Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Future of IP Telephony

The Future of IP Telephony

IP Telephony is a rapidly emerging technology for voice communication that uses the ubiquity of IP-based networks to deploy IP Technology enabled devices in enterprise and home environments. IP Technology enabled devices, such as desktop and mobile IP phones and gateways, decrease the cost of voice and data communication, enhance existing features, and add compelling new telephony features and services.

The challenges in front of IP telephony is to delivery of voice, fax, or video packets in a dependable flow to the user, at a level comparable to that of the PSTN. Much of IP telephony focuses on that challenge.

IP telephony can be used in bigger companies to deploy powerful, integrated voice, video and data applications delivering:

low cost videoconferencing

true integration of databases and legacy systems

multi-channel call centers

unified messaging

real time collaboration

Systems vendors and service providers plan to use IP Telephony to create unified communications systems that integrate voice calls, voice mail, E-mail, instant messaging, and conferencing. IP Telephony makes it easier to retrieve a voice message from a PC or have E-mail read over a phone. Such apps exist now, but they'll become more integrated and easier to use over the next couple of years.

Telecom software development is wrought with challenges. Applications must work with cell phones, PDAs, office phones, PBXs, and call centers and operate across a range of wired and wireless networks from different service providers. They also need to scale to millions of users. While those challenges won't go away, IP Telephony can make it easier to tackle them.

Another goal is to voice-enable more applications so users can access features, find information, and route messages using simple voice commands. The ease of rerouting Ip Telephony calls makes it easier to provision remote workers, letting them answer calls from home and appear as if they're in a call center.

In the meantime, IP Telephony adoption remains slow despite growing provider and customer interest. And while applications will no doubt enhance the technology's appeal, for now IP Telephone price-tag remains its biggest selling point. As more and more people conduct their business or some part of their work from home, low cost IP Telephony is perfect for them. There IP Telephony applications must be geared to target not just the bigger companies but also individual home users who can benefit from the use of advanced IP Telephony.

What is Internet Telephony?

What is Internet Telephony?

Internet telephony refers to communications services — voice, facsimile, and/or voice-messaging applications—that are transported via the Internet, rather than the public switched telephone network (PSTN). The basic steps involved in originating an Internet telephony call are conversion of the analog voice signal to digital format and compression / translation of the signal into Internet protocol (IP) packets for transmission over the Internet; the process is reversed at the receiving end. Internet Telephony is a general term for technologies that use the Internet Protocol's packet-switched connections to exchange voice, fax, video and other forms of information. Internet Telephony converges voice, video and data, effectively collapsing three networks into one. To date, however, Internet telephony does not offer the same quality of telephone service as direct telephone connections.

Internet Telephony utilizes established data communication networks to provide telephone services between users. The user phone (or multimedia package on a PC) is attached to a specialized Digital Signal Processing (DSP) device where the voice signal is converted into data packets. Special software on the conversion device translates the destination phone number into an IP address, attaches the appropriate IP header information to the packet, and forwards it to the nearest IP data router to be forwarded to the destination address. The destination system utilizes its DSP to convert the data packets into a voice signal that can be heard on a regular phone receiver or PC speakers.

There are three different ways to place a call using Internet Telephony -

ATA – The most common way to place a telephone way using Internet Telephony is ATA. ATA stands for analog telephone adapter; and it takes the analog signals from your phone and converts it to digital data ready for transmission over the Internet. ATA allows you to connect a standard telephone device to your computer for use with Internet Telephony. You need special software to make it work, but overall is very easy to use.

IP Phones – IP phones look and function just like your ordinary everyday phones but instead of routing your phones through the PSTN lines they route your calls through the Internet Protocol.

Computer to computer – This is by far the simplest way to use Internet Telephony. All you need are special software programs that can route your calls. There are many software available that you can use to many calls directly using your Computer. Other than the software you need a microphone, speakers, sound card and a fast Internet connection.

There are many internet telephony books, VoIP tutorials and VoIP books available that will guide you or you may just browse the internet and search for VoIP comparisons or VoIP reviews before you may any investment in Internet Telephony software or hardware.

Disadvantages of VoIP

What are the disadvantages of VOIP?

As you can imagine that Voice over IP is the integration of VoIP architecture and internet technology. One of the greatest disadvantages of Voice over IP is the quality of voice delivered. The other main drawback is the need for a reliable broadband connection or an steady but fast internet connection; without one a Voice over IP solution is probably not good enough for anyone to use.

Power outages or electricity failure present another imminent hurdle. Since Voice over IP requires a live Internet connection, losing electricity means losing your phone service. If you are concerned about losing power, you could install a UPS for your cable/DSL modem and your ATA. Even a small UPS would keep those devices powered for several hours. Alternatively, you could keep a single phone line with no premium services as a lifeline for those times that you might lose your power or Internet connection.

Emergency 911 calls are another challenge for Voice over IP telephony, because unlike traditional telephone it's difficult to determine the exact location of an IP address with geographic certainty. Without knowing the exact location, it's also difficult to determine which call center should receive a Voice over IP originated 911 call (though most Voice over IP providers do have 911 call routing based on the address you used when you registered).

The voice quality of your Voice over IP call is also another consideration. Since the data travels across the Internet, there's the potential for dropouts or "burbles" similar to what you might experience on a cell phone. Managed IP networks, used by all the Voice over IP providers in the roundup, coupled with quality of service (QOS) mechanisms built into their ATAs, and a high-quality compression algorithm (G.711) yield call quality that greatly exceeds that of cell phones and approaches or matches that of traditional phones. Although it is getting better all the time, the quality of most VoIP services and products can't yet match that of PSTN. There are inherent challenges in sending a voice stream over a packet network.

Because of VoIP solutions architecture Some services require that both the caller and the called party be subscribers to their service, and some software programs require that both parties have the same software installed. However, there are other services/programs that allow you to call anyone, including calling from your computer to a regular telephone, or even calling from phone to phone with packets routed over IP in between.

espite these disadvantages, Voice over IP can still be a viable alternative to PSTN or traditional telephone. All you need to do is read through some VoIP reviews before committing to any of the VoIP providers.

Advantages of VoIP For Your Business

What are the advantages of VOIP?

• With a traditional telephone line or PSTN line you pay for the actual time usage. The more time you spend on the telephone talking to people the higher will be your telephone utility bill that you pay to the telephone service provider. Where as in the case of VoIP you can talk as much as you want and the only bill you have to pay is the regular internet bill which any way you have to pay to the internet service provider.

• On a regular telephone line you can only talk to one person at a time but in case of VoIP you can talk with as many people - who are connected to the internet - at any given time as you want. And this is only at the costs of your internet bill.

• And since you are already connected to the internet you can as well exchange data or audio / video with any one at the same time as you talk, which is impossible with the regular telephone line.

• Even though basic IP telephony and facsimile are the initial applications for VoIP, the longer term benefits are expected to be derived from multimedia and multi-service applications. For example, Internet commerce solutions can combine WWW access to information with a voice call button that allows immediate access to a call center agent from the PC. Needless to say, voice is an integral part of conferencing systems that may also include shared screens, white boarding, etc. Combining voice and data features into new applications will provide the greatest returns over the longer term. Videoconferencing also can be greatly enhanced.

Thousands of consumers are collectively saving millions of dollars by replacing or supplementing their traditional telephone lines with VoIP. Widespread adoption of broadband Internet service (cable or DSL) in the last few years though has in turn fueled a surge in the growth of much-improved personal VoIP. To get started, you need an analog telephone adapter (ATA) to convert your voice into data packets. In most cases, all you have to do is connect the ATA to your broadband modem and a conventional phone, and you're ready to start making calls to any phone in the world.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Venture Capital and VOIP

The trend in VoIP industry to seek partnership for Venture Capitals is on a rise. More and more VoIP companies are coming forward for more than meaningful partnerships with expert management teams to become market leaders in the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) communications industry.

The key to success of Venture Capital & VoIP lies in the ability to leverage a unique combination of financial, operational and technological expertise specifically focused on the communications industry to capitalize on rapid changes that should be tracked closely. Today, VoIP companies are focusing on raising expansion capital for technology and services with VoIP companies converging feature-rich voice, video and Internet over unified IP networks.

VoIP companies are concentrating on developing financing strategies and helping management teams capitalize on opportunities in the communications space by providing access to a highly developed network of venture capitalists and private equity funds in North America and Europe interested in investing in the VoIP space. There are many companies that provide access to institutional and corporate investors and help such VoIP companies. Such also takes an active role in client companies leveraging high-level contacts in the conventional telecom and VoIP worlds. These companies have a team of telecom veterans who often facilitate key additions to the management team, as well as business development relationships with other communications technology vendors, service providers, suppliers and customers and they also play an active role in the development and maintenance of investor materials, business plans and financial statements and forecasts.

After initial funds have been raised these Venture Capital companies works closely with the management team to foster commercially-productive relationships with other industry leaders to maximize results and create liquidity for investors. Venture Capital companies provide extensive network of contacts with larger industry technology vendors and service providers which also facilitate mergers & acquisitions.

In brief, when Venture Capital companies commit to raise capital or assist with a trade sale. They match investment opportunities with multiple appropriate investors who add the most value to the enterprise whilst increasing the total amount of funds provided to the enterprise at the best valuation. These companies perform rigorous due diligence with unique expertise and only partner with select leaders in communications technologies, software and services.

Benefits of merger of Venture Capital & VoIP –

Shorten Time-to-Revenue - Rapidly deploy VoIP services with streamlined service creation and flow-through provisioning.

Increase Service Revenue - Quickly bundle and up-sell VoIP with a market-ready library of voice, messaging, desktop and access services.

Lower Customer Acquisition Costs - Extend self-provisioning to customers enabling them to view and manage their own services and features via a self-service web portal.

Reduce Customer Churn - Fulfill customer demand with a library of proven services like VoIP and Messaging, while supporting future requirements for converged voice, video and data services.

Decrease Operating Costs - Automate delivery of services by managing moves/adds/changes fully integrated with billing, inventory and provisioning.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Business Security Signal and VOIP

People have questioned the security of VOIP signals for businesses. VOIP is not just applied for phone communication because types of voice mail servers are also utilized.

The kinds of attacks that can hit VOIP systems are much like the attacks which can hit the original data networks. The kinds of threats which can affect VOIP networks are worms, denial of service problems, viruses, and negative effects to systems of underlying operation. Keep in mind that no matter how much encryption and authentication is involved with the VOIP system, the security of the underlying operating system must be ensured. Think of the underlying operating system as a house’s framework. If a house’s framework is not built sturdily, the entire house may be affected and it can come down. But with prime foundation, even when other parts of the house are affected by weather or calamity the structure will stay put. This is the prime kind of security a business wants for its VOIP network system.

Ensuring the security of your business VOIP network

If you want to ensure the security of your Business VOIP system, what can you do?

Dealing with VOIP in particular, signal encryption, signaling authentication, voice segmenting and data network with virtual local area networks (VLANs) exist. Your business network should be protected from those infamous man-in-the-middle strikes which can normally affect networks.

Awareness of VOIP vulnerabilities
It’s good to be aware of both VOIP’s strong points and possible vulnerabilities. This awareness coupled with a firm security plan for your network can help any business acquire a fool-proof net of safety. Sometimes the prime factors that actually make VOIP beneficial for a business such as its IT infrastructure and its plug-and-play adaptability, may open venues for threat. The viruses, worms, or denial of service attacks are most often aimed at a VOIP network’s IP infrastructure.

VOIP Security services
To fight these possible vulnerabilities, there are companies which specialize in providing VOIP security services. These companies may begin with a security assessment which involves interviewing customer staff and examining the possible risk-exposure of a VOIP network. Some of these assessments even include initial recommendations for corrective actions and an estimate of possible charges. When the business enters the actual phase of security implementation, your business’ security wall may consist of firewalls, AAA mechanisms (authorization and accounting), IDS (intrusion detection systems), and different kinds of virus protection.

Business Security attacks
What is the cause of a possible up rise in these types of attacks?
In order to set up an interactive voice response system in those older, traditional networks it may take a lot more time. VOIP systems may have this done in an hour, which is of course scary for any businessman. An up rise in these kinds of attacks is financially motivated. In order to protect a business’ assets you may have to spend for proper security, but this expenditure will be nothing compared to what you may have lost if you weren’t careful enough with your networks.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

IP-phones servicing

The business of IP-phones servicing consists of providing international calls ability to owners of IP-phones or by softphones (software dialers). A business consists of selling accounts for making international calls to end-customers.

The money is earned by selling accounts for international calling to end-customers and provide them with such service.

The difference between calling cards business and IP-phones servicing is that in calling cards business end-customers buy a plstic cards with account number and PIN-code, and in IP-phones servicing end-customers buys account on the website and make calls from their IP-phones (softphone-dialers). They are able to recharge their accounts on the same website and see CDR and calls history.

There are two main ways to call - from IP-phone and from software-dialer. in order to call from software dialer, end-customer has to call from PC with headphones and microphone. Having IP-phone, end-customer just connects it to Ethernet and make calls.

The IP-phones servicing company also has to have a website for providing end-customers with CDR and calls history, ability to recharge their accouns and contact to customers support department.