Skype has today made the move to go corporate with the Skype Connect VoIP service which allows enterprises to use Skype for corporate telecommunications.
In doing so it will be pitting its potential against other established heavyweight IP convergence companies such as Cisco.
The Skype Connect 1.0 beta works with a PBX as well as other Unified Communications solutions. It costs $6.95 per line per month while outgoing calls to mobile devices and landlines are charged at 2.1 cents per minute. users are not charged to receive incoming calls.
The reasons for Skype going corporate are mainly financial. Although the company has an incredible 560 million registered users, only eight million of these are paying customers on a regular monthly basis.
The timing is also handy as Gmail has just released a free calling service where users of the Google email service can make easy VoIP calls to their contacts. It is thought that Google will also tailor this service to enterprise customers in the near future.
The new features of Skype Connect include click to call on a website which would then direct you to their call center. According to Gigaom, "IT organizations can also manage a Skype-powered PBX from any web-connected computer through a browser and the Skype Manager application." Video-conferencing could also become the future of Skype.
Skype Connect is certified to work with various SIP-enabled PBX systems including Avaya, Shoretel and many more.
SIP trunking is part of the Unified Communications (UC) future according to Matt Vlasach, a mobile architect at Unwired Revolution. Despite the slow take off of SIP trunking capabilities, UC relies on a VoIP based phone system. The improved interoperability between SIP trunking and PBX providers is also leading more customers to look for SIP trunking solutions for phone systems.
To hear Mr Vlasach's full thoughts you can attend the Ingate’s SIP Trunk-Unified Communications Summit at the Los Angeles Convention Center. He will outline his belief that carrier interoperability, cost reductions and improvements in UC-enabled PBXs are the main factors behind the rapid take up of SIP trunking for phone systems.
Basically, although many companies want to take advantage of the cost savings of SIP trunking for phone systems they are hestitant about whether they will be able to integrate it with the current systems, make the relevant upgrades and implement it properly.
Furthermore there is a low-risk alternative to SIP trunking for phone systems in the form of a dynamic-T carrier which relies on a PRI handoff to connect existing PBXs,
and still deliver cost savings.
Mr Vlasach surmised: "SIP trunking for phone systems is a crucial element to the evolution of Unified Communications over the next decade. As UC adoption increases, the usage of SIP trunking will expand beyond simply access to the voice PSTN, but will enable service providers to extend rich media capabilities to their customer’s UC platform, including video, messaging, presence and other emerging cloud-based services."
There have been 4 times as many Phone System frauds in the first quarter of this year as in 2009, according to Telecommunications Industry Group (TIG).
The reason for this massive increase could be because business telephone systems have become so accessible that they are no longer only the preserve of large corporations.
In fact a digital IP VoIP Phone System such as the
3CX phone system for Windows is affordable for any size of company.
More hackers are trying to break into Private Automatic Branch Exchange (PABX) systems. About ten times per week worldwide companies are hacked into so that their PABX makes calls to premium numbers set up in other countries. The costs of this Phone System deception can run into five figures.
TIG chief executive Rob Spray: "With these premium numbers charging $15 per minute, a bill of $50,000 can be run up before the company even realises that anything is amiss."
This fraud can be avoided but it is just about taking the right precautions. Most phone systems have in-built security measures which are easy to manage.
Although a VoIP phone system is easy to install it is important that you take the time to do this. Choose a company that offers high levels of support in order to get your phone system up and running quickly, but also securely.
VoIP engineer Steve Biddle said: "Too many people are setting up their systems insecurely.
"I would advise you to Password protect your PBX and also every extension number. You should choose a password that is not easy to guess as automatic phone system diallers seek these out.
"And make sure that your firewall is tuned to access VoIP, while blocking out any harmful agents."
New Zealand is one of the places which has been badly targeted for phone system attacks at the start of 2010, but with criminals running lines through multiple countries they will always be hard to catch. Prevention is the safest method.
Phone Systems could be a saviour for heart patients who are struggling to monitor their progress.
The research was conducted by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews which looked at how people kept on top of heart conditions after leaving the hospital. Away from all that fancy and expensive equipment it was found that a simple Phone System could do the trick.
More than 9,000 heart patients, suffering from a variety of ailments, used the regularity of phone system settings to check whether or not their heart was doing what it was supposed to.
Information on their heart rates, blood pressure levels and other vital statistics were all sent to a nurse's office. Amazingly using a phone system as a monitor led to a drop in the death rate, from 154 deaths per 1,000 people to 102 deaths per 1,000 people.
A mass phone system failure in the Bahamas has just emphasised the precarious nature of relying on traditional phone systems as opposed to new VoIP technology.
The Bahamas Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) experienced its first ever total telecoms blackout, an event which provoked outrage acrosss these tropical islands.
A technical failure resulted in the communications problem and many companies lost money due to dropped business calls with one lady even reporting that she was stranded when her cell phone did not work.
Khaalis Rolle, the Chamber of Commerce president for the Bahamas, said:“It just goes to show how important our phone systems and communications infrastructure is to the conduct of every level of business in the Bahamas.”
In total more than 85,000 landline customers were affected by the phone systems going down.
Kirk Griffin, BTC’s Acting President and CEO, said: “This type of failure happens all over the world, it is just unlucky that it has happened to us now.”
3CX, the award winning Phone System for Windows has completed successful tests with Yealink IP video and voice Phones.
The 3CX CEO, Nick Galea, said: “We are pleased to announce the interoperability between 3CX and Yealink. Yealink IP phones are easy-to-configure and very cost-effective which makes them an excellent addition to the phone range supported by 3CX. Therefore customers and partners can be assured that Yealink phones are fully tested and supported with 3CX.”
Stone Lu, the VP of Yealink was also very pleased with the interoperability of their award-winning products and 3CX; in particular the combination of the 3CX IP PBX and the Enterprise HD IP Phone to create a value-for-money innovative solution for SMBs.
3CX Phone System for Windows is based on the SIP standard and supports most popular VoIP Gateways, SIP phones, VoIP service providers and PSTN phone lines. It offers a scalable and easy-to-install alternative to proprietary PABX telephony solutions.
3CX has released version 9 of its popular phone system for Windows. Version 9 is a significant upgrade that adds video support as well as enterprise features such as the ability to monitor remote PBX installations via 3CX Assistant and automatic remote installation and configuration of 3CXPhone and 3CX Assistant.
“3CX Phone System 9 is now a complete Unified Communications solution –We have added standards based video and support for smartphones as clients. At the same time we have added key enterprise features that widen 3CX’s appeal to larger companies”
“3CX continues to take market share and now has over 20,000 server installations worldwide. I expect that with v9 this number will grow dramatically.”
V9 allows single click set-up of video calls with other 3CXPhone users or with standards based video phones such as from Xlite, Yealink or Grandstream.
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Inmates at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Perryville are using phone systems to build a new life.
A company called Televerde is operating four call centers at Perryville to provide jobs and training to convicts.
The call centre work allows those in prison to save money towards their release. One lady Andria Goodwin, who is serving a five year sentence for fraud, was able to save $8,000 by selling database software packages over the phone.
She said: "You get your dignity back. Working is good for the soul and helps take my mind off of prison."
Televerde workers earn the minimum wage of $7.25, which is better than the 35 cents per hour which they might get for working in the prison laundry (that job which we all see in the movies). The money minus taxes goes towards their expenses while in prison and they can save what is left over.
However, there are many critics of prison employment services especially when a large proportion of the national workforce is unemployed. There has even been one incidence of a serial rapist trying to use a prison job to get sensitive personal information.
Nevertheless Televerde showed astonishing growth last year making over $12 million and it is has a number of large phone system clients including Cisco.
Telephone Systems are increasingly being used to improve the prison experience for inmates.
California is on the verge of a major breakthrough in the phone system stakes.
A debate is waging about calling the emergency services on 911, currently only possible if you have a landline.
State Senator Curren Price backed breaking free from this constraint, particularly if it meant that residents could save money by using alternative services such as IP telephony.
He said: “Providing this service under current law is costly and burdensome to the industry, local governments as well as the state.”
The Los Angeles Times newspaper ran a story about Californian telephone system companies “lobbying the Legislature to let them abandon large portions of the state's emergency telephone system.”
Unsurprisingly mobile network providers Verizon and AT&T are backing a bill to move away from landline-only 911 calls. They estimate huge cost savings of $100 million per year for phone system users if the changes are made.
Now there are hosted E911 solutions so that you can have the option of calling 911 without needing a landline. This gives customers more flexibility when considering whether to move entirely to VoIP based calling.
However the move is facing opposition from some consumer groups as well as the emergency services themselves, so is far from a done deal.
The corporate development manager of 911 ETC Inc, Karina Yandell, said: "This is further evidence that our emergency system is not keeping pace with advancing technology.”
“As the migration to IP telephony and wireless continues, we are challenged to make the outdated system work while prioritising people’s safety.”
She added: “911 ETC is doing what it can to provide assistance with the Public Utilities Commission hearing on enhanced 911 for VoIP and multi-line telephone systems."