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Product Reviews
TMC Labs 2003 Innovation Awards: Part II

BY THE STAFF OF TMC LABS

The TMC Labs Innovation Awards are all about recognizing unique and innovative products and solutions within the Internet telephony industry. As the fourth annual TMC Labs Innovation Award within INTERNET TELEPHONY� Magazine, we somewhat expected to see slightly less innovative products than in past years, since the market has begun to mature. We were pleasantly surprised however by the sheer number of innovative products that applied for this award.

In fact, with over 200 applications we couldn�t narrow the winners� field down to a dozen or so as we have in past years. There were just too many innovative products to not include in this awards special based solely upon some arbitrary �winners� number. Try as we might, we couldn�t whittle down the winners list to any less than 22 winners -- they were all very deserving.

We attempted to squeeze all 22 winners into a single issue, but our editor said it would require mass trimming of our very detailed descriptions. Rather than cutting the descriptions, we thought it would benefit our readers to keep the more detailed information. Our editor compromised and said we could keep the detailed descriptions, but we would have to break the TMC Labs Innovation Awards into two parts; so without further adieu, here is the second half (11) of the 22 winners (with last month�s issue containing the first half). The list was split up arbitrarily; for a full list of winners, check out the following table.


2003 TMC Labs Innovation Award Winners (Full List)

Company Name             Product Name                Web site

ARRIS  Touchstone Telephony Modem 202P www.arrisi.com
*Catapult Communications Corporation  LANCE www.catapult.com
*Comdial Corporation  FX II Converged Telephony Platform www.comdial.com
*Convedia Corporation  CMS-6000 Media Server www.convedia.com
*deltathree, Inc.  iConnectHere Broadband Phone www.deltathree.com
*Empirix, Inc. 
Hammer Call Analyzer www.empirix.com
Grandstream Networks, Inc.  HandyTone Analog Telephone Adaptor www.grandstream.com
iSoftel Ltd  iRoute Intelligent Routing Management System www.iSoftel.com
*Kagoor Networks 
VoiceFlow 3000 Series www.kagoor.com
*Mediatrix Telecom  Converged Enterprise Telephony www.mediatrix.com
NetRake  nCite www.netrake.com
Radcom  The Cellular Performer www.radcom.com
Siemens Enterprise Networks  Siemens OpenScape v1.0 www.icn.siemens.com
Snom Technology AG  Snom 200 www.snom.com
Sprint Corporation 
Sprint Unified Communications-Total Access www.sprint.com
*Texas Instruments 
TNETV2020/2840 www.ti.com
*Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc.,Telecommunication
Systems Division
Strata CTX Digital Business Communication System www.telecom.toshiba.com
*Vonage 
Digital Voice www.vonage.com
Voyant Technologies, Inc.  ReadiVoice www.voyant.com
*Witness Systems 
eQuality ContactStore www.witness.com
Xten Networks Inc.  X-PRO (Soft SIP VoIP Phone) www.xten.com
Zultys Technologies  MX1200 www.zultys.com
*companies denoted with an asterisk will appear in our August issue with a full description..

Catapult Communications Corporation
LANCE
www.catapult.com

Catapult Communications is well known for its testing products. TMC Labs was quite intrigued when we learned that they were now offering a sophisticated testing product called LANCE that tests various telecom protocols, including VoIP, 3G, SS7, GPRS, GSM, and more. But what really caught our eye was the fact that it runs on the Linux operating system, making it perhaps the only Linux-based high-end telecom testing platform on the market.

LANCE is connected to the Device Under Test (DUT) via a Catapult-designed network interface card. This interface cards has a PowerPC processor that may be used to execute user-developed applications. Catapult offers a variety of network interface cards including Ethernet, OC-3/1, E1/T1, Serial, and CII.

LANCE provides a graphical user interface for developing a wide range of multi-call and multi-protocol test applications. A variety of pre-configured LANCE systems are available with selected protocol software pre-installed by Catapult. Alternatively, users can purchase protocol test modules from Catapult�s extensive DCT2000 software library to meet their specific needs.


Comdial Corporation
FX II Converged Telephony Platform v3.0
www.comdial.com

Comdial�s Converged Telephony Platform (CTP) v3.0 is well suited for small and medium-sized enterprises with a unique advantage in that they can cautiously deploy integrated voice/data IP applications when it is sensible to do so � both from a technical and a budget standpoint. The CTP platform can work with Comdial�s traditional digital telephones and then you can slowly migrate towards VoIP phones. You can also add IP trunking later on for connecting to branch offices. In addition to Internet telephony and traditional voice technology, Comdial�s FX II Platform has an extensive feature-set that includes unified voice and e-mail messaging, auto-attendant voicemail, and call center applications.

One of the most innovative features in their latest version is something they call �hot-desking.� Hot-Desking is an arrangement whereby enterprises minimize real-estate costs by allocating employee workspace on an as-needed basis. For example, a company in New York City leases a five-person office to support a sales force of 20 people. Since sales people are out on sales calls most of the time, leasing a 20-person office would not be cost-effective. To this end, the company�s salespeople are allocated desk space on a �reservation� basis as if they were booking into a hotel.

Hot-desking is being increasingly applied in a wider sense with respect to corporate strategy as it pertains to part time work, mobile workforces, and teleworking. To be successfully deployed, hot-desking depends on communication technology to support the routing of telephone calls, maintaining employee records, and providing electronic access to working files. To this end, Comdial has integrated advanced hot-desking functionality in the FX II, eliminating the added expense of external servers to support this function. Overall, Comdial�s CTP has one of the most comprehensive feature-sets you will find in a PBX and they continue to set the bar with new and innovative features not seen in competing products.


Convedia Corporation
CMS-6000 Media Server
www.convedia.com

Convedia�s CMS-6000 consolidates the functions of traditional announcement servers, interactive voice response (IVR/VRU) units, conference bridges, messaging platforms, and speech platforms into a single multi-service, open standards compliant solution for network and enhanced services media processing. The CMS-6000 is a carrier class (NEBS Level 3) VoIP media server designed for a broad spectrum of telecommunication service providers including 2.5 and 3G wireless, softswitch enabled wireline, and cable MSOs deploying PacketCable architectures. It is also well suited for large application service providers/hosted application providers such as conferencing service bureaus or wholesale prepaid calling card providers who need a high-density, feature rich media server for their service offerings.

The CMS-6000 includes some unique and innovative features not seen in many competing products. First, Convedia claims that they are the only media server to support MGCP and SIP/VoiceXML 2.0 control protocols all within the same media server. We did some research, and this claim was true � that is until very recently when a competitor added support for both of these protocols. Nevertheless, Convedia was certainly the innovator in this regard. We should also point out that they support PacketCable NCS, and Megaco/H.248 protocols. Another advantage of the CMS-6000 is its 18,000-port density, which is the highest we are aware of within a single chassis.

Some competing products require that you purchase not only the hardware but the software applications as well, locking you into that specific vendor. Convedia is specifically focused on carrier class media server hardware, and partners with customers, next generation equipment suppliers, or application vendors committed to open protocol best-in-breed solutions. Convedia claims they have also proven interoperability with several leading softswitch, application service, and media gateway suppliers.

The CMS-6000 features card level redundancy ensuring no single point of failure in call processing and in-service software upgrades. Convedia also offers tools, which make media server integration simpler and quicker. Convedia�s Media Server controller software (a set of linkable libraries which provide a C++ control interface option to the CMS family of media servers) helps reduce the time required to integrate media servers into third-party solutions. The support for SIP, MGCP, and VoiceXML 2.0, along with its impressive 18,000-port density all in the same box makes Convedia�s CMS-6000 one of the most innovative media servers in the industry today.


deltathree, Inc.
iConnectHere Broadband Phone
www.deltathree.com

We thought Vonage was the only Internet telephony service provider offering residential customers the ability to make VoIP calls to regular PSTN numbers as well as receive PSTN calls via an assigned PSTN phone number. Well, we were wrong. Around May of this year, we discovered that deltathree is indeed offering such a solution called iConnectHere Broadband Phone.

The iConnectHere Broadband Phone combines the functionality of regular telephone (PSTN) service with the advanced features and cost savings available with VoIP. Using any broadband Internet connection worldwide, users can make and receive toll-quality calls at a fraction of the cost. Broadband Phone is part of a suite of products including PC-to-Phone and Calling Card that leverage deltathree�s SIP-compliant network. Any SIP-based client should be able to interoperate with their network. They support both NAT and non-NAT environments, thus firewall traversal is not a problem.

Deltathree claims that the iConnectHere Broadband Phone is the first product to offer area code selection and inbound service simultaneously to PC-to-Phone and Broadband Phone products. We liked that we could use a hardware-based device, such as the SIP-based Cisco ATA-188 or Pingtel xpressa or we could use a software-based SIP client such as Windows Messenger or Xten Networks X-lite. What is also unique about deltathree�s solution is that you can use one account to make calls from any of their products � Broadband Phone, PC-to-Phone, and Calling Card.

Several notable features of Broadband Phone include caller-ID, voicemail, address book, and speed dial. Advanced features include area code selection, number mobility, Web-based voicemail, real-time call records, integration to suite of products (with one account use Broadband Phone, PC-to-Phone, and Calling Card) and selection of devices (Broadband Phone is device agnostic and it works with any SIP device). Their SIP service is also integrated with Microsoft Messenger and can be used through the �make calls� button and the Messenger SIP platform.


Empirix, Inc.
Hammer Call Analyzer
www.empirix.com

Empirix is one of the few companies to win multiple Innovation Awards. In fact, with this award, they are the first three-time winner of the TMC Labs Innovation Award. Empirix�s Hammer Call Analyzer is very adept at analyzing VoIP signaling traffic and enabling users to quickly diagnose signaling problems. This product is perfect for equipment manufacturer design and QA labs, as well as service providers.

The Hammer Call Analyzer is the first analyzer with both TDM and IP in one box (TDM/IP version). It is very unique in that this product is the first analyzer to take the concept of ladder diagrams and apply them in an analyzer context. Thus, the display protocol messages are displayed in an easy to follow call flow ladder. In addition, as a VoIP �application aware� analyzer, it is able to automatically associate the messages within a call and enables searching/filtering/ triggering on protocol level events.

Developers and VoIP testers will be much more productive in diagnosing problems through the filtering and triggering capabilities. One nifty feature is the �pre-trigger capture.� For problems that only show up occasionally, you can set up a trigger on an event, say a protocol error message. You can then capture a window of messages around that event � not only messages that come after the event, but the messages that preceded the event as well. This is critical for finding what preceded the triggered event, since often times simply recording after the event has occurred is usually too late. Overall, TMC Labs was very impressed with Hammer Call Analyzer, which is the first true �VoIP-specialized� network analyzer with both PSTN and VoIP testing capabilities all on a single platform.


Kagoor Networks
VoiceFlow 3000 Series
www.kagoor.com

The inability for VoIP traffic to traverse NAT firewalls is a major headache that service providers and carriers have to overcome. Kagoor Networks cures this headache via their VoiceFlow 3000 Series networking device. VoiceFlow 3000 is a carrier-grade VoIP border control/peering, integrated software and hardware system that provides security, firewall, NAT, QoS assurance, bandwidth management, and remote monitoring and management applications in a single device.

The VoiceFlow 3000 is a CompactPCI 3U/five-slot purpose built, wire-speed packet processing device that handles media, signaling, and multiple applications simultaneously and can handle 20,000+ concurrent calls in a single system. In addition, this product delivers a network aggregation application that solves NAT issues for service providers deploying VoIP services over a network-based VPN/VLAN architecture. Kagoor�s solution solves the issues of security, NAT, admission control, and quality of service (QoS) in conjunction with VPN network deployments. Network aggregation is a great solution to provide truly cost-effective Managed VoIP � that is, it eliminates the need for CPE and dedicated networks for VoIP.

VoiceFlow 3000 fully supports all three major VoIP protocols (SIP, H.323, MGCP). In addition, this product delivers the same applications and features as its companion customer premises-based product series � the VoiceFlow 200. VoiceFlow 3000 is the one of the first products to utilize a �transparent� B2BUA. In this way, processing is much more efficient, and protocol compatibility and handling is possible. In addition, due to its unique software architecture, the VoiceFlow 3000 is capable of adapting easily to VoIP protocols that are constantly evolving.


Mediatrix Telecom
Converged Enterprise Telephony
www.mediatrix.com

Using the SIP VoIP protocol, the Mediatrix Converged Enterprise Telephony (CET) solution is a CPE-based end-to-end VoIP application that allows the transmission of voice and fax traffic over an existing IP network and can VoIP-enable legacy PBXs and key systems. Mediatrix�s CET can leverage an existing corporate VPN to provide converged voice and data integration with branch offices. CET consists of several components, which includes:

Mediatrix IP Communication Server � a software-based SIP redirect server mapping phone numbers and corresponding IP addresses and establishing the connection between IP endpoints (e.g., FXS or FXO ports). The server administers the VoIP network and performs the necessary functions without a host of unwanted features that needlessly raise costs.

Mediatrix Unit Manager Network � an SNMP-based element management system designed to facilitate the remote provisioning and configuration of Mediatrix units.

Mediatrix 1102 � a two-port FXS access device providing IP connectivity to analog phones or fax machines, analog CO line ports of a Key system or analog CO trunk ports of a PBX.

Mediatrix 1104 � a four-port FXS access device providing IP connectivity to analog phones or fax machines, analog CO line ports of a Key system or analog CO trunk ports of a PBX.

Mediatrix 1124 � a 24-extension FXS access device providing IP connectivity to analog phones or fax machines, analog CO line ports of a Key system or analog CO trunk ports of a PBX.

Mediatrix 1204 � a four-port FXO gateway providing IP connectivity to analog PSTN lines or analog PBX extension ports.

By using one or more of these components, customers can VoIP-enable branch offices over the existing VPN/data connection to the main office and thus skip the additional costs of maintaining separate voice trunk lines and another PBX. One of the key advantages of the Mediatrix Converged Enterprise Telephony platform is that it has an excellent feature-set but with a price point that won�t break the bank. In fact, Mediatrix offers one of the most economical VoIP access devices on the market with superb features and voice quality. The system can register up to 4,000 IP endpoints (i.e., FXS or FXO ports) and the server has the capacity to set up 1,000 calls simultaneously. For organizations looking for a turnkey VoIP solution based on open standards, they need not look any further than the Mediatrix Converged Enterprise Telephony platform.


Texas Instruments
TNETV2020/2840
www.ti.com

Texas Instruments is renowned for creating high-performance chipsets for specialized applications. However, many people may not be aware that TI has been a quiet but important player within the VoIP space. In fact, TI provides the core functionality for several vendors who are making VoIP gateway boxes, such as Askey and Quintum. Many VoIP gateway solutions require one or more separate RISC processors, separate DSPs, separate DSP memory, as well as separate Flash and SDRAM memory. TI has taken all of these separate components and combined them into a single chipset, thus reducing integration complexity. Thus, one of the key innovations of TI�s TNETV2020/2840 is that it allows for a solution at a much lower cost and a much smaller chipset � two chips versus a bunch of discrete DSPs and RISC processors, which allows smaller players to get into the VoIP space.

TI offers two products depending on your needs, namely the TNETV2020 and TNETV2840. The TNETV2020 has two Ethernet MACs, a PCI interface, USB interface, two DSP cores, RISC processor, memory, DES/3DES encryption, and 10 channels of voice. The TNETV2840 adds additional DSP horsepower and is used in conjunction with the TNETV2020 to offer full T1/E1 (24/30) voice channel

Texas Instruments is renowned for creating high-performance chipsets for specialized applications. However, many people may not be aware that TI has been a quiet but important player within the VoIP space. In fact, TI provides the core functionality for several vendors who are making VoIP gateway boxes, such as Askey and Quintum. Many VoIP gateway solutions require one or more separate RISC processors, separate DSPs, separate DSP memory, as well as separate Flash and SDRAM memory. TI has taken all of these separate components and combined them into a single chipset, thus reducing integration complexity. Thus, one of the key innovations of TI�s TNETV2020/2840 is that it allows for a solution at a much lower cost and a much smaller chipset � two chips versus a bunch of discrete DSPs and RISC processors, which allows smaller players to get into the VoIP space.

TI offers two products depending on your needs, namely the TNETV2020 and TNETV2840. The TNETV2020 has two Ethernet MACs, a PCI interface, USB interface, two DSP cores, RISC processor, memory, DES/3DES encryption, and 10 channels of voice. The TNETV2840 adds additional DSP horsepower and is used in conjunction with the TNETV2020 to offer full T1/E1 (24/30) voice channel capabilities. Voice codecs supported include G.711 (PCM), G.723.1A, G.726 (ADPCM), and G.729AB. Line Echo Cancellation is available as well as Voice Activity Detection (VAD) and Comfort Noise Generation (CNG).

In addition, TI�s TNETV2020 Enterprise VoIP Gateway Solution integrates with Telogy Software solutions to provide a wide range of voice/fax processing (including fax relay, T.38), signaling and network protocol features tailored for enterprise applications. This solution offers flexibility to customers in terms of the voice codecs that can be configured, the echo cancellation tail length, and which network protocols (SIP, H.323, MGCP) and telephony interfaces (FXS, FXO) are necessary, all of which vary with applications and service providers. With T1/E1 port density, the TNETV2020/2840 hits the �sweet spot� for small to medium enterprise applications and for multiple dwelling units (apartment buildings, campuses, hotels).


Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc.
Strata CTX Digital Business Communication System
telecom.toshiba.com

Toshiba is well known for its phone systems targeted at small to mid-sized business and they�ve built a sizable market share in this space. One of the problems in the past with PBX manufacturers is that if you required a major upgrade to your phone system you�d have to throw your system out and purchase a new one. Well, Toshiba has architected their phone systems such that they don�t force you to lose your investment.

In fact, small to medium-sized enterprises who desire to add IP telephony to their existing Toshiba Strata CTX business communication system can do so without a major overhaul. The Strata CTX is Toshiba�s family of digital business telephone systems, which includes the Strata CTX670 supporting up to 672 ports, and the Strata CTX100 supporting up to 112 ports.

Adding IP capabilities allows Strata CTX users to create a hybrid communication solution that mixes and matches IP telephones, analog, and digital telephones, both at the main office and remote locations, to meet the individual needs of the enterprise. They also support IP trunking applications.

Strata CTX 2.0 is the first solution to allow users of Toshiba Strata CTX business communication systems to add IP telephony capabilities to their systems. It is one of just a few systems that allow users to mix-and-match IP, analog, and digital telephones for enhanced flexibility. This means they can use IP where it makes sense, but can still leverage their existing investment in their traditional telephone system including their digital phones.

We should point out that Strata CTX systems are able to extend almost all the digital telephone features to the IP telephone. This includes busy lamp field (BLF) display of station status, background music through telephone speakers, paging over telephone speakers, and off-hook call announce through the telephone handset, which many manufacturers� IP telephones cannot support over an IP network.

TMC Labs was very impressed with Toshiba�s migration path that doesn�t leave older systems in the dust. Even if the user has an older Toshiba Strata DK telecom system, they can upgrade all the way to the Strata CTX 2.0, at a significant cost savings over buying a whole new system. We were also interested to learn that Toshiba claims to offer the industry�s only seven-year product warranty.


Vonage
Digital Voice
www.vonage.com

Choosing Vonage as one of our TMC Labs Innovation Award winners was a no-brainer. First, Vonage single-handedly has brought residential phone service using VoIP technology to the forefront of the mainstream press. Secondly, we have a few TMC Labs engineers and co-workers that actually use Vonage at home � a testimonial to Vonage�s usefulness. Vonage�s target markets include residential as well as small business consumers that have a broadband connection. Vonage DigitalVoice uses a proprietary SIPthruNAT technology, providing high-quality phone service through any and all broadband connections, using a standard or IP phone. Vonage uses an analog telephone adapter to convert your voice from an analog signal to a digital signal. The digital signal then can be sent over your high-speed Internet connection as data and then routed over the Internet to a regular POTS telephone or another SIP phone.

The beauty of the Vonage product is that it�s not just for outbound calls, you can receive calls to a PSTN phone number that is assigned to you. In fact, for $4.99/month you can choose as many �virtual phone numbers� as you like � each with a different area code so that you can have a presence in several states. This is quite useful if you have family or friends in other areas of the country and you want to save them the long-distance charges incurred when they call you. In addition, Vonage was the first to offer �number portability� in several areas of the country that lets you keep the phone number you already have. Vonage is also the first VoIP company to offer 911 service. Vonage recently announced it has signed up 30,000 customers for its national broadband phone service. For $39.99 a month and a one-time $29 start-up fee, Vonage offers unlimited calling to anywhere in the United States and Canada, plus cheap global rates.

Vonage also offers all of the traditional phone service features such as caller ID, call waiting, voicemail, and call forwarding, for free. The user is given full control over the choice of features, which can be easily changed as needed through the Web-based Vonage Dashboard. In addition, Vonage offers online account management, including Web-based voicemail retrieval and automatic call forwarding.


Witness Systems
eQuality ContactStore IP
www.witness.com

Witness Systems� eQuality suite is comprised of multimedia recording, performance analysis, and electronic learning management software that enables companies to enhance the quality of their customer interactions across multiple communications media, including the telephone, e-mail, and Web. Witness specifically submitted an application for their eQuality ContactStore IP product, a product within the suite, which provides for the capture and storage of customer voice and data interactions for not only traditional PSTN environments but VoIP telephony environments as well.

ContactStore IP enables not only the capture and storage of 100 percent of your interactions, but you can also assign contact attributes or �tags� to interactions for easy identification and reference. Customized tags can be created to meet the needs of the business environment such as more generic tags like perfect sales call, complaint calls, or threat calls to very specific tags like entering a deal ticket or confirmation number.

The system holds all data related to a customer interaction in a unified database so that voice recordings and screen data appear in a single unified view. By storing data relating to a customer interaction in a single unified database, users can easily search for specific interactions and then share them with other employees or departments within the organization. In addition, �intelligent� recording lets users trigger recordings with customized events through rich computer telephony integration (CTI) providing sophisticated real-time control over recording and call indexing.

eQuality ContactStore IP enables recording on demand (and total recording) for contact centers that use Cisco IP telephony, i.e., Cisco CallManager. One neat feature is that no matter when the record button is pressed during the call, the entire call will be captured and stored for playback. Users can also configure the phone to �do not record this call,� which is important for liability and privacy concerns. We should point out that Witness claims that ContactCenter IP product is the only product to decode Cisco�s SCCP Skinny IP phone protocol making it a simple plug and play installation. We should also mention that this product works just as well in non-Cisco environments.

eQuality ContactStore can replay interactions instantly due to its RAID-5 disk storage option. They also incorporate dual power supplies and a hot-swappable hard disk, so system downtime is minimized. The software runs on a standard PC server based on a Windows 2000 system. In pure VoIP environments, no cabling to trunks or extension lines need to be added as it connects at a LAN level. It also supports multi-channel replay over a LAN, a WAN, or via a telephone handset. The installation, commissioning, support, and upgrades of the software can all be handled remotely. Overall, TMC Labs was very impressed with the breadth of features that ContactStore IP covers, its fault tolerant capabilities, and its ability to record all types of customer interactions.

[ Return To The August 2003 Table Of Contents ]



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