PingTone: Carrier grade reliability in VoIP.
PingTone Communications, Inc., headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, provides hosted IP phone system to business, government, and military customers in the United States and internationally.
The foundation for PingTone was laid in 1999, as the founders drew up a business plan to deliver business-class VoIP services to corporate customers on a turnkey basis. PingTone was incorporated in 2001, and following the initial two year infrastructure and network build-out, the privately held company has had customers in continuous service since 2002.
PingTone serves organizations in healthcare, finance, real estate, government, defense, manufacturing, technology, and professional services, providing unified messaging, office-to-office 4-digit dialing, and advanced call treatment functions.
The firm claims that its revenues have increased each year since inception, with 2009 revenue approximately 25 percent higher than 2008.
The PingTone network services are available from a number of Points of Presence (PoPs) worldwide, with connections available through either public or private IP bandwidth, as determined by the customers location and workforce requirements.
The company has three key facilities in the eastern United States: a Level3 managed carrier co-location center in Jersey City, NJ, an XO Communications managed carrier co-location center in Washington, DC, and an Equinix global hub and co-location center in Ashburn, Va.
PingTone utilizes a variety of industry-standard subsystems within its network, including a core routing and media gateway infrastructure that utilizes Cisco Systems components; UNIX-based server platforms from IBM and Sun Microsystems; voice routing platforms from Acme Packet and Genband; plus a call agent feature server infrastructure based on the BroadWorks platform. End user networks can be connected via IP private lines, broadband service, IP satellite, or Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks.
The PingTone network is touted as a carrier-grade architecture with a 1:1 redundancy that is designed to provide highest available level of reliability.
PingTone utilizes four key VoIP endpoint protocols: Ciscos Skinny Call Control Protocol (SCCP); the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), the Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP), and the H.323 protocol, which therefore offer maximum flexibility in customer applications and business needs.
In addition, a unique firewall traversal technology, the Session Border Controller, adds Network Address Translation (NAT) and Port Address Translation (PAT) capabilities. PingTone claims that this technology is not found in other solutions, which is a capability that is essential to providing seamless deployments and business-grade quality for work-from-home and broadband connected remote employees.
PingTone offers a number of managed voice communications solutions for the enterprise.
The Enterprise Service is an outsourced office phone system built on Cisco technology. This is a hosted offering that allows all company branch offices to be connected into a single system. It features completely portable Cisco IP phones that allow end users to access the network from any location, with the users phone number and features automatically transferred upon log-in.
Network Connect service is used to connect analog fax machines, conference room phones, front door access phones and common area phones. It includes on-net, local, and long distance calling, 4-digit dialing, an online administration portal, online call detail records, and online service ticket generation. Conferencing Services provides three different collaborative options: meet-me conferencing with dial-in conference calls; on-demand conference service that is available on a 24 x 7 basis without reservations; and operator event conference service that provides dial-in service that is managed by a live operator.
The Outsourced IP Call Center service includes a full-featured, scalable automatic call distribution system that includes queues, hunt groups, menus, and auto attendants, at-home agent, and remote agent support, plus Web-based administration and an open database schema for external reporting tools.
SIP Trunking service allows customers to connect their existing Cisco CallManager or PBX to the PingTone network, and thereby integrate their phone system over the data access service. Functions include all local and long distance telephone usage, connecting all branch offices using 4-digit dialing, and the elimination of blocked calls and capacity problems.
Prepaid service allows the customer to automate prepaid user accounts, view rate tables with routing and account usage information, view call detail records, create reports, and choose from a variety of authentication methods.
Pricing for all services is available on a custom-quotation basis.
In contrast to many of its competitors that outsource customer support to call centers with marginally trained staff, PingTone also has a refreshing approach to service defined by the acronym C.A.R.E.Communication, Accountability, Resolution, and Ease of Doing Business. When network issues occur, the objective is to maintain open communication and consistently keep customers informed with ongoing status updates. The companys tools include a 24x7x365 call center, an online service ticketing submission system, comprehensive call detail reporting, and a powerful self-administrative portal that allows customers to manage moves, adds, and changes that are required to optimize their voice communication system.
Further information on the PingTone solutions can be found at www.PingTone.com. Our next tutorial will continue our review of various service providers hosted voice solutions.
Mark A. Miller, P.E. is President of DigiNet Corporation®, a Denver-based consulting engineering firm. He is the author of many books on networking technologies, including Voice over IP Technologies, and Internet Technologies Handbook, both published by John Wiley & Sons.