There is no shortage of cloud-based file sharing solutions on the market, such as Box, Dropbox, or Skydrive, which are very popular with consumers. However, businesses often require a higher level of security due to compliance regulations. Even if compliance isn’t a concert, many businesses want stronger encryption levels for peace of mind, especially when you consider several high-profile hacks of supposedly secure cloud providers. Transcertain’s CertainSafe enables organizations to share mission critical information across multiple platforms at a very high level of security. CertainSafe sports PCI DSS Level 1, plus AES256-level encryption, with support up to 1024-bit or any other custom algorithm that may be required. TMC Labs reviewed CertainSafe a few months ago in Internet Telephony Magazine, and it earned favorable marks. TransCertain has made some improvements so we thought it was worth a second look.
If you aren’t familiar with CertainSafe, the platform is what Transcertain likes to call “the virtual safety deposit box”. This is for your files where you need compliancy and or high levels of security such as medical records, financial data, or files requiring PCI compliance. You don’t use this platform for mass storage backup of all your files, but instead you upload only your most sensitive files that you need to store and share.
When we first logged into CertainSafe as a new users we were prompted to pick out own security questions and then we could set how often after we login that we’re challenged. You can choose how often to be challenged, i.e. once per week, once a month, randomly, etc. Once logged in, you can create folders and then share the folder with other people, including people who are not currently CertainSafe users. Any CertainSafe user can share their folders and files with anyone though non-CertainSafe users only have “read” access.
It’s a non-editable secure view of the file and cannot be downloaded or printed. Dragging and dropping files from your file manager (i.e. Windows Explorer, Apple Finder) into CertainSafe is very easy. Leveraging HTML5 you can drop-and-drop multiple files at once in to your browser windows to upload your files. Surprisingly, although you can drag-and-drop files into the browser window you cannot drag-and-drop files in one of CertainSafe’s folders to another folder in order to move it. Though it was simple enough to tap the file and be prompted for various file operations, including: view, delete, download, rename, move, comments, and audit logs. Different icons represent the various file types such as documents or images to help you understand what the files are. There used to be icon view and list view in the prior version we reviewed, however, TransCertain removed list view in favor of icon view since it’s more touch-friendly.
In the latest version they changed the upload to a new browser window so you can continue to use your primary CertainSafe window and continue to work. CertainSafe’s UI was redesigned to be more touch-friendly with larger screen elements that are more easily selected with your finger. Also, a new feature they’re working on is the ability to add a signature on touch displays using just your finger to your name. The document is still “locked” and not editable, but it enables digital signatures on touch screens.
A critical feature is that when sharing a folder you can set a data range, including the ability to share a folder in the future. You don’t need to remember to “unshare” a folder at a later data, which is important for reporting, HIPAA compliance, and other compliancy issues. Other sharing options allow you to set whether users can download the file, view the “preview” rendered document only, and even enable users to upload back into this folder. You can receive email notifications upon changes and for new items added. Audit logs built into the system add further legal standing and enable clients to track who changed what and when.
TMC Labs liked how CertainSafe brings ultra-high-level security while simultaneously not forcing users to jump through hoops to gain access. The web-based interface was very intuitive and user-friendly and we liked that this newer version is more touch friendly. TMC Labs was very impressed with CertainSafe and would not hesitate to recommend their solution to organizations looking for a highly secure cloud-based method of sharing information with high usability.
Copyright VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Looking at the Jumper Card from the top with the connectors popped out, sporting 3 different connection types, you can see why I call this the "Swiss Army Knife" of portable chargers:
It measures 3.54 x 2.24 x 0.25 inches. By comparison, a credit card is 3.34 x 2.12 x 0.030 inches. So how well would this do in a wallet? That depends. If you use a tri-fold wallet, that obviously won't work. As for bi-fold wallets, it does work if you don't mind having a slight George Costanza wallet. That said, if you don't have many credit, membership, or gift cards stashed in your bi-fold, then the Jumper Card actually fits pretty well. Of course, the device is portable enough for pocketbooks, shirt pockets, pants pockets, laptop case, or any travel bag.
Sporting the three most popular connectors for mobile devices and gadgets: microUSB, Apple's Lightning connector, and the 30-pin iPhone connector all on a single adapter comes in super-handy. But that's the only trick up this device's sleeve. It also sports a bright blue LED that passes through two clear plastic orbs. Here's a profile view with the blue LED light turned on and a Papermate pen for scale:
- 480mAh battery [iPhone 5 has 1440mAh so 1/3rd the "juice"]
- 1/4-inch thick
- Overcharge/discharge protection
- Charging light indicator
- About the size of a credit card
- MicroUSB, Apple's Lightning, and iPhone 30-pin connectors
- Meets military specs
- LED flashlight and power on/off
Tags: george costanza, iphone, jumper card, lightning, mobile phone, portable battery, portable charger, power, swiss army knife
Related tags: portable charger, knife portable, portable chargers, microusb apple, lightning iphone, jumper
In one of the BYOD sessions I moderated at ITEXPO, the panelists discussed virtualizing your corporate profile so that you have to identities on your mobile device (business & personal). I expressed my concerns that users like a unified mailbox and won't like having to switch to a business profile to view corporate email. The pull of corporate interests (security) vs. user's expectations of frictionless and painless use of their mobile apps will be an interesting thing to flesh out over the next 18 months. The panelists had some interesting thoughts on this, that if you missed this session you missed a good one!
Yealink was my favorite designed booth at the Las Vegas ITEXPO (very Apple-esque), but now competitor Grandstream has upped their game with an impressive booth of their own at the 2014 Miami ITEXPO. Check out these photos:
Obihai has a new color IP phone they're launching very soon and they gave the first public demonstration of their new phone at ITEXPO. It's designed with service providers in mind since it uses Obihai's cloud-based provisioning model for easy plug-and-play. It's based on a unique serial number (possibly the MAC address) and the phone automatically queries Obihai's cloud provisioning server to get all the relevant account info such as SIP credentials.
Of course, power users can also purchase the phone directly online and provision the SIP credentials themselves. Internet Telephony Service Providers (ITSP) have the option of "locking" the device or letting you move to another ITSP. I believe Obihai said it supports up to 24 SIP registrations. Here's a sneak peek of the phone!
I met with Xorcom and they had some interesting news. They basically solved a long standing problem in Asterisk, namely the changing of telephony interfaces. When you remove an interface it messes up the numbering. Several years R&D; team combined with Digium to solve this challenge in Asterisk and completely redesigned the way Digium numbers telephony ports. Now can plug, unplug, reboot and not change integrity of the system. Each interface has its own unique numbering and it works with any DAHDI device.
They also announced Blue Steel PBX. The Blue Steel product line is a stand-alone, pre-configured, out-of-the-box IP-PBX featuring Xorcom’s CompletePBX distribution. Blue Steel features hot-swappable server-grade hard disk drives, hot-swappable power supplies, and built-in power for up to four Astribanks.
It supports various combinations of telephony ports both internally and via Astribank units connected via USB2: up to 960 PSTN/analog phones ports, up to 16 E1 R2 / T1 CAS PRI ports, up to 1,000 users, and up to 550 concurrent SIP calls.
I also met with Digium and they announced some news at ITEXPO. Here's my notes. To go cloud they first partnered with VocalCloud and then acquired them. They did the Switchvox Cloud that Digium now sells at $35/seat.
Switchvox 5.8 now has advanced peering tools inside it. The newest version of Outlook integration now allows you to change presence status from within Outlook.
Announced at ITEXPO they now offer an interesting risk free trial with 0 upfront cost. They give you 5 licenses, ship you 5 Digium phones, and give you a toll free number! You don't even pay for shipping!
One benefit of Switchvox and Switchvox Cloud is that it's the EXACT same UI for customer premise and cloud-based version. They offer a channel program with 10% commission. Further, they also told me under NDA (now expired) an IP phone rental option, thereby eliminating CAPEX. They sell the Digium D40 @ $8/month, D50 @ $12/month and the D70 executive phone @ $18/month. The rental model has FULL support / warranty on the phone forever. So if dies, ship a new one. February 3rd is when this will be available. Channel partners can be 1st level support or send to Digium, which is nice.
WebRTC has a nice-sized pavillion on the show floor I'm hoping to check out soon. Stay tuned for more from ITEXPO!
I met with Midokura, a company founded in Japan, in the press room at ITEXPO to learn about their network virtualization solution. Midokura offers IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) for both public and private cloud. They plug into Openstack / CloudStack / vSphere and can run them in a distributed software environment. midokura's Adam Johnson, General Manage explained how Midokura Midokura came about. They started about 4 years ago as an alternative to Amazon's cloud offering. Adam told me that Dan Mihai Dumitriu, Midokura CEO, CTO & co-founder served as Senior Researcher at NGI Group and Technical Lead at Amazon.com, which certainly gave him insights on how to built public & private network clouds.
Their customers had hosted solutions for computer & storage, but nothing for hosted networks. Existing hosted network solutions were a bit of kludge leveraging VLANs, which is limited to 4096 for different tenants making it not scalable and harder to manage and setup.
Midokura created overlay networks. They developed a software agent that sits next to every hypervisor that provides distributed virtual switching. They kept going up the OSI stack and developed distributed switch & distributed NAT and covered Layer 2-4. They went GA with their product at the end of last year and integrated with OpenStack becoming the first to be certified.
Their solution takes known thing – networking and makes it distributed and very efficient. You don’t have to replace any gear – only requirement is forwarding network packets. Adam mentioned their solution is built for scale and compared with with VMware which uses a centralized controller, which can very overloaded as more devices have to communicate with it. Midokura on the other hand uses an agent at each Hypervisor, so it’s more distributed.
Further, they maximize the performance of existing switches – there is no need for middle boxes to perform ARP broadcasts and such. They do it via the agent so it's more efficient. Their core solution is MidoNet, which features:
- Fully Distributed Architecture with no single points of failure
- Fully virtualized Layer 2 through 4 networking
- VLAN-less VLANs – Virtual L2 Distributed Level Isolation with virtually no limitations
- Virtual L2 Distributed Switching
- Virtual L3 Distributed Routing
- Distributed Load Balancing and Firewall Services
- BGP Routing
- Stateful and Stateless NAT
- Floating IPs
- Access Control Lists (ACLs)
- Restful API
- Web Based Management Control Panel
- Monitoring of Networking Services
- Live Migration
It costs $1899 per host/year 24/7 support , which is very simple pricing unlike VMware which is not only costly but very complex licensing. They also offer a 60 day trial.
Check out Adam's video intro of Midokura that I took at ITEXPO:
It leverages mobile TCP & SNMP for monitoring devices, routers, switches and can send SMS, make a phone call or send an email if a machine has an error. In industrial environments it can be useful to monitor high temperature, humidity, switch not responding, machine under heavy load. Using HiperPBX you can essentially bridge IT (Information Technology) & control management of the factory, which have typically been two distinct camps.
Using HiperPBX you can also use SIP speakers for paging a certain sector of the factory to notify a special alerting condition, i.e. valve needs to be turned to relieve pressure. It also integrates with access control systems. The software in HyperPBX can let you control access on doors with RFID or PIN/keypad. One innovative approach is that it can play a message as you swipe your RFID door access key or enter your PIN. For instance, after swiping your card, it can say “Welcome Tom. You have voicemails waiting.” Or “You have a meeting, Tom”. It’s now a communications device – not just an authentication device.
The user interface lets your record prompts to a user profile in order to do this. I asked Gustavo Scheveloff about integrating with Exchange Calendar or other Calendars to automatically pull relevant upcoming meeting info and he said that is possible. He also mentioned TTS is coming so you don’t have to record prompts. Speech-recognition is also on the roadmap.
Gustavo explained that you can map an extension of the PBX to standard port using SNMP or mobile TCP. So if you dial x100 it turns off a light and if you dial x101 it turns it on.
Based on Asterisk, you can use an appliance or a virtualized instance. I mentioned to Gustavo Scheveloff that his solution reminded me of the old Centrex days of carrier hosted phone systems. HiperPBX is like Centrex Plus - now carriers can manage door access systems, alarm systems, M2M devices, PBX, unified communications, voicemail, etc. Definitely opens the door to carriers to offer managed "M2M & UC".
Their high-end CPU-3000 supports up to 4 T1/PRIs and 500 extensions. Full specs:
- SIP, H.323 and IAX2
- Up to 4 T1 interfaces
- Web friendly interfase
- Trunk support for SIP, H323 and IAX accounts
- Up to 500 local extensions
- Remote extensions support
- Call Forward, transference and conference support
- Personalized Dial Plan
- Voice messaging for evey user/extension
- VoiceMail to EMAIL functionality
- Personalized IVR
- Cluster configuration support for High Availability
- Support for multiple codecs (GSM, ILBC, G.711a, G.711u, G.729, G.723.1)
Check out Gustavo's introduction to HiperPBX:
Tags: asterisk, hiperpbx, itexpo, m2m, miami, uc, unified communications, voip
Related tags: unified communications, gustavo scheveloff, introduction hiperpbx, industrial unified, record prompts, hiperpbx
He also touched on how to load codecs and the current IP issues with some codecs such as Opus, which can be used in WebRTC.
It's fun to watch Billy SSH into an Asterisk box and run various Linux and Asterisk commands. Very educational.
Here's a photo of the jammed packed session:
According to Frost and Sullivan in 2013 that said, "We believe that globally there are 60-70 million physical conference rooms. We estimate that about 5% of these are penetrated with video conferencing capabilities." A big part of the reason for such low penetration is the cost of room-based video conferencing systems, which can be hundeds of thousands of dollars for high-end telepresence systems. Many businesses simply get by with traditional audioconferencing "UFO-shaped" phones in board rooms due to the high cost of videoconferencing systems. Logitech, a leader in USB-based computer peripherals aims to change that with the new Logitech ConferenceCam CC3000e, which is launching today. Logitech sent me a ConferenceCam CC3000e which I plan to do a full review on after the ITEXPO show taking place in Miami this week.
The Logitech ConferenceCam CC3000e is designed for the 6-10 person conference and is super easy to setup. I unboxed my review unit and everything is clearly numbered and labeled so you know how to make all the connections. Since it uses USB you can use your favorite UC or Web conferencing application, including Microsoft Lync, Skype, Vidyo, and Cisco. In many ways, the Logitech ConferenceCam CC3000e is the successor to the Logitech BCC950 camera that I reviewed last year (image right). If you recall the BCC950, it featured 1080p HD video, 30 fps, high-quality omni-directional microphone/speakerphone with a range of 8 feet, and the ability to pan, tilt, and zoom from the unit itself or the included remote control. It also sports a 9" stem and a 78◦ field of view. The CC3000e has an almost identical looking remote control and it also sports the same fast auto-focus that the BCC950 had, but at a wider 90◦ field of view and with a 10X lossless zoom.
One of my complaints about the BCC950 was that the step motor was a bit jerky and the motor's sounds was picked up by the unit's speakerphone and sent to the remote calling party, which is a bit distracting. I asked Logitech is the CC3000e sports a smoother and quieter motor and they said that indeed it does. It also features PTZ controls and supports Far End Camera (FEC) control with certain apps.
The product sports a "hub" which sits on the conference table and importantly the product comes with a long 32-foot cable that connects to the camera. This long cable is essential since often your "mobile" laptop or even a permanent conference room PC is located far from where the projector screen or TV (plus the camera) is mounted. USB is limited to 15-16 feet so the 32 feet cable doubles that and allows you to "cleanly" snake the cable under the rug to the Logitech camera mounted above a TV. The hub, which you position on the conference table, also connects to the speakerphone and your laptop (via USB) using cables that are obviously shorter that the 32-foot hub-to-camera cable since both the hub and speakerphone are both positioned on the conference table within reach of your laptop.
–90◦ Wide Field of View
–Full HD H.264/SVC
–10X lossless zoom, PTZ controls
–Omni-directional 20-ft diameter range
–Noise/echo cancellation, full duplex, stereo/mono
–Bluetooth/NFC for pairing to mobile device
–Components centrally connected
–32-foot range speakerphone to camera
–Camera and hub mounts
–LCD caller and function display
–Call and camera controls
–Kensington Security Slot
–Dockable remote control
The speakerphone has a LCD display that shows CallerID info and the speakerphone features your classic call control functionality - answer, hang up, volume up/down. One really cool feature is the NFC/Bluetooth pairing, which allows your to pair your NFC-enabled phone over Bluetooth just by touching your phone to the speakerphone. Definitely looking forward to trying this feature out. The Logitech ConferenceCam CC3000e has a $999.99 MSRP, which certainly makes it an affordable option for most businesses. I'm looking forward to seeing how well the 10X zoom works and the PTZ. Stay tuned for my full-fledged review!
Tags: bcc950, CC3000e, conferencing, fec, hd, logitech, lync, microsoft, skype, videoconferencing
Related tags: logitech conferencecam, video conferencing, conference table, camera mounted, control sports, logitech
With ITEXPO just around the corner (January 28-31st) in Miami, companies are already announcing their wares that they'll showcase at this premiere communications tradeshow. One of my favorite VoIP solutions is FreePBX, so I'm excited to check out the new FreePBX High Availability (HA) Appliances that Schmooze Com, Inc. will be showcasing.
Check out the news below & make sure you attend ITEXPO...
Schmooze Com, Inc. and maintainers of FreePBX, the world’s leading Open Source PBX platform, announced today that it has added two new FreePBX High Availability Appliance solutions to it’s line of FreePBX Appliances. FreePBX Appliances are certified hardware solutions specifically designed to support and run FreePBX. The SMB HA Appliance is designed to target businesses with up to 75 users/extensions, and the Xtreme HA Appliance Bundle will support installations with up to 350 extensions.
FreePBX HA was recently released to utilize DRBD, Cluster Manager and Pacemaker technologies, to enable automatic mirroring and failover between two FreePBX phone systems. If there is a system impacting outage on the primary PBX, phones, SIP trunks, and PSTN connections (requires additional hardware) are redirected to the secondary PBX. When the primary PBX is repaired or recovers, the system can switch back to the primary PBX in just seconds.
The SMB HA Appliance is a rack mountable 2U unit that houses two completely independent systems with separate drives, motherboards, power supplies, and PCI-e ports for PSTN connectivity (requires additional hardware).
The Xtreme HA Appliance bundle is built using the popular FreePBX Xtreme Appliance. Each appliance is a 4U rack mountable PBX.
“We looked at what FreePBX HA could do and then we built a system around that. Our new SMB High Availability Appliance was built from the ground up with FreePBX HA in mind. Before we ship them we get them setup with the latest stable version of FreePBX and pre-configured with an HA configuration, allowing our customers to add phones, SIP trunks or PSTN lines as well as have an out-of-the-box HA PBX system.” says Tony Lewis, CEO of Schmooze Com, Inc.
Schmooze Com, Inc. will showcase an active SMB FreePBX HA Appliance at ASTERISK World at ITEXPO, January 28-31.
Tags: disaster recovery, freepbx, ha, high availability, itexpo, miami, pbx, sip, smb, voip
Related tags: availability appliance, appliance bundle, requires additional, freepbx appliances, additional hardware, freepbx
The AT&T Syn248 is a new Do It Yourself (DIY) IP-based phone system that supports up to 8 analog lines and 24 phones (hence the Syn248 naming), which truly hits the SMB sweet spot. I was intrigued that AT&T; was offering a corporate PBX, considering most carriers in the past didn’t sell CPE-based PBXs and instead sold Centrex (hosted) and now currently sell cloud-based VoIP into the SMB space, that certainly piqued my interest. I requested an evaluation kit to review the AT&T; Syn248. I was sent one of their 4-port 1U SB35010 gateways/PBXs, which can be expanded to 8-ports simply by adding a second 4-port gateway to reach the 8 port maximum. There are two model desksets. The first is the SB35025 basic deskset with DECT 6.0 phone features a 2.5” backlit display, PoE, dual Ethernet ports, 9 programmable buttons, and multi-line call appearances. The second is the SB35031 feature deskset with DECT 6.0 which features a monstrous 5" backlit display, can handle 5 calls simultaneously, and sports 6 quick-dial keys next to the LCD. Both phone models can be paired with AT&T; DECT headsets, up to a maximum of 10.
Installing the Syn248 was drop-dead simple. I didn’t even bother looking at the quick start guide and just started connecting the devices. I connected the SB35010 gateway to a PoE switch, plugged in its AC adapter and then connected the SB35031 feature deskset phone to a Power over Ethernet port causing the phone to instantly power up. I watched the SB35010 boot up and the LCD screen indicated the IP address, date/time, and number of PSTN lines. As it was booting, the four LEDs flashed red and then turned off. If one of the lines is unplugged it turns red, which is a nice visual indicator of an issue with one of the lines. The phone automatically acquired an IP address from my corporate DHCP server and the phone auto-discovered the SB35010 gateway/PBX and was assigned extension 200. I had dialtone and could initiate calls in less than 5 minutes!
I made an inbound call to the Syn248 and immediately heard x200 ringing. Surprised there wasn’t a default auto-attendant configured I went ahead and answered the call and was connected. The call quality was superb. I investigated why an auto-attendant didn’t answer by checking out the full documentation, which is only available online. The full documentation is in PDF format and has clickable elements to jump to different sections and not just the table of contents. The entire document has clickable keywords to jump to various sections making it very easy to find what you’re looking for. For instance, I was able to get admin password to the gateway device and the phone itself very quickly by clicking ‘Accessing Web Administration WebUI’ - a major topic heading in the Table of Contents. I can’t sing enough praises for the documentation for how well organized it was, the clickable elements, and the plethora of pictures. Considering the goal of this product is to be a DIY phone system, having comprehensive and easy-to-navigate documentation is critical and AT&T; executed this part beautifully. Further, the deskset itself sports a Help '?' button that lets you navigate various help topics on the LCD, including how to conference calls, transfer a call, place a call on hold, use voicemail, directory, redial, etc. Definitely a nice usability touch.
In any event, I looked up how to configure the auto-attendant within the PDF doc and it explained I could set various auto-attendant options from the web portal or from the deskset designated as the “operator”. I logged into the web portal to the gateway and configured some auto-attendant touch-tone options.
It’s important to note that from the specially designated operator extension you can use the LCD and buttons to easily switch from day to night auto-attendant mode. I liked how easy it was to record an auto-attendant greeting from the web portal. You simply specific which phone extension to make the recording and it dials that extension where you can record, replay recording, and re-record the greeting. The ability to upload a professionally recorded .wav / .mp3 file would be a nice feature to add in a future release.
From the gateway’s web portal you can also configure each extension’s individual settings such as the Quick Dial list, Personal Directory, call forward settings, and more. More importantly, each phone has its own web portal so users can configure and change these settings themselves very easily.
I happened to have an AT&T; TL7910 DECT headset and since the phones have DECT embedded I thought I’d try and register my DECT headset to the SB35031. First, I had to unregister my DECT headset from the charging cradle, which is also connected to my PC for PC-to-headset audio. After that I had to place the headset back into the cradle to kick off pairing mode on the headset. Lastly, I navigated the LCD on the SB35031 to the pairing menu and kicked off the registration process. It worked and then I was able to use the DECT headset for my calls, including the ability to be up to 300 feet away from my desk and answer/hang-up calls.
Ring groups is an important feature for many businesses. The Syn248 has a “line-based” ring group feature so you can set certain DIDs/phone numbers/lines to ring only certain extensions. However, it does not support an auto-attendant-based ring group. That is, allowing a caller to press ‘1’ for sales and ring x200 and x201 but not x203-x220. Press ‘2’ for accounting and ring x203 through x206, etc. This also comes into play for the special operator designation, which can only be set to route to a single extension even if you’d like multiple people answering operator calls. Seems like a simple enough firmware upgrade to add ring groups and that’s probably the biggest lacking feature I could find.
Interestingly, the Music on Hold source and/or overhead paging system actually uses your deskset’s audio jack rather than the gateway. You can connect a single-zone overhead paging system to a deskset using the supplied audio in/out cable. The Syn248 supports one single-zone paging system per
Syn248 system. If necessary, you can connect both an overhead paging system and a Music on Hold source to a single deskset using the supplied audio in/out cable. You can configure custom recording of on-hold messages and greetings for each department or time of day (e.g., before, during, after business hours).
From the super-sized LCD screen you can see the list of voicemails and use the keypad’s up and down arrows to select the voicemail you wish to play. I liked how the voicemails display the CallerID number and name of the person who left the message. After highlighting the voicemail you can play it, delete it or call back. In a second screen you can also delete all, or play all. Once playing a message you can pause, skip forward (~8s), skip back (~8s), and delete. You can also click the Call Back button to quickly call the person back. The visual voicemail capabilities on the phone are some of the best I’ve seen, especially on a desktop IP phone.
Check out the YouTube video I took demonstrating the cool visual voicemail feature:
When you put one or more callers on-hold you can view them in the HoldList, but interestingly the CallerID number and CallerID name is blank on this screen, making it less usable to manage multiple callers. We’d like to see a firmware upgrade fix this issue.
Features / Specs
- Auto attendant scheduler with day/night mode
- Dual Ethernet ports: 10/100 Mb pass-thru port
- Supports 8 lines (4 per gateway) and up to 24 users
- Voicemail: 30 minutes per extension
- Support for 24 users out-of-the-box
- Up to eight analog lines (four per SB35010 Analog Gateway)
- Built-in DECT 6.0 technology with up to 500 feet of range*
- Multi-line appearances
- Large backlit displays
- Dial-by-name (first or last) functionality and operator selectable day and night modes
- Three-party call conferencing
- Do-not-disturb functionality
- Deskset paging with paging zones
- Limited two-year warranty
- SB35025 Deskset: Music on Hold (MoH) support using an external source, paging output for external paging equipment
- SB35031 Feature Deskset: extra-large 5" LCD screen, context-sensitive soft-key call handling, six quick-dial keys for one-touch calling.
SB35010 Gateway - $219
SB35025 Basic Deskset - $199
SB35031 Feature Deskset - $249
Considering how I was able to get up and running in less than 5 minutes - without even cracking open the quick start guide - the AT&T; Syn248 truly is a Do It Yourself phone system that doesn’t skimp on features. I liked the DECT headset support, powerful visual voicemail, auto-attendant support, and ease of setup. As previously mentioned, I’d like to see ring groups, but other than that, this product is pretty feature-complete. Perhaps also voicemail-to-email might also be a nice feature addition. But after playing with the easy-to-use visual voicemail, I certainly didn’t miss voicemail-to-email. Assuming a 5 person office using their high-end feature deskset and a single SB35010 4-port gateway, that totals out to less than $1500! A 10-person office would be $2709, which certainly makes this a bargain for SMBs looking for an affordable and feature-rich phone system and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.
I've been covering TringMe since 2007, when they launched an Adobe Flash-based VoIP app. Later they added support for ChromeOS, VoiceXML, and even Silverlight. Today, TringMe's Founder and CEO Yusaf Motiwala informed me they've launched a WebRTC solution. WebRTC apps are a dime-a-dozen you say? Not so fast. The problem with WebRTC solutions is you must be in your browser, logged in, and on the WebRTC webpage. Who leaves a specific web page or tab open all the time, especially on their mobile phone? That's where TringMe's unique approach comes in. Yusaf Motiwala explained:
Traditionally, browser apps had their own limitations as the user had to visit a website, login to the account etc. to get online before he or she can start communicating, not as convenient as native application or mobile app. Fortunately, programmable browsers like Chrome and Firefox offer the flexibility to write extensions which are always running in the background requiring no effort from user and that’s the win-win approach we took. Today, we are releasing the first one for Google’s Chrome Browser. TringMe’s Chrome extension is one way to package and deploy an always ON application which can make and receive calls between TringMe users on Chrome extension, Mobile application or TringMe’s website.
To throw some more light on the extension market, as you may already know, there are a couple of Chrome VoIP extensions including Google’s own Google Voice that claim to offer VoIP service from extension. However, when you notice carefully, they redirect you to their website or provide only callback calls. In other words, no other Chrome extension provides real live peer-to-peer calls directly from within itself. With TringMe's Chrome extension, we would like to bring Chrome users an experience similar to a native desktop application (for e.g. Skype) where you are always online and ready to make/receive calls from the desktop on Windows, Linux or Mac OS.
Also, unlike other MobileVoIP solutions which only offer mobile-to-mobile p2p communication, TringMe also opens door to p2p communication between browsers and between browsers & mobile. Users can call TringMe's mobile app from browser and vice-versa. We have currently enabled this functionality for Android and hope to make it available on our Blackberry app soon too.
Very cool and I'm told it supports HD audio. The always on connectivity makes WebRTC a good alternative to traditional mobile VoIP apps you install from mobile app stores (or desktop VoIP apps like Skype for that matter). I'm about to test it, but feel free to download the TringMe extension from the Chrome Web Store and check it out as well.
Hill Climb Racing
Besides draining the battery more quickly when playing high CPU/GPU games, the high temperatures are bad for the battery and shorten its lifespan. So where are we today with smartphones and where are we going tomorrow? Check out this infographic to learn more. I for one cannot wait for graphene supercapacitor batteries and graphene-based chips, which will revolutionize smartphones, tablets, and electric cars!
Tags: battery, computersciencehub, electricity, graphene, hill climb racing, jetpack joyride, lithium-ion, mobile phone, smart phone, supercapacitor
Related tags: smartphone shortcomings, battery, smartphone, smartphones, graphene
Skype social media accounts including their Twitter account, Facebook page, and blog were hacked by a group claiming to be the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA). Athough Skype gained control of their accounts and deleted the SEA's posts, the SEA tweeted in their own account this message:
Don't use Microsoft emails(hotmail,outlook),They are monitoring your accounts and selling the data to the governments.http://blogs.skype.com/2014/01/01/dont-use-microsoft-emails-hotmailoutlook-they-are-monitoring-your-accounts-and-selling-the-data-to-the-governments/ …Apparently, Edward Snowden and his release of NSA secrets, which impacted 2013 like no other story (except maybe ObamaCare) will continue to impact 2014. What I find amazing is that the SEA hacked two different social media accounts plus Skype's blog web server. I'm curious... Did the SEA spend months hacking all three accounts until they found all the credentials and then waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike? Does Skype use the same credentials on all three websites and thus their 'hypothetical' laziness in creating unique passwords caused all three to be vulnerable? Or does Skype have a saboteur working within their organization that is a Syrian Electronic Army sympathizer and they know all the credentials and provided them to the SEA?
I find it hard to believe the SEA figured out the username and password for two major social networks and their own blog server purely by brute-force password guessing. I'm betting both Facebook and Twitter eventually lock out an account after certain number of failed attempts. I also doubt the SEA discovered vulnerabilities in two major social networks and a blog server. Perhaps "human" social engineering was employed to gain access?
Further, I know Facebook offers two-factor authentication, which sends a code via SMS to your registered mobile phone device. Twitter also offers two-factor authentication. I don't know how the SEA did it, but perhaps Skype should turn on this feature and this hack wouldn't have happened.
Via The Next Web
Tags: facebook, hack, hacking, microsoft, sea, skype, social media, syrian electronic army, twitter, voip
Related tags: media accounts, social media, factor authentication, offers factor, monitoring accounts, skype
Many small businesses dread buying a new phone system - and for good reason. Besides the dizzying array of hardware-based phone systems, there are cloud VoIP phone systems, VoIP phone systems, digital phone systems, and more. A feature-rich phone system with an auto-attendant, multiple phone lines, conference bridge, voicemail, ring groups, extensions, and other features can certainly give a small company the appearance of a larger organization. However, these features require equipment and professional installation. Many small businesses are not ready to shell out $3000+ for such a setup and aren't quite comfortable with a 100% cloud-based phone system either.
Ooma addresses the SMB market with a low-cost phone system ($249.99 + $19.99/line/month) that doesn't skimp on advanced phone features. Based on the Ooma Telo that I reviewed last year, the Ooma Office leverages many of the same features. The web interface is nearly identical, both support up to 4 DECT devices, both have a USB port that allows either the Ooma WiFi module or the Ooma Bluetooth module (pairing with Bluetooth mobile phones) to be connected. Both devices also combat packet loss via adaptive redundancy. The Ooma systems both detect packet loss and sends duplicate packets to cover the gap. I tested the latency on the Telo device and came up with 238 outbound and 258ms inbound latency. I didn't test latency on the Ooma Office, but I'm guessing they'd be nearly identical due to the similar hardware architecture.
There are some differences between the two, however, since Ooma Telo was designed for residential and not business. The Ooma Telo supports both the Ooma WiFi Module and the Ooma Bluetooth Module while the Ooma Office currently only supports the Ooma WiFi Module. Further, the Ooma Office Base Station requires approximately 90 kb/s of bandwidth per call, while the Ooma Telo requires 40 kb/s of bandwidth. I'm betting Ooma opted to use more bandwidth for higher call quality required for business.
Ooma Office lets you specify the CallerID name and it supports up to 10 phone lines. Ooma Office lets you port you phone number or you can select one of their phone numbers. During the easy activation process it lists local area phone numbers from you to choose from. One snafu was the stringent address correction mechanism. I was trying to put "1st Floor East" into the Address 2 field, but it kept auto-correcting it (incorrectly) and giving me this warning:
Note how it changed "1st Floor East" to "E Ave FL East". I'm going to assume Ooma does a 911 database dip / query and "1st Floor East" doesn't match, thus causing the warning and inaccurate auto-correct. It wouldn't let me keep the Address2 that I wanted either. Fortunately, since our offices are in a corporate park with a security desk, if there was a 911 call, the security desk could route emergency responders to the correct location. The "1st Floor East" is likely a building designation and not a "registered" address with the postal office. For Address1, it makes sense to be stringent to ensure no human error, but I'd like to see their auto-match be less stringent with Address2.
The main base unit has a built-in FXS (analog) port for connecting a corded, cordless phone system, or fax machine. Then you use Linx DECT devices connected to wall outlets or power strips to add additional phone devices. Pairing the Linx DECT devices was pretty straightforward, although I attempted to pair two Linx devices at the same time and it didn't work. I had to pair one device, start the pairing mode on the base unit a second time, and then pair the second Linx device. From the web portal you enter in the Linx's unique identifier shown on its label to activate the device, and then you can assign an extension to the Linx device. After assigning an extension to the two Linx devices plus the built-in FXS device, I tested making extension-to-extension calls and it worked flawlessly with excellent sound quality. Next, I made a test outbound call and again, the voice quality was superb. Relatedly, you can configure remote workers with virtual extensions. These internal extension numbers can be forwarded to an external number like a cell phone, and they have their own private mailbox. This way businesses still control what phone number customers dial and sales people keep their cell phone numbers private.
A basic auto-attendant (virtual receptionist) is built-into the product and is very easy to configure. From the web portal you can assign certain functions to a specific touch tone (0-9). It's a bit limited, with only 3 options available - Dial by name, Transfer call (To: Extension, Ring Group, Conference Server), or Play announcement (using text-to-speech). The text-to-speech is pretty good, but if you prefer your own professional recordings, Ooma Office supports uploading both .mp3 and .wav files with a 5MB limit. Here's a screenshot showing some touch tone options configured:
The ring groups are easy to configure. You can specify which extensions to ring, sequential or simultaneous ringing and up to 180 seconds (30 rings / 5 minutes of ringing) before transferring to a voicemail box or another extension. Here's a look at the advanced tab for extension 118 (defined as a ring group):
Ooma Office sports hosted voicemail with each extension supporting up to 250 messages with a 5 minute per message max. It supports voicemail-to-email which is nice. I asked about support for speech-to-text transcription of voicemail and ooma told me it is on their roadmap for next year. Using the DECT Linx devices you can have up to 4 analog devices connected plus the 1 FXS port on the back of the main unit make 5 total phones supported. As for fax support, I'm told inbound and outbound Internet fax support will be available in a couple of weeks and there is currently no support for T.38.
Call waiting is supported, so the user would hear call-waiting tone and if they don't switch over to answer the second call, the call would go to voicemail. If a third call came in while the user was on the first call and there was already a call-waiting, then the third call will go directly to the user's voicemail box. It also supports three-way conference calls and placing calls on hold. It also supports multiple conference bridges, which is optionally PIN-protected and supports up to five participants.
I mentioned to ooma how I liked that their Telo product detects packet loss and sends duplicate packets to cover the gap and asked if Ooma Office supports this as we ll. They said, "No, Ooma Office does not yet support the adaptive redundancy portion of the PureVoice technology that we have on the home product. This is on our roadmap for next year as well."
- Call Waiting
- Three-way call conferencing
- Placing calls on hold
- Transferring calls
- Extensions & Virtual Extensions
- Caller-ID Blocking
- Last call return
- Conference Bridge (up to 10)
- No new wiring to deploy
- 24/7 support
- Virtual receptionist
- Extension dialing
- Expands to 5 phone extensions and 15 virtual extensions
- Unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada starts at $19.99 a month per line
- E911 Service
- Directory listing
Calls to the United States and Canada are included as part of your monthly $19.99/line/month calling package. For international calls you can use a Prepaid Account that you charge up as needed.
Here's a look at ooma Office's web portal showing the DECT settings:
The Linx modules make good use of DECT technology which has better range than Wi-Fi. You can plug these modules around a fairly decent-sized office and have no problem with it communicating to the base unit. The beauty of the analog ports on the bottom of the Linx modules is that you can use whatever analog phone device you want - whether it's a basic corded phone or a fancy multi-handset cordless phone system.
At $249.99 for the base unit plus $19.99/line/month it's reasonably priced for the SMB with expandability up to five extensions and 15 virtual extensions. Just as a basic comparison, in my encounters with several local CT/NY businesses, I've encountered a surprising number of SMBs using Cablevision Optimum Business leveraging an Arris DOCSIS 3.0 gateway that supports 2 or 4 voice lines and it costs $29.99/line or $10 more per month than Ooma Office.
The $249.99 MSRP price includes two Linx DECT modules and if you want to add more (up to 2 more) you have to pay $50 (one-time) for each Linx DECT module. The virtual receptionist has decent text-to-speech, but not every business will like it and prefer to record their own recordings, so it's good that it supports both. "Sound like a big business at a small business price," is the product's slogan and I certainly can't argue with that. Companies with 1-10 employees should check out Ooma Office for it's powerful functionality, flexibility, and low cost.
Available on Amazon for $199.98
Tags: auto attendant, dect, ooma, ooma office, pbx, phone system, smb, virtual receptionist, wireless
Related tags: phone system, phone systems, virtual extensions, extensions virtual, phone numbers, phone
I went to the Danbury Mall's Microsoft Store at 8am this morning to try and snag one but the line was already 40 people long , so I headed to work to try and get one online, since the promo also applies to the online store, with the $99 price for the first 100 orders and then $199 for the rest of the day while stocks last.
I had multiple Google Chrome tabs open http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/Dell-Venue-8-Pro-Tablet-32-GB/productID.289455200 to try and get the $99 deal and the Microsoft Store website was unbearably slow!
Check out the errors I received from the website:
First the tantalizing red spinning arrow, indicating it's adding me to the placeholder. Soon after I get a blank page with the text "Placeholder not found".
Then I got this error:
Then the red spinning circle showed the Add to Cart button, so I frantically clicked it: (10:04am ET)
And lastly this heart-breaking error message:
It SOLD OUT in 4 minutes! Guess Microsoft did a nice job building some buzz around this 8" Windows 8 tablet. I've never seen Microsoft have any sort of buzz like this (excluding the Xbox) that caused their site to slow. It reminds me of Apple during the iPhone's heyday and how their site would slow and lines for form outside Apple stores.
The Amazon Kindle HDX (7"), which I considered as a Christmas gift, is the most popular 7-8" tablet right now, but at $229, the Kindle HDX has serious price competition from this Dell Venue 8, which has more features due to the fact that it runs full Windows 8! Install the Kindle app and the Dell Venue 8 has almost all the features of the Kindle HDX plus support for Windows software and the "Metro" app store as well.
Microsoft's first Christmas holiday deal (of 12) definitely built some buzz. There were at least 4 people in my office trying to snag this deal and NONE of them were even considering a Windows tablet before this deal was announced. Perhaps that was Microsoft's plan all along. Tease us with something we can't have so we want it more. Well played Microsoft. Well played...
Microsoft has redesigned its Bing Maps experience for Windows 8.1 and just posted Bing Maps Preview to the Windows Store, which includes hi-res 3D imagery, from satellite to street view, of our planet. It also includes nifty details like admission prices, payment methods accepted (Amex, Visa, Mastercard), and hours of operation. Think of it as Bing's version of Google Earth, though it currently has only 70 cities available for view in the preview. It also sports Skype integration (enabled via Snapview) so you can click the phone icon and make a Skype call.
With Skype integrated into Xbox One and now Bing Maps, the Skype acquisition is perhaps making a bit more sense. Definite monetization possibilities, especially since "map apps" on laptops, tablets, and especially smart phones (GPS turn-by-turn directions) are one of the most popular. Just look at Waze, which was acquired by Google for $1 billion, and you can see the big boys see maps and geolocation data as the next big thing.
Microsoft touted their new Bing Maps Preview by saying, "We have assembled world builders from the video game industry, expert photogrammetrists, high definition aerial cameras and a massive data pipeline crunching petabytes of imagery to deliver a more natural way to experience our planet. With advances in Windows, in computing hardware and our ability to capture, process and render imagery, our automated pipeline is capable of pushing pixels from a plane to the app in a matter of weeks and has already processed over 121 trillion pixels to date in order to build our 3D environment."
It also dynamically adapts to your orientation, with overlays for information on landmarks, businesses and other places of interest. They're also touting what they call "bubble view," which allows users to get a street view preview while remaining zoomed out on the map, which is especially important since when at street level it's easy to lose perspective.
Of course, other typical details like street names, cities, and directions are available. When using a touch-screen you typical touch gestures like pinch-to-zoom are available. Having left my touch-screen tablet at home I tried it out using my non-touch screen Windows 8.1 work PC. I was pretty amazed at the quality. Some amazing city views and using the mouse scrollwheel to first zoom all the way in and then whipping the scrollwheel even more made it seem like I was Superman flying over the city in 3D! One tip if you have Windows 8.1 and non-touch - simply hold the shift-key and click the mouse to perform angle rotation. When the shift-key is not held it moves the map left/right & up/down with no rotation.
Check out the video demo & download the app here:
webrtc2sip is an open source gateway using WebRTC and SIP to turn your browser into a phone with audio and video calling capabilities. The "WebRTC-to-SIP" gateway allows your web browser to make and receive calls from/to any SIP-legacy network or PSTN. Thus, using your preferred WebRTC-capable web browser you can make calls to a SIP IP phone, SIP softphone, and even a mobile/landline phone. webrtc2sip was created by Doubango Telecom and available for free. webrtc2sip contains four modules: SIP Proxy, RTCWeb Breaker, Media Coder, and Click-to-Call ( screenshot on top).
The WebRTC specification requires ICE and DTLS/SRTP support. However, that many SIP-legacy endpoints do not support these features. That's where the RTCWeb Breaker module to negotiate and convert the media stream to enable interoperability. For instance,
One problem in WebRTC communications is codec support. There is the whole VP8 and H.264 codec challenge. VP8 is royalty-free while H.264 AVC is not free but much more widely deployed. Google has chosen VP8 in Chrome while Ericsson for instance, uses H.264 AVC in Bowser, a WebRTC capable browser I checked out recently. Mozilla (Firefox) and Opera Software will likely use VP8 while Microsoft has embraced H.264 AVC.
So how does a Microsoft Internet Explorer user make a WebRTC call to a Google Chrome user if they can't negotiate the codec to be used? Well, using the Media Coder module will allow you to make video calls between Chrome and Internet Explorer since it handles the transcoding. Further, using Media Coder you can now connect a high-end telepresence system (usually H.264) to a browser that is using VP8 or even your smartphone or tablet browser which may be using VP8 or H.264. Finally, browser-based communications that just works no matter what device or browser you're using!
You can get webrtc2sip to work with Asterisk and Chrome, however Asterisk doesn't support VP8, so you have two options. The first option is to patch Asterisk, though this isn't the recommended way to go unless you're a developer who likes to tinker and try out cool new things. Although audio calls work, even with the patch, it doesn't allow video calls, since as previously mentioned, Asterisk doesn’t support VP8.
The second (recommended) option is to enable RTCWeb Breaker. This will allow both audio and video to work. The beauty of this setup is that it works even if the web browser and the SIP client/server do not share the same codecs (thanks to the Media Coder transcoding module).
You might be wondering how sipML5 integrates with webrtc2sip. Well, look no further, this diagram explains it perfectly:
- Works on Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari, Opera and Bowser
- Audio / Video call
- Screen/Desktop sharing from Chrome to any SIP client
- Instant messaging
- Call Hold / Resume
- Explicit Call transfer
- Multi-line and multi-account
- Dual-tone multi-frequency signaling (DTMF) using SIP INFO
- SIP TelePresence (Video Group chat)
- 3GPP IMS standards
I made a test call to the extension my browser was registered to and my Chrome browser successfully played a ring tone and a popup incoming call message. I wasn't able to connect however, but that's due to this codec-related error:
[Nov 25 10:47:39] WARNING: chan_sip.c:7664 process_sdp: Unsupported SDP media type in offer: audio 65015 RTP/SAVPF 103 104 111 0 8 107 106 105 13 126
[Nov 25 10:47:39] WARNING: chan_sip.c:7741 process_sdp: Insufficient information in SDP (c=)..
It's my corporate production PBX, so I can't start hacking it to get it to work, so I'll have to test again with one of my test Asterisk PBXs. Nevertheless, the browser successfully registered and successfully received the call even if it dropped it after not being able to negotiate a common codec. I really like that this solution is open source and free and when you consider one of WebRTC principal goals is to make ubiquitous anytime, anywhere, any device communications possible, webrtc2sip and sipML5 are worthy tools to have in your WebRTC arsenal. Lastly, it's never too soon to register for WebRTC World (June 17-19th 2014) where you can see the latest WebRTC demos, hear from leading WebRTC thinkers, and network with fellow WebRTC advocates.
Tags: asterisk, chrome, doubango telecom, firefox, google, microsoft, mozilla, opera, sip, sipml5, voip, webrtc, webrtc2sip
Related tags: audio video, media coder, rtcweb breaker, video calls, chrome browser, webrtc
Curious to know what features Skype has in the new Xbox One? So am I. With the Xbox One, you get an all-in-one entertainment system that aims to take over your living/family room not just for gaming but for communicating as well. All Xbox Ones come with Skype pre-installed, and since every Xbox One ships with a Kinect, they'll also include 1080p HD cameras and beamforming stereo array microphones, this is the ultimate Skype-on-TV experience. Makes me wonder if near-ubiquitous video conferencing in the home has finally arrived since Microsoft will no doubt sell at least 10 million Xbox One units.
Further, Xbox LIVE Gold subscribers buying Xbox Ones also get Skype Premium for free for six months, which adds group video calls and 100 minutes of telephone calling to 60 countries. Adding Skype to Xbox One is no small feat. You have to remember that Skype needs to be able to dynamically scale itself from an audio only call to a HD 1080p video stream, without any stuttering in game frame-rate, which would impact the user experience - not to mention gamers are notoriously anti-lag and will tolerate none. Skype for Xbox One has full system-wide integration. That means using Xbox One's speech-rec functionality you can say “Xbox, go to Skype” to launch the app or even better, you can also say “Xbox, call Tom” to call a contact favorite instantly, as well as “Xbox, hang up”.
Check out the behind-the-scenes look on how Skype was added to Xbox One along with skeletal tracking:
Now check out auto-zoom and skeletal tracking in action:
In group video calling, you can view one person fullscreen or see up to 4-people side-by-side mini-Brady Bunch style. It also supports screen sharing, which is pretty cool.
via The Next Web
Keynote Luncheon - Featuring Presentation by Oracle
TokBox Keynote Session
Check out my Phybridge PoLRE Review, a suite of three products that let you use your existing phone wiring to deploy VoIP with full Power over Ethernet capabilities. The three products are the PoLRE LPC 8 Port Switch targeting the SMB and the PoLRE PL-024 & PoLRE PL-048 switches, which target larger deployments. Since the PL-024 and PL-048 are nearly identical except for port sizes (24 vs. 48) I checked out the larger model. The cost savings using these products are immense, especially in large multi-building sites such as a campuses, government facilities, etc. The Phybridge product line had other advantages over traditional Ethernet, including much longer distances. Check out the review, which is the cover story in the November issue of Internet Telephony Magazine.
PoLRE PL-048 PoLRE LPC 8
Optimizing the local area network for voice and data convergence is a critical starting point for any customer looking to migrate to IP telephony and unified communications. Until the Phybridge switch innovation was introduced, common practice was to rip and replace the existing data LAN to support the IP phone and UC applications. For some customers these requirements are too great an operational and financial barrier to overcome. That’s exactly what Phybridge’s line of Power over Long Reach Ethernet (PoLRE) switches does, delivering Ethernet and Power over Ethernet over a single pair of wires with distances up to an impressive 1,200 feet. That’s four times the maximum distance offered by traditional Ethernet, which is limited to just 300 feet. Using your existing voice wiring infrastructure you can deploy the latest VoIP phone systems and IP phone endpoints completely separate from your existing LAN infrastructure, moving the convergence point from every desktop with the IP phone acting as a switch for the data device to a single point in the central closet.
Phybridge President Oliver Emmanuel explained to TMC Labs, “This is not intended to displace the data switch fabric. It’s there to complement and optimize it for voice and data convergence.” He added that the company’s ideal customers are those that have a single data drop and a single voice drop at each workstation and want to move to IP telephony. He explained that the product is not for smaller businesses with two data drops. In those scenarios, he admitted, it is cheaper to just have separate PoE switches than going with Phybridge’s solutions. If the customer has one data drop and a voice drop and wants a robust backbone supporting its IP phones, then the Phybridge PoLRE switches are a great fit. The larger the customer, the more complex the LAN and the greater the requirements. Often what gets forgotten are IDF closet requirements given the introduction of PoE switches. Considerations include power availability, backup power requirements and cooling for all the IDF closets. With the Phybridge switches being consolidated in the MDF, these requirements go away. In addition, you can use Phybridge’s network, which leverages ubiquitous phone wiring, as a backup network should the primary LAN infrastructure fail, due to hardware failure, or even a denial of service attack. More on that later.
It’s important to note that CAT5 Ethernet switches max out at 300 feet, while Phybridge is rated to go as far as 1,200 feet over a single pair delivering both Ethernet and PoE. Phybridge told TMC Labs that it tested all 48 ports at 1,200 feet delivering Ethernet and PoE with no issues. Phybridge also said it has some customers running at 1,800 feet, but it’s unsupported. Phybridge mentioned it has lots of universities using it products, especially since it has several buildings and can consolidate the switching fabric.
PoLRE vs. Uniphyer
Before PoLRE, Phybridge sold a product line called Uniphyer, which uses ADSL2+ technology. With the newer PoLRE, Phybridge was the first to combine Power with Long Reach Ethernet. The Uniphyer line can reach up to 5km (2 miles) distance, but the drawback is that it requires local power to the adapter and phone beyond 1,200 feet. It has asymmetric bandwidth with up to 24mbps download speeds and 1mbps upload speeds. The PoLRE line has a smaller distance range, but provides power (10W/port) and has symmetrical 10mbps speed. Both have their place in the market and the company will continue to sell both, but Phybridge told TMC Labs it believes the Polar Line will become the dominant choice of customers due to the power and symmetric bandwidth advantages.
TMC Labs took two of Phybridge’s products for a test drive, including the PoLRE LPC 8 Port switch designed for SMBs, and the larger scale PoLRE PL-048 which has two RJ21 Amphenol ports (24 ports each) allowing for up to 48 devices to be connected. It also has a third model, the PL-024, which as its name suggests, has a single RJ21 Amphenol port for 24 ports of network connectivity. Both products can guarantee the quality of service for all of the VoIP endpoints, primarily because they are based on a point-to-point topology. Packets travel in order, on time, and without contention. Phybridge told TMC Labs the company had one customer using a ShoreTel phone system and it experienced a denial of service attack, which took down the data network for about two days. Because the ShoreTel phone system was on Phybridge on a separate network from the primary LAN infrastructure, voice was unaffected. This in itself makes the product a no-brainer for certain mission-critical verticals like health care, financial services, law offices, and other sectors that cannot afford to have any phone outages.
In unpacking the smaller unmanaged PoLRE LPC Switch, we saw it came with two PhyLink adapters, which are small inline adapters that connect the phone wire on one end and an Ethernet cable on the other, providing up to 10W of PoE power to IEEE 802.3af-compliant devices. After connecting an Ethernet cable to Uplink Port 1 on the device to join it to our LAN, we connected a standard RJ11 phone cable to port 1 of the PoLRE LPC Switch, and the other end of the phone cable to the PhyLink adapter. Next, we connected the other end of the Ethernet cable to an IP phone and the IP phone’s LCD lit up and the phone booted. We made a test call from the IP phone and, as expected, it sounded flawless.
Next, we tried out the larger PoLRE PL-048, which features dual-redundant hot-swappable power supplies and management capabilities. You can use either AC or DC power, but one nice feature if using DC power is you can easily daisy-chain the power using the input and output DC ports. Up to 4 PoLRE Switch units can be daisy-chained for Powershare and load balancing. If a power supply fails on any unit in the ring, the others are able to share the load, and the affected unit continues to operate normally. You can then replace the failed hot-swappable power supply with no downtime.
We connected the PL-048 to our LAN and then hooked up an Amphenol cable to a punchdown block, which was terminated to some ports around the office. It supports a maximum of two uplinks, each 1gbps (full duplex), using either two mini-GBIC ports or two RJ45 ports. We used the RJ45 uplink ports to attach to our LAN. Next, we did the same thing as before and connected Phylink adapters to a phone wire and an Ethernet cable that terminated to a PoE IP phone. Once again the phones booted and were able to successfully make calls.
Management Interfaces include both in-band and out-of-band management via the dedicated Mgmt port. It also has a serial console port if you want to go old-school. The web GUI is another innovation designed to simplify the configuration, management and troubleshooting of a Phybridge backbone. It is an intuitive offering that is easy to learn yet robust in its capabilities. There is no other switch GUI interface with this level of simplicity. First we checked out the web interface via the Mgmt port. We could view important stats such as status of each Ethernet port, CPU load, memory utilization, temperature, voltage, and the current amount of power being consumed by Power over Ethernet devices. Unlike many other switch GUIs, all this critical information is being updated dynamically without needing to hit the refresh button.
In a single snapshot you can easily determine the status of all ports. Grey means inactive, blue means ready for IEEE compliant device and green means a device is connected to the port. Hover over the port and you get more intelligence on the port. The web interface also displays any RX/TX errors individually by port, so you can easily see any troublesome ports. The PL-048 also lets you easily configure multiple VLANs and assign ports to each VLAN. From the Web UI you can also upgrade the firmware. Further, you can remotely manage the power capabilities – turn off or recycle ports. This comes in handy if a phone is acting up and an administrator needs to reboot it without user intervention. You can also lock down a port so only a single device will get connectivity based on the MAC address; this is handy for those looking for a highly secure platform:
In addition, you can export and import the configuration for backup and migration purposes. Also in the web interface under the Admin section is the ability to stop or start services as well as set them to automatically start at bootup:
For instance, you can enable the telnet service, which gives you full telnet access to the Linux kernel. We were able to login and navigate the Linux operating system and issue Linux commands. We also enabled NTP and added one of our NTP servers to get the correct date and time configured on the device. We were able to configure logging, and even use the web-based CLI / terminal screen to issue commands. You can type commands manually or click on the web form field to see a drop-down list of commands, which you can then select. For troubleshooting, the unit has some nice features, including remote log server capabilities, SNMP, and web-based access to the log:
Phybridge claims 10mbps switched Ethernet performance – so each port should have dedicated 10mbps bandwidth. We were curious how the bandwidth would perform, so for our next test we copied a large file across the network and were getting 1MB/s or 8mbps. For comparison, we copied this same file over our 1000mbps gigabit switches and achieved 60MB/s or 480mbps. Obviously, using Phybridge as your primary LAN is not the intended purpose of this device, but it’s nice to know you have a backup network solution if the primary network switches fail.
TMC Labs knew the Phybridge solutions could cut down on the network switching and IDF closet infrastructure, and we were curious if Phybridge had any interesting case studies demonstrating cost savings. We learned about TransUnion Credit in Chicago, which has 1,400 users and an initial budget of $1.8 million. With Phybridge it came down to $300,000, saving them $1.5 million. The company fast tracked the deployment by six months and completed the 1,400 user migration in a single weekend. The obvious savings is in cabling, but even bigger savings come from eliminating the need for IDF closet(s) on each floor plus additional network switching equipment due to distance limitations of Ethernet.
Phybridge’s solution has four times the distance reach of Ethernet, thereby eliminating the need for IDF closets with additional networking equipment. TransUnion had 20 IDF closets, two on each floor (10 floors total) that required UPSs, PoE switches to power the IP phones, as well as power and cooling considerations. Add in professional services to install the equipment and the costs quickly add up. With Phybridge’s solution, it resides in the MDF where your legacy phone system equipment and cooling already lives, so it eliminates the complexity and costs of getting that network change completed. Further, with Phybridge, there are no worries about whether the LAN infrastructure is VoIP ready, and you don’t have to deal with the complexities of setting up VLAN and QoS settings.
While there’s nothing magical or earth-shattering about our test VoIP calls, it’s kind of interesting to think that we were making an IP phone call over just a single pair of wires. It’s been ingrained in our minds that we must rip and replace our entire LAN to gain the benefits of IP telephony and unified communications. So to think the existing phone wires can support data and indeed VoIP is a bit disconcerting. TMC Labs can envision the IT decision maker thinking, “Wait, you mean to tell me we can easily migrate to IP telephony leveraging our existing voice infrastructure without network or business disruption?” IT decision makers are accustomed to dealing with network complexity, so the simplicity of a Phybridge backbone supporting IP phones complimenting and extending the data LAN may seem foreign. Phybridge eliminates many of the LAN barriers associated with IP telephony adoption in a simple yet effective manner by leveraging an existing, proven and reliable voice infrastructure. Add in the fact that it also lets you consolidate your switching network equipment, backup power, and cooling, and Phybridge’s solutions are very cost-effective.
Roadmap & Conclusion
One cool product in the company’s roadmap (one or two years down the road) is a network Y-adapter, which the company has a patent on. It has a RJ11 to two RJ45 ports – one for the Phybridge network and the other for the traditional LAN infrastructure. The adapter would sense the health of the LAN, and if it goes down it will transfer the data on the fly to the Phybridge network and vice-versa. Now you have a true redundant voice and data network using a simple Y-adapter.
Also on the roadmap is 100MB/s and potentially 250MB/s bandwidth – all over a single pair, which would really make things even more interesting. Overall, TMC Labs is very impressed with the ease of use of the PoLRE PL-048’s web GUI, and the plug-and-play nature of both the PoLRE LPC 8 and the PoLRE PL-048. Companies looking to have PoE IP phones and other PoE devices have a viable and reliable solution in the Phybridge PoLRE product line, and TMC Labs wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.
PoLRE PL-048 = ~$4400
PoLRE LPC 8 Port Switch = ~$640
Tags: cabling, cat5, data, ethernet, ip phone, network, phone wiring, phybridge, poe, power over ethernet, pstn, switch, voice, voip
Related tags: phybridge polre, ethernet cable, power ethernet, phone system, reach ethernet, phybridge
Zangi is an interesting new mobile VoIP player. One of their espoused features is the free roaming which saves on international calls. While traveling many users purchase a new number (SIM card) to enjoy free incoming calls. Simply add this number under Zangi's “My z-Roamings” and all calls made via Zangi to your regular number will automatically be directed to your new “z-Roaming” number when you have no Internet connection. When you DO have Internet, all communications (VoIP, video, text) is sent over the Internet to your regular number for free. The caller will be charged Zangi's VoIP rates when calls are directed to your z-Roaming number over the regular PSTN.
What if you have a slow Internet connection or tour contact has no Internet connection? Then you can use Zangi’s innovative Callback feature. You simply dial the number you wish to connect to and press the Callback button. The system will first dial your registered number (or your Roaming number when activated), then dial the other party and connect you via VoIP gateway. Zangi will charge you for two simultaneous calls at regular VoIP rates: no additional charges or hidden fees apply.
Registering for the service is drop-dead simple so you can try it to see if you like it. You enter in your mobile number plus the captcha (to block bots) and it sends you a SMS with a PIN code to enter the website. That's it. It uses Flash not HTML5, so you are prompted to allow access to your microphone and camera. The web interface is pretty easy to navigate and it allows to add contacts, add favorites, and bring up a dialpad. They also support mobile apps, including Apple/iOS and Android. Zangi supports HD audio and HD video. They also support connecting directly to Facebook with the ability to see statuses and make calls from within Facebook as seen here:
They accept Paypal payment and openly publish their rates. You can try it out here.