IPFone: From SIP trunks to full-featured hosted PBX.
Part 65 of Phone for Rent: Understanding Hosted PBX Services IPfone is a charter member of the Cloud Communications Alliance, a group that supports HD voice, nationwide.
ISN Telcom, headquartered in North Miami, Florida, is the service provider behind the IPFone name, providing managed hosted PBX, integrated voice and data services, and Internet access solutions for business. The company was founded twelve years ago, and currently offers outsourced IP voice communication systems that provide customers with enterprise-class PBX features. Their solution runs on BroadSoft and Cisco systems hardware, with an Internet backbone consisting of seven Tier 1 ISPs.
IPfone has 90 employees, and claims to have over 800 successful implementations, with approximately 12,500 VoIP, local, and wireless subscribers located throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
IPfone is also a founding member of the Cloud Communications Alliance, a consortium of hosted providers that have peered their networks to create a nationwide, end-to-end service platform. The Alliance has defined what it calls a cloud-certified standard, through which prospective customers can evaluate providers. This standard includes statements regarding the switching platform used by the provider; the providers infrastructure, security and fault-tolerance; customers access to application programming interfaces (APIs) to facilitate system integration; use of the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) for greater implementation flexibility; delivery of high definition (HD) voice using wideband codecs, such as the ITU-T G.722 codec that samples voice signals at 50-7,000 Hz; plus service level agreements to measure and verify network performance.
The company provides a number of communications solutions for business, including integrated voice and data services, hosted PBX, an iPhone application, and Internet access.
The Integrated Voice and Data Service is designed to work with existing PBX equipment, optimizing bandwidth utilization, and saving the customer on communications expenses along the way. This service utilizes SIP trunking technology from BroadSoft, which integrates the IP telephony features such as business continuity, high call capacity management, and remote office. The SIP trunk allows voice and data applications to share one circuit, and provides voice compression and dynamic bandwidth allocation to optimize bandwidth utilization. In addition, it allows long-distance calling plans to share minutes on a company-wide basis, enables free on-net calling between integrated voice or hosted voice locations, and can re-route calls to an unaffected location in the event of a service-effecting emergency.
IPFone Anywhere is the companys unified communication solution that allows end users to utilize a single number for all incoming and outgoing calls, regardless of the phone being used. It also unifies personal services across all devices, such that calls can be transferred from a desk phone to a mobile phone, or a call can be moved from a mobile phone to a speaker phone in the conference room so that others can participate in the call. This application is targeted at mobile professionals, including those in field sales, real estate, and traveling executives, that need the flexibility to take their voice communications capabilities with them. It is configured from a user portal that allows the addition and configuration of any device, plus per-device termination options, such as time-of-day and day-of-week call routing.
The Hosted PBX Service comes with a number of feature sets, including call control (that determines what happens when someone calls you); push-to-talk (for immediate communication between two parties); click-to-call (to simplify returning voice mail calls); Outlook Toolbars (to easily enable advanced calling features, such as conferencing); simultaneous ring (where one number rings all your phones); plus 14-way conferencing.
A la carte features are also available, and include messaging (voicemail, message management, voice message to email, etc.); auto attendant (dial by name or extension, holiday schedule, transfer to operator, etc.); call center (call queueing, music on hold, night service, statistics, etc.); my receptionist (a web-based service to enable a user, such as a receptionist, to monitor a set of users in that business group); and web conferencing (audio and web conferencing, meet-me conferencing, Microsoft Powerpoint file sharing, session recording, etc.).
The iPhone application, which IPFone claims is the first BroadSoft-enabled calling application for the iPhone, allows users to integrate their iPhone with their hosted PBX system, then making and receiving calls over 3G cellular or WiFi connections. This application extends all of the features of the enterprise hosted PBX or phone system to mobile employees, which are then connected through cellular or WiFi infrastructures, potentially saving on cellular or long distance calling expenses. The system operates by authenticating the iPhone back into the hosted PBX, which then enables that device to be viewed by the phone system as if it were another endpoint, such as a desktop phone. Once authenticated, the user then has access to the full range of voice calling features, including extension dialing, directory services, call forwarding, and so on.
Further information on the IPFone solutions can be found at www.ipfone.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.