INTERNET TELEPHONY's 2019 TMC Labs Innovation Award Winners Show Exemplify Innovation in Communications Technology

By TMC August 09, 2019

It has been another amazing year in technology and communications and we are thrilled to report the innovation in the market is not slowing down. Winners of the coveted 2019 INTERNET TELEPHONY TMC Labs Innovation Award include endpoint solutions that leverage DECT (News - Alert) from Grandstream, Comprehensive billing from OneBill, an HTML5 omnichannel solution from Upstream Works Software, great UCaaS innovations from Star2Star, OnSIP, RingCentral (News - Alert), a great broadband solution from HUGHES, and more. We were also impressed with Sky DANCE from SKYWORKS – it offers a flexible and powerful open-source softswitch solution for carriers.  We commend these companies for their continued innovation and desire to continually enhance the products they deliver to their clients.

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Grandstream Networks - DP series of DECT IP Phones

DECT has proven itself to be a huge differentiator in wireless telecom. It is reliable, consumer-tested and handles interference well. Grandstream has been building DECT solutions for a decade and its new DP series of DECT cordless solutions — the DP752 Base Station, DP730 and DP722 handsets — allows users to mobilize their VoIP networks throughout any business, warehouse, retail store or residential environment. Up to five DP722/730 handsets are supported on each DP752 base station, while each DP722/730 supports range of up to 350/400 meters outdoors and 50 meters indoors from the DP752. The new DP series also offers push-to-talk for instant communication and a built-in accelerometer for safety concerns. In environments where roaming free while making and receiving calls is a necessity, Grandstream's DP series offers a powerful cordless DECT solution for any business or residential user.

Natural targets are SMBs, enterprises, service providers, hospitality, warehouses and retail but really, every user can benefit from DECT — it has a longer range than bluetooth and just works.

Of course once users get used to using wireless, they naturally push the range at which they converse. Increased range generally also means better call quality at the margins. Most DECT solutions on the market support up to 300 meters range outdoors, but Grandstream has optimized its latest solutions to extend that range. The DP730 has outdoor range up to 400 meters while the DP722 offers range up to 350 meters outdoors (both must be used with the DP752 Base Station to achieve this range).

The company says it is being conservative and has been able to get 450 meters of range from its devices. That is over a quarter mile!

Also, these new DECT solutions include some of the first handsets with accelerometers. This technology is used to automatically trigger a panic call when the handset senses it is being dropped or is still for too long. This can be very useful in warehouse environments where workers climb ladders or go down cramped stairs. There is also a battery-saving benefit to this tech. If the device is face down or still for a certain period of time, it can switch into standby mode.

To add powerful security through wireless facility access control and intercom access, the DP730 and DP722 handsets can be paired with Grandstream's GDS series of Facility Access Systems to allow users to manage, restrict and allow access to any door right from the handset. When the handsets receive a call from the GDS device, users can have an intercom conversation with a visitor and press a button on the DECT handset to open the door. This is supported out-of-the-box. By pairing the DP730 and DP722 with the GDS series, access to any facility can be completely secured and managed simply from these cordless DECT phones. This is ideal for any area where security and facility access are critical, including school, offices, residential buildings, warehouses and more.

Other benefits that impressed us include:

  • Configurable push-to-talk button for instant voice communication. This is a dedicated button on the DP730 and a softkey on the DP722.
  • Each base station and handset supports up to 10 lines and 10 SIP accounts.
  • 3-way audio conferencing for easy conference calls.
  • Rechargeable battery with 20/40 hour talk-time, 250/500-hour standby time.

  • We awarded the Grandstream DP series of DECT Cordless IP Phones the coveted INTERNET TELEPHONY TMC Labs Innovation Award because we are impressed with Grandstream's quality products, enhanced DECT range and advanced features and functions.
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Hughes Network Systems - HT2000L

Hughes' HT2000L is designed to address the connectivity challenges present at locations that do not have access to suitable wireline transport or are looking to enhance their current links with path-diverse options. The HT2000L is ideally suited for enterprise branches that require an integrated and compact solution that provides high availability across LTE and satellite connectivity — a combination of connectivity that is particularly common in QSR, retail petroleum, convenience stores, government and the energy sector.

Hughes services large distributed organizations and franchises in industries including retail, restaurant, retail petroleum and convenience, energy, government and more. The company's services scale to 1,000s of branch locations with Hughes providing turnkey enterprise solutions.

Hughes HT2000L is a single CPE device with the capability to accommodate both 4G/LTE and high-throughput satellite connections. This platform can be deployed to support single-circuit LTE or satellite locations, or with dual transports to supporting primary and secondary circuit delivery. Further, for those locations seeking a robust backup and recovery link, the HT2000L provides a path-diverse backup to wired primary circuits.

Later this year, the HT2000L (v2) will incorporate the Hughes SD-WAN solution to combine the LTE and satellite connections to create one connection that intelligently manages data traffic for maximum efficiency and highest quality end user experience. LTE and satellite each have relative advantages and disadvantages for connectivity — factors that influence which is the superior transport path include throughput, latency, incremental data costs and coverage area. The HT2000L (v2) SD-WAN solution leverages the proprietary Hughes ActiveTechnologies suite, which dramatically improves application performance and end user experience over broadband.

As an MSP, Hughes provides turnkey networking solutions, inclusive of design, installation, maintenance, management, and helpdesk. The HT2000L platform is part of the Hughes managed access portfolio, providing broadband Internet connections at the branch site via LTE and satellite. The HT2000L resides at the remote location with the corresponding gateways existing at strategic Internet Points-of-Presence (POPs) within the U.S. The LTE service is provided through partnerships with the major U.S. cellular providers and the high-speed satellite service leverages Hughes' Jupiter technology, providing 25x3 Mbps service across all 48 contiguous states.

Providing mission-critical solutions, all Hughes managed network services are supported by 24x7 NOC and SOC support, help desk, and a single-pane-of-glass monitoring portal.

The HT2000L is an industry first to integrate LTE and high-throughput satellite terminals into a single CPE, simplifying deployment and management.

The HT2000L (v2) with embedded SD-WAN will be an industry-first solution that applies SD-WAN to satellite and LTE connections in a single terminal to improve network performance and application assurance. This approach allows the inherent benefits of each circuit to be optimized in a way that produces better application performance than could be achieved by either circuit individually.

The HT2000L is a unique offering, bringing together the two primary wireless technologies used into a single compact platform to provide high-speed broadband access to those enterprise locations requiring or choosing wireless capabilities to deliver network capacity and resilience. For enterprise locations that do have wireline connectivity, but rely on LTE as a failover circuit, the HT2000L could provide considerable data cost savings by introducing satellite connectivity to the transport mix.

As satellite generally has limited bandwidth, Hughes has been a pioneer of performance optimization technology and has amassed 300 patents and many industry-defining solutions over the years.

We awarded the Hughes Network Systems HT2000L the coveted INTERNET TELEPHONY TMC Labs Innovation Award because of its unique features and its ability to provide a cost-effective multi-platform solution. By integrating LTE and satellite, customers can achieve a lower overall network costs while benefiting from greater throughput and application performance.
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OneBill Software - OneBill

We live in an age where all companies seem to be striving to generate recurring services and, thus, recurring revenue. An organization that wants to help is OneBil, which provides an integrated subscription billing platform ideal for tech and telecom. It provides a cloud-based platform that delivers Order-to-Activate-to-Cash functionality.

The target market caters to software vendors/solution providers offering cloud-based products/services in UC/UCaaS, SaaS (News - Alert), IaaS and IoT. The goal is to provide an alternative for service providers, allowing them to eliminate multiple silos and put all of them together without complex integration, which becomes cost prohibitive. The company handles quoting, customer management, professional service automation and billing.

OneBill is an enterprise-class scalable, flexible and configurable platform that fully automates the end-to-end Lead-to-Cash process. Several service/solution providers and their resellers successfully use the OneBill platform to manage their business and operational (BSS/OSS) needs, such as Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ), Order Management, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Billing, Invoicing, Taxation, Provisioning, Service Activation and Reseller/Channel partner management.

The OneBill platform enables solution/service providers to bundle products and services from any carrier, any device vendor/distributor, allowing them to create "One Bill" to maximize their market and margin opportunities.

OneBill is hosted on AWS and customers need only a browser to access the platform. OneBill's highly scalable, high-availability multi-tenant architecture allows its customers' tenants to be hosted in a single application service, which can scale both vertically as well as horizontally. Each customer can customize its tenants for their own branding, including the URL to access the platform. Branding is extended not only to the service provider, but also to all the resellers which gives them to ability to offer Branded Bill-on-Behalf-of capability, which is another big differentiator.

Here are some other features that impressed us:

  • N-tier channel management capability, where the service provider can bring in wide variety of partners, such as agents, resellers, vendors, distributors etc.
  • Multi-party settlement, where the platform handles multi-party settlement on how the revenue should be distributed across these channel partners.
  • Branded self-care portal for offering best customer experience for managing purchases, orders, shopping carts, payment, subscription management actions like upgrade/downgrade, pause/resume, cancel/renew all by customers themselves.

The following are highlights about some of the technology frameworks that have led OneBill to where it is:

  • Service Activation and Provisioning framework: State-of-the-art configuration driven activation and provisioning platform that caters variety of verticals (unified communications, cable, IaaS, SaaS, IoT services) through seamless integration between the source systems and offers real-time provisioning and activation experience.
  • Rules engine framework: OneBill has customized and innovated on top of Drools (used for rules engine) to deliver complex pricing/business/settlement rules. Customers are able to create a complicated price offering, product inclusivity/exclusivity business rules using this framework. The same framework is also applied to derive sophisticated N-tier settlement capability to apportion the revenue across different parties in the channel eco system.

OneBill's mission is to automate the entire Order-to-Activate-to-Cash process by eliminating all the swivel-chair type of operations and remove multiple siloed legacy components. Its workflow engine is called ProActive and it decomposes the order and orchestrates it across different carriers' provisioning/activation platform.

For example, a typical UCaaS order might consist of:
  1. DID ordering
  2. Configuring hosted PBX platform
  3. Shipping a phone device to the customer's premises.

In this order, three different carriers are involved; a SIP trunk provider (e.g: Bandwidth), a soft-switch provider (for example: Broadsoft) and a device distributor (example: NetXUSA/888Voip). OneBill's ProActive module automatically decomposes the order, orchestrates the decomposed order elements across all the three carriers' platform for provisioning and activation of the UCaaS service.

The OneBill platform has a rating engine that can automate UDR (Usage-Detail-Record) processing for any carrier. For communication providers, it can be CDR (Call-Detail-Record) that needs to be rated for Toll-free calls, International Calls, E911 calls etc. For IaaS providers, it could be usage records coming from Azure (disk usage, CPU usage etc.). Multiple Rating Engines can be set up to process usage records for disparate services, allowing them to create a true convergent invoice, hence the name OneBill.

Other useful enhancements include:

  • Integration with Zapier, which allows OneBill to interact with thousands of third-party components, such as CRM (Zoho, Salesforce, etc.), accounting software (Quickbooks, Xero, etc.), service desk (Zendesk, Freshdesk), professional service automation tools (Connectwise, Autotask, etc.).
  • DocuSign Integration: Enhanced quoting functionality with e-signature integration with DocuSign.
  • Integration with BroadSoft PBX platform: ProActive module now enhanced to talk to BroadSoft PBX platform.
  • Integration with Payment Gateway solutions, such as Merchant-e-Solutions, Moneris. Crypto support is on its way.
  • New white-labeled merchant services using Digitzs, which allows resellers to create their merchant accounts instantaneously.
  • Enhanced Service Desk module to include ticket creation through email, automatic ticket assignment, SLA monitoring, escalation workflow, etc.

We awarded OneBill Software the coveted INTERNET TELEPHONY TMC Labs Innovation Award because it is an ideal and full-featured solution for integrated quoting, customer management, professional service automation and billing.
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OnSIP - sayso

Most businesses list a catch-all phone number on their websites. Potential buyers must grab their phones, transcribe the numbers, listen to recorded messages, navigate menus and wait in queue for an opportunity to speak with someone. Imagine how many potential conversations are lost along the way, even at the first step. No one enjoys calling businesses because they've come to expect the hassle that goes along with it.

Free to OnSIP customers, sayso is targeted at sales and support teams looking for a smarter way to encourage and route inbound calls. Rather than turning potential callers away by asking them to retrieve their phones, transcribe numbers and navigate menus, a conversation-driven business can invite callers and connect them directly.

sayso is the preferred option for both site visitors and businesses. With an easy-to-install button on websites, qualified visitors can quickly declare they wish to speak with someone, what topic they wish to discuss, and they can be connected directly with a qualified representative through their browsers.

While some VoIP providers offer developer APIs for building WebRTC applications, sayso may be the only first-party solution like it and represents a key point of differentiation in the VoIP marketplace. There are chat services offering text chat, but those don't offer true real-time communication, instead relying on chatbots or dividing a human representative's attention across multiple chats simultaneously and responding with pre-written templates.

Specifically, sayso is a suite of communication features that allows website visitors to see if sales or support representatives are available and voice/video call them through a browser. These features act as an alternative to slow, impersonal text chat, as well as the time-consuming hassle of dialing a phone number and navigating recordings and menus.

Key sayso components include:

  • Floating call button: This button appears in the bottom corner of an organization's website and invites site visitors to speak with a representative. Upon being clicked, it reveals a menu of discussion topics (e.g., Pricing or Support) — and pairs visitors with an available representative for each. The site visitor can choose to make a voice call or a video call if the organization has enabled this feature.
  • OnSIP app: The OnSIP app is the softphone through which an organization's representatives receive sayso calls. It's also the portal through which organization administrators can configure and customize sayso settings.

Business representatives must be logged into the OnSIP app for Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, Chrome (Desktop), or Firefox (Desktop) to receive calls. Site visitors can initiate calls from Chrome (Desktop, Android), Safari (Desktop, iOS), or Firefox (Desktop).

OnSIP is the first major Hosted PBX provider to offer its own integrated website voice/video chat solution. Customers can enroll representatives from their pre-existing list of OnSIP users and those representatives can answer their calls on the same devices as their standard PSTN calls. Site visitors can view representative availability and bypass traditional recorded menu options. OnSIP's use of Firebase to track and display each representative's availability is an industry-first.

Organizations looking for a website chat solution should consider sayso because it offers a truly real-time experience for conversation-driven businesses. It is a true phone system replacement and customer communication platform in one. When using both a phone system and chat tool, OnSIP's ability to manage both services from the same portal, as well as answer both kinds of incoming calls, simplifies the internal training process prevents users from needing to constantly switch between applications.

Features that impressed us include:

  • Convenience: Site visitors simply have to click a button to connect instantly with a business representative — no more dialing long phone numbers, navigating through endless attendant menus, or sitting on hold for extended periods.
  • In-depth customer insights: Clients who use HubSpot (News - Alert) as their CRM software can see data, such as lead owner, lead source, and company size when a known contact calls.
  • Easy to implement: Installing sayso requires just one snippet of code on your website, and all additional configuration is done in the app. If a Sales or Support team is already using the OnSIP app, sayso can be implemented without additional training.

Since its introduction a few months ago, sayso displays the photo of the available representative and offers the ability to switch from voice to video mid-call. More improvements are on the near-term roadmap, including mobile app compatibility for representatives, additional CRM integrations, and a new-look desktop app featuring sayso reporting.

We think sayso is great — every website should have a button for text chat and real-time voice and video communications. This is why it won an INTERNET TELEPHONY TMC Labs Innovation Award
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RingCentral - RingCentral unified mobile app

There is a convergence taking place between collaboration, cloud communications, and video and web meetings. Unified Communications is evolving to support the way people want to work and collaborate, and unified messaging is a fundamental part of that evolution. RingCentral has tightly integrated the company's team messaging capabilities with enterprise voice and video conferencing capabilities. The RingCentral unified mobile app combines team messaging, video meetings, and HD telephony into a single and intuitive experience for greater employee engagement. In addition, the new RingCentral unified app allows users to be more productive and save time by not having to switch between multiple communications apps to get work done.

This offering provides a modern conversational workspace, allowing people to communicate the way they want using the devices of their choice. The RingCentral unified mobile app eliminates the need for multiple applications and unites voice, team messaging, video meetings, and other key features into a single user experience.
The RingCentral app has the following features:

  • Collaboration-centric — Provides a modern team messaging-based user experience. It allows users to create teams based on different topics, add internal and external team members, have persistent chat, share files, notes, tasks, calendar events, GIFs, emojis, and more.
  • Enterprise voice ready — Enables enterprise voice capabilities using business number identity, including the ability to dial out, receive calls, extension dialing, and send SMS globally. In addition, with one-click, users can quickly escalate from a chat to a call.
  • Integrated video meetings — Allows users to schedule, start, and join video and screen sharing meetings with a single click
  • Open Platform — An open platform allows third-party developers to build custom applications using hundreds of published APIs and integrations to custom applications. RingCentral's App Gallery has more than 2,000 integrations and add-ons built by partners and a 20,000-member third-party developer community. Many of these applications use AI on call data to enhance productivity of agents and employees.
  • Integrations — The RingCentral unified app comes with out-of-the-box integrations to office productivity suites such as Microsoft Office, Google GSuite and Box. This provides access to calendar and files stored in OneDrive, Google Drive and Box. In addition the RingCentral unified app is pre-integrated with leading SaaS applications such as Salesforce, Zendesk, ServiceNow and NetSuite.
  • QoS/Reliability — The app is built on an underlying infrastructure that provides QoS Self Service Analytics for pinpointing issues and managing all users from Cloud based Service Web. The infrastructure provides 99.999% reliability.
  • Global — The unified app is available in more than 100 countries and supports Data Localization compliance requirements where needed.

With the RingCentral unified app, users receive an intuitive, unified experience that lets them call, message, and meet wherever they are. Compatible with company-issued devices or BYOD smartphones, RingCentral�s unified application enables users to seamlessly make calls, check voicemail messages, and connect and collaborate with teams through integrated team messaging and online meetings.

From a business standpoint, dropping, missing, or incorrectly routing a call can mean decreased team efficiency, lost revenue, and a missed opportunity to gain and retain customer trust. In a single tap, RingCentral allows enterprises to connect to team members, customers, and vendors easier than ever before.

  • Reachable: With the unified app, users can always be reachable with a single business identity for HD VoIP calling, SMS, and online fax.
  • Customizable: Users can customize settings and notifications, such as office hours and ringtones.
  • Routing: Calls with advanced call controls, like call flip, switch, transfer, and park can be routed quickly and easily.
  • Seamless calling: Users can make and receive calls with carrier minutes, WiFi, or cellular data without ever dropping a call.

With the unified app, users can stay up to date and be productive while on the go. RingCentral's built-in team messaging and collaboration capabilities streamline business workflows. This means fewer meetings, quicker decisions, and more productivity. Key benefits include:

  • Chat with colleagues and clients in real time
  • Link and file sharing with no size or storage limits
  • Create teams for projects, specific topics, or departments
  • Free and simple guest sign-ups

Lastly, users can increase customer engagement and drive productivity with RingCentral's powerful audio and video collaboration capabilities right on their mobile devices: Connect to audio with smartphone data or mobile carrier, start or join a virtual meeting in a single tap from anywhere in the world. Benefits include:

  • HD quality video meetings for up to 500 participants,
  • Share screens and content in a meeting,
  • Get more control over meetings with advanced in-meeting host and attendee features.

The platform includes easy-to-use APIs and SDKs so developers and customers can seamlessly integrate business communications into key business processes. Pre-packaged integrations with CRM, Office, and other business applications allow you to automate workflows, drive efficiency, and gain deep insight from communications data.

In addition, RingCentral is expanding its open RingCentral Connect Platform to include new powerful AI, chatbots, and application integrations, including:

  • Advanced chatbots within Glip to create seamless and automated workflows,
  • Calls and texts from within the Gmail interface,
  • RingCentral conferencing and meetings integration available within Slack.

The recently announced RingCentral Embeddable allows developers to quickly integrate communications and collaboration capabilities into their enterprise application workflows from the Mobile app, so business can bring the features and functions of RingCentral Mobile app into applications they use everyday. In addition, the new APIs will give developers direct access to communication information related to voice, SMS, fax, account configuration, and communications data for RingCentral customers.

With RingCentral Embeddable developers gain the capability to embed voice and SMS messaging into RingCentral customers' Mobile app and customize to their unique business applications. RingCentral's open platform provides a more seamless experience by eliminating the need for employees to toggle between various business and communications applications to get their work done. Developers have the ability to easily integrate communications into enterprise applications in under 15 minutes by leveraging the technology of professional User Experience (UX) and Quality Assurance (QA) used in RingCentral's own applications. Capabilities include account record screen pop with inbound call, click-to-dial, click-to-SMS, access to softphone settings, messages and call history.

The new RingCentral unified mobile app is available from its app store and, in the last six months, the app has been localized so, in addition to English, it is now available in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Korean. The quarterly product release schedule includes additional localization for other global countries and regions.

RingCentral unified mobile app won the coveted INTERNET TELEPHONY TMC Labs Innovation Award because we think it takes communications to the next level. It is full-featured and scalable, allowing for digital transformation and the future of work.
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Sky Networks - Sky DANCE

Sky Networks was formed in July 2011, with the first version of Sky DANCE available in June 2012. It was initially sold as an international multimedia gateway to Togo Telecom – Togo Africa, offering primarily class 4 SIP and SS7 international gateway services. The solution targets Tier 2/3 carriers and provides the following features:

  • Class 4 switching of SIP and SS7 traffic with least cost routing, including the ability to process SIP-I/SIP-T traffic. The focus is the wholesale market. It also includes extensive routing, translation and transcoding capabilities.
  • Class 5 switching solutions for the residential and hosted PBX markets.
  • Softphones for iOS and Android for business or residential applications as well as WebRTC phones. This includes centralized provisioning.
  • RTT and WebRTC services.
  • Integrated billing package.
  • A prebuilt commercial site called Sky-Central that allows new providers to quickly offer competitive hosted PBX solutions by simple rebranding.
  • RESTful APIs for provisioning and call control.

The solution can be offered as a hosted solution built for service providers and can be physical hardware-based or virtualized, usually either an Amazon instance or VMWare.

The team behind the company has created multiple solutions that have resulted in merger/acquisitions with companies such as Lucent, VocalTec, Stratus Technologies (News - Alert) and Magic Jack.

Sky DANCE leverages an amazing amount of open-source projects from:
  • Freeswitch
  • Kamailio
  • Redis
  • Apache
  • Postgres
  • MySQL
  • Fusion PBX
  • Doubango

These solutions were integrated and modified to meet their strict requirements and then used in combination with proprietary software from Sky Networks to offer a complete class 4/5 solution for the Tier 2/3 market. It is one of the first to offers SIP-I/SIP-T switching on these platforms for carriers that still process SS7 traffic. Sky Networks offers SS7 solutions using gateways from TelcoBridges and Audiocodes and also supports cards from Sangoma. Sky DANCE includes RESTful APIs to allow provisioning and call control of all the solutions. This makes integration into customers' front- and back-end CRM solutions simple. In addition, the ability to use the APIs of all the associated projects is preserved, which allows easy customization of final solutions.

The solution offers a high level of redundancy and scalability out of the box. It can scale from a single server to a solution that spans many cities with real-time databases maintained (via Redis). on all the servers. For Class 5 switching, the endpoints can be registered on any of the servers and reached by incoming calls from any other server (floating endpoints). All this can be administered as a single "super switch."

The solution is very flexible and works on Windows, Macs, and Linux machines. As it is open-source-based, it is more cost-effective than much of the competition. In addition, SkyPhone can be adapted after release to the app store using the technologies of ionics/cordova or React Native. This allows things like the login and setup pages to be dynamic, driven by a database so that one phone can be used by resellers and easily rebranded without having to submit a separate release for each reseller. That version of the Sky Phone requires a one-time company/reseller login, which then sets the feature set for the phone, followed by the subscriber login, which sets the subscriber features allowed.

Some of the recent improvements are making the RESTful APIs more comprehensive, allowing service providers to offer solutions that compete with companies like PubNub, Twilio or even the recent offering from SignalWire. Sky Networks continues to expose more features through its Sky Central website and enhancing the feature set offered through WebRTC.

We chose Sky DANCE to win the coveted INTERNET TELEPHONY TMC Labs Innovation Award because of its blend of features, scalability and open-source roots, integrating some of the best and most robust solutions on the market in a cost-effective package.
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Star2Star Communications - Full Spectrum Communications Solution

The Full Spectrum Communications Solution revolutionizes business communications with end-to-end solutions that deliver the ultimate in flexibility, scalability, and productivity. It unifies voice, video, mobile, chat, fax, presence management and more into a single, easy-to-use system. Companies can select their preferred technologies from a range of options delivering a variety of benefits, including pure to on-premises cloud, cost reduction, and increased productivity. All Star2Star solutions include advanced UC features, built-in business continuity, and the power of SD-WAN for crystal clear call quality.

The Full Spectrum Communications Solution leverages a unique cloud architecture that combines aspects of on-premises and pure cloud solutions to get the best features of both without the limitations of either.

Its on-premises platform extensively utilizes the cloud but also maintains some on-premises hardware and services, including the revolutionary StarBox Voice Optimized SD-WAN and the cloud-based Constellation Network. The pure cloud version of Full Spectrum Communications leverages the same feature set and ultra-reliable service without any on-premises components.

For the on-premises platform, the StarBox Voice Optimized SD-WAN sits at customer location. Star2Star's Constellation Network and their suite of cloud-based services are hosted at their highly reliable, redundant data centers. The StarBox connects over IP infrastructure to Star2Star's Constellation Network, which runs on a collection of call routing nodes and data centers distributed across the country, where Star2Star manages and monitors the quality of customers' phone systems.

Full Spectrum Communications Solution combines aspects of both pure cloud and on-premises cloud communications solutions to create a unique, higher-quality solution. It offers quality of an on-premises system with the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of a pure cloud solution.

Star2Star Communications Full Spectrum Communications Solution won the coveted INTERNET TELEPHONY TMC Labs Innovation Award because it allows for dynamic scalability, QoS voice features, line pooling, line bursting, chat, video conferencing, fax, mobile, and many more features.
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Upstream Works - Upstream Works for Finesse

Upstream Works for Finesse (UWF) is a web-based, omnichannel contact center solution within Cisco Finesse that enables organizations to deliver a consistent, personalized customer experience across all channels. UWF provides user-friendly gadgets and a consistent, elegant agent desktop and workspace with knowledge for all interactions, connecting all channels with full customer context, integrating any application with management simplicity and reporting.

UWF can be used by hosted providers to provide omnichannel contact center services to customers in conjunction with a hosted Cisco Contact Center solution. In this case, all of the UWF server and database components are located on the service provider's premises. There is no software download required for agents. Depending on the services provided, the UWF servers will communicate with email servers and web servers on the client's corporate network and appropriate network configuration must be performed to enable those connections. For chat, the client web site will host submission forms that point to a gateway server on the hosting company's network.

Upstream Works was one of the first to provide a truly omnichannel solution to contact centers. UWF continues to offer a true omnichannel solution for all channels in one agent desktop, with deep integrations into any business application and simple, unified management and reporting. The solution normalizes channels, such that measurement is based on the customer experience rather than on the channel used. A single interface provides consistent tools for ease of task management, simplifying agent training and increasing agent success, enabling a continuous, consistent customer experience.

Cisco Finesse is a web-based call center solution. UWF is a set of gadgets residing within Cisco Finesse, extending the value of Cisco Finesse by adding features, enhanced functionality, and support for all channels and interactions. The agent desktop brings it all together in one unified, intuitive interface with ease of navigation. Gadgets include an Interaction Activity viewer for all interactions and omnichannel context, a Marquee for team and contact center messaging and stats/alerts, Team Chat for collaboration, clients for Email, Chat, and SMS, Directory for frequently accessed contacts and smart transfers, and real-time statistics and monitoring capabilities. Upstream Works Assist provides optional, native Knowledge Management for a consistent, streamlined customer experience. The gadgets along with a comprehensive standard reporting package and seamless integration to multiple business systems provide a true omnichannel contact center offering for Cisco Finesse users.

With its ability to capture multilevel and multiple reason codes per contact, UWF is able to provide deep and actionable analytics on customer activities, allowing organizations to better understand and predict customer patterns and behaviors and collect actionable data on agent performance and success. Contact centers can leverage this actionable data to improve contact center processes, efficiencies, and overall performance.

UWF provides multi-party integration between UWF, CRMs or other third-party applications, including web-based or legacy applications. Its publish/subscribe mechanism allows multiple applications to exchange data. Capabilities include click-to-dial, populate or update to UWF Interaction History and logging UWF interactions into third party systems.
UWF's Single Agent Desktop and one customer view of all interactions and omnichannel context, including active and Interactive History across the enterprise, enables agents to provide a continuous, effortless, personalized customer experience with faster resolution and increased satisfaction.

Out of the box, it provides a high level of omnichannel agent and management functionality and is extensible and configurable, placing the ability to precisely tailor the desktop in the hands of IT.

Finally, UWF uses advanced HTML5 features for allowing integration with other web-based applications within the browser. This cross-domain connectivity allows the Cisco Finesse desktop to interoperate with applications such as Microsoft Dynamics or other web-based CRM or business applications.

Upstream Works for Finesse is designed and built around a singular vision: The company's belief that agents should be empowered to work in a simple, intuitive fashion regardless of the channel customers choose to use. This allows companies to extend the full range of channel choices to their customers with the knowledge that agents can use the same toolset to engage with customers. To achieve this, Upstream Works has identified the features and tasks that are common to all contacts and provide easy-to-use, consistent interfaces. For channel-specific functions the solution provides dedicated gadgets, such as email and chat clients.

Benefits are numerous:

  • Agents can be easily trained on the system, leading to reduced on-boarding time and costs.
  • Agents are empowered with easy-to-use tools, leading to greater motivation and retention.
  • Regardless of channel, customer information is captured in a consistent fashion in the Interaction Activity and for Omnichannel reporting, so that channels can be consistently managed.
  • Agents can easily access information with seamless integration of multiple business systems, data, and CRMs across the enterprise.
  • Real-time and historical reports and analytics are available across all channels, providing business and operational insights.

UWF has been developed in consultation with customers and partners and has grown to resolve the real issues faced by contact centers every day. The agent desktop supports all channels — voice, email, chat, SMS, video, any channel — in one easy-to-use desktop suite. The solutions integrate with the systems and applications that organizations use every day.
Upstream Works for Finesse (UWF) has recently introduced new features and functionality for CX journey management and optimization, and digital interaction improvements for enhanced CX across all channels. With increased security and enhanced integration capabilities, it's even easier for businesses to provide a consistent, convenient and successful CX that increases agent and customer loyalty.

  • Assist Knowledge Management: Native, intelligent knowledge base that is easy to search,
  • FollowUp: A tool for tracking and managing follow up activities related to tasks,
  • Chat Enhancements: New features for an improved brand and personalized chat experience,
  • Email Enhancements: New features for greater email efficiency including bulk replies,
  • Increased Security: API Authentication, Enhanced Security for Web Gateway, reCAPTCHA support, ability to disable hyperlinks in emails to protect against malicious attacks,
  • Enhanced Integrations: Bot integrations and APIs for continuous and efficient task handling, and new application and channel integrations for enhanced support of analytics, video, social, and more,
  • Architectural Enhancements: Support for multi-tenant configurations.

With these features and more, UWF empowers agents to deliver fully connected, effortless, exceptional customer engagements. This is why it won the coveted INTERNET TELEPHONY TMC Labs Innovation Award.

Edited by Erik Linask
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