2017 IT TMC Labs Innovation Awards
Welcome to the 18th annual INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine TMC Labs Innovation Awards, where we honor innovative technologies from a wide range of areas. Winners this year are quite diverse – from phones to BSS and 911 solutions. There has been emphasis on bringing solutions to market more quickly, which has obviously been enabled by the cloud.
We hope you read them all. But some that stood out to us include the new phone from Digium (News - Alert) as well as the Escene Communication phone dock, which works with Android and iOS. Htek also has a solid showing in the phone space. Other companies we want to highlight are Intelepeer for its Atmosphere Communications Platform as well as TELoIP and Viptela for the SD-WAN solutions.
D80 IP Phone
Since the advent of Asterisk, Digium has stood for quality products that are cost-effective as well. The D80 with its touch-screen buttons has an executive-level look and feel, but because it’s affordable and intuitive, it allows anyone in an organization to have one on their desk.
It’s completely touch-driven, using a 7-inch color HD screen. It provides a fully-integrated experience, giving users an unparalleled level of functionality with simple, flexible, and robust call handling. The D80 supports up to 100 Rapid Dial Keys / Busy Lamp Fields / Status Indicators and provides touch-screen access to advanced phone applications like visual voicemail, user presence, intelligent contacts, and visual call parking.
In the IP endpoint space, particularly for its target markets, Digium saw the need for a high-quality, low-cost, high-definition touch-screen telephone. The company felt the competitors in this space either focused on high cost or low quality. To strike a balance, the company took the audio and user-experience lessons learned from earlier generations of Digium’s IP phones combined with a wave of lower cost hardware options to bring the D80 to market as a high-quality, low-cost alternative to the competition. The company focused on reliability as well as excellent sound quality across all audio paths, particularly the speakerphone and handset.
Because the keys are all software-based, the company can tailor the user interface to the specific context that the user is experiencing for any given function. The large, 800 x 1280 pixel high-definition display with capacitive touch screen also provides a crisp and detailed canvas that’s aesthetically pleasing, and graphics that are smooth and snappy to use.
The D80 is an extremely easy-to-use tool for making telephone calls and speeding workflow without burdening users with the complexity they might find in other devices.
We were impressed with the capacitive touch capacity of the device – the same as an iPad, as well as the tight integration with Digium’s phone systems. For users, this is a win-win as they can have this integration with open source Asterisk as well as the company’s SwitchVox phone systems.
The Escene/Univois U7KS is a dock IP phone, stand and a charging port which can dock cell phones and tablets to make a U7KS smart IP phone. It can also be used with UC apps such as Skype and provides superior voice quality than the speaker and microphone of a typical consumer electronics device.
There is built-in Bluetooth that can support a mobile phone line feature, allowing users to dock their cell phone as a line of the U7KS. Then an IP phone can answer the incoming call for the mobile phone; transfer the mobile phone call to another IP phone extension; or make a conference call with another IP phone extension.
In addition, the phone supports a 5.8G Wi-Fi dongle, which is helpful if there is no wired network connection nearby.
The U7KS is the first dock IP phone on the market to dock iOS as well as Android devices (cell phones and tablets) and can use them with those devices to support multiple features.
The device uses SIP with the addition of BYOD, so it easily supports OTT clients as well as typical office UC clients and video talking clients. And it integrates personal BYOD-type devices with the IP phone.
What we like about this phone is the versatility – it works with everything on the market worth working with. That means workers can use whatever devices they like with their work phones.
The UC926 is a sleek, versatile, affordable, executive deskphone adhering to the latest SIP standards. And it is designed to meet and exceed the performance expectations of the most demanding of users. The UC926 also is packed with the latest high-speed networking capabilities and LCD technology.
The company uses advanced manufacturing capabilities and materials, and the UC900 series products come with a two-year warranty as standard, which should be especially important to ITSPs and dealer networks.
There is also an optional UC46 Expansion Module, which can daisychain six units. Each has a color LCD screen with a resolution of 800*480 and 20 programmable keys, each with a dual color LCD.
In addition, the company uses the latest Texas Instruments independent dedicated DSP voice processing chipset, the AIC3100, resulting in improved performance characteristics and exceptionally improved audio clarity, unlike other alternatives which use integrated, single, multi-purpose chipsets.
Firmware updates are inevitable, and such updates, despite the best operational and contingency planning, can sometimes fail. This is why the Htek UC900 series is designed to withstand such failure. With advanced technical capabilities, the devices will keep in memory the last known working version of firmware and will automatically roll back to this version in the event of firmware update failures, reducing operational downtime with the resultant loss.
With the Htek provisioning services, deployments are made fast, easy, automatically, and remotely – which saves travel costs and time. Using HTTPS Remote Provisioning Server, simply set the MAC address into the Cloud RPS, and then dispatch the phone(s) to the desired user(s) and location(s). The user then simply plugs the phone or phones into the LAN, the phone(s) connect to the Cloud RPS, where the MAC address is recognized and matched against the user details, and the RPS then starts to automatically provision the phone for use.
Additionally, Htek has wide ranging support for the world’s most popular PBX and telephony platforms, including, but not limited to:
- Broadsoft UC-One
- Bicom Systems (News - Alert)
The Atmosphere Communications Platform combines cloud communications, cloud contact center, and enterprise voice solutions into one complete business communications offering. Atmosphere Cloud Communications powers Cloud Calling and Cloud PBX for Cisco Spark unified communications. It’s a full-featured contact center solution with IVR, ACD, predictive dialer, agent scripting, cloud routing, and analytics and reporting capabilities. Atmosphere Voice Services enable global voice connectivity over an all-IP network for enterprises and platform providers.
Atmosphere also provides services enablement features and capabilities that allow carriers and platform providers to deliver full PSTN provisioning, management, and access to their global customers through any UC platform.
Agents can receive calls either through the Atmosphere Contact Center agent interface or through their Salesforce agent interface. It also provides business communications through Cisco Spark applications and endpoints, including traditional desk phones and the new Spark Board. Atmosphere Voice Services delivers high availability, high quality, highly secure voice services to customer premises and data centers via SIP trunking.
Some of the product accomplishments are as follows:
- Fully-integrated voice services platform providing PSTN access and management for Cisco Spark and Meraki;
- Complete business communications offering that combines network, application, and delivery for seamless service turn-up, reliability, and cost savings for business users, contact centers, and platform providers alike; and
- A full communications services layer that enables carriers and application providers alike to deliver global PSTN ordering, management, and calling capabilities through any UC solution.
The Atmosphere Services Layer leverages APIs, SIP, SIP registration, and soon WebRTC, to enable global delivery of voice services and service management to a wide array of UC solutions and customer endpoints. The first fully integrated deployment was within Cisco Spark and Meraki for IntelePeer customers in the United States in March of 2016. Since then, they have enabled a global carrier in the U.S. and a Canadian carrier to deliver their voice services through Cisco Spark.
Using the system, carriers and providers can in as little as four steps deliver their voice services through any UC platform in any region of the world.
What we like best about the product is addition of orderable edge devices to enable turn-up of voice services for legacy TDM-based PBXs and for special use cases such as TLS/SRTP for customers who need security but lack the technical capabilities or know-how. We also think the tight integration with Cisco products is a big plus. Finally, the system can be operational as a complete call center in under a month, another big positive.
BillCall is a robust BSS interconnect solution for telecom operators, LTEs, VoIP carriers, aggregators, and clearing houses. It offers accurate billing, charging, routing, accounting, fraud management, revenue assurance, and business management automation. Being interoperable with next-generation network switches, BillCall is equipped with a complete suite of reconciliation and settlement features for mediation, origination, termination, roaming, and transit traffic. The solution helps telecom industry players comply with industry regulations and safeguard business processes with timely alerts, notifications, and detailed reports including mobile applications.
BillCall 4.0 was designed to handle painpoints such as different interconnect billing systems for voice, SMS, and data; manual accounting entries; monthly recurring costs; and the complexities of deal agreements, dispute management, and forecasting and financial reports of telcos and carriers. The 4.0 version further simplifies billing processes and reduces operations costs with better time to market.
The updated solutions components include the following:
- Mediation – This is the ability to process and normalize the collected CDR files based on the filtration rules and business logic.
- Workflow Management – This triggers email alerts for each approval request.
- Reprocess Summary Application – Reprocess summary generation is based on the status of request as completed.
- Alert & Notification – These allow for deal alerts, costing and rates alerts, FTD, MTD, LTD Alerts, roaming alerts, and more.
- Reports – That includes finance reports, summary reports, a number report, and more.
Here are some details about the architecture of the solution and why these aspects of it are important.
The BSS interconnect solution comes with a modular architecture and offers an array of carrier-grade features in the form of distinctive modules.
Converged Mediation – The mediation layer is a critical component of a competitive billing solution, which integrates network elements and data sources. BillCall mediation and its network architecture cover entire billing mediation processes for different communication services like voice, SMS, and data, with a major focus on different processes of OSS, BSS, and network management. A single platform processes various billing models and service provisioning activities. The solution handles all the daily requirements of a converged platform, covering almost all the business segments and services management.
Converged Interconnect – BillCall Convergent Billing is a scalable and versatile billing system with modular architecture for various interfaces to external systems. It aligns well with the service provider business model and offers an end-to-end billing solution for all types of networks, services, and subscribers. This convergent real-time rating, charging, and billing system with extensive financial management capabilities integrates all service charges into a single customer invoice and gives a unified view to customers.
Roaming Interconnect – International roaming business is currently going through some major changes like increased competition, diverse roaming regulation, economic crisis, and increased traffic steering potential. BillCall Roaming Interconnect solution helps increase the scope of wholesale roaming negotiations between operators for different services. The system provides billing information for roaming partners, their billing vendors, and data clearinghouses, which helps operators in inter-carrier financial settlement and end user billing for roaming related charges. BillCall Roaming Interconnect enables operators to concentrate on their roaming negotiations and provides steps to be taken for improving their profitability on international roaming.
Carrier Interconnect - BillCall is a multi-tasking resource management system for wholesale carriers. It generates dynamic reports and helps business processes like sales, support, disputes, rates, routing, and accounts & finance to run smoothly. BillCall Billing Management solution can easily maintain call detail records that serve as the output to any billing system format, easing the integration with third-party billing platforms.
Deal Management – This enables the SMEs and large enterprises to create deals and obtain various reports based on a deal and its execution. This segment of wholesale VoIP allows participants to increase the revenue by exchanging volume or time-based destination rates.
Dispute Management - BillCall Dispute Management is a proficient and efficient system of dispute handling, capable of tracking and managing all types of disputes in the system. The system identifies the discrepancies as soon as they occur, verifies the loopholes, and resolves them instantly. It settles general disputes or inconsistencies on the basis of agreement and through vendor invoice reconciliation.
Fraud Management - Telecommunications fraud is one of the largest causes of revenue loss for service providers and has been a fact of life in the telecommunications business. BillCall Fraud Management helps to overcome frauds and activities like account provides evidence of a “NO Intention To Pay” (NITP) for the services used.
Revenue Assurance - Revenue assurance is a business process to identify, measure, and prevent the risk point of revenue leakage, the difference between expected revenue and actual revenue for minimum opportunity loss. BillCall Revenue Assurance limits the amount of money lost due to faulty billing systems, redundantly provided services, and fraud. It helps improve customer experience and increase billing accuracy by removing the inconsistencies in the bill. It involves all the data quality and process improvement methods that improve profits, revenues, and cash flows without influencing the demand.
Dynamic Routing Manager - BillCall Route Management is a scalable, fully automated least cost routing system, using complex longest-digit match algorithms to manage routing for VoIP switches. Least cost routes are prioritized on profitability, and non-profitable routes are blocked automatically. It is also designed to minimize the amount of hands-on time required to manage the routing and updating of user switches. This solution automatically imports carriers, codes, and rates from existing billing systems, eliminating duplicate data entry errors.
Dynamic Rating Manager - BillCall provides advanced Rate Management. It automates customer rate notifications and manages the vendor rates for relevant dates, codes, and country group minutely with optimum accuracy. All the carriers use a different rate format for rate presentation while some of them use CSV, the others use Excel format. The interactive rate upload process of BillCall Rate Management provides a comparison between new and existing rates and reviews the uploaded rates for validity and accuracy. All of these BillCall modules can be offered as an all-in-one bundle for complete BSS Interconnect Solution or each one of them can be provisioned separately, depending upon the needs of MNOs/LTEs/MVNOs, carriers, aggregators and other communications service providers.
The solution brings automation with billing, charging, routing, dispute, contract management, trouble ticketing, deals, alerts with synchronization, and business intelligence. The solution helps them offer best-in-class services to their customers with accuracy, while the system handles all other functions and operations for them. BillCall easily integrates with any third-party tools and leverages the existing infrastructure to offer extended services with minimum SaaS, PaaS, and license models.
We were most impressed with the Fraud Management and Dispute Management capabilities of the BillCall solution as they target important and costly painpoints for a variety of global operators.
TELoIP provides SD-WAN-as-a-Service, including core transport and orchestration, delivered in a 100 percent channel model. It eliminates barriers to SD-WAN adoption by leveraging a turnkey, multi-tenant cloud (the TELoIP Cloud) with nine points of entry in North America. Each is located in a carrier-neutral facility, allowing the company to provide a plethora of blended transit services co-located in these sites. Partners use their VINO Edge technology to access the TELoIP Cloud and build managed SD-WAN solutions for their customers.
TELoIP’s strategy is based on the premise that MPLS cannot meet the growing WAN and public cloud needs of business customers, they need to do something disruptive. SD-WAN allows enterprises to take advantage of broadband pricing across multiple aggregated service provider connections while ensuring reliability and performance at MPLS levels. The TELoIP Cloud creates a Virtual Intelligent Network Overlay (VINO) that unifies all branch traffic into a single cloud-managed SD-WAN overlay connection. TELoIP provides a comprehensive solution to replace MPLS for private cloud applications and ensure unbreakable tethers for public cloud applications while optimizing both WAN and internet traffic.
TELoIP was founded in 2002 and has spent the past 15 years developing and patenting core technology elements of software-defined networks. It currently holds 18 granted patents with another 20 in various stages of approval, giving the company a very strong intellectual property position.
The following infographic describes the services offered by TELoIP:
The following diagram describes the placement of technology within the TELoIP SD-WAN-as-a-Service solution:
Here’s a description of what’s happening in this diagram, working from left to right. At the customer location a VINO Edge CPE is installed. This CPE can aggregate up to eight underlay circuits to create a VINO. The VINO overlay links each branch to the proximal point of presence, which has fully redundant versions of the VM9000 controller and gateway software running on black box OEM hardware under VMWare in a resilient architecture. Each PoP is located in a carrier-neutral facility, allowing it to take advantage of transit services from providers such as GTT and NTT. All analytics traffic is passed to Google (News - Alert) BigQuery, which acts as the data lake for the VINO Portal. That’s a network orchestration platform including all key functions required to run a managed service with full multi-tenant/role-based access control capability for order entry, MACD (move, add, change, delete) sub-system and full NMS with complete network and applications visibility. At each PoP they break out to the public internet to create “unbreakable Cloud Tethers” to pubic SaaS services like Office365, hosted voice (i.e. Jive), etc. Finally they can provide access up to 1 Gbps for HQ/data centers with active/active or active/passive HA configurations.
There is a lot to like about the solution – some of our favorites include:
- The six patent-protected technologies: ANA, MDPS, IPDE, VWAN, Multi-PoP, cloud orchestration;
- Underlay circuit management (bring your own broadband – internet, MPLS or LTE);
- No missing diagnostic tools (a complete analytics and diagnostics solution is provided by the VINO Portal) and
- Full multi-tenancy and role-based access control across the solution.
Moreover, we really like the company’s IPDE WPD (Weighted Packet Distribution) used for traffic shaping with the following features:
- Batch packet processing efficiency within the aggregation & RLA Bandwidth function;
- Zero Weight Payload for high cost backup links when all the other links go down; and
- Phase-2 failover used by MDPS sets a link to zero weighted payload until recovered.
Finally, we were very impressed with the following recent improvements:
- Support for policy-based routing in control plane supporting per application/port controls and decisions and traffic tromboning;
- VINO Portal support for all CPE configuration parameters;
- Enhanced tools for VoIP call analytics and troubleshooting including PCAP capture, trace analysis, and call replay;
- Network-wide QoE visualization and analytics;
- Cloud-based management of UTM firewall and NAT functions; and
- North American-wide enhancement of TELoIP Cloud capacity.
Viptela has developed the Viptela SEN (Secure Extensible Network) platform SD-WAN technology that virtualizes wide area network infrastructure to allow for fast roll out of voice, video, and data applications using links across the extended enterprise, including remote offices, branches, ATMs, retail outlets, campuses, data centers, and more.
For service providers, Viptela SD-WAN platform opens up new opportunities by unifying WAN connection management (MPLS, internet, and 4G/LTE), segmenting traffic, enabling cloud transformation, providing zero-touch provisioning, and supporting application-aware routing for enterprise customers. The platform’s technologies for virtualizing the WAN allow enterprises to modernize and optimize their infrastructure for agility and high performance.
Bandwidth requirements generated by cloud, mobile, voice, and unified communications applications are making the use of MPLS connections cost prohibitive. Viptela solves these challenges by enabling enterprises to deploy an SD-WAN that supports any combination of connections (MPLS, broadband, wireless 3G/4G LTE, etc.) and unifies provisioning and management across cloud and data center resources for hundreds or even thousands of sites. Viptela SEN virtualizes WAN infrastructure to allow for fast rollout across the extended enterprise, including remote offices, branches, etc, at a 50 percent lower cost with 10 times more bandwidth and five times higher voice and cloud performance than some alternatives.
Turning on broadband is challenging. Voice and video applications are sensitive to latency, jitter, and packet loss. Viptela SD-WAN determines in real time which links will meet service level agreements for voice and video traffic to avoid network performance issues and outages. Viptela introduces resiliency at every level of the network: link, device, network, controller, application, etc. So there is reliable performance on voice and every other real-time application.
The solution natively supports any transport method including 3G/4G/LTE wireless for resiliency and to support sites that use wireless LANs, rely on mobile/cellular connections and retail/ATM branches that want to use wireless as a backup circuit.
Instead of independently managing hundreds or thousands of network devices and their configurations, Viptela centralizes management using a policy-based virtualized network overlay. This enables service providers to implement WAN policy or configuration changes that used to take six to 18 months, within days.
Viptela also provides a single view of resource usage and application performance, and automatically steers application traffic through the best paths based on changing network conditions. This leads to reliable performance even during failures, and on average increases bandwidth by more than 10 times and decreases latency for cloud applications up to 500 percent.
Viptela is able to roll out out zero-touch deployments at thousands of sites with centralized management. Existing customers have brought up 20 to 40 remote sites in a single day; and major carriers including Verizon and Singtel are using Viptela to deliver managed SD-WAN services.
The Viptela SEN solution contains various components. vEdge routers, which can be deployed in HW as well as SW form factors, are customer premises equipment devices that are deployed at the customer branch, data center, and cloud locations.
Control-plane components (vSmart, vBond, vManage) are hosted in Viptela cloud or in a partner cloud like Verizon or Singtel.
For operational teams, Viptela reduces the number of control points for operating a 1,000-site network from 1,000 to one.
MPLS services may take three months to be delivered by a carrier. With Viptela, a site can be up and running instantly using wireless LTE, and then supplemented by broadband or MPLS when available.
Viptela’s SD-WAN was purpose built to provide secure, scalable, resilient WAN, and improve the user application for a cloud-ready enterprise.
Some of the key innovations of Viptela’s SD-WAN solution are:
- Separation of control plane and data plane: Viptela SD-WAN provides a clear separation between management plane, control plane, and data plane. This allows each component to work independently and efficiently. It also enables scaling of the different components based on the needs of the network.
- Zero-trust: Viptela SD-WAN is built based on the zero-trust model. All of the components mutually authenticate each other, and all of the edge devices are authorized before they are allowed into the network. Every packet across data plane, control plane, and management plane that flows through the network is encrypted using SSL and IPSec technologies. The Viptela solution has differentiated capabilities to build a large scale IPSec network across thousands of branches.
- Zero-touch provisioning: All of the vEdge routers are enabled for zero-touch provisioning. This allows customers to significantly reduce their operational expense in device activations and deploy 25 to 40 sites per night.
- Cloud delivered: Viptela SD-WAN is cloud delivered. All of the controllers are hosted in the Viptela cloud or in a partner cloud, and customers can log in to the Viptela dashboard to centrally manage the WAN. Viptela vManage provides the ability to manage all aspects of the WAN from provisioning, monitoring, and upgrading routers to getting application visibility and troubleshooting the WAN.
- Security and segmentation: As more and more devices are internet connected and as new applications get rolled out in an enterprise branch, it becomes extremely critical for enterprises to isolate different types of traffic to avoid any threats coming out of different networks. Viptela’s SD-WAN provides fine-grained granular segmentation capabilities to segment various applications and users. For example, IT can create separate segments for guest Wi-Fi, PCI traffic, business applications, inventory applications, and video surveillance as well as voice calls.
- Active-active architecture: Every aspect of the Viptela architecture supports active-active deployment. From two circuits on an edge device to two edge devices at a site, all of these components of the deployment can be employed in active-active mode. In addition, all of the controllers are deployed in horizontally scalable architecture, and they all concurrently maintain state of the WAN network.
- East of management: Viptela vManage provides centralized provisioning capabilities for the edge router. Once provisioned using vManage, the edge router is locked from local changes, preventing accidental changes at a remote location. In addition, the vEdge router has the ability to automatically roll back in case of a control-connection loss when a new version of software or a new config is pushed to the router.
What impressed us most was some new enhancements – the company’s certification with the ADVA Ensemble Orchestrator for Network Functions Virtualization. This integration enables carriers and managed service providers to combine SD-WAN functionality from Viptela with other network functions, such as security, on a single customer premises or data center device.
In addition, in December, Viptela announced a solution on Amazon Web Services that allows enterprises to seamlessly add AWS resources to their wide area network. This relationship extends all the SD-WAN capabilities offered by the Viptela platform to AWS so resources can be managed and provide the same user experience as if they were hosted in a company’s own data centers. This enables the Viptela SD-WAN platform to provide ubiquitous connectivity, zero-trust security, end-to-end segmentation with application-aware SLA, and QoS policies for enterprise WANs that span data centers, branches, remote offices, and cloud resources. Organizations can mix and match a variety of connections from different service providers including MPLS, broadband, 3G/4G LTE, and satellite and point-to-point links, and manage them as a single network.
Vocalcom's Cloud contact center software allows companies to connect to customers using the latest innovations in web, mobile, and location awareness to grow their business faster and improve their customer experiences. Vocalcom allows companies to drive a 360° customer experience and improve daily customer engagement. Due to the obvious financial benefits and flexibility, and the fact that regular upgrades and ongoing innovation are available without any additional burden on internal IT resources, thousands of companies worldwide are better able to focus on differentiating their customer experience and reducing customer effort, which is what drives customer satisfaction.
The company’s cloud solution allows full web experience with no back office equipment sitting at the customer premises except a workstation with a browser and internet access; they could use embedded softphone or IP desk phones as well.
At the hosted location, it has application servers, databases, clustering for redundancy, voice server resources, telecom termination (SIP trunking), voice and video recording storage. Applications and data are hosted on Amazon Web Services.
Vocalcom Salesforce edition is available without any third-party application to deploy on the customer site with a USB headset.
It is able to set up (provisioning, billing) and deliver within a day a dedicated and fully operational environment designed for 250, 500, or 1,000 concurrent users.
Here are some key KPIs that outline the capacity:
- Time to create the complete environment multichannel, databases included (Oracle or SQL): one hour;
- SIP trunking routing: 30 minutes, including DID provisioning;
- Email account settings: 15 minutes; and
- Tests and acceptance: two hours.
One of our favorite new features is RecordSign, a full vocal digital subscription and digital marketing solution. Other areas that caught our eye were the forthcoming chatbot capabilities with integration to the Microsoft (News - Alert) framework and Facebook AI engine. Finally, we like the end-to-end Mobile Platform Solution for the contact center; it connects self-service, the contact center, social and mobile. Finally, we like Personalized Real-time Videos, which leverage customer profile and call-specific data to personalize the video of the resolution recap of customer issues, provide tips on how to self-serve, and recommend relevant products and/or services through engaging and personalized, real-time video experiences.
SalesForce Access is a native Salesforce App providing seamless integration between a phone system and SalesForce with deep and seamless communications integration. Rather than develop a bridge or connector that is not truly a part of SalesForce, Votacall took the approach to develop an app that resides in and looks like SalesForce to promote the UX.
SalesForce Access is the most intuitive Salesforce app for phone system integration on the market. There are no OS requirements, no constraints other than that users must be users of SalesForce. It promotes CX initiatives through customizable dashboards, reports, and analytics. The Missed/Unreturned Call report that the app comes with may become a customer service game changer.
Our favorite feature is the Missed/Unreturned Call report that the app also comes with out of the box. It can be very useful for businesses that want to maximize service levels and revenue.
Oigaa Work is a Chrome extension that multiplies the value of an enterprise PBX by bringing it into Gmail. While Gmail has built-in communications capabilities, it doesn’t integrate well with the enterprise telephony. On the other hand, while a PBX can do POTS, it’s typically isolated from the rest of an organization’s business information flow.
In other words, users can’t just pick up your phone and call to the last person who emailed them. Neither can they ask a handset to reply to a conversation they had with Bob where they told him “We are going to have problems if we do that.”
The company realized the PBX is mostly foreign to the information world. Even with the use of TAPI, it lives outside the constant innovation that the browser, and in particular, G Suite, represent. This is why the company thought it should bring the business phone to the core of the productivity space which, for many, is the Gmail browser “application.” Oigaa Work allows users to send and receive telephone calls from an Gmail inbox, either using the browser as a phone or interacting with an existing business phone or mobile device. The extension uses the information available in the G Suite environment to enhance the communications experience and at the same time adds to Gmail complete interaction information like like call logs, audio recordings, or call transcripts.
The search functions are accessed from the extension’s search applet. The implemented search functionalities are the following:
- Contacts search: Search among all Google and PBX Contacts and call them with one click. The search query can be typed or given via voice commands.
- Google search: Search for a business, person, or any other entity phone number in Google and call with one click
- Call log: Click-to-call display of the list of calls made, answered, or lost by the user in the telephony system enhanced with the contacts information.
- Frequent contacts: Convenient list of the most frequent contacts the user interacts with. The ranking is calculated after analysis of the user call patterns. Most probable next call contact appears first.
In terms of call functions, the extension has different modes of operation that allow user to make or receive the calls either from the browser itself or from a business phone or mobile terminal. When using the browser as a softphone may provide notification of incoming calls by showing the incoming call applet. Incoming calls can be answered, rejected, or played an audio message. If the latter is chosen, an entry on the calendar of the user reminding him or her of a pending call is automatically added.
Here are some other details about this aspect of the product:
Active calls trigger the active call applet. It provides the classical call management features like mute/unmute, DTMF, add participant or call forwarding.
Other functions include the ability to continue a call a business phone, which also works for mobile devices.
The load emails feature automatically loads all the emails coming from the call party in the Gmail Inbox.
Calls are made using the Opus audio codec which uses around 40 Kbps for download and upload. The codec is standard for WebRTC and provides high quality calling at reasonable bandwidth aside from optimal resistance to bad network conditions.
The Share Desktop feature lets user share the content of their desktop (or of any application in particular) with a call party without requiring any additional software. The only requirement is to have a recent version of Chrome or Firefox and an email address to which an invitation with a link can be sent. The link leads to a web application that will provide the screen content in real time.
The Add Video feature works in a similar way. It allows users to add a video feed to the call by sharing a link that leads others to a web app that consists basically of a video call. The audio remains on the phone, and the only requirement for the interlocutor is to have a WebRTC-enabled version of Firefox or Chrome and a working email address for the invitation link.
Recording of the calls can be activated or deactivated at anytime during a call. At the end of the call the audio is uploaded to the user’s Google Drive and an email related to the recording is sent. The email contains a link to the recording with a transcription of the call, which helps people review and search for content in the conversation at a later time.
And the Call conference and Call wait features allow the switching of two ongoing calls or their join. Once joined into a conference, calls can be later split at any time.
This solution also has contextual email functions. Every time the user opens an email the extension adds a contextual panel on the right with some useful information related to the open email. The panel shows the participants in the thread with their phone numbers, both the ones in Google Contacts and the PBX directory. If the email that’s open contains telephone numbers in its body, they are displayed as well for convenience. Clicking on any of the phone numbers triggers a call, making the typical action of calling upon reading very easy and convenient.
What we like about this product is the integration with Gmail. It allows communications to have more value because it makes communications part of the company’s information flow. The company believes a call triggered from an email has more value than a call placed from a browser – and far more than one dialed from a phone.
We are also impressed with the Asterisk-FreeSWITCH architecture, with the big data provided by Postgres DB. It also includes a least cost transcoding routing feature that allows users to migrate the computing intensive Opus codec transcoding function between different cloud computing providers in a real-time, financially optimized fashion that can reduce the cost of computing by up to 90 percent.
ZIP911 is an approved Tier 1 provider with complete PSAP coverage. Any provider worldwide can instantly provision E911 for DID numbers in the USA. The 911 coverage requires no number porting, so voice services are never at risk during activation and deactivation.
The product they provide on top of the E911 service is their Real-Time Emergency Contact Network. This service provides communications in real-time to loved ones, business executives, and medical physicians in the event of an emergency 911 call.
The company further provides alerts with the following communication options during a 911 emergency call:
- Voice Call
The emergency contacts are able to listen in on live 911 calls during an event. The emergency contacts are not able to interfere with the 911 caller and operator, however, if there are multiple emergency contacts being alerted (mother, father, office manager, CEO etc.) and they are able to communicate with each other while the call is being monitored. This allows real-time planning when every moment counts. In addition, if the Emergency Contact is not in a situation where they can listen in on the live 911 call, they also send the call recording of the 911 call so they may understand what transpired. They send the call recording via the following methods:
What we like most about the solution is it’s different and quite useful. Allowing loved-ones to be kept in the loop is an idea similar to Facebook Check In but able to tie into the emergency phone network.
Edited by Erik Linask