion by 2018.

 As adoption rates increase, the demand becomes greater for greater functionality and increased mobility for the enterprise. Hosted PBX offers a scalable, price-friendly and reliable alternative to bulky on-premises hardware. The future for XO is unknown, but it is abundantly clear this added functionality is a response to enterprise demand.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Impulse & CTI Group Collaborate on ClearStar Call Recording System

The impact call recording can have on the market is well-known. Call recording can prevent lawsuits, improve customer service, and serve a variety of other purposes. Impulse Advanced Communications and CTI Group have now come together to bring out the very latest in call recording technology for users.

The combined effort started with Impulse's ClearStar telephone system, a cloud-based system that offers up a great many features. But the combination of this powerful platform and CTI Group's various efforts produced a system that not only offers cloud-based communications, but also several critical features of call recording, including the ability to put these recordings to better use. With the new ClearStar system, users get access to the standard call recording systems, as well as speech analytics, visual recording of the desktop, and audio mining systems. Those recordings are hosted in secure data centers, accessible via Web portals that offer search functions to find specific recordings as needed, and then keep the them safe when not in use.

Reports suggest that these features were brought into play mostly because of expectations from larger organizations that were making a move from public branch exchange (PBX) systems to software-as-a-service (SaaS) forms of telephony. Said organizations wanted the features that were part and parcel of the PBX experience to make the migration to SaaS tools, so Impulse got to work making sure said solutions were on hand.

Impulse's director of sales, Chris Rose, offered this comment on the release:

“Our customers have been requesting a Software-as-a-Service call recording solution that is both simple to deploy and as easy to scale to an entire enterprise as it is to a small department. After extended evaluation, we decided to partner with CTI to roll out a new call recording solution. Having a robust call recording solution allows us to deliver a premium-level enhancement to customers requiring special recording features and analytics.”

Much of the solution itself doesn't seem so much geared toward providing innovation as it is toward catching up to services that are currently provided by alternative systems, but it’s only just the beginning. SaaS telephony options are still a comparatively new technology, replacing PBX for many organizations and even for some regular individuals as well. But the SaaS offerings not only need offer everything the PBX can, but go beyond those offerings as well. Should it not, then what is the point of making the jump from PBX to SaaS? Sure, if it has some offerings that PBX doesn't, it's a help and a step in the right direction. But in order to get the most interest in the field, the SaaS needs to overlap and then surpass PBX, so that PBX can't come back later with a key competitive advantage.

Still, Impulse and CTI Group seem to have a powerful new set of tools added to the ClearStar system, and this should go a long way in getting those who haven't yet made the jump from PBX to SaaS to do so, and do so in Impulse's direction. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

Wheelings & Dealings: Mitel & Mavenir Make Nine-Figure Merger Deal

Wheelings & Dealings: Mitel & Mavenir Make Nine-Figure Merger Deal

March 02, 2015

Recently, word emerged of a major new deal in the business communications space, as two fairly major names—Mitel and Mavenir Systems—got together on the strength of a merger agreement. The two firms in question—who made the announcement earlier today—announced said merger agreement in what was said to be a bid to drive efforts in the enterprise unified communications (UC) sector as well as the mobile Internet protocol (IP) UC market.

The merger agreement called for Mitel to acquire all outstanding shares of Mavenir Systems stock, in which Mavenir stockholders will be able to get either an all-cash or all-stock payment in exchange for current Mavenir common stock. The agreement called for the value to be $11.08 plus 0.675 Mitel common shares, or an outright $17.64 payment, as based on the price of a share of Mitel common stock on February 27, 2015. The total value of the deal itself is said to be around $560 million. When the transaction concludes, reports suggest, Mavenir will be Mitel's mobile business division, but work under the well-known brand Mavenir.

But it's not so much about the numbers as it is about the motivations behind said deal. It's well-known that mobile networks are going increasingly LTE, and many carriers are in turn starting to migrate all available services—from voice to text and beyond—to an all-IP model. That means a lot of improved efficiencies—no more using two sources of transmission—and a lot of opportunities for businesses to get in on this newfound action.

Mavenir is already working with over 130 mobile customers—as well as 15 of the top 20 mobile carriers on Earth—and is famed for offering up several mobile-market firsts, like the first deployment of voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) with T-Mobile and the first live network deployment of voice over LTE (VoLTE), according to reports. Mitel is out to be a major force in mobile communications. It's already offering up connections for a host of firms daily—over two billion connections daily, and over 33 million cloud connections daily—so this latest move to bring in Mavenir simply works to cement that perception. Plus, reports suggest that Mitel expects to expand its total market by nearly $14 billion by 2018, and be in a better position to move in a market that's already expanding in Mitel's direction.

The combination of these two firms should open up a lot of new opportunities in a market that's fairly clamoring for new tools to bring out. It wasn't so long ago that AT&T's CEO was projecting a mobile network that was all data, and tools like VoLTE are going to go a long way in bringing these projections to pass. With Mitel and Mavenir working together, meanwhile, two major names in the field have a better opportunity to bring together the various offerings and create some new syntheses, products that should have a significant impact on the market. Only time, of course, will tell just what Mitel and Mavenir can bring to the field as a result of this merger, but it's a safe bet that two companies who understand the mobile market as these two do should be able to offer up some impressive new developments.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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Evolution of Desktop PCs into Mobile Devices: The Gamers’ perspective

March 02, 2015

By TMCnet Special Guest
Thomas Jones, Director Total

Over the years, there have always been different things that appeal to a variety of gamers out there. Quite a number have been drawn to games that showcase different skills, some that appeal to users differently on different levels. However, the one thing that has always and still cuts across the board on all avid gamers is the need for an enhanced user experience. Most experts even contend to the fact that without a proper gaming experience geared towards meeting the needs of the users, there is nothing more to gaming than just an attempt to lure the players into tying out something new.

If there is one thing that we have come to learn over the years from constant gaming applications and programs, it is the fact that the world is on a constant evolution spiral, and woe unto you if you are left out of it. The evolution process goes so fast. As a developer, you need to be on top of your game if you are to experience the best of it so far. For the users, it is all too good to be true. When we think of the games we used to enjoy back in the day, and relate that to some of the games that we are using today, the shift is amazing; incredible to say the least.

The advancements that have been associated with the shift from desktop games to mobile games can be attributed to one thing; the need to make the customer feel special. Customers no longer want to be confined to having to use their desktop computers for gaming purposes and it is because of this reason that we currently have games designed with a view to appealing to their innermost needs. The past several years have been amazing in as far as the shift from desktop gaming to mobile gaming is concerned, and if this trend continues into the future is already the case—there is every reason for the avid gamer to look forward to so much more.

One of the most important things that is associated with this evolution is the speed at which data connections are being made available. Data connections are getting faster and more reliable over mobile devices than some of the hardwired connections that we have in homes. Because of this reason, therefore it is rather understandable that users would come to prefer gaming on portable devices over the choice of having to get wired connections to enjoy a game or two.

Developers have also gone so far with the understanding of the consumer needs and perceptions, and have been able to work on sizeable screens and pixels that make it easier for players to enjoy the finest gaming encounter so far. Indeed no one wants to be left out of this platform, but when it’s all said and done, everyone seeks to have the finest gaming encounters that can only be associated with mobility and convenience.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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Summit Tech and Alcatel-Lucent Unveil First VoLTE/RCS Connected Car at MWC 2015

If you wander around the massive exhibit halls at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2015 now going on in Barcelona, Spain you will see a lot of examples of “Connected Cars.” While many of them will have similar demonstrations,  the GSMA (News - Alert)'s Innovation City showcase will show you something unique: Summit Tech is unveiling the first Voice over LTE (News - Alert) (VoLTE)/Rich Communication Services (RCS)-capable Connected Car in collaboration with Alcatel-Lucent.

The two companies will be showcasing how, on 4G LTE networks, using virtualized IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem (News - Alert)) platform equipped with APIs for rapid service creation can provide the Connected Car of the future full VoLTE capabilities. 

In contrast to cars with only built-in LTE for Internet access, the Summit Tech-Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) Connected Car can become a secondary device to complement a user's smartphone. In fact, the Connected Car features call hand-over, which allows for the seamless transferring of calls to the car without any user interaction.  This means you can keep talking even after your smartphone battery dies.

A New Driving Experience

The goal here is to create a differentiated user experience for drivers. The system works with Head-Up Display systems in cars. It leverages the power of Alcatel-Lucent's IMS solution currently in the operator's networks. This means the Connected Car is capable of supporting mobile and Wi-Fi, i.e., all occupants can access such services as VoLTE, video communications, IP messaging/chat and social presence.  

Summit Tech and Alcatel-Lucent as part of the announcement cite two use cases.  In the first, the Connected Car can automatically advise a caller that the call is private if there are other passengers in the car. The caller is then offered the option of leaving a message rather than being heard by all on the speaker phone.  Once the driver is available for a private conversation, the system can prompt the caller to call back. The second involves drive-thru restaurants where the driver can be automatically linked to the drive-thru attendant with a standard Android (News - Alert)™ or Windows™ phone using an HD audio call, instead of the drive-thru speakers.  After the order is placed, confirmation and an electronic invoice are displayed on the car's in-dash display.  The driver can then complete a mobile commerce transaction to pay for their meal.

"The Connected Car becomes yet another means by which operators can offer innovative services beyond the smartphone and enter new vertical markets to leverage their investments in LTE networks and VoLTE services," Fran Heeran, General Manager of the IP Communications business at Alcatel-Lucent, said. 

"We don't need any more fragmentation across voice, messaging and data systems," commented Alido Di Giovanni, President of Summit Tech. "Closed systems are not helpful to the progression of Connected Cars.  With this ecosystem, operators can finally be at the heart of Connected Cars, as they should be.  They can be the ones that provide the disruption and the innovation in this market. And consumers can benefit from a system that works seamlessly across car manufacturers, operating systems and carrier networks."

For those in the U.S., you may remember the old Greyhound Bus slogan, “Go Greyhound and leave the driving to us.”  We are getting close to this vision with the difference being having our own cars leave the driving to them. That will give us even more time to enjoy all of the benefits of the connected world as IMS brings all the functionality of broadband access and real-time rich communications to the Connected Car.  As someone who occasionally takes long trips, this sounds wonderful. I wonder if they will let me be a beta user.   

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino