TheVia Group

Enterprise Connect – Partner Day

Day 2 of Enterprise Connect was a day for partner meetings – getting to know the various systems integrators and reseller partners that are supporting Microsoft and AudioCodes.

First stop was a visit with Chris Riggenbach, UC Team Lead at NACR.   Chris is responsible for the strategy and technical lead for UC solutions that include Microsoft and a number of other software vendors.   As a large national partner, NACR has a unique capability to support large geographically diverse businesses and offer complex solutions to improve collaboration and communications efficiencies with services and solutions.

Bob IT hero visiting NACR

Another stop along my day was visiting with The Via Group, a full-service partner based in Houston.   As an early adopter of AudioCodes One Box 365, they’ve crafted a complete bundled solution for business that includes services, devices and connectivity, bought using a OPEX model that makes buying easy.   The Via Group is also working with One Source Networks solution, a cloud based data and voice communications solution that can deliver services globally.

Bob IT hero visiting The Via Group

My final stop for the day was looking into contact center solutions for my Lync deployment with a visit to Acqueon, who have AiQ a Lync-integrated multi-channel contact center offering that supports quality management along with both inbound and outbound traffic.

Bob IT hero visiting Acqueon

Looking forward to Wednesday and the keynotes from Microsoft and Google. Be sure to check back again tomorrow!

Super Bob visiting Enterprise Connect

Enterprise Connect Kicks Off with Big News

Day 1 of Enterprise Connect is now done, with plenty to share.

Super Bob visiting Enterprise Connect

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Enterprise Connect (previously operating as VoiceCon), which was the theme for many of social and networking events during the show. A real testament to the need for fresh information on communications solutions (which have changed dramatically over the last 25 years).

Skype for BusinessMicrosoft formally unveiled their Skype for Business brand and client offering, showing a number of work environments and end-point devices in their booth. Front and center was the AudioCodes 440Hd IP Phone, showing its presence display and one-button calling.

Big news from Interactive Intelligence as they used the event to launch their PureCloud offering, a complete integrated collaboration solution based on WebRTC and hosted in the cloud. Most notable was a ground-breaking offer that included PureCloud Collaborate for FREE.

Had a great visit with Scott Francis from King County – a peer of mine and end-customer of AudioCodes that has deployed Microsoft infrastructure, offering UC services to improve the efficiency of county government. He’s a Superhero in his own IT responsibilities!

Visiting the show floor, I started my rounds of checking in with some of the partners that offer Lync and Skype for Business solutions. I started with a visit the folks from Ronco Communications, who were showing their Verapresence solution, an enhancement to Microsoft Lync that adds a number of important call management features including announcement, attendant, and call alerting features.

Looking forward to Tuesday, expecting more detailed discussions with partners, keynotes and time in some of the individual sessions. Be sure to check back again tomorrow!

Super Bob

Enterprise Connect – Through the Eyes of Bob

I’m really excited to be attending my first-ever Enterprise Connect in Orlando this next week.   From looking at the vendor list and sessions, it should be one of the biggest showcases of Unified Communications solutions this year and a great place to see the latest new solutions for my growing business.

Super BobRumor has it that Microsoft (booth # 1221) is going BIG with their launch of the new Skype for Business client and server software, taking Lync to the next level. Their booth and sessions are a “must see” on my list.  Zig Serafin, Corporate Vice President, Skype Business Services at Microsoft is the keynote speaker on Wednesday, March 18th from 10-10:30.  I’ll be there watching and listening intently.

After Microsoft (and it looks like right across the aisle), I’m really looking forward to visit AudioCodes to see their solution pavilion and demonstrations.  With offerings for my desktop users, the server room, my NOC and branch offices, the complete One Voice portfolio has served me well.  My understanding is they will be showing their One Box 365 complete solution including managed IP Phones.   I also hear from a reliable source that they’ll be showing a WebRTC to Lync integration, allowing users to share a URL to initiate a WebRTC call to Lync from their browser, avoiding the painful Lync browser plug-ins.

A number of great Microsoft and AudioCodes partners will be there as well, including NACR (booth #1805), SPS (booth #1531), The Via Group (booth #2012), and others.   The challenge is making the rounds and remembering everything in the few days I’ll be at the show.

The folks at AudioCodes have really flattered me with an invitation for a personal appearance in their booth and some cool tee shirts and other goodies with my likeness on them.  Stop in to their booth, snap a picture with me and you’ll go home with some cool swag.   If you are more interested in winning a new Surface 3 Pro, be sure to enter their Passport to Skype for Business drawing.

But I won’t keep all the great stuff to myself, I’ll be blogging and tweeting during the event, showing the best new solutions and snapping some pictures.  Keep an eye on #AUDCHERO on Twitter and be sure to check back to this blog every morning during the entire Enterprise Connect event.

After the event is over, you can always check in weekly as my accomplishments are regularly posted on my landing page at:  http://online.audiocodes.com/super-bob

Mobile Roaming

To VoLTE or to OTT. That’s the question? Hmmmm…

This question has taken me back a few years when operators considered introducing Rich Communication Services (RCS) and the “to RCS or to OTT” question was raised as well. The answer is already known; RCS was proven to be a failure as users adopted OTT services instead. Operators have lost billions of dollars since the introduction of OTT services.
Although more than 300 mobile operators have already introduced LTE networks, only a few of them have introduced VoLTE. The reasons include significant technical challenges such as guaranteeing quality of service and very high costs.
VoLTE aims to guarantee HD voice when both ends are on the service, optimize networks and best utilize the frequencies, save battery consumption of the devices and more. Analysts have found that VoLTE can be a nice to have service but it neither increases the ARPU in the short term nor resolves the operator’s major concerns (such as declining roaming revenues or limited service coverage in rural areas, high towers and indoors) in the long term.Mobile Roaming

While operators are looking for a long term solution, there is a serious need to overcome these challenges now before it is too late. VoWifi has been recently introduced and might serve as a long term solution but it is not relevant for the immediate future as only a few mobile devices currently offer this capability. In addition, the technical challenges involved ensure that it’s a long way off until it is fully adopted.
So, is there a less costly, less complicated and much faster solution that overcome these challenges for mobile operators?
The answer is….. Yes. A mobile OTT communications solution consisting of mobile apps and backend servers, costs only a fraction of the invested capital in the new technologies, is fully deployed and operational in few months compared to years and so simple that it requires only the installation of an app by the customer would be a solution.

I have listed some of the challenges and the ways to overcome them by mobile OTT solutions.

The major concerns of mobile operators

Mobile operators have enjoyed high revenues in the past. Today they are facing serious threats from opportunistic OTTs who offer alternative services for little or no cost, causing a sharp decline in their roaming revenues. Limited service coverage in rural areas and high towers is still a concern, as this causes dissatisfaction and disruption of service.

Defending Roaming Revenues Strategies

In recent years, mobile operators have retaliated by adopting VoIP technology. Some have offered roaming VoIP plans utilizing available free Wi-Fi networks while other operators have offered bundled packages of GSM & VoIP over Wi-Fi. This solution was good but not good enough, neither for the operators who couldn’t guarantee high quality service due to the unpredictability of non-controlled Wi-Fi connections, nor for the roaming subscribers who had to search for available open Wi-Fi networks in certain areas and pay high prices due to the bundled high price of GSM roaming costs.

Nowadays, data roaming prices are low, data connectivity is available almost everywhere and operators have upgraded their data networks to support higher capacities. Operators are able to guarantee a higher quality of voice service at low prices, while their customers maintain their same cellular number when using the OTT communications apps.

AudioCodes’ MobilityPlus, ALL IP OTT communications solutions, which consist of white label mobile applications and backend servers, enable operators to offer low cost, yet profitable HD voice, video and messaging over IP services utilizing roaming data networks (3G, 4G, LTE).  This keeps their subscribers using their cellular numbers over IP networks. By doing this, operators promote a new bundle of roaming data and VoIP services. Subscribers who purchase cellular roaming data will have access to VoIP service as well, a service which increases subscriber loyalty.

Improving Service Coverage

Mobile operators are technically challenged, however, to increase service coverage in areas with limited coverage such as rural areas, high towers and indoors. Subscribers in these areas report a high rate of unsuccessful calls and disrupted service causing them to consider alternative solutions which in turn leads to a decrease in communication services revenues.

With the increase of Wi-Fi network availability readily found in these areas, customers receive calls and send texts over existing home and office Wi-Fi networks rather than the operator’s mobile network that is limited or does not exist.

AudioCodes’ MobilityPLUS OTT app supports Wi-Fi calling as a preloaded app within the subscribers’ smartphone (on Android smartphones) or as an OTT app that keeps the subscriber using his mobile number. MobilityPLUS enhances service coverage and guarantees HD voice quality when participants are on Wi-Fi networks.

Continuous Service Connectivity Mobile operators who have adopted VoIP technologies to overcome today’s challenges need to address the lack of continuous service connectivity when subscribers move between Wi-Fi and data networks and vice versa.  Until now, subscribers who were on a VoIP call over Wi-Fi could not move to a data network (3G/4G) without having the call dropped. In many cases, the user disconnected and redialled when moving to another network. Not Anymore. AudioCodes’ MobilityPLUS assures mobility with continuous connectivity, guaranteeing a seamless handover between Wi-Fi to 3G/4G and vice versa. The solution combines AudioCodes’ MobilityPLUS Mobile OTT and Mediant SBC solutions, leveraging unique SBC capabilities and leading mobile VoIP technology.