1 December 2008 VoIP YOUR GUIDE TO VOICE OVER IP
2 2 An Advertising Supplement to USA Today CONTENTS 2 Foreword from TIA 4 What can VoIP do for me? 4 Great savings and features 5 Savings without the maintenance 5 TCO analysis 6 Features make grade for business 7 Staged migration to business VoIP 8 Huge savings and quality 8 High definition audio 10 Taking VoIP mobile 10 Small businesses think BIG 11 Improved Conferencing 11 VoIP: Secure & reliable 12 Seamless switching 13 VoIP at home 14 SIP Trunking 14 Panel of Experts 15 Dealers play vital role in VoIP - A TITLE FROM MEDIAPLANET Publisher: Allan Chiu, , Editor: Sean Hargrave Print: Vertis Design: Jez MacBean Photos: istockphoto.com Mediaplanet is the leading publisher of high quality and in-depth analysis on topical industry and market issues, in print, online and broadcast. For more information about supplements in the daily press, contact Kayvan Salmanpour on VoIP comes of age Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) has finally come of age in the United States and broad availability of VoIP services could not have come at a better time. TIA President Grant Seiffert During challenging economic times, it s hard to look past the bottom line, and the simple fact is this: VoIP saves money - for businesses and consumers. It also offers manufacturers and service providers in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry opportunities to grow their businesses, in light of the current uncertain economic climate. According to research in TIA s 2008 Telecommunications Market Review and Forecast, the number of VoIP subscribers is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 20.2 percent through 2011, reaching 33.2 million. VoIP revenue has had a similar growth pattern, increasing from $25 million in 2003 to $200 million in 2004, $1.4 billion in 2005 and $5.0 billion in Revenue is projected to increase 19.2 percent on a compound annual basis through 2011, reaching $10.0 billion. In most cases, people are using VoIP phone services to replace their public switched telephone network (PSTN) service, while some subscribers use VoIP to supplement their traditional service, especially for low-cost international calls. The quality of VoIP calls made over managed networks such as those used by cable operators is quite good, and the calls are often nearly indistinguishable from PSTN calls. Cost savings aside, in the long run, convergence and consumer demands for new applications and features will drive growth. Millennials the generation born between 1982 and are driving the shift from legacy technology. There are more than 75 million Millennials living in the United States alone. To put it in perspective, there are more Millennials than Baby Boomers. It is the largest generation and the largest market in U.S. history. It s the most tech-savvy and techdemanding generation, too. Competition among service providers is fierce, which is also good for companies and consumers. Service providers are aggressively competing for your business. Chances are, if your company hasn t already switched to a system that uses VoIP telephony, it will be doing so soon. What s important to remember about VoIP is it is dependent upon broadband connectivity. TIA will continue to work with the new Congress and the incoming administration to develop a national broadband policy that includes investment in rural broadband deployment as well as long-term research and development. This policy will help VoIP and all sectors of the ICT industry realize their full potential. At TIA, we realize that this technology isn t just a game changer, it s a life changer, and we advocate for affordable, highly advanced and secure communications services for all Americans.
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4 4 An Advertising Supplement to USA Today What can VoIP do for me? Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) can mean different things to different people but essentially the technology is proof that we are living in an exciting world of convergence where we no longer need to have separate networks for voice and data. Once this leap to a single network for handling both phone calls and data is made, businesses and consumers not only get a whole new host of features and services on their phone, but there are plenty of savings to be enjoyed too. There are several sides to VoIP, or internet telephony as it is often referred to. Many millions of people are already signed up to make PC to PC calls through services such as Skype which have now started to extend their offering to allow users to make calls to regular telephones.likewise there are millions of people around the world with a regular-looking telephone plugged in to their broadband or cable internet connection who may not even realize the competitive, all-inclusive deals they have signed up to are provided by the extra efficiency offered by VoIP. At the other extreme, there are businesses paying thousands of dollars per month for an old-fashioned PBX box to route calls around their facilities who now are switching to making calls across the Internet because it means they only need a single network, rather than both a voice and a data network. This brings cost savings both in reduced maintenance as well as the cost of calls. VoIP everywhere Perhaps one of the most interesting things about VoIP is that even if you have never heard of the term and were unaware that calls could be routed through broadband networks, you have almost certainly used the technology without even realizing it. As Ari Rabban, CEO of Phone.com explains, the large telecommunications companies Great savings and awesome features Compared to conventional telephone systems, there are two major areas where VoIP has a huge advantage cost and features. While residential customers are probably most attracted to VoIP by competitive call plans, businesses can be lured to the technology by the additional benefit of call features which have previously cost thousands of dollars. Traditionally, the ability to forward calls to multiple extensions within a business required a PBX box which needed to be wired in to the office s phone system and thereafter maintained and periodically have been routing calls through Internet Protocol (IP) networks for several years. The quality is so good nowadays that you just don t realize that a lot of the time some part of your call is going across an IP network, he says. In the earliest days of VoIP, dial-up connections just didn t have the bandwidth to handle calls well but now that broadband is so prevalent the quality is there and people are replaced. However, with VoIP the ability to set up multiple extensions and to conference in several employees and clients can be provided for very little cost. This is revolutionizing how small businesses can portray themselves to the outside world, claims Ari Rabban, CEO at Phone.com. The company with just a handful of employees or the plumber working on the road all day have never been able to afford professional telephone services, but with VoIP they can, he assures. Extensions You can set up extensions and pass calls around them and you never need to miss a call as you can tell the system to reach you anywhere. You can set up rules for when you want to receive calls and when you don t and the really amazing thing is, with voice being data, a VoIP provider can send you your voic s as making calls across IP networks without even realizing. So, for those that have been put off by VoIP in the past, the message from Internet telephony providers is that just as connections have gotten faster, their software and systems have improved to the point where, most of the time, the only noticeable difference with VoIP is the cost of the call and the extra features now available. an attachment so you can listen to them as an MP3. We ve also recently offered a feature where you can have an answer message transcribed in to text so you can read it as well as listen to it and business owners can even type a message on their computer s keyboard and have it turned in to an audio greeting when people call them. So, while businesses and residential consumers may both be attracted to VoIP by the cost benefit, companies have the extra lure of obtaining the type of telephony service that was way beyond their reach with conventional providers. Conversely, companies that have always been used to having this level of telephony service are starting to question why they should spend thousands of dollars on a new PBX system when they could enjoy the same level of quality and call features for considerably less.
5 An Advertising Supplement to USA Today Savings without the maintenance While many claims can be made by VoIP providers over the cost of individual calls, one of the major cost benefits for businesses comes with unifying voice and data. Traditionally when they ran on separate networks, voice and data were handled by different employees or, at least, separate third party providers. It is simple math then to suggest that by routing voice over the data network, a company can reduce cost considerably. Some companies switching to VoIP may want to simply replace their conventional PBX with an IP router and keep their switching equipment within their own premises so they maintain full control over it. However, many are choosing to simply have much of the setup managed remotely by a host so they no longer need to concern themselves with ensuring their network is working well and up to date. Although they still need a switch and a router on their premises, the backbone of their system is sheltered within a secure data center, sheltering it from human damage and the elements. What s more, hosted providers are also capable of managing their users networks remotely, down to the switch level, thereby ensuring quality of service. This can save a lot of expense but it can also allow companies to expand quickly, explains Stephen Canton, CEO of hosted VoIP provider, icore Networks. A managed provider can have you up and running with multiple new users in just a matter of minutes, he explains. You can be making calls from a laptop immediately on that new extension while you wait for the new handset to be delivered. We re certainly finding that our customers are reacting well to being able to open up new offices and grow without having to get the telephone guy to come in and set up all the wiring and configure the PBX box. The other benefit of not having to run your own telephone service is that somebody else takes the service calls for you. We estimate that the level of service calls we answer on behalf of a customer saves them at least half the time of one of their employees. One of the hot areas in corporate America today is business continuity and, as one can imagine, it is an area where there is a lot of interest in hosted VoIP solutions because a reputable host will have their equipment stored in a highly secure facility that will be about as disaster proof as is humanly possible. When the conventional telecommunications providers went down at Los Angeles International airport during the July earthquake, our customer s phones and Internet remained fully operational, reveals Canton. By hosting voice and data services in secure data centers, we are able to provide customers with a high degree of redundancy which protects them against disasters that would otherwise disrupt communications. Of course, the beauty of a hosted VoIP solution is that if staff can t get in to the office, for whatever reason, they can just divert calls to their home numbers, a mobile phone or take and make calls on a soft phone through a computer wherever they are, Canton adds. When considering a hosted solution it makes good sense for a company to go through the fine detail of the proposed Service Level Agreement (SLA) to ensure the provider is delivering a phone service that will be at least as reliable as a conventional phone line.
6 6 An Advertising Supplement to USA Today Features make the grade for businesses Most businesses are probably aware that they could save money through switching to a VoIP provider but many may well be unaware of the calling features that accompany the transition. With VoIP, voice is carried across digital IP networks and so voic messages can be stored as audio files. This means voic messages can be ed to the recipient, just like any other data file, allowing them to be picked up wherever they have internet access. Furthermore, employees no longer need to be at their desk to pick up calls and voic s on their work number. Instead they can travel the world, or even stay at home, and simply plug in their VoIP telephone on an Internet connection and they are instantly available on their office number. Alternatively, to save on carrying a handset around, they can simply use a 'soft phone' on a laptop. This is essentially a piece of software which turns the laptop into their VoIP phone, allowing them to make and receive calls with a microphone and earpiece headset. Scale with speed Huw Rees, VP Sales and Marketing at business VoIP provider 8x8 believes there are a multitude of features which transform the way companies do business, particularly those relating to multiple extensions. In the past multiple numbers or extension would have cost a fortune but now they are readily affordable. A great example of multiple lines and extensions are real estate companies, Rees points out. You ll often see a board outside a house with a telephone number, you call it and you get the audio description for that house. With VoIP, it is very easy to set up multiple numbers ( virtual extensions ) very quickly and far cheaper than with conventional telephony. This ability is helping business transform as they need to grow or shrink rapidly. Companies that have seasonality to them or find they get busy cycles can ramp up how many people they have on extensions and then rest those extensions so they re not switched off but are ready to be reactivated when they re needed again. According to Rees the most popular business feature among the small and medium enterprise is the auto attendant, although contact management and customer relationship management features are also proving transformative. Businesses love having an auto attendant answer the phone and allow customers to dial an option for each person or department, it makes a small business look a lot larger, he says. Businesses also like the way they can just click on a contact in the Outlook contacts on their PC to make a VoIP call and where they are truly finding VoIP a transforming force is with CRM. When voice calls are data you can do many clever things, such as integrate incoming calls with a package such as salesforce.com. This allows business customers to know who is calling and have the relevant information about them up on screen the moment the call is taken. It means your staff can be much more helpful and they start off the call in a warm way instead of asking lots of personal details. Businesses who try this say their clients are amazed by it, it truly revolutionizes how businesses interact with their clients. Hosted PBX IP Trunking Hosted Call Center Single Line Business Hosted Key System Recession-Proof Your Business Switch to Packet8 Business Phone Service and Save 50% or More on Your Monthly Phone Bill In this tough economic environment, businesses everywhere are looking at ways to trim expenses. Packet8 Business Phone Service is helping more than 13,500 companies stay afloat and competitive with cost-effective, feature-rich phone solutions for businesses of all sizes. Whether you re a large enterprise with a legacy PBX phone system or a small company just starting up, Packet8 has a solution that will immediately and dramatically reduce your telecommunications overhead. Switch today and save! Find the solution that best fits your business at or All rights reserved.
7 An Advertising Supplement to USA Today 7 Evolution rather than revolution can make business sense Switching to VoIP is not a decision a business should take lightly. Handsets that work and provide good quality calls are so vital to businesses that a good phone system is, quite rightly, taken for granted within most companies. So, changing something which has usually worked without many problems to take advantage of the cost savings and many call and data features offered by VoIP can seem daunting for companies. For this reason, the best practice can often be to take it one step at a time. According to Rick Stein, Executive Director of Voice Networking Product Management at AT&T, most businesses are discovering VoIP through some proverbial toe dipping. When you spend a lot of time with business customers, you see that they are very interested in VoIP but they want to try it out in some capacity before they decide to move their entire business to IP telephony, he says. We find that a lot of companies start off by routing their internal calls through VoIP. So it tends to be companies that have several offices that are most interested in VoIP because they realize that they can route calls between their facilities on their own network and see large cost savings. Step by step For this approach, service providers need to be flexible. While an individual telecommunications consultant may be aware of the quality and reliability of VoIP, business concerns need to be listened to, and so a roll out one step at a time is usually what most clients will require. Customers have usually put a lot of investment in their existing PBX system so it helps if you can offer to plug a card or a box into that digital PBX that will allow it to work with VoIP, Stein. Often companies have worked with a particular PBX manufacturer for years and are happy with the service and they know how it works, so they don t want to switch. So it s helpful to be able to add VoIP to what they have. Then, when things work well, we find that customers are often ready to install an IP PBX and commit to VoIP fully. Sometimes they like to keep the equipment on their premises, so they maintain control, or sometimes they prefer a hosted solution where they save office space and don t have to think about the equipment. So, while the cost savings and features which VoIP brings are attractive to businesses, many will understandably want to proceed with an element of caution, preferring to migrate in stages rather than take one massive leap. AT&T knows a lot about VoIP. So you don t have to. VoIP from AT&T Let AT&T simplify your transition to VoIP. We have the expertise to help enterprise customers unravel the complexity of VoIP, enabling you to get the most out of convergence, no matter what your stage of readiness. Visit att.com/voip today and change your game.
8 8 An Advertising Supplement to USA Today VoIP technology has changed the Long Distance Game Remember the days when an overseas call was so expensive you only spoke on special occasions? Now rates are only pennies a minute. What has changed? VoIP technology. VoIP technology routes calls using the Internet. Using VoIP, carriers can route the calls at a fraction of the cost they used to pay with traditional phone networks. Consumers and businesses who make international calls reap the benefits. Telecommunication providers have passed their savings along to consumers in Providing high quality and reliable VoIP solutions to consumers, businesses and carriers worldwide since the form of lower rates and enhanced services not offered with traditional phone service. VoIP technology has opened the door to new competitors, such as cable operators, who now offer digital phone service, employing VoIP technology over broadband connections, as part of triple play packages. Partner with a VoIP Pioneer Your source for: Wholesale International Termination Cable Telephony for MSOs Residential Digital Phone Service Global Calling Cards IDT Corporation 520 Broad Street Newark NJ For partnership opportunities, us at Visit us on the Web: NYSE: IDT An IDT company There are different options available for accessing VoIP services and enjoying savings on international calls. Consumers can choose a VoIP company to be their telephone provider (that company may refer to VoIP as digital telephony ) or they can buy a calling card which utilizes VoIP to carry the calls. The consumer may not know which technology is being used. What they do appreciate are the lower rates they are paying. This has allowed friends and families to stay in touch more frequently. Lower international rates have also facilitated global trade for small and medium sized businesses, allowing them to reach out to new suppliers and customers worldwide. Consumers who choose a VoIP provider for their home phone service can now get unlimited calls throughout North America for significantly less than they are paying for traditional domestic phone service. Additionally, they get very attractive international rates. According to Sant Srinivasan, VP of Product Management at IDT, Routing calls through broadband is more cost-effective for the VoIP carrier. Consumers and businesses benefit from lower costs as the savings are passed on to them, even for calls that terminate on a conventional, analog telephone line. In addition, VoIP services often include sophisticated and customizable features that are not available with traditional phone plans. IDT utilizes VoIP technology to deliver home phone and calling card services, webbased phone services and wholesale termination for cable operators and global carriers. When considering their options, consumers should not be concerned about call quality. Today s VoIP networks provide call quality that is as good as analog telephony. In the very early days of VoIP, there were concerns about quality but today the quality is excellent, Srinivasan says. In fact, the quality may exceed current expectations since broadband technology offers extra bandwidth which can significantly improve audio quality. VoIP technology has changed the way consumers and businesses connect globally. As VoIP technology evolves, additional capabilities and features, including video communication, will be accessible for callers worldwide. High definition audio revolution There are constant improvements being made to VoIP communications systems but the one which end users are soon likely to notice the most is high (HD) definition audio. People have long grown used to the telephones not fully capturing the voice of the person they are speaking to but there are already VoIP handsets being shipped that support CD quality audio. This doubles the response of a traditional analog call so high and bass notes are far more detailed and sound far more like real life. For the new HD technology to work, both the caller and the recipient of the call need to have HD compatible phones and the network routing the call also needs to support the technology. Already, there are many VoIP handsets being shipped today that are capable of supporting HD quality calls and IP networks are constantly improving. Therefore, industry insiders do not believe it will be long until VoIP providers begin offering customers audio quality which goes way beyond their normal experience on the phone.
10 10 An Advertising Supplement to USA Today Small companies can sound big Taking VoIP mobile Sending voice calls across the Internet makes for great savings but it normally comes with the stipulation that there needs to be an Internet connection available. One of the major advances that VoIP offers companies is the ability for small and medium businesses to think big. With a phone number that follows you anywhere around the world and the capability to have a virtual receptionist that greets customers and direct calls, VoIP allows companies to look big and act big as Todd Curry, VP Marketing at ifbyphone, puts it. "VoIP obviously gives you savings but it can really transform a business where someone is often on the road and needs to have calls professionally answered and routed to wherever they are," he says. I used to run a consulting firm with six other consultants and VoIP allowed us to work remotely with a virtual operator putting calls through to each of us. We were able to look like a much bigger organization and it was all thanks to VoIP giving us the flexibility to work outside of the normal office set up. Therefore, Curry believes, VoIP technology is allowing companies to take advantage of a telephone system (which they have previously considered way beyond their means), as an option that not only reduces their bills but makes them appear as a far larger, more professional organization. This is becoming less of a problem as Wi-Fi hot spots are rolled out around the globe. Wi-Fi hot spots allow those with soft phones on their laptops or a smart phone with Wi-Fi capability to route calls from their mobile device across the wireless Internet. The result is free calls or, or at least, immense savings when compared to the cost of using a mobile phone network, particularly if roaming abroad. Out and about The obvious problem occurs when a person does not have a Wi-Fi hot spot, and thus will be solely reliant on their mobile phone. According to Paul Arena, Chairman and CEO of i2telecom, VoIP could still hold the answer. His company has already launched a service called MyGlobalTalk, where mobile phone owners can dial a code before the desired number. Although the call is initiated on the mobile network, the rest of the journey is then routed through IP. While this service is initially planned to cut the cost of calls within the United States, Arena plans to offer this service globally next year. With a global SIM card, you will be able to roam abroad on your mobile and only be charged the same rate as the local callers around you using their cellphones, he says. You won t get hit with a huge bill for roaming. You ll just pay whatever the normal rate for a mobile call is in that country. So you ll probably be paying 30 cents instead of a couple of dollars per minute. It s designed for those people that want to be able to use their mobile to call while on holiday or working abroad without dreading a huge bill at the end of it. At the moment, Arena believes that VoIP has had a huge impact on mobility, but this has mainly been restricted to Wi- Fi hot spots. He claims the next step is to take the cost savings of VoIP beyond Wi- Fi and extend it to mobile networks. Although the first part of the call will always be handled by the mobile company, and so be relatively expensive, the savings of passing the majority of the rest of the call over VoIP can still result in a cheaper service for cellular users.
11 An Advertising Supplement to USA Today 11 Video/call conferencing revolutionized by VoIP Companies across the world are always looking at ways for their employees to become more productive and flexible. At the same time, the current economic climate is forcing many managers to look for ways for their businesses to become even more efficient than ever before. VoIP is set to play a crucial role in aligning these two objectives because not only can the technology bring new calling advantages to businesses, it is also less costly than previous communications solutions. Enter the VoIP Video and Call Conferencing Revolution. With new advancements made in conferencing technology and the ability for VoIP to combine voice and data, setting up both audio and video conference calls are now far simpler and more cost effective than in the past. With the benefit of allowing multiple parties in different geographic locations to feel like they are in the same room, business travel can be reduced significantly and executives can commit more time to running their department rather than feeling that they are always at an airport in between meetings. And what s interesting is that all of this can happen at a higher quality than experienced before. Early versions of video conferencing were expensive to set up and the costs to run them prevented many businesses from quickly adopting the technology. Today, broadband bandwidth has come down significantly in price and there are technology alternatives to turn to that quite frankly, don t require any hardware besides a computer with a video feed or webcam. Of course, this is only the entry level for VoIP video conferencing and only suitable for those who don t mind seeing video within a small frame on their computer. As with any technology, there are many upgrade options from this entry level which will provide better quality cameras and equipment that transmit and receive in various qualities, right up to high definition (HD) video. Of course, companies do not always feel they need employees to use video and that audio conferencing is sufficient. Again, VoIP is making a huge difference here. In the early days, audio conferencing could not only be costly to set up (either in the office or through a provider), but it also could lead to large phone bills for companies as employees dialed in from around the world. VoIP has helped by bringing down the cost of audio conferencing setup but, just as importantly, it has made a huge difference by slashing the cost of long distance and international calls. Instead of a business paying a couple of dollars per minute or more for each international colleague joining a call, they can instead today pay just a few cents, or even less. The beauty of VoIP is that although the cost savings are always attractive, one must never forget about the extra call features that can be offered once data and voice travel on the same IP network. There are already some interesting exploratory services investigating how VoIP can remind callers ahead of time to join a call. If a party fails to show up, the call organizer can simply press a button on their computer or smart phone to inform that person that they need to dial in. ADVANCES MAKE IT SECURE AND RELIABLE VoIP has come an incredibly long way since the 1990s when narrowband connections meant there was sometimes a question mark over quality. Now that broadband is widely available and VoIP hardware and software has improved, many people who do not have a VoIP service will be surprised to find that the quality is so good that many of their calls are routed over VoIP networks anyway by the major carriers without them noticing. One area that has always been a concern for companies considering investing in a VoIP network is security. Telephone calls are not traditionally something the average business feels they need to protect but as soon as those calls are routed on data networks there is cause for potential concern. However, Dominique Kull, CTO and founder at VoIP business solutions provider Taridium, points out the beauty of a joint network is that the same protection given to data need simply be widened to encompass voice. Phones were never completely secure in the first place because any wire can be tapped so it s not right to suggest that VoIP is any less safe just because it s digital, he insists. What you need to do is realize that voice is now being carried on the same network as your data and so you need to give it the same protection. You need to make your servers secure and you need to set up a virtual private network, a VPN, to ensure it s safe from eavesdroppers. One area where Kull does believe there is a need for businesses to realize a potential limit on VoIP s capabilities is the simple fact the service they get is directly related to the bandwidth they have. Bandwidth can be a serious issue, a business has to realize that if it wants a lot of people to make calls outside its offices then it needs to invest in sufficient, good quality bandwidth to handle their needs, he says. The good thing is the cost of bandwidth is coming down and there are good providers out there but the sayings are true, you really do only get what you pay for. So you need to really look at the service level agreement too to make sure you re being guaranteed a reliable service. The good news for companies considering VoIP is that the networking equipment is essentially the same servers which drive the internet and so they are built to be very reliable and the code that allows voice to travel down data networks has radically improved. In the past, parts of a conversation, or packets, had a tendency to arrive out of sync with the rest of the conversation which made it very confusing. This has now been eradicated by reputable suppliers utilizing VoIP software which prioritizes voice traffic on the data network and ensures it arrives without delay in the right order.
12 12 An Advertising Supplement to USA Today Seamless switching gives highest quality Within just two decades, VoIP has developed from a technology that allowed the net-savvy to talk from one PC to another, to a global telecommunications system which enterprises and residential customers use every day from either a PC or a standard telephone. Looking at business VoIP, there are several parts to every call. The first element is, of course the telephone, which will have an IP address assigned to it before it is plugged in to the IP network. This address, or number, follows that phone around, wherever it is plugged in to an IP network. With what looks like a regular phone, customers can then make calls anywhere in the world, via the IP PBX in their office or perhaps through a hosted solution. Although calls between office colleagues will almost certainly simply travel along a local IP network, those going further afield are likely to go across the traditional PSTN networks as well. No need to worry The beauty is that, according to Alla Reznik, Director of Advanced Voice Services at Verizon, neither person on the call would need to be concerned how the call is routed because the networks modern hardware and software work seamlessly with earlier networks so there is no noticeable change in quality. The quality in the switching of calls between an IP network and the existing PSTN network is now so good you d have no idea the call had been passed from one network to the other, she says. The call might originate on an IP network and go as far as it can on a VoIP network until it needs to connect with the PSTN to travel to the other area or country or go abroad. When it gets there it might carry on and terminate on the local PSTN or it might be switched back in to an IP network for the final leg of its call, depending on how the recipient s phone system is set up. It is this quality issue which Reznik believes should be front of mind when companies explore VoIP. There are a lot of very cheap deals out there but I would always advise people to look at the track record of whoever they re considering opting for, she urges. There are some good newcomers, don t get me wrong, but I think businesses need to consider the experience companies have in providing a quality service before signing up to a VoIP provider. Bright future With high quality calling now available, Reznik believes VoIP has a bright future ahead of it because people need data and they can t communicate without voice, so to have the two unified is a very strong proposition.
13 An Advertising Supplement to USA Today 13 Savings and features for residential There is a clear price advantage which is attracting American homeowners to switch from their conventional telephone provider to VoIP but there are also many feature advantages that further build the case for VoIP use. While paying around $25 a month to get unlimited long distance and international calls is obviously a great attraction, VoIP connections also have many of those how did I ever get by before features which simply cannot be offered by conventional telephone systems. Although there are many to choose from, Mary Grikas, Executive Director of Device Development at Vonage believes that voic , find me services, and the flexibility of number portability are features residential customers immediately take to. My son had to give one number to his teacher, she says. The teacher wanted an office and cell number too and he just said she didn t need it because my home Vonage number follows me around, which it does. When someone dials my Vonage line, it can ring up to five other phones at the same time. Calls abroad Another great feature you can t get with conventional telephony is if someone is abroad or calling long distance they can often dial a local code and then have the call routed via the Net so they only pay the cost of a local call in their country when calling a Vonage line. Then there s the portability. If you have an adaptor which plugs in the phone socket for your home VoIP number you can take it with you and use it pretty much anywhere in the world where you have a broadband connection. It means you can keep that same number for life and not change when you move. You can also take it with you on business anywhere in the world and make calls that are free or minimal cost and way cheaper than using your mobile phone and paying roaming charges. Low cost Although added features help retain customers and make them wonder what they did during the days of using analog telephone lines, the economic reality is that the initial interest in VoIP will normally come through a household wishing to save money. Save money VoIP providers are reporting that, in the current economic climate, many residential customers are looking at their monthly outbound calls and realizing that they could save money on their phone bill and have their unlimited calls to Europe and beyond for the same monthly fee they are paying now, or even less. In fact, Grikas estimates that the average household could save around $300 per year by switching their number to Internet telephony.
14 14 An Advertising Supplement to USA Today Ask the experts What are the main benefits for residential customers from VoIP? SIP TRUNKING VoIP has many advantages but the one problem it can bring is that if a network is not properly set up to handle voice calls, quality can be reduced. It is for this reason that David Byrd, VP Marketing and Sales at Broadvox believes companies should take an active role in researching the network their potential VoIP provider is suggesting they use and ensure it features SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) Trunking. With SIP Trunking you get a network that routes calls not through the public internet but on an IP network that is prioritized for voice, he says. It means that voice is prioritized above accompanying data, such as peoples presence status or follow me instructions for services that ring different numbers to locate them. It means that calls are the best possible quality. You can even set it up so individual users within that business can be prioritized over others. According to Byrd, although price and features are important, the best question any business considering switching to VoIP can pose is whether that provider uses SIP Trunking or does it rely on the public internet? Robert Messer, President, ABP Technology If VoIP is so great, why are some companies not investing in it? The problem is that some companies may not realize the power of VoIP because the known telecom manufactures prefer to sell legacy equipment where they make higher margins. Also the IT and IP solution resellers don t sell known brands because in the world of VoIP the most effective solutions are Best of Breed Vendor Independent Open Standards based solutions. The leaders are all new brands and customers are not used to buying phone systems that way. There s also been far too much concentration on price. VoIP solution providers need to stop focusing on price and highlight the killer applications, such as telecommuting, find-me and integration with CRM systems that offer companies tremendous productivity boosts. Dan Dooley, President of Wireline, Sprint What in your experience are the key drivers for people switching to VoIP? After much speculation and hype, Voice over IP (VoIP) has become a mainstream technology. While initial deployments focused on cost savings and simplifying network management, VoIP is on the verge of encompassing an array of related services, building upon a common, flexible IP foundation. It can extend into other applications such as integrated messaging, as well as IP-enabled audio, web and videoconferencing. Furthermore, with fixed mobile convergence, mobility is introduced to these services making them available virtually anywhere, anytime. When implementing a VoIP solution, the business owner/it manager should recognize that their solution will evolve over time and they should look for a service partner who is flexible and willing to work with them and the various technology partners that will be part of a comprehensive VoIP solution. Stephen Canton, CEO, icore Networks VoIP is linked with many call feature advances but do you think there are huge benefits beyond just price and features? The price and feature wars between VoIP Providers have been fought. In this day and age, virtually all VoIP providers offer their users feature-rich plans at a reasonable price. However, in the business sector, VoIP particularly the hosted kind offers benefits that are critical to the success of any venture. Among these additional benefits lie the business continuity and disaster recovery that are inherent in the design of a hosted VoIP solution. By treating voice as a service, companies can add multiple layers of redundancy to their voice network that were previously unavailable. On a hosted platform, users can remotely manage their phone settings online to ensure that incoming calls are routed and answered in time and properly. For instance, in the case of a natural disaster or loss of power, rather than remaining without phone access, hosted VoIP users can use online applications to develop call routing plans that will direct their incoming calls to an alternative means of communication like a mobile phone or another office not affected by the natural disaster. Mary Grikas, Executive Director of Device Development, Vonage In the current economy, everyone is looking for ways to save and every dollar counts. VoIP customers typically reduce monthly phone bills and can save hundreds of dollars per year when switching from a landline phone service. VoIP also often includes additional features that landline providers will often charge for, such as caller ID, call forwarding and threeway calling. VoIP can also provide local and long distance calling for a fraction of the price of a landline provider and eliminates the need to count minutes when calling your loved ones. Additionally, VoIP providers often have international rates that are far lower than a landline service. As broadband services become more widespread, VoIP will continue to grow and become more mainstream with users. Chris Lyman, CEO Fonality Are there benefits in both maintaining your own equipment in your premises as well a hosted solution? Both have strengths and disadvantages, which is why this argument will rage on. Premise is more reliable and secure it lets you mix VoIP with good ol POTS (the thing birds sit on). However, premise is expensive and chains employees to their office. Hosted is less secure and reliable (as it uses only newfangled VoIP). But you save money and have complete mobility where you have Internet you have phone service. At Fonality, we looked at the pros and cons of each model and decided to split the difference. We designed a hybrid-hosted" architecture. Half our solution sits on premise we send customers a Dell server. This allows them to always make reliable calls. The other half is hosted" at our data center, so employees have free calling when they go home or hit the road.
15 An Advertising Supplement to USA Today 15 Dealers play vital role in the VoIP revolution Mention the word Internet and there is a natural inclination to link the channel with going direct to a service provider and, much of the time, that has also been the case with VoIP. With so many very low cost Internet telephony companies competing for margins on calls, it may seem that the days of purchasing equipment and seeking advice from an independent dealer are over. However, Robert Messer, President of ABP Technology believes the VoIP industry, in its drive to create a direct channel between customers and service providers could well be missing an important point. We made a conscious decision not to sell our equipment direct but to instead go through the reseller channel, he says. The main point is that you need resellers to be selling VoIP, otherwise what s going to happen? If a business goes to see their local dealer and asks them what should they replace their equipment with or how can they upgrade, what s the dealer going to say? He s going to sell what he sells. If he s not selling VoIP, then VoIP won t get sold; it s that simple. Tight margins The problem, of course, of going through the reseller channel is that there needs to be a margin for the dealer and so this does not always fit in with the public s perception that VoIP can be enjoyed for very little cost. While there are savings inherent in combining voice and data networks and routing calls over the net, Messer cautions that the industry still needs to retail its quality, open source products at sensible prices to energize dealer networks. There are a lot of security and network issues surrounding VoIP and the reseller is a very important resource for companies to go to for advice, he says. I truly believe that for premium, open source VoIP equipment there should always be enough of a margin for dealers and, at the same time, the customer can also get great long term value and savings. I think that when some businesses look at some of the offers out there that look too good to be true, they ll decide that, actually, they are too good to be true. Customers are clever, they know they need the right advice and they need to pay for quality. Without dealers advising customers on VoIP solutions, Messer believes many are going for packages that are not ideal for them. Customers who have a lot of internal calls within their offices may well be better off going for a managed, on-site VoIP solution instead of a remotely, hosted solution because routing those internal calls out of the building over the net and back in again can place an unnecessary demand on bandwidth. Without well-supported VoIP dealers around the country, the range of open source options available to businesses may not always be presented them, Messer warns.