A number of sources have picked up the news that VoIP pioneer Fonality has named a new CEO. He is David Scult, former general manager of Microsoft Office 365. The reports also typically noted that Fonality gave no reason for the departure of the former CEO. That would be Dean Mansfield, who replaced founding CEO Chris Lyman in early 2010. What most of the reports missed was that Mansfield actually left the company long ago.
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Like hosted VoIP providers, Whaleback Systems provides IP PBX capabilities to SMBs, with no upfront equipment costs. Customer companies simply pay monthly fees for phone service plus an array of sophisticated call-handling features. But Whaleback calls its CrystalBlue service managed VoIP. It differs from hosted VoIP in where it places the IP PBX and how it delivers the calls. And now Whaleback is offering a new version of the service for sale through carriers, namely SIP trunking providers.
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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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HD (high-definition) voice is getting increasing attention from both users and providers of business VoIP services. It offers a number of advantages over standard voice calling, especially in business situations. It makes calls less fatiguing, and different accents easier to understand. Until now, though, smaller businesses have had trouble taking advantage of the technology. To fill the gap, Phone.com has just added HD voice capability to its hosted phone service for SMBs.
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SIP trunking services deliver voice calls from telecom providers to companies over IP data connections. Feeding their traffic directly into IP PBXes on the companies' premises, such services can bring considerable benefits. Sprint began offering SIP trunking to companies using Microsoft's Office Communications Server 2007 R2, an IP PBX software package that runs on Office servers, in February of this year. Now it's making the service generally available to business customers.
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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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