IP PBX Solutions for Your Business

March 16, 2007 by Arthur Miller

FINDING THE RIGHT IP PBX FOR YOUR BUISINESS

Voipsupply offers a variety of different IP PBX platforms. The platforms serve a wide array of customers and range from sophisticated enterprise solutions like Cisco CallManager Express to branded asterisk solutions for small to mid sized offices, or even small and home office do-it-yourself bundles that feature open source free pbx software like Trixbox. All platforms offered have optional provisioning and support available. Several of the platforms are also supported free of charge by the respective manufacturer.

Provisioning, “the dirty work” can be applied on a general level or detailed level depending on what features you need for your PBX. Christopher Heinrich, head of provisioning states,

“The majority of customers who wish to have their IP PBX provisioned send a document containing the desired extensions of the phones and the names associated with those extensions. We also have customers who prefer to set this up at a later date but need assistance setting up call groups prior to shipment.”

The majority of platforms available, in particular asterisk-branded solutions such as Fonality or Switchvox can be shipped at a nearly plug-and-play level, even allowing old extensions from prior phone systems to be used again for a smooth transition into your new system.

Support is also broken down into a general or granular level which usually depends on the technical level of the consumer. Support ranges from a 48 hour e-mail response time to a specific engineer dedicated to assisting you over the phone with any questions you have on usability or implementation. Pbxselect also works with local installers around the U.S. and Canada that, “connect the dots” after the systems ship for customer installation and training.

A sampling of the platforms offered:

  • Switchvox – This is a commercial IP phone system built off Asterisk, with an intuitive GUI and lots of other features built in. It comes in (2) versions, SOHO and SMB. The SMB version also has a desktop user utility, a JavaScript application, that allows users to see the presence of other extensions logged into the system, and allows you to drag and drop calls to extensions or voicemail boxes. You can also find third party applications that hook into their API. One current application uses Google maps to automatically populate an address and picture of the location calling you based on the area code and dial number of the incoming call – neat stuff!
  • Fonality – Also a commercial IP phone system built off Asterisk. It is slightly more expensive than Switchvox but the graphical user interface is a lot more depth. See below for a few links/demos:

    The HUD demo is very worth checking out, I suggest you try it!

  • Rhino Ceros / Trixbox – This is a bundled open source VoIP PBX has put together with Rhino Equipment, which runs of their server and TDM hardware, in conjunction with Trixbox. This system is by far the most flexible in our offering. It ships out of the box ready, with the Rhino PCI card and works with all SIP compliant IP Phones. If you care to spend time fine tuning the system you can get very advanced features for a very low cost.
  • Talkswitch – This is a key system replacement that includes both PSTN and VoIP capabilities. Works with analog and SIP phones, very simple to set up and administer. The best thing about Talkswitch is that you can use the system in multiple locations *without* needing to have a service provider in the mix – the PBX’s will simply connect to each other over the broadband connections at each office.
  • Cisco Callmanager Express – Pbxselect is a Cisco Authorized Premier Partner with Callmanager Express specialization. Many hundreds of successful systems have been deployed using Cisco Callmanager Express; more detail on this solution is probably not needed due to its immense popularity.

Aastra Telecom Podcast

Aastra Telecom’s New Line of IP Phones Have Been a Huge Hit!

Aastra’s latest line of IP Phones have been flying off the VoIP Supply shelf these past few weeks and this week Jon Arnold, in his Canadian IP Thought Leaders series, features Aastra Telecom’s Executive Vice President Yves Laliberte. Aastra is based in Toronto, and is one of the leading business telephone OEMs, for both legacy and IP markets. Yves addressed the current state of the market, and compared the differing paths that enterprises and SMBs are taking as they adopt IP.

He also focused on the importance of Open Source and SIP for enabling more flexible and feature rich solutions than were possible in the TDM world. Finally, Jon and Yves talked about the road ahead, and how Unified Communications and FMC will be driving the market, and how that will impact vendors like Aastra.

Marketing VoIP Services To Non-Technical Consumers

Not All Consumers Understand VoIP

But you do not HAVE to make them fully understand the technology in order to get them to interested enough to purchase your VoIP service. You do, however, have to give them enough information and understanding of Voice over IP in order for them to be confident in making a buying decision. Here are some tips you can use, as a VoIP Service Provider, to help bolster your marketing efforts in order to increase your subscriber base.

VoIP Service Provider Marketing Tips

  • Speak The Customers Language – Do not use tech speak. Keep acronyms to a minimum. If you had to tell a ten year old what it is that your company does, how would you describe it?
  • Don’t Use High Speed or Broadband Internet to Describe an Internet Connection – 90% of consumers do not know what broadband means or if their service is high speed, after all, even dial-up services promote a higher-speed product. Instead, use DSL or Cable to describe the Internet connection necessary to use the service.
  • Sell Devices That Mimic The Traditional Calling ExperienceVoIP adapters, while cheap, add a foreign device to the calling experience. Rather than wasting your time explaining what an analog telephone adaptor does, sell them and cordless IP phone. Customers are familiar with cordless phones and people like things that they are familiar with. It will save the time and headache of explain why you need and ata and how to install it. If you insist on having a VoIP adapter, make sure you offer one that has PSTN failover, like a Linksys SPA-3102 or Grandstream GS-488.
  • Explain What Happens When Their Internet Connection Goes Down – Do not just make this a bullet point in the fine print. Use it as an opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competition by explaining the issues and making sure your customers have a “back-up” plan such as a cellular phone or PSTN line for failover. Sure you might lose a customer or two, but the ones you gain will trust you. Trust build loyalty. Loyalty breeds lifetime customers.
  • Show Them More Than Price – If the sole decision was price, then they would have switched year ago. Most non-technical customers needs reasons other than price savings to go through the “hassle” of switching their phone service. Promote the convenience of voicemail to email, how they can use a second number so others can call them for free, educate them on the benefits your features provide them.
  • Do Not Make Switching a Hassle – No one wants a hassle. Make the sign-up process easy, have knowledgeable staff answering your phones, have a number porting system that constantly updates the customer on what stage of the number porting process they are currently in. Make sure devices arrive on time.
  • Make Paper Invoices an Available Option – Believe it or not, many consumers WANT paper bills. Due to their “non-technical” nature, they may not be use to or comfortable with paying bills online. Do not make them do it “your way”, allow them to do it “their way.”
  • Stop Assuming and Start Talking – Stop assuming you know what customers know about Voice over IP. I “thought” I knew what people knew about VoIP, but it wasn’t until I started selling VoIP in a brick and mortar retail environment that I started to “get it.” From there, I actually paid a friend to go out and get people to fill out surveys about their knowledge of VoIP. What I found was that most people know little, are filled with mis-conceptions, and really do not care about VoIP. But do not take my word for it, go out and talk to lots of people about Voice over IP.

While it is one thing to identify points that VoIP service providers need to market to, it is another thing to execute on them. Execution, after all, is just as important as strategy. These points are merely a starting point for enhancing the marketing of your VoIP service – do with them what you will.

Digium TC400B Transcoder Card

March 2, 2007 by Garrett Smith

Digium’s TC400B Trandscoder Card decrease CPU processing load

digium TC400BOne of the most costly uses of CPU load on a server running Asterisk centers around the transforming of the G.729a codec into other codecs for the purposes of call origination or termination, bridging disparate calls, or VoIP to TDM connectivity. As you may well know, though, these transformations in software are very expensive, in terms of MIPS, and require a substantial amount of CPU time to accomplish.

That is why Digium has released the TC400B. The TC400B was designed to relieve the CPU of these processing duties, freeing it for other tasks (or allowing you to use a less powerful unit), and also allowing Asterisk to bridge G.723.1 compressed audio into other formats. Prior to the TC400B, you did not have this capability.

Digium TC400B Functionality

The TC400B decompresses G.729a (8.0kbit) or G.723.1 (5.3kbit) into u-law or a-law; or, compresses u-law or a-law into G.729a (8.0kbit) or G.723.1 (5.3kbit). The TC400B is rated to handle up to 96 bi-directional G.729a transformations or 92 bi-directional G.723.1 transformations.

Digium TC400B Benefits

In addition to the relieving the CPU of transforiming processing duties and allowing Asterisk to bridge G.723.1 compressed audio into other formats, the Digium TC400B does not require additional licensing fees for the use of these codecs nor does it require the registration process associated with Digium’s software-based G.729a codec licensing. An additional cost and time savings!

The Digium TC400B ships with one TC400P and one TC400M voice processing module. It is currently shipping and is retailing for $1499.99. For more information or to order, please visit the Digium TC400B page.

More from: Asterisk Garrett Smith

VoIP Hits A Trillion Minutes In 2006

A Trillion?Now That’s Alot of Calling!

And that’s not the only impressive statistic to come out of iLocus’ 2006 VoIP industry report. In it’s 8th annual report, iLocus revealed an industry on the move and the continued evolution of telecommunications, but hey we all ready knew that!

According to iLocus,

  • Softswitch and media gateways generated combined revenues of $2.2 billion, which represents about 24 percent growth over the previous year 2005.
  • In 2006 vendors shipped a total of about 18.3 million IP phone system end user licenses, and an estimated 8.5 million desktop IP phones. Desktop IP phone sales grew 38 percent over the previous year 2005, while the IP PBX market grew an impressive 52 percent year over year.
  • An estimated 37.5 million VoBB subscribers worldwide as of end 2006. 16.5 million new VoBB subscribers were added during 2006.
  • And as the title suggests, estimated 1,079 billion minutes of VoIP traffic was carried by service providers worldwide in 2006. Of these minutes, 382.3 billion was local call volume, 614.4 billion was national long distance (NLD) call volume, and 82.6 billion was the international long distance (ILD) call volume.

Impressive growth for sure, and with the emergence of fmc, dual mode handsets, and surging acceptance of VoIP in the small medium business market, 2007 is sure to be another banner year for the Voice over IP industry.

The New Aastra IP Phone Line-up

February 27, 2007 by Garrett Smith

The Newest Line of IP Phones From Aastra Have Been Getting Great Reviews

Although Aastra kept the release of their newest IP Phones pretty quite, the phones have been making a lot of noise in the marketplace. With their awesome new redesign, features upgrades, and value pricing, the new Aastra IP Phone line is quickly becoming a popular choice for small medium and large enterprises. Here now is a look at the new Aastra line-up.

New Aastra IP Phone Line-up

aastra 57iAastra 57i – $265.99 – The newly released Aastra 57i IP Phone is loaded with features. The Aastra 57i hosts a full-duplex speakerphone along with a graphical LCD screen. There is no need to purchase a separate adapter for power over Ethernet (PoE) as a PoE adapter is included with the phone. The Aastra 57i IP Phone has 6 static keys which are programmable up to 10 functions. For ones that love hands free phones there is a built-in amplifier along with headset support. The Aastra 57i is expandable up to 3 modules of model 536M and 560M. The Aastra 57i is equipped with XML browser capabilities and an extra large display with dynamic softkeys to easily access customized services and applications.

aastra 57i-ctAastra 57i CT – $379.99 – The Aastra 57i CT offers powerful features and flexibility in a standards based, carriergrade advanced level, expandable, IP telephone that includes an integrated WDCT cordless mobility handset for coverage up to 300,000 sq ft. With a sleek and elegant design, large 144 x 128 pixel graphical backlit LCD display and 6 dynamic contextsensitive softkeys, the 57i CT base unit is fully interoperable with leading IP Telephony platforms, offering advanced XML capability to access custom applications and support for up to 9 calls simultaneously.

aastra 55iAastra 55i – $237.49 – The Aastra 55i IP Phone has 6 soft keys which are programmable up to 20 functions. For ones that love hands free phones there is a built-in amplifier along with headset support. The Aastra 55i is expandable up to 3 modules of model 536M. The Aastra 55i offers powerful features and flexibility in a standards based, carrier-grade advanced level expandable IP telephone. With a sleek and elegant design, 144 x 75 pixel backlit LCD display and 6 dynamic context-sensitive softkeys, the 55i is fully interoperable with leading IP Telephony platforms, offering advanced XML capability to access custom applications and support for up to 9 calls simultaneously.

Aastra 53iAastra 53i – $180.49 – The Aastra 53i IP Phone has 6 programmable keys with LEDs. For ones that love hands free phones there is a built-in amplifier along with headset support. The Aastra 53i is flash programmable and has dual 10/100 switched Ethernet ports. The Aastra 53i offers powerful features and flexibility in a standards based, carrier-grade basic level IP telephone. With a sleek and elegant design and 3 line LCD display, the 53i is fully interoperable with leading IP Telephony platforms, offering advanced XML capability to access custom applications and support for up to 9 calls simultaneously. Part of the Aastra 5i Series of IP telephones, the 53i is ideally suited for light to regular telephone requirements.

aastra 560Aastra 560M – $189.99 – With the Aastra 560M Expansion Module, your Aastra IP Phone has the best features to meet the requirements of executive and administrative staff that require high call coverage and flexibility from communication systems. Using your Aastra 57i & 57i-CT with Aastra 560M, call coverage and management is even more easy and efficient to handle. With the expansion module, you add additional programmable keys and LEDs, increasing your total number of keys and LEDs. Additonally, the 560M is scalable up to 3 expansion modules, with up to 60 programmable LED keys, has a backlit LCD display, and is power by the phone.

aastra 536MAastra 536M – $142.49 – With the Aastra 536M Expansion Module, your Aastra IP phone has the best features to meet the requirements of executive and administrative staff that require high call coverage and flexibility from communication systems. Using your Aastra 55i, 57i & 57i-CT with Aastra 536M, call coverage and management is even more easy and efficient to handle. With the expansion module, you add additional programmable keys and LEDs, increasing your total number of keys and LEDs. The Aastra 536M is scalable up to 3 expansion module per phone, with 36 lED keys, and gets direct power from the base IP Phone.

New Aastra IP Phone Summary

All Aastra IP telephones offer full-duplex speakerphone with excellent voice clarity and delivery. With years of experience in telecommunications and telephone design, Aastra can ensure superior voice quality on every product we sell.

From initial deployment and configuration to future enhancements and upgrades, the Aastra family of IP telephones are designed to save your business time and money. Dual auto-sensing switched Ethernet ports eliminate additional wiring and simplify installations. Integrated IEEE 802.3af Power-over-Ethernet allows easy deployment with centralized powering and backup. Easily created configuration files, using any text editor, can be used to configure phones individually or centrally.

Previously Enjoyed Cisco IP Phones

VoIP Deal of the Week

This week we are bringing you an awesome deal on some previously enjoyed (used) Cisco IP phones. We currently have a nice position on some Cisco CP-7960G and Cisco CP-7940G IP Phones. Each of these phones have been tested, and are in perfect working order, and come with a 60 day warranty.

Cisco CP-7940G

cisco cp-7940GThe Cisco CP-7940G has four dynamic soft keys that guide users through call features and functions. Built-in headset port and integrated Ethernet Switch are standard with the Cisco IP Phone 7940G. Also includes audio controls for full duplex speakerphone, handset and headset. The Cisco IP Phone 7940G also features a large, pixel-based LCD display. The display provides features such as date and time, calling party name, calling party number, and digits dialed.

New, the Cisco CP-7940G retails for $199.99. While quantities last the previously enjoyed Cisco CP-7940G’s are available for $169.99. That’s $30 dollars off retail price!

Cisco CP-7960G

cisco cp-7960GThe Cisco CP-7960G provides six programmable line/feature buttons and four interactive soft keys that guide a user through call features and functions. Audio controls for duplex speakerphone, handset and headset. The Cisco IP Phone 7960G also features a large, pixel-based LCD display. The display provides features such as date and time, calling party name, calling party number, and digits dialed. The graphic capability of the display allows for the inclusion of such features as XML (Extensible Markup Language) and future features.

The phone also works with a variety of VoIP phone systems.

New, the Cisco CP-7960G retails for $239.99. While quantities last the previously enjoyed Cisco CP-7960G’s are available for $199.99. That’s $40 dollars off retail price!

 

Dual Mode VoIP Handset Market to Reach $82Bn by 2012

February 26, 2007 by Garrett Smith

Though No Service Fully Supports Dual Mode Technology, the Market is Poised for Rapid Growth

dual mode voip phoneJuniper Research has released a new report on the worldwide VoIP over Wi-Fi equipment revenues. According to Juniper Research, the total market for VoIP Wi-Fi equipment is expected to reach $82 Billion by 2012, with North America composing the largest part of the market at $35 Billion.The data in the new report from Juniper Research is taken from forty interviews with vendors and providers across the sector. EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) is projected to account for $23 Billion of the total $82 Billion and the Asia Pacific market will chip in the additional $21 Billion.

According to Basharat Hamid Ashai, Report Author, “the dual mode handset market will pick up much faster in the coming years than the single mode Wi-Fi handset sector. The handset market is moving to a stage where no one wants to carry two or three devices in their pocket, so the ability to have a single device for all calls is a compelling proposition. Most single mode VoIP over Wi-Fi handset manufactures are actively either designing or planning to ship dual mode phones.”

Other Report Details

  1. Dual Mode Mobile Handsets (Cellular/VoIP over Wi-Fi) will dominate this market generating almost $68bn in revenues by 2012 out of a total market of $82bn.
  2. Single Mode VoIP over Wi-Fi Handsets will continue to see a conservative uptake primarily due to high pricing – resulting in revenues of only $1.5bn by 2012.
  3. Enterprise Access Points (supporting VoIP) will generate over $5bn by 2012.
  4. Enterprise WLAN Switch/Mobility Controllers (supporting VoIP) to reach almost $8bn by 2012.

7 Ways To Improve VoIP Call Quality

February 23, 2007 by Garrett Smith

VoIP Call Quality is the Most Important Factor For Today’s VoIP Consumer

Tracy Mayor over at VoIP-News have an excellent post on seven ways to improve VoIP call quality. Here are Tracy’s top 7 ways to improve VoIP call quality:

1. Go private rather than public. “The public Internet is always going to be more subject to disruption and therefore to quality issues than private networks,” points out Jan Dawson, vice president of US Enterprise Practice at Ovum, a Boston-based telecom consultancy. “The best VoIP services use private, dedicated networks rather than the public Internet.”

2. Better cables equal better performance. For many companies, only CAT-5 cabling on-premises is robust enough and fast enough to handle VoIP traffic adequately.

3. Hash things out with your vendor ahead of time. “The most important question to ask is how will you care for your VoIP infrastructure on Day 2,” the day after installation, says Pierce. “Most customers don’t think about per-call monitoring, call management or trouble-resolution until later, and they get themselves into deep trouble that way.” To avoid the same mistake talk to your vendor . Ask your vendor what, if any, call- and network-monitoring tools they include or at least support. With service providers work up service-level agreements (SLAs) that specify what quality-control metrics will be used to measure jitter and packet loss and how such problems will be addressed.

4. Allocate bandwidth wisely. Separate is better, says Dawson, meaning companies should consider using either two separate LANs for voice and data or keeping traffic virtually separate through use of a VLAN. Full duplex, non-blocking switches will help to avoid collision and packet loss. Further, make use of network analysis tools to identify and eliminate congestion points on the network.

5. Buy VoIP hardware, handsets and the IP PBX, with built-in echo cancellation. The longer the echo cancellation “tail length” (measured in milliseconds), the more effectively the technology will work.

6. Upgrade your existing network management and monitoring suite. They should accommodate VoIP, which includes upgrading your RMON (remote network monitoring) probe and protocol analyzers to recognize and decode VoIP traffic.

7. …Or bring a network monitoring system online for the first time. The ultimate goal should be a system that’s capable of proactively monitoring each call from SIP phone to SIP phone across the WAN, says Pierce. While she warns “there’s no one single off-the-shelf package” that can answer all your VOIP monitoring needs, good places to start are with network monitoring suites from your IP PBX vendor or VoIP-accommodating network-monitoring suites like those from HP, Fluke/Visual Networks, Psytechnics and IBM’s Tivoli division, which now owns the Netcool product line formerly sold by Micromuse.

I would like to add few other ways that you can improve your VoIP call quality:

  1. Don’t Oversubscribe. Most businesses try to make too many calls over to small of a pipe. Bad idea. Make sure you have adequete bandwidth available for the amount of calls you need to make.
  2. Upgrade your network infrastructure. Surprisingly, the cost of upgrading your network infrastructure is cheaper than ever. For example, 24 port PoE switches can now be had for around $399. If your network is not in tip-top shape, you run the risk of having packet loss.
  3. Experiment with Codec Size.If you have enough bandwidth, try using a large codec. Although your service provider might compress this on their network, it should not affect the decompression of the codec on the LAN. Alternatively, you could pick a service provider that uses a larger codec by default.

GrandCentral Now Interoperable With Gizmo Project

February 22, 2007 by Garrett Smith

Now This is a next generation voice partnership

GrandCentral, the company that allows your single phone number to have unique features and control capabilities, and Gizmo Project, the popular SIP business VoIP service have announced that their services are fully interoperable.

So What’s The Scope?

GrandCentral customers can now designate their free Gizmo Project profile ID as a destination numbers which will ring on their personal computers or select next generation Nokia dual mode Nseries mobile phone or Internet Tablet, whenever a call comes into their GrandCentral number.

Prior to this announcement, their was no way to link your Gizmo Project profile id to your GrandCentral account. This new capability will also allow Gizmo Project users to recieve free calls directly from the PSTN. Not only does this interoperability further the functionality of Gizmo Project, it also eliminates the need for Gizmo Project users to purchase a seperate DID for their Gizmo project account, a savings of around $35. Not too shabby!