Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What is a SoftSwitch?

Having passed from live operators to automated hardware devices, most telephony switches introduced today are in effect central devices in a telecommunications network using software on open standards hardware. These voip switches have greatly reduced cost and increased functionality to an extent that we are only beginning to know & understand.

In many parts of the world, it is now typical that the connections made by the soft switch are done via the internet from one IP Telephony line to another, with even the media stream able to pass directly rather than the expense of bandwidth and resource staying on-net. There is, however, still the need to be able to interface with traditional hardware based switches and to have a true control of services, Media Stream must be controlled.

Class 4 Soft switches (Tandem) are used between local offices exchanges and carriers or carrier to carrier to avoid the high costs of long-distance calls via PSTN. Class 5 Soft switches, on the other hand, can route even PSTN telephone calls, making them an ideal solution to offer End Users. However, because of the interaction with the end users, Class 5 inevitably has the features and functions of a PBX which are increasingly a part of Unified Communications.


BENEFITS OF SOFT SWITCH

Soft switches are highly favorable to more traditional methods of routing for a number of reasons, including:
    voip soft switch
  • Higher scalability
  • Less hardware needed, saving money and space
  • Expansions or upgrades only involve new software, not a whole new product
  • More affordable
  • Open Standards creation, resulting in a more customized and flexible system
  • Remote installation is possible
  • Can route any & all types of incoming calls – IP, cable, copper, etc.
  • May provide extra software-based features such as:
    • Voicemail
    • Call recording
    • Billing
  • Requires less time-invested
Don’t waste time and resources with older, less efficient systems. Upgrade to a voip switch today and begin offering the above features – and more – to your customers!


HOW TO CHOOSE A SOFT SWITCH

So you’ve decided that you want to upgrade to a voip soft switch, but are unsure where to start. With so many options on the market, it’s important to do research and know what to look for. We’ll help you get started. When shopping for a voip switch, keep the following features in mind:

voip softswitchLEAST-COST ROUTING

Least-Cost Routing (LCR) is a feature that allows the soft switch to select and route to the least expensive outbound line of communication. The voip soft switch will periodically compare paths from different carriers and choose the least expensive one. This is especially useful if you or end users call a number of different companies. The least-cost route to a city in South America may be entirely different from the least-cost route to a city in India. With this feature, your voip switch will always route you to the least expensive route for that particular call.


CALL CAPACITY

There are a few ways to measure call capacity. It is important to ask about these measures and soft switch capacity when doing your shopping.

voip soft switchBusy Hour Call Attempts (BHCA) is a measurement of the number of attempted calls during the peak – busiest – hour. If the softswitch capacity does not meet or exceed the BHCA, you can expect failed calls and stress on the network. A good softswitch company will calculate their BHCA and adjust the capacity of the softswitch accordingly.

Similarly, the number of calls set up per second will give you an idea of how many incoming and outgoing calls you can have at once. Be sure to choose a softswitch that can handle the volume of calls you need. The number of simultaneous calls is another important angle to look at.

On the more technical side, the number of lines, racks, and media gateways is another measure of capacity. Again, do not make the mistake of selecting a softswitch with a capacity lower than what you need. In order for customer and your own satisfaction, the softswitch should have a capacity above and beyond what you need.


ADDITIONAL FEATURES

While some softswitches only include the barebones routing system, others come with incredibly useful features or add-ons. It is highly recommended to take advantage of those features. Look for a softswitch that can integrate with other modules and essentially serves as a central controller. Some useful add-ons include:
    voip softswitch
  • SIP PROXY - A SIP Proxy is an indispensable softswitch feature that will allow routing of not only IP telephony calls but also traditional PSTN calls. If you wish to use your softswitch with end users, this feature is required.
  • PRESENCE SERVERS - A Presence Server feature will allow enhanced communication between users. It gathers information about connectivity and availability, giving users alternative ways to communicate. With this feature you will be able to select what to share and with whom.
  • BILLING - A softswitch with an included billing feature will save you ample time, money, and resources. It will automatically bill users based on calls. If you don’t want to look for and spend on separate billing software, look for a softswitch that includes a billing module or add-on.
  • REPORT GENERATION - Similarly, softswitches may include a report generation module that will automatically provide you with statistics about calls. Rather than buying software or paying additional employees to determine and report call statistics, look for a softswitch that will do this for you.
voip softswitch


CUSTOMIZATION


Finally, be sure to select a softswitch that is customizable and flexible. In today’s market, finding an open source option should not be difficult. This will allow you to customize the softswitch to your needs and those of your end users. Save money and time by getting a solution made just for you.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Definition of PBX Phone System

A PRIVATE BRANCH EXCHANGE (PBX) PHONE SYSTEM is an internal telephony network that allows for inexpensive calls within a company or organization. It is an efficient form of unifying communications within an office or network of branches. The PBX connects the private network to the Public Switched Telephone network (PSTN) for external calls. Specific outgoing lines are reserved for those calls.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hosted PBX vs Google Voice vs On Premise PBX response

After reading Ruben on VoIP's article Hosted PBX vs Google Voice vs on premise PBX, I knew I had to write a response.

My first thought: Interesting and provocative in all the best senses. Oh the benefit though with hindsight.

Your ascertain that everything that can be done onsite can be done hosted is true. Your assumption that 'there are no reason why hosted PBXes can't have the same feature set as on premise PBX,' seems well … how can I put this ? "Academic." From being involved in the great efforts needed to see such ideas become reality here's a little insight to why simple writings and commentaries may not always suddenly see flows of actions.

For our part at Bicom Systems we started in 2003 at a point that this all seemed quite obvious. It took us until 2007 to start supplying hosted systems and we are just about to deploy with NEC a system for 50,000 business subscribers. I can give you two very big reasons why this statement does not have the reality to support it that may seem technically obvious.

The first reason is this : somebody has to do it. Who ? NEC, Siemens, Avaya, Mitel ? None of the incumbents are going to vote for Christmas.
Only Siemens have I seen begin to promote such a product through existing distribution channels and even then Siemens dealers that are twenty years in the business are not hesitating for a moment to move to PBXware. Simply - it does not have the features. NEC in the United States has put something together but again it lacks features.
Specificly - it does not have the features that 'the next customer'
requires. Yes - you read that right.

Each customer requires something unique. Mostly that can be achieved by configurations that the vendor can quickly convey to the dealer. Often though it needs development that comes about only by years of being in the market with each and every possible scenario and even that is only enough to allow you the space to be able to fulfill that next requirement..

What about Google ? Well - clearly they have not done much since your writing in 2009. Even if starting from a greenfield position in terms of market they wish to enter, the complexity of these small features that make the difference is not easy for a streamlined web site company to detail, never mind explain. This then brings me onto the second problem
- who is going to explain. From our experience the complexities are so great that only really the manufacturer truly understands once you get into the 'what if'. Resellers take weeks to gain a deliverable competency and years to gain reasonable competency. A new End User - just wants a phone systems up and working. There is a size of company that is 'just big enough' to have its own inside Network Support staff but not so big as to measure their worth in terms high enough that they would prefer to use more expert labour of 'a phone guy'. Yes we know the Network Support staff wants to play with new toys - but … you get my point by now ?

Broadsoft seems to have tried following its IPO and is doubtless under pressure to now pay dividends instead of investing its future. Sysmaster ? A long time since I heard the name and they never really got into the detail of SMBs.

Surely then with all the opening up of Open Source Telephony Systems there's someone out there that has the greenfield advantage that they are willing to disrupt the existing status quo but a wish to dedicate the time to detail, training and support of such complexity ?

There are certainly many out there. Which have the resource to take this forward ? Fonatliy seems spent. Digium seems still in search of a product for all that it has slaved with SWITCHvox I do hear a real uptake on the ground nor does the company seem overly open to resellers.

Finally here I am not saying you are wrong, we do believe in this cause and are working to it more quickly than many. It will though - Take Time!

At Bicom Systems we continue to make good on the advantages that we had secured since our outset of being involved in both onsite and hosted. We are though to invest heavily in producing the content of documentation and videos needed to support the using of such complicated tasks. Above all support needs to be as open as possible. The manner by which we will do this is known and being prepared but you'll just have to be patient to discover.

Stephen Wingfield
steve@bicomsystems.com

For more information on our Hosted PBX solution, visit our Multi-Tenant page or check out our Access Communications Case Study

Monday, April 2, 2012

Learn More

If you'd like more information about Bicom Systems, please visit our website or our Voip-Info Wiki.

If you're specifically interested in Multi Tenant PBX, you can visit our Multi-Tenant page or our MultiTenant wiki.

Finally, feel free to visit our other blog to learn even more about Multi-Tenant PBXware.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Multi-Tenant PBX

I'd like to take a few minutes today to shine the spotlight on one of our favorite suites here at Bicom Systems. We love talking about how to use our trio of products - SERVERware, TELCOware, and PBXware - to start & run an ITSP, but what about the individual products and editions?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Virtual Machine Technologies

I recently received this about using Amazon EC2:

"Here's what I'm finding... When a backup is made of the AWS instance (create AMI from instance), logging in immediately after the AMI is created will show all settings gone. Went out to the shell to look at the database, and it too was empty (except the default 1000 extension and multi-tenant PBXware default settings).

Restarting the system from the GUI, then logging in when it's back up will show all the settings back where they belong. Didn't do anything with licensing.

Then I did some backups, except didn't log in immediately when it was done. Waited 20 minutes to log in, and all the settings were there.

So it's something with the timing of how the machine instance comes up."

Conclusion : there are real problems using Virtual Machine Technologies and one must wonder about VMware too ?

Steve Wingfield
steve@bicomsystems.com

Monday, March 26, 2012

Plantronics Malfunction

For the past four days my life has seemed on the edge of a cusp.

Having got habitually accustomed to our new Glocom 3.0 working off our MultiTenant PBXware and working off the SIP client on the desktop with perfect voice quality - my $350 headset just disappeared. Not from the desk beside me but neither the Mac nor a PC I borrowed could recognise it anymore. Torment and ridicule followed.

Pulling USBs in and out of my monitor, laptop 1, laptop 2 and even the coffee warmer at one point, tried to find drivers knowing well that I'd throw the CDs away - this though was an endless task as are no drivers for the device. Almost burst to complaint to their head office secretary as she was kindly setting up a meeting for a site visit by two of their staff to assist Denis with further integration. Just as well I bit my tongue at that moment!

The only pleasure was that to be had by smirking colleagues - 'mine works!'

Bugged the dear lady at Onedirect.fr in technical support but refused her RMA muttered for another day and then did the sensible thing and gave up and surrendered. Printed the RMA form, disconnected the USB CB60 from the power and sulked towards the printer to pick up the RMA form.

In a last fit of madness I connected the USB of a device that did not have any power coming to it - to the MAC and ... you know the rest ...

the Fairy Lights of the Plantronic's device started flashing - all was working.

The moral of the story - whenever there is anything technical not working - start by shooting the fairies. (Then try disconnecting the power cable and re-inserting it).

Steve Wingfield
steve@bicomsystems.com

Yealink Completes Interoperability Testing with Bicom Systems

Bicom Systems is excited to announce our partnership with Yealink, the professional designer and manufacturer of IP Phone and IP Video Phone. After working closely with Yealink to develop customer solutions, we decided to celebrate our success with a joint Press Release announcing the partnership. For more information, click here.

Why to use SUPPORTED UADs?

It is important for serious Internet Telephony Service Providers to use only supported UADs. Here at Bicom Systems, we use only the following UADs:

Partnership in Africa

Here at Bicom Systems we like to give our partners "free press" whenever we can. One of the ways we do that is through case studies. You can browse our gallery of case study on our website.

Today I'd like to take a few minutes to highlight one of our clients in Africa. Back in October we partnered with Necor Zambia Limited to serve the Electoral Commission of Zambia during a heated and important election.

How to Compete with SHORETEL

In order to compete with Shoretel, you need to get a bit more creative. They have a great phone system that may very well be better in some ways than our own PBXware. To compete with that, Bicom Systems shifts the customer's focus away from the phone system and to the big picture.

How to Compete with MICROSOFT

Microsoft may seem like a huge, intimidating competitor, but it's actually not that difficult to win sales against them. Bicom Systems has determined that they have three major weaknesses that we can easily compete with.

How to Compete with ALCATEL LUCENT

Alcatel Lucent is a large industry leader that may be intimidating to competitors at first. But the secret to winning a deal against them is to take advantage of their weaknesses.

How to Win More PBX Sales

You step into the car dealership and look around at all of your options. Red convertibles, little sports cars, all-terrain trucks. In your mind, you're already flying down the highway, the breeze in your hair, music pouring from the car's speakers, when the salesperson interrupts your thoughts with his mundane descriptions of the type of rubber in the car's tires and the new fuel injection system.

GENTOO vs CentOS or REDHAT for PBXware

PBXware uses Gentoo. Here are some of the reasons. Maybe you have your own experiences to comment on OSs ?

It must be said, "each Call Center is different."
Some are highly specialist boutiques inhouse serving the public or the organisation itself, others large and dedicated to their trade providing flexible campaigns to a wide variety of customers and many in low budget startup phases.
Here are some guiding questions that we at Bicom Systems have passed on to partners from time to time that have helped with prospecting.

Security and Bandwidth with PBXware

This week I had an interesting little puzzle to solve for the implementation of a PBXware MultiTenant PBX. Much of the scenario was familiar enough. The prospect had been using Elastix and Trixbox and was tired of being hacked. However two important distinctions were a low bandwidth provision in location and an absolute legal requirement to have the server located in the low bandwidth provision.

Why should we choose PBXware MultiTenant PBX vs Thirdlane Multi-Tenant PBX ? (Part II : Cost of Entry)

The single largest misconception that we have to deal with when customers are considering a choice between Thridlane and PBXware MultiTenant PBX with its softswitch capability is price perception.

The Side You Should Be 'Aware-Of' in this Business…

The technical side of a modern phone company…

As a developer and network engineer, understanding the way today’s hosted phone systems works is a fairly easy task. Yet such a profile is not found in every person that is willing to start in this business. In general, there are two profiles that look to start in this business more often:

No such thing as a perfect platform

Through the last few years of dealing with all types of ventures, deploying/designing hundreds of projects, and trying to accommodate everyone’s needs from the most simple to the most complex (that will never end), I have been trying to teach myself and my customers a simple idea: There is no such thing as a perfect platform.

Bicom System's Supporting of Partners in the Field - Example 1: Snetcom

Day to day, the greatest satisfaction has to be said to come from working with partners to see their businesses grow. Which over time has also seen our business grow.

There's always been a slight angst though of how to reciprocate the good faith that partners have placed in Bicom Systems. Fortunately with the time that comes from running our business long enough to put in place resource, there are an increasing number of answers coming to bear.

Zambia Presidential Election won with PBXware

Elections can be tense at the best of times. Sometimes staying up all night not quite knowing which side will win.

With the recent Presidential Election in Zambia for all the furore in the public gaze, we at Bicom Systems had worked our late nights prior to the big day and were quietly confident that a victory would be ours.

Why should we choose PBXware MultiTenant PBX vs Thirdlane Multi-Tenant PBX ?

It is always with caution that one should speak of competitors and their products when clearly they are better able to do so themselves. All the more so with Thirdlane, given how respectfully Alex Epshteyn at Thridlane has always spoken of PBXware MultiTenant PBX. I am demanded to reply to this question aurally and it seems only right to write.

Zambia Presidential Election won with PBXware

Elections can be tense at the best of times. Sometimes staying up all night not quite knowing which side will win.

With the recent Presidential Election in Zambia for all the furore in the public gaze, we at Bicom Systems had worked our late nights prior to the big day and were quietly confident that a victory would be ours.

Elastix vs PBXware

Hello! In this post I would like to compare our feature set with Elastix, this was produced in early 2011 during a project that PBXware won against Elastix.

ELASTIX FEATURES Steve says Saulio says Sergej says
Call recording YES YES YES
Voicemail YES YES YES
Voicemail-to-Email functionality YES – With Self Care user interface YES – With Self Care user interface YES
Flexible and configurable IVR YES – Also IVR Tree and PIN Bases/Multi-Digit IVRs YES – Also IVR Tree and PIN Bases/Multi-Digit IVRs YES
Voice synthesis support NO
IP terminal batch configuration tool YES – with auto discovery and csv uploads YES – with auto discovery and csv uploads YES
Integrated echo canceller by software YES YES YES
End Point Configurator YES – All popular brands, including xml directory and blf keys YES – All popular brands, including xml directory and blf keys YES
Support for video-phones YES YES YES
Hardware detection interface YES YES YES
DHCP server for dynamic IP YES YES YES
Web-based operator panel YES – Administrator – Level Based and Selfcare Interfaces YES – Administrator – Level Based and Selfcare Interfaces YES
Call parking YES – and Enhanced Parking YES – and Enhanced Parking YES
Call detail record (CDR) report YES – Including call recording and Faxes if available YES – Including call recording and Faxes if available YES
Billing and consumption report YES – With optional billing module YES – With optional billing module YES
Channel usage reports YES YES ?
Support for call queues YES – Lite Queue / Ring Groups or Advance Queue on Call Center Edition YES – Lite Queue / Ring Groups or Advance Queue on Call Center Edition YES
Conference center with virtual rooms YES YES YES
SIP and IAX support, among others YES YES YES
Supported codecs: ADPCM, G.711 (A-Law & μ-Law), G.722 YES – And t38 passthru YES – And t38 passthru YES
G.723.1 (pass through), G.726, G.728, G.729, GSM, iLBC (optional) among others. YES – And t38 passthru YES – And t38 passthru YES
Support for analog interfaces as FXS/FXO (PSTN/POTS) YES – Auto detected and Auto configured YES – Auto detected and Auto configured YES
Support for digital interfaces (E1/T1/J1) through PRI/BRI/R2 protocols YES – Auto detected and Auto configured YES – Auto detected and Auto configured YES
Caller ID YES – With enhanced options YES – With enhanced options YES
Multiple trunk support YES – Unlimited trunks with LCR and Routes manager YES – Unlimited trunks with LCR and Routes manager YES
Incoming and outgoing routes with support for dial pattern matching YES – DID manager with automated E164 or Simple Routing YES – DID manager with automated E164 or Simple Routing YES
Support for follow-me YES – also Call Forward and Group Hunt YES – also Call Forward and Group Hunt YES
Support for ring groups YES – with advanced options like greeting, timeout greeting, music on hold, exit digit and last destination YES – with advanced options like greeting, timeout greeting, music on hold, exit digit and last destination YES
Support for paging and intercom YES YES YES
Support for time conditions YES – DID level – IVR Level or Queue Level with global code for enable/disable times YES – DID level – IVR Level or Queue Level with global code for enable/disable times YES
Support for PIN sets YES YES YES
Direct Inward System Access (DISA) YES – DIDs YES – DIDs YES
Callback support YES YES YES
Support for bluetooth interfaces through cell phones (chan_mobile) optional optional NO
Fax server based on HylaFax YES – Not bases on hylafax YES – Not bases on hylafax NO
Fax visor with downloaded PDFs YES – PDF and TIFF with desktop application faxAGENT for sending/receiving directly from desktop YES – PDF and TIFF with desktop application faxAGENT for sending/receiving directly from desktop YES – PDF and TIFF with desktop application faxAGENT for sending/receiving directly from desktop
Fax to email application YES YES YES
Fax to email customization YES YES NO
Access control for fax clients YES YES ?
Can be integrated with Winprint Hylafax NO NO NO
Online embedded help YES YES YES
System resources monitor YES YES YES
Network configurator YES YES YES
Server shutdown from the web YES YES YES
Access control to the interface based on ACLs YES YES YES
Centralized updates management YES YES YES
Backup/restore support via Web YES YES YES
Support for skin YES YES YES
Configurable server date, time and timezone YES YES YES
PBX-integrated calendar with support for voice notifications NO NO NO
Phone Book with click-to-dial capabilities NO – Desktop Apps: Present Panel for presence/click to dial/status and outCALL for Outlook integration NO – Desktop Apps: Present Panel for presence/click to dial/status and outCALL for Outlook integration NO
Two CRM products integrated to the interface (vTigerCRM and SugarCRM) Optional Optional NO
Openfire instant messaging server NO – JABBER server integrated NO – JABBER server integrated Alternative
IM client initiated calls NO NO NO
Web based management for IM server YES YES NO
IM groups support YES YES YES
Support for other IM gateways like MSN, Yahoo Messenger, GTalk and ICQ NO NO NO
Report of user sessions NO NO NO
Jabber support YES YES YES
Plugins support YES YES YES
LDAP support YES YES NO
Server-to-server support YES YES YES
Mail server with multi-domain support YES YES NO
Web based management YES YES YES
Support for mail relay Optional Optional NO
Web based email client NO NO NO
Support for quotas NO NO NO
Antispam support NO NO NO
Based in Postfix for high email volume YES YES NO