PhoneFree Teams With STSI to Launch Unlimited Phone to Phone Service
PhoneFree.com announced that it has launched a unlimited U.S. domestic phone to phone long distance VoIP service for $49.95 per month. The provider teamed with STSI.net to develop the offering, and to provide routing and termination capabilities on a local, regional and long distance basis. The service is available on a local basis in 152 U.S. metropolitan markets.
PhoneFree also recently launched a PC to phone service that enables users to place call to 238 countries and territories outside of the U.S. The service is based on its proprietary VoIP client, which enables users to place and receive calls between PCs located anywhere in the world, or from any PC in the world to any traditional phone in 238 countries including the U.S. It features capabilities such as conference, whiteboard, text chat, personal phone book, caller ID, file transfer, voicemail and full duplex support. In addition, the vendor offers a white pages section on its web site that enables users to locate other users by searching for name, location and/or interests. Users can also go unlisted. Users will need at least a 486 100Mhz PC running Windows 95, 98 or NT 4.0, a 14.4 Internet connection and a Windows compatible sound system. The company also offers an unlimited no charge PC to PC VoIP service.
In other news, PhoneFree said that it has acquired Callrewards.com. Financial details were not disclosed. The company offers PC to PC and PC to phone VoIP services that allow users to earn free calling minutes by placing VoIP calls, interacting with ad banners at its site, agreeing to receive advertisements via email and/or referring other users. It also recently teamed with iDial Networks to develop a web initiated call back phone to phone service that provides global connectivity.
Net2Phone Forms New Entity; Cisco Invests
Net2Phone reported that Cisco has purchased a minority equity stake the new entity that it has just formed, Adir Technologies, to focus on developing and marketing network management software for VoIP and other packet based networks. Financial details were not disclosed. Cisco plans to market and license Adir’s network management platform to its VoIP customers. The management solution provides information on the health, capacity and utilization of a packet based network including specific functions for real-time advanced call management, rating, routing, and authentication. In addition, the technology can aid in supporting QoS by providing tools for fault detection, notification and equipment diagnosis.
ePhone to Deploy Brooktrout’s Technologies
ePhone Telecom said that it is planning to deploy Brooktrout Technology’s TRxStream Series model TR2001 IP Telephony platforms in the IP network that it is developing to support a variety of services. The TR2001 products offer a layered API to enable users to choose between protocols such as H.323, MGCP, SIP, etc., while developing support for an array of enhanced services such as messaging and conferencing. The NEBS level 3-compliant boards also support hot swap and passive rear access. The technology is currently available for Windows NT, Solaris, UnixWare and Linux OSs, in both PCI and cPCI formats.
ePhone is in the process of constructing a global VoIP network, with plans to deploy at least 300 V/FoIP POPs throughout select European, the Pacific Rim and the U.S. markets over the next three years.
ipVerse to Integrate MIND’s CC&B Technology
ipVerse reported that it is planning to integrate MIND CTI’s customer care and billing solution, MIND-iPhonEX, with its IP telephony technology, ControlSwitch, to offer a softswitch based VoIP solution with integrated billing and customer care capabilities.
The iPhonEX technology is designed to provide billing and call traffic analysis for IP services such as VoIP. It features web interfaces for providers and subscribers that can be used to register, verify credit cards and perform a variety of other customer care functions. The product also provides support for call management, traffic analysis, fraud detection and convergent IP services billing capabilities.
The multi-protocol ControlSwitch call control system provides interoperability via SS7, MGCP, H.323, IPDC, SIP and ISDN-PRI signaling. It can support voice/data traffic exchange within or between provider’s networks. In addition, it can support more than one million busy hour call attempts, and it employs web based tools and an XML language to enable services to be developed without interrupting existing services.
LG Electronics to Integrate Net2Phone’s VoIP Technology
LG Electronics said that it is planning to integrate Net2Phone’s VoIP technologies into its VoIP gateway offerings. The LG gateway is a compact system that enables small to medium size corporations to route voice and fax communications over the Internet. The integrated solution will enable users to access Net2Phone’s VoIP networks to place calls from a PC or traditional telephone to any PC or traditional telephone in the world.
Net2Phone offers connectivity between PCs, phones, web sites and facsimile machines or any combination thereof. It can route calls to any telephone or PC in the world via its network of POPs.
ShelCad to Integrate Trillium’s H.323 Protocol Software
ShelCad reported that it is integrating Trillium Digital Systems’ H.323 protocol stack technology into the IP adapter device, Appearion, that it is developing to enable traditional phones to be used for IP telephony. The H.323 software technology enables OEM developers to design carrier class systems. It consists of H.225 RAS, H.225 call signaling, H.245 control signaling, ASN.1 Encoder/Decoder-PER TCP/UDP convergence and RTP/RTCP source-code software implementations. It has also recently been enhanced to support H.323 v3 technologies, Annex E for reduced call setup roundtrip time, H.450 support for deployment and supplementary services, and endpoint RAS APIs for both flexibility and interoperability. The vendor is also further developing the software to include support for Annex G, Annex M as well as fault-tolerant/high-availability support for increased network reliability.
Trillium Digital Systems
IPVoice Activates Miami VoIP Gateway
IPVoice.com said that it has expanded its IP telephony network and services to include a POP in Miami. The provider recently launched the Internet telephony service based on its own high-density IP telephony system, SuperConnect, deployed in New York City and Los Angeles, and expanded the network to include additional POPs in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Phoenix. It has also recently negotiated a deal with Firstnet Telephony Limited, in which Firstnet deployed its IP telephony equipment to interconnect its UK based networks with IPVoice’s U.S. domestic VoIP network, and offer IP telephony services throughout the UK.
IPVoice offers three calling plans for the service: Flat 5, a 5 CPM offering for all calls placed to markets in the continental U.S. and Canada, with international calls billed at existing rates; 4+4, a 4 CPM package for calls placed in the domestic U.S., and discount calling rates to four user selectable international destinations; and Flat25, a $25 flat rate service that allows users to place an unlimited amount of calls to select markets, with calls ranging outside of covered areas billed at existing rates.
Firstnet Telephony Limited
Woodwind Secures $12.2 Million in Second Round
Woodwind Communications Systems said that it has completed a $12.2 million second round of financing with Alta Partners, SpaceVest, Sterling Venture Partners, Boulder Ventures and Novak Biddle Venture Partners. The vendor intends to use the funding to further market and develop it next gen broadband products, which include IADs designed to support VoDSL technologies.
Woodwind Communications Systems
TelePacific Secures $19 Million in Financing
TelePacific Communications announced that is has received a $19 million equity investment from the Hillman Company, GE Capital and Arena Capital Partners. The provider intends to use the funding to expand it customer support activities, expand its network infrastructure into additional U.S. metropolitan markets, and further develop and implement its back office and proprietary web based customer solutions. The company offers a variety of services including VoDSL, local and long distance voice, data, Internet access, web hosting and design via its networks deployed throughout the Western U.S. It specifically focuses on offering services to small and medium size corporations in Los Angeles and Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Las Vegas.
FastComm Secures $3.5 Million in Financing
FastComm Communications announced that it has completed a $3.5 million round of financing. The funding was arranged by the Zanett Securities Corporation, a New York based merchant banking firm, which has retained the option to invest an additional $3.5 million over the next 14 months. FastComm intends to use the financing for working capital, to expand its marketing activities, further develop its flagship products (the Chanlcomm Communications Controller and the SignalPath Signaling Gateway) and to further promote its VoIP, VoDSL and VoFR IADs.
Tolly Research Results
Low-Bit-Rate Voice Encoder Gets VoIP Nod: Tests Reveal Lucent Gateway Generates Acceptable Voice Quality Even at Low Speeds
By Charles Bruno, Executive Editor, Tolly Research
Network executives faced with the decision to deploy voice over IP technology in their enterprise networks must take solace from the fact that the products they acquire are capable of providing a degree of voice quality acceptable for business use.
Researchers for ITclarity, the industry’s leading source of hands-on testing of emerging technologies, recently tested a standards-based voice encoder (vocoder) for transmission of multimedia over extremely low-bit-rate connections that still provides acceptable quality audio for business applications.
Engineers measured the voice quality of Lucent Technologies’ implementation of a G.723 vocoder; G.723 is an ITU-T recommendation that specifies algorithms for a dual-rate vocoder originally designed for low bit-rate multimedia transmissions at either 6.3 kbps or 5.3 kbps. Both rates employ a Code-Excited Linear Prediction (CELP) algorithm; the difference between the rates is based on the excitation technique (Multipulse Maximum Likelihood Quantization, or MP-MLQ, for 6.3 kbps and an algebraic code for 5.3 kbps).
Voice-quality measurements were conducted for two different signaling methods, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) Primary Rate Interface (PRI) and T1 robbed-bit, to determine the impact on perceived voice quality. ISDN PRI uses a single out-of-band common channel for signaling separate information channels. In contrast, T1 robbed-bit signaling uses selective in-band bits to provide signaling, thereby reducing the 64-kbps bandwidth available for voice to 56 kbps. Each of these signaling methods was tested in combination with the two vocoders we examined.
Voice quality was quantified objectively using the Perceptual Speech Quality Measure (PSQM), which provides, according to the ITU-T, the most accurate estimate of the subjective quality of coded speech (ITU-T Recommendation P.861).
Engineers determined that the G.723.1 vocoder, as implemented in Lucent’s MAX VoIP gateway products, does not provide voice quality on par with vocoders that support the G.728 and G.729 specifications for encoding speed for transmission over 16 kbps and 8 kbps connections. And, voice quality was notably different that earlier tests of a G.711 vocoder, which handles uncompressed voice over a 64 kbps circuit. However, voice quality over the low-bit-rate vocoders is still acceptable for business use.
Moreover, engineers found there is virtually no difference in voice quality when directing the encoder traffic over ISDN PRI lines or T1 circuits that employ robbed bit signaling.
For more information on this and other IP Telephony issues, visit Tolly’s web site.
PhoneFree Teams With STSI to Launch Unlimited Phone to Phone Service