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This is part two of a set of articles describing the benefits of Aculab’s range of IP-centric Prosody X media processing boards for developers of large scale communications platforms.
In part one, it was stated that there are many advantages in having IP at the core of the Prosody X media processing board, not least of which is the high channel counts made possible by such an architecture. But that is just one aspect…

Choosing IP connectivity enables a distributed architecture

In putting IP technology at the heart of the Prosody X design it is much simpler, due to the ubiquity of Ethernet in IT networks, to build multi-board, multi-chassis and multi-location systems using Prosody X. So if the high channel counts of a single Prosody X board are not enough, then it is easy to build multi-board systems.

The traditional way

Before VoIP entered the telephony world, we depended on TDM technology and an array of disparate CAS and CCS type PSTN protocols, and most of the voice-based solutions had a common architecture, simply described as a host server with telephony boards.

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Vanilla cupcake topped with strawberry ganache www.thesweetkitchen.co.ukOur clever engineers have done it again – you’ve now got an even higher density, media processing board with which to play. The new PCIe board joins the Prosody X family of DSP-based boards that are used extensively in multimodal communications systems.

We could have just taken the existing 4-trunk Prosody X PCIe board and added further trunks and DSPs. Instead we took note of customer feedback and went the extra mile to further improve the original design. 

The result is a board with vastly increased channel capacities, giving our developer customers the components needed to readily craft large scale systems at a very cost-effective price-per-channel. Whilst many DSP boards top out at 240 channels, the new 8-port Prosody X PCIe board can support up to 720 channels.
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This weeks announcement[1] by Orange that it plans to roll out mobile HD Voice to several more countries throughout Europe, and from UK operator Three that they will roll out HD Voice capability to ‘most’ phones by the autumn is good news for the spread of HD Voice, but Orange are missing a trick.

Read down to the bottom of the Orange press release and you come to the part about hooking up its HD Voice capable mobile networks with its own broadband fixed network service that currently has approximately 800,000 subscribers. Orange is not planning to enable a customer who might have its wideband service on their home network to talk to someone (possibly a member of the same family) in HD Voice quality on a mobile phone until 2012 or 2013!

If HD Voice is to succeed in a big way, then you have to create a system that allows you (with a HD Voice capable device) to call another person (with an equally capable device) and not have to rely on that person being on the same network as you to guarantee the ability for the call to be setup with the best quality.
If disparate islands of HD Voice capability are developed in isolation, then the technology will never achieve its potential to revolutionise the voice communications landscape. What is needed is a concerted effort, from Orange and others, to create the bridges between these islands. Continue Reading...
Since the earliest days of VoIP when the term ‘IP telephony’ was commonly used to describe the new age method of making voice calls, there has been discussion of convergence. That is, between the old ways of providing business telephony services (telephone switches, PBX systems and copper twisted-pair to the desk), and the new approach where voice could be provided as ‘just another service’ on the corporate LAN.

VoIP had humble beginnings where it was seen as a way to get free calls, but with no expectation that the quality would be good or could be controlled. However, it has now come of age and can compete head-to-head with the PSTN and even surpass it in quality terms (with HD voice technology). The barriers to adoption have been coming down for VoIP, and Aculab systems are in place across a whole range of industry sectors supporting both TDM and IP-based traffic.

An example of just how IP-based applications can be rolled out to integrate with an existing TDM infrastructure can be found in a new Aculab case study from a UK city council. Continue Reading...
The end of the year is always a traditional time for looking back on the previous 12 months – and looking forward to try to prepare for what’s to come. Rather than just put down my ideas, I captured some of the thoughts from Aculab’s global team to see what they thought would be the technical trends to look out for. So, without further ado, here are Aculab’s top three predictions for communications technology in 2011:-

Cloud-based communications will continue to gain in importance

Cloud computing will continue to shake up the established way of doing things, both for operators and equipment vendors such as ourselves, throughout 2011.

Cloud communications – the use of someone else’s server hardware to host your platform – sounds ideal as it eliminates CAPEX and reduces OPEX, but brings with it new challenges for time sensitive voice communications. Continue Reading...
Irn-Bru cans
If there was always one, single, universal answer, we’d not have Pepsi, Coca-Cola and IRN-BRU; there would not be around 20 diverse, major religions or belief systems in the world; Android, iOS 4, Symbian OS and Windows Phone 7 would all be superseded by ‘Universal SmartPhone OS 2’, and we’d all dress the same – like the characters in Logan’s Run.

Thankfully, the world is full of heterogeneity and that applies also to the α-diversity in the communications marketplace. Unified communications (UC) does not mean uniform communications and there is a ‘business case for diversity’ beyond that which talks of the composition of the workforce. It’s called competition.

The hype regarding competition in today’s communications marketplace is all about the ‘cloud’ and if we are to believe that, businesses should be falling over themselves to implement UC or their contact centres or Web-telephony, in public or private cloud networks as if that was the solitary answer. The reality is somewhat different and enough to make any self-respecting evangelist utter a simple unitary philippic in exasperation. Continue Reading...

Within Aculab, we're often discussing the general acceptance of VoIP and whether we're any closer to the time when traditional TDM voice will disappear. One thing that is clear is that whilst we are in the midst of a large shift towards IP voice, the general use and acceptance of VoIP is still at a slower pace than we were predicting 1, 2, 5 and certainly 10 years ago. One analogy recently drawn in our discussions was with the continental drift. Plate tectonics theory states that whilst the actual speed is very slow, somewhere between the growth of a fingernail and the growth of human hair, it is relentless and unstoppable leading to the creation of new geographic features along its path, such as mountains and volcanoes - again an analogy we quite liked.

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Which wideband codec to choose?

April 1, 2010 6:31 AM | 1 Comment
 In the second part in my series of articles on HD Voice, I discuss the wideband codecs currently available and deployed, and suggest which might be the best choices for a wideband voice platform. Part 1 in this series discussed the question of how much bandwidth do you need for voice solutions.
Wideband (up to 8kHz audio bandwidth) codecs currently available and deployed include:
wideband_codecs_today_table_v2.png
Other interesting wideband codecs currently available but not yet widely deployed are the embedded codecs G.711.1 and G.729.1. These codecs, as their name implies, are meant to operate as extensions of existing narrowband codecs. The idea behind them is that they can operate in both narrowband and wideband modes.
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