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Founded in 1978, Aculab has been focused on providing computer telephony components to its customers since 1990. Aculabs product line is geared towards bringing its customer base real value, reduced costs, increased client satisfaction, and competitive advantage. Aculab employs nearly 200 employees in five countries. Aculabs CEO Alan Pound had this to say about his firm heading into the next generation of IP telephony.


GG: What isAculabs mission?

AP: Technology, people, profit. Aculab has always focused on providing leading edge technology to the marketplace and employing the best people to make this vision a reality. As an independent and privately owned company, we answer only to the markets needs, generating profit, which is reinvested into R&D.

We have always strived to be one step ahead, which we have achieved in numerous waysbe it by supporting the broadest set of protocols in the marketplace or by being first-to-market with a combined media processing and E1/T1 digital network access card. There is also our technical support, which is cost-free and provided by qualified engineers in our R&D department. We are continuing to build on these achievements as we progress into an IP-centric era of communications.

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

AP: Our vision is to be both the main technology provider for the next-generation telecom market and a key stepping stone to help both enterprise and telco customers alike make the move to IP-based networks and solutions. Aculab brings together a wealth of expertise, covering a number of factors that will be crucial in the new IP marketmedia processing resources, digital connectivity (TDM and IP), and convergence, combining features with functionality.

The fact that we have been developing these technologies and competencies for many years now, with numerous success stories, provides solution developers the reassurance they need to commit to new technology. They can be certain that, with Aculabs technology, they will have a competitive advantage in the ever-changing communications marketplace.

GG: Now that it appears that growth and opportunity are the trends in the VoIP industry, what possible hurdles do you see that might upset this momentum?

AP: I dont think there are many new hurdles. The rewards are too great for any significant delays to occur. Solutions will be found and, in an era of increasingly open standards and extensibility, the momentum is unstoppable. The market has, for some time, however, been aware of different factors that could slow progress.

Regulation still poses a threat to cost advantages, though to a somewhat lesser degree than in the past. Regulators need to pick a sidethe consumers or the carriers. Failure to meet QoS expectations can still dampen enthusiasm or worsepotential customers may start thinking, This is not as good as what I have now, or what I used to have. It also is critical to focus on meeting actual market needs. There have been many great new application ideas, but how many actually addressed a particular service provider or enterprise need? Focus has to go on the end user and not on the wonders of the technology.

Finally, the open source model, which is opening up the market and making new technology accessible to more markets, may spark the development of a number of cost-effective but poorly designed products. It takes only one unhappy experience to turn a customer away from a technologyand that would be bad news for all. We all have a part to play in ensuring customers have a positive IP experience and help advocate the technology.

GG: What are some of the technology areas whereAculab is increasingly focusing? Why are these areas important to the future of the company?

AP: IP is certainly the area where Aculab is placing its focus and resources. Over the past couple of years, Aculab has launched Prosody S, its host media processing solution and, most recently, Prosody X, which has challenged many of the traditional ideas behind hardware design and functionality for the IP network.

The fundamental change behind Prosody X is the principle around which the product is built. It is constructed around an IP core, while maintaining the optional ability to interface with E1/T1 connections, which are still in widespread use.

IP is, therefore, inherent in the design, making this architecture the ideal platform for creating large-scale, cost effective, revenue generating applications for solution providers and telcos offering IP-centric products.

Along with the change in environment comes a parallel change in the available DSP technology we have used to construct our next-generation hardware. Using the latest DSP familiescreated with VoIP in mindallows the choice of devices that are, by design, application-friendly to both VoIP and rich media processing applications.

Standards also have a critical role. Aculabs portfolio of products support a number of standards, from hardware format to new software standards, such as MRCP for speech technologies. We also support both H.323 and SIP and, since we are already seeing SIP take off, we are increasingly focusing energy in this area. Aculabs new SIP implementation, SIP Bridge, makes it possible to use Aculabs highly integrated SIP protocol stack in a much more powerful manner. For use with Prosody X, the Aculab SIP Bridge breaks the assumption that the media and signalling will both be terminated in the same place, allowing developers to build back-to-back user agents and third-party call control products.

Next-generation networks are being built and used todayProsody X and Prosody S will see that Aculab has a role to play both in the migration to these networks as well as their long term development.

GG: Describe your view of the future of the IP telephony industry.

AP: The future of the IP telephony industry goes hand in hand with the future of the communications industry as a whole. In essence, IP becomes the future of communications, which means large-scale change for all the players in the IP telephony industry. I doubt there will be many players who have not re-assessed their organization and product offerings to adapt to the new marketplace. Those that have not likely wont be around long. Everything is changingfrom who traditional competitors are, to the supply chain, to where and how revenue is generated. IT

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