Alan Percy : The SIP Invite
Alan Percy
| Observations by Alan D. Percy on VoIP enabling technology, industry and our personal reach for success.


More on Universal Broadband

August 20, 2008

An interesting article in today's USAToday about FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's efforts to expand access to the Internet to more Americans.  If you've been following along, you know that I've been writing and talking about the importance of Universal Broadband for the health and wealth of all Americans.

Many that live in urban and suburban America don't realize this, but once you leave most metro areas, broadband access to the Internet is very difficult to get and very expensive.  I know this first hand because I've been trying for years to get broadband access to a summer cottage that our extended family shares.  We can get phone service, but for broadband we have only one option - Satellite - and frankly, that's not a good option due to the 3 second latency.

When I spend time with other year-round residents in the neighborhood, I'm amazed at the difficulty they have in doing what we consider every-day activities.  This effects not just the entertainment part of the Internet, but real business too.  Weather forecasts for farmers, tax information and filing, educational materials are all very difficult (if not impossible) to accomplish with dial-up Internet access.

However, I do struggle with the "free wireless" idea that FCC Chairman Martin is pushing in his interview.  Nothing is ever free and the complexity of installation and operation of a wireless network needs to be professionally managed and supported (partially) by those using it.  

I'd rather see an approach that provides incentives for the existing wire line and wireless operators to expand their infrastructure and coverage to Universal Broadband.  

Universal Broadband is actually very good for our industry as it will speed up the transition of all telephony over to VoIP, increase demand for ATAs and core network media gateways, softswitches and other supporting systems.

Frankly, we just need the leadership - I hope that FCC Chairman Martin can find the common ground to get the operators to support the concept of Universal Broadband without starting a fight over "free wireless".

Breaking the Sound Barrier with VoIP

November 3, 2008

Okay, it's the 21st century and there are many new innovations and technologies that make our lives a whole lot easier, efficient or entertaining.  Think back about life before cell phones.  Remember pagers and calling cards?  How about the changes in TV?  With super clear picture and surround sound, HD TV makes you feel like you are at the game.  Things sure have changed for the better over the last twenty years.

Well, with one big exception - the voice quality on your telephone.

You see, the current Public Switch Telephone Network is built on technology invented in the late 50's based on digital sampling of your voice using Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) sampling.  Back then, it was groundbreaking improvement in reliability and clarity.  But to use the infrastructure and cabling efficiently, they had to make some choices about how much of your voice to collect and transmit.  The choice was a cost/benefit decision that came up with a 3.4 kHz bandwidth that created a "sound barrier", limiting the fidelity of your voice ever since then.  

Why is this important?  The 3.4 kHz bandwidth limitation in the PSTN is universal, allowing carriers to interoperate and pass voice from one to another.  It's also the ultimate commodity  - "one size fits all" in communications.  No matter whether you use one of the Bell companies or a smaller competitive carrier, everything sounds the same.  The result?  Price wars and customer churn to chase the ever cheaper commodity service.

At least until now.

With VoIP and SIP working together, we finally have the tools at our disposal to dramatically improve the quality of voice communications and break through the "sound barrier" with VoIP that uses higher sampling rates and new voice coding algorithms.

We here at AudioCodes are quite pleased to announce our HD VoIP strategy that we feel will play a critical role in migrating both the wireline and wireless communications infrastructure away from the limitations of the PSTN and into the future of High Definition Voice over IP (HD VoIP).  HD VoIP will allow carriers to differentiate their services with much higher quality voice calls and create affinity amongth their customer base.  Enterprises will be able to improve efficiency and reinforce their branding with high-fidelity customer contact.

Want to learn more?  See our dedicated landing page at:

Or attend the live webinar that I am hosting on Tuesday, November 18th at 2:00 PM EST.  Click here to visit the Webinar Registration Page

AudioCodes Launches IP Phone Product Family

November 6, 2008

This week here at AudioCodes has been very busy.  You may have seen the post on Monday, announcing our HD VoIP strategy  which will dramatically improve the clarity and quality of voice communications.

Yesterday, we announced our new line of IP Phones, all of which will support HD VoIP.  As far as I can tell, we will be the only manufacturer that will have a 100% HD VoIP capable phones (even the low-cost entry model).

The market analysts seem to agree:

"AudioCodes entry into the IP Phone market is a bold and strategic move. It enables AudioCodes to address the fast growing market for 3rd Party IP Phones with the latest developments in High Definition (HD) voice technology," commented Jeremy Duke, President & CEO of Synergy Research Group, Inc. "The IP phone market has consistently delivered strong shipment growth over the last 8 years as it continues to displace the large installed base of TDM phones worldwide. We believe the second growth phase of the IP Phone market is just beginning to take hold, driven by increased deployments of SIP in the Enterprise and an increasing number of Service Providers offering Managed VoIP services (hosted telephony)."

The line will initially include three models: 
  • The 310HD IP Phone is positioned as an entry level IP-Phone and includes a basic display and user interface. 
  • The 320HD Premium model includes a large Monochrome LCD screen. 
  • The 350HD Executive model has a large Color LCD. All models support HD VoIP.
The phones will include many important features for a range of applications, including:
  • Support for popular wideband coders such as G.722, G.722.2 (WB-AMR), G.729.1 and G.711.1.
  • Power over Ethernet is optional in all models.
The products will be available for testing and evaluation beginning in February 2009.

To more information on the devices or HD VoIP, click here

Learn about SIP Applications - Win an iPod Touch?

March 10, 2009

Want a really good shot at winning a free iPod Touch?  If you are headed to VoiceCon in Orlando later this month, you should definitely read on...

AudioCodes has joined forces with ScanSource Communications at this upcoming VoiceCon in Orlando and as part of the exhibition, we are hosting a "Solutions Theater and Pavilion" in our expanded booth #931.  We are thrilled to have pulled together 14 industry leaders that will deliver a series of presentations that focus on SIP-based applications that help end users and VARs deal with this difficult economy.  

Now for the really cool part: After each presentation, AudioCodes and ScanSource Communications is giving away an iPod Touch to one of the lucky audience members.  (Rules for the drawing will be posted in the booth)

VoiceCon Orlando 2009 Solutions Theater Presentation Schedule At Booth #931   Monday, March 30, 2009 Time Presenter Topic 4:00 PM BandTel Joel Maloff
Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing SIP Trunking 4:30 PM CTI2 Erez Marom Unified Communications   Tuesday, March 31, 2009 Time Presenter Topic 1:30 PM AudioCodes Alan Percy Director, Market Development IP Communications -
An Opportunity in a Down Economy? 2:00 PM Avaya
Bruce Mazza Branch Office Solutions 2:30 PM The VIA Group Jeff Stillings Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 3:00 PM Genesys Charles Lee      Sr. Product Marketing Manager Empowering enterprise-wide customer service     3:30 PM Atlantic Communications Michael Light Hosted Solutions (Cosmocom) 4:00 PM Digium Bill Miller VP Product Management Asterisk Open Source Solutions   Wednesday, April 1, 2009 Time Presenter Topic 1:30 PM Brian Cuppett ScanSource Comm. ScanSource Communications 2:00 PM Strategic Products and Services (SPS) Mike Taylor, CTO Avaya Branch Office Solutions   2:30 PM Interactive Intelligence Rick Q. Chin Manager, Solutions Marketing Improving the Customer Experience with CIC 3:00 PM EUS Networks Robert Campozano CEO Asterisk Solutions on Mediant 1000 OSN 3:30 PM Sagem-Interstar TBA Enterprise Fax Solutions 4:00 PM Enabling Technology Steve Bruno Deploying Microsoft Office Communicator   See you in Orlando!

Interview with Joel Maloff @ BandTel

March 11, 2009

 As noted in yesterday's post about VoiceCon, our opening speaker in the AudioCodes / ScanSource Solutions Theater will be Joel Maloff, Vice President of Marketing for BandTel.  BandTel is a pure SIP Trunking service provider that utilizes AudioCodes gateways to connect their services to end-customer TDM PBXs or other equipment.  Joel was kind enough to spend a few minutes with me yesterday, providing a preview of what to expect in his presentation at VoiceCon.

AP: Can you share with us the title and topic of your presentation?

JM: Sure, the title is 'SIP Trunking - Ready for Prime Time '

AP: How does SIP Trunking help enterprises in this difficult economy?

JM: SIP trunking has two immediate benefits for enterprises, especially in light of economic conditions. The first is the ability to broaden an enterprise's reach via the use of remote local telephone numbers. For example, an enterprise that is forced to consolidate and close down physical locations can retain those telephone numbers and have them ring into one or more centralized facilities. In this way, local identification is retained, operations are consolidated, and costs can be dramatically reduced.

Interview with Bill Miller at Digium

March 18, 2009

I'm very much looking forward to the upcoming Solutions Theater and iPod Give-away we are hosting at VoiceCon later this month.  As part of this series of presentations on SIP applications, we'll be joined by Bill Miller, Vice President of Product Management for Digium.  Bill brings a wealth of experience and knowledge on both IP-PBX solutions and open source to the stage.  Bill was kind enough to share with me some thoughts on his upcoming session: 

AP: Thanks again for presenting in the upcoming Solutions Theater at VoiceCon.  Can you give us a sneak peek at the topic of your presentation?

BM: My session is titled "Open Source Alternatives in a down economy"

AP: Please share with us how Digium|Asterisk and open source solutions help enterprises in this difficult economy?

BM: The business case for open source and open source based solutions is compelling for both business and technical reasons. We will explore why the momentum is not just building daily, but there are proven solutions, case studies and growing list of enterprise class solutions.

AP: How can Value Added Resellers (VARS) best leverage Digium|Asterisk?

BM: VARs are adopting alternatives to traditional telecom solutions at alarming rates. The ability to leverage experience already gained from traditional telephony solutions, the new emerging models provides new channels of revenues, new pipelines of opportunities and many alternatives to build custom telephony solutions to grow faster than the market. price conscious users want to kick the tires and understand open source today.

AP: Who would get the most out of listening to your presentation?

BM: Resellers and enterprises or all sizes

AP: Bill, where would someone learn more about your Digium Open Source solutions?

BM: The Digium booth is #1328 here at VoiceCon and our web site is

Distributed Enterprises - Can they save money and be reliable?

April 13, 2009

Over the last few weeks, I've spent quite a bit of time talking with a variety of partners about leveraging SIP in large enterprise deployments and specifically the architectures used to support branch offices.  When I first starting working on this problem, my original reaction was "Simple, just put in a softswitch and connect all the sites together via SIP - Done".  

It turns out it's not that easy.  From listening to our partners and their customers, I have learned there are a few real challenges they deal with when deploying communications systems into distributed branch office situations:

First you need to get good quality broadband to every one of your branch offices, which is hard to do once you leave the urban/suburban rings of most cities.  Getting voice-grade  broadband to remote offices in rural America can be very expensive and wipe out any potential cost savings.  Consumer grade broadband is easier to get, but even then not predictable enough for commercial applications.

Second is the question of reliability, which was recently demonstrated by the massive Internet outage in San Jose. What will happen to your business if the broadband connection to the site is cut?  Do you just close for the day and kiss off the revenue?

Third is network traffic optimization - does every call really need tie up your broadband service?  Is there a more efficient way to leverage the expensive and shared broadband that services the branch offices?

The solutions seems to be in an architecture that fits somewhere between the two extremes of fully centralized and fully distributed, but exactly where depends on the individual business.

To discuss these challenges and some potential solutions, I've invited Bruce Mazza, Director of Branch Office Solutions for Avaya to join me in a live webinar on Tuesday, April 14th at 2 PM.  I encourage you to Click here to register for the live event or listen to an on-demand recording of the event.

A Look Ahead at 2010

January 1, 2010

Wireless Internet - with the increasing use of handheld smart phones, wireless Internet usage will soar and with it will come increased congestion, reliability issues and eventually usage fees.  The "all you can use" wireless Internet is going to get expensive.

Apple will end exclusive arrangement with AT&T - with competition from Google Android (the operating software for the "Droid") and ever increasing network congestion and performance issues on the AT&T network (see above), Apple will be forced to finally end their exclusive relationship and expand to other carriers.  At first to other GSM carriers (T-Mobile) and then CDMA carriers (like Verizon and Sprint).  However, an iPhone for CDMA networks requires a different radio in the iPhone which means there will end up being two different phones and users will never be able to jump from GSM to CDMA carriers without buying a new phone.

Google will aggressively exploit Apple / AT&Ts performance issues (see above) and become a strong competitor in the mobile device market with both GSM and CDMA carriers (still with different devices).

HD Voip - the pieces are all there, and the first few carriers are readying their product launches.  Your wireline telephone is about to become obsolete.  Once you hear it - you will understand.

The Emergence of the Enterprise Session Border Controller

August 9, 2010

I'm seeing an ever-growing cross section of SME and Enterprise buyers listening and learning about SIP Trunking with the cost savings and flexibility piquing their interest.

However, many of the security, interoperability and survivability issues of SIP I have pointed out in previous posts have to-date stymied some of the growth and adoption of SIP Trunking.

As a result of these issues and the need to integrate SIP-based communications systems with a wide range of SIP Trunking service providers, a whole new category of customer premise equipment has recently evolved--the Enterprise Session Border Controller (E-SBC). The E-SBC is designed to be located on the customer premise and sit between the Local Area Network and the external Wide Area Network.

Skype Connect - Is there a new carrier in town?

August 31, 2010

I've been a Skype account holder for years and it sure has come in handy for communicating back to the office and home from my far-flung travels.  It was real useful communicating with my older son while he was studying abroad and our travels to Europe this last spring.  But other than client-to-client communications, I was having trouble envisioning how businesses would adopt Skype.
That all changes with today's announcement of Skype Connect.  With Skype Connect, businesses can now integrate Skype inbound and outbound calling into their existing infrastructure, avoiding the "wait, I have to switch headsets" issue of having both a phone and Skype client on every-one's desktop.  

Beyond PBXs, I can see contact centers benefiting from Skype Connect, allowing callers to "Skype" into the contact center, instead of tying up the mobile or landline telephone.

Think of this as the ultimate "Toll Free" calling to reach your business.

So how does this work?  Skype Connect is essentially a SIP portal into the Skype network, allowing Skype Client and PSTN access.    If you have one of the select IP-PBXs that are Skype-ready, the Skype service can be provisioned to connect directly to your IP-PBX.  However, if you are like most businesses that have either a TDM PBX or a non-Skype-ready IP-PBX, you'll need a media gateway or E-SBC to terminate the Skype session.  
  • TDM PBXs would use a media gateway with the TDM side facing the PBX - in most cases emulating the network side of a PRI circuit.  
  • For IP-PBXs, an E-SBC would be used in a Back-to-Back User Agent (B2BUA) mode that terminates the Skype session, performs security checks and then re-initiates the call into your IP-PBX in a format that it understands.
Fortunately, we here at AudioCodes have validated our Mediant gateways for use with Skype Connect and they make a great fit for the configurations mentioned above.

It should be noted that Skype Connect is not free - like any business product that has value, there are subscription fees associated with it. 

Here's an excellent case study that shows just one example of what businesses are doing with Skype Connect.

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