Vendor Network Architectures�Part XXXII: TalkSwitch

TalkSwitch, a division of Centrepoint Technologies, Inc., is a company that would likely win an award for the most descriptive company name, were such a contest ever held. The firm, headquartered in the Canadian capital city of Ottawa, Ontario, focuses on the segment of the telecommunications industry that is ignored by many of the major players—the 6 million small businesses in the United States and Canada that have between one and twenty employees. Talkswitch was founded in 1990 to provide innovative telecommunications solutions for these smaller firms, which have historically been unable to take advantage of these technological advances because of high cost and complexity factors, or the requirement for a technical staff to configure and maintain a sophisticated voice switching system. In addition, the rapid rollout of residential broadband services across North America has given rise to the telecommuting industry, which requires access to the corporate communications system—albeit from a small (typically one person) remote office—which furthers the need for systems that support a small number of users.

In 1998, the company launched a small business and home-office telephone system, called the Concero Switchboard. It delivered advanced communications capabilities, such as an automated attendant, fax detection, music on hold, and remote extensions to firms with one to three telephone users. The TalkSwitch line of all-in-one PBXs was introduced in 2000, building on the features that were incorporated into the Concero line, including advanced call handling, voicemail, and remote extension capabilities. The TalkSwitch systems are hybrid PBXs that incorporate both Internet Protocol (IP) and Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) capabilities, and are designed to function in either network. Supporting up to 32 telephone users, they are engineered to deliver full functionality without the need for add-on modules or software, thus reducing the installation, configuration, and maintenance overhead associated with many competitive systems. TalkSwitch has developed three different switching products: the 24-CA, the 48-CA and the 48-CVA.

The TalkSwitch 24-CA is a compact telephone system that puts standard PBX features within the reach of the small office. The system has a capacity for two lines in, four local extensions, eight remote extensions, nine automatic attendants, and 22 voice mailboxes. Up to 30 minutes of voicemail and automatic attendant memory is included with the base system, and a simple memory card upgrade can expand this storage capacity to up to nine hours. The unit includes both serial and USB ports that connect to a Windows-based PC for configuration functions that are accomplished using a Windows-based application. For users with larger offices, the system can be upgraded to the TalkSwitch 48-CA, which has a capacity for four lines in, eight local extensions, eight remote extensions, nine automatic attendants, and 22 voice mailboxes. Most interesting, this model has extension capabilities, which allow up to four of the 48-CA units to be networked on an Ethernet LAN for a total capacity of up to 16 lines and 32 extensions.

The most sophisticated product is the TalkSwitch 48-CVA, which is a hybrid system that handles both traditional (PSTN) and Internet (VoIP) calls. The VoIP capabilities allow calls from a 48-CVA in one location to be carried over a broadband Internet connection to another TalkSwitch 48-CVA, or VoIP gateway, in another location, thus eliminating the carrier charges between locations. The 48-CVA is based upon the Session Initiation Protocol, or SIP, which also enables interoperability with a number of third party products, such as gateways and telephones.

TalkSwitch also manufactures a line of display telephones that are compatible with standard analog service. In addition, they market a line of VoIP gateways, called the Mediatrix gateways, which extends the capabilities of the TalkSwitch 48-CVA to distant teleworkers or remote offices. Three models of the Mediatrix gateways are available: the 2102, which provides two FXS ports, the 1104, which provides four FXS ports, and the 1204, which provides four FXO ports. Like the telephone systems, all of the gateways are easy to install, connecting telephones, fax machines and/or PCs directly into the residential broadband modem, without the need of an additional router. The gateways support SIP, H.323, and the Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP), with compatibility with the G.711, G.723.1 and G.729a, b codecs.

Further details on the Talkswitch products architecture and products can be found at Our next tutorial will continue our examination of vendors’ architectures.

Copyright Acknowledgement: © 2006 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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