A popular IP telephony phone system for SMBs now comes with unlockable licenses for advanced call-center functions.
AltiGen Communications, an early and dominant name in PC-based PBX alternatives, has announced version 5 of AltiWare, the underlying software that runs its AltiServ IP PBX.
Fremont, Calif.-based AltiGen Communications Inc. caught onto the IP wave about four years ago, fitting its PC PBX with a trunk-facing voice gateway card.
It has also climbed up the feature ladder over the years, adding options for call center ACD, call-detail reporting, unified messaging and call recording to rival some of its competitors in the SMB (small and midsize business) space, notably 3Com Corp., Cisco Systems Inc. and Artisoft Inc.
The company now has come up with a buy-once, license-as-you-go business model for the applications typically added, including AltiContact Manager.
Now, one system comes with advanced call routing, centralized call recording, IVR or telephony integration with CRM (customer relationship management) applications. AltiGen will license these applications per seat or per feature, reducing upfront investment.
Most IP PBXs come with light versions of voice mail and auto attendant; several, including AltiServ, now come with light versions of automatic call distribution, aka call center.
AltiGens per-license AltiContact Manager (ACM) offers more powerful call-center capabilities, including centralized call recording and dynamic call prioritization with skills-based routing.
This allows calls that are categorized by incoming number or IVR to be routed to the best-qualified agentoften one assigned to particular product lines or language fluency.
It also comes with "look ahead" routing for overflow and remote supervisor and agent support, and enhanced multisite management tools.
Click here to read about vendors at Computex who are pushing IP telephony with VOIP gateways.
AltiWare 5.0 has also been enhanced with E911 support. IP telephonys indifference to physical location has a downside to emergency response: An IP phone user sitting in New Jersey may be attached to an IP PBX in Los Angeles, so a call to 911 would not alert, say, Hoboken, but instead the LAPD.
AltiGen ensures traceability of IP phones to physical locations by assigning and outputting specific caller ID information for every extension and by implementing a digit-pattern translation so that the 911 call routes to the local PSAP center, regardless of where the central phone system is located.
All desktop GUIs and administration interfaces have been redesigned, and enhanced CDR search and reporting tools make it easier to track calls and assign telecom costs to departments.
AltiGen is making a low-cost toehold into VOIP. A base price of $7,500 buys the hardware and software of an AltiServ 1 IP system, which supports eight to 50 users.
Included are 30 VOIP ports for either IP phones or outgoing trunks, eight of AltiGens own Alti-IP 600 telephones, four analog fax/modem/extension ports, and support for eight analog phones.
The system also includes 18 ports of voice mail, supporting as many as 2,000 mailboxes and 1,500 hours of messaging. Support for networking allows customers to make multisite VOIP networks out of multiple servers.
Check out eWEEK.coms VOIP & Telephony Center at http://voip.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.
Ellen Muraskin is editor of eWEEK.com's VOIP & Telephony Center. She has worked on the editorial staff at Computer Telephony, since renamed Communications Convergence, including three years as executive editor. Muraskin's work has also appeared in Popular Science magazine and other publications.