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In the CEO Spotlight section in Internet Telephony�, we recognize the outstanding work performed by exemplary companies. Each month, we bring you the opinions of the heads of companies leading the Internet telephony industry now and helping to shape the future of the industry. This month, we spoke with Alan Pound, Founder and Managing Director of Aculab (News - Alert).


GG: What is Aculab�s mission?

AP: At Aculab, our mission is made up of three components � products, people, and profit. In respect of our products, we strive to be respected worldwide by customers and competitors alike as a leading provider of enabling technology for the communications market. This is achieved through providing excellent value, quality products, and support to our target markets. With regards to people, Aculab recognizes the importance and value of its staff and its mission is to provide reward and recognition to all Aculab employees and to maintain a work environment of satisfaction, pride, and fun. The profit element of Aculab�s mission relates to achieving controlled financial growth to facilitate the objectives outlined above.

GG: What is your vision for Aculab and how is the company positioned in the next generation telecom market?

AP: Aculab intends to remain a provider of enabling technology to application developers in a converged communications market. We will expand our high-density IP platform, Prosody X, to include a range of codecs and protocols enabling mobility, security, and video. We also anticipate seeing an increase in take-up of our host media processing software, Prosody S, and plan to incorporate similar enhancements and features to Prosody X. Aculab believes that solution providers will increasingly demand enabling technology functionality in the form of �plug and go� appliances, and will service this need through collaboration with our specialist partners.

GG: What are the latest product developments at Aculab and what new developments can customers hope to see over the coming months?

AP: Prosody X, Aculab�s high-density, IP-based media processing card, was released to general availability in PCI format in January 2006. Aculab is making continued, ongoing enhancements in terms of new codecs for security and video. Prosody X cPCI has just been released and offers double the density of the PCI version � up to 1,200 channels per card. It also enables hot-swap and is a telco grade product. We plan to make a third form factor, Prosody X PCIe, available towards the end of 2006. We envisage making an ATCA environment offering available during 2007. In terms of our host media processing product, Prosody S, there will be three further releases during the next phase of development, incorporating G.723, G.726, and G.729 codecs as well as iLBC, secure RTP, T.38 fax, RTCP, and live speaker detection. Aculab�s SS7 product offering took a major step forward earlier this year with the addition of dual, resilient MTP3 and distributed ISUP capabilities. We also added a �flexible� ISUP feature and further progress is being made in the areas of TCAP and SS7 monitoring.

GG: What makes Aculab�s product offerings unique and how do companies benefit from using them?

AP: Essentially, Aculab is an R&D company. Our focus is on rising to the engineering challenges presented to us through developing leading edge hardware and software technologies. We focus our resources on continually enhancing and developing our products to give customers who have chosen to develop to our API, a good return on investment. At Aculab, we can now provide our customers with a range of low- to high-density solutions, offering maximum flexibility. Developers choosing Aculab also benefit from a consistent API, making it easy to port applications across various product releases. In addition, we support our customers through offering comprehensive pre-sales technical consultancy, customer training services, post-sales, and technical support. We also provide them with strong marketing support in taking their Aculab-based products to market. Our customers benefit from the fact that Aculab is a privately owned, established, debt free company, which is focused on establishing long term relationships. Aculab continues to support integrations with third-party vendors� products such as Asterisk and Microsoft (News - Alert) Speech Server and for a number of speech technology vendors. Aculab is also making ongoing protocol developments, particularly with SIP and is continuing to work closely with partners.

GG: What are the most pressing issues facing our industry today, and what can be done can to alleviate these problems?

AP: The biggest issue facing our industry today is migration and how businesses will manage the transition from existing TDM technologies into IP technologies. Everyone is at a different stage of the adoption cycle, so we cannot provide businesses with a single set of messages and technologies, as each set of information needs to be appropriate to the individual company. To address this, we need to understand how businesses� evolve and the information required at different points of the learning curve. This can be achieved through putting in place a sound infrastructure of training, pre- and post-sales support, and effective marketing, which is what we have done at Aculab. The industry also needs to meet the challenges of rapidly maturing VoIP � increasingly voice comes for free, so we need to decide how revenue can be generated, how we will deal with security issues, and how we can ensure a high quality of service is maintained. Voice is going through a rapid paradigm shift, moving from an environment that has been stable for many years. SIP must also undergo further development in order to fulfil what people expect in terms of voice communications.

GG: Describe your view of the future of the IP telephony industry; also what does the future hold for Aculab?

AP: I believe VoIP is here to stay. There are still issues that the industry needs to work through, such as how revenue will be generated and who will generate it. From Aculab�s perspective, there are a number of engineering challenges to conquer, and we look forward to overcoming these. We believe that Aculab�s sound financial footing, stability, and continuity in terms of ownership and strategic direction, will serve us well, enabling us to rise to those challenges and continue to support developers who choose Aculab. IT

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