There were more advances than true innovations in the VoIP world in 2009. That's because some of the most important developments had more to do with commercial and political maneuvers than with technical creativity. Still, such maneuvers often helped spread the benefits of VoIP as much as did technical innovation. And collectively, the advances brought some already-evident trends into clearer focus. A key such trend is the increasing integration of voice with other applications and services. Another is the intensifying interest in HD voice. A third is the growing interconnection of VoIP services, in part in response to the possibilities that end-to-end HD voice offers. With such trends as background, here, in no particular order, are our top 25 VoIP advances of 2009.
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Skype business announcements are coming fast and furious these days. One big one was the introduction of Skype for Asterisk earlier this month. Others are the result of the introduction of Skype for SIP beta service in March. ShoreTel was the first to announce certification of its IP PBXes with that service earlier this month. SIPfoundry followed with certification of its sipXecs product about a week ago, and now Skype has added the biggest name yet: Cisco.
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Calling a company and encountering a speech recognition system can be disconcerting. At first, the experience is like talking to a sympathetic person who understands one's spoken replies. Then some miscommunication makes clear that the person is actually software that translates one's spoke words into phone system commands, as an alternative to key-press response. Still, some like the experience, even if others find it frustrating or a waste of time. Either way, the technology has until now typically been available only to large organizations. A new tie-up between Digium and Vestec makes it available to the many smaller businesses that use IP PBXes based on the Digium-developed Asterisk open-source software.
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It was one of the most obvious match-ups ever, particularly in the current economic climate. Combining Asterisk open-source IP PBX software with Skype's cheap Internet calling service was the ultimate penny-pincher for cost-conscious small businesses. Ironically, Skype for Asterisk costs money, while the Asterisk software itself doesn't. Either way, the combination lets a company's employees make and receive calls to and from Skype users, as well as people using landline or cellular phones, around the world cheaply or for free.
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