News from Spring VON

A choice bouquet of product profiles plucked from the conference's trade-show exhibitors.

By Mark A. Miller | Posted Mar 23, 2007
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With 280 vendors on the exhibit floor at this week's VON Conference in San Jose, there was no shortage of interesting product and service announcements. A few of the more notable were:

Digium, Inc., developers of the open source Asterisk IP PBX software, hosted a Digium Theater on the show floor, occupying 5,000 square feet of exhibit space, and staffed by partnering companies Aspect Software, Intel Corporation, LumenVox, Switchvox, TransNexus, VoicePulse, Polycom, Simple Signal, and others. The theater provided a forum to train third-party developers, or any other attendees interested in learning more about the Asterisk system, and included a session with Asterisk originator, Mark Spencer, demonstrating the ease of configuring the AsteriskNOW implementation.

One Asterisk announcement of note was Fonality's trixbox Appliance, a new enterprise telephony application platform based on the Asterisk-based IP-PBX of the same name (formerly Asterisk@Home). The platform is powered by an Intel P4 processor, is aimed at businesses of between 5 and 500 employees; it costs only $999.00.

Major awards may be in store for Grand Central Communications for the demonstration of their innovative call processing system, which they advertise as "One Number … for Life." Grand Central's service, currently in beta testing, integrates all of your calls—work, home, and cellular—into a single messaging system. Your assigned telephone number is not tied to a particular device or location, but is instead tied to the end user, so that if you move, change employers or cell providers, your telephone number does not have to change as well. You can also determine how calls are handled based on the calling party, decide which phones will ring, which ring tones or voicemail greetings will be played, and a host of other features. Voice messages are accessible via a standard web browser interface, and a message can be forwarded via e-mail. Check out www.grandcentral.com to test this free service.

The hoard of Skype users around the world will be interested in NexGen Communications, Inc.'s release of FaxIP for Skype. NexGen, which is a recent spinoff of Commetrex Corporation, announced their first product, which allows a Skype user to send faxes in real-time from fax machine to fax machine anywhere in the world for free. The company claims that this product is unique in that it is not a store-and-forward offering, nor does it use a third-party fax service. Instead, it is a real-time fax service based upon patent-pending technology that utilizes the T.38 fax relay standard over the Skype peer-to-peer network.

ClearOne, a developer of audio conferencing products, unveiled its IP tabletop solution called MAX IP, which the company claims is the industry's first SIP-based conferencing phone that can be expanded based upon the room size and configuration. Also introduced was the Chat 150 speaker-phone designed for individual or small group use, which connects to PCs via the USB port for VoIP softphone, instant messaging audio chats, or web conferencing applications .

Touchstone Technologies, Inc. revealed the release of a new series of network analysis products called the VoIP TraceBuster. Touchstone, which specializes in voice and video over IP testing and monitoring solutions, developed the TraceBuster series to facilitate engineering efforts and reduce the time-to-market by eliminating the tedium of sorting through traditional network analyzer trace files to debug and analyze VoIP signaling protocols. This free tool is designed to save a great deal of time hand calculating call metrics. The more advanced Professional version, with prices starting at $395, includes enhanced network analysis features.

REDCOM announced the SLICE 2100, a comprehensive IP migrations platform that integrates a SIP Call Controller, Media Gateway, and Media Gateway Controller to provide seamless VoIP and TDM interoperability. The SLICE 2100 provides a drop-in solution for telecommunications providers to gain access to revenue-generating IP features, while still preserving their investments in existing infrastructures. The product includes RECOM's TRANSip Technology Suite, which in turn includes support for a wide range of current and evolving protocols, including SIP telephones, ISDN BRI/PRI, T1/E1, SS7, IPv4, and IPv6. Depending upon the configuration, the SLICE 2100 can support up to 1,000 IP subscribers, 24 analog lines, 4 ISDN BRI lines, plus analog trunks.

Telco Systems, Inc. noted that their EdgeGate CPE 232 and 482 IP Media Gateways, which provide broadband Internet access, VoIP telephone service, IPTV access, and video-on-demand to the consumer's home via fiber, were accepted for use in the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) project funded by the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service. The Edgegate CPE gateways provide the optical-to-electrical conversion that makes FTTH possible, and enables end-users to connect standard telephones, faxes, PCs, video monitors and television sets to an optical fiber-based Ethernet network. The USDA Rural Development Telecommunications program offers many opportunities for financing telecommunications infrastructure improvements in rural America (see www.rurdev.usda.gov).

Cambridge, England-based Camrivox launched a Microsoft Office Outlook integration for its Flexor 500 IP Telephone, which further extends its computer telephony integration (CTI) capabilities. The Flexor 500 is a four-line VoIP telephone that seamlessly integrates with IP PBXs, softswitches, and hosted IP services. The new integration adds two buttons, labeled "call business" and "call mobile" to the Outlook Contacts, making dialing a contact a single-click task. When an incoming call is received, a pop-up window shows the relevant Outlook contact. The Outlook journal also records the details of all calls.

Canadian-based M5T demonstrated their new M5T MC Dual-Mode Fixed Mobile Convergence Client on the Nokia N80 handset. The M5T MC is an integrated, multi-mode fixed/mobile convergence application that enables users to make and receive all calls—whether they are to/from a, WLAN, mobile, DSL or other network—using a single dialer. The product is targeted at carriers, service providers, and cable operators that wish to offer VoIP services, or for network equipment manufacturers who want to add Wi-Fi and wireless broadband mobility to their product offerings.

Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2007 DigiNet Corporation ®, All Rights Reserved


Author's Biography
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.

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