TMC Labs INTERNET TELEPHONY Innovation Award Winners Prove Communications Innovation is Strong as Ever

By TMC  |  April 21, 2020

It has been another amazing year in technology and communications and we are thrilled to report the innovation in the market is not slowing down. Winners of the coveted 2020 INTERNET TELEPHONY TMC (News - Alert) Labs Innovation Award include solutions to help carriers, MSPs and enterprises become more productive and efficient. A top quality line of phones, a superior ecosystem for MSPs, an innovative eCDN solution, an RoE TSN Switch, UCaaS solutions and more. We commend these companies for their continued innovation and desire to continually enhance the products they deliver to their clients. We hope you find these solutions useful and that you can use them in your business to become more efficient and profitable.
 

Altaworx, LLC

Catapult Ecosystem

The Catapult Ecosystem provides a turnkey solution for MSPs to start selling VoIP and Internet connectivity, mitigating the complex challenges with billing and compliance. The system incorporates white-label hosted VoIP, Billing-as-a-Service, and compliance through partnerships with AMOP, Rev.io, and GSA (News - Alert).

The solution sits in the cloud using netsapiens’ feature servers with a geo-redundant setup between three data centers and six internet connections. Catapult combines VoIP, Billing-as-a-Service and compliance in the same place as a feature. The solution breaks ground to lower the barriers to entry for MSPs that want to sell voice while collecting the proper taxes.

A big differentiator of the solution is that it really is platform agnostic – supporting Windows, Macs, and Linux machines. In addition, the solution incorporates compliance… Many other solutions refer MSPs to others to deal with this issue. Recently, the white-label VoIP platform added Stir/Shaken to comply with FCC mandates to reduce robocalls.

We chose the Altaworx Catapult Ecosystem to win the INTERNET TELEPHONY 2020 TMC Labs Innovation Award  because we were impressed with the turnkey white-label solution it provides MSPs, allowing them to provide UCaaS solutions while simultaneously having compliance and taxes taken care of.

Grandstream

GRP series of Carrier-Grade IP Phones

The GRP2600 series are state-of-the-art, carrier-grade IP phones designed for customization and mass deployment. This series of next-generation IP phones features a sleek design, a reimagined user experience, unified firmware, customizable faceplates and powerful next-gen features, including Wi-Fi support, Bluetooth, dual LCD screens and support for up to 10 lines. For zero-touch provisioning and deployment, these carrier-grade devices pair with the Grandstream Device Management System (GDMS) and can be integrated with third-party management platforms. Designed for enterprises, service providers and other high-volume markets, the GRP series offers a powerful, easy-to-use and easy-to-deploy voice platform with next-gen features for high-end users.

The series has been on the leading edge as evidenced by the following:

  • One of the first full IP phone product series to support Wi-Fi as a standard, built-in feature – many businesses are moving over to fully wireless offices, and many ISPs and WISPs now promote wireless VoIP as a major deployment method.
  • One of the first series entirely designed for customization – every model in the GRP series features a faceplate that can be easily customized with a company logo. This can be done in the company’s factory and shipped out on the devices or they can be provided after deployment for a reseller to customize in smaller batches for customers as needed.
  • One of the first IP phone series to include dual LCD screens – the GRP2614 and GRP2616 each include two LCD screens, with a second LCD screen being included to be used as a multi-page, dedicated speed-dial/BLF tool.

Grandstream is a leader in the Wi-Fi capable desktop IP phone space. Aside from its many Wi-Fi capable IP phones, including the GRP series, it also offers a wide-range of Wi-Fi APs and management solutions. As a result, the company offers everything needed for a wireless VoIP solution. Grandstream believes voice and video over Wi-Fi will soon be the norm, and is designing all of its desktop (and cordless) IP phones to support Wi-Fi and to be prioritized (using QoS) on Wi-Fi networks.

The GRP series is Grandstream’s first, and one of the industry’s first set of IP phones paired with a cloud provisioning and management platform (GDMS) with an API available to be integrated directly with a service provider or enterprise’s existing provisioning/management platform. The industry standard for many years had been integrating a manufacturer’s products with the back end of the service platform for provisioning. Now, a platform like GDMS allows a service provider to simply redirect to its platform, eliminating most of the interop testing and increasing speed-to-market.

The GRP2600 series makes mass deployment easier for service providers and enterprises, makes ongoing management easier for them, and does all of this at reasonable price point. This allows them to maximize the solutions they are able to offer their customers. The GRP series makes mass deployment and ongoing management easier with the GDMS cloud provisioning/management platform, available API, and shared/unified firmware across all seven models. The GRP series offers a solid value.

Distinctive features include:

  • Security protection, such as secure boot, random default password, unique security certificate per device, and encrypted data storage
  • Support for all major voice codecs, including wide-band Opus, G.722, G.711, G.729A/B, G.723, iLBC, G.726, etc. and multi-party conferencing
  • Dual firmware images for improved reliability
  • Unified firmware across all GRP2600 series models
  • Integrated dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
  • Dual switched auto-sensing 10/100/1000 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet ports with integrated PoE (most models)
  • Swappable face plates to allow for easy logo customization
  • Integrated Bluetooth

Recent improvements include certifications for BroadSoft, Metaswitch, netsapiens, SkySwitch, PortaOne, 3CX and more. Slight user interface improvements based on user feedback as well as increased boot-up speed.

We chose the Grandstream GRP series of Carrier-Grade IP Phones to win the INTERNET TELEPHONY’s 2020 TMC Labs Innovation Award  because it builds upon the company’s years of leadership in the IP endpoint space, offers a solid value, and adds features and functions that make it easy for carriers to deploy the devices quickly and efficiently.

HFR Networks

flexiHaul M-Series Radio over Ethernet (RoE) TSN Switch

The flexiHaul M-Series RoE TSN Switch (M6424) is one of the industry’s first Radio over Ethernet (RoE) best of breed fronthaul solutions. With flexible network deployment options, the M6424 is used across both centralized and remote hardened environments. This includes the ability to centralize the fronthaul aggregation of radios to both traditional baseband units (BBUs) and cloud topologies using virtualized baseband units (vBBUs). Hardened remote deployments enable service blending and convergence supporting CPRI aggregation at the remote radio head (RRH) along with adding RRH small cell 5G using eCPRI and adding Ethernet services.

The solution offers significant cost benefits, as well as operational efficiencies, blending CPRI and eCPRI traffic with Ethernet services on a converged network using Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) for optimizing limited fiber resources. The M6424 delivers an open, lower cost and more efficient RAN aggregation and transport solution than transponder based or proprietary RAN platforms. Instead of multiple transponders with unique optics per RAN vendor requiring manual cross-connect using WDM, the M6424 has a scalable switch fabric with automated provisioning, resulting in a more than 75% footprint reduction while enabling expedited service delivery for 24 multifunctional ports of mixed traffic in minutes versus hours. Standards-based IEEE 1914.3 RoE and 802.1CM TSN compliant features offer the flexibility to normalize operations across a diverse mix of radio suppliers, as opposed to being forced to use proprietary solutions unique to each radio vendor.

The flexiHaul M-Series RoE TSN Switch solves the RAN transport and access network challenges that operators face with the roll-out of new 5G and Ethernet services in parallel with the on-going support and capacity upgrades of their existing 4G and 3G networks.

This solution marks an important industry milestone, with standards-based packet fronthaul able to normalize operations across radio solutions from leading third-party suppliers. Solutions are purpose-built to enable an advanced mobile network with nanosecond timing, connecting cellular radios using Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI) and eCPRI packet solutions supporting both traditional and cloud-based NFV mobile architectures. CPRI traffic is encapsulated using IEEE Radio-over-Ethernet (RoE) standards to realize significant performance and cost benefits.

Designed to address the RAN transport and access challenges that arise when operators struggle to increase capacity on 4G LTE networks in parallel with ramping new 5G and Ethernet services, HFR Networks’ M-Series TSN Switch solution is the next generation in RAN transport solutions. This solution is a cost-effective, high capacity and scalable TSN switch that delivers solid economics, as well as the ability to combine RAN transport with other traffic types such as Ethernet business services on a common infrastructure.

Supporting existing networks 4G and 3G while ramping up new 5G services, combined with the ability to converge Ethernet services, operators realize that time to market and cost-efficient deployments are critical to solving complex business cases across highly competitive markets.

Fortunately, multiplexing packet technology can enhance fiber capacity using time sensitive networking (TSN), also known as Ethernet multiplexing. This allows blending time sensitive mobile services – such as 4G CPRI (10 Gbps) and 5G eCPRI (10/25 Gbps) – using Radio over Ethernet with preemption alongside standard Ethernet services. HFR Networks has developed an RoE/TSN-based solution to solve urgent Xhaul challenges, including delivering high performance and cost-effective access services on a converged Ethernet access network.

Extending fiber capacity, HFR Networks’ M-Series RoE TSN Switch ensures an overall reduced TCO, rapid time to market, a smooth evolution to 5G and additional revenue streams with new services.

Key Benefits Include:

  • Simplifies and converges network to reduce deployment and operational costs while simultaneously supporting multiple services (4G LTE, 5G and Ethernet).
  • Supports 800 Gbps-scale performance by aggregating and switching radio traffic as the fronthaul links continue to scale from 2.5G to 10G to 25G and beyond. Preemption enables the support for mixed Ethernet services along with mobile traffic.
  • Allows multiple carrier isolation using a shared infrastructure with independent carrier synchronization and structure agnostic mapping mode for encapsulation and transport of radio traffic.
  • Provides an open, standards-based solution that normalizes operations across leading third-party RAN suppliers, ending vendor lock-in and eliminating interoperability problems in mixed Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI) implementations.
  • Enables better utilization of the deployed fiber infrastructure for remote radio head connectivity, thus reducing costs and delays associated with additional fiber investments.

With the introduction of 5G, operators around the world realize that they must quickly evolve their RAN transport and access architectures to address new network and customer demands. When compared to many competing legacy solutions HFR Networks’ M-Series RoE TSN Switch solves urgent Xhaul challenges while delivering compelling cost and performance benefits:

  • Lowers overall TCO: up to 50% lower cost; up to 90% turn-up time savings; up to 75% footprint reduction and simplified spares inventory management compared to transponder based offerings.
  • Smaller footprint: Blends 4G CPRI, 5G eCPRI and Ethernet services over a single compact 1RU hardened TSN platform.
  • Open standards-based: Packet fronthaul normalizes operations across radio solutions and BBU cores from 3rd party suppliers.
  • Greater performance: Leverages dynamic spectrum sharing by facilitating a fast/smooth evolution to 5G services using common fiber and transport infrastructure.
  • Time Sensitive Networking (TSN): Purpose built for time sensitive networks (TSN), the M-Series RoETSN high performance design enables advanced mobile networking architectures and applications with nanosecond timing requirements. TSN offers synchronization to the cell site remote radio, while maintaining low latency variation for aggregated 4G and 5G traffic by preempting Ethernet and Internet services.

HFR Networks continues to expand its interoperability testing and deployments across a broad mobile ecosystem. This includes expanded use cases to also cover in-building, and campus or private network scenarios. The copmpany also continues to support a diverse set of legacy technologies and deployment scenarios (3G/4G), while also working with new emerging standards, such as Open RAN compliant solutions.

The M-Series TSN Switch is an O-RAN compliant fronthaul gateway platform that includes a PHY-LOW networking interface that significantly improves bandwidth efficiency and enables multi-vendor interoperability between legacy and new base station equipment.  With this solution, a 5G overlay is not needed on existing 4G transport networks, helping to reduce total costs and speed time to market of lucrative new 5G services.

We chose the HFR Networks flexiHaul M-Series Radio over Ethernet (RoE) TSN Switch to win INTERNET TELEPHONY's 2020 TMC Labs Innovation Award because of the tremendous innovation and value it brings to carriers.

Masergy Communications

Masergy UCaaS

Masergy delivers enterprise-grade, unified communications as an all-in-one cloud solution. Available in 120+ countries via public and private connections, and embedded into Masergy’s own software-defined network, enterprises can prioritize global, reliable connectivity with industry leading collaboration functionality. Plus, it’s all surrounded with security services provided by Masergy.

Services in Masergy’s UCaaS solution arm employees with a rich set of communications applications, enabling them to work efficiently from anywhere on any device. Services in the solution include:  

  • Cloud PBX (News - Alert) calling features
  • Advanced call management
  • Conference calling and bridges
  • Single number reach
  • Call reports
  • Direct phone number
  • Emergency service
  • Voicemail to email with transcription
  • Number porting
  • Unlimited domestic calling
  • Chrome dialer
  • Several other features
  • Softphone
  • Desktop sharing
  • Instant messaging
  • Presence
  • Screen and file sharing
  • MyRoom personal meeting space
  • Connect applications for iOS and Android to allow remote employees to collaborate with ease

Masergy UCaaS requires soft or hard phones for each end user and a browser for remote management. The company also offers an optional enterprise SBC (session border controller) for additional visibility.

In 2016, Masergy was the first to offer its Visual Auto Attendant (VAA). This robust feature set enables real-time customer interactions directly through the browser, initiated from any page on the customer’s website. The transition from a web page visit to a real-time communications experience is seamless, as the visitor is connected to the appropriate resource based on menu option selections prior to starting a voice call. The visitor saves time by not having to use a telephone or dial any phone numbers. Moreover, the visitor no longer needs to listen to lengthy automated attendant greetings or make IVR selections to be connected to the appropriate resource.

Masergy’s UCaaS takes a well-known cloud service to a new level by making it available in 120+ countries via its enterprise gateway to provide flexible calling plans with SIP trunking and complete PSTN replacement in 25 countries. The solution is delivered via Masergy’s own software-defined network surrounded with Masergy security services, so enterprises can prioritize reliable connectivity and a seamless experience, globally.

Masergy’s global services provide more seamless communications experiences. The company maintains strong relationships with providers in each country of service, to enable a truly local call experience.

Masergy’s UCaaS solution is differentiated by its delivery over their global software defined network and deep feature set, with guaranteed end-to-end quality to provide the communication reliability enterprise customers demand. This can be superior to OTT solutions, which could have inferior performance, reliability, and security.

Collaboration across business silos is an uphill battle in any organization, with Masergy’s ability to offer a consistent experience and visibility globally, the technology enables instead of hinders effective collaboration. Recently, the company added a new RingCentral (News - Alert) unified mobile app available from its app store and, in the last six months has localized the app – in addition to English, it is now available in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Korean. The company says it will continue to localize the RingCentral mobile app for all global regions and countries over its quarterly product release schedule.

We chose Masergy UCaaS to win INTERNET TELEPHONY's 2020 TMC Labs Innovation Award as it is a high-quality solution from a company with a strong network as well as deep cybersecurity experience to keep communications secure.

Metaswitch

MaX UC

Launched in January 2019, MaX UC is an in-network, mobile native UC&C solution designed from the ground up to deliver a seamless mobile experience from the cloud for enterprises. MaX UC addresses the most pressing problem for mobile business communications users: low adoption of the mobile UC app that can lead to reduced enterprise productivity and lack of compliance with regulatory and IT security policies.

On a single platform, MaX supports the launch of several new solutions to address different use cases and user environments. For mobile operators that originally focused on the consumer space, the MaX platform creates opportunities to tap into the business market. Customers with an evolving profile can conveniently and cost-effectively upgrade from MaX Micro to MaX UC without the disruption involved in changing providers or user experiences.

MaX UC seamlessly addresses mobility needs for enterprise workers with a simple and intuitive experience that is based on reliable network voice service that only mobile operators can provide. By shifting the primary user interface to the native dialer versus a separate UC app, MaX UC drives adoption by enterprise employees and revenue generation for service providers by leveraging their mobile network assets. MaX UC integrates with IMS-based networks to provide an equally appealing experience on both iOS and Android devices and incorporates Metaswitch’s existing rich UC platform, in use by tens of millions of enterprise workers today.

User experience is central to service adoption. A perfect union of QoS enabled, network-based multi-identity capabilities, the purity of the native dialer on any smartphone, simple onboarding and a comprehensive suite of PBX and UC features is the basis of the MaX mobile native UC experience. By leveraging the native dialer on any mobile device, MaX UC makes communications and collaboration easy, eliminating the need for a variety of OTT voice and messaging apps and better integrating mobile and fixed workers onto a common solution.

Unique features include:

  • Video and Collaboration – Integrated Accession meeting web and video collaboration. Users can launch meetings for up to 200 participants, either uplifted from a MaX UC call or IM session in progress or scheduled with either internal or external contacts. Using a one-touch context-sensitive menu, the MaX UC client provides access to essential mid-call business functionality within the native dialer, including adding additional team members to the call, switching the call to a desktop device, and uplifting to a full video collaboration session.
  • Mobile PBX – MaX UC supports network-based business policies to replace existing mobile Centrex/VPN services such as: presentation of business identity, private dial plan/short code dialing, hunt group membership, and call recording. 
  • Network Voice – Calls to or from any identity are delivered via the mobile operator’s cellular network. Unlike OTT apps where the calls follow the IP data path and, therefore, are not guaranteed priority handling, calls are QoS-assured over the cellular network. 
  • One-step Onboarding – Simple user journey to maximize adoption, with SIM and SMS-based authentication, obviating the need for usernames and passwords. 
  • Multiple Identities – Using network intelligence, individual employees may be reachable via voice and messaging over multiple identities, whether that be directly using a number assigned to the employee or via a shared business number.
  • Business Policy Control – MaX UC allows the business to regain control of business identities, while allowing personal identities to be kept for personal calls. Policies allow the appropriate calling line ID to be presented while also controlling other services, such as barring premium destinations and/or recording business calls.

MaX UC is a great answer to the mobile unified communications challenge and is the first to provide a solution that has the richest feature functionality. By striking the right balance between ease-of-use and extensive UC functionality for mobile devices, the application helps service providers fill a gap in the market for high-quality, intuitive mobile UC services that business users eagerly need.

Mobile is the primary form of communications for many business users, especially those who work for small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) or are independent prosumers. But, more times than not, business users cannot enjoy the same UC features when outside the office, away from their desk phones and on their smart devices. The experience is poor, which is why mobile UC take-up remains low.

MaX was the first among its class designed to be mobile. This carrier-grade group communications platform allows mobile network operators to blend the smartphone’s native dialer with network-based voice and messaging services, multi-personas, unified communications and collaboration features together with a simple management system. The result is a unique, easy-to-use, high-quality mobile UC experience that mobile operators can offer to business customers. Mobile workforces challenge businesses to maximize productivity, customer service and compliance with regulatory and IT security policies.

Metaswitch allows providers to launch innovative mobile-first offerings tailored to consumers and business users that employ mobile devices as their primary or sole communications endpoints, as well as helps them easily switch from mobile to desktop devices. The MaX product line leverages Metaswitch’s proven, scalable, and extensible standards-based platform that supports rapid innovation and continued feature development. The platform presents one of the most comprehensive feature sets in the industry, including cloud private branch exchange (PBX), voicemail, instant messaging (IM), presence management, audio/web/video conferencing, and contact center.

MaX UC enables network operators to uniquely deliver a complete mobile unified communications and collaboration offering available straight from the handset’s native dialer – no other solution offers this. As a platform designed to meet the needs of individual users, small business, and large enterprises, MaX puts intelligent telephony control into the network. Recognizing the need for network operators to own a subscriber’s rich voice, video and collaboration experience, MaX puts calling, meetings, and collaboration at a user’s fingertips. This premium offering adds significant value to an operator’s service packages, with advanced features that would require several disparate over-the-top applications to replicate

Meeting strong demand from service providers around the globe, Metaswitch’s MaX UC leverages the service provider network to deliver a superior user experience compared to OTT solutions for enterprises, SMBs and prosumers. The native dialer integration for both Android and Apple devices, coupled with native cellular calling for multiple identities, is a significant advantage, offering users unparalleled reliability, performance and ease of use.

MaX by Metaswitch does not have direct competition with other unified communications and collaboration offerings in terms of its rich feature/functionality. For example, similar offerings that let consumers have multiple phone numbers across one or more mobile devices require customers to have accounts specifically with the mobile operator. MaX offerings can work with phones serviced by different mobile operators.

Business and IT leaders understand that, in the digital era, competitive advantage is not necessarily determined by the company with the lowest prices or best products, but by an organization’s ability to make the best decisions, with the right people, in as short a time as possible, regardless of where they are.

The desire to capitalize on digital transformation has put an emphasis on mobility, which has grown even more important with the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, as this enables workers to access more information from more locations, leading to an ever increasing number of mobile workers. According to the 2018 ZK Research Mobility Survey, five years ago, just under 30% of workers could be considered mobile (defined as spending more than 20% of their time away from their primary workplace). Now, not so distant research estimates 52% of all workers and 90% of knowledge workers are mobile and this number is growing.

The cloud-based MaX family of products stands out among competitor solutions with its significant potential to impact the industry and create new growth opportunities for both Metaswitch and its service provider customers. It is closely aligned with both evolving end-customer needs and shifting service provider requirements.

More specifically, the MaX UCaaS solutions portfolio addresses several key challenges that service providers face today. With declining wireline voice usage and shrinking residential mobile revenues due to heightened competition and price pressures, telecom operators need to leverage opportunities in the business space – they must address pent-up and new demand for contemporary mobile communication solutions. As most communications services also become highly commoditized, providers require technologies that enable them to differentiate and offer unique value propositions to their entire customer bases – from consumers to entrepreneurs, SOHOs, micro-businesses and enterprises. Furthermore, providers are facing intensifying competition from innovative over-the-top (OTT) providers. Mobile native, cloud-based solutions enable mobile operators to leverage their mobile network assets to differentiate and out-compete OTT providers.

Unified messaging features include:

  • Contacts: Centralized address book integrated with the handset’s native contacts
  • Instant messaging: Synchronized with presence with customizable status and contacts
  • Visual voicemail: Includes summary screen. Player supports voice and video mail. Optional speech-to-text
  • transcription with subscription to cloud-based service.
  • Call manager: Exposes call manager options (eg. Available, Do Not Disturb, Forward Calls)
  • UC trigger integration: Single-click through to customer relationship management (CRM), conferencing, file sharing and collaboration

Web and video conferencing features:

  • Screen and application sharing
  • Desktop remote control
  • Scheduled meetings in App, Outlook or one click invite from directory and chat log
  • One click uplift from phone and chat session
  • Voice and video conferencing, with sharing of up to 200 video streams
  • Integrated moderator controls and call recording
  • Webinar feature with support for panelists
  • Meeting features are powered By Zoom

Recent improvements include support of mixed environments of mobile-native users, soft client users and desk phone users.  It has been enhanced on both server and client side to deliver the following business UC features on the smartphone native dialer:

  • Favorite contacts
  • Presence status
  • Swipe-to-add contact to call
  • Mid-call access to IM
  • Mid-call uplift to Meeting and retaining cellular voice  
  • CRM lookup of caller

We chose the Metaswitch MaX UC to win INTERNET TELEPHONY’s 2020 TMC Labs Innovation Award because we are impressed with the solution’s ability to give carriers to ability to compete and win against OTT social networking competitors. The native dialer integration for both Android and Apple devices, coupled with native cellular calling for multiple identities, is a significant advantage – offering users unparalleled reliability, performance and ease of use.

Ooma

Ooma Connect

Ooma Connect 460 changes the game for fixed wireless internet and phone service at the edge. Where today’s solutions cost thousands of dollars and require professional installation on site, Ooma Connect is just $599 and can be installed in minutes by anyone. LTE-Advanced internet service starts at just $29 a month and Ooma Office cloud-based phone service starts at just $19.95 per month per extension. Small and mid-sized businesses currently stuck with slow, overpriced DSL or satellite service can significantly cut their monthly costs with Ooma Connect. Larger organizations can provision multiple locations quickly and efficiently, without waiting days or even weeks for incumbent service providers to send an installer.

There are two components to Ooma Connect – the Ooma Connect Base Station and Ooma LTE 460 Adapter. The solutions has been designed to be very forward-leaning, with eight antennas to maximize flexibility for indoor deployment, along with critical LTE-Advanced capabilities such as various MIMO configurations, high-power user equipment, 256QAM (for enhanced speed) and carrier aggregation.

Ooma Connect sits at the customer premises, while the Ooma Office business phone service is provided in the cloud. Ooma Connect is a new way to use LTE-Advanced wireless networks, delivering a fixed service for internet and phone connectivity with unprecedented affordability and ease of use.

There are two use cases for Ooma Connect: primary internet access and back-up internet access. In the primary use case, small and mid-sized businesses currently stuck with high-priced DSL, satellite or even cable service can lower their costs substantially. In the back-up use case, SMBs now have an affordable and easy to install solution for keeping their businesses running when their primary internet connection goes down.

Ooma’s unique patent-pending Continuous Voice feature transmits Ooma Office calls simultaneously through both the wired broadband and LTE-Advanced connections. If wired broadband goes down, all calls in progress continue through the LTE-Advanced network. Continuous Voice also allows Ooma to mitigate network-impacting conditions that may occur on the wireline or wireless transport paths.

We chose Ooma Connect to win INTERNET TELEPHONY’s 2020 TMC Labs Innovation Award because it is a groundbreaking solution leveraging wireless to provide a cost-competitive solution DSL or satellite solutions. It also acts as a solid backup solution at a reasonable price.

Ramp

Ramp Multicast+, Ramp OmniCache – Enterprise Content Delivery Network (eCDN)

Ramp provides a suite of enterprise content delivery network (eCDN) solutions specifically designed to reduce network congestion created by live and on-demand video streaming on corporate networks. Using multicasting, video caching, or a combination of both, customers can stream high-quality video to large audiences without worrying about network performance or complaints about buffering and delays. The solutions are deployed 100% behind the firewall on existing infrastructure (virtual machine or bare metal) and require no cloud access to operate, thereby protecting enterprise security policies. Their network optimization includes centralized management, monitoring and insightful analytics, to give administrators unprecedented visibility and control over network performance while providing audiences an uninterrupted, high-quality viewing experience.

Ramp Multicast+ is a next-generation solution that includes:

  • Multicasting for live HTML5 video (HLS, DASH)
  • Vendor-neutral multicast solution
  • Allows IT to have a highly predictable, deterministic network
  • Superior eCDN for streaming live video on Wi-Fi networks
  • Patented forward error correction and heartbeat monitoring for exceptional resiliency
  • Silent testing/event simulation for spotting potential network concerns before a live event

Ramp OmniCache is an intelligent caching solution for live video and VOD:

  • Single solution for live and VOD
  • Reduces the distance video needs to travel by storing copies of your videos at local caches
  • No client software or plugin required
  • Best option for mobile devices
  • Self-discoverable, self-healing for exceptional resiliency
  • Pre-position videos during periods of low network activity
  • Easy to start small and scale as needed

Ramp Multicast+ is a highly-effective way to stream live video. It takes advantage of the multicast protocol to send a single video stream to everyone on the network without consuming any more bandwidth than is needed for one viewer. Customers maintain a highly predictable and deterministic network, regardless of whether they have 100, 10,000 or 100,000 viewers. Multicast+ is deployed and managed 100% behind the firewall with built-in security to prevent unauthorized access to video content while in motion and at rest. It’s a lightweight, software solution that can install on existing infrastructure, so there is no need to upgrade the network or buy proprietary hardware.

The patented Multicast+ solution was the first eCDN to provide standards-based and secure multicast delivery for any live video deployment that uses HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) or Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH). Multicast technology has traditionally been known to have security vulnerabilities. Ramp has added enterprise-grade security features to Multicast+, such as end-to-end encryption of data while in motion and at rest, digital signatures to ensure the integrity of the exchange between video senders and receivers, encryption of the receiver disk cache at the viewing device, and support for HTTPS using PKI certificates to prevent transmission of unauthorized video streams.

Patented Forward Error Correction and Bandwidth Smoothing

Multicast+ contains Ramp-patented innovation for forward error correction (FEC), a method for managing momentary loss of data. Encoding A/V data for transmission using FEC is done by organizing bits and gathering them into two-dimensional blocks representing data over a certain duration of time. The blocks contain codes with forward and backward predictive information to help the decoder reconstruct lost packets when the blocks are received. The accuracy of the decoding process is highly contingent on the size and number of chunks of data lost from the block. Furthermore, the more contiguous data is lost from the blocks, the more the playback quality of the video is degraded at the viewing device.

Ramp’s FEC algorithms take the typical encoding process and apply two enhancements. First, they take data over a longer period of time, so each block is more information-rich and each bit lost has less impact on the ability to reconstruct packets. Second, they rotate the blocks 90 degrees, so data lost equates to small chunks from several groups of contiguous bits rather than large chunks from a single contiguous set of bits. These two adjustments mean the packets are almost fully reconstructable when they arrive at the decoder. Performing forward error correction in this way makes Multicast+ highly reliable, even on wireless networks susceptible to heavy loads and channel interference.

While FEC in general reduces errors in data transmission, it inherently comes with tradeoffs. The bits used for codes and redundancy require bandwidth that could otherwise be used for stream data, and the check bits themselves can become sources of error. Therefore, Multicast+ also uniquely allows administrators to both monitor and configure the level of error correction depending on what the network requires.

Event Simulations

Multicast+ includes an event simulator for assessing the end-to-end performance of a global Multicast+ environment and verifying the infrastructure is properly configured for live video events. Simulations are more efficient, flexible, and reliable than conducting live event trials with actual viewers. The complexity of organizing live test events and recruiting sufficient participants often produces inconclusive results, mostly because participation rates create large blind spots in test coverage. With Multicast+, administrators can create and schedule simulated, fully functional video events that instruct participating Multicast+ senders to notify Multicast+ receivers to join the event for a specified period of time. The receivers gather information, then return event-related statistics viewable via the unified management system.

Ramp OmniCache is an intelligent video caching solution that redistributes video in nearly any format from virtually any streaming video source. Unlike other eCDNs, viewers can watch both live streams and video on demand (VOD) without installing software or plugins on their PCs, tablets or mobile phones.

OmniCache software is deployed on the LAN and/or in data centers to serve video to nearby viewers. By redistributing video locally, customers can save 90 percent or more on WAN and internet bandwidth. OmniCache supports a wide variety of use cases and deployment scenarios. Its ability to scale effortlessly gives customers flexibility to address network congestion gradually as demand for video grows over time.

OmniCache was recognized in October of 2016 as the first eCDN to be certified with Microsoft Stream and was highlighted at Microsoft’s annual customer and partner conference, Microsoft Ignite, in Atlanta. Since that time, both of Ramp’s network optimization solutions have been fully integrated with Microsoft’s video streaming platforms.

Ramp recognized that many enterprise networks are fragmented and not fully multicast-enabled. OmniCache complements Multicast+ to provide end-to-end eCDN coverage for any network and any use case, all administered from a unified management interface.

Self-Discoverable, Self-Healing

The ability to scale gracefully can make or break any enterprise solution. OmniCache has an auto-discovery engine that sets it apart from other enterprise content delivery networks. The auto-discovery engine allows multiple OmniCache nodes to communicate and register with each other, forming a mesh of nodes that are used to populate a routing table. Each node in the table serves a set of IP subnets (CIDRs) along with a given weight preference. Ramp’s management server becomes the central auto-discovery peer that populates the routing table.

When an additional cache is added to the network to serve more employees or a new location, it is automatically discovered and pulled into the mesh, making it easy to scale the deployment. When called into action, the mesh now handles the optimal routing of traffic based on node proximity, availability, and capacity. This same engine makes OmniCache a self-healing solution for enterprise resiliency. Should a cache drop offline for any reason, the routine engine will optimally reroute and balance traffic on available caches until the affected cache becomes operational again.

Video Prepositioning

Bandwidth is a precious commodity, especially if the network extends to customer-facing applications, like self-service kiosks or point-of-sale systems. When a large audience watches video at the same time, such as a mandatory training, a pre-recorded CEO message or content pushed to digital displays, it can dramatically impact business-critical traffic on the network. With OmniCache, customers can avoid network spikes by pre-positioning video content at the local caches during times of low network activity.

For example, customers in the retail industry have numerous store locations with limited network connections. They schedule video assets for employees and digital signage to download at those locations overnight. By prepositioning the videos, they reserve and prioritize bandwidth at these locations for daytime business functions like credit card transaction processing.

Ramp Differentiators include:

  • Multicasting and video caching software for every enterprise, regardless of audience size or location
  • Platform neutral, integrated with and verified to work with almost every video platform
  • Supports mobile, Wi-Fi and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)
  • Optimizes live streams and video on demand (VOD)
  • Solves delivery problems at the infrastructure level not the application layer
  • Deploys 100% behind the firewall for maximum security protection
  • Enterprise-grade security with end-to-end encryption
  • Centralized management and monitoring
  • Insightful, in-depth analytics to examine network performance and quality of experience (QoE)

In addition to the ongoing product improvements to meet enterprise customer expectations, product improvements have been focused on two areas.  First, Ramp continues to expand the number of integrations across its partner ecosystem and improve the ease of implementation (one-step setup). It also is focused on enhancing robust reporting and analytics capabilities to provide insight into every aspect of the streaming video environment. Ramp’s analytics engine monitors and records key performance indicators (KPIs) to expose the health of the video network and deliver meaningful insights into quality of experience (QoE) and return on investment (ROI).

We chose Ramp’s  Multicast+ and OmniCache solutions to win INTERNET TELEPHONY’s 2020 TMC Labs Innovation Award because it provides a secure, resilient eCDN, with continued innovation that help differentiate it from other players in the market.

Star2Star Communications

Full Spectrum Communications Solution

Star2Star’s Full Spectrum Communications Solution revolutionizes enterprise businesses with end-to-end solutions that deliver the ultimate flexibility, scalability, and productivity needed to optimize daily operations. Full Spectrum Communications unifies voice, video, mobile, chat, fax, presence management, SMS/MMS, virtual desktops, and more into a single, easy-to-use system. Companies can select their preferred technology from a range of options, including pure cloud to hybrid on-premises options, to help reduce their costs and enhance their workflows. All Star2Star solutions include advanced UC features, built-in business continuity, and the power of SD-WAN for crystal clear call quality.

The Full Spectrum Communications Solution leverages unique cloud architecture that combines aspects of on-premises and pure cloud solutions to get the best features of both without the limitations of either.

The Full Spectrum Communications on-premises platform extensively utilizes the cloud but also maintains some on-premises hardware and services including the revolutionary StarBox Voice Optimized SD-WAN and Star2Star’s private cloud-based network. The pure cloud version of Full Spectrum Communications leverages the same feature set and ultra-reliable service without any on-premises components.

For the on-premises platform, the StarBox Voice Optimized SD-WAN sits at the customer location. Star2Star’s network and our suite of cloud-based services are hosted at their highly-reliable, redundant data centers. The StarBox connects over IP infrastructure to Star2Star’s network backbone, which runs on a collection of call routing nodes and data centers distributed across the country. Star2Star manages and monitors the quality of customers’ phone systems continuously with built-in business continuity protection.

Their Full Spectrum Communications Solution combines aspects of both pure cloud and on-premises cloud communications solutions to create a unique, higher-quality solution, ensuring the high quality of an on-premises system with the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of a pure cloud solution. The Solution allows for dynamic scalability, QoS voice features, line pooling, line bursting, chat, video conferencing, fax, mobile, business SMS, and many more features. This past year, the company enhanced its portfolio with a virtual workspace solution, business SMS, and packaged applications for CRM integrations, mass notification, and urgent response capabilities, along with the debut of its virtual workspace solution. 

We chose Star2Star Communications (News - Alert) Full Spectrum Communications Solution to win INTERNET TELEPHONY’s 2020 TMC Labs Innovation Award because it combines aspects of on-premises and pure cloud solutions to get the best features of both without the limitations of either. That, in addition to the constant upgrades and innovations the company adds to the solution.

Wildix, Inc.

Wizyconf

Wizyconf is a professional, easy-to-use web conference system designed using WebRTC, which allows for secure browser-to-browser communication and features the powerful and reliable security of Chrome OS, making it impenetrable against any kind of hacking.

Wizyconf is equipped with a set of 15W HD speakers that perfectly reproduce the sounds coming from the other side of the screen. The conferencing unit supports up to three monitors with its essential stand. Two webcams are included: the first is a static 4K Ultra HD camera with a wide 120-degree angle and a top-quality autofocus function. The second is a PTZ model that offers 12X optical zoom. In addition, this second camera is a smart device; once it detects who’s talking, it automatically moves to center them in the frame. The system also includes two HD studio-quality microphones, both featuring a lightweight design that allows them to be installed on desks or even on the ceiling, resulting in a slim profile that’s nearly invisible to users.

Wildix has added support for touchscreen monitors to Wizyconf, allowing the station's screens to be used as virtual whiteboards. Users can share notes, documents, PDFs, or even presentations real time, no matter how far away they are or what devices they are using. The virtual whiteboard is an ideal space for meetings and brainstorming sessions, allowing participants to insert images, enter text, or even draw using an intuitive and highly responsive touchscreen interface.

Key benefits include:

  • Create video conferences in just 30 seconds and one remote control
  • Join active sessions through laptops, tablets, mobile devices, or another Wizyconf unit
  • Enjoy the most realistic image and sound quality possible with professional cameras and mics
  • No need to readjust your cameras: the AI-equipped webcams automatically focus and center on your conference’s speaker
  • Turn videoconferences into active collaboration sessions with online workspaces and touchscreen monitors

The solution includes:

  • 1 Chrome OS PC
  • 1 ultra HD 4K static webcam with 120° angle
  • 1 HD PTZ webcam with optical zoom
  • 2 ceiling / desk mics
  • 1 remote control
  • 1 aluminum height-adjustable TV cart (fits up to 3 65-inch monitors)

At the customer premises, just a browser is required, and the hosted side consists of Chrome OS with WebRTC for a speedy and secure operating system. Designed with usability in mind, it is the first standalone video conferencing tool on the market to provide web conferences with little to no additional setup, as even less tech-savvy users can create, initiate or join a conference using only a remote control.

Wizyconf makes regular video conferencing with large groups not only feasible, but easy to accomplish, encouraging end users to implement this previously underutilized aspect of UCC more regularly. By combining dedicated screens with twin built-in, AI-equipped webcams, Wizyconf takes the guesswork out of setting up a stable and professional looking web conference through both automation and streamlined ease of use.

Additionally, the platform is compatible with touch-enabled screens, which brings even more collaborative power into the web conferencing space; in addition to communication over video, the tool allows employees to actively work together on projects hosted in the digital space with hands-on drawing, typing and drag-and-drop capabilities.

Wizyconf is an entirely web-based conferencing unit allowing users to access meetings through laptops, tablets, mobile devices, or other Wizyconf units. Unlike competitors, Wizyconf operates off Chrome OS with WebRTC, which eliminates issues with updates or driver incompatibility to further enhance simplicity while providing a high-level of security. The Wizyconf conferencing unit was designed from the user’s point of view to allow easy set-up of a video conference in just 30 seconds, while enabling increased collaboration during conferences.

We chose Wildix, Inc. Wizyconf to win INTERNET TELEPHONY’s 2020 TMC Labs Innovation Award because it can create video conferences in just 30 seconds and can turn videoconferences into active collaboration sessions with online workspaces and touchscreen monitors. We are also impressed with the virtual whiteboard which allows the sharing of notes, documents, PDFs, and presentations in real time across devices.




Edited by Erik Linask

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