Full-Service VoIP

Business/residential VoIP vendor adds fax, videophone to its offerings.

By Ted Stevenson | Posted Jun 8, 2006
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GlobalTouch Telecom (see profile) made a pair of announcements at GLOBALCOMM this week: the bundling of T.38 IP-based fax service with its VoIP service, and field testing of video phone service, to be made generally available to subscribers later in the year.

According to GlobalTouch CEO, Greg Welch, voice and fax over IP have never been paired in a single offering. "eFax [e-mail-to-fax service] took the world by storm," he pointed out to VoIPplanet.com; "everybody seemed to have an eFax account. With our product, you can have it on your laptop; you can have it on your office desktop; and you have the ability to just shoot faxes out from any Windows application with a single click."

GlobalTouch claims other benefits beyond mere convenience for the fax service. First, as it does with all its technology, the company built it fax server software from the ground up to work efficiently with all the other system components. Among other things, this results in an estimated 1.5x increase in transmission speed, and greater reliability, due to the company's direct control of the application.

Another benefit is cost savings. "Because we know it is a fax and not a voice call," said Vladimir Smelyansky, GlobalTouch CTO, "we supersede least cost routing (LCR) with request for [even cheaper] T.38 routing, and we have production routes with T.38 support to all places on the planet. By deploying T.38 fax on a server, we are able to deliver faxes to any fax machine in the world," Smelyansky said.

The partnership between a PC-based software application and the custom server software means the need for office equipment—from fax machines to special DSP [digital signal processor] boards—is eliminated, with attendant cost savings and efficiency gains.

According to CEO Welch, the service is billed as "an additional MRC [monthly recurring charge] sitting right on top of your VoIP service from us. On the business side, it's per-extension plus an additional MRC." Pricing details were not available at press time.

The video thing
The success of voice over IP has sparked the IETF to design—and the telecom industry to enthusiastically adopt—the IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) technology, widely heralded as the future of telecommunications. The need to better support video over IP was one of the key drivers in this development.

GlobalTouch certainly appears to believe that the time for video telephony has finally arrived. "Video telephony is emerging as the next big thing in communications and the Internet," said CTO Smelyansky. The key, he feels, is plug-and-play simplicity and reliability, which, naturally, the company feels it has achieved.

Based in part on its extensive experience with and understanding of SIP (session initiation protocol), GlobalTouch has, again, built its own combination of advanced telephony and multimedia technology.

"We developed the video technology so we could have broader throughput on a video call than our competitors do, on a more limited amount of bandwidth," CEO Welch told VoIPplanet.com. This means, among other things, that it will function well in residential deployments, which sometimes have limited bandwidth, compared to businesses.

GlobalTouch also enlisted the expertise of video device maker Leadtek Research, Inc. in video signal handling and compression. Indeed Leadtek's videophone, with its five-inch TFT screen and CCD camera, will be an integral part of GlobalTouch's offering. (Customers will have the alternative of using the GlobalTouch Telecom video Softphone, that comes bundled with the company's VoIP service.)

"Our solution is not strictly revolutionary," said Smelyansky, "but it is nevertheless an important VoIP milestone. It truly works; unlike previous offerings, it is truly plug and play, and it is the first time that the previously disparate worlds of video telephony hardware and SIP software function come together in one solution."

GTT's video telephony offering is currently in field testing. The company plans a wider release late this quarter, or early Q3.

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