Is VOIP Technology Going Social?

No one can deny the impact of social media on the global population and the way it has affected business across the world. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other social media platforms are continually using new ideas to connect individuals. How can VoIP or Voice over IP be left behind? VoIP too has been affected by the social media revolution and its integration is becoming more and more obvious.

Is VOIP Technology Going Social?

Innovations in social media with VoIP being the focal point

Almost all the popular social media platforms were initiated in the form of desktop websites. However, with mobile devices gaining prominence, the social media platform too evolved. Though initially these sites were not meant to be mobile but they changed for the better. Nowadays, the social media innovations are built around VoIP and all innovations keep VoIP as the focal point.

If we take a closer look at mobile apps like WhatsApp, and Viber, we can see that here the users are able to share text, images and video with one another. Though these sites are not as big as Facebook but their very existence is based on VoIP. Making calls and messages are sent over the internet. Well, the days of social media built around the VoIP has already started and things are getting better and better with every passing day.

Facebook Too Is Making Its Move

Zuckerberg has created the best ever social media platform for the modern world. This can be judged from its growing user base, which has already crossed the 1 billion mark. Every time there is some innovation or news of some new move from the company it garners huge interest among users.

A couple of years back, Facebook purchased WhatsApp for whopping sum of $22 billion. The app was originally a part of the growing social media but immediately after the acquisition, VoIP calling feature was added. Thus, instead of slamming the door on its competitor, Facebook used the opportunity to expand its services.


The messenger app even has internet calling facility besides the VoIP calling feature. Now, there are many other companies that would follow suit. They are going to replicate the Facebook model to enhance their businesses as well.


Businesses Are Already Using VoIP And Social Media

All leading businesses are using social media to reach out to their customers. Customers too expect quick response to their queries. All this is done with the help of social media. This gives a head-start to  IP-PBX based VoIP integration with social media.

Companies often make it mandatory to fill up a form before making their content available to customers. Now this data automatically goes into the company’s CRM or Customer Relationship Management software. Executives in the company can use the VoIP integrated with the CRM to call up new prospects or follow up with existing customers.


What Does The Future Hold For Social Media And VoIP?

According to industry data, 79% of the businesses in the US have already started to use VoIP services. Another report reveals that an equal percentage of users are using social media as well. Features like messaging will soon be integrated with VoIP. VoIP and Social Media are made for each other. The day is not far when probably we will not even be aware where and how we are using them.

About The Author

Michelle Patterson


Evolution of Cloud Based Phones

Evolution of Cloud Based Phones

Evolution of Cloud Based Phones

Over the years VoIP or Voice over Internet protocol has only become more efficient and user-friendly. VoIP or IP telephony is the real time transmission of voice data over the internet using the internet protocol or IP.

The Settings Behind This Technology

Three inventions primarily spurred the evolution of VoIP. First telephone, next internet and the third and most crucial invention is the internet protocol. Something that was started by Graham Bell in 1870, gained popularity over the years and turned into an indispensible part of modern communication.

During mid-1960s, internet was first time used by U.S defense, not what we use today. It was originally started by advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). During 1980s this technology gained widespread usage.

In 1972 Dr. Vint Cerf invented internet protocol or how data transfers between two computers. Thus, the foundation for VoIP was laid until further progress took place.

Beginning of Cloud Based Phones

In 1973, again ARPANET contributed to the beginning of VoIP. It was during that period that ARPANET conducted experimental transmission. However, it was during 1995 VocalTec, an Israeli company that patented the internet phone. VocalTec developed software for transmitting the voice over internet compressed the voice signals, converted them into digital packets and distributed over internet.

As long as both the receiver and caller have same software and hardware the technology worked well. The sound quality then was nothing near the conventional phone sound, but this effort was the first step towards IP telephony that you enjoy today.

Adoption Of The Technology

The early adopters of this technology were comprised of the hobbyist who had understood the potential of this technology. They preferred transferring voice data packets over the web instead on depending upon the traditional phone system.

The software that VocalTec developed used a PC that was integrated with a sound cards and speakers and microphones. Then the system was leveraged on H.323 protocol instead of SIP protocol used today. It allowed PC users to make long distance calls. However, during 1995 the broadband internet connection was not as good as it is today. Thus, IP telephony evolved with time as there was advancement in broadband.

Development Of IP Telephony

During 1996 Intel also introduced software for internet telephone. Gradually the use of IP cloud based phones started evolving and by 1998 almost 1% of the total users of voice traffic used VoIP. Entrepreneurs started creating new hardware to support the system and software to make the system run. All this enabled phone to phone and computer to phone connections.

Even networking managers like Cisco, Lucent, 3Com started introducing hardware that will route the VoIP traffic efficiently. By 2000 the total usage increased to 3% of the voice traffic all over USA.

During the 90s for marketing VoIP costs were subsidized. However, as the broadband technology advanced, the quality of VoIP services also enhanced, there was more call clarity and reduction in latency. Cisco and other networking giants started making hardware that made this technology easier to use. It was during 1999 that session Internet protocol or SIP was released. The first open source private branch exchange software asterisk was developed by Mark Spencer.

Until 2004, mass marketing of IP telephony was not in progress. It was in 2004 when calling plans were introduced that made subscribers make calls in the same way they make call with their traditional PSTN system. Different offers were made that allowed national as well as international calling through IP telephony and with development in broadband the call quality has also developed.

Author

Michelle Paterson

Should You Invest In a VoIP Router

VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol has brought in dramatic changes in the realm of telecommunication. Hence, it is anybody’s guess that a VoIP based router is an absolute prerogative for seamless communication – in both commercial as well as personal level. Now what are the benefits of investing on VoIP router? Let us see.

Should You Invest In a VoIP Router

The first and foremost thing about a VoIP router is that that the quality and the clarity of the voice during calls are supreme in case of VoIP routers, and that is what makes these routers more favorable than the conventional telephone systems. More so when it comes to business, the superior quality of calls goes a long way in augmenting the image of the company and boosts the confidence of the customer care representatives. Performance of the employees is enhanced, which ultimately uplifts the company’s image. Needless to say, profit figures for the company also experiences a surge.

Besides, the better quality of the VoIP based routers ensures that the company’s management benefits along with the improved customer support. All this go a long way to augment the growth dynamics of the company. In other words, it is because of the extensive high quality technical support offered by the VoIP router based system, there is a seamless liaison between the clients and the management. The organization responds to the market dynamics in the very best way, thereby positively affecting the growth of the company.

Another very important feature of VoIP router that will help businesses is the data compression feature. Users often are apprehensive that the overload on internet bandwidth will slow down other communication channels. However, tremendous development in the realm of data compression facilitates the use as well as integration of a large number of voice channels into just one telephone line. This implies that multiple real voice data channels can be integrated into an internet DSL line. It becomes equivalent to having more than 10 personnel carrying out conversation with each other, using just a solitary ordinary telephone connection.

It is possible for business to compress the voice data in real time with the use of a common internet connection. The rest of the connection can be used for other purposes, like taking care of the web applications, searching for answers to customer enquiries, or even doing follow up on the customers, and calling them back, and many other similar activities.

Long distance communication can be maintained by using VoIP based routers with very little infrastructure and very little investment. Irrespective of the distance, calls made and received will never be costly. Cost advantage offered by VoIP based routers makes it extremely popular among medium and large businesses.

Another major advantage of using the VoIP based router is that is a very large number of data channels, which can be used over the ordinary telephone lines. Besides, this benefit is further supported by the fact that the VoIP based routers are also unified to the traditional or conventional telecommunication system. What this means is that it is also possible to call any one staying in any part of the world, in real time.

Loaded with such benefits, it is highly advantageous for businesses of every size– big, small and medium to invest on VoIP based routers. Companies can reap huge benefits with minimal investment. Such has been the popularity of these routers that even people are using these in their homes for personal use.

Author – Michelle Patterson

 

 

Some Unfamiliar Terms in Telecommunication Technology Among Employees

Recent surveys among the general crowd in the US and UK has sprung some real surprise for the sellers of latest telecommunication technologies and tools. These surveys have revealed that about a half of the population in the US don’t have any idea about VoIP or Cloud telephony. Well, this is quite a revelation considering the fact that the telecommunication companies are raving about new tools and technologies that would be extended to businesses and organizations. Now, here we have a real problem because people are oblivious of basic terminologies like VoIP and Cloud – it will be extremely challenging for any company to sell them technologies and tools like UC or Mobile VoIP.

Some Unfamiliar Terms

In this article, we are going to delve into some of the terminologies that are relevant to anyone using enterprise communication tools and applications:

VoIP

This is the latest communication technology, which uses the Internet for transmitting the voice signals. It is just an extension of the IP network based telephony system wherein the local network is connected to the internet. Now if the companies choose to maintain the support services internally, the cost of recruitment, training of the employees will have to be borne by the company, and the hardware the IT employees would need, will have to be bought and maintained by the companies as well. On the other hand, if the companies use VoIP in lieu of a fixed cost, it will result in a substantial savings and help the companies make huge savings on their communications cost.

Cloud

This is a completely alien term for many users who were surveyed in the US and UK. Cloud computing is a technology that helps communication networks to get access to a pool of common servers and other configurable computing resources. All the latest communication technologies like VoIP are putting up their resources on the cloud, so that any network can virtually get connected to it at any point in time and use the network resources.

UC or Unified Communications:

Unified communication is the integration of real-time enterprise communication channels, tools and applications. This includes presence information, VoIP , instant messaging, mobility, data sharing, desktop sharing, speech recognition, call control etc. UC helps the user manage and use all forms of communication from a common platform.

BYOD or Bring Your Own Device

Almost every one of us uses smartphones, tablets and laptops at office and even for personal use. Companies are developing strategies and policies wherein employees would be able to access the enterprise communication system from their personal devices. This is being termed as Bring Your Own Device. Thus, you will be able to carry out your daily communication tasks from anywhere you want without having to worry about mobile signals or your location.

About The Author

 Michelle Patterson is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.

Ooma-Obihai Hybrid

I have been experimenting with the following VOIP systems:

  • Magic Jack Go
  • Ooma
  • Obihai

Now I thought I would take some time to summarize things. I’ve been using Ooma for two years and I have used MagicJack and Obihai in the past. Now let’s look at the different systems and their pluses and minuses

MagicJack

The problem is that it comes with a cheap Ethernet cable and a cheap USB power charger. In order to have the MagicJack work and last longer, you need to replace these components with ones from places like Walmart, Target, Amazon, etc.

The MagicJack component is not recognized by my router, until after I plug it into my computer USB port and register it. Ooma and Obihai components can be registered, just by plugging them into the router.

They do not have a 911 service included and can’t tell you what the price would be for your area – in advance.

On the plus side, they do have a good Android and IOS app. And they have a B rating on the Better Business Bureau site.

Obihai

There’s really no down side here. You just need to register it with a vendor approved service provider. I did this with Ring To and Google Voice, on an Obihai 202 device. It’s also recommended to check each week for firmware updates. They are not automatically provided.

Ooma

The only downside is the higher hardware cost, as well as the F rating on the Better Business Bureau site.

The plus side is that the called are both compressed and encrypted. I have run this off a Linksys router, via the Comcast service. It works very well. But I don’t like to pay the higher cost for the primer service. So I have come up with the Ooma/Obihai 202 hybrid.

To use the hybrid, I needed to set up Obihai 202 with both Ring To and Google Voice. And Google Voice would also ring my Ooma device and cell phone – but not the Ring To number on Obihai. Otherwise, there might be a conflict on the Obihai side.

Ooma-Obihai hybrid

I gain the following advantages by using the hybrid

  • All lines are under Google Voice
  • There will be two separate lines. And in the second line, I can switch between Ring To and Google Voice
  • I can call anywhere in the US on all three systems and anywhere in Canada on Google Voice
  • There are Android apps for Ring To, Google Voice and Ooma
  • I have 911 service on Ooma, as well as Obihai
  • If one device goes out, I have a backup in place. And the cell phone will be a backup for the VoIP systems

Here’s what I lose with the new Hybrid

  • Name look-up on caller id
  • Some advance filtering that filters out junk calls. But I do have all numbers – including the Google Voice one – registered with the US federal do not call list.

2013 – A Watershed Tech Year

 

 

Blackberry Way

Blackberry Way (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In many ways 2013 was a watershed year for telecommunications. A lot of what we thought was established and unshakable did get shaken. New technologies arrived every week with manufacturers working to outdo each other. VoIP took a firm and solid stand, so much so that service providers have accepted the idea that PSTN is nearly dead. Cell phones have become all pervasive, and the day is not far off when every human being may have one. The technologies for marrying VoIP with cell phone have matured.

 

Let us look at what happened in 2013 in the communications world.

THE BAD

Blackberry nearly shut down its operations. From the being the de-facto industry standard for mobile business communication, Blackberry could not keep with the innovation from the Apples and Androids, and nearly shut shop in 2013.

This was definitely one of the worst to have occurred in 2013. BlackBerry as the worst newsmaker for the year was aptly worded by Karl Dahlin, director of strategic partnerships at VCI-Group. “BlackBerry [experienced] one of the biggest falls from industry hero to zero in modern business history,” said Dahlin. “Yes, they’ve been struggling for a while after plenty of early success, but they’ve had so many chances to get back in the game and become relevant again but failed to execute on a viable turnaround strategy in 2013.”

The End of Privacy

The PRISM scandal was probably the worst nightmare come true when we learn about the BIG Brother – NSA watching every move we make. The people belonging to the telecom sector already were sure about its coming but the general people were shell shocked by the revelation. Stanford said “… privacy is obsolete, thanks to phone tracking, click tracking, call tracking, street view, traffic cams, satellite imagery, and the mass storage and big data software technology that makes all that data storable and mine-able for all eternity,” added Stanford. “George Orwell had it right, except he missed by 20 years, and by the scale. It isn’t just Big Brother watching you: anybody can, and you fuel it with your Facebook Likes and Instagrams. This is a fundamental change in social reality, ranking with the printing press and the Industrial Revolution.”

Edward Snowden played his part in opening the can of worms and as Stanford aptly puts it: “We are still dealing with the repercussions of the rolling thunder of revelations. These people are already impacting how the Internet is used; how data is stored and accessed; how risks are addressed and mitigated in the government and commercial sectors; and will likely lead to new laws around the world regarding privacy and security. It will also set off an explosion of purchasing in the areas of encryption and other types of security measures.”

Groaning Infrastructure

The communication technologies around us are fast changing and the infrastructure is crumbling because it has run past its usage. The aged infrastructure has added to the communication woes because there are cables, servers and other materials that need to be substituted like “NOW”. The growth from 9600 baud to something like 2 mbps connectivity took a long time coming. But today, people’s expectations are different. From simply moving data, the Internet is now used for literally everything. People store their family data including snaps, videos and other information online. Cloud storage and usage has exploded, and people are getting tired of wired connections. With mobile phones and tablets, the number of devices connected to the Net has also exploded. All this is putting a terrible strain on the connectivity infrastructure – both at the server and end user levels. Last lime connectivity would need a paradigm shift.

THE GOOD

The Cloud Explodes

The cloud plays a very important role and dependency on this technology has immensely grown in 2013. Phil Edholm of PKE Consulting LLC says: “Cloud, cloud, and cloud.” New technologies like WebRTC and HTML5 are changing the landscape, he added, but behind it all the biggest and most important development is that cloud is changing the business of IT and information.

“Just like the Industrial Revolution changed manufacturing from a bespoke cottage business to mass manufacturing, cloud is changing information and communications,” quips Edholm. “The big difference is that things will cost much less, but will be available in a wide range of defined options. Just as in the hardware store you can choose between 10 hinges, but you cannot specify a unique hinge, technology is becoming a range of choices, but not customized in each implementation.”

M2M & The Internet of Things

M2M and Internet has the ability to collaborate multiple data sources to bring out meaningful intelligence that would gain more prominence in the coming years.

Greg Clausen, Sr. VP at INDETEC says, “While these devices have been the butt of late-night comedians jokes, they are positioned to expand the way we interact with our surroundings, much the way smart mobile devices transformed the way we communicate and access information”.

WebRTC

WebRTC is the best thing to have taken place in the year 2013. WebRTC has a huge fan following and people are showing more interest in the same.

“I consider 2013 to be the year of WebRTC,” said Dahlin of VCI-Group. “This was the year we moved beyond the hype and were actually able to use commercial products and see why the world will be forever changed going forward because of WebRTC.”

In agreement Bernstein said: “WebRTC is possibly the most disruptive thing to hit the communications industry in over a decade. It literally holds the promise to transform the way in which all of us interact professionally and personally.”

Author Bio

Michelle Patterson has been working with telecom companies for over 20 years, and is excited with the new IP/VoIP/Cloud Telephony and other systems flooding the market. She is learning as much as she can about IP Telephony, Cloud Telephony, VoIP, Unified Communications, etc.

 

 

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Ooma VOIP device – steps to take before buying and testing

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Goodbye POTS and explore Ooma

It’s about time to ditch POTS (i.e. plain old telephone service) once and for all. I was very pleased to visit Amazon and see over 3000 reviews or ratings, with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

And there’s another benefit from ordering it at Amazon. The device is only guaranteed for a 1 year “limited” warranty by Ooma. It appears that Ooma offers an extended warranty for one year, for about forty dollars. I read it in one of the reviews. But you can get a 2 year Square Trade waranty for about thirteen dollars. And Square Trade gets excellent ratings on Amazon, BBB, Web of Trust and social media sites.

But here’s some advice before you order, install and test it.

My first advice is to run it behind a router, via an Ethernet cable. I had bad experiences when I used a Vonage device as a router, many moons ago. Packets kept getting drops and my tests isolated it to the Vonage device. Now I’m not saying Ooma will behave similarly. Besides, if you connect either to the modem, there’s only room to run one computer. This doesn’t square in my book.

Skype as backup

Besides having a mobile phone with an unlimited plan, I would have a Skype call out subscription. I would also set up an OBI device (i.e. OBI100, OBI110, or OBI202) from Amazon. It supports a Google Voice setup, where you can call from a standard phone. This is good backup advice, in case Ooma breaks down. You can continue VOIP, along with contacting tech support.

I do recommend a Google Voice number, which rings all your phones.

Why Skype? For a few reasons:

  • You can’t call Canada from Ooma, except by opting for the premium services. But you can with a US unlimited monthly subscription – much cheaper than the Ooma premium services.
  • This really shouldn’t be a consideration. Ooma gives a 5000 minute monthly limit. Skype – I believe – has a 10,000 minute monthly limit. If you talk more than the Ooma and Skype monthly limits combined – get a life.
  • You can continue VOIP if Ooma breaks.
  • You can use Skype at Wi-Fi locations.
  • Skype is a good for international Skype-to-Skype calls.

Of course, you should set up Dect 6.0 phone system. This can be purchased at places like Amazon or Walmart.

When I get my Ooma, set it up and test it – I’ll share the results.

Tire story illustrating research

Off-road tire

Off-road tire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let me share a recent story about doing research.

I take my car to a weekly tire place, which is part of a national chain.. They have an automatic air machine and give free air checks. I do this weekly. Recently, the manager mentioned I should get new tires. Tire companies recommend replacement every six years. I told him I wanted a couple other professional opinions and to do some Google research.

Let’s take a typical article from Google. Look at How Old — and Dangerous — Are Your Tires? At Look at How Old — and Dangerous — Are Your Tires?. Here are interesting segments from the article:

  • “Carmakers, tiremakers and rubber manufacturers differ in their opinions about the lifespan of a tire.”
  • “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has no specific guidelines on tire aging and defers to the recommendations of carmakers and tire manufacturers.”
  • “Carmakers such as Nissan and Mercedes-Benz tell consumers to replace tires six years after their production date, regardless of tread life. Tire manufacturers such as Continental and Michelin say a tire can last up to 10 years, provided you get annual tire inspections after the fifth year.”
  • “The Rubber Manufacturers Association says there is no way to put a date on when a tire “expires,” because such factors as heat, storage and conditions of use can dramatically reduce the life of a tire.”

What about my other two professional opinions? One was a manager at a competing tire chain company. Another was an auto repair shop owner, who also sold tires. Neither said I should replace them, but to come back in the fall – for a follow-up opinion.

I’ll still go to the original place for my free weekly air check. And I’ll get quotes from him (as well as the other two places), when the time comes.

My point? Always do your research.

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