Smaller VOIP Players Vie with Giants

Reporter's Notebook: Smaller companies join giants Microsoft and IBM in introducing new VOIP services.

SAN FRANCISCO—While Microsoft and IBM dominated the news coming out of VoiceCon, a gaggle of smaller vendors introduced new VOIP offerings.

Noticeably missing from VoiceCon was Microsoft alliance partner Nortel Networks. At last years event here, both Nortel and Microsoft touted their partnership to deliver VOIP (Voice over IP) functionality in software that would run on commodity hardware.

Another major VOIP provider, Avaya, sought to demonstrate its dominance but took a back seat with a few small news nuggets.

According to newly released market share figures from Synergy Research Group, Avaya is the top revenue generator in IP Telephony with 25.4 percent of the worldwide market in the second quarter of this year.

But according to Allan Sulkin, president of market researcher TEQConsult Group in Hackensack, N.J., Cisco Systems took the number one market share spot for the second quarter.

Go figure.

Beyond the dueling market research, Avaya also updated its Avaya Voice Portal, an XML-based speech engine, to support up to 2000 ports per cluster.

Avaya also teamed up with the American Cancer Society to market a pink faceplate for its Avaya 9600 Series IP Deskphones. Avaya will donate $5 per faceplate, which sport the American Cancer Societys pink ribbon, sold to the charity.


Click here to read more about what IBMs acquisition of web conferencing company WebDialogs means for this technology.

Avaya also announced that it won a deal with Black & Decker to build an IPT network for some 200 locations.

Black & Decker is embracing VOIP in a big way. The telecommunications department there has already teamed up with product developers to create a combination product and service that helps secure construction job sites. The product, called the MobileLock, uses cellular and GPS chips to provide the electronic equivalent of a LoJack for expensive construction equipment that is targeted by thieves.

The lock is mounted to the equipment the user wants to protect, and it senses when it is being moved when it shouldnt be. The lock then initiates a cell phone call to an integrated voice response system, which kicks off a transaction to an auto-dialer, which calls the customer. The GPS chip can track the movement of the equipment, according to Karen Dean, director of global telecommunications for Black & Decker, located in Towson, Md.

Keynote Systems announced at VoiceCon that is will bring its Voice Perspective VOIP testing service to enterprises. The service, previously only offered to carriers, allows enterprises to test the call quality of VOIP calls over mixed IP and PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) connections.

The subscription service, aimed primarily at call centers, will execute test calls from Public Caller Agents installed on computers in New York, San Francisco, Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles to Keynote Responder appliances installed at the customer site.

The agents dial the responders every half hour and the service provides both operational performance monitoring and SLA (service-level agreement) compliance reporting.


Read more here about the growing interest in Web collaboration tools in the enterprise.

The service, which will go live by the end of the month, is priced at $20,000 for the first year from one location.

Also at VoiceCon, Communicado, the company formerly known as SyncVoice Communications, introduced a new platform that allows VARs and Management Service Providers to provide hosted management services for VOIP.

The platform, an appliance and portal software, can be used to augment existing network and application management tools. It provides Quality of Service troubleshooting; voice stream capture and replay; and secure remote access for technicians needing to troubleshoot problems without requiring VPNs.

Also on the managed services front, at VoiceCon Verizon Business introduced a new communications tool for customers using Hosted IP Centrex that allows employees to access voicemail, control incoming and outgoing calls using point and click actions and manage their online presence. The service also provides text messaging and calendaring.


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