Video conferencing was a lot more interesting to watch in 2011 than was VoIP. It wasn't that nothing happened in VoIP during the year. It was just that a lot more happened in video conferencing. This was especially true in the SMB space. Early summer saw a slew of significant announcements from vendors and providers. These announcements figured prominently in the VoIP Evolution report "SMB Video Conferencing: Getting Beyond Clouds & Interoperability."
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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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The most common reaction to the newly introduced Ribbit Mobile service is that it's a Google Voice competitor. In some ways that's true, but there are significant differences between the two. The main one is that Ribbit Mobile makes one's existing mobile number the main number, while Google Voice hangs all its services on a new number it provides. For most users, one approach will be clearly better than the other.
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Providing voice phone services is getting easier all the time. Developers need merely write a few lines of code in a familiar programming language and pay a few bucks a month for a phone number. The code, running in a Web or other application, tells a hosted service to do things like making, receiving or otherwise handling calls. The developer's company pays a few cents a minute for every call that the service handles for its customers. The availability of such hosted services moves telephony out of the realm of telecom specialists and into the hands of ordinary Web companies. The latest entry in the field is Cloudvox, offered by Seattle-based Seven Scale.
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Google's long anticipated Wave online collaboration tool is going live with voice functions supplied by Ribbit. Wave lets users communicate via rich text, maps, photos, video and other means. Ribbit's contribution will let them talk and exchange voice messages as well. As such, it makes voice communication an integrated part of a larger collaboration process.
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