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October 08, 2009

Positron Telecom's PCI PBX Ethernet Adapters Represent a Leap Forward in the Telecommunications Card Market

By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet

(This is Part 1 of a three part series based on an interview with Positron Telecom president Richard McGravie.)

Positron Telecom, a Canadian company founded in 2008 as a spin-off of Positron Holding Inc., makes telephony boards that combine an Asterisk (News - Alert)-based PBX, media gateway, echo cancellation and Ethernet interface on an embedded PCI board.

Its products, which were made commercially available in the second quarter of this year, are distributed worldwide and are, according to company officials, already seeing strong adoption in Europe and the U.S.

The company’s products, which are geared for SMBs (2 to 100 lines), represent a change in approach compared to the traditional telecommunications card market. By integrating Linux, Asterisk, echo canceller, Ethernet (for PCI (News - Alert) and LAN), telephone ports (FXS) and gateway (FXO) on a single card, Positron has created the first standalone solution that can be installed on any PC. By interfacing Ethernet with the PCI bus, its solutions are operating system independent, with no special drivers required. In addition, all processing happens on the card, requiring no CPU power. What’s more, because all boards in the box are Ethernet based, this allows boards with different telephony interfaces to co-exist within the same host PC.

Positron Telecom’s solutions are unique among the range of hardware available for facilitating communications to and from the PSTN in the world of open source telephony. The company, which launched its products earlier this year, claims that not only are these cards easier to install and configure (you don’t have to be a certified technician, they are very end-user-friendly), they also help customers lower their cost per port while achieving better reliability and security, improved quality of service, and the ability to gain features and capabilities that other vendors have not yet been able to deliver on a single PCI card.

The company’s solutions offer an even more compelling ROI when deployed in a VMware environment, in that they deliver a true virtualized telephony system.

During a recent interview, Richard McGravie, president of Positron Telecom, explained that in the short term the company is competing against other Asterisk-based telephony board vendors including Digium (News - Alert) (Switchvox), Sangoma and Rhino. He said the company originally planned to make only one card -- based on Asterisk -- but due to demand in the marketplace they added two new products and came out with full line of solutions. He said the company’s V-114 ISDN card, in particular, has helped it target the European market.

However, McGravie said the company recently changed its long term strategy where “it’s not just an Asterisk card anymore – it’s a PBX (News - Alert).”

“In some of the different verticals, they don’t care whether it’s Asterisk or not,” he said. “All they really care about is, what features does it have? So you’ll see from us, on all our hardware platforms, the option of buying it as a PBX, a conference bridge, a call center solution, a gateway – we just effectively re-jig the user interface and some of the tools and systems that that go around it.”

“For example with a call center solution you need to have MySQL database storage, CDRs, call queuing, with the ability to look at the statistics and the other information,” he said. “So it’s an off-site type application, almost. But effectively it’s the same basic hardware for everything we do – we just run different applications on it. Which is kind of unique, from the perspective of, instead of starting with technical sells – it does this, it does that – here’s the PBX, here’s the solution that you’re looking for, and here’s the features that it has. And the last question is, which form factor should it be, and how many ports do you want?”

The change in strategy is based on the fact that the company doesn’t want to be just limited to Asterisk. “People don’t come looking for PCI cards so much, as they come looking for (contact center routing or) (KH) PBXs,” McGravie explained. “What we want to offer is complete solutions – not just building blocks.”

For more information about Positron’s PCI PBX Ethernet adapters, click here.

For Part 2 of this series, tune into the PBX PCI Adapter channel next week.

Patrick Barnard is a contributing writer for TMCnet. To read more of Patrick’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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