Shift Networks Expands Canadian VoIP Network with Common Voices
Business Subscriber Growth Drives Expansion of Next Generation Messaging Platform
Common Voices today announced that it has received a significant order for expansion of its NowMessageTM service from Calgary-based Shift Networks. Shift is using NowMessage to provide hosted Unified Messaging services to its small business customers in Canada.
Shift has more than quadrupled its capacity since launching this service in 2004. This is a very rapid expansion and confirms the suitability of our NowMessage Unified Messaging services in the small- to medium-sized business environment, commented Todd Hasselbeck, CEO of Common Voices. We are very pleased to be working with a customer that is aggressively rolling out leading edge VoIP applications.
NowMessage is a call answering and unified messaging application that solves the issues with proprietary voicemail systems for wireline and wireless carriers. It provides leading-edge enhanced services business users require on a standards-based, VoiceXML software architecture, using off-the-shelf hardware components.
Shift is also using Common Voices OpenLinkTM VoiceXML browser and will add licenses for its OpenLink offering, too.
Rick Unrau, Chief Operating Officer at Shift, said, With NowMessage and OpenLink we have been able to continue to offer highly reliable hosted services to our customers and to expand our offerings quickly and efficiently. Using Common Voices software-based solution, paired with our industry standard servers, we can respond to our customers needs as our market grows and thats an important part of our offering. Shift Networks is the first company in Canada to provide business class local telephone lines for small and medium business via broadband connection. Its hosted multi-line, business class Voice over IP solution provides businesses with leading edge telephone system and services that are centrally hosted at Shifts carrier-class data center.
NetClarity Upgrades Line of Vulnerability Management Appliances; Auditor Now Provides Multi-Appliance Correlation and VoIP Security Testing
NetClarity announced significant enhancements to its Auditor line of vulnerability and intrusion management appliances, including multi-appliance correlation and scans of VoIP equipment. These new features build on NetClaritys patented clientless Vulnerability Quarantine System (VQS) and smart switch integration introduced in June 2005 to further enable customers to proactively strengthen their networks from the core to the edge. AuditorTM offers an industry-first zero footprint solution that helps protect against trusted high risk insiders and potentially malicious insiders including those with dirty laptops and rogue wireless devices.
Auditors Command Center now enables customers to manage all of their Auditor appliances, including those at remote sites, from a central console. This streamlines the vulnerability audit, workflow and remediation processes, saving customers a significant amount of time and money. In addition, Auditor now has the capability of scanning VoIP network equipment for Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE), the systemic cause of over 95 percent of all network security breaches.
If you are considering deploying VoIP on the same network as your desktop computers and servers, you are at high risk of poor call quality, denial of service, breaches of privacy, integrity and availability. By removing your CVEs, you can quickly mitigate much of this risk, said Gary Miliefsky, chief technology officer for NetClarity. Because these packet-based networks are not very secure by default they are extremely susceptible to attacks such as Man in the Middle (eavesdropping and alerting) and Denial of Service (DoS). Auditor now enables customers to quickly find and remediate CVEs that may lead to these types of attacks.
Citrix Improves Its Position in the Visionary Quadrant of Leading Industry Analyst Firms SSL VPN Magic Quadrant
Citrix Systems, Inc., the global leader in access infrastructure solutions, today announced it has been positioned by Gartner, Inc. in the visionary quadrant in the Magic Quadrant for SSL VPN, North America, 3Q05(1) report. Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst John Girard evaluated 14 SSL VPN vendors based on their ability to execute and the completeness of their vision. Gartner is a research and advisory firm that helps more than 45,000 clients worldwide understand technology and drive business growth.
According to 2005 criteria, Gartner focused on seven areas within the parameters of vision and execution market understanding, product strategy, innovation, overall viability, marketing execution, sales execution/pricing and customer experience. According to Gartner, vendors positioned in the Visionaries quadrant demonstrate a clear understanding of where the market is headed and how they intend to capitalize on market trends. Visionaries invest in the leading/bleeding edge features that will be significant in the next generation of products and give buyers early access to improved security and management. Visionaries can affect the course of technological developments in the market, but they lack the execution influence to outmaneuver challengers and leaders. Clients pick visionaries for best-of-breed features, and in the case of small vendors, they may enjoy more personal attention.
The report states, SSL is both a new VPN remote access and a replacement market for legacy IPsec remote access. SSL is the most widely deployed virtual privacy system in the industry because it is integral to every browser and independent of platforms and operating systems. It is the ultimate VPN in terms of portability and is also the best known VPN method. Gartner estimates that by 2008, SSL VPNs will be the primary remote access method for more than two-thirds of business teleworking employees, more than three-quarters of contractors and for more than 90 percent of casual employee access.
We believe being positioned in the SSL VPN visionary quadrant is a testament to the core capabilities of Citrix and recognition of the strategic market position that Citrix is taking in this high growth market, said Gordon Payne, vice president of marketing at Citrix. The Citrix Access Gateway offers new customers as well as our installed base of more than 160,000 Citrix customers a compelling and easy to deploy SSL VPN solution for secure remote access to any enterprise resource. We are seeing rapid customer adoption.
Sonus Voice Portal Allows VoIP Consumers to Customize Services
By Patrick Barnard, TMCnet Associate Editor
Sonus Networks Inc. has released its new Sonus Voice Portal, which enables VoIP consumers to customize their service through a voice activated menu.
According to a company press release, the Sonus Voice Portal is the first application created with, and managed by, Sonus recently released IMX application platform, a web-based multimedia environment that enables wireline and wireless service providers to rapidly develop, integrate, launch and manage enhanced telecommunication applications and services. The portal manages the preferences for a variety of residential services delivered on the IMX platform, including speed dialing, call forwarding, three-way calling and nuisance call blocking.
Jupiter Telecommunications Co., Ltd. is reportedly the first Sonus customer to deploy the new Voice Portal application.
The Sonus Voice Portal is just the first of a number of new applications that leverage the power of the Sonus IMX application platform to reshape todays communications experience, said Mike Hluchyj, chief technology officer, Sonus Networks.
Hluchyj said the portal allows subscribers to customize their service while they are on the move.
SKY Announces SKY-MAP 2.0 Mobile Applications Software Platform For Multimedia Handsets
By Laura Stotler, TMCnet IP Communications Columnist
In an announcement that will take multimedia handsets to the next level for delivering enhanced services, SKY MobileMedia, Inc. has announced its SKY-MAP 2.0 mobile applications software platform. The new platform offers an integration of services and engines for multimedia handsets, converged consumer electronics devices and mobile chipsets.
The latest platform offering from SKY features the Khronos-compliant SKY-MMF Multimedia Framework at its center. This portable, wireless framework adds the ability to create, edit, play, stream and share multimedia with almost any wireless multimedia device. It supports a number of file formats and codecs, and contributes to and complies with ratified Khronos standards for multimedia. SKY is a member of the Khronos group and plans to continue compliance with future Khronos standards. The enhanced framework enables SKY-MAP 2.0 to deliver multimedia-enabled IMS services, streaming web content, video messaging, camcorders and the purchase and playback of music and digital television.
SKY-MAP 2.0 also features the JTWI-compliant SKY-VM Java client and an enhanced SKY-MMI user interface framework. This helps wireless operators and manufacturers in deploying new phone features and multimedia services in compliance with industry standards. Other features include the growing SKY-APPS pre-integrated mobile applications suite, which consists of the SKY-MAIL Email Client, DRM and SKY-PoC Push-to-Talk Client.
SKY-MAP has been in volume production worldwide since early 2005, and has rapidly proven itself as a leading software platform for feature phones, said Naser Partovi, CEO of SKY MobileMedia. Our second generation solution, SKY-MAP 2.0, extends this platform to include high-end multimedia functionality and applications enabling SKYs handset and consumer electronics customers to rapidly develop exciting next-generation wireless multimedia handsets and converged devices.
Aventail Adds Web Collaboration to SSL VPN Product
By Johanne Torres, TMCnet VoIP Minute Watch Columnist
SSL VPN technology provider Aventail Corp. announced on Monday it added a Web collaboration system to its remote access product. The new collaboration system features Remote Helpdesk, Web Conferencing, Instant Messaging, Secure VoIP chat, and other tools, all integrated with the Aventail SSL VPN. The system supports up to 500 concurrent users and multiple platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, and PocketPC.
The Secure Remote Helpdesk is a Web-based remote helpdesk system available through a portal from any device, platform and network connection that is VoIP and text enabled. The Secure Web Conferencing feature is a scalable Web-based conferencing system for meetings, training sessions, or demonstrations across multiple platforms and user groups. The Secure Teamwork feature is a set of collaboration tools that allow instant and impromptu conversations, scheduled meetings, and ad hoc collaboration between users and groups.
Most companies will see a return on investment within three to six months of deploying Secure Collaboration with our SSL VPN, said Sarah Daniels, vice president of product management and marketing, Aventail. The cost savings are realized in several areas, for example, companies will no longer need separate collaboration products, and they will receive additional productivity and security gains for collaboration functions such as VoIP and instant messaging.
The appliance comes standard with all access methods and feature add-ons, including Aventail Secure Desktop, Aventail Connect, Aventail OnDemand, and Aventail Mobile, making it the most cost effective enterprise solution on the market. Competing products require additional licensing fees for advanced features or access methods.
SERVICE PROVIDER NEWS
MCI Launches Industrys First Comprehensive Security Risk Management Service
MCI, Inc. announced the launch of its NetSec Security Risk Management Service, a new managed solution that helps companies improve their security by quantifying, prioritizing, and remediating security risks across an enterprise. MCIs latest cloud-to-core offering enables companies to enhance their decision-making capabilities to take proactive and immediate action against threats and vulnerabilities, when and where it is needed most.
MCI is changing the security risk management landscape as we know it, said Chris Sharp, vice president of NetSec Security Services for MCI. Until now, organizations have been continually challenged knowing which systems are at risk at any specific time. With our new Security Risk Management Service, organizations can intelligently manage risk so they can better protect their critical assets and systems.
With NetSec Security Risk Management Service, MCI customers gain enhanced visibility into and centralized control over the security of their environment. Powered by Finium, the companys next-generation integrated services and delivery platform, this new offering correlates and calculates diverse threats enterprise-wide using a dynamic scorecard-based approach to provide prioritization and remediation capabilities. As a result, companies can strengthen their defense and enhance their security investments, while reducing strain on corporate resources.
With the next-generation Finium platform, MCI customers are able to easily navigate their IT environments through a secure and intuitive Web interface. Customers can view real-time risk information and navigate through associated threat descriptions, system and device configurations, remediation plans and reports. Extensive filtering and drilldown capabilities also can be tailored to meet an organizations policy and business model for more meaningful interpretation and better risk assessment.
Peneo, A New Player on the VoIP Market
Launched in October 2005, Peneo Telecommunications enables anyone with high-speed Internet access to sign up for voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services. Users can sign up easily and they can enjoy the PC-to-PC telephony for free. Peneo offers challenging low rates when it comes to calling out to PSTN lines worldwide.
Peneo uses the widely spread SIP technology. All SIP-compatible standalone phone devices are supported, which means users can initiate or receive VoIP phone calls without a PC.
While free calls between users is common in the VoIP industry, what makes Peneo standing out is its wide range of services. Any Peneo user can connect two telephone lines anywhere on the world using an online interface and paying only Peneos low rates. Web callback can be used from any PC and does not require any software to be downloaded or installed. You simply login, enter the two phone numbers that you want to be connected, and click connect. Peneos server will call you back on the first number, then after a short delay, connect the second number allowing you to talk.
There is also an option called SMS callback. Simply send an SMS to Peneo including your account login and the two phone numbers you wish to connect, and thats it. Both phones are ringing, and once again, even if youre on the other side of the world, you pay Peneos low rates. All services are particularly useful if travelling or if you want to make low cost calls from a country where pc2phone services are blocked. Once you have a Peneo account, you automatically have access to our callback services using the same username and password.
Gartner Report Outlines Six Disruptive Trends in IT
By Patrick Barnard, TMCnet Associate Editor
A new study by Gartner Inc. predicts that 30 percent of U.S. households will use only cellular or Internet telephony by the year 2010.
According to Gartners Top Predictions for 2006 and Beyond, growth in traditional wired voice connections will slow in North America, Western Europe and other developed markets as more people dedicate fixed phone lines to DSL links and switch to cellular or Internet telephony.
U.S. consumers are just beginning to add voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services to their range of telephony options, but as they get more comfortable with the technology, and as VoIP services improve, they will start to abandon traditional phones, a press release concerning the new study states. Mobile communications will remain the preference of developing countries, and as a result, wireless links will represent 99 percent of the worlds new voice connections in 2009.
Ken Dulaney, vice president and analyst at Gartner, said in the press release that after 125 years, plain old telephone service is now on the decline in the U.S.
Top Predictions for 2006 and Beyond is part of a series of reports, called Gartner Predicts, to be released over the next year. The nearly 50 reports included in the series discuss the major trends that will affect IT users, vendors and most industries in 2006 and beyond. Top Predictions for 2006 and Beyond focuses on six IT industry trends that Gartner expects will cause significant disruption and drive opportunity for business and the IT industry.
China Telecom Selects Alcatels IP Solution to Enhance Triple Play Service Offering in Anhui Province
Alcatel announced that Anhui Telecom, a provincial subsidiary of China Telecom, has selected Alcatel to expand and optimize its metropolitan network across the Anhui Province to deliver higher quality and more reliable IP-based voice, video and data services. This contract was won through Alcatel Shanghai Bell, Alcatels flagship Chinese company.
Anhui Telecom will deploy the Alcatel 7750 Service Router (SR), a purpose-built IP router, which will help the service provider deliver nonstop services with the highest levels of quality in seven major cities of the province including Bengbu, Anqing, Suzhou, Fuyang, Huangshan, Huaibei, and Tongling. Once the installation is complete in early 2006, Anhui Telecom will be able to provide more robust triple play services to both residential and enterprise users, and offer Service Level Agreement (SLA)-based networking services like Layer 2 and Layer 3 virtual private networking (VPN).
This contract marks the 23rd province in China to utilize the Alcatel IP solution, said Basil Alwan, president of Alcatels IP activities. Transforming the network to deliver next-generation IP services is a notable trend; and we are pleased to be selected by so many discriminating service providers in China as they continue to build out their network to address this growing appetite for triple play services.
The Alcatel 7750 SR is the industrys first service router designed and optimized for the delivery of high performance carrier-grade data, voice and IPTV services. The platform has gained significant traction since it was introduced at the end of 2003. In China, the 7750 SR serves in the national, provincial and metro production networks of all the key service providers, including China Telecom, China Netcom, China Mobile, and China Unicom. Anhui Telecom joins a list of more than 90 customers in 40 countries around the world.
Vonage Claims To Offer All Subscribers 911 Access
Vonage America, a subsidiary of Vonage Holdings Corp., announced today that all of its customers now have access to 911 services. Today, any Vonage customer in the U.S. who dials 911, will get help when they need it most.
According to the company, heres how it works: Vonage currently offers E911 or enhanced 911 throughout the U.S., by sending the call, along with the customers address and phone number, to the proper local emergency call center based on the callers street address. The callers information is then displayed on the dispatchers screen whenever they dial the digits 9-1-1 from a Vonage phone. In the event local authorities cannot display the Vonage customers phone number or address, Vonage offers basic 911. Basic 911 is a service in which the customers emergency call is delivered through the traditional 911 network and the call is answered by a trained dispatcher in the local public safety answering point (PSAP), or 911 call center. Finally, Vonage provides an additional safety net to customers if traditional 911 methods fail or are not available: customers receive support from emergency trained personnel at Vonages national 911 emergency response center, which is supported by APCO 33 trained personnel
and serves customers throughout the U.S.
Vonage shares a common goal with the FCC, Congress, public safety officials and regulators: to deploy E911 service for all subscribers as soon as possible, said Jeffrey A. Citron, Vonages Chairman and CEO. We are dedicating every resource at our command toward turning up a national E911 system not only are we spending over $50 million, but were working with public safety to create a framework to hasten this national deployment and remove any local roadblocks weve encountered.
New Avaya IP Solution Simplifies Business Communications for Telecommuters and Remote Workers
Avaya, a leading global provider of business communications applications, systems and services, today announced a new telecommuter solution that embeds virtual private network (VPN) remote capabilities into Avayas family of IP telephones. Businesses can use this solution to more easily and securely extend headquarters-quality communications to employees working from any home office, temporary work site or emergency location. By integrating new Avaya VPNremote(TM) software within the phone, telecommuters have an always on business-class IP telephone that contains all of the functions required for highly-productive and continuous enterprise voice communications.
The solution called VPNremote for Avaya 4600 IP Telephones enables telecommuting employees to quickly and cost-effectively install the desktop IP phone in their home office with minimal equipment or IT assistance, similar to how a laptop PC is connected for remote access via Internet. No other equipment or software is required in the home office. This simplicity can also be applied to temporary remote deployments, such as when business teams gather at trade shows, corporate events or other temporary work locations.
This solution drives greater business continuity by enabling companies to swiftly deploy Avaya IP phones with VPNremote to necessary locations when responding to a disaster recovery scenario or disruption in network communications. An organization can cost-effectively deploy the phones to dispersed and remote workers anywhere, knitting together a secure communications network that keeps business running and workers productive under the most challenging conditions.
The features of the Avaya IP phones with VPNremote are identical to those found in a corporate headquarters or contact center, making them ideal for home-based contact center agents, telecommuting sales people or other remote employees that must access enterprise telephony capabilities daily.
In order for telecommuters in a home office or remote location to be productive, they require a business communications experience that is secure, highly-functional and equal to that within a corporate headquarters, said Allan Sulkin, president of TEQConsult Group. Avayas new solution helps improve the performance capabilities of the telecommuter, and can be a lifesaver for executives who need to operate in a virtual workspace.
WiFi TELEPHONY NEWS
Wi-Fi Chipset Sales to Surpass 120 Million in 2005
By Patrick Barnard, TMCnet Associate Editor
The Wi-Fi industry hit a major milestone this week, as sales of Wi-Fi chipsets surpassed 100 million for 2005. According to a news release from the Wi-Fi Alliance, supported by data provided by In-Stat, the 100 million mark is evidence that Wi-Fi is now a staple of computer networking and a powerful presence in millions of homes and businesses around the world.
This is a significant milestone for such a young technology, and the Wi-Fi Alliance has played a strong role in helping Wi-Fi gain traction, said Gemma Tedesco, senior analyst at In-Stat, a market research company to the telecom industry. Tedesco predicted that Wi-Fi chipset sales will exceed 120 million for 2005.
The 64 percent average yearly growth rate [in Wi-Fi chipset sales] reflects the transforming nature of Wi-Fi and the value of interoperable, standards-based technology, the news release states.
The Wi-Fi Alliance provides testing and certification programs to ensure the interoperability of products based on the IEEE 802.11 standard. More than 2,200 products have been Wi-Fi certified since March 2000.
Wi-Fi has truly come of age, said Frank Hanzlik, managing director of the Wi-Fi Alliance. Today more than 90 percent of notebook computers are Wi-Fi enabled, and as we look ahead, there are seemingly limitless opportunities, due to the insatiable consumer and enterprise demand for the technology.
Conexants Dual-Band, Multimode Solution Achieves Wi-Fi Alliance WMM Power Save Certification New Power Management Techniques Extend Battery Life for Mobile and Handheld Devices
Conexant Systems, Inc., a worldwide leader in semiconductor solutions for broadband communications and the digital home, today announced that its 802.11a/b/g dual-band, multimode WorldRadioTM solution has been certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) under the groups new Wi-Fi CERTIFIEDTM for WMMTM (Wi-Fi Multimedia) Power Save certification program. WMM Power Save includes several features that extend the operating time of battery-operated mobile devices such as multimedia cellular phones, enterprise handsets, PDAs, and digital cameras. Conexants chips will also be used by the WFA to validate other products attempting to achieve WMM Power Save certification. The Wi-Fi Alliances testing and certification programs ensure the interoperability of multi-vendor wireless local area networking (WLAN) products, providing consumers with the assurance that their Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products will work together seamlessly.
Voice, video and audio applications running on mobile and handheld devices require increasingly robust power management features to maintain high performance and prolong battery life, said Chee Kwan, vice president and general manager of Conexants Wireless Networking business. WMM Power Save techniques deliver a significant improvement in power consumption, which is a key issue for many of our customers. Earning this notable certification gives them an added level of confidence that our products conform to industry interoperability and performance standards.
Conexants WorldRadio includes the companys innovative PowerSave power management technology, which significantly reduces power consumption. The combination of this technology and WMM Power Save features will help drive the proliferation of Wi-Fi-enabled mobile devices.
Conexant offers an extensive suite of WLAN solutions including IEEE 802.11a/b/g and dual-band (2.4 and 5 GHz) chipsets, firmware, software, drivers and reference designs. These wireless networking solutions are used by the worlds leading telecom, networking and computer companies in a wide range of products including access points/routers, client cards, desktops, notebooks, PDAs, digital cameras, MP3 players and other handheld networking appliances. They are available as standalone solutions or offered in conjunction with Conexants DSL and cable modem semiconductor system solutions, voice over IP (VoIP) chipsets and home network processors.
Zultys Announces Wireless Conference Phone Unique Product Offers True Conferencing Over VoIP
Zultys Technologies today announced the BTC phone, a powerful wireless conference phone that is compatible with its range of SIP IP phones as well as mobile phones. The BTC (Bluetooth Conference Phone) provides unparalleled speech quality and removes clutter from the conference room table.
The BTC phone is incredibly easy to use, having just three buttons. The phone is paired with any Bluetooth phone such as the Zultys ZIP 4x5 IP phone. Calls can be originated on the ZIP 4x5 phone or on the BTC phone using voice activated dialling. Calls can be answered on either phone. A conference call with multiple parties can be made using the features of the ZIP 4x5 phone. With its unique Bluetooth capability, these features are also available in conjunction with any other Bluetooth phone, including cell phones.
The BTC phone is aesthetically designed to enhance any conference room. Its batteries power the unit for about a week, obviating the need for power cables and phone lines to be dragged across the conference room table. The portability and use of open standards permit the phone to be moved from room to room or to a remote facility-even your car. The phone has four microphones and a powerful DSP (Digital Signal Processor) ensuring clarity of both the listeners as well as those at the other end of the call. The phones speaker output is best in its class and the acoustic echo cancellation permits a natural conversation.
This BTC phone rounds out a range of SIP phones from Zultys, which includes Ethernet and Wi-Fi sets. It permits an exclusively SIP installation to add conference phones without running wires to carry analog signals. The phone has four quad-color LEDs that display its status. The phone also is equipped with standard 3.5mm connectors (pink and green) so that it may be connected by wires to a desktop phone or a soft phone running on a PC. This enhances its flexibility for any application-wired, or wireless.
When people think of conference room phones, they usually think of one supplier, said Patrick Ferriter, VP of Product Marketing at Zultys. This phone will radically change the perception of what a conference phone should be like. Instead of stagnant features, Zultys has demonstrated clear technological leadership with this product.
SeaMobile Signs Agreement with Silversea Cruises to Deliver Unmatched Wireless Voice & Data Services to Personal Mobile Devices at Sea
SeaMobile Inc., a leading global provider of advanced at-sea wireless voice and data communications services, announced it has signed an agreement with Silversea Cruises, an award-winning, ultra-luxury cruise line, to provide never before offered communication solutions for its passengers throughout the world.
The first Silversea ship to deploy the SeaMobile advanced wireless services will be the Silver Whisper. Passengers and crew aboard the ship will be able to use their own cellular phones and wireless PDAs while at sea, just as they do on land. Charges for calls and data services while at sea will simply appear on the wireless customers bill from their home carrier.
SeaMobiles leadership team includes proven business and technology leaders who have repeated success in using technology advantages to successfully deliver services to significant markets over the past two decades. They were the founders and growth leaders for McCaw Cellular Communications, AT&T Wireless Services, Microsoft, DSS Direct/DIRECTV, Nextel and other top telecommunications and software companies.
SeaMobiles proprietary technology is a sophisticated IP/software based solution that is agnostic to the type of phone (GSM, GPRS or CDMA) used by the wireless customer when accessing the SeaMobile network at sea. This allows virtually anyone aboard any vessel at sea to use voice and data services available through their wireless home carrier, just as they would on land. In addition, SeaMobiles solution can work with any satellite provider, including those currently offering services to the maritime industry. Worldwide roaming agreements established by SeaMobile provide transparent connectivity for wireless services. Coverage aboard the Silver Whisper can include the entire ship or select areas to enable quiet zones.
Personalized service, flexibility and convenience are all important elements of the ultra-luxury experience we offer our guests, said Silversea CEO Albert Peter. We chose SeaMobile because of their ability to provide a superior wireless experience for our guests, giving them seamless and convenient cell phone access to family, friends and business associates not only on land, but also on the ship.
We are thrilled to sign this agreement with Silversea to support their primary goal of offering an ultra-luxury experience for their guests by helping them stay connected, said SeaMobile President and CEO William D. Marks. Cruising is a fast-growing industry where improved connectivity is becoming a key decision factor among consumers who choose a vacation destination based on their ability to stay connected for business and personal needs.
CDC Deploys MobileAccess Universal Wireless Solution at Renovated Campus Headquarters
MobileAccess Networks, an enterprise wireless innovator, announced that the companys Universal Wireless Network has been installed at the newly constructed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) campus in Atlanta, Ga. The MobileAccess solution provides seamless coverage for multiple wireless applications and services, including mobile phones, BlackBerry devices, PDAs and Wi-Fi for over 600,000 square feet, which includes 19 floors in multiple buildings.
Totaling $1.5 billion, the rebuilt CDC campus enables the agency to house many of its 9,000 employees at a secure, modern facility that combines leading-edge technology and pragmatic creature comforts. As part of the renovation project, the MobileAccess Universal Wireless Network provides a next-generation platform that delivers connectivity for a broad range of wireless technologies throughout the campus to promote increased convenience and productivity for CDC workers. In keeping with the facilitys progressive outlook, the MobileAccess solution features flexible and scalable common infrastructure that accommodates todays multi-service wireless needs yet readily adapts to the agencys evolving future requirements.
The MobileAccess Universal Wireless Network is ideally suited to address CDCs cost and capability requirements. By deploying best-of-breed technology solutions like MobileAccess, CDC is not only being fiscally responsible, but capable of providing real benefits to its employees, who in turn can work more efficiently and effectively.
The MobileAccess Universal Wireless Network is the solution of choice for customers who require seamless in-building wireless connectivity, the flexibility to support a broad range of wireless technologies, and the investment protection of a future-proof platform that adapts and scales to meet evolving wireless requirements, said Cathy Zatloukal, president and CEO of MobileAccess. MobileAccess is honored to play a vital role in supporting the thousands of CDC employees tasked with protecting health and safety.
QUALCOMM Reinforces Commitment to WLAN Market, Joins Wi-Fi Alliance
QUALCOMM Incorporated, a leading developer and innovator of Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and other advanced wireless technologies, announced that the Company has joined the Wi-Fi Alliance. The Wi-Fi Alliance is a global, non-profit industry trade association with more than 200 member companies devoted to promoting the growth of wireless local area networks (WLAN). By joining the Wi-Fi Alliance, QUALCOMM will be directly involved with ensuring the compatibility of Wi-Fi technology with the Companys Mobile Station ModemTM (MSMTM) chipsets.
QUALCOMM is pleased to take the important step of joining the Wi-Fi Alliance to help ensure the interoperability of WLAN technologies with CDMA2000, WCDMA, and other wireless standards supported by our solutions, said Ed Tiedemann, senior vice president of engineering for QUALCOMM. We look forward to working closely together on the interoperability of 802.11 a, b, and g standards as well as the expected 802.11n standard with cellular networks, helping ensure seamless compatibility across our product portfolio and driving the convergence of mobile capabilities.
In becoming a member of the Wi-Fi Alliance, QUALCOMM joins more than 200 companies from around the globe who are committed to delivering interoperable Wi-Fi solutions and ensuring a positive user experience through our Wi-Fi CERTIFIED programs, said Frank Hanzlik, Wi-Fi Alliance managing director. We are pleased to have them become a part of the organization.
With the aim of enhancing the user experience for mobile wireless devices, the Wi-Fi Alliances testing and certification programs ensure the interoperability of WLAN products based on the IEEE 802.11 specification. Since the introduction of the Wi-Fi Alliances certification program in March 2000, more than 2,000 products have been designated as Wi-Fi CERTIFIEDTM, encouraging the expanded use of Wi-Fi products and services across the consumer and enterprise markets.
Mario Kart DS Launches with Wi-Fi Gaming Service
That sound you hear is the thunder of video gamers worldwide revving their engines for the launch of Mario Kart DS and Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. For the first time ever, the online gaming service for Nintendo DSTM lets users connect wirelessly to race. From the very start, users can log on easily to shoot shells and burn rubber against opponents from all around the world.
Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection removes the barriers that have prevented many mainstream players from going online, says Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of Americas executive vice president of sales & marketing. We have made the service incredibly simple to use and free at select hotspot locations but this is just the beginning.
Whether users are at home or out and about, they have a variety of uncomplicated ways to connect to Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
If the user already has a Wi-Fi home network, the Nintendo DS unit will connect directly with minimal setup procedures. Those who have a home high-speed Internet connection such as cable or DSL, but no Wi-Fi home network, can either purchase a compatible wireless router or the Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector, which plugs into the USB port of a PC running Windows XP to create a wireless access point to connect a DS to Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector will be sold exclusively on Nintendo.com at an MSRP of $34.99.
Outside the home, when a user brings a Nintendo DS unit and a Wi-Fi-enabled game into a Wayport-enabled McDonalds restaurant locations, the user simply launches the game in Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection mode. No setup is required.
Nintendo DS owners who want to play games at Wi-Fi locations outside McDonalds restaurant locations or their homes can use a laptop computer and the Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector to access Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector enables the Nintendo DS to share an Internet connection established by a PC, providing a conduit to play games via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
Nintendo DS owners may also connect at a number of other free hotspot locations with no additional hardware and minimal setup.
WiFis Dirty Little Secret Youre Not Safe!
Protect Your Identity and Your Data When Using a WiFi Hotspot StealthSurfer II Makes Wireless Surfing Safe and Worry-Free
Stealth Ideas Inc., a portable privacy software company, announced that its recently unveiled StealthSurfer II device will now allow for 100 percent secure and encrypted wireless Web browsing. StealthSurfer II is a thumb-sized flash storage drive which allows consumers to surf the Web with anonymity from any computer even over a wireless connection. StealthSurfer IIs integrated privacy features keep surfers safe from identity theft as well as from phishing and pharming spam attacks. Ideal for frequent coffee shop surfers, airport travelers, Internet cafe-goers or anyone who uses their laptop wirelessly in a public hotspot, the StealthSurfer is the most robust and complete privacy and identity protection tool on the market.
Wireless networks in public areas or hotspots (like Internet cafes) often do not provide adequate security. A recent polling revealed that most public and private WiFi networks used no encryption at all. Moreover, even when the host does have the proper security settings enabled, consumers still leave themselves at risk to knowledgeable hackers or wardrivers (those who use easy-to-obtain sniffing software to find unprotected networks). Once penetrated, an experienced attacker could implant malicious programs, including spyware, adware or Trojan horse applications, directly onto a computer.
With StealthSurfer II, wireless Internet access is totally safe and secure. By using the devices customized FireFox browser and integrated IP masking, an encrypted tunnel is created between the surfers laptop and the receiving Web site. This encrypted data stream cannot be read by anyone but the host computer. Any data packets intercepted would appear as illegible data garbage rendering the attack useless. All user data (such as confidential credit card and social security numbers) remains protected and secure.
Tiny enough to carry on a keychain, the USB 2.0 flash drive plugs into the USB port of a computer and allows users to surf the Web with total privacy. The device is available in memory configurations of 128 megabytes to one gigabyte at pricing starting at $89. Small, sleek and versatile, StealthSurfer II offers the very best in portability, privacy and identity theft protection.
StealthSurfer II is loaded with a host of privacy-protection tools that are seamlessly integrated into one tiny and portable keychain device. With all these tools under one hood, users can not only protect their laptop or personal computer, but can now take this virtual armor with them wherever they go even when traveling or using public computers.
VoIP DEVELOPER NEWS
Vapps Integrates Web Conferencing into CB1000 Creating First IP Based Audio and Web Conferencing Service Platform
Vapps, a leading global provider of audio conferencing systems for IP and TDM networks, announced a strategic partnership with WebDialogs to incorporate Web conferencing technology into its flagship CB1000 audio conferencing platform. The enhancement will allow carriers and service providers to offer the first collaborative voice and data conferencing service simultaneously over legacy PSTN and next-generation IP networks.
The central component of the CB1000 enhancement is WebDialogs WebInterpointTM architecture, enabling end users to share documents, presentations, Web content, and applications online and in real-time. With its flexible design, and open APIs, WebInterpointTM easily integrates into the Vapps platform, giving service provider customers an easy to use interface for hosting or joining audio/web conferences over any type of network utilizing any type of access device including: traditional handsets, cellular phone or IP devices.
Its important in todays evolving telecom industry to offer high quality solutions that support both legacy and newer IP infrastructures, said Ben Lilienthal, CEO and co-founder of Vapps. WebDialogs has given us the ability to offer the industrys first collective voice and data conferencing solution that works across all communication platforms, an invaluable competitive advantage for us.
CB1000 is a SIP-enabled, carrier-grade conferencing platform that is VoIP native and delivers reliable, seamless reservation-less conference calls on both legacy and IP-based telecom systems. Features include: web-based call control, standard and advanced call management (lists, mute, volume control, conference locking and recording), operator support and call record details among others. The product supports up to 18,000 total conference participants in multiple simultaneous conferences, with the ability to easily scale on a card-by-card basis.
Weve built our business by providing our customers premier web conferencing services that are easy to use, stated Lou Guercia, CEO of Wedialogs. Our partnership with Vapps furthers our initiative by leveraging the CB1000s hybrid architecture in order to enter into new arenas such as the exploding VoIP marketplace.
Acme Packet Joins Level 3s (3)VoIP Technology Alliance Program
Acme Packet, the leader in session border control, announced that it has been selected by Level 3 for participation in its (3)VoIP Technology Alliance Program (TAP). The (3)VoIP TAP program formalizes the relationships between Level 3 and a select group of best-of-breed technology vendors to help service providers quickly deploy services interconnecting with the Level 3 network.
Acme Packets Net-Net family of session border controllers (SBCs) satisfies critical security, service assurance and regulatory requirements for voice, video and multimedia sessions crossing IP network borders. Acme Packets NetSafeTM architecture sets the bar for session border controller security by protecting the SBC itself against DoS/DDoS attacks and overloads; the service providers service infrastructure (e.g. SIP servers, softswitches, application servers, media servers or media gateways); and subscriber, enterprise and service provider security including confidentiality and privacy. Now Application Service Providers, Broadband Service Providers, or anyone wishing to offer advanced multimedia services across IP network borders can connect to Level 3s selection of wholesale transport services.
As a market leader in session border controllers, Acme Packet is a natural fit for the (3)VoIP TAP program, said Craig Schlagbaum, vice president of Channel Development for Level 3. Acme Packet is certified in our interoperability labs and we share many joint customers that interconnect with the Level 3 network. We look forward to working together as VoIP, video and other multimedia services continue to gain momentum in the market.
(3)VoIP TAP provides valuable interoperability testing between Level 3 and numerous IP equipment vendors and network providers. The program speeds time to market by increasing confidence in vendors solutions that have already been proven with Level 3s wholesale services network including (3)Voice, (3)VoIP Enhanced(SM) Local, (3)VoIP Toll Free(SM), and (3)VoIP(SM) Local Inbound.
Acme Packet is honored to be one of the few technology vendors to participate in the (3)VoIP TAP, remarked Seamus Hourihan, vice president product management and marketing, Acme Packet. This program is one of the first of its kind in the industry dedicated to working with vendors to enable service provider connections to Level 3s network in a quick and efficient manner.
Lanck Telecom Using MERA VoIP Transit Softswitches
By Patrick Barnard, TMCnet Associate Editor
Russia-based VoIP wholesaler Lanck Telecom announced that it will be using MERA Systems MERA VoIP Transit Softswitch (MVTS) to control both signaling and media flows across IP network borders a move that will help establish Lanck as an international exchange carrier (IEC).
Along with regular session control functions, including NAT/firewall traversal, network topology hiding and call admission management, the MVTS performs intelligent call routing and brings together incompatible networks and equipment from a diversity of vendors. MERA says the MVTS works equally well with both H.323 and SIP signaling standards.
With points of presence (PoPs) in all the major cities of Russia, as well as international cities including Frankfurt, Hong-Kong, and London, Lanck is a fast-growing carrier whose core business is selling VoIP minutes to partner carriers across the globe. The deployment of MVTS provides Lanck with an end-to-end solution for intelligent management of call flows in its distributed VoIP network, and also allows interoperability with peering partners to ensure they can quickly and cost-effectively interconnect with new partners.
To serve Lancks needs, MERA has offered a distributed, cluster solution that can handle up to 10,000 concurrent calls. In addition, MERAs solution delivers a customer-tailored configuration that seamlessly integrates into Lancks network and takes into account all the peculiarities of the network topology and the carriers business processes. MERA says the distributed solution can scale quickly and easily to accommodate Lancks aggressive growth.
We have designed this three-layer cluster specifically for Lanck Telecom, said Konstantin Nikashov, CEO of MERA Systems, in a news release issued today. This project demonstrates the level of flexibility that our softswitching technology can provide.
Sergey Alekseev, CIO of Lanck, said the new cluster has increased network reliability from 99.9% up to 99.999%.
Earlier, our network downtime would reach up to several hours a year, which caused us significant financial losses, Alekseev said. Now, the system is completely fault-proof, as all the components including the database are fully redundant.
Artesyn Communication Products and Surf Communication Solutions Partner to Offer Triple-Play Media Gateway and Server Blades
Artesyn Communication Products, a subsidiary of Artesyn Technologies, announced that it has partnered with Surf Communications Solutions (Surf) to develop open architecture, Triple-Play voice, video, and data (fax/modem) media processing solutions. Artesyn will combine its PICMG 2.16 and AdvancedTCA blades with Surfs PTMC and AdvancedMC DSP farms to create commercial, off-the-shelf media gateway and media server subsystems that deliver voice, video, fax and modem over IP, mobile, wireline, and wireless networks.
Surfs extensive DSP hardware, software and media processing expertise makes them an ideal partner for creating open architecture, Triple-Play media processing solutions, said Todd Wynia, vice president of marketing at Artesyn. Our PICMG 2.16 and AdvancedTCA blades, together with Surfs AdvancedMC and PTMC media processing DSP farms, will give telecom OEMs an out-of-the-box solution for building a broad range of modular, open architecture media processing gateways and servers that offer Triple-Play capability.
Artesyns open architecture blades provide an excellent platform for our AdvancedMC and PTMC media processing DSP farms, said Amir Zmora, vice president of marketing at Surf. The resulting integrated solution provides a comprehensive hardware and software, high-availability, high-density infrastructure subsystem for telecom equipment manufacturers that greatly reduces their time to market.
Interactive Intelligence Announces New Version of IP Contact Center Software
Major upgrade delivers increased scalability, enhanced agent optimization, and superior enterprise messaging capabilities
Interactive Intelligence Inc., a global developer of business communications software, announced availability of a major upgrade to its flagship IP contact center software, Customer Interaction Center (CIC).
The new version of CIC provides three important new capabilities. First, the release introduces a new session initiation protocol-based Interaction Media ServerTM, which provides a dramatic increase in IP system scalability and reliability by transferring the majority of all media processing to the dedicated media server. Second, CIC delivers additional agent optimization enhancements including screen recording, whisper coaching and agent alerts. The final addition to the release targets the products enterprise telephony users with enhancements to the voice messaging component of the offering; including a speech recognition interface for message management and the addition of customer-configurable voicemail menus.
This release is a significant step forward, with clearly demonstrable cost savings and functionality benefits for our customers. With these additions, CIC becomes a viable option for nearly any size contact center, said Dr. Donald Brown, Interactive Intelligence president and chief executive officer. We have continued to respond to customers who want the rich functionality of CIC in larger size deployments. With the addition of the SIP Interaction Media Server, we are delivering improved scalability and reliability at a reduced cost for larger deployments. The other product enhancements associated with this release continue to broaden our appeal as an innovative enterprise-wide alternative to competitors proprietary, hardware-centric offerings.
The addition of the new SIP Interaction Media Server increases scalability by moving audio recording and audio processing from the CIC server to the dedicated media server. In CIC deployments that include voice board hardware, scalability has more than doubled to 1,000 supported agents per system. In an all-software deployment of CIC, scalability has increased about 12 times, from 25 agents to approximately 300.
By eliminating a single point of failure, Interaction Media Server also gives organizations the added benefit of increased reliability. The architecture of the Interaction Media Server means that in the event of a failure of the CIC server, calls remain connected without user disruption.
Additionally, because the media server also reduces the reliance on third-party software and hardware in many configurations, contact centers can leverage much larger VoIP deployments at cost savings of up to 40 percent.
Affordable, integrated agent optimization functionality becomes a reality with the latest version of CIC. Additions include screen recording synchronizing screen recordings with audio recording files. The addition of multimedia screen recording extends managements ability to mentor and improve agent effectiveness for all interaction types.
CIC 2.4 also introduces support for real-time and alert-based agent messaging, agent real-time queue status, and whisper coaching. All of these features are designed to increase agent productivity and improve customer service levels.
Signate Announces PBX Management Software for Telephone Service Providers
Signate, the leading provider of VoIP telephony solutions that combine high performance hardware and open source software, announced SigMAN SP, its Hosted PBX (Private Branch eXchange) software for telephone service providers with up to 3,000 customers. Hosted PBXs using SigMAN SP can support remote businesses, remote offices and remote employees with VoIP extensions.
A superset of the functionality Signate introduced in September with SigMAN, its PBX management software, SigMAN SP turns a Linux-based computer into a full featured, partitioned PBX that allows providers the ability to offer their customers advanced telephone capabilities without the capital investment of a dedicated system. Each customer partition can function like a dedicated telephone system with its own auto attendant(s), music on hold, operator(s), call queues, audio conference rooms, hunt groups, voice mail and call detail reporting. Providers may give customers as much, or as little, access as their businesses require, so customers can manage their own facilities.
SigUSERtm, the included user panel, gives PBX users the ability to manage their own voicemail, call forwarding and follow me settings from a web browser without going through a PBX administrator.
Every Signate product has a foundation of industry standard hardware and open source software so it can deliver roughly twice the performance of proprietary products at half the cost, said William Boehlke, Signates Chief Executive Officer. SigMAN SP delivers advanced functionality to service provider customers for an initial investment of around $10 per user, he said.
SigMAN SP can be configured with a hot failover server, so if a server fails its function can be automatically assumed by another system. Signate further backs SigMAN SP with support around the clock and around the world, from offices in the United States, England and New Zealand.
SigMAN SP requires an Intel x86 server capable of running Red Hat ES Linux, or Signates high capacity Telephony Server 5000. A PCI board or external gateway is necessary to connect the PBX to the public switched telephone network. A high speed internet connection is required to link the PBX to VoIP telephone service providers. Telephone handsets connect over a standard computer network.
Tatara Systems First to Deliver Converged Mobile VoIP; Allows Mobile Operators to Significantly Enhance Laptop Mobile Office Service
Tatara Systems, the market leader in mobile services convergence, announced availability of its Converged Mobile VoIP solution to enable nomadic VoIP services using a subscribers mobile phone number across any IP network, with the first application as an integrated laptop solution for mobile operators. Tatara has entered market trials with major carrier customers marking an industry first where an end-user subscriber is able to maintain their mobile phone number identity to both make and receive VoIP calls across a variety of access networks using converged mobile devices such as laptops.
This offering gives mobile operators, both traditional and MVNOs, the opportunity to participate in the growing VoIP market by providing a significantly better, integrated end-user solution than you can get today via a standalone softphone service. One-number VoIP yields a quick return on investment for carriers looking to deliver new service revenues leveraging their existing networks, while building the foundation for a graceful transition to more advanced IMS applications.
Convergence is the most important trend in communications and not just wireless today, said Craig Mathias, a Principal with the wireless and mobile advisory firm Farpoint Group. One-Number VoIP will be very popular with end users, and offers mobile operators a unique opportunity to retain customer ownership while gaining from the proliferation of VoIP service offerings entering the market.
With Converged Mobile VoIP solutions, mobile operators are now able to extend 2G/3G voice services for their subscriber base across a variety of private and roamed networks. This provides a valuable service extension for customers traveling outside the 2G/3G coverage, such as in-building or internationally. In addition to delivering a new revenue generating service, Converged Mobile VoIP also enables mobile operators to retain customers considering competitive VoIP offerings by delivering a far superior product offering. Having already delivered Converged Mobile Messaging, Tatara continues to be the industry leader by being the first to deliver Converged Mobile VoIP services enabling customers to have a significant time to market advantage leveraging key capabilities of the Tatara Mobile Services Convergence Platform.
Mobile operators are now seeing significant subscriber adoption of their laptop-based 3G/Wi-Fi mobile office service by their most valuable customer segments, said Steve Nicolle, CEO and President of Tatara. Our solution allows them to utilize the advantage they have over standalone VoIP providers by delivering a consistent and converged set of voice and data services under one brand across the end-users two most significant devices - their handset and their laptop.
Brix Networks Announces Enhanced IP Video Quality Algorithm To Ensure Success In IPTV Rollouts
Brix Networks, the trusted provider of the most widely deployed service assurance solutions for interactive applications, today announced an enhanced IP video quality algorithm the Brix Video Quality Index (Brix VQI) that ensures providers success with their IPTV rollouts.
In order to effectively deliver profitable triple-play services, cultivate customer loyalty, and grow market share, it is essential that network operators provide their subscribers with high-quality offerings, said Robert Travis, director of product marketing, Brix Networks. Our VQI technology is a critical component of our comprehensive service assurance platform, and helps determine the overall quality of a variety of existing and emerging IP-based video applications, such as IPTV, video-on-demand, and interactive video.
The Brix VQI is an objective measurement scale for video over IP networks and applications providing accurate, easy-to-understand metrics for highly distributed, large-scale carrier and enterprise networks. The Brix VQI incorporates the impact of network transmission quality the most important factor contributing to video quality and quantifies the effect latency, packet loss, jitter, packet discards, buffering, and re-buffering events have on a video service.
With todays announcement, the Brix VQI has been enhanced to be application aware, meaning it can distinguish, analyze, and correlate the key performance indicators (KPIs) related to data impairments that, in turn, contribute to picture jerkiness, blurriness, or no picture in video-based services.
Developed with ongoing standards initiatives in mind, Brix VQI is an innovative video quality algorithm that yields useable metrics to generate an IP video quality score per video stream that accurately represents the users quality of experience, said Brix Networks chief technology officer, Kaynam Hedayat. VQI builds on our extensive industry-leading experience in VoIP networks, and quantifies the impact that latency, initial wait time, network jitter, packet loss, and other application-level impairments have on the overall performance of an IP video service.
IP CONTACT CENTER NEWS
Moscow City Telephone Network Applies FrontRange IPCC to New Automated Systems
Russian Communications News service ComNews.ru reported that Moscow City Telephone Network (MGTS) has launched a new service for 09 directory assistance. This service, which increases bandwidth via automation and voice recognition, was developed for MGTS by FrontRange Solutions, known in Russia for its CRM solutions. The system includes an integrated speech recognition module from technology leader Nuance Communications.
With the new call processing service, the Automatic 09 Operator software/hardware system, subscribers can quickly obtain any of 2,000 essential telephone numbers. The free service offers the option of using voice commands instead of touch-tone buttons, to navigate the menu; a speech-recognition system processes the commands.
The system divides directory assistance inquiries into several categories: Emergency Assistance, City Government, MGTS Information, Transportation, Repair Services, and Medical. MGTS plans continuous updates to this list wherein the automatic operator suggests menu items to subscribers such as: Welcome. For emergency assistance, say: Assistance. To switch to the Transportation menu, say: Transportation.
The automatic operator currently has 5,000 words in its active dictionary. The systems speech recognition accuracy is 95% and its software can process calls over 210 telephone channels simultaneously.
Dmitry Stoliar, FrontRange Solutions Sales Director in Russia, explained that the setup of the system started in March 2005 and launched test runs of the service in July. At the same time, its capacity was built up so that in September it reached the target level of seven E1 circuits, or 210 channels, each of them with speech recognition technology in operation. The system is easily scalable and allows unlimited expansion of the directory database.
The Benefits Of Blended Agents
By Tracey E. Schelmetic, Editorial Director, Customer [email protected] Solutions
In an era when some call centers report annual turnover rates among agents of 100 percent or more, companies are having to think more carefully about retention. The aggregate costs of replacing an agent by scouting, testing, hiring and training a replacement are staggering the estimated numbers run from $6,000 at the low end to $10,000 and beyond at the high end. If your organization has 500 call center agents and your turnover is 100 percent per year, you are easily spending a half million dollars or more each year on turnover alone. For a large call center, shaving only a few percentage points off turnover rates can add up to considerable savings.
In the days when call center jobs were commodities, agents would leave for the company across the street for an additional 25 cents per hour. The trick is to make sure agents perceive that working for your call center is not merely a necessary evil that generates a much-needed paycheck. Most call center organizations are catching on, adding perks such as child care, attractive break rooms, regular appreciation lunches, exercise facilities, quality cafeterias, flexible scheduling, periodic visits by massage therapists and a host of other appealing services.
Its no secret that turnover among outbound agents soars above that of inbound agents. Outbound is hard work. It takes persistence, an optimistic attitude and a very thick skin to be a good outbound agent. Some agents thrive in the position. Others burn out very quickly, taking hang-ups and rudeness personally. But lets face it: someone has to do outbound work. Its still big business in the U.S.
Technologies that allow the blending of outbound and inbound within the same agent group can cure a lot of whats behind the turnover in the call center. Though many companies have claimed for years that they blend outbound and inbound within the same agent pools, the process was cumbersome and limiting. Data silos, differing inbound and outbound applications and a patchwork of phone hardware made it more of a nightmare than coping with agent turnover.
Using IP telephony, this disconnect between inbound and outbound can be solved. Inbound agents can be switched to outbound during slow times, and outbound agents can be drafted to inbound work during call spikes. All customer information stays in the same place. Convenience and better customer service aside, a blended schedule generally makes for a happier agent. Conventional wisdom says that part of the cause of high turnover is boredom. Variances in agent duties during the day keep agents more stimulated: not only performing both inbound and outbound, but handling chat and e-mail, as well. Agents are more likely to perceive their jobs as careers rather than paychecks, and view themselves as professionals rather than butts in chairs.
Overnight, Texas Expands its 2-1-1 VoIP Call Solution to Help Katrina Evacuees
In response to the needs of Hurricane Katrina evacuees, eLoyalty Corporations clients, the State of Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), were able to in a twelve-hour period expand the capacity of Texas 2-1-1 hotline to accommodate an unprecedented level of calls to the hotline. Similar expansions typically require a full month to complete. This 2-1-1 hotline assists the evacuees in getting information on shelter locations, hospitals, Red Cross locations, supplies, and humanitarian needs.
Recognizing the magnitude of the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, the first priority of HHSC and DIR was to do the right thing for the evacuees. Expanding the states 2-1-1 call capacity was critical to helping to direct evacuees to shelters and other assistance. The State of Texas reports that the number of calls handled daily by the 2-1-1 operation increased from about 2,500 to more than 10,000 in the first days after the disaster, as hurricane evacuees sought assistance. Since September 1st, over 225,000 calls have been made to Texas 2-1-1.
The increase in call capacity and new call management solution began with DIRs actions to move excess capacity from the Texas Capitol complex telephone system to 2-1-1s VoIP network. Then, DIR, eLoyalty, and the telecommunications partners technicians working overnight were able to re- route overflow 2-1-1 calls in the Houston area to other information centers around the state.
In Austin, HHSC and eLoyalty set up a new 50-telephone center to take the calls. In a matter of hours starting the afternoon of September 2nd, eLoyalty and HHSC dsigned a network with the states partners that significantly canged capacity and call routing algorithms, ceated new IVR applications, built intelligent call routing rules, and created new operations reporting.
All of this was done on the Cisco-based VoIP enterprise IPCC solution and all of these critical tasks were accomplished by 5 a.m., September 3rd. Due to the uncertainty of cell phone access from providers outside of Texas, HHSC implemented a toll-free number for disaster information that also utilizes the 2-1-1 network.
One of the strengths of the states 2-1-1 system is the capability to adjust capacity, but making that adjustment overnight is nothing short of incredible. We were able to make this happen because of the exceptional communication and coordination we have with HHSC and our vendor partners, said DIR Telecommunications Director Brian Kelly.
Focus on Customer Service Is Reducing Churn in Wireless
By David Sims
Wanna know how to reduce churn? Have your customer service people be nicer when serving your customers. There you go. Frame that, we know its the first time youve heard it.
Wireless service providers are having some success in reducing customer service churn and complaint rates, but they still have significant challenges ahead, according to a new report from In-Stat: About one in eight wireless customers considered their wireless carriers customer service excellent, although the results for individual U.S. carriers ranged from a low of 7% to a high near 21%.
The research firm found several customer service topics that received praise and complaint for each wireless carrier regarding stop me if youve heard this before hold times, service policies, first-call problem resolution, and customer service representative attitude.
The In-Stat report, Wireless Customer Service: Not Over the Hump Yet, surveyed U.S. wireless subscribers and conducted what the firm says were extensive interviews with key wireless industry insiders.
Customer service efforts appear to be contributing both to churn rate reduction, a key factor in company financial performance, and in the reduction of the relative complaint rate, said David Chamberlain, In-Stat analyst. Nevertheless, a substantial number of subscribers are, or could soon become, defectors.
The report found that in most cases, satisfaction with customer service nearly mirrors subscribers overall attitude toward the carrier. In other words, efficient handling of billing problems is now considered one of the best parts of the customer service experience, and lengthy hold times and one-call resolution are the worst.
It also found customers are indifferent about Web-based or voice-response self-care initiatives, and what industry insiders have long known, that both the newest and longest-term customers are the least likely to churn.
However, among those in the middle customers who have been with the carrier from one to two years more than 25% indicate they probably or definitely will switch to another carrier.
THE CHANNEL NEWS
GN Netcom and Westcon Group Sign Distribution Agreement
Westcon Group, Inc. has signed an agreement to distribute GN Netcom corded and wireless headsets throughout Europe. GN Netcom is the worlds largest manufacturer of headsets and provides a variety of solutions for VoIP-enabled SMB and enterprise networks.
By including the award-winning line of GN Netcom headsets into an overall value proposition, resellers gain the ability to add a relatively simple incremental revenue opportunity to a convergence solution. GN Netcom headsets are fully compatible with telephone handsets from Westcons telephony systems vendor partners, including 3Com, Avaya, Nortel, Mitel, and Siemens.
In addition to the added convenience and productivity benefits headsets provide, recent research by national government agencies across Europe suggest that jobs necessitating high telephone usage remain areas of health concern in an increasingly telephony-based, service-oriented workforce.
Guy Koster, Director of Product Management, Westcon Europe, commented: The addition of GN Netcom to the Westcon convergence portfolio represents an exciting opportunity for our reseller and solution provider partners. With headset penetration in call center environments generally accepted to be at saturation point, now is a great time to be looking at the general office environment as a new market opportunity for these products.
By partnering with Westcon, we can play an important addition to its VoicePoint program, which has proven to be a very significant resource to reseller partners, added Hans Henrik Lund, President, GN Netcom. Westcon clearly recognizes the significance of adding headsets to an overall VoIP solution and we are thrilled to have our products sold alongside Westcons core vendor offerings.
Cohere Picks BroadSoft to Offer VoIP Services
By Johanne Torres, TMCnet VoIP Minute Watch Columnist
VoIP application software provider BroadSoft Inc. was tapped by IP and Internet systems provider Cohere Communications of New York City to launch Broad Exchange Services (BxS), a VoIP service for the multi-site small and medium enterprise market. Cohere chose the BroadWorks VoIP application platform to launch the new VoIP offering. Cohere also expanded its BxS service offerings beyond the northeastern region of the United States to deliver services nationwide.
The VoIP services Cohere delivers meet the needs of small and medium enterprises, especially those with multiple office locations, said Steven Francesco, CEO, Cohere Communications. The BroadSoft VoIP application software lets us deliver the services our SME customers want, while allowing us to expand our portfolio to also offer wholesale services. When it was time to bring a platform in-house, the BroadWorks platform was the obvious choice for all our VoIP service offerings. Cohere Communications and partner, Globalive, plan to migrate all VoIP customers to the BroadWorks platform from a previously deployed platform.
BroadSofts IMS-compliant BroadWorks VoIP application platform provides a set of applications, including hosted PBX, IP Centrex, mobile PBX, business trunking and residential broadband services integrated into a single VoIP application platform.
Our customers success is the number one priority for us, said BroadSofts chief executive officer Michael Tessler. Cohere Communications has grown carefully into a stand-alone VoIP service provider, increasing both the depth and breadth of services they provide to SME and wholesale customers across the United States. Their focus on support and security, coupled with the processes theyve put into place, allows Cohere Communications to deliver the highest quality VoIP services to their customer base.
Greenwoods to Sell ShoreTel VoIP in the UK
Greenwoods Communications, the UKs leading independent telecoms services company, has been appointed channel partner for ShoreTels award-winning VoIP product suite. Greenwoods Communications will be aiming the ShoreTel VoIP telephone system primarily at enterprise customers in the UK where the company can offer a complete supply, installation and support package.
Greenwoods Communications sees the ShoreTel appointment as a valuable foothold in the SME market where our natural and well-proven strengths in the telecoms field can be used to enhance our product offerings and to provide a springboard for our operations and maintenance services, comments Peter Skinner, Commercial Director, Greenwoods Communications. We will also be offering the solution to European multi-nationals where the proven benefits of VoIP can significantly enhance productivity and reduce communications costs.
ShoreTels channel program provides extensive modular and technical training, support and rewards to ensure the success of the channel partnership. ShoreTel will also assist with the development of Greenwoods Communications sales and marketing strategies to meet agreed, predetermined revenue and customer satisfaction forecasts.
Greenwoods Communications is a large and credible organization that is well known and has a substantial presence in the market. The company has a strong desire to strengthen its position by offering advanced VoIP solutions for the enterprise market, says John Jarvis, MD, ShoreTel EMEA. The agreement enables Greenwoods Communications to sell our solution nationally, but importantly for ShoreTel, the agreement gives us a strong presence in the Midlands region.
Envox Worldwide Broadens Global Distribution For Its Product Portfolio
Envox Worldwide, a leading global provider of voice solutions, announced that is has entered into new sales and support agreements with leading value-added distributors (VADs) throughout the world. The agreements give these VADs the ability to resell the entire Envox Worldwide product portfolio, which includes: the Envox 6 Communications Development Platform, Envox 6 VoiceXML Studio, Envox CT Connect, and Envox CT ADE. Under the terms of the agreements, each of these VADs will also have access to Envox Worldwides value-added services, including professional services, training, and technical support.
We are pleased to be partnering with this distinguished group of VADs, said Mark D. Flanagan, president and CEO of Envox Worldwide. These distribution partnerships are a key element of our global growth strategy. Were working closely with each of these partners to build strong customer relationships and broaden our presence in the rapidly expanding voice solutions market.
This expanded distribution network will enable Envox Worldwide to more efficiently address the growing demand for its products and related services, better serve its customers at a local level, and expand its presence as the fast-growing voice solutions market rapidly shifts to open, standards-based solutions. Improved global access to the Companys products and services will enable more developers to create the wide range of voice solutions that their customers need with unmatched flexibility and broad support for new standards and emerging technologies, such as speech recognition and VoiceXML, VoIP and HMP and Web services.
Each of these VADs will now be representing the entire Envox Worldwide product portfolio. Envox Worldwide has signed sales and support agreements 25 VADs Worldwide 5 in North America, 11 in the EMEA region, and 9 in the APAC region.
ZTE Exclusively Awarded IPTV Project by China Telecom, Jiangsu Branch
ZTE Corporation, the fastest growing global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, has won a 100,000 subscriber IPTV contract from the Jiangsu Branch of China Telecom, Chinas largest fixed-line telecommunications operator.
The IPTV project, following ZTEs IPTV contract win from the Shannxi Branch of the same operator in September this year, is also Chinas largest IPTV network.
China is experiencing surging subscriber demand for new communications and entertainment services and IPTV is seen as the cut-in point and foundation of the future digital home. It is a pivotal service for enabling telecommunications operators to provision subscribers with triple play services voice, data, and video. Global fixed-line operators are now focusing their attention on deploying IPTV services and providing customized and content-rich services to subscribers.
Jiangsu is one of the most developed provinces in China and one of the most important strategic telecoms markets in the country. The IPTV project with China Telecoms Jiangsu Branch is a key part of China Telecoms IPTV trials, and is only the second tender result formally announced by the company after the Shannxi contract.
ZTE won the IPTV project in competition with most of the major international IPTV system providers. The win includes an agreement that ZTE will be the sole provider of IPTV systems and equipment to China Telecom, Jiangsu Branch.
With its advanced telecommunications equipment technologies, in-depth insight into multimedia telecommunications services as well as strong R&D capabilities, ZTEs NGN-based IPTV system delivers distinct advantages in terms of network planning and service operation. It can help fixed-line operators realize retained profit by constantly and effectively providing abundant customer-made services.
Pingtel Transcends Traditional PBXs by Enabling True, Standards-Based Real-Time Communications
Pingtel Corp., the leading provider of open source, commercial-grade enterprise communications solutions, announced the availability of the SIPxchange Enterprise Communications Server (ECS), a fundamentally new approach to addressing the convergence of voice and data within the enterprise market. Based on the 3.0 release of its award winning SIPxchange PBX, SIPxchange ECS takes enterprise communications to the next level with a whole new set of capabilities, including an integrated presence server, automatic call distribution (ACD) services based on presence, support for additional SIP phones, and a new, highly extensible system management platform.
Enterprise customers are increasingly less inclined to accept technologies into their network that do not properly account for future needs. By delivering the first 100% standard SIP solution with integrated presence that is capable of unifying all types of enterprise communications, Pingtel is delivering on enterprise expectations, said William J. Rich, president and CEO of Pingtel. Pingtels breakthrough SIPxchange ECS is the next logical and future proof step in enterprise communications that enables the enterprise to fully leverage a robust suite of IP-based communications services through one integrated, standards-based, real time platform.
Based on the open source sipXpbx project from SIPfoundry, SIPxchange ECS includes the features of traditional PBXs, but is the first solution that recognizes that SIP and presence will form the core of enterprise communications and delivers both major functions SIP and presence infrastructure in one highly extensible, highly scalable platform.
The SIPxchange ECSs open source heritage provides customers with an ideal combination of functionality and value. In addition to PBX features, the SIPxchange ECS includes core business applications, including an automatic call distributor (ACD), and a built-in presence server for true next-generation applications. Coupling the power of standards based SIP with open source development enables Pingtel to introduce the SIPxchange ECS at a price point up to 50 percent less than traditional vendors.
Brekeke Software Announces Coming Release of OnDO SIP Server v1.5 with Enhanced Dial Plan Functionality
Brekeke Software, Inc. announced they will release version 1.5 of their OnDO SIP Server, a software proxy and registrar server, used to register and authenticate VoIP calls, then route calls between user agents. This software release includes improved dial plan features that increase compatibility between SIP compliant products and provide added capability for creating complex and powerful dial plans.
With the growing popularity of SIP technology, and the variety of SIP devices to choose from, compatibility between SIP servers and SIP devices is fast becoming a concern for many users. Brekekes OnDO SIP Server can help solve these issues by providing the flexibility to rewrite, insert, or delete SIP headers according to rules defined in the web-based administration tool. These rules allow the OnDO SIP Server to easily accept any SIP compliant products used throughout the system. For example, a rule can be defined to edit a SIP header depending on the incoming call and the SIP device used by the caller. These dial plan settings are easily changed through the web-based administration tool.
At $200 per license, the OnDO SIP Server provides an affordable software alternative for those not wanting to purchase costly hardware products. For educational institutions and individual users, its free to use, if you qualify under licensing requirements. A trial version is available to all users for a 30-day evaluation period from www.brekeke.com.