Val Jelinic

Partner Accounts Manager @ voipGATE

Telecoms technology advocate for VOIP, IP Telephony and next generation services over internet. Background in legacy networks switching & transmission, calibration & measurements standards and secure miltary telecommunications.

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  • The perfect VOIP win-win-win situation?

    1. You (The Customer) want to benefit from better rates that VOIP can provide you.
    2. The PBX Reseller/Partner wants to be able to sell additional services to existing customers and attract new customers with these services.
    3. The VOIP SP wants the traffic to go through their network.

    The perfect win-win-win situation. Or is it?

    From the customers point of view the risk is only on the quality of the service being provided by the VOIP SP. Bad quality?, the customer simply reverts back to his previous provider or simply tries another VOIP SP.

    But this has repercussions for the PBX Reseller/Partner who recommeded the VOIP Service in the first place. Confidence is lost, loss of confidence is bad for business and this translates to lost confidence in the Reseller/Partner and a potential bad reputation. And we all know about the negative impact of bad reputations!

    Finally, the VOIP SP loses another potentially "happy customer" to the churn of bad QOS and poor traffic shaping. Multiply these customers churning away and suddenly you have a VOIP SP on the brink of business bankruptcy.

    Win-win-win quickly turns to lose-lose-lose. So where is the weakest link and how do we strengthen it?

    Easy. Bad VOIP brings bad QOS. Fix the quality of your QOS and your VOIP offering wont let you down. Having your own backbone infrastracture helps of course! But then, doesnt this mean you are in fact an "Operator"? and not simply a Service Provider?

    And there is the key to this message. The perfect win-win-win VOIP situation is truly only based on those providers who are in fact operators. And VOIP Operators are few and far between around the globe. Thankfully, here in Europe we have one on our doorstep: voipGATE in Luxembourg.

     

    Check out www.voipgate.com and see how voipGATE are providing the perfect the win-win-win VOIP offering and how you can also benefit from it.

  • Its not a bad question. In other words, "Why should I stick my neck on the line and risk my reputation with my Enterprise customers?"

    More and more Enterprises are looking to VOIP alternatives to reduce overall costs and take advantage of new innovative services that traditional telecoms providers just dont have, or are too costly. Hence, they are looking to their Solutions Integrators to come up with solutions for this type of service.

    However, many Solutions Integrators have little control over the VOIP SPs that are available to connect their Enterprise customers to. Oftentimes it is the Enterprise themselves that dictate which VOIP SP they want.

    So what is the best way forward?

    Having a credible, tested (Interoperability tested & published whitepapers) & proven VOIP SP partner that you trust is the only way. Establishing a rapport with the VOIP SP, building a confidence in their products, services and voice QOS level is the key strategy. Having this relationship & knowing the service well benefits all stakeholders. Being able to refer to proven whitepapers instills confidence and therefore Solutions Integrators can build on this by providing Business Case Studies of their deployments that advertise their offering to even more Enterprises. Confidence in turn, builds confidence.

    "Why should Solutions Integrators risk deploying VOIP?" because their is no risk when you have the right partner. Check out voipGATE Partners for an example of the right way to go.

  • Whats the Skype with VOIP?

    Its one of the classic discussions still going on in the VOIP community today. Is Skype VOIP or not?

    thinking

    Technically, Skype is'nt VOIP. Bold statement yes, but true and here is why.

    The term VOIP has become analogous for any communications that deliver voice communications over IP networks such as the Internet or other packet-switched networks (IP telephony, Internet telephony, voice over broadband, broadband telephony, etc) So therefore Skype does fit this very loose definition.

    But here is where it simultaneously starts to get fuzzier and clearer at the same time.

    VOIP services are usually provided by a Service Provider, Carrier or Operator. They guarantee (albeit to a differing degree) the ability to make and receive calls utilising VOIP over their networks, whether they own/run the network infrastructure themselves or lease/utilise network infrastructure from someone else.

    A VOIP Service Provider, Carrier or Operator can and does provide assurances of network availability, call quality and some degree of assurance against call disconnects and call failures. Skype cannot.

    VOIP is also governed by a "standard" protocol called SIP (if you can call the inumerable variations of RFC3261 protocol "standard"!) which is governed by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) which in turn means it is tested, proven and regulated, which finally, means in theory that one kind of VOIP application can speak with another VOIP application no matter where in the world you happen to be.

    And here is where Skype comes undone.
    The Skype network is not interoperable with most other VoIP networks without proper licensing from Skype*1 and it offers no interoperability with SIP-based VoIP networks.*2

    Skype is a software application that allows the user to place and receive calls across the internet. It has no network, no infrastructure no service level agreements and therefore cannot provide any guarantees to network availability, call quality or call disconnects, PERIOD. A VOIP Service Provider, Carrier or Operator can. And therein lies the differentiator.

    Skype is a very clever marketing campaign that borders on misleading its users that it is a bonafide communications provider of some sort.

    So why do I get a pop-up after my Skype call is finished asking me how my call experience was?!? It's called, clever marketing! Nothing more. There are no teams of engineers or support staff or network architects sitting behind that pop-up window just waiting to tweak and fine-tune your next Skype call experience. (and by the way, there is also no Santa Claus!)

    Skype is what it is. A piece of free software from a software provider that provides you with an alternative way to contact your friends and family that offers no guarantees. And for that price, it's a fantastic tool. My 64yo Mother even uses it! But if you are using Skype as a business tool and expect it to perform as a business tool with business tool guarantees, then think again!

    Just as mobile phones were also first confused with walkie-talkies, so too are an immense amount of people confusing Skype with the serious business tool of VOIP.

    VOIP and SIP have a serious impact upon the future of telecommunications and the way we use telecommunications in business and in private. More and more businesses as well as indviduals are realising the benefits (and some drawbacks) of being able to perform communications across the Internet utilising VOIP & SIP. It has permeated our lives to such a degree that we now gaze in bewilderment when we meet people who don't use VOIP or Skype either at home or in the office.

    So do your business (and your telephony colleagues) a favor, stop confusing Skype with VOIP and start benefitting from the savings to be had that VOIP & SIP can bring you!

    *1 taken from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype_protocol
    *2 taken from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype#System_and_software

    PS.. the author of this article enjoys using Skype and is an ardent supporter of its use by family members and friends :-)

     

  • VOIP and UC – Up in the clouds?

    Since the advent of Unified Communications I have been asking myself how long will it be before the lines between VOIP & UC are sufficiently blurred before we no longer can discern the two? Like Siamese twins joined at the chest, UC & VOIP share many “vital organs” and therefore enjoy the flexibility of technologies and services that traditional telecoms find hard to compete with. But that’s not all, where are these offerings headed along the technology highway?

    Unified CommunicationsWhat is UC?

    Good question, difficult to answer. UC is a mix of various communications elements where the amount of these communications changes depending upon your specific business needs and goals. And like all businesses, no two are exactly the same. Businesses have a core set of communications needs; telecoms, internet, intranet, email, IM, fax just to name a few. UC delivers these tools but can also include a far greater range of applications and will continue to expand its offering as new technologies & business applications come to light.

    Who is it for?

    UC facilitates the business co

    mmunications needs of the mobile worker. Access to information on the fly, being able to perform business activities without restriction to location and/or availability. UC also allows the tailoring of UC technology to an individual’s specific needs or job functionality therefore “freeing up” resources that would otherwise be “weighed down” by over-equipped applications or tools that would not always be efficient or pertinent to the specific mobile worker.

    However first and foremost UC is a software communications application and here’s where things start to get interesting.

    VOIP Overlap

    Because UC is a potentially powerful and flexible communications application, it also demands a flexible method of utilisation. Being able to connect to your most important business information and tools, no matter where you are, is where VOIP steps in.

    VOIP provides a critical component of UC applications. Being able to communicate by voice and being able to do it from anywhere there is an internet connection. VOIP provides a huge saving in terms of telecoms costs and provides an extremely flexible medium of access. It also is a logical “fit” for UC platforms, providing other services such as voicemail, quality recording, lawful intercept, local number portability to name a few. Services that traditionally are located with an Operator.

    Because VOIP is synonymous with telephony over the internet, it is extremely popular with a generation of users who are fast distancing themselves from legacy telecoms. The same “I want it here and I want it now” generation who expect telephony at their fingertips will expect to be able to access services and features, whether VOIP or UC, from the same source.

    VOIPWhat’s next?

    From here it’s only a very small logical leap to making these services and features available from a cloud-based source. And it’s a lot closer than you think.

    So now imagine your traditional VOIP Provider/Operator not only offering you the flexibility of operating your telephony services and features online, at your fingertips, but also all the UC services your business requires.

    Imagine a service focused on affordability, ease of setup and use, able to be equally utilised on any IP enabled & internet connected device, can be set up in minutes , works with your existing phones, mobile devices and requires no additional hardware or software.

    What would such a service look like?

    Your-Cloud-With-A-Silver-Lining.Com

    Cloud-computing and thereafter cloud-resources, cloud-software, cloud-applications, cloud-services, cloud-coffee? Is becoming a more and more popular concept across the web. More and more xSP’s are offering cloud-based access or hosting cloud-based services, applications and tools that any size businesses can benefit from.

    It won’t be long before the lines are blurred between services being offered or accessed and who provides them. These are the next generation telcos. Companies that not only can offer you a connection, but the services that you demand from it. Cloud-computing is only a sneak preview into this brave new world.

    CloudsHead in the clouds...

    So what does it all mean? Well, the good news is immense savings and access to greater functionality for us all! Having a 1-stop-shop for all our latest business and telephony tools that is web-based and accessed from anywhere will provide us with even greater business power and control. Businesses will save money on expenditure normally assigned to infrastructure, resources, support and maintenance as well as the obvious communications cost savings.

    Businesses will not only be able to tailor-make their own service portfolios but could even “sell” unused quota of services in similar fashion to the Kyoto Protocol (I’ll leave that topic for a separate article!) Wonderfully, businesses won’t be obligated to keep up to date with applications/tools/software, updates, upgrades, obsolescence and infrastructure. The Cloud Providers will.

    ...feet on the ground

    The downside is that web congestion and web clutter could be the unwanted side product. What beforehand was managed and made available within a company’s own infrastructure, will now migrate to a managed location, the same location now being used by multiple other such companies. Ensuring that this access is available to everybody all the time is a challenge that data warehouses and hosted service providers already know all too well. And I haven’t even touched the topic of security yet!

    Heavy SLA’s will have to govern this access to ensure business-critical systems, tools and applications are available 24 x 7 and heavy compensation terms agreed to in case they aren’t.

    No matter what happens in the future of Unified Communications one thing is for sure, VOIP will play an integral role in providing telelphony no matter what the business model of communications platform. Unless of course Apple comes out with their own VOIP offering and we all start lining up to get our new i-VOIP ...now there's a thought!

     

  • Calling all Siemens Integrators!

    I am really interested in hearing from any Siemens PBX Partner/Integrator/Administrator that has investigated or played with trying to connect a Siemens HiPath 4000 to the voipGATE service.

    From the Whitepapers here you can see we have already tested this on a HiPath 3000 with success.

    For some reason I keep getting the same feedback from Siemens "experts" that its too hard to capture the steps onto paper. I disagree!

    Get in touch with me if you can help me put the pieces of the puzzle together in some way.

     

    Cheers, Val

     

  • VOIP - eating up the telcos?

    Today millions of people and companies recognise the advantages and benefits of utilising VoIP as the right communications medium for their needs business or otherwise.

    But it wasn’t always like this.

    At the time that VoIP appeared it faced some very large challenges to its growth. Fast internet services were not yet available, a basic fundamental building block for VoIP. Dial-Up internet connections were used (remember them?) which were so poor that calls (and lines) often dropped and voice quality was still very much impaired. Dial-Up Internet Connection

    Another challenging factor was loss of service during power failure. No power meant no internet connection and therefore no VoIP service. Traditional POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) systems didn’t suffer from this problem as power was delivered down the line. Lastly, remember paying for the internet call set-up, then paying also per minute of internet use and paying per amount of data downloaded/uploaded as well?

    Then came broadband technology and voice quality shot up, reliability shot up and people began to consider using VoIP as a serious alternative for their communications.

    VOIP Today

    VoIP today brings feature rich technology, business benefits, cost savings and the ability to control your communications services on a level never before seen. Online point-and-click services subscriptions, fingertip management of user/employees access to services, ability to monitor and respond to cost control per call, destination or country are all powerful tools brought down to the individual user level.

    VOIP MobilityVoIP has matured enough to compete with PBX's and other services on every platform.

    Wireless VoIP allows employees, workers and other users to stay in continuous contact wherever they are, as long as there is an internet connection. Mobile workers, decentralised and virtual teams all benefit from the freedom VoIP provides. VoIP is more cost effective than mobile phones and more effective than pagers previously used for the same purposes.

    Businesses can replace expensive and obsolete phone services to equip themselves and their staff with a technology which is better, inexpensive (therefore saves OPEX) and is continually offering new services & features.

    Issues Today

    VoIP does have its own set of unique problems though. Power failure is still a major cause of concern. Some SP's manage their systems with power backups that can provide supply without interruption. Others temporarily route services to the PSTN, although costly, it does however invoke customer confidence in the SP and provides dependability to the customers business.

    Service interruptions are common depending on where and how the SP's interconnect and route their traffic. Oftentimes it is this "middleman" that has outage problems due to hardware/software failure or unprotected redundancy architecture but it is the SP's that attract the business impact of the complaints from their customers.

    Not all SP's are compliant with Emergency Services calls or the services that are implemented are not entirely reliable. SP's are still struggling with the question of Lawful Intercept and being able to identify where exactly calls originate from as well as the true identity of the user. VOIP Market

    Breaking down traditional concepts

    Despite the challenges facing it, VOIP is emerging as a serious threat to traditional telecoms providers. Telcos cannot compete with the call rates and services offered by VOIP. Landlines are still expensive and more and more businesses are looking to cost-cut their communications needs as well as simplify them by implementing business-friendly converged communications tools (UC & FMC for example)

    VOIP is here to stay and traditional telecoms providers will need to find a symbiotic way of co-existing with its flashier, adaptive and flexible cousin.

    It may not be too far off in the future before we see a shift in paradigm by these companies from offering telephony services to offering only infrastructure & access services that accommodates the demand for a growing, hungry VOIP-based community.

     

     

     

  • Top 5 Myths About VoiP

    There are a lot of fallacies out there about VOIP, ranging from opinionated technologically challenged hog-wash to downright ignorant statements. Here are my top 5 Myths about VOIP.

    1. The sound quality is poor.

    Several years ago I would have joined you on this point, however, in 2010 and beyond the sound quality just keeps getting better and better as technology has improved and networks (and Providers) have cleaned up their acts on what they deliver as a "service". VOIP users today are enjoying close to crystal-clear communications that are almost in par with traditional fixed line telephony.

    2. The service is unreliable.

    Private users utilising VOIP for their calls report fewer and fewer dropped calls or service gaps than those using traditional cell phone or fixed line services. Ok, this obviously depends on a) which country you are in b) the service provider you are using and c) whether or not you are connected via a hotspot at the airport, city hotspot on the street or your neighbours wi-fi you've managed to hack into! Most people forget that they share their pipe with that download of the complete series of "Friends" they found on net ;-)

    3. Setting up VOIP is too complicated.

    My mother is computer illiterate, 64 years old and used to run her mouse over the actual PC display when I told her to select a program on the display... ..and she uses VOIP. For the most part, the difficulty lies in getting an internet connection. Once that is done, anyone with the knowledge to install software on a PC or Laptop will know how to drive VOIP. VOIP providers have spent time expanding their customer service and customers who felt intimated by technology can count on round-the-clock service and support centers to help answer their questions about VOIP installation, troubleshooting or general use.

    4. Nobody is using VOIP for their calls.

    Say again? On the contrary, more and more people are switching to VOIP for their personal and business use. VOIP usage is growing at a great and steady rate. With the advent of Smart Devices enabled with VOIP, these numbers will just continue to grow.

    5. You can't use a cell phone with VOIP

    Admittedly, one of the biggest challenges facing the VOIP industry was giving people the ability to use their mobiles with VOIP. Dual handset capability which allowed the user to seamlessly switch between their mobile phone's network and a wi-fi network. Today, Smart Devices bring a whole new spectrum to this argument. This year, the landmark decision to allow Skype to run on i-Phone should give you an indication of how much demand there is for VOIP on mobile devices.

    What are your experiences with Myths associated with VOIP? Please feel free to share.

  • Will VOIP survive in 2012?

    Without trying to state the obvious, VOIP has undergone a lot of changes and threats in the last 18months. However, will it survice beyond 2012?

    My answer is "yes" but not in the shape we are familiar with.

    Mobile VOIP, the new kid on the block, has chewed into a lot of market space where "traditional" VOIP used to enjoy its market share. Now "fixed" VOIP services seem to be feeling the same pain that fixed network providers felt when Smart Devices showed up out of nowhere. Quickly reducing costs/minute on calls equating to very little margins that soon may shrink to zero and large looming threat of web-based offerings (the likes of Facebook, Google, etc) that now are playing in a space that was once a service provider domain.

    It all adds up to the fact that VOIP companies (if not already) need to start looking forward and adapting their business models accordingly.

    Mobile VOIP is a shining example of this.

    VOIP and providing rich media communications on Smart Devices (I dont call them mobile phones anymore, sorry!) is the now of the future. Unless your business is thinking about how to take its share of this market then your company is going to be faced with an ever-shrinking bottom line until eventually VOIP is offered as a FREE  add-on, value-added service bundled into other services. That leaves your VOIP-based business where exactly? You guessed it, out in the cold.

    VOIP as such will be amalgamated into the 100,000's of Apps that can be downloaded onto your Smart Device. Love it or hate it, thats the future for VOIP.

    So will VOIP survive in 2012 and beyond? Definitely yes Jim but not as we used to know it. What are your thoughts?

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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Val Jelinic
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