Making SME Telephony More Manageable: NetGen Expands Portfolio, Introduces Automation Platform


Making SME Telephony More Manageable: NetGen Expands Portfolio, Introduces Automation Platform

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  September 06, 2016

NetGen Communications Inc. is now armed with a broad portfolio of business-communications solutions designed to help ITSPs and channel partners meet the needs of small-and-medium businesses more affordably and effectively. It provides management capabilities across the entire product line. And, being relatively new to the market, NetGen is looking for additional channel partners to bring its products to market.

The company’s relationship with New Rock Technologies Inc. has been pivotal in arming the company with an extremely competitively priced, field-proven line of access and trunking gateways, ATAs, management capabilities, PBXs and wireless PBXs, and session border controllers, said NetGen’s CEO, Mike Coffee. NetGen Communications has become the exclusive North American distributor of New Rock Technologies products, Coffee noted, adding that the Shangai, China-based company’s founder and CEO Hua Lin is on NetGen Communications’ board of directors.

These offerings complement existing fax over IP solutions from Commetrex Corp. (News - Alert), which have been transferred to NetGen, a Commetrex spinoff company. (Coffee and CTO Cliff Schornak together established NetGen Communications a few years back after having success at Commetrex, an OEM-focused business with which these leaders are still involved and which has the same 30 shareholders as NetGen Communications. But Commetrex and NetGen Communications are entirely separate companies.)

All of the above solutions, said Coffee, provide NetGen’s customers with comprehensive SME telephony solutions that enable them to get everything they need from a single vendor and dramatically lower their cost of doing business.

“The service provider could eliminate all of its other vendors if it wanted to and just focus on us,” said Coffee. “We can make it exceedingly easy on anyone coming into the market” as well as existing channel partners and ITSPs that cater to SMEs and are looking for new and better solutions.

Fixing the Fax

NetGen and New Rock Technologies first joined forces when the pure software company was seeking hardware on which to run its creations, Coffee explained. Their first collaboration resulted in what is now known as Smart ATA®, which allowed them to break into the commodity ATA market with a highly differentiable solution.

Smart ATA outfits service providers with highly functional voice-fax ATA with FXO capabilities and includes patented technology that makes fax-over-IP (FoIP) calls as reliable as PSTN fax calls via support for T.38 version 3 with V.34. Smart ATA [MBC1] was such a success that the partners decided to expand their relationship, allowing NetGen to distribute Smart ATA and a collection of New Rock’s other solutions in North America.

The gateways now offered by NetGen range from two to 120 ports. These solutions include an array of configuration, fax, maintenance, network, and security capabilities, and can address any application requirement involving on-premises systems and endpoints. They are in-channel configurable, include a quad-E/T MX for higher end enterprise and service provider applications, and they also feature Smart FoIP® technology.

In addition, NetGen markets and supports BladeWare and test-related products from Commetrex. That includes BladeWare Fax-to-Email, BladeWare Email-to-Fax, BladeWare Fax Media Server, and FaxTap NG. BladeWare FMS turns the BladeWare telephony platform into a fax-send-receive media resource controlled by a SIP-based application server via the MSCML protocol.

Fax ran into some roadblocks as networks moved to IP technology a few years ago, Coffee noted. But the company has cracked that nut, he said, being among the first to market with a T.38 relay solution. Today Commetrex/NetGen is the industry’s leading developer of FoIP solutions.

Fax over IP has been a challenge in part because nearly all fax calls on the internet begin life as voice calls, Coffee explained. That means it’s unclear that a session is a fax call until a fax machine answers. With FoIP, he said, the called gateway may or may not be T.38 capable. (T.38 is a technology that allows for real-time FoIP transmissions.)

If the gateway detects a fax machine answering and it is a fax call, it sends what is known as a re-INVITE. But for the few seconds before the re-INVITE happens, when the gateways are deciding whether using T.38 is in order, the two fax machines can hear one another’s fax tones and they go ahead and get to work. If the gateways in the middle take too long to decide and the fax communications gets too far into the pre-re-INVITE process, the call fails. Those call failures due to late re-INVITEs can result in a mountain of trouble tickets, which Coffee said creates huge problems and are why FoIP initially developed a nasty reputation. However, the FoIP solutions that NetGen offers address that by attaching the negotiation modem (V.21) to the media stream, decoding the communications, and watching them to see if the two endpoint terminals have gotten too deep into their fax protocol (T.30) to be accepted.

Timing has also been a challenge for FoIP, Coffee explained. The transmitter and receiver in a fax modem need to work in lockstep; otherwise, the call will drop. Fax modems were designed for use on the PSTN, which can maintain synchronization via a phase-locked loop that creates timing in the receiver. That doesn’t exist in packet networks, Coffee added, so NetGen FoIP products feature timing solutions to address that. They work by leveraging the quiet time between fax transmissions to re-initialize the jitter buffers making, for example, a 20-page fax look like 20 one-page faxes.

Delivering Full-Featured Telephony

NetGen Communications’ product portfolio now also includes a range of IP PBXs and wireless PBXs that address environments with 20-to-500 stations, as well as session border controllers that can support up to 500 simultaneous calls.

That includes the OM Series of PBXs, which are all-in-one telephony systems that provide connectivity to analog terminals, the PSTN, and SIP terminals, smart phones and SIP trunks. The OM Series supports VoIP inter-office calls over the internet or VPN connections; two to 96 local extensions; up to 120 SIP terminals as remote extensions; and up to 96 FXO analog trunks to the PSTN.

The company also sells WROC 2000 and 3000 wireless telecommunications systems. The WROC 2000, aimed at small businesses and home users, features a 3G WLAN broadband router and can be used with computers, legacy phones, smartphones, tablets, and webcams. The WROC 3000 is an appliance designed for small and medium businesses with up to 40 users and 50 devices.

The PBXs also have an easy-to-use multi-site feature.

The company brings added value to these solutions by providing a collection of feature-extension software free of charge. That includes software for call detail, contact center, phone assistance, and softphone, and much more.

Enabling Ease of Management

Importantly, every product in the NetGen Communications portfolio can now be managed with a cloud-based tool called YoubiquITy, which the company introduced in July. This hosted management platform is provided to NetGen Communications customers at no extra cost.

“YoubiquITy allows our customers to provision, monitor with analysis, debug, and defeat NAT issues” without the need for VPNs, said Cliff Schornak, NetGen’s CTO. “It virtually eliminates truck rolls since it’s as if your support tech is on site.”

That can save customers and their solutions providers a lot of time, money, and hassle by allowing for remote management instead of requiring on-site visits for trouble tickets or updates. It should be noted that YoubiquITy also addresses versioning and automatic firmware upgrades.

All of the New Rock products offered by NetGen Communications can be managed by the channel, the end user, NetGen support, or the service provider. All they need to do is establish an account and register the devices, which can be automated for batch-mode configuration. Remote control of the network elements is then enabled via a token-passing scheme.

But, wait, there’s more.

The REST APIs included with the company’s PBXs and YoubiquITy can work together to enable NetGen’s channel partners to develop and deploy their own value-added business communications applications to create even more customer stickiness.

“I believe this solution is quite possibly a first,” said Coffee.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi


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