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February 2000

 

Greg.gif (9326 bytes) Moving Beyond Basic

Enhanced Services Platforms Usher In A New Era Of Competition

BY GREG GALITZINE

Go Right To: Services News

The days of competing on price alone are nearing an end. With basic transport and connectivity becoming more and more commoditized, service providers need to seek out new revenue generating and customer retaining strategies. Enter enhanced services. Moving beyond basic functionality like caller ID and call waiting, and towards services such as one number/follow me, unified messaging, and more, allows carriers to differentiate their service offerings and set themselves apart from the pack. The quest for a unique identity and the shift from cost-based competition to value-based competition is likewise driving the need for enhanced services platforms upon which service providers can create and deploy new revenue generating customer offerings.

We’ve written about some of the companies that are striving to make creating enhanced services ever simpler. Vendors like Magellan Network Systems with their Mariner platform, and Digital Telecommunications, Inc., (DTI) with their ESP architecture are forging ahead with their plans to enable the creation of enhanced services. This month, we’ll take a look at several other companies that are busy making their own way in the market for enhanced services.

BROADSOFT
Broadsoft’s stated mission is to allow service providers to rapidly and economically design and deploy Web-enabled communications services to business and residential customers. The company’s flagship product, BroadWorks, is a complete system designed to allow Integrated Communications Providers (ICPs) to offer rich services to their customers. Consisting of several components including a Web server and a Java-based service creation component, BroadWorks is an open platform, which allows third-party vendors to create enhanced services.

Running on Sun servers, the solution is an industry standard, carrier class platform. BroadWorks supports H.323, SIP, MGCP, indeed all major Internet telephony protocols. User customization such as upgrades, service additions, and online provisioning are all enabled through the use of a simple Web browser. The BroadWorks platform also has hooks that allow it to tie in to a variety of other servers, devices, and resources, including e-mail servers, LDAP directories, billing systems, voice mail systems, and more. This allows the creation of services that can interact across multiple devices, such as a wireless paging device or wireless handset that can interact with a personal information manager, which is tied to a telephone system, which in turn is tied to the Web.

UBIQUITY
Ubiquity Software Corp is also a player in the race to offer an enhanced service creation platform. The Helmsman Application Services Creation Platform (ASCP), the company’s primary product, is made up of three elements: The Helmsman Server, Helmsman clients, and the Helmsman DesignDeck, an advanced service creation toolkit based on Java objects.

The Helmsman Server enables connections to be coordinated with network components such as PBXs, IP PBXs, gatekeepers, call agents, and media gateway controllers. The Server abstracts and controls a call-processing environment to present a range of service capabilities to the user. Helmsman DesignDeck is a suite of Java beans designed to enable new services to be created by service developers. This element of the ASCP enables service designers to create innovative services and applications that can combine the power of comprehensive call control with integration and manipulation of multiple media types.

The Helmsman Desktop is an application that resides on a PC. Helmsman Desktop enhances business processes by embedding outbound and inbound telecommunications services with standard business applications such as Microsoft Office, ACT!, GoldMine, Netscape, and Internet Explorer. The package communicates with the server to create a more comprehensive desktop communications environment.

The newest element of the ASCP is the Helmsman IPConsole — a Java-based intelligent telephony agent that has been developed specifically for IP Centrex service deployment. This soft operator console can provide a customer with full call control capabilities in a distributed VoIP network. Currently scaled to suit the enterprise market, a forthcoming carrier version is planned to provide space for millions of entries to suit CLECs and ISPs.

Ubiquity also recently announced that I-Link, an enhanced voice/data service provider, will use the Helmsman platform to further enhance its service offering for telephony subscribers. I-Link plans to install Helmsman technology in its network and customer sites to allow familiar desktop applications like Microsoft Explorer and Microsoft Outlook to be IP telephony enabled. With Helmsman, I-Link customers will be able to simply point and click on extensions and phone numbers to make calls and conduct unified communications over I-Link’s nationally deployed IP network.

IPERIA
Another player in the enhanced services field is IPeria, and they have created a software applications platform called the IPeria Service Node. The software runs on both Windows NT and UNIX, and connects to switches, servers (voice mail, e-mail), IP-to-PSTN gateways — in effect any element: The IPeria Service Node is network and device independent. The design of the solution is such that it can scale from smaller PoP (point of presence) implementations to large-scale carrier and central office implementations.

Users can access enhanced services such as voice-activated voice e-mail, Internet event alerting, message consolidation, and voice/fax mail through the use of any device, be it a wireless handset, landline phone, Web browser, or standard e-mail client. IPeria calls this single point of access an e@ccount.

IPeria recently announced its ValuEdge Partners Program, which is designed to allow switching equipment manufacturers and software vendors to resell the Service Node solutions. The initiative also allows OEMs to begin licensing and integrating the IPeria software components. The initial partners are Sonus Networks, Taqua Systems and SALIX Technologies, which was acquired by Tellabs on December 22, 1999.

UNISPHERE SOLUTIONS
Unisphere Solutions recently unveiled the Service Ready Switch-3000 (SRX-3000), a robust, service creation and delivery platform designed to allow service providers to simply and cost-effectively integrate converged voice and multimedia services on cable modem access, xDSL, and next-generation wireless networks as well as ATM and circuit-switched networks. Bridging the gap between the old and the new, the SRX-3000 supports both legacy and next-generation interfaces. The SRX-3000 provides control over IP, ATM, and legacy TDM connections allowing anyto-any mediation.

This solution addresses an important issue as the next-generation network evolves; namely that new networks will not displace the traditional circuit-based networks overnight. It will take time, and most likely we will need to work within the framework of both networks for the foreseeable future. The SRX-3000 allows for a smooth migration from today’s networks to offering enhanced services on the packet-based network of tomorrow.

CONCLUSION
As the telecommunications industry continues to evolve, there is a growing demand from both service providers and end users alike to gain access to next-generation enhanced services. The companies mentioned in this article, as well as others involved in this space, are making tremendous strides to see that enhanced services become as ubiquitous as dial tone. And the future looks equally bright. The advent of “broadband to the masses,” wireless connectivity, the general euphoria generated by this market, and of course, advances on the technology side of the equation, all point to tremendous growth in the enhanced services market. As always, I invite your feedback (please send e-mail to ggalitzine@tmcnet.com).


Services News

Ennovate Announces EnSight
Ennovate Networks announced its EnSight Service Automation System. With EnSight, network service providers can automatically provision, deploy, and monitor IP Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), and related IP WAN services, simplifying a complex and tedious process. EnSight’s open, distributed platform provides for the scaling of millions of VPNs through directory enabled management, a standards-based approach for carrier-class management. EnSight’s suite of management applications and software tools includes configuration policies, open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and a browser-based, point-and-click client interface.
No. 540, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

Net2Phone Unveils Enhanced Internet Telephony Client
Net2Phone announced the release of its most sophisticated Internet telephony software, Net2Phone V.10. The Net2Phone V.10 software incorporates advanced digital technologies for improved sound quality and a variety of additional new features, including Net2Phone’s free VoicEmail, free PC-to-PC calling, ICQ buddy PC2PC calling, and PC-to-fax solutions, in addition to the company’s flagship PC-to-phone service. The new software is free and can be downloaded at www.net2phone.com.
No. 541, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

Voyant Releases CleverVoice SDK
Voyant Technologies announced the release of the CleverVoice software development kit (SDK) for the InnoVox platform, Voyant’s open platform for intelligent voice applications. The company also released an enhanced version of ConferenceNow!, the company’s Web-enabled, on-demand voice conferencing application, which runs on InnoVox delivering greater control to service providers and their customers. The CleverVoice SDK includes the necessary tools for Internet and telephony service providers to develop intelligent voice applications — any integrated collaboration application using voice as the foundation.
No. 542, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

Gillette Global Launches VoIP Service
Gillette Global is launching a VoIP platform that will help small- to mid-sized businesses in New York City and Long Island to save as much as 50 percent off their standard long-distance telephone service and Internet access costs. Called “Voice Over Internet Protocol Long Distance” (VoIP LD), the new service utilizes a dedicated, high-speed, T1 line specially configured to carry outbound VoIP calls. When voice calls are not being made, the bandwidth is dynamically allocated to handle high-speed data and Internet access.
No. 543, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

Centigram Delivers Next-Gen Unified Communications Products
Centigram Communications announced a comprehensive series of unified communications products that will usher in a new era of personalized communications. Leveraging its expertise with voice messaging, Centigram has created advanced systems that enable the delivery of text-based messages to PCs and other devices. These new products further the convergence of data network-based content with voice network-based services. Telecom carriers, network service providers, and Internet content providers throughout Europe can use Centigram’s new unified communications systems to open new markets and deliver cutting-edge services.
No. 544, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

Mediatrix Releases Adapter And Gateway
Mediatrix Telecom announced that it has released the first product in its third generation VoIP product line: A one-port terminal adapter and PSTN gateway — the APA II-1. The APA-II-1 is a telecommunications device that allows a conventional telephone or G3 fax machine to be connected to an IP-based network. The APA II-1 performs all IP fax and telephony tasks in one small standalone enclosure and supports all major IP standards, including H.323, SIP, MGCP, and T.38 IP fax. The APA II-1 is compatible with all standard IP vocoders, such as G.711, G.723.1, and G.729, and is available with a variety of options including the ability to be used as a one-port gateway to the PSTN.
No. 545, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

Pac-West Telecomm To Offer WebDialog’s Click ’N Call Service
Pac-West Telecomm announced that it has signed an agreement with WebDialogs to sell and jointly market WebDialog’s Net-Collaboration Service (NCS) and related products. The Click ’N Call solution enables Web businesses and visitors to interact live and share data over the Internet, providing real-time customer service and sales assistance. WebDialog’s solution creates a collaborative environment for Web businesses and visitors to interact live and share data over the Internet, turning a static Web site into an interactive sales and customer support center.
No. 546, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

Focal Launches FocaLINC Service
Focal Communications announced FocaLINC, a service designed to provide substantial savings to customers on local and long-distance calls. Coupled with Focal’s proprietary billing system and advanced network, FocaLINC service redefines local calling by billing calls that stay on Focal’s network at unprecedented calling rates. This service provides discounted local and toll rates for all customer calls made between Focal customer locations. With FocaLINC, calls placed between the downtown and suburban office will be billed as a local call instead of a local toll call, resulting in unprecedented on-net calling rates and customer savings (varies by market).
No. 547, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

Portal Targets Data-Over-Wireless Market
Portal Software announced that it has devised a strategic plan to target the emerging data-over-wireless market. Portal intends to enable wireless carriers and data service providers to build business infrastructure that supports a new class of mobile Internet services by: Continuing to expand product functionality specific to the wireless Internet environment with ongoing technology enhancements; establishing key alliance partnerships with wireless applications technology vendors and systems integrators; actively participating in standards organizations to ensure product interoperability and aggressively targeting strategic accounts to gain market share.
No. 548, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

ScoreBoard And AT&T Tackle Network Growth
ScoreBoard announced an agreement with AT&T to deploy Score-
Board 3.5 throughout its national wireless network. With ScoreBoard, AT&T can address the need to increase capacity while maintaining an optimal level of service quality at low cost as the demand for wireless services continues to expand. AT&T will use ScoreBoard to add more voice paths per cell site, identify best practices to ensure quality throughout its national network, and lower capital costs by accurately planning network expansions.
No. 549, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

Telstra Launches WAP-Based Personal Internet Service
Telstra has launched telstra.com, an Internet service designed to take the company and its customers into the next “dot com” millennium. Telstra also announced that it will enable its customers to use the new services via a Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) mobile phone, and via the Internet with their PCs. telstra.com and Telstra’s WAP service will offer customers in Australia a new world of Internet opportunities through integrated and personalized Internet content and applications.
No. 550, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

Level 3 Launches Long-Distance IP Voice Service
Level 3 Communications, Inc. announced commercial availability of its (3)Voice service. (3)Voice is an enhanced service delivered over Level 3’s end-to-end Internet Protocol (IP) network that offers customers voice quality indistinguishable from traditional telephone networks, but with the efficiencies and inherent cost advantages of IP. (3)Voice requires no change in how end users dial or in the equipment that they use. The initial rollout will be in major markets across the U.S., and the company plans to continue to expand to additional markets over the next year. 
No. 551, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

Broadmedia Announces freeTone
Broadmedia announced the availability of freeTone service, the first monthly flat-rate telephony service that uses the Internet to dramatically reduce the cost of international calling for businesses that do not have a private global network. The freeTone service does not require the use of a PC, and instead provides businesses with the full functionality of their PBX over the Internet. Already, more than 100 businesses are using Broadmedia’s freeTone service for unlimited international calls between Asia and the United States for only $65 a month.
The freeTone service is currently available between Taiwan and California.
No. 552, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

Nortel Networks Strengthens Leadership Role In IP Telephony
Nortel Networks strengthened its industry leadership in Internet telephony solutions when BT’s Spanish subsidiary, BT Tel, announced the first live telephone calls on one of the world’s largest Internet teleph-
ony networks, supplied by Nortel Networks in under six months. Nortel Networks is delivering a broad portfolio of next-gen IP telephony solutions to wireless, wireline, and cable service providers and enterprises in order to simplify voice and Internet access for businesses and consumers.
No. 553, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

VCON Releases TV-based MediaConnect 6000 Version 2.0
VCON Telecommunications Ltd. announced the release of Version 2.0 of its TV-based group video conferencing MediaConnect 6000 series. The release will introduce new industry standards in many areas. Version 2.0 provides unrivalled ease of use, offering its dual-mode group system (IP and ISDN) with an intuitive new user interface and sophisticated VoiceFinder technology. Top video and audio quality are achieved by incorporating VCON’s latest award-winning technologies for the first time in the MediaConnect 6000 series. VCON has managed to meet popular customer demands, making video conferencing more natural and versatile while remaining affordable.
No. 554, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

Deltathree.com Partners With Yahoo!
Deltathree announced the commencement of a global marketing agreement with Yahoo!. As part of the agreement, Yahoo! will promote deltathree.com’s Internet communications services, including PC to phone, through integrated text links, banner advertisements throughout the Yahoo! network of global properties, special e-mail offers, and promotions on the Yahoo! front page. In addition, deltathree.com’s technology is integrated into the Yahoo! Phone Booth, enabling users of the Yahoo! Yellow Pages and Yahoo! Address Book to click from their PC and initiate a call over the Internet
No. 555, www.itmag.com/freeinfo 

Eddie Bauer Delivers Service With An E-Smile
Specialty retailer Eddie Bauer announced that it has selected Servicesoft Technologies eCenter solution suite to deliver customer service on the Web. Using the E-mail Contact Center component of eCenter, Eddie Bauer can easily manage and monitor the rising tide of inbound e-mail to improve customer satisfaction. If customers are unable to find an answer to their question in the eCenter database, they can write Eddie Bauer directly and receive a response in two to twenty-four hours, depending on the nature of their question.
No. 556, www.itmag.com/freeinfo







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