Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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Fonality Names Former Microsoft Exec David Scult as CEO

January 10, 2012

Today, Fonality announced it has appointed former Microsoft Exec David Scult (image right) as Chief Executive Officer. This is the second CEO in just a couple years. Dean Mansfield replaced Chris Lyman CEO, the founder of Fonality. I'm a fan of Fonality's Asterisk-based products, especially their HUD client, so I'm hoping things are going well there.

Newfies-Dialer Offers Super-Scalable Cloud-based Auto-Dialer Using FreeSWITCH

December 29, 2011

I discovered a new, powerful, open source auto-dialer called Newfies-Dialer that is offered by Star2Billing S.L, and is distributed free of charge, with no ongoing licensing costs. Star2Billing also wrote CDR-Stats, a replacement for Asterisk Stat used in FreePBX, as well as A2Billing. Star2Billing S.L., based in Barcelona, was formed in 2009 to provide commercial support to their range of free and open source products specialising in telephony, billing, and telecoms software development. Freeswitch is often compared with Asterisk, though Freeswitch is more scalable, especially the number of concurrent SIP registrations.

Jonathan Roper emailed me to tell me about this new auto-dialer, which works in conjunction with FreeSWITCH.

Microsoft Lync 2010, Asterisk & Skype Integration Tutorial

December 28, 2011

I came across an excellent tutorial on installing and integrating Microsoft Lync 2010, Asterisk and Skype. The tutorial covers installing AsteriskNOW within a virtual machine on Windows, so you don't even have to have spare hardware lying around to install Linux + AsteriskNOW on. The tutorial mentions integrating with Skype using Skype for Asterisk (SFA), which unfortunately was killed earlier this year. You can of course use Skype Connect (formerly Skype for SIP) to create SIP trunks, but the integration isn't as "tight".

Sprint Nextel Throws Out 489 PBXs - Switches 100% to Microsoft Lync

December 16, 2011

Sprint Nextel thew out 489 PBXs and switched over their 39,000 employees to using Microsoft Lync, a unified commutations solution gaining in popularity. Sprint Nextel said their goal was to "reduce its environmental impact, improve employee productivity, and reduce costs and administration for its cumbersome telephony systems". Whether they truly "threw out" the 489 PBXs and they're sitting in a landfill somewhere or they sold off the PBXs is unknown, but I'm hoping for the latter or it would defeat Sprint Nextel's purpose of "reduced environmental impact".

Here's what their Lync deployment / voice infrastructure looks like now:

Sprint Nextel claims that switching to Microsoft Lync has saved them nearly $13 million annually by reducing the TCO of maintaining hundreds of hardware-based PBXs, on-site maintenance fees, and annual upgrades. It went with Microsoft's software approach and leveraged Sprint's Global MPLS network and SIP trunking to connect their 39,000 employees together seamlessly allowing them to retire 489 PBXs scattered across the country.

Digium TE820 8-port T1/E1 Card Released

December 13, 2011

According to Digium, they just released their 8-port T1/E1 card designed for high density Asterisk deployments. The TE820 includes eight independently software-selectable digital telephony interfaces, supporting up to 192 channels (in T1/J1 mode) or 240 channels (in E1 mode).

In a Digium email announcement, Digium claims this is the highest single-card port density available for use with Asterisk - though Sangoma's A108 Octal 8-port T1/E1 card might have something to say about that.

Features/Specs of the TE820:
  • 8 T1 / E1 Spans using 4 RJ45 connectors (each supporting 2 circuits). Break out dongles included.
  • Up to to 192 (T1/J1) or 240 (E1) concurrent calls per card
  • PCI Express form factor / half-length, full-height card
  • Interfaces are software selectable (T1, E1, or J1 Mode)
  • Optional 128ms hardware echo cancellation module
The TE820 card supports industry standard telephony protocols, including multiple variants of Primary Rate ISDN.

Jabra PRO 900 Series Unveiled

December 6, 2011

Today, Jabra launched the Jabra PRO 900 series, which includes two headset models - the Jabra PRO 920 (base unit wired to desk phone + headset is wireless) and the Jabra PRO 930 (base unit wired to PC [USB] + wireless headset). Jabra stated these are entry-level wireless headsets with a retail price of $199 is aimed at companies that cannot afford typically expensive wireless headsets, so they designed these headsets for this market.

I'm not sure $199 is exactly inexpensive, but I'd have to see how much competing products from Plantronics and others cost. In any event, they are targeting the Jabra PRO 930 for companies implementing Unified Communications and leveraging PC-based telephony, i.e. a SIP softphone, Cisco softphone, etc. 

Polycom RealPresence Connects Non-standard TIP TelePresence Systems

November 16, 2011

I've written about Polycom supporting TIP (Telepresence Interoperability Protocol) and Cisco's response to Polycom supporting it. Well, today Polycom announced a new software update for Polycom RealPresence Platform designed to "free users locked into proprietary telepresence solutions."

This update will allow customers with standards-based video collaboration solutions, like Polycom, to join calls with non-standard based telepresence systems, like Cisco. The solution is made possible by Polycom's support for the Telepresence Interoperability Protocol (TIP), developed by Cisco and only implemented on Cisco TelePresence System suites. The latest RealPresence Platform software update, released today, also further extends interoperability across Microsoft and IBM UC environments.

Oh no! VoIP is Going Down. Big Bad Bear Economy Taking its Toll

November 16, 2011

Well, whaddya know, the VoIP industry is not invincible to the Great Recession, which started way back in 2008. For the longest time, VoIP was one of the stellar performers even in this down economy. Back in 2009 I wrote, "An interesting report by IBISWorld, Inc. just named VoIP as the predicted #1 performer In 2009 - it even beat video games. Yet more proof that VoIP isn't dead and indeed VoIP is the one shining bright spot in an otherwise dismal bear economy." But even the mighty VoIP (Chuck Norris?) cannot withstand a bear market going on 3+ years.

Chuck Norris (VoIP) vs.

Blue Jeans Networks Makes Skype & Microsoft Lync Interoperate

November 11, 2011

I've written about and reviewed Blue Jeans Network's multipoint telepresence solution, which bridges H.323 and SIP end-points, PSTN — and even Skype, with the goal of allowing users to connect everything from high-end video telepresence systems like Tandberg/Cisco and Lifesize to web cams running Skype to desktop IP videophones from Polycom, Grandstream, Cisco, and others. I mentioned back in May they were working on adding Microsoft Lync support. Well, now they have it.

According to a TMCnet article, it is showcasing “the industry’s first video conferencing interoperability between Skype and Microsoft Lync” at The Enterprise 2.0 Conference held at Santa Clara, California, November 14-17.

The new Blue Jeans individual plans include: $69 per month individual plan for 500 minutes (less than 14 cents per minute), $99 per month individual plan for 1,000 minutes (less than 10 cents per minute), and $199 per month individual plan for unlimited minutes (as little as 1 cent per minute).

I'll have to review it again and test the Microsoft Lync to Skype interoperability. Good stuff!

Republic Wireless Hybrid WiFi / Cell VoIP Service for $19/month

November 8, 2011

What if you could get a cellular plan for $19/month with unlimited voice? Well, you can (sort of) using republic wireless's hybrid WiFi/cellular network approach. It includes unlimited WiFi VoIP calling, 550 minutes of cellular voice calling, 150 texts, and 300 megabytes of data. republic wireless is a division of, whose network and solutions power Google, Pinger, Skype, Groupme, RingCentral, Phonebooth, and others.

The caveats: There is a $199 startup fee, which gives you a LG Optimus phone running Android 2.3.

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