Friday, June 14, 2019

“Chinese Telecoms Are Hijacking US Traffic, Warns Republican FCC Commissioner - Z6 Mag” plus 4 more

“Chinese Telecoms Are Hijacking US Traffic, Warns Republican FCC Commissioner - Z6 Mag” plus 4 more


Chinese Telecoms Are Hijacking US Traffic, Warns Republican FCC Commissioner - Z6 Mag

Posted: 13 May 2019 12:00 AM PDT

VoIP has had a significant shift from a technology exclusively used by the early adopters or hobbyist to a widely adopted business form of communication. The industry expects an annual growth rate of 3.1% between 2019 to 2024 with a value ranging from 77.4 million USD in 2018 to 93.2 million USD by the end of 2024.

Undoubtedly, the business is exponentially growing at a breakneck pace, and VoIP providers are flocking in, offering packages that may or may not fit to what your business goals are. Hence, with our continued interest of unraveling the best VoIP provider, we are going to review key players in the industry and showcase opinions that will help businesses to determine solutions that work.

RingCentral Review

When it comes to the VoIP race, RingCentral is one of those providers that you won't miss out not to mention. Aside from its flexible pricing offers, the company has established a solid foundation in catering the communication needs of small-time businesses and large enterprises.

RingCentral was founded back in 1999 by Vlad Shmunis, and since then, the cloud-based company introduced new ways to connect and collaborate remotely. For almost 20 years of providing VoIP services, RingCentral has significantly banked on its easy VoIP setup, competitive prices, and cloud-based management system. In a sense, the VoIP provider established itself as one of the big names in the VoIP market.

Pricing

RingCentral Pricing Offers

As previously mentioned, RingCentral offers versatile and relatively competitive price packages. RingCentral starts things off with their Essential Plan that costs $19.99/month, which is suitable for small-time businesses with less than ten employees. The package supports up to 10 users with a four-person limit on its audio and video meeting feature.

The Essential Plan unlocks RingCentral 24/7 customer support lines and offers unlimited phone calling, 100 toll-free minutes, customer management and phone service administration, and other basic features necessary for small-time businesses.

The next tier that RingCentral offers is the Standard Plan which costs $24.99/month. The $5 difference from its Essential package provides businesses with a little more space to work with, especially with its zero-limit on the number of users. However, video and audio conferencing are still limited to four people at a time.

The RingCentral Standard Plan doesn't have much of a difference from its Essential plan, aside from getting 1,000 toll-free minutes per month. Further, the package credits you the same basic feature with a multi-level auto attendant that works as a virtual receptionist for routing calls to the right department. The Standard Plan also credits you internet fax and call log support that will come in handy during end-of-the-month business reporting.

If you think the previous offerings are small enough to fit your business needs, RingCentral has a Premium plan that costs $34.99/month. The package poses a vast amount of support for your business such as multi-site support, custom app development and deployment, and SalesForce, Zendesk, and Desk integration. The RingCentral Premium pushes the audio and video meeting limit to 100 people with toll-free minutes of up to 2,500/month. You'll also get Voicemail Transcription to Text support which converts voicemails to text for easy documentation.

The last tier that RingCentral offers is the Ultimate Plan for $49.99/month. The package provides the same amount of support as the Premium but boosts the number of minutes to 10,000 and the audio/video meeting bandwidth to 200 people.

How It Works?

Before starting things off with RingCentral, the first thing you need to know is if the service or the package fits your business goals. If the answer is yes, then there are two ways in installing RingCentral; its either you use your existing phones, or you purchase new equipment from RingCentral themselves.

If you opt to use your current desk phones, installing RingCentral is as easy as plug and play. Just plug your phones and computers to the internet jacks and install the RingCentral app to your employees' smartphones. After installation, you'll get to enjoy all the features based on the RingCentral package you opt to choose. And, since RingCentral is cloud-based, you can use its dedicated app for all your voice calls, faxing, audio/video conferencing needs.

With RingCentral's plethora of features, you don't have to rely on your traditional phone lines to handle all your business communication requirements. You'll get competitive management support, technology-forward IVRs, relaxing hold music, call management, and other basic features put in place so that you'll never miss a call again.

Comparison and Contrast

RingCentral is indeed one of the top tier VoIP providers in the market today. Its call management feature that enables businesses to customize their ways of communicating is one the best qualifier for RingCentral. You'll get call forwarding on the go with easy deployment based on your business or department's answering rules. You can easily configure automatic call recording and convert them to text for easy documentation. You'll also enjoy auto attendant, a feature that directs calls on the right department, to ensure that all requests go to the right person and provide solutions at first touch.

However, comparing RingCentral to other VoIP providers, there are noticeable differences that one cannot just disregard. Let's use Nextiva for example. Nextiva is also one to the leading VoIP players today, and statistically speaking, Nextiva is a highly-acclaimed cloud-based software provider with 99.99% reliability rate across NYC to Seattle.

Nextiva Pricing Table

Nextiva's VoIP plans provide consumers more flexibility at a more cheaper rate. For $20, Nextiva's Basic Plan equates to RingCentral's Standard Plan with more added features. You'll get additional support such as Advance Call Management and number porting for free.

Nextiva's Pro Plan steps the notch even higher. You'll get a customized greeting feature that works significantly in building your brand. Furthermore, you'll receive Text Messaging support that enables you to connect with your team and customers at your own pace and desire. Limitation towards the number of people allowed for conferencing is not much of a concern within Nextiva's VoIP packages. In a sense, you'll get more added support at a price relatively cheaper than what you get from RingCentral.

When setting up Nextiva, you can opt for Nextiva's professional installers to set up your VoIP lines for free. Through this installation method, you'll get to work with Nextiva on how you want to customize your VoIP solution. This method also eliminates common installation failure. But, with regards to the accessibility of installing Nextiva's VoIP, you'll get the same amount of convenience RingCentral offers.

The Verdict

RingCentral is, without a doubt, a competitive VoIP provider. However, the limitations on specific price plans are very concerning. Its Essential Plan lacks mobility and essential features like auto attendant and automatic call recording that are necessary for today's business needs; unless you pay $15 more to employ such elements.

While, if you compare it to companies like Nextiva, who are offering relatively the same or more amount of features on its basic plan, it enables businesses to manage communications with more flexibility without paying more than it should be. And, with today's competitive market, getting extra elements at a price lesser than the other, is a motivational factor to choose Nextiva aside from RingCentral.

More importantly, in choosing your cloud-based solution, you should understand what your business goals are, and see if the provider offer such features. Don't just settle with prices, and pick a solution that enables you to manage your calls and business needs on a much broader scale.

Texas Telephone Provider Explains Pros and Cons Of VoIP Phone Systems - Press Release - Digital Journal

Posted: 05 Jun 2019 09:13 PM PDT

Is replacing your legacy phone system with a new VoIP-based system the right choice for your business? In many cases, the answer is yes, but let's look at some pros and cons of VoIP for business. Then you can decide what's right for your business.

VoIP Explained

VoIP stands for voice over internet protocol. It's a method of routing voice data (such as phone calls) over the internet. In the 1990s and early 2000s, VoIP call quality was far inferior to landline phones. It remained a niche product chiefly used by hobbyists and those looking to save on phone bills.

As hardware and broadband speeds both improved, VoIP became more mainstream. Today, many businesses have replaced their legacy phone systems with business VoIP plans. There are many benefits to VoIP as well as a few drawbacks.

Pros of VoIP

Companies who have embraced business VoIP point to benefits such as these.

Cost Savings

Traditional phone systems can be expensive. Costs for hardware and infrastructure as well as the monthly cost per line all add up to a hefty sum. VoIP, on the other hand, is much more flexible as far as cost. The infrastructure is "free" in that VoIP piggybacks off your existing network infrastructure. Most providers also provide equipment for a monthly fee, eliminating the sticker shock of converting to a new hardware system.

You'll also save on the cost of the calls themselves. PC-to-PC calls are typically free. PC-to-landline calls aren't free, but usually, the rates are lower than traditional phone system rates.

Efficiency

Because VoIP runs over your existing network infrastructure, it's more efficient than traditional phone systems. If you renovate or move into a new space, you'll notice the time and cost savings immediately: no one is running phone cable.

VoIP also gains efficiency through the use of softphones. Not everyone needs a physical handset these days, and a softphone (software combined with a USB headset, typically) is far cheaper than a physical VoIP phone.

Flexibility

With traditional telephone systems, there is a firm limit to how many lines can be run without building out additional infrastructure. With VoIP, you can scale up or down as needed, since your connections aren't based on literal lines anymore. Your only limitation is your bandwidth. This is a huge advantage for businesses that scale seasonally.

Advanced Features and Innovation

VoIP systems have a software component and are tied into users' computers, allowing for a whole raft of innovative features that traditional phone systems can't match. In the office, you can start a phone call from chat or email or initiate multi-party calls from your desktop. You can share file attachment during your call, and you'll have access to visual voicemail via email. Outside the office, you can route your VoIP extension to your mobile and answer your phone as if you're still at your desk.

Cons of VoIP

Before you take the leap to VoIP, be aware of the following potential drawbacks.

Power and Internet Required

You can't run a VoIP phone system without both electrical power and internet access. Traditional landline phones don't need internet access, and some worked even when the power was out (though the latter isn't likely in today's offices regardless). If your business experiences frequent internet outages, VoIP might be the wrong choice.

It's worth noting that many VoIP providers have established procedures in place to handle outages. For example, the system administrator may have access to a web portal (accessible remotely or via cellular data) that allows the enabling of call routing to employees' cellphones.

No More Line Sharing

Again, this is somewhat of a niche complaint, but most VoIP systems won't allow you to route the same extension to multiple handsets. Certainly, if you implement softphones, individual extensions are required. A decent-sized department that doesn't get a lot of phone traffic may prefer to map the same extension to all phones or personnel, and this usually isn't feasible with enterprise VoIP.

Check Your Bandwidth

VoIP runs over your intranet and internet connections, so it's important to ensure you have enough bandwidth to make the switch. This is rarely a concern at the enterprise level, but small businesses running on DSL or cable might need to upgrade their connection along with the switch to VoIP.

Conclusion

Given its pros and cons, VoIP still comes out on top for many organizations. If you'd like to learn more or are ready to begin the conversation about switching to VoIP, contact us today. ICS is a business telephone service provider in Houston, San Antonio, and Austin and we're ready to answer your questions and guide you through the process.

Media Contact
Company Name: ICS
Contact Person: Jason Simons
Email: Send Email
Phone: (713) 225-5427
Address:6210 Rothway St #190
City: Houston
State: Texas
Country: United States
Website: https://www.ics-com.net

VTech Announces FY2019 Annual Results - PRNewswire

Posted: 20 May 2019 12:00 AM PDT

HONG KONG, May 20, 2019 /PRNewswire/ --

  • Group revenue increased by 1.5% to US$2,161.9 million
  • Profit attributable to shareholders of the Company decreased by 17.0% to US$171.3 million
  • Final dividend of US50.0 cents per ordinary share, resulting in a full-year dividend of US67.0 cents per ordinary share, a decrease of 16.3% year-on-year
  • Gross margin declined from 33.0% to 29.4%
  • Restructuring to turn around TEL products business

VTech Holdings Limited (HKSE: 303) today announced its results for the year ended 31 March 2019, reporting higher revenue on good performances of electronic learning products and contract manufacturing services.

"The financial year 2019 saw both achievements and challenges for VTech. Electronic learning products delivered a slight sales increase despite the absence of Toys"R"Us in many of the Group's major markets. Contract manufacturing services posted strong growth and the Group successfully integrated its recently acquired manufacturing facilities in Malaysia. The performance of telecommunication products was below expectations, however, which resulted in weaker-than-anticipated Group revenue and profit," said Mr. Allan Wong, Chairman and Group CEO of VTech Holdings Limited.

Results and Dividend

Group revenue for the year ended 31 March 2019 increased by 1.5% to US$2,161.9 million, led by higher sales in Europe and Asia Pacific.

Profit attributable to shareholders of the Company decreased by 17.0% to US$171.3 million. The decline was mainly due to the lower revenue of telecommunication (TEL) products, product mix and higher costs.

Basic earnings per share decreased by 16.9% to US68.2 cents, compared to US82.1 cents in the previous financial year.

The Board of Directors has proposed a final dividend of US50.0 cents per ordinary share, providing a full-year dividend of US67.0 cents per ordinary share, a 16.3% decrease from the US80.0 cents declared in the previous financial year. This represents a dividend payout ratio of 98.4%.

Costs

The gross profit margin of the Group declined from 33.0% in the financial year 2018 to 29.4% in the financial year 2019. The decrease was due to higher materials prices, in part arising from tight supply of certain components, product mix, as well as a rise in direct labour costs and manufacturing overheads.

US China Trade Tension

During the financial year 2019, the US Government began to impose additional tariffs on Chinese imports. In total, around US$250 billion of goods from China to the US have been subjected to additional tariffs ranging from 10% to 25%. Negotiations have been underway regarding the trade arrangements between the two countries. On 10 May 2019, the tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese imports were raised from 10% to 25%. In addition, about US$300 billion of Chinese goods could be made subject to 25% tariffs in the event an agreement was not reached.

As of today, none of VTech's electronic learning products (ELPs) or TEL products is subject to such tariffs. However, a number of the Group's contract manufacturing services (CMS) customers in the US are affected. Some of them are making plans to move part of their production from the Group's manufacturing facilities in Dongguan, mainland China to its recently acquired production facilities in Malaysia. Despite this, there was little impact on the Group revenue in the financial year 2019.

Segment Results

North America

Group revenue in North America decreased by 4.5% to US$994.5 million in the financial year 2019, as higher ELPs revenue was offset by lower revenues of TEL products and CMS. North America was VTech's largest market, accounting for 46.0% of Group revenue.

ELPs revenue in North America rose by 4.0% to US$476.6 million, with particularly strong growth in Canada. This performance was achieved despite the closure of Toys"R"Us in the US, as some of the Group's existing customers expanded their shelf space and assortment of toys to capture the business previously conducted by the retailer. The Group also increased sales to some second-tier retailers. Additional momentum came from the launch of new VTech and LeapFrog branded products, which were well-received by the market and enabled the Group to gain further market share. As a result, VTech strengthened its position as the number one manufacturer of electronic learning toys from infancy through toddler and preschool in the US[1].

Standalone products posted growth, driven by higher sales for both the LeapFrog and VTech brands. LeapFrog standalone products saw strong growth, as the Group pursued a strategy to expand the standalone toy business by launching more new products. Among the new items launched, Learning Friends 100 Words Book, Storytime Buddy and Go-with-Me ABC Backpack sold especially well. Growth of VTech standalone products was led by higher sales of preschool products such as the PJ Masks Learning Watch range, Kidizoom® Camera and the Kidi line. These successes offset the decline in the Go! Go! Smart family of products.

Sales of platform products decreased. VTech platform products registered a sales increase, driven by strong sell-through of Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2 and KidiBuzz®. LeapFrog reading systems also saw higher sales, led by the good performance of the newly launched LeapStart® 3D. These gains, however, were insufficient to offset lower sales of children's educational tablets. Subscriptions to the LeapFrog Academy continued to grow steadily.

During the financial year 2019, VTech was given two prestigious awards by its major customers. Target named VTech "Vendor of the Year 2018", while Walmart, the Group's largest customer, honoured VTech with its "Toy Supplier of the Year" award. Both accolades are given in recognition of successful partnerships between the retailers and their toy suppliers. Among individual products, Kidizoom Smartwatch DX assortment was the top selling toy of 2018 in the youth electronics category according to the NPD Group, Retail Tracking Service (NPD). In addition, LeapStart 3D and the Learning Friends 100 Words Book were selected as finalists for the Toy Association's 2019 "Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards" in the tech and infant/toddler categories respectively.

TEL products revenue in North America decreased by 19.4% to US$263.4 million, with lower sales of residential phones, commercial phones and other telecommunication products. Residential phones were again affected by the continuing contraction of the fixed-line telephone market. The Group also faced keen competition and a trend among retailers to consolidate their suppliers, leading to a loss of shelf space in club and consumer electronics channels. Despite this, VTech maintained its leadership position in the US residential phones market[2].

Commercial phones and other telecommunication products posted sales declines, as higher sales of headsets and hotel phones were insufficient to offset lower sales of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phones, baby monitors and wireless monitoring systems. Headsets benefited from the launch and strong sell-through of the world's first 100% voice-controlled headsets by a customer, while hotel phones maintained their growth as the Group won more new projects. Sales of VoIP phones decreased mainly due to a product delay, while baby monitors experienced an overall sales decline as a customer reduced orders. Nonetheless, in the calendar year 2018, the VTech branded baby monitors continued to grow and the Group is the number one baby monitor brand by dollar sales in the US[3]. Wireless monitoring systems were affected by lower sales of Wi-Fi IP cameras.

CMS revenue in North America declined by 0.5% to US$254.5 million. Higher sales of industrial products and medical and health products were offset by lower sales of solid-state lighting and communication products. Meanwhile, sales of professional audio equipment remained stable. Industrial products benefited from increased orders for printed circuit board assembly for note-counting devices and industrial printers. Sales of medical and health products rose on more orders for hearing aids. Solid-state lighting was affected by keen competition faced by the Group's customers, while communication products declined as the customer's product line reached the end of its life cycle.

Europe

Group revenue in Europe increased by 4.0% to US$882.9 million in the financial year 2019. Higher sales of CMS offset lower revenues of ELPs and TEL products. Europe remained VTech's second largest market, accounting for 40.8% of Group revenue.

ELPs revenue in Europe showed a 5.4% decrease to US$343.5 million. All the Group's major European markets reported lower sales. This was mainly attributable to tough market conditions in most of VTech's key European markets. In the UK, Toys"R"Us closed all its stores, while in other European markets some retailers faced financial problems. Logistics issues in continental Europe in the first half of the financial year 2019 resulted in lower shipment of products, which also contributed to the lower sales. However, the Group successfully resolved the logistics issues in the second half of the financial year, recouping most of the sales lost. In the calendar year 2018, VTech maintained its position as the number one infant and toddler toy manufacturer in France, the UK and Germany[4]. 

In standalone products, sales of VTech branded products were down across the board owing to the tough market conditions and the logistics issues. Sales of LeapFrog branded products remained stable, however. During the financial year 2019, LeapBuilders®/BlaBla Blocks®[5], a brand new range of interactive building sets, was launched in the Group's major European markets. The launch marked VTech's expansion into the building set category.

In platform products, sales were lower for both brands. VTech saw higher sales of Kidizoom Smartwatches, augmented by the launch of the updated version of Touch and Learn Activity Desk. Continued growth in LeapFrog reading systems was supported by the launch of LeapStart 3D in the UK market. These gains, however, were insufficient to compensate for lower sales of KidiCom Max and children's educational tablets. 

The Group's ELPs gained many key industry awards in the UK and continental Europe during the financial year 2019. The Kidi line of products was named "Top Selling Youth Electronics Property in Europe (EU7) in 2018" by NPD. In the UK, Myla the Magical Make-Up Unicorn was among the "Top Toys for Christmas" at Argos. In France, VTech ELPs won three "2018 Grand Prix du Jouet" awards from La Revue du Jouet magazine, while BlaBla Blocks Alphabet House was named "Toy of the Year Award 2018" in the category of 0 - 3 years by the Dutch Toy Association.

Revenue from TEL products in Europe decreased by 9.8% to US$119.7 million as sales of residential phones, commercial phones and other telecommunication products decreased.

Residential phones saw sales decline as the fixed line telephone market contracted further. Commercial phones and other telecommunication products had mixed results. VoIP phones continued to expand, supported by a positive reception from customers for the new series of products under the Snom brand. Meanwhile, sales of hotel phones were stable. Other telecommunication products, namely baby monitors, CAT-iq (Cordless Advanced Technology -- internet and quality) handsets and integrated access devices (IADs) saw sales declines. A major customer reducing orders led to a sales decrease in baby monitors. Lower sales of existing customers resulted in declining sales for CAT-iq handsets. Sales of IADs decreased due to a reduction in orders by a customer.

CMS revenue in Europe increased by 18.8% to US$419.7 million. Growth was seen across the board, driven by higher sales of hearables, professional audio equipment, industrial products, home appliances and communication products. The growth in hearables was strong, driven by market share gains as the Group took over orders from competitors. It was also supported by new product launches and good sell-through of products by existing customers. Professional audio equipment was boosted by increased orders, as existing customers launched new products which were well-received by the market. The shift towards smart homes continued to benefit the industrial products category. There were more orders for internet-connected smart thermostats and air-conditioning controls. The growth in the UK was buoyed by the introduction of a new generation of smart meters. In home appliances, growth was driven by increased demand for electric ovens in Italy and market share gains by a major customer in Russia. Higher sales of communication products were driven by more orders for network routers from an existing customer.

Asia Pacific

Group revenue in Asia Pacific increased by 26.1% to US$248.6 million in the financial year 2019. Higher sales of ELPs and CMS offset lower sales of TEL products. Asia Pacific represented 11.5% of Group revenue.

Revenue from ELPs in Asia Pacific rose by 12.9% to US$81.2 million, as growth continued in mainland China and Australia. Higher sales of LeapFrog branded products in other Asia Pacific markets also supported the overall growth. In mainland China, the increase in revenues resulted from continued sales increases for infant and toddler products, new product launches and channel expansion. Among the new items introduced, the new KidiSchool line, which was introduced to target the early education segment, was especially well received. Higher penetration among maternity-infant-child specialty retailers and e-commerce retailers also contributed to growth. In addition, the Group benefited from the continued expansion of Toys"R"Us in the country. In the financial year 2019, VTech was given a "2018 Vendor of the Year" award by Toys"R"Us in recognition of the successful collaboration between VTech and the retailer in mainland China. In Australia, sales continued to grow despite the closure of Toys"R"Us in the country. Higher sales were seen in both VTech and LeapFrog products, buoyed by broader listings and a focus on improving channel management. The VTech branded First StepsBaby Walker was named "Infant/Preschool Toy of the Year 2018" by the Australian Toy Association.

TEL products revenue in Asia Pacific decreased by 19.9% to US$35.4 million. Lower sales in Japan, Australia and Hong Kong offset growth in Malaysia. In Japan, sales declined owing to reduced shipment of cordless phones to a customer who faced financial problems. In Australia, the continued contraction of the fixed-line telephone market led to lower sales of cordless phones, offsetting growth in baby monitors. Hong Kong saw sales decrease on declines in demand for cordless phones and lower orders for IADs. In contrast to these markets, Malaysia experienced growth as VTech became a key supplier for cordless phones to a major local telephone company.

CMS revenue in Asia Pacific grew by 63.0% to US$132.0 million, led by higher sales of professional audio equipment, medical and health products and home appliances. This offset lower sales of communication products and hearables. Professional audio equipment was boosted by the addition of sales from the DJ equipment business, following completion of the acquisition of the manufacturing facilities in Malaysia from Pioneer Corporation in August 2018. This resulted in a full six-month sales contribution being consolidated in the second half of the financial year 2019. The growth in home appliances was a result of additional revenue generated by one new customer. Medical and health products continued to benefit from higher orders for diagnostic ultrasound systems. In contrast to this growth, sales of communication products declined on reduced orders for marine radios, while hearables were affected by keen competition in the wireless headsets market.

Other Regions

Group revenue in Other Regions, namely Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, fell by 16.3% to US$35.9 million in the financial year 2019. Lower sales of TEL products and ELPs offset higher sales of CMS. Other Regions accounted for 1.7% of Group revenue.

ELPs revenue in Other Regions decreased by 7.1% to US$13.0 million, with higher sales in Latin America unable to compensate for lower sales in the Middle East and Africa.

TEL products revenue in Other Regions declined by 21.9% to US$21.7 million, with lower sales in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa.

CMS revenue in Other Regions was US$1.2 million in the financial year 2019, as compared to US$1.1 million in the previous financial year.

Outlook

Group revenue is difficult to gauge for the financial year 2020, as new tariffs may potentially be applied to practically all Chinese imports. VTech is now assessing the impact and taking steps to mitigate it, which includes expanding our newly acquired production facilities in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, the pressure on materials prices is forecast to abate and labour costs to be stable in this financial year, which are positive to the gross margin.

In ELPs, the Group aims to strengthen its market leadership in North America and Europe through new product launches. For standalone products, this will be led by the expansion of core learning products under both the VTech and LeapFrog brands. In North America, VTech will begin to sell its first robotics toy, Myla the Magical Unicorn, which was introduced in the Group's key European markets last year. In the LeapFrog brand, LeapBuilders will be introduced in the US, following its positive reception already in Europe. Platform products will see several key items launched in the financial year 2020. The LeapFrog brand will introduce RockIt Twist, a brand new handheld gaming product targeting children aged between four and eight. The LeapStart range will be strengthened by the addition of LeapStart Go. A newly designed version of KidiBuzz/KidiCom Max, adding augmented reality games and live face-tracking photo filters, will be introduced in the US and UK to boost sales of the VTech range. Continued growth in Australia and mainland China will support higher sales in Asia Pacific.

For TEL products, the core strategy is to stabilise revenue through more new product introductions. Sales of commercial phones and other telecommunication products are forecast to increase. The roll-out of the new product line under the Snom brand in the financial year 2019 has laid the groundwork for higher sales of VoIP phones. These models will soon be joined by a new cordless conference phone with wireless microphones. The momentum in headsets will continue as more products are launched, while further growth in hotel phones will be supported by the addition of customers in Macau and New Zealand. Sales of baby monitors, CAT-iq handsets and IADs will benefit from new product launches. In residential phones, the decline in sales is expected to slow as VTech recoups some lost market share in the US and becomes the sole supplier to some key retail customers.

CMS is on track for an eighteenth consecutive year of growth, subject to further trade developments between US and China. Professional audio equipment will be boosted by rising sales at existing customers and the contribution of the new DJ equipment business. The strong momentum in hearables will continue, as a major customer will launch a new generation of headsets and transfer the production to VTech. Industrial products will also grow. Orders for internet-connected smart thermostats and smart air-conditioning controls are expected to rise, as the existing customer's complete product line enters full production. The medical and health products business will benefit from the decision by a customer to let VTech manufacture the finished products of its hearing aids.

A number of new initiatives will help CMS to expand revenue and lower costs. An NPI (New Product Introduction) Centre is being set up within the Group's existing research and development (R&D) facilities in Shenzhen, with the aim of capturing business opportunities from start-up companies. The Group is also taking steps to enhance supplier management. This will secure the best level of services from suppliers during critical supply situations.

"VTech has the dedicated teams globally, solid R&D capabilities and strong balance sheet to cope with the current uncertainties and deliver increasing value to shareholders," said Mr Wong.

About VTech

VTech is the global leader in electronic learning products from infancy through toddler and preschool and the largest manufacturer of residential phones in the US. It also provides highly sought-after contract manufacturing services. Since its establishment in 1976, VTech has been a pioneer in the electronic learning toy category. With advanced educational expertise and cutting-edge innovation, VTech products provide fun and learning to children around the world. Leveraging decades of success in cordless telephony, VTech's diverse collection of telecommunication products elevates both home and business users' experience through the latest in technology and design. As one of the world's leading electronic manufacturing service providers, VTech offers world-class, full turnkey services to customers in a number of product categories. The Group's mission is to design, manufacture and supply innovative and high quality products in a manner that minimises any impact on the environment, while creating sustainable value for its stakeholders and the community.

Note: Starting from 22:30, 20 May 2019 (HKT), the video archive of the FY2019 annual results announcement can be accessed through VTech website via this link: https://www.vtech.com/en/investors/financial-briefings/.

This release is issued by VTech Holdings Limited through Golin. For further information, please contact:

Grace Pang         

VTech representative in Hong Kong

VTech Holdings Limited        

Lisa Tam, Golin

(852) 2680-1000 (office)         

(852) 2501-7936 (office)

grace_pang@vtech.com (email)

LTam@golin.com (email)

[1] 

Source: NPD Group, Retail Tracking Service. Ranking based on total retail sales in the combined toy categories of Early Electronic Learning, Toddler Figures/Playsets & Accessories, Preschool Electronic Learning, Electronic Entertainment (excluding Tablets) and Walkers for the 12 months ended December 2018

[2] 

Source: MarketWise Consumer Insights, LLC

[3] 

Source: The NPD Group Inc., US Retail Tracking Service, Security & Monitoring, Camera Technology: Baby Monitor, Based on Dollar Sales, January – December 2018

[4] 

Source: NPD Group, Retail Tracking Service

[5] 

LeapBuilders is sold in the UK under the LeapFrog brand but in the rest of Europe is sold under the VTech brand as BlaBla Blocks

SOURCE VTech

Related Links

https://www.vtech.com

Call Recording Vendors in Focus 2019 - UC Today

Posted: 24 May 2019 12:00 AM PDT

Call Recording Vendors in Focus 2019

Choosing a call recording tool in 2019 isn't as simple as it once was.

In the early days of call recording, all you needed to do was implement some new software and find a place to store your data.

Now, we demand more from the technology that helps us to unlock the power of voice. The rise of privacy regulations like PCI DSS and GDPR means that organisations need to think more carefully about what they record, and how they manage that collected information.

The competitive marketplace means that we need to find ways of leveraging everyday calls and conversations to deliver better customer experiences and more compelling services.

So, how do you choose the right Call Recording solution in this new environment?

Assessing some of the market leaders will give you a good headstart.

We've assessed some of the vendors making the most noise in the call recording conversation this year. Here's what each of the top competitors has to offer.

1.     Red Box

With more than 3 decades of heritage in the voice software space, Red Box knows their way around audio data sets. The company is a world leading specialist in voice, and they're capable of capturing voice across SMEs, and global enterprises, as well as new and legacy systems.

The Red Box next-generation voice platform secures and captures millions of calls every day and claims to be suitable for businesses of any size. What's more, the system is so simple to set up, that you can have it up and running in as little as 1-2 days.

Red Box call recording captures information from legacy and modern UC applications and telephony systems, to ensure that you have a comprehensive overview of your conversations.

Availability: Cloud, hybrid or on-premises available for businesses of any size.

Features:

With Red Box, you get more than just a flexible call recording system; you also receive a solution offering full data sovereignty, ideal for the age of privacy and security. Red Box allows you to choose how you leverage your voice information. Unlock insights your way, whether it's through integration with a wide range of apps, through the "Quantify" application suite, or new services through open APIs. Features include:

  • Capture and transcribe spoken voice in 75 languages
  • 999% uptime and availability
  • Support for more than 55 UC systems
  • Manage your data directly in Salesforce, with conversation mapping
  • Leverage structured voice set information
  • Integrate seamlessly with your favourite applications
  • Access open and REST APIs to extend your applications
  • Reduce operational costs by enabling auditors to view calls easily

Additionally, all of the information you capture through Red Box is easy to export. You can send audio files and transcriptions into either an analytics engine or data warehouse, according to your individual needs.

2.     Tollring

Tollring is one of the most respected market leaders in telecommunications software development, data visualisation, and business intelligence. For years, the company has been helping organisations of all sizes understand, manage, and control the information that they access through day-to-day conversations.

Tollring has offices throughout the world, delivering applications and support for call recording, communications analytics, and fraud detection. Now that call recording and analytics is more crucial than ever, Tollring ensures that their end-users can access an entirely intuitive solution, through a white-label system delivered to their global network of partners.

For Tollring, the call recording feature is an excellent way to add value to a reseller's portfolio and help them to stand out in this competitive communication marketplace.

Availability: Cloud, hybrid or on-premises, designed for Tollring's global network of partners.

Features:

Call recording from Tollring is part of the iCall suite, a complete collection of telecommunications and analytics tools designed for the global partner network that Tollring supports. You can use the solution either in conjunction with Tollring's rich analytics solutions or on its own. Available features include:

  • Call wait time analytics – Find out exactly how long it took for a call to be answered, managed, and resolved.
  • Return missed calls – Ensure that you never miss an opportunity with quick call-back solutions.
  • Call resolution – Calculate call resolution time and implement strategies to improve customer service
  • Streamline processes – Analyse call volume to reveal historical trends
  • Analyse call handling – Listen to call recordings to train staff and identify top performers
  • Integrate call recordings directly with your CRM data
  • Record on ISDN, SIP or analogue
  • Multi-site or single site call recording
  • Support for complete compliance with PCI DSS, GDPR, and MiFID II

There's also the option to extend your call recording service as part of the iCall suite of applications. With support from the iCall suite, you can ensure that you maintain complete compliance with PCI DSS, GDPR, and MiFID II, make it easy to store and find information, and flag, tag or score calls. There's also the option to gamify your workplace by displaying call recording results on a wallboard.

3.     Dubber

Dubber is a market leader in not just call recording, but also voice-based artificial intelligence systems too. The company specialises in "Platform as a Service" or PaaS solutions that leverage state-of-the-art machine learning, and the BroadCloud recording platform.

With Dubber, companies can enjoy the simplicity and efficiency of having a recording system with no on-premise equipment required and no up-front costs. Dubber offers businesses the next-generation of analytics and call recording. What's more, the service is highly scalable, with a service that deploys in minutes, and API that provides plenty of integration opportunities too.

Availability: Cloud-based call recording available either in on-demand, or always-on format. It's possible to connect Dubber through your existing PBX carrier. Customers of all sizes can connect to Dubber through major telecommunication providers around the world.

Features:

Dubber offer a compliant native cloud call recording and voice AI solution for mobile and fixed telephony. The Dubber solution is designed for business of all sizes, from individual users to large enterprises and contact centres.

By offering highly secure and scalable cloud storage, the Dubber solution grows alongside a business with no concerns about running out of storage space. The Dubber native cloud platform is quick and easy to deploy across an entire user base. With their Dubber Connect model, customers can sign up directly in minutes: enabling call recording and voice AI across an entire business in a matter of minutes.

Dubber is available through a web browser application, mobile app, and through third-party integrations via an open API: allowing customers to sync their data and build automated workflows with their existing business tools, such as a CRM system. Service providers can also offer Dubber's products as a fully white labelled service.

Features include:

  • Multi-site or single site call recording & voice AI
  • Compliance with PCI DSS, GDPR, MIFID II and more
  • Secure and encrypted storage
  • Zoe voice AI: transcription, sentiment analysis, and workflow automations
  • Secure sharing
  • Deploy in minutes
  • Highly scalable and cost effective
  • Full white labelling
  • Cloud-based
  • Fully scalable and resilient solution

Dubber offers Zoe voice AI, which transcribes everyday phone calls into valuable data assets for both businesses and individuals. Facilitated by Dubber's cloud-based call recording, once only affordable for large businesses, voice AI is now available to businesses of all sizes. Zoe unlocks previously untapped insights from recorded calls: improving business efficiency and customer experience, and reducing churn.

  • Voice-to-text transcription
  • Sentiment and keyword alerts
  • Search by keyword spoken, customer, agent and more
  • Automate workflows for efficiency

4.     Oak Innovation

Oak is a leading communications management provider, committed to offering state-of-the-art call recording features, innovative technology, and incredible customer care. The business has more than 30 years of experience in the industry, helping companies of all sizes to improve their communications network.

Oak offers three different levels of call recording, depending on the kind of support that you need. The options break down into Clarify, nLighten, and RecordX.

Availability: Oak allows users to record on-premise, or through the cloud, so you can choose the tech that fits with your existing roadmap. There's also the option for users to deploy their unified recording solution across multiple sites too!

Features:

RecordX is Oak's original solution for call recording, providing a comprehensive data management and insight system. The service makes it easy to improve compliance with MiFID II and PCI DSS guidelines, as well as other regulations, by improving the way you monitor and handle call recordings. RecordX integrates with your existing phone system, and connects to popular CRMs too, features include:

  • Agent and team monitoring
  • Match recordings to certain extensions
  • Call playback
  • Tamperproof evidence for business compliance
  • Enhanced data protection services
  • Record from SIP, analogue trunks, VoIP and more

Oak also offers the newer "Clarify" option, which comes with a state-of-the-art user interface, multi-site capabilities, and integrations with both Mitel MiVoice Connect and Avaya IP Office. Clarify allows users to capture, process and store information according to the latest regulations. You can set recording rules to suit industry guidelines and customise where your recordings are stored. Features include:

  • Intelligent searching to find the information you need
  • Call sharing through email and limited playback
  • Quality measurement features
  • Screen recording
  • Stereo playback
  • Customisable reports

Finally, nLighten is the last fully-featured cloud call recording platform from Oak, which is available to access in North America. It offers simplified search and playback, a quick set-up process, and easy cloud-based data management. Features include:

  • Sentiment analysis
  • Speech analytics
  • Support for latest regulations
  • Access recordings anywhere
  • Share extracts of calls with specific people

5.     CallCabinet

CallCabinet is an extensive call recording solution that concentrates on providing high-quality insights from all of your communication channels. With Call Cabinet, global enterprises and carriers alike can access state-of-the-art call recording, analytics, quality assurance, and even artificial intelligence too.

The core of the CallCabinet call recording solution is their "Atmos" platform, designed for the cloud and implemented with more than 100 years of collective expertise. The service is both secure and compliant, intended to work with any platform or carrier.

Atmos is delivered through the high-speed network of Microsoft Azure data centres, to give you a quick and reliable cloud experience.

Availability: CallCabinet's Atmos recording service is available on the cloud, in both a single-tenant or multi-tenant solution. It's completely platform and telephone system agnostic.

Features:

CallCabinet created their Atmos call recording service because they wanted to ensure that everyone could get an insight into their communications – no matter their budget. The solution delivers AI, analytics, quality assurance and call recording in the same package. What's more, it's all created with compliance and security in mind. All calls are stored in the 256-bit encrypted format, which helps you adhere to the latest regulations.

Additionally, CallCabinet is entirely platform and telephone agnostic, so it can work alongside the solutions you're already using. Whether you have a nationwide infrastructure or just a handful of extensions, you'll be able to securely capture useful voice information, and store your insights on CallCabinet's exclusive cloud servers. Features include:

  • Complete scalability and efficiency
  • Analytics delivered through reporting dashboards
  • Stay compliant with the latest industry standards
  • Artificial intelligence offers predictive insights for speech patterns and sentiment
  • Global presence to ensure data sovereignty requirements are met around the world
  • Multi-platform interoperability
  • Call quality analytics features

The self-managing subscription plan offered by CallCabinet also makes it easier for companies to manage their storage plan and licensing according to industry regulations. You can add extra features like PCI DSS masking, Quality Assurance, and in-depth Voice Analytics whenever you need them, and only pay for the tools you use.

6.     Vidicode

Vidicode has been a thriving part of the telecommunications industry for more than 30 years, delivering digital audio recorders, network fax servers and more to over 35 countries. The appeal of the Vidicode brand is in their close connections with their distributors and resellers. This is a business that's constantly working to deliver innovations and solutions to a vast selection of customers.

Vidicode delivers call recording through their Apresa service, a system that provides a combination of screen recording, call recording, agent evaluation and call statistics in the same secure environment.

Availability: Available both on-premises and in the cloud, the Apreasa call recording system comes in both "compact and "standard" options for different sizes of on-premises business. There's also a "software only" version for OEM and virtualized environments.

Features:

Apreasa by Vidicode is designed to deliver extensive compliance and recording solutions for businesses of all sizes. It comes with screen recording and agent evaluation, as well as 4 modes to make it more PCI compliant, including payment pay detection and DTMF. The Apresa system is compliant with all major phone systems, including solutions from Cisco, Shoretel, Panasonic and many more.

Aside from recording calls with Apreasa on your SIP and VoIP protocols, you can also add "Audio Signal detect" mode, or "VOX mode to the list – ideal for security and finance sectors. Apreasa can detect audio levels to automatically start and terminate calls, and it's possible to record mobile phones, trunks, and extensions with Apreasa too.

Apreasa is loaded with a host of impressive recording and compliance features, including:

  • Screen and call recording
  • Easy installation and set up
  • PCI DSS compliance
  • Audit trail management
  • Authenticated user rights
  • Call commenting
  • Store on-demand services for audio and screen
  • Multi-level access solutions
  • Statistics for analytics
  • User-assignable search restrictions
  • High-level encryption and fingerprinting
  • Recording for a vast range of communications (SIP, VoIP, ISDN, Analogue and more)
  • Automatic backup to NAS
  • Agent evaluation

7.     Xarios

Xarios Technologies is a vendor in the software space, specialising in communication applications for mid-range and SME companies. Since launching in 2007, the business has designed, developed and delivered a range of high-level telephony applications to transform the capabilities of communication platforms and enhance performance.

Now that call recording is a must-have solution for any organisation, Xarios strives to ensure that you can manage your content quickly and easily. The solution is easy-to-use and secure, working for analogue, ISDN, and SIP communications.

Availability: Xarios was specifically created for SME and mid-range enterprise companies. Call recording is available through the cloud. Xarios call recording specifically offers support to MiVoice Business communications platforms and the MiVoice Office 250.

Features:

The Xarios call recording system offers everything you need to manage your audio data, whether you're looking to improve quality management and training or support regulatory compliance. There's event the option to access special features for opt-in call recording to help you manage GDPR compliance too.

Ideal for dispute resolution, protecting your staff and improving the relationships that you can build with your target audience, Xarios makes call recording quick, simple and secure. Features include:

  • Fully segmented calls that can be restricted to prevent unnecessary access
  • Call history playback to help users double-check information
  • Active directory integration
  • Compliant rules-based recording
  • Listen to calls live -directly through the recorder's website
  • Web Service API to tag calls with specific user information

You can also upgrade your Xarios experience by investing in other associated applications from the company, including CRM integrations, call analytics with live stats and reports, and desktop UC management.

Ready to Start Recording?

Call recording isn't just "nice to have" in most business environments today, it's essential.

Whether it's to improve your customer service through immersive training solutions or make sure you're compliant with industry standards, you need a way to manage your voice data. The solutions above all have unique benefits to consider.

Which call recording service seems right for your organisation? Is there a tool that we've missed above that you think we should cover? Let us know in the commnets below.

How to set up your VoIP service in 5 easy steps with RingCentral - Digital Trends

Posted: 10 Apr 2019 12:00 AM PDT

best home office essentials voip

Landline phone services are slowly but surely going the way of the dinosaur, with more individuals relying solely on their mobile devices for making calls. Businesses, however, have continued to rely on traditional landlines for professional use, but that's also changing now thanks to internet-based VoIP services from providers like RingCentral, one of the most popular and highest-rated names in the business.

VoIP, or "voice over internet protocol," simply uses the internet rather than landlines or cell networks to provide voice services. It makes perfect sense considering the internet is just a method for transmitting data quickly across large distances – after all, the internet originally used our telephone lines to do just that.

A good VoIP service like RingCentral is different than a landline phone in a few ways: First and foremost, VoIP is simpler and more affordable for small businesses to set up and manage than the complex and costly phone systems that larger companies typically use. Also, since it's done over the internet and largely cloud-based, VoIP gives you more than just voice communication with additional features such as group chat, automatic recording, voicemail-to-text conversion, app-based network management, and video conferencing.

The process of choosing and setting up your VoIP service is surprisingly easy:

  1. Determine how many users you'll have on your network. For a business, this will boil down to yourself and your employees. This important first step is the biggest factor in determining what sort of service package you'll require.
  2. Assess your office's internet speed. Your VoIP provider will do the heavy lifting when it comes to managing data in the cloud, but as this all works over the internet, you still need a connection capable of handling the load. You can test out your internet speeds to determine if they're capable of supporting VoIP. If they can't, consider upgrading your internet service.
  3. Decide what you actually need and are willing to pay for. VoIP is cheaper than a large enterprise-level landline setup, but there's no need to get carried away by paying for a bunch of stuff you don't need. Write down what features you know you need and will use (for instance, a good mobile app or video conferencing software), what features you'd like but aren't absolutely necessary, and set a reasonable budget for all of it.
  4. Get your hardware. Once you've determined your needs, you'll have a good idea of what equipment (namely phones) you require. You can buy dedicated VoIP phones, but modern providers like RingCentral also allow you to use their services right on the computers and mobile devices you already have. This can be set up for a new user in just a few minutes.
  5. Set it all up. Since RingCentral doesn't require any complicated network equipment, all you need to do after signing up is download and install the software for your service package if necessary (this will be done on each device), follow the instructions, and you're ready to go within minutes.

Learn More

RingCentral offers four service tiers for small businesses. These range from the basic "Essentials" package, which supports up to 10 users and is ideal for home offices, up to the "Ultimate" package, which supports unlimited users and includes a bundle of other advanced features like automatic call recording and voicemail-to-text, among others.

Prices for these tiers range from $20 to $50 per user per month if you pay annually (note that it's $10 more if you decide to pay by the month). Once you've followed the steps above and figured out what you need, then you can check out all of RingCentral's plans and pricing right to find the right VoIP solution for your business.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and choose what we cover carefully and independently. If you find a better price for a product listed here, or want to suggest one of your own, email us at dealsteam@digitaltrends.com.

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