Apps Ease VOIP Management

Voice-over-IP software from BroadSoft and AccessLine stress simplicity and flexibility.

Having heard from the midsize-business market that voice-over-IP systems are not always as simple as advertised, VOIP vendors are striving to make their products more manageable without making them more expensive.

VOIP application software maker BroadSoft Inc., of Gaithersburg, Md., is launching an entry-level hosted call center application for businesses that depend on contact centers. The company, along with many of its fellow VOIP providers, will unveil such simplified technologies at the VON (Voice on the Net) Conference & Expo in San Jose, Calif., this week.

Integrated into its BroadWorks platform, the new BroadSoft applications let companies improve call center quality without the expense and complexity of technologies used by larger enterprises. With the companys call center system, agents use tool bars in Microsoft Corp.s Outlook and Internet Explorer to answer, hold and transfer calls and set up conference calls. The system comes with reporting capabilities that let supervisors monitor calls, interrupt conversations and track performance.

First Guaranty Mortgage Corp., in McLean, Va., which started deploying VOIP to replace its PBX system three years ago, found that IP networking is not always as easy as vendors claim. After turning to BroadSoft and its partners, the company did not have to install a new infrastructure.

With a work force of as many as 250 employees, agents come and go depending on sales, but call volume remains high, said Ben Sizemore, vice president of IS at FGMC. "Its a constant expand and contract," Sizemore said. "I want to be two or three clicks away."

Also focusing on flexibility and simplicity, AccessLine Communications Corp. is rolling out its latest service, SmartVoice Business. The Bellevue, Wash., provider of hosted and managed voice services added enterpriselike calling features to its offering while championing the prospect of dramatic savings. Businesses can buy new VOIP handsets or use existing equipment.

SmartVoice comes with free calling among company sites through a voice VPN; low-cost toll-free numbers; and local, long-distance and international dialing. It also includes voice mail and fax management, call screening, and conferencing—all can be administered from a central Web interface.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read about how vendors are adding functions to make voice over IP management easier.

Businesses that are thinking about hosting their own VOIP applications can consider a new media gateway being unveiled this week by AudioCodes Ltd. The Mediant 1000 is billed as a cost-effective way to link TDM (time-division multiplexing) and IP networks across an enterprise.

To remove some of the complexity of installation, AudioCodes is upgrading the gateway hardware and software so the Mediant 1000 can be used without modifying the routing configurations within an existing PBX. It is small enough even for branch offices but can be scaled up as businesses expand.

/zimages/6/28571.gif Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.