Posts in Category: Communications

Advanced factors! – How to choose a VoIP solution

 

So, you are convinced that Voice over IP will provide a solution to your company’s problem and provide additional benefits. But how and why should you choose a specific VoIP provider?

Apart from the basic knowledge we covered here, there are more advanced factors worth of consideration:

Software

Many vendors will force you into buying a hardware solution from them. This means you’re not only locked into using your vendors preferred hardware brand. You also have no control whatsoever over warranty and support for the hardware. Furthermore, how do you know if this particular solution is the right one for you? You’ll never be sure until you actually purchased the product and then, it might be too late.
Choosing a provider that supplies in different formats is very important. Also check if they provide software downloads and documentation for the hardware(phones) they use. You should be able to easily download the software, documentations and Help files for further use. Best scenario will be if they also provide mobile application that works without use of specific hardware.

Limitations

Limited functionality, is a way for mostly bigger companies to charge you extra. In some cases you won’t get everything that has been advertised to you, and you will find that the information on their websites is misleading. Make sure there is no service expiration time, but a complete, fully functional VoIP PBX for your company. As most companies provide demo accounts and test periods, it is very important that you are testing the exact plan that you are going to buy and use.

Proven vs Innovative Technology

Make sure the software is built on stable, proven technology such as the Linux operating system and Asterisk PBX core. The applications should be easy to manage and integrate with your existing software programs. Feature rich and innovative software is a good add-on but if the company can’t back it up with a stable IT team they might do more harm than good.

Innovative companies have their software under rapid, continuous development, which guarantees regular updates. The system can often automatically downloads software upgrades, without any intervention required from your part. In most cases this is good but, can sometimes lead to new feature misunderstandings and confusion.

Integration

When you are choosing a VoIP solution, integration with your existing environment is paramount. Most VoIP PBX provides support for every kind of phone line available, analog, ISDN, or VoIP but you still have to make sure it is so. You should be able can connect existing analog phones or use any brand of IP phone. You can either be a slave to your provider or enjoy the freedom of being able to choose the phone you like, regardless of the brand.

Support

A good product is nothing without great support. Especially for a telephony system, reliable support is a key factor. In most environments, telephony downtime is unacceptable. The support team should have extensive experience with Voice over IP systems and network related issues. Therefore it simply can’t be outsourced.

The company must provide you the best support in the least amount of time. Tech support engineers should be available around the clock to make sure your phone system is available 24/7.
Extensive monitoring and optional remote backup solutions are a plus, as companies should guarantee maximum availability of your IP telephony system. The engineers should be able to access your IP PBX over the Internet, to help you solve the problem without loosing time. Think about it, when considering VOIP vendors: “When things go wrong, will they be there for you?”

Choosing Voice over IP for your company is an important step. Don’t rush it.

Be The Best At Conference Calls

THE ART OF CALLING

The art of conference calling … Wait. You didn’t know it was an art? It’s definitely a skill worth building if you’re running a modern business, and as much an art as any other form of presenting. Whether you want to blame it on technology and the Internet, or the costs associated to flying, or even the huge slowdown in flying America took after 9/11 that forced us into doing more calls, the conference call has become a huge part of doing business and you can’t escape it.Here are the top five ways to be the best at conference calls.

1. Smile

Did you think it was about technology or the content you’re presenting? Perhaps a little, but the way you deliver information is the key to capturing your audience’s attention. How you talk on the phone is no different than how you present yourself on stage when presenting to an audience. In reality, your conference call is very similar to being on stage where the lights are so bright you can’t see anyone’s faces. Smile while you speak and your positive energy will come through – the people on the other end of the phone will be able to sense and feel your smile. Try it.

2. Energy

You’re going to start seeing a theme here in how conference calls relate to public speaking. The energy you put into the call is directly proportionate to the energy you’ll get back. What is a great result in a conference call? Everyone enjoying the call. By bringing energy to the call you’ll lift everyone up, maybe even create laughter and ultimately better rapport. Inflect your voice. Get excited about the items you care about. Tell stories that bring out your passion. At a minimum, speak clearly and with sufficient volume so everyone can understand and hear your words.

3. Be Yourself

Conference calls are like emails – it’s too easy to lack emotion, interpret things wrong, and to dismiss the opportunity to build relationships. Since you saved so much time by not travelling, why not use some of the conference call time to build rapport and get to know people? It can be as simple as asking everyone for an introduction and as meaningful as talking about family and life at the beginning and end of the calls. Do what you’d normally do if you were in person for the first few minutes – say hello, check in with each other, and ask questions not related to the call topic. Be a person, not a robot at the end of the phone.

4. Focus

The benefit of a conference call is speed. No flights. No hotels. No time wasted to get the meeting started. Don’t waste all that saved time by being at the meeting, but not taking part in the meeting. Focus your time and energy on the topic, the people, and the overall meeting. Eliminate distractions by hiding your phone, turning off email, and taking notes the old-fashioned way: pen and paper. If you’re easily distracted when you’re not talking, taking notes will help you stay engaged. It’s also a great way to capture questions you want to ask when appropriate.

5. Technology

Know your tech. There’s nothing worse than a presenter who has never used the conference call technology and wastes the first ten to fifteen minutes getting setup. Dial in early. Setup and test the service well before you meet. Download the software ahead of time. Most conference calls are very short, and nobody wants to sit around wasting that valuable time on bad technology or users who aren’t prepared.

What do you do when you feel like nobody is listening to you?

There’s no worse situation than being the presenter on a conference call with people in a conference room on the other line who put you on mute. They give you no feedback. No laughter. Nothing. You may as well be an audio-book or a pre-recorded webinar! But don’t fret. These five skills will save you. Your smile and energy will lift up the room. Be yourself to gain rapport with your audience and people will unmute themselves to ask you questions. Stay focused and even ask questions to verify you’re on the right track (this is a great way to engage everyone and to force them to unmute themselves). You might even find ways to make technology engage people more. For example, you might use the chat feature to gather questions and feedback while you present. Or perhaps your conference call service can track participant engagement.

On your next call, dial in 5 minutes early, greet everyone as they join, be sociable and inquisitive, and SMILE. If you do nothing else but smile, you’re going to have a better call.

Why Always Use Call Recording

Call recording and VOIP

Monitor your conversations and diagnose arising problems.

Everyone has called a customer service at some point in his life and been greeted with a message of this sort: “This call MAY be recorded for quality assurance purposes.” Its a white lie as it is not based on a chance. All the conversations get recorded and for a good reason. Call recording is being used to ensure customer satisfaction and monitor employee productivity. And while it can hardly be used as evidence in court it can help refresh the memory of an employee or stubborn client. Today, more and more businesses know the true value call recording and are using it to some extent. The truth is that most Apps for call recording are not integrated in the dialer. And most dialers insist on saving all data on the phone limited memory.

Dispute Resolution

When a customer calls support, he is usually trying to convert, seeking help or reporting a problem. The reason for the call can be from unclear information to customer mistake or simple lack of knowledge or information. Of coarse it can also be because of defect product or simple misunderstanding. In many cases the person conversing on the phone can’t comprehend the root of the problem right away or simply misses some of the provided information. Having a call record allows the tech team or managers to listen to that conversation and diagnose the specific problem. The process slow, time consuming and often neglected but can improve the overall work flow if used for similar cases.

Fosters Growing Businesses

As businesses develop, its not uncommon that they establish offices in multiple locations or start to outsource part of their tasks. It becomes more difficult to manage multiple locations and offices that are located abroad. Call recording than steps in to ease the diagnosing if conversation and conversion problems as well as monitoring of customer satisfaction. It can be done at any location without need of much or any investment.

Productivity

When recording calls the business can make customized call reports based on different factors. Call length, call scoring, and number of calls per employee, time to answer, calls peak hours and even customer satisfaction can be measured. It is even possible to highlight personal calls, leading to better interconnectivity in the company or weeding the employees that tend to make excessive personal calls. Just knowing that you can listen on the conversations your employees will deter from making personal calls, will pay more attention to how they are addressing the customers and refrain from sharing sensitive company information. Overall, the business achieves better productivity and optimizes the use of time and resources.

Where VOIP kicks in

Apart from all the other benefits of VOIP we have already discussed it can really shine when it comes to call recording. VOIP providers have it hard as VOIP is harder to sell and has to bring more to the table. Voice recording is one of those things and it is easier and better than because of the Internet nature of VOIP. Voice recording is provided as free feature and in most cases is embedded in the VOIP servers. That means that the calls are saved a remote server and the you get a link to the media that you can open from any device at any place and any time you wish. As a bonus it does not clog your phone memory and if done right can be used from both office VOIP phones and mobile applications.

Better pay attention – Identity and Security

What happens when you get a letter in the mail and it appears to be tampered with?  I don’t know about you, but I either think that it got mangled in the postal sorting machines, or someone has been tampering.  I don’t immediately assume that it’s tampered with, as I am not that important of a person. But there are a few “less than desirable” folks I have come across in my travels that necessitate thinking that way at times. If I suspect that it is tampered, I have the ability to complain to the US Postal Service (or whoever the carrier is) and start an inquiry.  There’s a certain level of accountability.

Telecommunications accountability

With telecommunications, accountability is less effective.  Say your phone rings – do you assume that someone is listening in on your phone call?  Probably not unless you are in a similar profession as Tony Soprano.  The fact of the matter is this – people’s historical sense of security, or assuredness regarding source and point-to-point communications must be questioned.  I don’t mean to sound like a harbinger of doom, but this questioning comes as a result of modern technology.  Let’s take the simple example of the receiving a phone call.  Your phone rings.  The name of the person calling you is displayed on the phone’s screen.  It’s your Mother’s name, or her phone number.  Most of us would proceed with answering the call expecting the person on the other end to be our Mother.  Now, this leap of faith may be questioned if the masses understood the ease of “spoofing” this data. Мeaning, people can pretend they are your Mom just to get you to answer the phone.  Telemarketing companies are very savvy employing some techniques.  They realize if the caller ID displays “ABC Telemarketing Company” the odds of the phone being answered decreases tremendously.  But what if the caller ID were something more ambiguous, like “out of area”?  Well they did just that, then the FTC mandated they had to stop the “out of area” practice, and start displaying their phone number, and if possible company name.  Frankly, that didn’t do much as most people just lumped the “out of area” calls as telemarketing calls anyways.  At least that’s what I did.  This is really just a ‘cat and mouse’ game between the FTC/FCC and the telemarketers.  To keep things ambiguous, most telemarketers elected to just provide their phone number to display.  While not ideal to conceal the identity, it’s better than having “ABC Telemarketing Company” displayed.  In fact, because I am from Michigan, I usually accept most phone calls from any area-code in Michigan because I don’t know who’s phone might have changed – so I elect to answer rather pass the call to v-mail.  The constant balancing act our governing bodies must play between protecting free markets interests (read as commerce/business) on the one side, and protecting constituents on the other side, necessitates that we be more vigilant.

Phone calls (not only VOIP)

Back to the comparison of receiving a parcel versus a phone call.  If I get a package from my friendly postal working in the mail, I know for certain that the package was carried from the sender to me by the courier. UPS, FEDEX, etc.  When it comes to phone calls, the only thing we can be certain of is that the last part of the call was carried by my phone company.  The reality is that mostly phone calls, regardless of the technology, are carried by multiple phone companies.  Out the window goes any accountability.  Say I received a call, and heard some someone other than the person calling me starting singing a song (rare I know, but definitely possible), how can I determine where or how this intrusion took place?  I would start with my phone company, for sure, and if the breach into our conversation happened within the administrative domain of my phone company, there might be something that could be done.  The odds would that being the case aren’t great, though, and pinpointing where the breach occurred could very well be impossible.  The routes or paths that phone calls take over the telephone network change so frequently that oftentimes placing, say five simultaneous calls to the same destination might take five different paths through the network.  It’s the way things are.  Add to this situation the different technologies used, like VoIP versus TDM, any end-to-end reconstruction is arguably impossible.
 
At the end of the day, what this means to “Joe consumer” as a politician would put it, is that you can’t trust the source, or the path phone calls take through the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) with any level of certainty.  This is an unfortunately truth of the world we operate in today.

Ten Easy Steps to mobile VoIP (For Dummies)

Here are ten easy steps for going mobile with VoIP.

You will need a cell phone that runs on IOS or Android with data plan.

Almost any cell will do but you will need data plan and durable battery with most VoIP providers. When you are comparing and choosing VoIP service providers, take special note to see if they run their Apps on Android or IOS. Don’t just assume that all VoIP providers will have your needs in mind. Technology advances everyday, and this includes cryptography and safety masseurs that usually require better hardware. If you have a “dinosaur” of a mobile, there is a chance that the application used for the connection won’t work with your outdated specs. You can check with the company’s requirements for Android/IOS version but if you already know your phone is in need of change don’t expect the App to run miracles on it.

You must have high speed data plan

In most cases it is required that you have high speed Internet before purchasing VoIP services. Most mobile providers are offering 3G or better data plans so it should not be a problem. If you can’t afford good connection or are working in remote locations there is still a solution (check here). A good data plan produces a higher quality audio sound and better overall experience. When it comes to transmitting data, audio, and video files, nothing beats High Speed.

Evaluate your Needs

You must decide why you want to switch to VoIP. A good idea is to make a list and write down your reasons for wanting VoIP over normal calls. If you are lets say a residential homeowner and are fed up with paying high fees for local and long distance, then by all means, write that down. If you are looking for business solutions and want to incorporate all of your data, audio, and video needs, then add that to your list. By composing a list, you can clearly see what your needs are and what service is best suited for you.

Choose between Private, Business, or both

Many people opt to keep their business needs on standard connection, while testing VoIP for private calls. Not soon afterwards, they come to realize the potential benefits for their businesses as well. There are not many differences between private and business needs but some VoIP providers have “basic” and not “unlimited” plans, and some companies even throw in amenities such as free yellow book advertising. Again, writing a list down of what you want in a VoIP service will help you better determine what your telecommunication needs are.

Compare Service Providers

Now it is time to compare various service providers. There are many sites on the Internet that will let you review and compare different plans. Also, word of mouth is always a great form of advertising. If you have friends and relatives who have switched to VoIP, find out from them how they like their service provider, and also inquire about any providers that they may have had a negative experience with. If you are on a budget or cant use good data plan there are companies offering VoIP almost without the use of any data.

Select the plan that is Right for You

Now that your list is complete and you have compared service plans, it is time to decide on a service provider. Choose the provider that you feel best meets your needs stated on your list. You will also have the choice of purchasing monthly or yearly contracts, so know which option is best for you ahead of time.

Choose your Area Code and Phone Number

Many providers will give you the opportunity of selecting your own area code and phone number. This is great for those who have family and friends in a specific area, and who would like to save them money on their long distance bills. It is also an effective marketing tool for businesses that are targeting a specific region.

Configure your Phone’s features

Your VoIP app will come with a variety of features. You may configure them to achieve greater freedom. You will typically set up your, call block numbers, and other features the same as you would on your cell phone.

Spread the Word

Now that you are enjoying your new VoIP service, spread the word and let others know how they too can save money.

Problem Solving:

  • If you have slow or no Internet at all there is a solution. An App called Pindo can be used to with most VOIP providers. It can run with very little or no data usage at all. The drawback is that it makes a local call to make the connection.
  • If you are visually impaired you can check my article on Team Talk 5

How to Choose a VOIP Provider and How Important Is It For Your Business

 

VOIP is a telecommunications technology that replaces and upgrades the legacy Public Switched Telephone Network cabling. Its only drawback is that it requires Internet, but in return VOIP provides secure access and lots of extras important to business telephony.

VOIP BENEFITS

 

Transferring to VOIP is almost mandatory if you are running business that relies on telephony or if you are simply planning to change your telecom system. VOIP offers important benefits, both financial and operational. It simplifies the infrastructure and reduces call, maintenance and moving costs.

A growing trend

Growing numbers of businesses have already moved to VOIP realizing these benefits. The trend is not surprising considering the lower costs for businesses. According to analysis switching from legacy systems to SIP trunking lowers the total cost by 50%.

Upgrade legacy systems

VOIP gives the business access to the all the benefits of Internet telephony. With the new infrastructure Voip connects your PBX to an Internet Telephony Provider, benefiting you from the lower cost of long distance calls and professional pbx functions. You can even use rented cloud PBX to lower maintenance and infrastructure costs.

Connect your branches

If have interstate branch offices and want to connect them to the communication facilities of head office, you can connect them with VOIP. This can be done by connecting the sites to your infrastructure or using a service provider that can connect your facilities with cloud PBX. Both ways, you provide your branches with improved communications eliminating duplicate infrastructure while effectively halving the support staff needed.

Simplify infrastructure

Operate separate networks for data and voice is not cost effective and is even harder to backup. You can make significant savings with VOIP transition. using a single channel for data, voice and video will reduce network complexity and you will cut the costs for upgrades, backup lines and maintenance.

Mobile communications

As mentioned before the main disadvantage of VOIP communications is the requirement for internet connection. It is not much of a problem when you are calling from the office but field workers don’t have that privilege. Some VOIP providers like MIXvoip recently solved that issue by using DTMF allowing mobile VOIP calls to be made even without internet connection.

Selection factors

With that many benefits, how would you proceed when choosing a VOIP provider? Which are the most important factors to consider?
As people that have been in the VOIP business for quite some time now, we recommend you to choose by:

  1. Security
  2. Quality of Support
  3. Extended Services
  4. Pricing
  5. Mobility
  6. Call Quality

 

Security

Security the most important factor because VOIP is an Internet technology. As such it can be subject attacks and other risks that come with that environment. Service providers offer different security measures and techs. Software measures include authentication, encryption and the use of secure real time transport protocols. Hardware security is mostly done with the use of separate network access routers it is called transport-layer security and is used to protect your network against attacks that can disrupt the phone service.

Quality of support

Quality of support really important too and definitely should be considered. As with every service, at some point problems will arise and you should be confident that your provider can minimize the downtimes. VOIP is an Internet service often hosted on cloud servers, as such businesses don’t need support staff on site, the service provider support teams have the responsibility to keep everything running.

Pricing and mobility

Pricing and mobility are mostly self explanatory. They are both very business specific and depend on individual business structure and needs. Some providers charge flat, based on number of devices, others charge based on the number of calls your business makes. Most VOIP providers do not offer unlimited calls but there are exceptions. If you have lots of field workers you should make sure the company offers a mobile app.

Call quality

Call quality is not that important but shouldn’t be neglected. Most providers promote on call quality but you should know that sound quality requires more data. When more data is used you can make less simultaneous calls without call interferences and you will need to upgrade your internet plan.

VOIP is essential if you want to enjoy the advantages of business communications, save money and achieve business, financial and operational benefits.

The Benefits of VoIP and IP Telephony

VoIP and IP Telephony – The Benefits Revisited

 

Over the past 14 months i’ve met with many different customers at many different levels. One thing I continually do is talk about the benefits of converged technology such as VoIP and IP Telephony. The last few blogs have leveraged convergenced as a foundation for unified communications as a next generation service offer but in this post I thought I would try something different and revisit the benefits of some common technology – VoIP and IP Telephony.

Most people understand the benefits of transitioning to a converged all-IP environment. As more applications come onto the market and the technology proves itself, these firms will be able to avail themselves of the many benefits of such converged technology adoption.

So why consider leveraging VoIP and IP Telephony?

· Offers advanced call routing and enables new applications to further customer service initiatives.
· Accelerates and facilitates the move from a legacy environment to converged networks.
· Anchors IP innovation across the enterprise, and helps deploy a web services infrastructure enabling rapid development of IP-based applications and services.
· Facilitates the deployment of real-time workforce collaboration tools, which fosters an environment of high worker productivity, innovation and information sharing.
· The market isn’t moving towards converged networks – it’s there! Therefore the adoption of IP and VoIP are foundational steps on taking you down that path.

What are the benefits of VoIP and IP Telephony?

· Voice over IP can bring customers the benefits of network optimization and greater value through the convergence of services over a single connection. One IP network will handle data, video and voice.
· It can reduce total spend on traditional telco services by converging voice and data onto one pipe, eliminating the need for leased line charges from a telephone service provider, since all calls are flat rate.
· Depending upon the design all calls may be on-net as is the case with Global Crossing’s VoIP Onnet services. Compared to traditional TDM solution with the exception of private voice networks the majority of calls may be delivered off-net and thus more costly to operate from a call perspective. Fully converged services extend the on-net “look and feel” through our enterprise VoIP network. Instead of building their own TDM networks and deploying proprietary on-net calling plans, customers will gain value by leveraging a service providers VoIP network such as Global Crossings.

IP telephony adoption also delivers the following benefits:

· It can help lower cell phone charges by enabling worker productivity on the road and remotely.
· It reduces high toll, long-distance usage.
· It facilitates real-estate consolidations through extension and directory mobility by leveraging VoIP with “find me follow me services”.
· It reduces PBX support issues by migrating to fully converged network-based services that are centrally located.
· Packet-based voice traffic becomes just one application running over a multi-service network, allowing for more efficient bandwidth utilization.
· With dynamic bandwidth allocation technology in the absence of voice traffic the full network is available to data traffic.
· The move to IP telephony is a good first step towards convergence, and allows for more sophisticated network management by running voice over an existing data network.

What are the possible challenges in deploying VoIP and IP Telephony?

· Converged networks can be more complex to operate – the LAN’s additional complexity needs to be managed. This complexity can be offset through a managed VoIP solution.
· The business processes associated with troubleshooting and managing network quality need to be well-defined.
· Depending on the age of the network already in place, the transition to IP telephony may require some additional costs associated with hardware requirements such as advanced telecom gear to replace older equipment as well as replacing the end telephone stations used for traditional telephony with advanced IP-enabled sets.
· Additionally, if power over Ethernet is chosen there may be additional expense associated with powering the handsets.
· Finally, VoIP requires advanced traffic management and statistical analysis on edge and core components in order to track and trend network utilization and problems appropriately. Such systems may not necessarily be in place which would require further network management software to be deployed.

There you have it …. some of the VoIP and IP Telephony benefits revisited. There are cetainly more but those are just a few that I captured this evening.

Business and Telecommunication

Business requirement of telephony system, perceived from three dimensions, namely hardware, software and as a service.

Telecom sector business trends and changes happening in each generation of telephony. Analysis of next generation telecom business solutions and possible market areas for small and middle business companies.

In its life journey, telephony systems have traveled from plain old legacy systems to an era of advanced stage of Voice over IP communications supported by high-speed internet connection. Telecommunication feature requirement or demand has now moved to such a diversified stage that the business demand-supply chain keeps changing at a very fast rate. Let me to explain this.

As an example: A requirement or demand of a telephony feature like video conferencing is now no longer dependent on a particular way of implementation i.e. not only limited to hardware solution within an enterprise but have also available on mobile as an application software. It means that business solution of ‘video conferencing’ can be achieved via many dimensions like free soft-phone based, license soft-phone based, hardware based, Mobile/laptop based, or even home decor Television based.

This implies that telephony business must have dynamic business model and not sticking to particular solution. Business model must be capable to switch to alternative solutions at any moment. For big players this is not an issue of any concern, but small business players, must pick wisely what kind of telephony system they will use and what their sustainability is. They must think of moving their on-going business with telecom generations of high-speed internet and digitization.

In legacy telephony, business was oriented towards cost of each audio phone call, number of calls, and Local vs STD based calls, as this ware the core services available. Videos call at that time ware among major earning business solutions.

As a generation of telephony moves on, until 2.5 G to 3G, audio and video phone call is like default services and internet based, location based, on-demand or live streaming was on a high demand. At this stage, new business players who forecast this as an era of stating point of next generation telephony service were able to make a lot of money. Many entrepreneur and many small telecom businesses have grown up to support this demand both with hardware, software and as service.

Many software solutions and telephony applications were developed, protocols were defined and universal standards were placed. Businesses grew with software application around audio call, video call, conference, 3-way calling feature, announcement, advertisement service during telephony services. Hardware based solutions also grew in parallel and High-Definition quality were integrated with above listed telephony services. Small business which were software based have grown up and earned much, whereas big players have taken up this as a complete hardware and software solution, by building up of their own networks. Some business also grew targeting services of telephony application, whereas some targeted the support of telephony service, like Analysis and Analytical tools, testing tools etc. Legacy business was on backward compatibility support of these new telephony service.

At present telephony demand has changed a lot in its demand and implementation. From fixed hardware to mobile based app solutions. Business players have also re-shuffled and realigned themselves. Telecom operators are moving ahead to meet the demand with high speed internet solutions with legacy hardly contributing to a small percentage of profit. On other hand telecom R&D organisations / MNC have started working on next generation technology with high skilled human resources. Business players oriented towards software based adhoc service providers are also growing. Businesses are investing more on mobile based telephony solution like whatsapp, facebook, etc . A bulk of small business earning are also centralised around information on public platform and on advertisement. Telecoms are now moving towards IOT (internet of things) and wifi solutions. Hardware independent, time independent, resource independent fast and easy communication is needed with rich functions and high definition quality.

Small business players interested in telecom business must consider these changes in trends of telephony application demand and supply. Changes from fixed dialling system to mobile based automatic voice-recognition based high-speed internet service, must be analysed for any business investments. Legacy telephony in future is not going to last for couple of more years. SS7/ISDN based telephony system is going to vanish from market being replaced by high-speed and wifi solution.

Eventually telecom market is moving towards virtualization system capable fast and easy expansion of resource with change in demand, Big data and their analysis, single click software application supporting telephony functionality, hardware and location independent application and location-time applications. Those small business working on core legacy technology should try an attempt to move towards high-speed internet based telephony feature. Those small business working on hardware based legacy telephony should try an attempt to move towards digitization and integration within next generation hardware systems. Those small business working on services of legacy telephony should try an attempt to move towards adhoc or license free solution with telecom operator. Small business players interested in telecom business as a solution can work on providing mobile based soft-phone solution as a client solution. As side service they can provide VoIP data analytics, new VoIP features or Wifi solutions for middle business players. IOT – internet of thing is another major evolving in telecom sector, which small application and sensor based device communication are in trial, small and middle business sectors can also think towards this dimension of telecom solution. Telecom sector is vast and it depend so each business player’s vision and mission to work upon.

VOIP explained for enthusiasts

VoIP in depth:

 

  1. Definition & Overview
  2. Protocols & procedure
  3. Technical Details
  4. Features & Functionality
  5. Future Prospects

 

Definition & Overview:

The term VoIP represents Voice communication over/via IP-network. There are many advantages of having voice communication over IP network, termed as PS ( packet switching), over traditionally voice communication, over CS( Circuit switching), like fast, easy and efficient resource utilization with enhanced features. People who wish to communicate with each other with VoIP must support TCP/IP packing, called IP-nodes/Host. VoIP is also used to establish sessions/calls to different networks like circuit switches PSTN or GSM/UMTS users.

It is a technique of sending voice/media packets over IP-network. This solution of establishing session between two parties is adopted by next generation mobile communication like 4G. VoIP is incorporated with underline protocol stack like SIP, H.323, SDP, TCP/IP suit, etc. VoIP solutions are mainly driven with the help of supporting APPLICATION layer protocol, namely SIP (Session Initiation protocol) or H.323.

Protocols & procedure:

Predominantly SIP is a versatile text based protocol mostly used in enhance technology. SIP defines request and response mechanism like INVITE, Register, Option, Publish etc and 1xx, 2xx, 3xx, 4xx, 5xx, 6xx responses respectively.  It also defines routing mechanisms with the help of SIP-proxy server to discover called user details. A session is established between two nodes (IP-based) who wish to communicate by routing request to proxy server and querying database termed location server. Once two nodes (calling party and called party) learn each other IP-addresses, voice RTP packets are sent between them. SIP stacks maintains and control the established the voip session until it is closed. Session is released or cleared by sending BYE request to other party. SIP protocol standard is defined by IETF standards of 3261rfc and is being adopted by many new upcoming technologies. H.323 protocol on other hand is a protocol suit used earlier for VoIP solution. It is still used within certain old technology and enterprise solutions.

Technical Details:

Architecture:

This section describes VoIP architecture and solution in details based on SIP protocol. VoIP architecture is defined based on three tier model.
• User-plan or Application layer mainly consists of IP-nodes who are either Calling User/Nodes or Called User/Nodes. SIP based IP-nodes are termed as UA (User Agent). SIP based IP-Node that initiates session request is termed as UAC (User Agent Client) and SIP based IP-nodes who respond to the request is termed as UAS (User Agent Server).
• Middle tier is a Server-plan or a Routing plane which help in routing SIP based request to the destination and fetching relevant data. SIP based server like SIP-proxy server, Promedia Server, Gatekeeper (for H.323 protocol) is grouped in this tier. Promedia servers are used for establishing session between SIP and H.323 based UAs.
• Database tier of the VoIP architecture consists of servers who maintains data regarding User agents, session billing and session authentication and other. Location server, Registrar server, Authentication server, Billing Server, IVR server are such example servers of this layer. The protocol which is used between the SIP proxy server and the database layer server is RADIUS, which is mainly transaction based protocol.

Procedure of VoIP Session:

SIP session/signalling are done using either TCP or UDP as a transport layer, with TCP as a recommendation to achieve fast session establishment.
• SIP based IP-node which is either a calling party or called party, is configured with IP-address and can be located anywhere physically and connected through internet.
• Called Party must be registered to the VoIP network via preconfigured REGISTRAR Server IP-address and Proxy server
• Calling Party has to be VoIP registered in order to initiate a call to the called user, it must also be configured with a Proxy server
• Called Party registers itself by sending REGISTER request to the Proxy Server. The Proxy server in turn updates the REGISTRAR server with Called Party IP-address, and/or domain and/or MSIDN/sip-URI. SIP-URI is nothing but a Unique Resource Identifier in sip format like ‘sip:[email protected]’. This association created in REGISTRAR server is uploaded into Location Server which is called as AOR – Address of Record. In most cases both REGISTRAR server and LOCATION server can be colocated into one box.
• Calling Party that wish to establish a communication with called user, sends INVITE request to the Proxy or Out-bound Proxy server with called party MSISDN or SIP-URI. Outbound Proxy server is nothing but a proxy server, configured separately for handling calls/session, which is again a deployment specific. Here Calling User will act as a UAC- User agent client and Proxy server acts as UAS – User agent server.
• Out-bound Proxy server receives INVITE request, response with 100 Trying response to the Calling user/UAC acknowledging Calling user that INVITE request is received and is being processed so it does not send multiple INIVITE request.  The proxy server fetches called user AOR from the location server and receives the called user IP-address.
• Proxy server routes the INVITE request to the called user IP-address received in AOR from the location server.
• Called Party upon receiving INVITE request, will to start ring with tone, notifying the user about the incoming call, acknowledging back with 180 ringing response. In the 180 Ringing, called party adds its own IP-address which is traversed backed to the calling party.
• When called party picks the calls, it response with 200 OK.
• Calling party upon receiving 200 OK response send another SIP request ACK, which indicates the flow of voice RTP packet.
• Session can be broken by either party, by sending a BYE request.

RTP and Voice Packets:

Voice packets are being transmitted between calling party and called party directly end to end in particular codec format.  SDP – session description protocol suit is also deployed along with SIP stack which maintains all voice packets stream and their measurement reports. Both RTP and RTCP packets are sent over UDP as a transport protocol to achieve real time streaming. RTCP provides feedback about RTP packets sends in reverse direction.

Features & Functionality:

SIP based protocol leverage to add call features like call hold, Call Park, call conference, both audio and video call, multi user support and many other call functionality. It is easy to deploy and flexible enough to twist to achieve desired result of Voice over IP.

Future Prospects and Deployment:

VoIP solution is key to fourth generation mobile communication supporting multimedia services like audio, video, chat, conference, announcement services. This technology is commonly known as IMS – IP Multimedia Subsystem, a standards of 3GPP project. SIP session createс high voice quality via dedicated bearer reserved for each SIP session. If the access type is LTE, then the voip session is termed as VoLTE( Voice over LTE) and if access type is Wifi, the voip session is termed as VoWIFI.

SoftPhones – first steps and installation

SoftPhones

Definition:

The technical term ‘Softphone’ is used for software applications which run on any device (mobile, laptop or desktop), and has telephone like functionality. Soft Phones are used to place VOIP calls which are generally cheaper when making international calls. Most of those applications actually run on hard phones(phones made specially for VOIP purposes) but there are planty also made for mobile and pc. The softphones work similar to any actual phone, with functionalities  like outgoing & incoming voice calls and outgoing/incoming Video calls. They are basically IP based phones, providing VoIP ( voice over IP) functionality, governing protocols such as SIP( session initiation protocol) , or H.323 or SCCP or any other similar proprietary protocol.

Examples of softphones for desktop and mobile:   X-lite, zoiper, Pindo, vChat, Whatsapp , Skype.

Procedure & Functionality :

There is quite a big diversity in soft phones . Some are made to serve the masses, and they are mostly free, while others are business and enterprise oriented with license versions. Softphones can be classified as a type of IP-phone with no hardware. The software supplication of the softphone available based on the OS platform basis Linux, WINDOWs, MAC like X-lite, etc. Following are the procedure steps for setting up the softphone:

  1. Software Installation
  2. License key configuration, if any
  3. Configuration

Procedure

  • After successful installation, License key is entered to within the application of the software to make it working.
  • Few trial version of the softphone are available with limited edition i.e., once softphone installation is installed and running, it bind itself with the PC/Desktop/Laptop MAC address and this information is send to centralised server of the software.
  • This is done to avoid multiple installation of softphone on same machine.
  • Once the tenure of license expire, softphone stops working until license is renewed again.
  • Post License key configuration, desired network and dial plan related configuration is done in order to get it registered with server, which is VoIP server.
  • The IP –address of the system (PC/Desktop/Laptop) is used as the IP-address of the softphone itself.

Functionality

  • Initial configuration of the softphone after installation also involves providing the IP-address of the proxy server which will be anchoring all services of the softphone like registration and call.
  • Softphone does its registration with the VoIP network in which Softphone Address-of-record (AOR) is populated in the VoIP location server database, and now softphone ready to send or received any call.
  • Most common usage of such softphone to test the network functionality.
  • Another usage of such softphone to perform load and stress testing of the network.

On Mobile

In Public network for mobile user: softphone is generally available as a mobile application. The software applications  are uploaded to public server like PlayStore or AppStore, from where the user can download it on his mobile. Most such apps require the user to have stable internet connection to operate (with the exception of Pindo and Rebtel). In the mobile market softphones are dominated by free apps  and there is almost no paid versions.. Following are the procedure steps for setting up the softphone on mobile:

  1. Software Installation
  2. User Profile creation

Procedure

  • Softphone application is downloaded from play-store in a single click and get installed automatically on the supported version of the Mobile OS/Platform.
  • After successful installation, softphone application is brought up on the mobile by a click and user profile is created. Since such softphone is available for public use, hence the user profile creation steps generally involves linking with public social network, like twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc, and name/password, and OTP verification to authenticate user mobile number
  • Upon successful completion of the user profile, installed softphone is available to function as per designed functionality/feature.

Functionality

  • Most such softphones doesn’t require any pre-configuration of network details.
  • The Server/Network details is in build within the software downloaded and ready to use more readily

Future:

If I have to make a bet I would bet on softphones with html based user interface. They are mostly used for commercial purpose like Video-Conferencing, license based conferencing for entrepreneurs, meeting, three-way calling etc. They come with Pay-and-Use functionality, and most of them are based on SIP protocol for session creation and media streaming.