Open Source Voip
Given that mobility is such an important part of the Unified Communications experience, I have periodically written about the proliferation of WiFi, and about the expansion of faster cellular networks. More WiFi out there in the world, and the better the cellular networks, means the remote work aspect of UC will just continue to grow. That’s not really any big news, but I still check in on the growth and proliferation.
So let’s take a look at LTE and also at 5G. As indicated in the chart to the right, the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) is a good place to go to get some stats.
LTE has been the fastest growing mobile system technology ever. It has over 5.4 billion subscriptions, connecting nearly 60% of mobile users worldwide. Most readers of this blog probably use some version of LTE every day.
But now we hear about 5G being rolled out. According to the GSA report, 125 operators in 52 countries/territories have (as of mid-November 2020) announced 3GPP-compatible 5G service launches (either mobile or FWA). If you read the specs, the speeds and latency for 5G are supposed to be significantly better than 4G in terms of downloading video content, watching video content, etc. Yet in commercials in the US, that part is muted and we typically hear “get 5G speeds” whatever that means. Specificity is lacking.
To me, that means I don’t need to rush to go get a 5G capable phone right now. But what is in the specs will occur someday. It will just take some time.
And while there will be some stand-alone 5G networks, most networks will take the form of integration and then migration of the LTE/5G network. This paper from Ericsson is good reading if you want the specifics.
At any rate, going back to the first paragraph of this blog, it means that mobile UC will continue its growth, and the advent of video to UC will continue to grow and won’t just be limited to your day to day “office” setup, whatever or wherever that may be.
If you read the headline of this blog and have read this far, you likely know the meaning of these letters – they are all names of CTI (computer telephony integration) boards and VoIP gateways from the division of Dialogic that Sangoma bought pretty much exactly 3 years ago. I have to say, for all of us that came over to Sangoma from Dialogic, it’s been a quick three years!
We still sell them, and we still use a contract manufacturer based in North America to manufacture them. And we’ll continue to make them while we can and while there is still demand.
Is there still demand? Yes, you see, the whole world is not yet on VoIP (even though a lot of the people in the communications industry act like that). Some solutions are still connected to the PSTN and require these boards for that purpose. And some solutions are connected to a VoIP network through a gateway, but the solution does not need to be re-architected because of the existence of that VoIP gateway, so the boards are still used in the solution.
So, if you need Dialogic boards or gateways and don’t know where to go, visit our website or give us a call.
If you know, you know. But if you’re new to the game (no shame in that), then MRR stands for Monthly Recurring Revenue; and, in today’s rapidly growing UCaaS (or any “as a service”) environment, the money is rolling in! In fact, within the cloud industry, it’s honestly hard to not make recurring revenue. While customers subscribe to a service, agents subscribe to a paycheck.
A Little Background
Traditionally, with on-premise systems, you get paid once then you’re done. You’re left hoping that the customer has a need for additional phones, extensions, and support, or the system dies in 8-10 years and requires a spare. In the world of hosted services, not only does the vendor usually host and maintain the service, but the partner (agent) gets recurring revenue each month instead of the one-time payout.
If you don’t have one, you should get one – and Sangoma is partnered with the best in the industry. What is a master agent and what do they do? Think of them as a distributor/organizer/supporter of cloud-based solutions.
An agent (a partner who sells hosted services and is partnered with a master agent) will contact their master agent whenever they have a customer who needs a quote, as well as any situation that requires supporting collateral.
The master agent represents a LOT of vendors, from telecom to ISP, IT, MSP, network security services, and so much more. That agent can get a quote for internet service, a hosted phone system, access control, and more all through one contact. Then, when that agent closes the deal (thanks to the support and product knowledge a master agent has), the agent is paid any SPIFFS the vendors might be offering through the master agent. MRR for days!
Master Agent Dating
There are LOTS of master agents out there. On the surface, they may all start to look the same; but I’d encourage you to talk to them and see what sets them apart. They are usually quick to tell you, but if you are a partner looking for a master agent, I’d advise you find one that brings new products to your portfolio. This increases your chance to offer your customers more products or services to meet their unique needs.
Master agents pay out your spiffs and help you close the deals that you bring to the table. They often offer support by:
- Recommending complementary products and services
- Negotiating with vendors if needed
- Helping craft a custom solution
- And so much more!
All of these services combined result in more time for you to focus on what’s important: your business and your customers. Agents are enjoying the plentiful benefits of cloud-based solutions, reaping what they sow, and making money in the cloud industry. If you are looking for a hosted business phones system, SIP trunking, or a hosted fax offering, Sangoma has your back. Click here to learn more about our hosted services. Set yourself up for success and start selling cloud today.
As most of you know by now, Panasonic is exiting the PBX business by the end of 2022. It’s sad to see Panasonic exiting the PBX business. They have been around a long time, and their products are solid.
However, it should also not be a surprise.
The PBX market has changed in the last ten years quite a bit – today, we call the market Unified Communications because the phone systems support voice and video, collaboration, file sharing, and messaging. And UC systems today also include support for office phone numbers to your laptop and your smartphone in addition to your desk phone. And Panasonic’s letter to their partners (I just chose a random posting by a partner if you want to read it) referenced a shift to cloud, lagging behind competitor R&D and new types of communications demand. Innovation is essential to keep a viable business, no matter what the business.
So if you are a reseller selling Panasonic products, what is next? For sure, you will support this business, and I’m sure Panasonic will do the exit right and support you for the periods they have stated.
But I’m sure you are looking, or have been looking, for a new UC system to sell to your prem and cloud base. One way to look at this is in a positive way – how to move forward and grow your business. You know business phone systems, and you know the prem business well. And you also see the market changing right in front of you.
So you might want to look at a UC company that sells both prem and cloud and has the new types of communication being demanded today, such as video and collaboration, so you have a modern UC system to sell. And you want to look for a channel-friendly such company. And you want the company not to be so big, so you are just a number.
Sangoma is the company for you.
Not only do we have award-winning UC systems (we recently earned Frost and Sullivan’s North American Unified Communications and Collaboration Competitive Strategy Leadership Award), but we also have our own end to end solution that works seamlessly together (UC system, phones, headsets, SIP Trunking, SBCs, and Gateways) all coming from Sangoma. We treat our partners like family and want you to succeed; therefore, we offer quote assistance for cloud with a 15-minute turnaround, customized demonstrations for your customers that are vertical-specific, showing the customer exactly what they want to see. Finally, through our new partner portal, we offer customizable and co-brandable collateral, as well as content and social syndication, keeping your feed and website always up to date.
Our UC systems include advanced collaboration and productivity-enhancing features for every user and can be deployed on-premise or cloud-hosted, allowing businesses to select the best option for their needs. Visit our Partner Program or give us a call.
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Frost and Sullivan’s North American Unified Communications and Collaboration Competitive Strategy Leadership Award
Today Sangoma has announced we have been chosen by Frost and Sullivan to receive their North American Unified Communications and Collaboration Competitive Strategy Leadership Award. Yes, a long-winded name for an award. In a nutshell though, we’ve been recognized by Frost and Sullivan for our UC products and what we’ve been doing to bring them forward. And we are very proud of that.
Frost and Sullivan has criteria for the award around strategy innovation and customer impact that you can read about in the award write up. Sangoma met all of them. A few items with our solution particularly stood out to them though:
- The concept of a full end to end solution and the fact that Sangoma can be a one-stop show for a full UC solution is unique. Sangoma offers UC but also our own collaboration clients for both mobile and desktop, phones, headsets, gateways/SBC if required, and our own SIP Trunking for prem solutions.
- The fact that we offer both on-prem and cloud solutions means we can be a true trusted advisor to our customers. This means we aren’t “pushing” the customer to cloud or prem but instead guiding the customer towards what is best for them.
Sangoma looks at this award also as a kind of award for our customers as well. Without them, we wouldn’t have won this. And they put faith in our product, and the value it provides them. So, we thank them as well.
But we’re not standing pat with this award. We continue to drive ourselves forward, and you will continue to see Sangoma innovating in the UC space as well as adding to our suite of Communication as a Service product portfolio. While this award is about UC and UCaaS, we also offer other “As a Service” offerings such as Retail and Wholesale SIP trunking, CPaaS, Fax, Video Meetings and Access control. So similar in concept to our “end to end UC solution” we discussed before, we want to offer “end to end As a Service Communications”.
As indicated above, if you want to read the entire award write-up, please go here.
As readers of my blog know, I’m pretty good about getting a blog a week out on Tuesday mornings. But I’m taking 2 weeks off of blog writing this year and instead we’ll do a top 10 of sorts here. We’ve all been part of a very strange year, one that will spill over into 2021. But we also have hope of returning to normal in 2021, something that I’m sure we are all looking forward to. Have a great end of year and l’ll be back on January 5th, like normal.
1. Introducing Sangoma Meet
Unified Communications systems, as I’ve blogged about numerous times already, with their ability to offer softphones with your business number, conferencing, collaboration, presence, and mobile phones that also utilize your business phone number, are at the forefront for enabling this new work remote / work from home environment we’re all experiencing right now. Read More
2. Sangoma Welcomes .e4 to the Team
Sangoma today announced we have signed definitive agreements to purchase .e4, based in Traverse City, Michigan. .e4 is Sangoma’s leading valued added distributor focused on open source offerings and a vital part of both the FreePBX and Asterisk ecosytems. The completion of this deal is expected to occur within our quarter. Read More
3. Working from Home Now and Its Impact on the Future of Work
it’s almost mandatory to have a UC system to effectively work from home. That’s because you can have the same work phone number, you can access the same applications, you can be part of collaboration teams, your colleagues can dial you on a 3 or 4 digit extension, you can have instant messaging, etc. You’re basically at your desk at work, except the desk is now in your home. Read More
4. Support for Kari’s Law / Ray Baum’s Act
On Feb 16, 2020, the federal version of Kari’s law goes into effect. It’s a complex but important topic, and justifies a comprehensive treatment in this update, something Sangoma is uniquely qualified to offer. But it is indeed complicated, so after reading this, if you have any questions whatsoever, please do not hesitate to contact us! Read More
5. Why are there 5G Routers and Gateways?
First of all, the question is really why would anyone need a cellular router? They could be useful as a backup mechanism in case your landline internet goes down.
That’s why I first thought of this blog. Everyone on the street was WFH, kids were “going to school” on the internet, and, poof, the internet goes down. Sheer panic, right? What does everyone do? Read More
6. Wi-Fi 6 and Why It’s Important
There’s a lot going on now, and for this week at least, I didn’t want to write another remote work or WFH type of blog. So I figured I’d take a look at some new technology that we’d all be using someday soon in your house or your enterprise. So I zeroed in on Wi-Fi 6 as a good thing to write about. Read More
7. Working from Home, the Future of Work, and How UC Fits In
Many people today are thinking more about working from home, especially in the coming months. We’ll see how it all plays out, but it certainly is possible to work from home quite easily. Read More
8. Communications Trends for 2020
People ask sometimes what’s going to happen in our industry in 2020. And I typically say “I don’t know” because I really don’t know. The telecommunications industry will always surprise you. But, usually, there are hints of what’s going to happen because something is already brewing in the background, and it will just come to fore or become more of a force in the coming year. Read More
9. The Difference Between Retail and Wholesale SIP Trunking
SIP trunking is growing. According to the Eastern Management Group, the global SIP trunking market was approximately valued at $14.4 billion in 2018 and projected to grow 7.6% annually through 2020. The predominant reason for this is the growth of IP phone systems, which need to be connected to SIP Trunks.
But if you are a business, what types of SIP trunks should you buy – retail or wholesale? Read More
10. A Modern Approach to Wholesale SIP Trunking
SIP Trunking is important for any enterprise these days – this is the connection into your building that carries phone calls to an on-premise UC platform, or is the underpinning of any cloud communications service. It must be robust, be resilient, be able to offer a wide array of DIDs, and comply with local telephony laws such as location service. Read More
Let’s talk about 2019. In 2019, I worked in an office, the Huntsville office, just about every day. If I wasn’t visiting another Sangoma office to collaborate (in person?!?!) with co-workers, attending a conference, or on customer ride-alongs with sales (it’s like COPS, but fun, and not at all dangerous), I was in my office. And in my office, my trusty deskphone was always with me. From time to time, I’d visit other parts of the office. In other offices, I’d have other trusty deskphones. When walking from one wing of the building to another, I could stop along the way and use a public deskphone that we have strategically placed throughout the building. Communication was always in-reach.
All of that was about 9 cat-lives, and now, in the great calendar year of 2020, I spend a lot more time at home, where the work still happens. My home’s probably a lot like yours. There are kids with activities and school assignments filled with math word problems I’ve not attempted in a quarter-century. There are chores – my dishwasher and the clothes washing machine guffaw every time I empty them because it’s always followed by a refilling activity. And there are pets, which come with pet incidents and accidents. No conference call is safe, no one-on-one meeting is immune. I’ve discovered multitasking muscles that I never knew I had.
Here, at home, I’m extremely grateful for two things that are both, blessedly, products offered by Sangoma; and without which, my kids, pets, and significant other would have incomplete homework, carpet stains, and heartburn. What helps us retain sanity through the workweek are Sangoma’s wireless DECT devices.
First, I make extensive use of my Sangoma H20 wireless DECT headset. I use it to connect to my Macbook for my PC-calling and collaboration needs using the Switchvox Desktop Softphone, Zulu Desktop, and Sangoma Meet. I also connect it to a Sangoma Deskphone – yes, I still have a deskphone, too, even though I’m at home; there’s no substitute for a good, dedicated device with excellent speakerphone qualities. The H20 allows me to use both of my hands as I type, tutor, and perform laundering activities. Because it uses DECT, it’s got range throughout my home, my WiFi devices don’t interfere with it, and the battery goes all day.
Second, I also use Sangoma’s DC201 DECT base station and wireless handset combo. I have my calling rules on our UC system set to ring both devices. I don’t always want to wear a headset, and I can put the handset in my pocket. If I need to make a call, I’ve got access to a keypad, my corporate contacts, and I can turn on the loudspeaker mode and set it down while I practice amateur home repair.
Together, these wonderful applications of simple technology have a significant impact on my ability to remain productive throughout the new working day. If you’re not using solutions like these to help you work better from home, maybe you should. Unless, perhaps, you embrace the chaos?
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Unified Communication was driven by many things – technological advances in networks for example that made this possible. But even beyond that, it was driven by people wanting to communicate in different ways – ways that were easier and more efficient for them. And it was also driven by companies wanting to reduce costs, because if customer communication could become more structured towards self-help and less towards people and real time communications, costs would be reduced and customer satisfaction could also potentially go up.
Because UC has taken center stage during WFH, business owners have started to understand that having a basic contact center would enable so much better customer service and are demanding basic multimodal contact center features in the UC system. Why have another specific expensive contact center unit (either on-prem or another monthly cloud expense) if the UC system can handle the basic contact center features that would help a small business? Because why not – the UC system already includes multimodal communication potential.
This trend of adding more and more contact center features start to become part of the UC phone system will continue because it saves customers money.
One of the benefits of remote working is that your “office comes with you” – you can access all your applications, including communications, remotely, and people won’t really even know that you’re not in the office. However, there is one big difference, even if it may not be noticeable to you. When you are in the office, you are behind any security protections your company has set up. When you access the internet for example, you are behind security protections. But when you work remotely, these are not necessarily in place. Yes, you may VPN in, which gives some protection, but your house Wi-Fi may still be at risk.
So what does this mean? If remote work is here to stay, then there will be some changes on the security front for sure.
For one thing, it means the employee is taking on more of a role on security whether they like it or not. One idea that will likely gain more traction in a company to make sure you are the person accessing the network is adding biometrics to the access points. Right now, you likely have a password and it is likely a strong password. In the future, we are also likely to see additional security such as voice recognition or fingerprint reading as examples.
Second, more remote working means more cloud-based services. And these cloud-based services are not behind any corporate protection. As such, the cloud providers need to ensure their systems are secure. It likely will involved added security on end devices so there is an end to end secure transmission between your end device and the cloud environment.
IoT will also bring added security risk. The more devices connected to your network, the more potential access points there are. To combat this, we will likely see AI enter the security realm as well. AI can look at trends and see any access anomalies and act on them.
Unified Communications has played a major role in the shift to remote working for knowledge workers. With remote work in some form poised to remain a part of the way most businesses work, UC will continue to be center stage. And that will mean an array of new requirements will be coming to the UC systems, which in turn will mean the UC systems will continue to innovate and evolve.
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Switchvox has great call-handling tools that can be overshadowed sometimes by the focus on the more complex Call Queues. If your teams work closely with each other but don’t necessarily have the call-volume for a queue, the Quickdial and Call Activity widgets can be quite helpful. And when your teams are working remotely, these widgets can provide the visibility that you all need to help each other and your customers.
The Switchboard Quickdial Widget came about when our customers asked for a quicker way to transfer a caller without putting the caller on hold. So that’s what it does: You can have a Quickdial widget that includes your Rapid Dial list or a custom list of contacts, and for each contact, you can dial them, transfer your active call to them, or dial or transfer to their voicemail. That’s all it does, but it puts those tools right at your fingertips for one-click use.
The Switchboard Call Activity Widget gives you more insight into what your coworkers are doing so that you can help each other assist your customers. You can put individual contacts and groups into the widget, and then you can see what those people are doing and pitch in to help them. Each call they’re on is listed in the widget, and you have options for picking up a call when the person isn’t answering, ‘monitoring’ their call when you need to hear what’s discussed but don’t need to be part of the conversation, ‘whispering’ into their call when you think they might need help (the other party can’t hear when you whisper), or ‘barging’ into their call when you need to join the conversation.
Call Activity is an excellent tool for teams to assist their customers better, but it’s also a great tool for training purposes. When you are training a new team member, particularly when you’re all working remotely, everyone can help the trainee. They can make themselves available when they see an important customer on the line, and monitor, whisper, or barge in when necessary.
Both of these widgets display a green bar when the contact is on a call, so a quick glance can indicate whether or not they’re available to help you. The Call Activity Widget can tell you if they’re talking to a customer or to each other, which can help you decide if you want to interrupt them for what you need. The widgets also display a contact’s Switchvox Status, which can indicate, for example, that they’re away for a bit, or on DND (Do Not Disturb), or on vacation.
As we all learn how best to work remotely from each other, we need to be creative and take advantage of the tools at hand. I hope these Switchboard widgets contribute to valuable conversations with your teams and your customers!
If the future of Unified Communications means even more mobility, what does that all really mean? Some essential requirements emerge:
- Ease of Use
If the future is yet more and more working remote, then collaboration capability will become even more critical. If you are not going to be right next to someone, or in the same room, talking about something you both need to see, then the next best thing is sharing it on a screen. Your presence tool is the best place to do that. Or, put another way, this needs to be part of the unified communication suite. You should have a presence tool that can also make phone calls and share documents, and allow for standard editing.
Additionally, the need to be connected is more significant than ever with a truly mobile and remote workforce. So group video calling and sharing of documents as well, in a group environment is critical.
Another obvious step for the UC system is to utilize and analyze all that data available to it. In other words, integrating Artificial Intelligence into the platform. As Artificial Intelligence gets integrated, the business communication system can start making decisions based on context, past similar decision history, etc. This is happening already with the chatbot’s emergence, which will engage you more and take you further down the discussion as time goes on. Chances are you have talked to a Chatbot and did not even know it. Like most contact center innovations, Chatbots have been driven by the oxymoronic need to reduce costs and provide better service. And as speech recognition and text to speech programs, and computing power have improved and come down in cost, the advent of computer-driven speech into the contact center occurred.
Again, with Artificial Intelligence, the possibilities are endless. The system could predict who you might call based on past history, and how they might want to get connected, who might need to be on a conference call, and the system could ID you based on voice recognition. And, of course, the helper bots will continue to grow. Maybe someday my bot will-call, or message, or communicate somehow with your bot.
Next week we will cover the last two major requirements.
Even in today’s world, most call plans include what used to be referred to as “long-distance,” toll-free Numbers are still seen as a sign of a respectable business. They project a feeling of importance and of a business that has clients all over the nation.
The original “800” area code was introduced in January of 1966, and calls were completed over unique fixed-rate trunks accepting calls from certain calling areas along with the possibility of limiting the number of hours per month. Itemization was not possible for billing initially, and the fixed-rate trunks were costly and only used by government agencies and large corporations.
Since then, the system has evolved and has become much more accessible. In 1986, the toll-free market was opened to competition, and in 1993 the existing RespOrg system was introduced to allow portability between these competitors inside the SMS/800 database, which manages the toll-free ecosystem. RespOrgs (Responsible Organizations) are ultimately the companies that manage and own their toll-free numbers directly from Somos, the SMS/800 database manager.
While most companies are content with purchasing toll-free numbers from carriers and letting the carrier maintain ownership over the phone number, many ITSPs and MSPs have gone through the process of becoming a RespOrg themselves. Becoming a RespOrg gives you much more control over your toll-Free numbers, control that you’re typically not given by toll-free providers; time of day routing, emergency or disaster routing, and area code and exchange routing, to name a few.
Some of this functionality has been added to PBXs and soft switches, but the area code/exchange routing opens a whole new world for RespOrgs, the least-cost route. Most toll-free providers will offer toll-free services as a blended, flat rate, backbone carriers that most RespOrgs use typically uses rate-deck based billing like an outbound call. Calls made to your toll-free numbers will be billed differently depending on where the caller is calling from. This means that calls from an area predominantly serviced by AT&T might be more expensive if you’re using Verizon as a toll-free provider instead of using AT&T.
Becoming a RespOrg allows you to make granular changes to how your toll-free number is routed, allowing you to take advantage of the cheaper rates with various carriers. This is an invaluable tool for toll-free numbers that take calls from various areas across the US, ultimately allowing RespOrgs to save a lot of money by making those distinctions. Also, the control over what carriers your calls go over means that in the event of a carrier outage, you can swap out the bad carrier for another provider that you have service with, mitigating the time you or your customer are unavailable.
As a RespOrg, building and maintaining relationships with several larger toll-free service providers is certainly not an easy thing to do. Some providers have minimums, which may mean the cost savings aren’t worth it. Other larger carriers are challenging to even create a relationship with. These issues mean that several valuable features in the Toll-Free service system have been kept out of reach of many small to medium-sized RespOrgs.
At VoIP Innovations, we’re trying to bridge that gap to give those small to medium-sized RespOrgs access to 6 different top tier Toll-Free service providers. Customers can retain RespOrg on their toll-free numbers and select from a list of what carriers they want us to give them access to. Once we confirm that those carriers have built the routes for your toll-free numbers, you can start routing directly to them. This gives our customers access to carriers that may be inaccessible for them and allows us to manage the multiple relationships and give you a single contact to work with.
Suppose you have no desire to become your own RespOrg. In that case, VoIP Innovations is a RespOrg and utilizes these features to offer an affordable, reliable toll-free service with six underlying providers available for redundancy. We know how important it is for your service to work and have built a fully redundant network with additional carrier redundancy to ensure optimal uptime.
To learn more about VoIP Innovations, check us out https://carrierservices.sangoma.com/.
Questions about our service? Want a demo of the service and to know what we can do for you? Fill out this form, and we’d be happy to help you https://carrierservices.sangoma.com/contact/.
The benefits of Unified Communication systems have emerged front and center for businesses of all sizes. UC has enabled many businesses to keep going forward in this remote work environment, almost as if nothing had happened. Given the spotlight on UC now, and given many businesses have signaled that remote work, at least in some form, will remain a part of the company even when it’s time to go back to a physical workplace, many people are asking, “what’s next” for UC?
Let’s level set on UC before we get to that question, though. At the very least, UC should include presence and instant messaging capability as part of a mobile client who works on laptops and smartphones. And within that IM capability, there should be the ability to make phone calls on that client. And that client should not only be able to handle peer to peer phone calls for those on the client, but it should be able to handle phone calls from outside the enterprise network. In other words, the client should be able to take phone calls to and from your office phone number. Over the past few years, UC has also started to include screen sharing capability on the client and has started to include video conferencing and collaboration capabilities.
We also need to understand the requirements of a future workplace because that will drive where UC goes. The future workplace will certainly involve anywhere, anytime, borderless collaboration, and communications. Even before the pandemic, companies were reducing office square footage per employee.
And many companies are also exploring ways to be more socially conscious, including becoming “more green.” This can involve supporting a myriad of carbon offset projects or initiatives that offsets what your company is putting into the environment. And some companies are exploring more mandatory work from home scenarios as that creates less driving and fewer carbon emissions. Being able to help customers remotely would also obviate the need for truck rolls or plane trips to see them. Utilizing video, incorporating IoT for data information about your customer deployment, and utilizing AI to help analyze all that data would play a large role in this overall vision. Unified Communications systems’ ability to enable remote work, video, and potentially even tie into IoT communications is critical to realizing this overall vision effectively.
In other words, UC will need to enable more mobility, more collaboration, and more customer service, all while making it easier to use.
In next week’s blog, we’ll look more in-depth at the future requirements and how they might drive UC functionality.
The post The Future of Unified Communications Ties Into the Future of Work appeared first on Sangoma.
Last week I had the pleasure to deliver this very nice check to Rigidnet in Fort Worth, Texas. They are a cloud reseller selling Switchvox cloud and closed a nice 330 seat deal while we had a special SPIFF program going. So they made some nice money and since their offices are near where I live, I drove over to talk to them.
While there, I explored this design win with them. First of all, they have been selling Switchvox prem for many years. They have quite a few happy customers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with Switchvox. The customer base likes the VALUE they get from Switchvox and the stability of it. This is not a surprising comment since we at Sangoma hear this from many customers – they like the feature set for the price, they like the easy to understand cost-effective pricing and they like the fact that the product is solid.
They started selling Switchvox cloud a few years ago as their customer base started inquiring about it. Like any good reseller, they have strong relationships with many businesses in the area given they sell overall business solutions (not just business communication solutions), so when they hear about a customer needing a new business communication solution, they lead with Switchvox and specifically Switchvox Cloud.
This particular deal is for a large auto dealer in the Fort Worth area with many dealerships (when it’s time for me to buy a new car, I will now go there!), which is why the deal was for 330 seats. I look forward to getting out there without a mask someday.
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Modern video communications technologies allow us to work together as if we were in the same space, face-to-face, regardless of our locations. These innovations allow companies who are tackling the world’s biggest problems to hire talented people from all over the world, spreading their workforces across countries, cultures, continents, and time zones. COVID-19 has pushed all businesses to operate remotely, to adapt to the new reality of social distancing. When the pandemic is over, people will go back to the office, but we will not go back to the ways we used to work.Jedi Council – Working From Home (image source: https://starwars.fandom.com/wiki/Jedi_High_Council )
Transparency Market Research predicts that by 2027, the video collaboration market is set to hit a value of $11.56 billion, and the demand for this technology will keep growing. The question is, how will video conferencing evolve and further change the way we work.
Collaboration in mixed-reality is the future!
A new age of remote work in pandemic has shown us just how valuable video conferencing can be, not just for working together at a distance, but also for boosting the productivity and efficiency of our teams.
Different teams, like designers, engineers, marketers, product managers, sales, and support can be spread all over the world and still come together in a virtual room, reducing the need to travel as much to get everybody on the same page. Companies are no longer limited to local talents as video conferencing makes it possible to hire talents from all across the globe. Lifelike avatars, like what Spatial is working on, are transforming the space around us into virtual meeting rooms to collaborate as if we’re all together in the same room.
Pinning ideas and dynamic content on virtual walls and sharing notes in realtime from any device (laptop, phone) within a few seconds are practical examples of living in a mixed reality. Digital objects become physical in virtual rooms, so you can scroll through them – pick up images and contents you like and toss them up on the virtual wall. Anyone can enter and exit these virtual rooms and contribute at any time as if they are real physical rooms. These all might be in concept phases for now, but as these technologies are adopted by companies, the way we work will forever be changed. With the help of technology, we are overcoming the barrier of distance to work together and to satisfy our human desires for the direct, face-to-face interaction that builds commitment and trust.
User experience: the key differentiator
While the tech world is busy building new features and technologies to enhance video conferencing in general, people have high expectations for multimedia, video, and communication technology thanks to the great visual and sound quality they experience today in their home theater systems. It is not the 90s anymore, and connecting to the Internet via Dial-up would be dreadful. No one has the patience to wait for buffering video or listening to breaking voices. Without proper video quality and sound management, any video conferencing event can quickly become frustrating for the users. A video conferencing application can only be appealing and adopted by end-users when its design has been in the center of the provider’s mind when implementing new features.
As COVID-19 has pushed companies to suddenly transition to remote work overnight, many have rushed in getting a video conferencing solution, but ignoring the ease of use, user-friendliness, and lack of a fully integrated experience (chat, video, voice) that impacts the performance of employees in the longer term. Soon, many will end up changing their video conferencing solution to another alternative.
Trending Features in Video Conferencing
Video conferencing continues to see ongoing growth as technology advances with bigger screens, higher quality cameras, and high-speed Internet connections accessible globally. Here are 10 trending features that will change the way we expect video conferencing tools to advance and improve in the future:
- Browser-based Video Conferencing Solutions
WebTRC is a free open source technology that enables one-click video calling from a web browser without the need for any downloads or plugins installation. Sangoma Meet is a great example of this new technology. With a single click, you can schedule a call, join a meeting, or start an instant video conferencing from your web browser.
- Unified Communications Solutions
Those companies who want to thrive in this new environment need to deploy a complete solution for a Unified Communications experience for their internal and external users. Basic services that only solve one problem like “voice only”, “chat only” or “video conferencing only” will not help businesses solve the bigger problems of easy collaboration and high efficiency of their employees. For the best results, it is important to keep all services for collaboration, internal and external communication under the same app. This means messaging, voice, and video all in the same space.
- Video Conferencing Rooms
Similar to 1:1 meetings, room-based video conferencing is designed for whole room meetings. Participants and online guests join the meeting room and can easily communicate with the help of big screens, smart noise-canceling speakers, sensitive microphones, and wide-angle or rotating cameras. These have enabled us to have seamless collaboration with people from all over the world. Every day new high-tech hardware becomes available to improve communication. Those providers who offer a bundled package of hardware and software could be dominating the market soon, providing a one-stop-shop experience for the IT departments to sign the deals when looking for a unified communication service.
- Everything is moved to the Cloud
Everything is moving towards Cloud and video conferencing is not an exception. No matter if you are scheduling a call with your colleagues or inviting a customer to a demo, you can simply use a video conferencing solution hosted on cloud without any investments in hardware or software infrastructure. You can simply subscribe to a cloud solution and benefit from the latest technologies without worrying about upgrading or enhancing your infrastructure as these are all happening automatically on the cloud and somebody else (the provider) will take care of everything for you.
- SSO (Single Sign-On)
With the rise of all-in-one UC solutions, businesses should think about simplifying access to these systems by linking them into a company’s Single Sign-On system allowing the employees to access it with the same credentials they already know. So, no matter if you are logging into your softphone application to make a phone call, signing into your messaging tool, or accessing your contact list to initiate a video call, one single credential should work for all your tools for easier and faster access. Many companies have already implemented SSO for some of their tools like email and ticketing systems. SSO will become a must-have feature for many companies to adopt a communication tool.
- Deep integration with other communication solutions (voice, video, SMS)
Imagine having your desk phone ring, you are not at your desk, but you can pick the callup on your softphone app on your mobile, transfer it to a video conference, invite your colleagues to the call, then invite customers, and finally move the conversation to a collaborative space to chat and share projects and files. All can be done as a seamless experience if the tools are deeply integrated.
- High-Quality Video and Audio
No matter how many cool features a video conferencing tool is offering, if the video and audio quality are not to a certain standard, users will drop and it will quickly decrease the adoption rate of a video conferencing tool. Therefore, high-quality video interactions should be the end goal for all providers and businesses adopting a new video conferencing solution.
- Smart Content Search
With the expansion of collaboration tools and instant-messaging tools inside video conferencing platforms, tagging content and searchable keywords would soon become a must-have feature for any video conferencing solutions.
- The influence of AI
Amazon’s “Alexa,” Apple’s Siri, and other smart assistants are already changing the way we live. There are several applications of AI that can make meetings easier and more enjoyable for us. AI can create custom backgrounds for participants for each guest in a meeting, help with gaze correction or transcribe messages in real-time. Meeting assistants can schedule calls on behalf of us and remind us for future meetings and this is just the beginning of AI influence on communication in general. How cool is that to use your face as a passport to log into meetings through facial recognition?
- Natural Language Processing (NLP)
NLP can play a role in improving the video conferencing user experience. Integrated with AI you can use voice activation to start or end a meeting or notify people to mute when they are not talking. Real-time translations are also something we should expect to see soon in the future in video conferencing.
Those huge meeting rooms with their rectangular tables are fading and mixed reality is slowly replacing them. We’re not there yet, but COVID-19 has definitely pushed us to move faster towards that new norm of collaboration remotely. This will help companies boost their productivity no matter where the participants are physically located. Where do YOU think “Video Conferencing” is heading in the years ahead? How is it having an impact on your life right now?
We have all heard about ‘the cloud.’ The cloud this, the cloud that. But should you move your business communications infrastructure to the cloud? There are good reasons to stay on-prem, and there are good reasons to move to the cloud. It really depends on your specific business requirements.
I recently wrote an article for toolbox.com outlining this in more detail.
In short, the five good reasons to move to the cloud are below, but if you want to read more go to the article:
- System robustness and uptime.
- You get new updates automatically.
- Cloud systems help with company growth.
- You may want to get a new business communication system, but you do not want to lay out all the CAPEX upfront.
- Enhanced mobility. Mobility is essential these days and will continue to be crucial if your company values remote work and work from home. Simply put, cloud Unified Communication systems enable you to work remotely much easier.
Cloud business communication systems are growing because they offer benefits and value to many customers. Did these drivers strike a chord with you? Maybe now is the time to move to the cloud. Read Sangoma’s cloud paper here.
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The FCC has passed the TRACED Act, requiring all communication service providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN and/or some form of robocall mitigation within their VoIP network or otherwise be subject to substantial fines and penalties.
Anytime someone answers a phone call and hears a recorded message instead of a live voice from a person, that’s a robocall. The message could be an appointment reminder from a dentist or healthcare provider, from a political party, or a message from charities. These are all legitimate, but what makes robocalls illegal is when they are from fraudsters trying to sell something to someone without their written consent, which, we all know, that’s most cases today.
Call scammers will spoof (or alter) their caller ID to make it appear as if the call is coming from a legitimate business, tricking unsuspecting consumers. This has caused people to stop answering phone calls, which prevents businesses from connecting with their customers, ruining brand reputations. Not to mention the crime of defrauding people of their money and confidential information. They have destroyed the trust in phone calls, so much so that in 2018, there were over 48 billion robocalls to unsuspecting subscribers, and, in 2019, that number went to 54 billion. The FCC estimates the cost of these calls to consumers is at least $3 billion per year from lost time alone, not including monetary losses to fraud.Catching Robocallers
It has been challenging to catch illegal robocallers because phone calls traverse multiple carriers, and terminating carriers can only see the last carrier that handed them the call and cannot validate its origin. So, the FCC has established the STIR/SHAKEN standards, which use digital certificates from the carriers to assure call recipients that a caller ID has not been altered. In December of 2019, the TRACED Act was passed, which mandates that all carriers implement STIR/SHAKEN call authentication measures and robocall mitigation measures, by June 2021. In a separate upcoming blog post, we will provide a robust explanation of this system, and how we can help you become compliant.How can VoIP Innovations help you with Robocall Mitigation?
The first major step towards preventing robocalls won’t be required until June 2021, but you can help protect your customers now with VoIP Innovation’s robocall mitigation solution. It is a simple to integrate service, which combines behavioral analytics, caller authentication, and verification.
Our service is part of our CNAM API, which makes it very easy and simple for service providers to implement without requiring a business to switch VoIP providers. It is also available at no extra charge to customers using our existing CNAM services.
Key Features Include:
- Fraud Detection: Detection of high volume robocalling, spoofing, and spam call activity
- Subscriber Notification: Caller ID Name override to warn subscribers of suspicious calls
- Call Blocking Support: Accurate identification enabling you to block fraudulent phone calls as per the TRACED Act (2019)
- Business Number Verification: Register legitimate business numbers to prevent unintentional call blocking
- Caller ID Name Service: Easy integration of Caller ID name lookup service, including robocall mitigation with CNAM override. You can also choose to keep the original caller ID if you want too.
For every call, our service sends you a fraud score from 0 to 100 for suspicion of fraud, along with a pre-pended caller ID name to let you know when the call is spam. You can also choose to keep the original caller ID if you want too! With this information, you can protect your subscribers by notifying them of suspicious calls and also block those calls.
To learn more about VoIP Innovations Robocall Mitigation, please visit: https://carrierservices.sangoma.com/caller-id-name-services/
The post Robocall Mitigation Law Goes into Effect June 2021: Are You Ready? appeared first on Sangoma.
Last week there was some buzz about a security flaw in FreePBX. It started with CheckPoint, and then a few outlets picked it up. One problem. It was a year old issue. And we acted on it back then quickly. Would have been great if CheckPoint or the others that picked up the story had checked with the FreePBX team or community before just blurting this out there, so they would have had the most up to date information.
Lorne Gaetz’s excellent blog on this topic goes into more depth about the issue.
Anyway, I also write this blog to remind folks that software needs to be updated because of many reasons, one of which is the plugging of security holes. For those of us that use Windows, it happens often but I do it because I know it’s important – plus the reminders just won’t go away. For those on FreePBX, PBXact, Asterisk, etc. – this is a good reminder to make sure you have updated your systems to the latest software. If you have any questions about FreePBX specifically, please utilize the FreePBX community forums or contact Sangoma support.
The post Old News and Reasons for Keeping your System Updated appeared first on Sangoma.
The business world is saturated with various IP telephony solutions because of the multiple benefits they provide. One type of solution is SIP trunks (or SIP trunking), which continues to be a cost saving and flexible solution for businesses of all sizes. Here are 6 of the business benefits of SIP trunking:
- ROI, ASAP: SIP Trunking doesn’t require a significant capital expenditure (if any at all), yet it immediately reduces business spending and pays for itself, generally speaking, within less than one year.
- Leverages Broadband: Because SIP trunks are delivered over IP with a modern broadband circuit, oftentimes the compression will allow for more call volume vs. T1 / PRI services.
- More Efficient Communications: SIP trunking streamlines all communications methods, enabling you to chose whichever medium is the most efficient for you: voice, video, instant messaging, chat, conference, voicemail to email, etc.
- Reduces Call Cost: The number one reason businesses switch to SIP trunking is for the cost savings, which can cut monthly communications costs by 25-60%.
- Increases Productivity: SIP trunking improves the collaboration of your workforce by creating the ability to seamlessly connect employees across all locations.
- Reliable: SIP Trunking is very stable. Rather than being at the mercy of local events such as power or circuit outages, SIP trunking can automatically be rerouted to other offices or mobile phones.
Want to know more? Visit our SIP Trunking resource page for more detailed business benefits and service recommendations!
TADSummit EMEA / Americas, an online event, started yesterday and continues this week. The Sangoma keynote will be tomorrow. It’s purposely short and to the point, so if you have about 12 minutes, take a look.
While I talk about the benefits of UC and about Communications as a Service in general, the real point of my talk is not about UC at all. The real point is that UC systems have many features, yet users of UC systems still use collaboration, video, and presence systems from other companies. Why is that? That should not be a forgone conclusion since it’s harder for IT to deal with all these systems, they’re not all integrated together, etc. The UC system should be the hub that harbors all these functions.
When we were kids and we’d go trick or treating on Halloween, there were always different types of houses. The lights off at 6pm house, the full-sized candy bar house, the one piece of candy only house…you get it. I never would have guessed that when I entered the VoIP industry that the same experience would lay waiting for the customers I would interact with. I’d hear them come back to me with tales of what other vendors would do or offer. “Trick or treating” with different hosted vendors is a necessary and frankly recommended part of the buying process. You never know what solution is best for you if you don’t interview and shop around. Hopefully I can shed some light on the 3 different types of haunted hosted vendors to avoid.
The “Bait and Switch” Vendor: Be wary of the vendors that showboat all the features they have and everything that you get as a customer, but when it comes down to signing on the line, they only include the basics (voice, voicemail, basic support). They will charge you extra for the features you really need or you might have decided you will need while browsing their site. Reporting, recording, contact center/call center functionality, and softphones are just a few of the features that this type of vendor may charge extra for. Unfortunately, this can be quite common in the hosted VoIP industry, so make sure to ask upfront what all is included and ask for a breakdown of features and their respective costs.
The “High and Dry” Vendor: For this haunted analogy I’m going to liken this vendor to the house that turns their porch light off super early. Similar to the huge letdown this was for all of us as kids, this type of vendor will roll out the red carpet to acquire you as a customer, but then “ghost” you afterwards, leaving you in the dark with a new hosted phone system. Training and support go hand-in-hand after buying a new system. Make sure you ask the vendor how they will support you after the sale. Do they have free training or a knowledgeable local partner who can come out and help as needed? These details are crucial for an enjoyable experience.
The “Our Way or the Highway” Vendor: This vendor has a way of digging their claws in deep and forcing you to use only their proprietary products. Fortunately for you, most vendors have moved to a “standards based” model, allowing you to use any SIP standard IP phone or device with your system. Make sure to ask if you can BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) before getting too involved with this vendor. If they say “no” and only allow their own devices, it could be redflag since there could be other devices out there that better suit your requirements. Just proceed with caution and make sure to compare your options if you find yourself with a proprietary vendor’s quote. You shouldn’t be forced to use a device that doesn’t meet your needs…like an apple or flavorless popcorn ball instead of candy!
Fortunately, Sangoma is treating you to a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the customer buying experience. We have a blog dedicated to asking the tough questions, as well as a buying guide to help you navigate not only questions to ask these vendors, but also a helpful checklist to make sure you don’t leave anything out when moving away from your legacy system to the Cloud. Buying the system is the first step, but learning how to truly harness the power of the phone system with confidence is the real measure of success. If you find yourself ready to have a conversation, don’t be afraid to reach out. Our sales team is here to help and we promise we won’t bite!