A Starter Kit on VoIP

Confused about whether Voice over IP is the way for your
business to go? You’re not the only one.

The technology has been gaining steam in the tech press during the past
year,
while federal lawmakers and regulators wrangle over who will have the
regulatory upper hand.

There’s no denying that IP-based calling has a future. Virtually all the
major research firms predict more VoIP growth to come.

Take a May, 2004, study of small, medium, and large organizations in
North America by telecommunications research firm Infonetics. The results
found that:

  • A majority plans to more than double its expenditures on IP voice
    products and services in 2004.

  • But actual adoption of IP voice in North America is still in its
    infancy.

  • Hybrid PBXs are the most popular way to provide voice service at
    respondent headquarter sites.

  • A third of respondents have already deployed IP voice on a wireless LAN,
    and over half will by March 2006.

  • The IP LAN endpoint type of choice is the IP phone, accounting for an
    average of 61 percent of respondent IP LAN endpoints; digital phones using
    IP adapters are a distant second choice.

  • Regional Bell companies and incumbent local exchange providers are the
    most likely providers to capitalize on managed IP voice services, but a full
    42 percent of respondents say they don’t know who they’ll use.

  • The No. 1 perception of non-adopters is that their current TDM
    phone systems and services work just fine.

  • Vendors and service providers need to educate their customers on the
    merits of their IP voice products and services and how they can help address
    today’s business challenges.
  • Not to mention the wrangling under way between state and federal lawmakers
    over who should have regulatory oversight of the burgeoning technology.

    To address some of the questions, internetnews.com compiled some key information about VoIP into this special section.

    1. At-a-Glance Growth

    2. Tips from the Experts/Regulatory Round-Up

    3. Glossary of VoIP Terms

    1. At-a-Glance Growth: The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) expects VoIP to continue growing along with the adoption of broadband. Shipments of IP PBX lines, which converge voice and data, tell the VoIP story: They are surging, and the residential market is catching on. In a survey of U.S. Internet users, research firm Ipsos-Insight identified a number of VoIP features that are enticing would-be subscribers.

     

    VoIP Access Lines (millions)

    PBX Lines Shipments

    VoIP Must Have

    2. Tips from the Experts (Page 2 of 3 pages)

    What should enterprise customers be aware of as they deploy VoIP?

    James Puchbauer, Director of Marketing, AltiGen Communications

    I like to say, “Technology should never be the siren song with which you crash your business on the rocks.”
    Don’t buy something that is a tech-sounding solution. Make sure the system you buy is a mature application to
    solve business needs, so that it can do the things you want it to do like integrate with a database or provide
    centralized call recording.

    Make sure the technology not only does VoIP, but also has the voice resources you need — can handle maximum capacity.

    These voice resources do much more than just voicemail: There is interactive voice response; prompts play
    when someone is in the sales queue; on-demand recording; and many more different valuable features you need.

    All of those capabilities require voice resources, and you often don’t realize how expensive they are until
    after purchasing.

    John Dretler, Senior Vice President, AnchorPoint

    Before deployment, you need to define your current voice and data infrastructure; understand the volume and
    impact of voice traffic on your data network; quantify the cost and savings, ROI, from moving your traffic;
    and put in place the process to measure the ROI as you move forward.

    Matthias Machowinski, Market Analyst, Infonetics Research

    There are many types of solutions out there. Which one suits their particular requirements,
    i.e. managed services vs. in-house deployments, hybrid vs. pure IP PBXs? This is not a one size fits all market.

    Scott Testa, Co-Founder and COO, Mindbridge Software

    Today we have 40 percent to 50 percent traffic on VoIP. A year ago it was at 20 percent, and two years ago it was at zero.
    We did it gradually. I would say to most large enterprises, if you can do a gradual rollout, that
    would be the preferred way of doing it. Try first as a secondary line system then,
    after six months if you are happy with it, make a primary line in limited use and roll it out slow.

    R. Pierce Reid, Vice President of Marketing, Qovia

    The most successful implementations are those that have started with an “island” of VoIP in a department
    or division of an enterprise. Through these smaller pilots, the network can be built outwards to a corporation-wide
    network. Companies and entities that have tried “forklift” change outs of their phones and implementation of VoIP
    have had Morse challenges.

    The second thing to keep in mind is that a VoIP network requires care and feeding to run its best. In the same
    way that an IT team has to monitor and manage their data network, they will need to manage their VoIP network.
    But at the same time, a packet is not a packet. VoIP is much more critical in terms of timing and other factors.
    So the same data NMS tools that worked for a data network don’t translate easily to VoIP. You need tools that
    are designed for VoIP to manage VoIP networks.

    Finally, VoIP network management is about more than QoS. It’s
    about reliability, E911, security and other factors, as well. Remember, if you lose just a single 9 off your 99.999
    percent reliability, that’s 40 hours of dial tone you lose each year. Which 40 hours would you like to lose?
    When is it a good time to lose 40 hours of dial tone if you are a hospital or a sheriff’s department?

    Regulatory Round-Up:

    Here is a table that rounds up some VoIP regulatory issues.

    1.At-a-Glance Growth

    2. Tips from the Experts/Regulatory Round-up

    3. Glossary of VoIP Terms

    3. Glossary of VoIP Terms (Source: IPCB.net)(Page 3 of 3 pages)

    Active Contract

    A Contract that has been ordered.

    AHT [Average Hold Time]

    The average length of time between the moment a caller finishes dialing and the moment the call is answered or terminated.

    ANI [Automatic Number Identification]

    A telephone function that transmits the billing number of the incoming call
    (e.g. caller ID).

    ANSI [American National Standards Institute]
    American standardization body and member of the ISO [International Organization for Standardization].
    A non-profit making, government-independent organization, it is known
    for interface recommendations and standardization of programming languages.

    AS [Autonomous System]

    A group of networks under mutual administration that share the same routing methodology. An AS uses an internal
    gateway protocol and common metrics to route packets within the AS, and uses an external gateway protocol to
    route packets to other AS’s.

    ASP [Application Service Provider]

    An independent, third-party provider of software-based services delivered to customers across a WAN.

    ATM [Asynchronous Transfer Mode]

    Technology for switched, connection-oriented transmission of voice, data and video.
    It makes high-speed dedicated connections possible between a theoretically unlimited number of network users and
    also to servers. As a switching system (“Cell Relay”) it is to be used in broadband ISDN (B-ISDN) and also in the
    Switched Multimegabit Data Service (SMDS networks). ATM is also becoming increasingly popular in the LAN area in
    the form of ATM-LAN emulations. ATM is based on high-speed cell switching (packets of fixed size: 48+5 bytes)
    that makes it possible to vary bit rates (according to requirements). In connection with ATM one speaks of message
    blocks or message cells rather than message packets.

    Backbone

    A very high-speed network spanning the world from one major metropolitan area to another. Such networks are
    typically provided by national ISPs. Local ISPs connect to the backbone in order
    to transport data.

    Bad Frame Interpolation

    Interpolates lost/corrupted packets by using the previously received voice frames. It
    increases voice quality by making the voice transmission more robust in bursty error environments.

    Balance

    See Net Termination Balance.

    Bandwidth

    The maximum data-carrying capacity of a transmission link. For networks, bandwidth is usually expressed in bits
    per second (bps).

    BDSG

    Federal Data Protection Act

    Billing Increment

    A call duration measurement unit expressed in seconds.

    BLI [Busy Lamp Indicator]

    A light or LED on a telephone that shows which line is in use.

    Broadband

    Descriptive term for evolving digital technology that provides consumers a single switch facility offering
    integrated access to voice, high-speed data service, video demand services, and interactive delivery services.

    Call

    Establishment of (or an attempt to establish) voice connection between two endpoints, or between two points which
    provide a partial link (e.g. a trunk) between two endpoints.

    Codec [Compression-decompression]

    In VoIP, it is a voice compression-decompression algorithm that defines the rate of speech
    compression, quality of decompressed speech and processing power requirements. The most popular codecs in VoIP are
    ITU-T G.723.1 and G.729 (AB).

    Compression

    Used at anywhere from 1:1 to 12:1 ratios in VoIP applications to consume less bandwidth and leave
    more for data or other voice/fax communications. The voice quality may decrease with increased compression ratios.

    Congestion

    The situation in which the traffic present on the network exceeds available network bandwidth/capacity.

    Connection-oriented

    Mode of communication in which a connection must be established between the transmitter and receiver before transmission
    of user data. This can be done by switching a circuit or by setting up a logical channel. A well-known connection-oriented
    protocol is TCP. Connection-oriented is the opposite of connectionless.

    Connectionless

    Mode of communication in which a connection (circuit or logical channel) does not need to be set up for data
    transmission between the transmitter and receiver. It is the underlying protocol for packet-switched transmission.
    The individual data packets can go from the transmitter to the receiver via different paths. A well-known
    connectionless protocol is UDP.

    Contract

    A set of parameters that an IPCB.net Member using the VoIP Termination Service establishes in order to receive traffic
    from and provide termination services to other IPCB.net Members. Contract details include the requested price per minute
    (Tariff), Grace Period, Minimum Call Duration, Billing Increment, and one or more registered Gateways/Gatekeepers that
    will be terminating calls sent by an IPCB.net Member who has ordered this Contract.

    CSMA/CD [Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Detection]

    This is the access procedure to the Ethernet in which the
    participating stations physically monitor the traffic on the line. If no transmission is taking place at the time, the
    particular station can transmit. If two stations attempt to transmit simultaneously, this causes a collision, which is
    detected by all participating stations. After a random time interval, the stations that collided attempt to transmit
    again. If another collision occurs, the time intervals from which the random waiting time is selected are increased
    step by step. Networks using the CSMA/CD procedure are simple to implement but do not have deterministic transmission
    characteristics. The CSMA/CD method is internationally standardized in IEEE 802.3 and ISO 8802.3.

    Dial-peer

    Addressable call endpoint — a software structure that binds a dialed digit string to a voice port or IP address of
    the destination gateway. Several dial peers always exist on each router in the network, and at least two will be
    involved in making a call across the network, one on the originating end and one on the terminating end. In Voice
    over IP, there are two kinds of dial peers: POTS and VoIP. VoIP peers point to specific VoIP devices.

    Dial-peer hunting

    Process when the originating router tries to establish a call on different dial peers if the originating router
    receives a user-busy invalid number or an unassigned-number disconnect cause code from a destination router.

    DID [Direct Inward Dialing]

    The ability to make a telephone call directly into an internal extension without having to
    go through the operator.

    DiffServ [Differentiated Services]

    A quality of service protocol that prioritizes IP voice and data traffic to
    help preserve voice quality even when network traffic is heavy.

    DNIS [Dialed Number Identification Service]

    A telephone function that sends the dialed telephone number to the answering
    service.

    DTMF [Dual-Tone Multifrequency]

    The type of audio signals generated when you press the buttons on a touch-tone telephone.

    dynamic jitter buffer

    Collects voice packets, stores them, and shifts them to the voice processor in evenly spaced intervals to reduce any
    distortion in the sound.

    E&M [Ear and Mouth]

    The interface on a VoIP device that allows it to be connected to analog PBX trunk ports (tie lines).

    E.164

    The international public telecommunication numbering plan. An E.164 number uniquely identifies a public network
    termination point and typically consists of three fields, CC (country code), NDC (national destination code), and SN
    (subscriber number), up to 15 digits in total.

    E1

    A wide-area digital transmission scheme (European): 2,048 Mbits/s; 31 channels, 64 Kbps each.

    Endpoint

    SIP or H.323 terminal or Gateway. An endpoint can call and be called. It generates and terminates the information stream.

    Firewall

    A system designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network. Firewalls can be implemented as
    hardware or software or a combination of both. All messages entering or leaving the intranet pass through the firewall,
    which examines each message and blocks those that do not meet the security criteria specified on the firewall.

    Forward Error Correction

    Increases voice quality by recovering lost or corrupted packets.

    FXO [Foreign Exchange Office]

    The interface on a VoIP device for connecting to an analog PBX extension.

    FXS [Foreign Exchange Station]

    The interface on a VoIP device for connecting directly to phones, faxes, and CO ports
    on PBXs or key telephone systems.

    G.723.1

    An ITU-T double rate CELP codec (6.4/5.3 kbps, medium quality, high processor load).

    G.726

    An ITU-T ADPCM wave form codec (16/24/32/40 kbps, good quality, low processor load).

    G.728

    An ITU-T low delay CELP codec (16 kbps, medium quality, very high processor load).

    G.729

    An ITU-T ACELP codec (8 kbps, medium quality, high processor load).

    G.7xx

    A family of ITU standards for audio compression.

    Gateway

    A network device that converts voice and fax calls, in real time, between the public switched
    telephone network (PSTN) and an IP network. The primary functions of an IP gateway include voice and fax
    compression/decompression, packetization, call routing, and control signaling. Additional features may include
    interfaces to external controllers, such as Gatekeepers or Softswitches, billing systems, and network management systems.

    GKTMP [Gatekeeper Transaction Message Protocol]

    A proprietary Cisco protocol used for communication between the Cisco IOS Gatekeeper and external applications.

    H.225

    Protocols (RAS, RTP/RTCP, Q.931 call signaling) and message formats for H.323.

    H.245

    A protocol for capability negotiation, messages for opening and closing channels for media streams, etc.
    (i.e. media signaling).

    H.323

    An ITU-T “umbrella” of standards for packet-based multimedia communications systems. This standard defines the
    different multimedia entities that make up a multimedia system — Endpoints, Gateways, Multipoint Conferencing Units
    (MCUs), and Gatekeepers — and their interaction. This standard is used for many VoIP applications, and is
    heavily dependent on other standards, mainly H.225 and H.245.

    Hairpin

    Means to send a call back in the direction that it came from. For example, if a call cannot be
    routed over IP to a gateway that is closer to the target telephone, the call typically is sent back out the local
    zone, back the way from which it came.

    Hop off

    Point at which a call transitions from H.323 to non-H.323, typically at a gateway.

    IETF [Internet Engineering Task Force]

    One of two technical working bodies in the Internet Activities Board. The IETF meets three times a year to set
    technical standards for the Internet.

    IP Precedence

    See Type of Service.

    IP Telephony

    The transmission of voice and fax phone calls over data networks that use the IP. IP telephony
    is the result of the transformation of the circuit-switched telephone network to a packet-based network that deploys
    voice-compression algorithms and flexible and sophisticated transmission techniques, and delivers richer services
    using only a fraction of traditional digital telephonys usual bandwidth. Compare with VoIP.

    ITSP

    Internet Telephony Service Provider.

    ITU-T

    ITU standards for telecommunications.

    Jitter

    The variation in the amount of Latency among Packets being received.

    Latency

    The amount of time it takes a packet to travel from source to destination. Together, latency
    and bandwidth define the speed and capacity of a network. (Also called “Delay”)

    MGCP [Media Gateway Control Protocol]

    A protocol complementary to H.323 and SIP, designed to control media gateways from external call control elements in
    decomposed gateway architectures. Working in conjunction with the Gateway Location Protocol (GLP), MGCP enables a
    caller with a PSTN phone number to locate the destination device and establish a session. It provides the
    gateway-to-gateway interface for the Session Initialization Protocol (SIP). MGCP is meant to simplify standards
    for the new Voice over Packet technology by eliminating the need for complex, processor-intense IP telephony devices,
    thus simplifying and lowering the cost of these terminals.

    Packet

    The basic logical unit of information transfered.

    PBX [Private Branch eXchange]

    An in-house telephone switching system that interconnects telephone extensions to each
    other, as well as to the outside telephone network.

    PRI [Primary Rate Interface]

    An ISDN service that provides 23 64-Kbps B (Bearer) channels and one 64-Kbps D (Data)
    channel (23 B and D).

    PSTN

    Public Switched Telephone Network.

    Q.931

    ISDN connection control protocol, roughly comparable to TCP in the Internet protocol stack. Q.931 doesn’t provide
    flow control or perform retransmission, because the underlying layers are assumed to be reliable and the
    circuit-oriented nature of ISDN allocates bandwidth in fixed increments of 64 kbps. Q.931 does manage connection
    setup and breakdown. In H.323 scenario, this protocol is encapsulated in TCP and sent to port 1720.

    QoS [Quality of Service]

    Measure of performance for a transmission system that reflects its transmission quality and
    service availability. Standards based-QOS for VoIP usually involves the implementation of Ethernet standards 802.1p
    and 802.1q at layer 2 across an Ethernet. At layer 3, the IP standard DiffServ defines bits settings in the TOS
    (type of service) in the IP header, which will identify packets as being associated with a specific service.

    QSIG [Q (point of the ISDN model) Signaling]

    Common channel signaling protocol based on ISDN Q.931
    standards and used by many digital PBXs.

    RAS [Registration, Admission, Status]

    A management protocol between terminals and gatekeepers.

    RSVP [Resource Reservation Protocol]

    Protocol that supports the reservation of resources across an IP network. Applications
    running on IP end systems can use RSVP to indicate to other nodes the nature
    (bandwidth, jitter, maximum burst, and so on) of the packet streams they want to receive. RSVP depends on IPv6.
    (Also known as Resource Reservation Setup Protocol.)

    RTP [Real-Time Transport Protocol]

    Commonly used with IP networks. RTP is designed to provide end-to-end network transport
    functions for applications transmitting real-time data, such as audio, video, or simulation data, over multicast or
    unicast network services. RTP provides such services as payload type identification, sequence numbering, timestamping,
    and delivery monitoring to real-time applications.

    SIP [Session Initiation Protocol]

    An application-layer control protocol; a signaling protocol for Internet Telephony. SIP can establish
    sessions for features such as audio/videoconferencing, interactive gaming, and call forwarding to be deployed
    over IP networks, thus enabling service providers to integrate basic IP telephony services with Web, e-mail,
    and chat services. In addition to user authentication, redirect and registration services, SIP Server supports
    traditional telephony features such as personal mobility, time-of-day routing and call forwarding based on the
    geographical location of the person being called.

    Softswitch

    (Also called a Proxy Gatekeeper, Call Server, Call Agent, Media Gateway Controller, or Switch Controller) Software
    used to bridge a public switched telephone network and voice over Internet by separating the call control functions
    of a phone call from the media gateway (transport layer). Softswitch performs call control functions such as protocol
    conversion, authorization, accounting and administration operations.

    T1

    1.544-Mbps point-to-point dedicated digital circuit provided by the telephone companies consisting of 24 channels.

    TAPI [Telephony API]

    A programming interface that allows Windows client applications to access voice services on a server.

    TCP [Transmission Control Protocol]

    Connection-oriented transport layer protocol that provides reliable, full-duplex data transmission. TCP is part of
    the TCP/IP protocol stack.

    Trunk

    A communications channel between two points, typically referring to large-bandwidth telephone channels between
    switching centers that handle many simultaneous voice and data signals.

    VoIP [Voice over IP]

    The capability to carry normal telephony-style voice over an IP-based Internet with POTS-like
    functionality, reliability, and voice quality. VoIP enables a router to carry voice traffic
    (for example, telephone calls and faxes) over an IP network. In VoIP, the DSP segments the voice signal into frames,
    which then are coupled in groups of two and stored in voice packets. These voice packets are transported using IP in
    compliance with ITU-T specification H.323.

    VPDN [Virtual Private Dial-up Network]

    A network that extends
    remote access to a private network using a shared infrastructure. VPDNs use Layer 2 tunnel technologies
    (L2F, L2TP, and PPTP) to extend the Layer 2 and higher parts of the network connection from a remote user across
    an ISP network to a private network. VPDNs are a cost-effective method of establishing a long-distance, point-to-point
    connection between remote dial users and a private network. (Also known as virtual private dial network.)

    VPN [Virtual Private Network]

    Enables IP traffic to travel securely over a public TCP/IP network by encrypting all
    traffic from one network to another. A VPN uses “tunneling” to encrypt all information at the IP level.

    Weight

    A number (10-100) assigned to a contract or route when ordering the contract/route. If several contracts/routes
    for the same destination have the same priority assigned, calls to the destination are distributed among the
    contracts/routes according to their relative weights.

    1.At-a-Glance Growth

    2.Tips from the Experts/Regulatory Round-Up

    3. Glossary of VoIP Terms

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