Imagine being in a specially designed room, talking to colleagues, almost forgetting they are miles away. Imagine them as life-size images sitting at your table, with no microphone or camera in sight. Or imagine the same thing with two groups of colleagues, or three, or four, or more. That is precisely what Polycom has been demonstrating with its modular RPX facility designed to fit nearly anywhere, in which participants can interact with their colleagues in other similar facilities almost as though they are in the same conference room.
Polycom’s immersive room experience includes giant eight- or sixteen-foot video screens that capture life-like images of co-workers in similar RPX facilities. The small cameras are embedded into the screens and the microphones are similarly hidden in the ceiling, leaving meeting participants with minimal distractions so they are able to focus on the task at hand. The video screens also are curved, giving an even more impressive of feeling of being in the same room. Even the studio quality lighting in the ceiling has been designed to minimize shadow effects typically exposed through cameras and bring out natural skin tones. The ceilings and walls themselves have been treated with sound masking materials, virtually eliminating outside noise. And the sound within the rooms is maximized through the use of a single audio system to deliver crystal clear sound, rather than multiple individual speakers.
But the real marvel behind the RPX is that, through its use of “human factors engineering,” Polycom has been able to make conference participants become completely unaware of their technologically advanced surroundings — particularly that they are on a video conference. In essence, they have succeeding in making the technology disappear for the conferees.
Furthermore, because the RPX platform is standards-based it can be used in conjunction with legacy equipment (both voice and video), maximizing previous investments in technology.
For enterprises and government customers, who are always mindful of accumulating costs, it is also important to note that the RPX rooms are, by virtue of their modular design, free-standing and moveable, so that their all-inclusive immersive environment can be relocated if necessary.About the only thing the RPX can’t do with its real world collaborative setting is beam you from New York to Virginia. But it’s the next best thing.
Patton and Pingtel (News - Alert) Bring Enterprise Quality VoIP to SMBs with the SIPxNano
By Patrick Barnard
Patton Electronics, maker of the popular SmartNode and SmartLink VoIP solutions, and Pingtel Corp., maker of SIP-based enterprise class communications platforms, have teamed up to deliver the SIPxNano, a tiny IP PBX (News - Alert) designed for small businesses with fewer than 30 extensions.
The SIPxNano is designed to deliver enterprise quality, SIP-based VoIP to SMBs. It combines Patton’s NanoServ ultra-compact server technology with a tailored version of Pingtel’s SIPxchange ECS software, thus delivering features that one would not normally expect from such a small, low-cost device. These include integrated voice mail and e-mail, auto attendants, IVR, and Web-based configuration and management.
The device is fully compatible with all industry standard IP devices, including Polycom phones and Patton’s line of VoIP phones, gateways, and routers.
“Most small office IP PBX products skimp on features,” said Scott Whittle, Patton’s VP of product management. “Really useful next-generation features usually only get built onto large PBX systems, but that’s not our style. We are giving small offices Fortune 500 functionality at a very affordable price.”
VoIP services provider 8x8, Inc. introduced its latest softphone, targeting remote professionals and workers on the go. The most recent VoIP solution, known as Packet8 Softalk Office, is for use with the Packet8 Virtual Office hosted PBX phone service for business.
Priced at $9.99 per month including 200 minutes of calling time in the U.S. and Canada, Packet 8 (News - Alert) Softalk Office offers a full set of features for the virtual office without the need for a separate telephone. According to officials at 8x8, the newest installment allows businesses to reduce their expenses while boosting employee productivity. Among some of the features included are extension dialing, conference bridge ability, call forwarding, message waiting indicator, call timer and business class voicemail with voicemail to e-mail.
“Now, when employees travel, they no longer need to rely solely on their cell phones to make and receive business calls. They can simply plug a headset into their laptop and tap into the same powerful features and cost-effective calling capabilities their company enjoys with our Virtual Office Hosted PBX phone service,” said Huw Rees, 8x8 vice president of sales and marketing.
8x8 also announced week its Packet8 Softalk 1.5 upgrade with enhanced H.264 video codec, a solution that improves the videoconferencing experience by incorporating next-gen video compression technology and can accommodate up to six participants at the same time.
Viola Expands VoIP Call Quality Measurement Solution
By Erik Linask
Viola Networks (News - Alert) has introduced significant enhancements to its NetAlly Lifecycle Manager, that will provide customers even more tools for ensuring the voice quality over their networks meets Service Level Agreements and, in instances where it does not, helps isolate the problem areas.
NetAlly is a fully integrated solution for pre-deployment readiness assessment, helping to facilitate successful roll-out, while also supports the network environment post-deployment with monitoring, troubleshooting, reporting, capacity planning, and network optimization.
Release 5.1 includes Viola’s Service Level Index (SLI), which enables service providers and enterprises to accurately measure groups of VoIP calls — from a particular location, across a common access link, or from a particular carrier networks — extending the value of the service quality reports provided by the software. The result is a “standardization of aggregating call quality metrics into a single index that can be used to look at a high level of call quality across a VoIP environment,” explained Dave Zwicker VP of Marketing at Viola Networks.
Companies can ensure that they have overall 99.9 percent system availability — where the system on aggregate achieves the minimum MOS threshold (say, >4.0) 99.9 percent of the time. Then, administrators can drill deeper to see where specific problems arise to improve on performance levels. And while MOS is the most common measurement technique for voice, NetAlly Lifecycle Manager can also report on packet loss, delay, and even metrics measuring performance outside of VoIP (e.g., page download time, cross-application data, e-commerce transactions)... really, any application with measurable metrics. This makes Viola’s solution considerably more valuable a product that measures just call quality.
The system includes a variety of core reports that users will find useful in assessing the quality of calls over their networks. But more sophisticated users are also able to adjust reports and even create new ones using Crystal Report Editor.
In addition to the software upgrade, Viola is also now shipping a small form factor hardware appliance, which makes the product a complete turnkey solution. Previously, customers were left to fend for themselves in finding hardware on which to run Viola’s software. The addition of the Hardware Traffic Agent (HTA) makes NetAlly Lifecycle Manager a simple, one-stop solution for enterprises, service providers, or systems integrators.
SERVICE PROVIDER NEWS
QuickPlay Media’s QuickPlayer Quickly Delivers News, Entertainment to BlackBerry (News - Alert)
By Patrick Barnard
QuickPlay Media Inc., which provides mobile entertainment solutions, has announced the first round of media partners for its QuickPlayer for BlackBerry. That means BlackBerry users whose carriers deploy the QuickPlay Personal Entertainment Server can now access audiocasts from top-tier media companies and providers including ABC News, AccuWeather.com, Clear Channel, Gaiam, MarketWatch.com, The Wall Street Journal and Westwood One. Because these audiocasts are streamed, there is no download time. Each audiocast lasts up to five minutes.
QuickPlay claims QuickPlayer is the first application to deliver streamed audiocasts to BlackBerry devices. Through it, users can have easy access to business and finance updates, as well as news, entertainment and health and sports information.
“QuickPlay Media has lined up a solid mix of targeted media content for BlackBerry users,” said Jeff McDowell, vice president, alliances, Research In Motion, in a press release. “Streaming audio services complement other BlackBerry applications and provide another convenient and valuable source of information for mobile users.”
QuickPlay combines proprietary streaming technology with advanced audio codecs natively supported in the BlackBerry 8700 Series, BlackBerry Pearl and BlackBerry 7130 Series. The audiocasts are said to deliver high fidelity, which can be important when viewing entertainment clips including music or low sound levels.
The QuickPlay Personal Entertainment Server manages all aspects of the mobile media service including content management, subscription management, content delivery, and billing integration. Content can be aggregated by QuickPlay or by carriers themselves.
CounterPath and Intrado Develop IP Softphone to Support E9-1-1
By Johanne Torres
CounterPath Solutions (News - Alert) announced that it teamed up with VoIP E911 technology provider Intrado to develop a new functionality within CounterPath’s softphone to support automatic location identification on mobile VoIP 9-1-1 calls.
The deal will enable CounterPath’s softphone to integrate directly with Intrado (News - Alert)’s systems to automatically detect and send location information whenever a 9-1-1 call is made from a wireless VoIP device. This will direct the calls to the appropriate public safety answering point (PSAP), so that emergency operators are able to link the caller’s current physical location with the phone number used to dial for help.
“As the predominant provider of IP softphones, CounterPath was a natural partner for this initiative,” said Intrado’s chief technology officer and cofounder Stephen Meer in a statement. “The company’s technical and development expertise were instrumental in helping us successfully test the viability of having a softphone automatically provide location information for mobile VoIP 9-1-1 callers.”
The companies conducted a trial last month throughout New York City. According to the companies, the CounterPath/Intrado VoIP location technology test was successful during the joint E9-1-1 trial throughout the city, and proved the technology’s consistent location identification ability.
“Being able to support E911 is a key requirement for our customer base. We’re committed to delivering this functionality as part of our focus on delivering leading multimedia applications to global service providers and OEMs,” stated Donovan Jones, president and chief operating officer at CounterPath. “Intrado is at the heart of the nation’s 9-1-1 network and has a track record in pioneering E9-1-1 solutions for emerging technologies. We’re pleased to be working with Intrado on this important initiative and expect to work together on similar joint development initiatives in the future.”
Vonage and Motorola (News - Alert) Intro Co-Branded VoIP Adaptor with Router
By Johanne Torres
Vonage and Motorola announced the introduction of a new co-branded VoIP adaptor with router, the Motorola VT2142. The device single is a port router equipped with a two-line telephone adaptor, configured with Vonage (News - Alert)’s service. The Motorola VT2142 will be available online, at no cost, thanks to a $49.99 instant rebate. The companies plan to soon also offer the product in retail stores.
“As Vonage always seeks to offer a variety of hardware choices, we are pleased to offer Motorola’s new product for our less expensive, flat-rate, full-featured calling plans. Motorola is a proven partner and we are happy to add another one of its devices to our portfolio,” said Vonage Network, Inc.’s senior vice president of engineering, Daniel Smires. “Expanding our device offering with Motorola enables us to continue offering consumer-friendly, feature-rich voice terminal technologies, a simple way for consumers to benefit from Vonage’s attractively priced, tiered calling plans.”
INFONXX (News - Alert) Grows its Footprint in the Fingertip Information Space
By Erik Linask
Directory assistance and enhanced information services provider INFONXX, with a mindset of growing its presence not only in the U.S., but globally as well, has completed two acquisitions that will help the firm continue to expand. Excell Services, a U.S.-based independent provider of directory assistance, operator services, and inbound customer service, and Conduit Limited, a European information services company will become part of INFONXX. With the addition of these two firms, INFONXX proclaims it will process more than one billion directory assistance inquiries this year.
“These acquisitions progress the INFONXX growth strategy, bringing innovative service development and an extension of our global network of capabilities and markets,” said Robert Pines, Global CEO and Founder of INFONXX. “The expanded reach and resources of INFONXX will be good for customers and employees alike.”
INFONXX products include 411 Plus enhanced directory assistance, TeleMas Spanish language services, Text Direct, a two-way SMS directory assistance listing, txt//ad in the United Kingdom, an innovative Pay-Per-Text ad channel enabling advertisers to reach potential customers via SMS, and many more.
Excell Services provides directory assistance (DA), operator services (OS), and inbound customer services (CRM) to the telecommunications, healthcare and retail food industries from call centers throughout North America and the Philippines. The acquisition of Excell increases capabilities, momentum, and adds more service options for current INFONXX customers.
Dublin, Ireland-based Conduit provides directory inquiry and customer care solutions from call centers in Ireland, UK, Switzerland, Austria, and Spain. Among the company’s specialties is its growing customer care services portfolio for blue-chip clients, through which it provides customer support, sales, and back-office functions, an important and growing aspect of the company’s portfolio of services. Conduit also has an online portal through which it provides directory assistance.
www.infonxx.com www.excellxvcs.com www.conduit.ie
Sony Ericsson (News - Alert) and Fossil Intro Bluetooth Watches
By Stefania Viscusi
Next on the list to bring together fashion, technology and mobility — your wristwatch. No longer just a time-telling device, wearing a watch will also now increase the efficiency of mobile communications, as Sony Ericsson and Fossil Inc. have partnered to develop a line of wireless Bluetooth compatible watches.
The idea behind the convenience of the new technology is that glancing down at your wrist is effortless and can make handling calls more efficient. Incorporating these new functionalities into the wristwatch also brings features like Caller ID and control of a media player on a mobile phone to the wrist.
The newly designed watches, adopted from top selling Fossil watches, will link seamlessly to most Sony Ericsson Bluetooth enabled mobile phones.
“The Bluetooth watch represents the best of both the world of fashion in its classic attractive design and the world of technology in its innovative functionality. That synergy will change your relationship with your mobile phone,” commented Daniel Sandblom, product planner for Sony Ericsson.
The new technology will allow users to “view incoming caller ID information on the watch face” and, “when users are unable to answer their phone, a single button press can mute or reject an incoming call.” This eliminates the need to rummage through a purse or dig in a pocket for the phone. Other features include an envelope icon and vibration to alert callers of a voicemail or text message.
Pangean Technologies Officially Releases Y-Talk Mobile VoIP Solution
By Patrick Barnard
Pangean Technologies has released a new WiFi telephony solution that turns any handheld based on Microsoft (News - Alert) Windows Mobile 5.0 into a “Walkie-Talkie” type device using Push to Talk.
The solution, called Y-Talk, is aimed at the enterprise market and grew out of Pangean’s popular insta-REACT! solution. Pangean is marketing the solution on its ability to increase employee mobility — thus increasing productivity. The company specializes in SIP-based VoIP applications for both internal and external enterprise communications. Its open-system solutions leverage existing network infrastructure to deliver efficient communications to each user’s desktop or handheld.
“We recognized the need to bring to market a solution that will transform the way the mobile workforce communicates in environments where internal instant communications are critical, such as the retail and warehouse environments,” said Tarun Kapoor, CEO of Pangean Technologies. “We believe that Y-Talk offers a unique solution for enterprises needing the ability for mobile employees to instantly communicate with team members and groups of colleagues at the push of a button. By leveraging the existing WiFi (News - Alert) infrastructure, in-building communications can be readily achieved with very little, if any, infrastructure investments.”
In a move that will likely accelerate adoption of the new solution, Pangean has also partnered with Symbol to integrate Y-Talk on Symbol’s MC70 and MC9090 (and soon MC50) Enterprise Digital Assistants (EDA).
Sprint Prepares for EV-DO Rev. A with Sierra Wireless (News - Alert)
By Erik Linask
In preparation for the migration of its existing EV-DO network to even higher speed EV-DO Rev. A later this year, Sprint (News - Alert) has at its disposal two Rev. A products from Sierra Wireless. The wireless technology developer has announced it is ready with two wireless products that, in accordance with EV-DO Rev. A standards, will enable faster uploads and downloads — the Sierra Wireless AirCard 595 wireless broadband card and the Sierra Wireless MC5725 embedded mini card.
Sierra has already begun shipping the AC595 to Sprint, and the MC5725 PCI Express Mini Card embedded module been certified for use on the Sprint Power Vision Network. Commercial shipments of the MC5725 are imminent.
Both new products from Sierra Wireless are fully compatible with Sprint’s existing Power Vision Network, and both will seamlessly migrate to the upgraded EV-DO Rev. A network as it becomes available. Spring estimates some 40 million people will have EV-DO Rev. A access available by the end of the year. The advantage Rev. A technology represents for customers is its capacity for speeding up average download speeds to 450-850 kbps and average upload speeds to 300-400 kbps.
The AirCard 595 is a Type II PCMCIA card that is capable of data transfer speeds up to 3.1 Mbps on the downlink and 1.8 Mbps on the uplink, so, even once Sprint has launched its Rev. A network, the Sierra products will still be future ready once even higher speeds are available on Sprint’s network.
The MC5725 PCI Express Mini Card improves data transfer rates similarly to the AC595, but it is designed to be integrated directly into notebook PCs and other portable computing devices to enable built-in wireless network access.
Alcatel and Nokia (News - Alert) Team Up to Extend Business Telephony
By Johanne Torres
Alcatel and Nokia announced they have joined forces in order to extend Alcatel (News - Alert)’s business telephony offering to the mobile workforce by way of the Nokia Eseries, a suite of business class devices. The Intellisync Call Connect for Alcatel will integrate Nokia Eseries devices into the Alcatel IP Communication server.
With Intellisync Call Connect for Alcatel in place, popular desk phone functionalities are available to the mobile user, such as call conferencing, call back, and dial by name. Employees will be able to manage just one business number and control where and when and on which device they receive their calls.
The IP telephony infrastructure’s offering will also enable businesses to utilize Alcatel’s Least Cost Routing capabilities for lower international mobile calling.
“Together with Alcatel, Nokia has a great opportunity to expand the adoption of converged mobility solutions,” said Nokia’s vice president, mobility solutions Scott Cooper. “While enterprise voice solutions from Nokia are designed to work with leading enterprise communications solutions, the introduction of the new solution that integrates Nokia Eseries with the Alcatel OmniPCX is a significant milestone for us.”
Alcatel’s OmniPCX Enterprise delivers Alcatel’s Cellular Extension software to enable Intellisync Call Connect. Currently, Intellisync Call Connect for Alcatel utilizes the cellular network to connect to a company’s PBX infrastructure, and will be enhanced to support both cellular and WiFi networks with dual mode phones in the near future.
VoIP DEVELOPER NEWS
Swisscom and Ciena Optical Platforms Certified by Metro Ethernet Forum
By Laura Stotler
Ciena Corporation and Swisscom have announced Carrier Ethernet certification for their respective optical platforms. The Swisscom Carrier Optical Service and Ciena’s CN4200 FlexSelect Advanced Services Platform and CN 2300 Managed Optical Services Multiplexer have been certified to deliver Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) compliant Ethernet Private Lines.
The certification is based on the MEF’s MEF9 technical specifications for Ethernet Services at the User Network Interface. The MEF Carrier Ethernet Certification Program aims to accelerate rollout of carrier Ethernet services by reducing the time and cost of equipment testing. It is also designed to provide end users with reliable services across service providers and network equipment. The Swisscom and Ciena platforms were tested by Iometrix through the MEF-approved “Test Plan for Ethernet Services at the UNI.”
“We’ve seen tremendous uptake in our Carrier Optical Service from enterprises looking for flexible bandwidth options backed by strong service level agreements for mission-critical data center, business continuity and other wide area network applications,” said Thomas Aeberhard, Head of Data Services, Swisscom Fixnet Wholesale. “As customers increasingly move to Ethernet and look for services that are standards-based, this Carrier Ethernet certification will only broaden the appeal of our market leading Carrier Optical Service.”
“As a Charter Member of the MEF, this certification reflects our early focus on developing innovative optical Ethernet platforms for delivering MEF-certified Carrier Ethernet services,” said Martin Nuss, vice president and chief technologist at Ciena. “Swisscom was the first to deploy CN 4200 and we’ve worked closely with them to ensure our optical Ethernet platforms create a flexible network capable of delivering a variety of Carrier Ethernet and storage extension services with automated provisioning and advanced service level management.”
GL Enhances VoIP Testing Tool
By Erik Linask
GL Communications has announced enhancements to PacketGen, the company’s software-based VoIP testing tool. In addition to network and equipment analysis, the tool is designed for stress testing and real-time individual and bulk call generation, including SIP and RTP/RTCP traffic. The latest additions to PacketGen increase the potential applications of the software.
With CLI (Command Line Interface), PacketGen’s capabilities can now be incorporated into and automated test environment, allowing users to create their own scripts using simple text commands and run them at the Windows command line, a feature that is designed to replace the manual GUI. CLI also allows control of multiple SIP cores, as does the GUI. CLI also eases integration of PacketGen in to other third-party applications, even further increasing its flexibility.
For network-wide voice quality testing, once users have configured PacketGen for call generation across their networks, the software can automatically generate and receive calls using the RTP traffic-scripting feature and synchronous voice file transmission and reception. In conjunction with GL’s VQT software, users can actively measure and monitor network voice traffic.
PacketGen’s new scripting feature allows a new way to perform RTP traffic actions, providing increased control and flexibility. Commands are available to perform all GUI functions. Calls can be individually configured for scripts, or the same script can be used across several calls, and users can load scripts and view script progress in real time. PacketGen also now includes an RTP Script Editor, which allows easy building of RETP scripts via a GUI application and point and click setup.
Xirrus Awarded Patent for WiFi Array Design
By Erik Linask
Xirrus, a three-year-old company that provides WiFi connectivity hardware for the enterprise and SMB space, has recently been awarded its first patent for the design of its WiFi Array.
United States Patent Number US D526,973 S has been issued covering the physical housing of the product — which is what is eye catching in and of itself. If you were to walk past their booth, say at a trade show, you would have a hard time missing what appears to be a pie-sized smoke detector. In reality, that eye catching device is Xirrus’ high capacity, long range WiFi array.
“This patent the result of a series of applications designed to strengthen our Intellectual Property portfolio solidifying our position as an innovator in the WiFi market,” said Dirk Gates, CEO of Xirrus. “Our first design patent on the WiFi Array makes it tougher for our competitors to deliver a high capacity wireless networking solution.”
While the patent specifically addresses the physical housing, the real power behind Xirrus lies in the 360-degree configuration of the four, eight, or sixteen radios in the devices, which result in significant capacity and range improvements over traditional WiFi access points, despite using the same technology. The Arrays also incorporate a WLAN switch/controller with the Integrated Access Points (IAPs) in its devices, further helping defray the cost of a wireless deployment. The Arrays connect directly to the Ethernet or they can be connected wirelessly to each other via their radios.
Each Xirrus WiFi Array is capable of handling and prioritizing 180 simultaneous VoIP, 45 simultaneous SDTV video streams, wireless Fast Ethernet backhaul links between Arrays, Gigabit Ethernet uplinks to the Wired network, and fast roaming between radios within an Array and between Arrays.
Sangoma (News - Alert) Ships New PCIe Cards to Support VoIP Applications
By Erik Linask
Sangoma Technologies Corporation, which develops connectivity hardware and software products for VoIP, TDM, and other voice and data infrastructures, is now shipping its complete line of enhanced PCI Express (PCIe) cards.
“There is a significant trend as the computer industry migrates towards PCI Express bus compatibility, especially at the high end,” says Sangoma Technologies President and CEO David Mandelstam. “In particular the A108 card, which, at 240 call capacity, is the highest density PC voice card existing today, is well suited to support the new high performance PCIe servers used in large telephony applications.”
PCI Express is a new standard computer bus using existing PCI programming theory, but bases it on new and faster physical serial layer protocols. The expectation is that PCIe will quickly replace standard PCI in high-end servers and workstations — like those required to support telephony.
Making use of this new bus architecture, Sangoma’s Octal port A108, Quad port A104, and dual port A102 T1/E1 cards, as well as its A200 analog voice system, are all now available in PCIe format — which is based on the company’s Advanced Flexible Telecommunications (AFT) card family.
“The beauty is that the change to PCIe is completely transparent to the user. All Sangoma’s drivers, utilities, and APIs continue to work exactly the same way for PCIe as for the older PCI standard busses,” added Mandelstam.
IP CONTACT CENTER NEWS
Panasonic Unveils Hybrid IP PBX
By Patrick Barnard
Panasonic has introduced the KX-TDA600, a full-featured, highly flexible, hybrid IP PBX that can be used to deliver only the services and features a business needs… when they are needed. The integrated system, which serves a maximum of 160 ports (960 ports with DXDP), can be used for either VoIP or ISDN. In either case it uses QSIG, a high-level protocol for system-to-system communications, to allow the network to operate as if it were a single, cohesive unit.
The system can also be used to quickly set up a wireless network that enables employees stay connected anywhere within a coverage area — the system is capable of handling up to 512 wireless handsets. When used in conjunction with the gateway and extender or IP handsets, it enables home workers and employees at remote branches to access all the features delivered by your company’s central communication platform.
Also making the KX-TDA600 attractive is the fact that it can easily be expanded. With its free slot architecture, one can easily insert expansion cards and access new features, as well as expand the system’s capabilities. The system’s modular design also makes it much easier to service and maintain.
The system is particularly useful in call center applications, having “a built-in UCD feature that allows calls to be distributed and organized according to purpose and priority, making a call center more efficient while keeping the customer’s needs at the forefront,” according to Panasonic. “Calls can be queued while lines are in use and music or a prerecorded promotional message can be played for waiting callers to help reduce lost calls and missed business opportunities. Calls can also be assigned to an additional back-up destination for those not answered within a specific amount of time.”
“Panasonic designed the KX-TDA600 as a long-term solution for businesses,” said Larry White, national marketing manager for Panasonic. “This power and versatility allows a business to manage calls effectively, keep employees in communication with each other, and let them all concentrate on their business, instead of worrying about missed or dropped calls, or busy phone lines.”
Bracken Bay Kitchens Selects Amcat
By Anuradha Shukla
Bracken Bay Kitchens will use Amcat’s Contact Center Suite solution to extend its customer contact capability and improve appointment setting for its free customer kitchen design service. Initially, the kitchen specialist will use the technology to support 25 outbound agents and extend to 45 over the coming months.
Bracken Bay Kitchens wanted a system that was easy to manage in-house, and was user friendly for its agents. The company also wanted to extend its customer reach. By deploying Amcat’s extensive data management capabilities, Bracken Bay Kitchens is expecting to grow and take greater control over its operations.
“Amcat’s friendly and extensive IT support was also a major factor in our choice of system,” explained Christine Fleming, director at Bracken Bay Kitchens.
Bracken Bay Kitchens has eight branch offices across the UK and Scotland, with its contact center based at Barnet, North London.
In future, Bracken Bay Kitchens plans to integrate its central database of over five million contacts with the Amcat system. In-house analyses of data will allow the company to monitor the success of specific campaigns by geographic location. The kitchen specialist will then pinpoint the successful areas via postcode and create new outbound campaigns to specifically target customers in those areas.
Mobile Call Centers from Five9 and Smart Partnership
By Susan J. Campbell
The call center market in the Philippines is set for further growth as Smart Communications, a division of PLDT, and Five9, a provider of on-demand telemarketing, customer service, and call center solutions for customer interaction management, have announced an agreement to establish call centers in the Philippines provinces.
The agreement provides that Smart will transform its Smart click Internet cafes — 40-foot air conditioned container vans that each houses 15 rentable computer terminals — into mobile call centers. Smart currently operates 20 similar Internet cafes in several Philippines cities and provinces.
Tina Z. Mariano, Smart Communications’ head of Public Access Group, noted that with Five9’s on-demand call center solution, Smart plans to deploy 1,000 call centers throughout the Philippines over the next year. After reviewing several options, Smart selected Five9 for its easy use, comprehensive features and the ability to work well in the mobile environment.
Thanks to a wireless connection, Smart Internet cafes provide high-speed Internet services up to one Mbps to residents in far-flung communities. The mobile design of the cafes is intended for the easy transfer in the case of natural calamities such as typhoons, which are common in some provinces like Batanes, without losing Web connection. Smart Click Internet cafes will now be provisioned with the revolutionary Five9 Virtual Call Center product that enables Internet cafes to operate as call centers.
By providing fully hosted call center solutions that enable companies to run contact centers without the large capital investment normally associated with premises-based call centers, Five9 has established itself as a formidable force in the industry. Small and medium-sized enterprises can take advantage of the Five9 Virtual Call Center to enter the industry quickly and with no upfront capital investment.
Echopass Telecenter Now Part of Salesforce.com (News - Alert) On-demand CRM Platform
By Erik Linask
Hosted IP contact center provider Echopass has announced its Telecenter application is now available for salesforce.com’s AppExchange. This collaboration seamlessly integrates the multi-channel contact center capabilities of Echopass and the on-demand CRM features of salesforce.com.
With the incorporation of Echopass, salesforce.com’s customer base gets a pre-integrated, on demand solution offered on a per user, per month basis, which means, first and foremost, that in-house integration costs are eliminated. In fact, with Echopass hosting the entire solution, the entire complexity associated with application deployment is circumvented. On the customer side, all that is required is a PC with a browser and a network connection — no high initial investment or recurring overhead costs, no continuing maintenance fees, and speedy deployment. Also since the Echopass service based on a monthly subscription, it is easily modified or scaled as necessary.
“The EchoSystem platform makes call center services affordable and more readily available for companies that want to avoid the significant implementation and upgrade costs of premises-based solutions,” said Vincent Deschamps, CEO of Echopass. “Our platform was designed to meet evolving customer needs through a scaleable, end-to-end solution comprised of market leading technology integrated with our high value, always on contact center as the core.”
The Echopass solution includes features to streamline lead generation and qualification, as well as general customer service and contact management. Echopass Telecenter includes the automation of both inbound and outbound contact interaction management and is specifically designed to improve the productivity of customer service and help desk teams. With the real-time visibility Echopass offers, it becomes easy to manage all customer issues. Echopass also integrates best-of-breed partner technologies and services, providing an even greater level of flexibility and reliability.
THE CHANNEL NEWS
VoIP-PAL Becomes Vonage Reseller
By Cindy Waxer
Just days after changing its company name, VoIP-PAL.COM, formerly known as VoIPMDU.COM, has made a move that the company hopes will strengthen its current revenue base. Specifically, the broadband telecom company has announced that it has become a reseller of Vonage’s VoIP products and services online. In addition to offering local and long distance VoIP services, VOIP-PAL.COM provides turnkey solutions for all of its voice/video/data applications.
The company’s forward step as a Vonage reseller marks an important benchmark in its progress to expand the VoIP-PAL subscriber/customer base and to create a larger, sustainable revenue base. VoIP-PAL.COM will link retail customer transactions for Vonage products from its Web site with direct contact to Vonage for order fulfillment.
Sphere Authorizes NEXTUSA as Sphericall IP PBX Distributor
By Mae Kowalke
NEXTUSA, Inc., has become an authorized distributor of Sphere Communications (News - Alert)’ Sphericall IP PBX. Through its network of value-added resellers and online partners, NEXTUSA will be distributing both the IP PBX and related support services.
“Sphere’s powerful IP PBX combined with our broad array of standards-based telephony devices provides our resellers with everything they need to deliver scalable enterprise communications solutions,” said NEXTUSA CEO Tom Boone.
Sphere Communications provides software-based solutions for enterprise telecommunications. The company specializes in IP PBX technology for service oriented architectures.
NEXTUSA, which has been serving the telephone industry for more than 30 years, has a network of more than 5,000 dealers around the world. The company’s distribution channel consists of independent dealers both in the U.S. and abroad.
CenterBeam to Sell CallTower’s Hosted Voice and Data Services
By Patrick Barnard
CallTower, a provider of “always on” hosted communications and collaboration solutions, recently entered into an agreement with CenterBeam Inc., an IT outsourced services company, which will enable CenterBeam to sell CallTower’s hosted voice and data services.
CallTower’s Enterprise Services and Application Suite offers a full range of services including Internet, VoIP, e-mail, fax, calling plans, network administration, single-wire connectivity, call center functions, Cisco CallManager (softswitch) provisioning, Microsoft Exchange integration, presence management, disaster-proof access to all data and voicemail, 24/7 customer support and full integration multiple offices and remote users. By providing communications services through a hosted system, SMBs can get enterprise class voice, data and application capabilities while at the same time saving money on network equipment, maintenance and service costs.
“With CallTower, companies can intensify their business process transformation and use their telephone and email services to create an integrated communication and collaboration system that increases revenue, saves time and capital expense, and delivers a stronger and more consistent experience,” said John Trimmer, CallTower’s president and CEO.
“CenterBeam’s foremost value is Customer First, and one of the promises we make to our customers is to continuously improve the levels and types of service we deliver to them,” Francis said. “Understanding the growing role that integrated telephony, voice, and data are playing in today’s market, it was our goal to find a provider that offers the best technology solution and aligns with our priorities of service quality and exceptional customer satisfaction,” explained Kevin Francis, president and CEO of CenterBeam.
Skype (News - Alert) and Thomson Partner on New Family of Consumer Products
By Stefania Viscusi
In a collaboration effort between Skype and Thomson, the two companies have announced a partnership to develop a family of new consumer products. Their first joint offering is the GE DECT (News - Alert) 6.0 Wireless Handset.
Digital Enhanced Cordless Technology (DECT) is included in the Skype-certified handset, meaning callers not only enjoy improvements to quality of their cordless telephone experience, but are also able to use the phones to make calls over the Internet.
This new combination further drives the adoption of Internet telephone communications in the home by making it accessible to users right from their handheld telephones.
Cordless telephones have in the past been noted for providing not so perfect communications including static and popping. With the DECT 6.0, these worries are resolved because technology built into the device offers optimal voice quality, free of interferences.
According to the companies, “The new GE DECT 6.0 Wireless Handset for Skype uses power management technology and boasts up to 120 hour standby time and 10 hour talk time.”
“The fact that one of the top telephony providers in the world is offering a handset specifically designed for Skype is an incredible testimony and validation of the global popularity of Internet voice communications,” commented Stefan Oberg, General Manager, Desktop and Hardware at Skype.
Iwatsu and Aizan Provide Hosted Enterprise Messaging Application
By Mae Kowalke
Iwatsu Voice Networks, which specializes in communications solutions for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), recently took a look at the needs of its clients, and concluded that more focus on hosted solutions was needed. Previously, the company was focused strictly on customer premise equipment (CPE), but, the hosted model has become attractive to many Iwatsu customers.
“We recognize there are applications that CPE equipment is simply incapable of supporting,” said Iwatsu President David Carissimi, in a statement. “Ignoring these opportunities is not a viable option, not for Iwatsu, and certainly not for our dealers.”
In order to broaden its portfolio into the hosted market, the company announced a partnership with Aizan Technologies. The deal allows Iwatsu to offers its clients access to Aizan’s hosted Enterprise Messaging Application (EMA) capable of delivering messages targeted to groups of any size. Aizan specializes in designing, developing, and delivering solutions for voice, fax, e-mail, and SMS broadcast. The company’s EMA uses high-capacity, hosted telephony technology to provide message broadcasting useful in a variety of applications.
“With the capability to broadcast thousands of messages per minute, EMA has given our business partners another way to accommodate their customers,” Carissimi said.
One of those customers is United Space Alliance, NASA’s main contractor for its space shuttle program. Using EMA, Iwatsu provided United Space Alliance with an emergency accountability application.
Motorola Intros SIP-based VoIP Cable Modem Offering
By Johanne Torres
Motorola introduced the SIP-based SBV5100 series, a new addition to its suite of voice-enabled cable modems. As part of the company’s broadband telephony product suite, the SBV5100 series converges voice and data on one network, in one product. Bundling multiple services in one unit will offer consumers an array of advanced voice services. The SBV5100 supports primary VoIP-based telephone service for up to two telephone lines that are terminated in two RJ-11 connectors.
“Operators around the world are already making the move toward SIP-based products,” said Charles Dougherty, corporate vice president, Motorola Connected Home Solutions business. “By providing a voice-enabled cable modem with the SIP protocol, Motorola enables cable operators to not only expand their offerings with voice today, but to lay the foundation for new feature-rich voice and multimedia services, such as fixed/mobile convergence. This new family of gateways further establishes Motorola as a global leader in voice over IP technology that fuels growth for operators and extends the concept of seamless mobility for consumers.”
The series also features one infrastructure for communication services; voice and data service single billing; simultaneous use of phone line and high-speed data services; and support for a variety of CLASS features provided today by the telephone company, such as caller ID, call waiting, and call forwarding. In addition, its integrated cable modem connects to a computer through either a 10/100Base-T Ethernet or a USB data port.
ClearOne’s SIP-Based Conference Phones Rated Avaya (News - Alert) Compliant
By Erik Linask
Audio conferencing solution provider ClearOne announced that the its MAXAttach IP and MAX IP tabletop conference phone solutions are compliant with key session initiation protocol (SIP)-based IP telephony solutions from Avaya.
The MAXAttach IP and MAX IP tabletop conference phones bring crystal clear audio conferencing to the boardroom and conference table. As with ClearOne (News - Alert)’s MAX line of analog conference phones, up to four of these SIP phones can be interconnected, delivering expanded audio coverage and distributed dial pad control. In particular, the solution is well suited for both long conference room tables and U-shaped table configurations.
MAXAttach IP and MAX IP have been tested by Avaya and are now rated as compatible with all Avaya SIP-based solutions, including the S8710 Media Server, G650 Media Gateway (News - Alert), SIP Enablement Server, and 4600-series IP telephone handsets.
“Achieving Avaya compliance on our SIP tabletop platform can give businesses complete confidence in deploying MAXAttach IP and MAX IP in an Avaya SIP environment,” noted Zee Hakimoglu, CEO and president of ClearOne. “Our combined Avaya-tested solution delivers all the benefits of VoIP, along with the crisp audio clarity that ClearOne customers have come to expect. Both companies are committed to open standards, including SIP, which enables our customers to implement telephony and conferencing solutions more easily and cost effectively.”
New IP-Based Predictive Dialer Available from Interactive Intelligence (News - Alert)
By Susan J. Campbell
A new VoIP-enabled version of its outbound dialing and campaign management software, Interaction Dialer, has been released by Interactive Intelligence, a global developer of business communications software. Interaction Dialer is a solution designed for contact centers, teleservices firms, and collections operations.
Now based on the SIP standard, this latest release of Interaction Dialer can operate in an all-software, all-VoIP environment in order to help reduce costs and simplify management. The release includes an all new SIP gateway called Interaction Gateway, which is an application connecting legacy telephone trunks (T1s) to VoIP networks. Combined with Interaction Dialer, Interaction Gateway provides high-volume outbound contact centers accurate predictive call analysis capabilities.
According to Yankee Group (News - Alert) senior analyst Ken Landoline, Interaction Gateway is unique in that it provides advanced outbound call analysis, such as distinction between answering machines versus live speakers, and wrong numbers versus network issues, while taking full advantage of the open SIP standard.
Landoline added that combined, these enhancements result in more effective dialing campaigns, simplified deployment and configuration, lower cost, better redundancy and unbeatable flexibility compared to that of traditional outbound dialing solutions.
Interactive Intelligence has positioned the new SIP-based Interaction Dialer as having the ability to lower costs by between 10 and 50 percent compared to traditional TDM-based dialers through the reduction in hardware requirements.
The company claims that Interaction Dialer can reduce costs even further by using Interaction Gateway at strategic locations to ensure that it uses the most cost-effective call routing. In a typical configuration, ISDN PRI trunks from the public phone network are connected to Interaction Gateway. After that point, the entire configuration is VoIP which provides significant geographic independence.
MobileIGNITE Announces Release v1.0 of Functional Specification for Fixed Mobile Convergence (News - Alert) Handover
MobileIGNITE, the industry association fostering collaboration to accelerate fixed/mobile convergence (FMC) through interoperability, announced the release of v1.0 of its Functional Specification for FMC Handover.
Developed by the Handover Interoperability Group of MobileIGNITE, the Functional Specification will allow an FMC Service Provider to specify Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert) (SIP)-based technology from vendors that allows a user with a dual-mode cellular/Wi-Fi mobile phone to be able to connect via both WiFi (fixed) and GSM/UMTS (News - Alert) (mobile) access networks. The user will receive the same voice services using a single phone number as the user crosses networks — including the seamless continuity of an in-process voice call.
The Functional Specification covers implementation of FMC Handover on current GSM Networks that conform to the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Release 99 and Release 4 reference architectures, as well as IMS reference architectures that conform to 3GPP’s Release 5, 6 and the upcoming Release 7. By specifying these guidelines to their vendors, FMC Service Providers can deploy FMC Handover in the short term on their current networks, and be assured of continued multi-vendor interoperability between handsets and network elements during the transition to IMS.
A key goal of the Functional Specification was to ensure that dual mode cellular/Wi-Fi handsets that perform handover on current networks will not need to be modified or replaced when the network evolves to IMS, and becomes compliant with the VCC standard — and can continue to operate with no impact to the user. This removes the risk for handset manufacturers and service providers to deploy SIP based handover capable dual mode handsets for use on current networks and accelerates the market for FMC Handover services.