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January 05, 2010

Mobile Industry Faces Challenges with Rising Interest: VoIP Developer, ITEXPO Speaker

By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor


As the ability to stay mobile continues to top companies’ wish lists, more and more organizations are adopting smartphones as their device of choice. While top vendors like Apple and Research in Motion will make headlines for new products to the marketplace, the true success of those devices will depend on how well wireless technology supports business applications and meets security guidelines, according to a U.K.-based provider of enabling technology for the communications market.
 
“The real challenge for the mobile industry will be its ability to bring forward compelling productivity tools that have long been available through wired networks, without compromising critical data,” Andrew Nicholson, product manager, for Aculab, a VoIP developer, told TMC (News - Alert) CEO Rich Tehrani in an interview, printed in full below.
 
Smartphones are just the tip of the iceberg. According to Nicholson, who will speak at ITEXPO East this month, one of the key growth markets in the coming years will be the integration of new services into legacy systems. Features like adding 3G video services to a mobile provider’s portfolio or offering enhanced HD Voice solutions over a telco network are just two examples.
 
“Business communications comprise much more than voice and Internet access today,” Nicholson said. “Enabling seamless integration of VoIP, data services, video, mobility, presence applications, enhanced call centers, wireless communications, and legacy networks and applications, is the key to meeting the evolving needs of businesses and consumers.”
 
The full exchange follows.
 
Rich Tehrani (News - Alert): Smartphones continue to rise, find their ways into offices and homes alike. Who will dominate that market and why?
 
Andrew Nicholson (pictured below): There are obvious vendors, like Apple for its iPhone, and Blackberry, which should continue to do well. We should also watch Google’s Android (News - Alert) platform as having the potential to really gain market penetration.
 
But regardless of any particular phone or features, the success of these devices will – to some extent – be defined by how well wireless technology supports mission-critical business applications while adhering to strict security and privacy standards. The real challenge for the mobile industry will be its ability to bring forward compelling productivity tools that have long been available through wired networks, without compromising critical data.
 
RT: We hear more and more about high-definition voice features in IP communications products and services. What is going to drive wideband audio and HD VoIP into the mainstream market? How long will it take?
 
AN: HD Voice is getting a lot of attention. However, the biggest impediment to mainstream adoption is integration of IP and legacy TDM network infrastructure. When an HD Voice call can be guaranteed end-to-end HD transmission capability, there should be a strong adoption curve. Enabling HD Voice in gateways and core network switches will determine how long this will take. Aculab’s (News - Alert) support of numerous standard and proprietary HD codecs is an enabler for the roll-out of these next generation IP gateways.
 
The adoption is many faceted – the network providers need to roll-out the technology, and the consumers have to adopt it based on its value proposition to them – weighing up the ease of use, its accessibility, and its price (currently there is a price premium) versus the quality benefit on offer. When all these things come into line, then we will have hit mainstream.
 
RT: What’s the most innovative product that’s going to hit the market in 2010, from a company other than your own?
 
AN: We can’t specify any one product, but there seems to be no shortage of ideas popping up on the technology horizon. For example, there are many interesting developments occurring in the areas of mobility and in green technology. Solutions that preserve and extend the efficiency and effectiveness of today’s systems offer a compelling and cost-effective alternative to wasteful and expensive “rip and replace” strategies. We believe new solutions that allow providers and businesses to leverage their existing infrastructures will continue to garner attention – whether or not the economy recovers.
 
RT: We entered 2009 in a recession and now we’re seeing signs of the economy picking up. How did the slow economy affect demand for your products and services and what are you anticipating in 2010?
 
AN: While some deployment decisions were delayed or even cancelled due to capital restraint, Aculab has come through the recession remarkably well. Perhaps the most interesting outcome is the growing interest in ‘extensibility.’ While many of our customers do not have – or are not willing to invest in – CAPEX projects, they nonetheless must integrate new services and capabilities into their offerings if they are to remain competitive. Many of these customers have correctly identified Aculab’s enabling technologies as the most prudent path for integrating these advanced capabilities into existing infrastructure. Even as the economy continues to improve, we see an even greater emphasis being placed on extensibility as a cost-effective alternative to the expensive and disruptive ‘rip and replace’ methodologies that many other vendors have touted.
 
RT: What are some of the areas of market growth in the next few years?
 
AN: We see the integration of new services into legacy systems as a key growth market. This can come in many forms, like adding 3G video services to a mobile provider’s portfolio, enhancing enterprise productivity by integrating SIP-based functionality like presence management and collaboration tools, or enabling enhanced HD Voice solutions over a telco network. Business communications comprise much more than voice and Internet access today. Enabling seamless integration of VoIP, data services, video, mobility, presence applications, enhanced call centers, wireless communications and legacy networks and applications, is the key to meeting the evolving needs of businesses and consumers.
 
RT: I understand you are speaking during ITEXPO East 2010 in Miami, to be held Jan. 20 to 22. Talk to us about your session or sessions. Who should attend and why?
 
AN: The session title is “Delivering Superior Voice with HD Codecs.” I will be discussing recent developments at Aculab, and how developers can use the Aculab codec capability to wideband enable current platforms or build new ones. I will also highlight the benefits of HD VoIP and how it can improve voice communications.
 
RT: Please give me one outrageous prediction pertaining to our markets for 2010.
 
AN: With such futuristic deployments as IP network routers in space satellites, mobile video conferencing, and high-fidelity voice communications over the telephone network already a reality, the ‘outrageous’ becomes the expected within a relatively short time. But perhaps we could see some unexpected developments in 2010, like the first U.S. presidential speech delivered over a mobile video-capable smartphone using HD Voice.
 
Aculab is a Diamond sponsor of ITEXPO East 2010. To be held Jan. 20 to 22 in Miami, ITEXPO (News - Alert) is the world’s premier IP communications event. Visit Aculab in booth #607. Don’t wait. Register now.

 

Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering business communications Her areas of focus include conferencing, SIP, Fax over IP, unified communications and telepresence. Amy also writes about education and healthcare technology, overseeing production of e-Newsletters on those topics as well as communications solutions and UC. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Amy Tierney




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