The interest in unified communications is not slowing down and I can tell from the subscription interest to TMC’s Unified Communications Magazine the future looks very bright for this burgeoning technology.
A few months back I wrote about mid-market unified communications and more specifically a company called Nuvoiz which is aiming squarely at this market as it rolls out its UC strategy.
The founder of the company Chong-Jim Koh is an energetic and passionate entrepreneur who seems to have the drive to be a player in the space. Of course UC is a wide open market and there will be no lack of competition.
To stay a step ahead of the competition, Koh showed me the slick UI of his UC application. If I had to say what it looks like… I would say it is more Skype-like than other solutions I have seen. This by the way is a complement.
In addition, the company offers a mobile client which runs on Microsoft Windows Mobile Devices. Using your carrier’s data plan or WiFi you can access your corporate PBX via VoIP. There will be a Blackberry version available soon as well.
The Nuvoiz solution allows Caller-ID masking so called parties will see the Caller-ID of your office phone and in addition it allows a single voicemail store, call recording and a host of other features which tie your PBX together with your wireless phone.
The UC solution integrates seamlessly with the LDAP directory in your company and as you may expect there is three-digit dialing as part of the package. The system ties in nicely with MS Exchange so your presence is adjusted to busy when you are in a meeting. A really nice feature allows your phone to be set to vibrate mode when you are in a meeting and back to normal when you leave.
The system is tagging enabled meaning you can “camp” on a person when they are busy and wait for them to be free. The person being “tagged” can allocate time slots to each person waiting to speak with them. For example you may allocate five minutes per person in the queue.
Other unification features allow SMS and e-mail to be in a single store. Voicemail is very iPhone like with on-screen buttons for rewind and fast forward. More interesting features are a GUI to allow easier conferencing and file transfer over a chat session. Furthermore you can screen calls and pull callers out of voicemail if desired.
The company believes that personal calls and business calls shouldn’t mix and as such they suggest users sign up for a voice plan for their personal calls and keep the data plan for their enterprise calls.
My take on this is Nuvoiz is onto something great but the question we need to ask in the US is how operators will respond. Verizon and other wireless carriers already have outlawed VoIP on their broadband wireless connections and moreover have put restrictions on bandwidth consumed per month. There is even talk of users being shut off for excessive bandwidth usage. See To Verizon, "Unlimited" Means 5 GB for more.
To date I haven’t heard of anyone being banned on a wireless data network for using an application like VoIP but if you have verified evidence to the contrary please share..
Koh feels that operators need to sell more data plans to augment the reduced voice revenue they are seeing. I agree but that does not mean the wireless carriers will.
In addition I believe the challenges of wireless VoIP packet prioritization will have to be worked out. It is relatively easy to prioritize voice packets if a carrier wants to. But do they?
I have been on a number of video conferences over broadband wireless connections and am constantly amazed at the quality of the video. The same goes for EVDO-based VoIP quality. Of course the challenge becomes speaking in areas where there is less bandwidth. In my experience using EVDO in cars around the country, there are spots where it is not great but the coverage is still good enough for a phone call on Verizon’s network. This could be a challenge for EVDO VoIP conversations.
As I mentioned, Nuvoiz is definitely onto something. The question going forward is whether service providers will see Nuvoiz as good or bad for business. Many of us see this as an obvious win for service providers but that doesn’t mean the carriers will agree. It is my hope Verizon, AT&T and others embrace EVDO-based VoIP and even provide services with prioritization which they can charge for.