In the ITEXPO
Press Room I just met with Cliff Rees, President & CEO of XCast Labs
. They have some interesting VoIP technology, including a patent called "direct RTP" which reduces VoIP bandwidth requirements in half.
The example Cliff gave was a VoIP call from Los Angeles to San Francisco using Net2Phone based out of New Jersey. When the Los Angeles user calls the San Francisco user, it initiates a 90Kbps IP call cross-country to Net2Phone's headquarters in New Jersey. Net2Phone then routes the call cross-country back to a termination gateway which connects to the San Francisco user. This too uses 90Kbps of bandwidth for a total of 180Kbps for the RTP media. The Net2Phone server in New Jersey has to allocate and hold 180Kbps of bandwidth for each call. Additionally, the call has to cross the country twice which adds more jitter and latency.
XCast Labs on the other hand uses their patented "direct RTP" which is able to tunnel through both user's firewalls and setup a direct peer-to-peer (P2P) RTP session between the two users. Once the call is setup, the two users are able to send the RTP media directly to each other. Since both callers are in California, they are just a few hops/routers away from each other thus dramatically reducing latency and jitter. XCast Labs simply maintains a small signaling connection to determine when the call ends for billing purposes.
When Cliff from XCast Labs explained to this me, I was dumbfounded that no one else had thought of this. It seemed so obvious that a direct RTP session would result in less bandwidth requirements, better latency, and better voice quality. Their technology sounded eerily similar to Skype's ability to penetrate firewalls and initiate high quality peer-to-peer calls so I made the analogy with Skype and Cliff agreed they are very similar. Though in the case of XCast Labs they use standard SIP while Skype uses proprietary
technology. Further, XCast Labs offers both a consumer (residential) and a hosted business offering with advanced functionality such as call parking, call transfer, etc. They also support video calls and video mail. They support both Polycom video phones as well as Grandstream, including the new GVX3140 H.264 video phone seen here:
XCast Labs developed everything in-house, including their own SIP stack and softswitch so they are not paying Sonus Networks
, Acme Packet
, etc. any sort of licensing fees. They told me this helps them be extremely competitive when compared to other VoIP providers. They offer their own residential VoIP service but they also sell to the cable MSOs who white label it for their Triple Play packages. Lastly, XCast Labs said they support HD Voice using G.722 so if you have a G.722 end device you have have HD audio.