Thursday, June 13, 2019

Truecaller Spotted Testing VoIP Calling Service for Premium Subscribers in India - Gadgets 360

Truecaller Spotted Testing VoIP Calling Service for Premium Subscribers in India - Gadgets 360

Truecaller Spotted Testing VoIP Calling Service for Premium Subscribers in India - Gadgets 360

Posted: 13 Jun 2019 02:39 AM PDT

Truecaller Spotted Testing VoIP Calling Service for Premium Subscribers in India

There is no official word regarding VoIP calling's wider rollout in India

Truecaller has been adding new features to its eponymous caller ID app at a steady pace over the past few months, and recently crossed the milestone of 100 million users in India as well. The company has been spotted testing a new feature that lets Truecaller users make voice calls over data. Popularly known as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calling, the feature is only available to a small bunch of Truecaller users in India who have a premium account. Truecaller's VoIP feature currently appears to be in beta-testing, and there is no word when it will be rolled out to all users.

Truecaller's VoIP feature, which was spotted in testing by TelecomTalk, works similarly to apps like WhatsApp and Google Duo. The app shows a dedicated 'Voice' button, which on being tapped starts a VoIP voice call. This feature will certainly come in handy for users when they don't have sufficient balance to make a voice call, but are connected to the Internet, and can thus proceed with a VoIP call.

The VoIP calling feature is reportedly available to only a small number of Truecaller Premium users. However, it is not clear if there are any criteria behind receiving the VoIP feature for those who have availed the Premium tier of Truecaller's caller ID services, as not all Premium subscribers can access the feature. It is also not clear whether Truecaller Premium Gold subscribers have also been included in the VoIP feature's testing circle.

We can independently verify that the VoIP feature is now available to some Truecaller Premium users, but it is not uniformly available to all users. We reached out to TrueCaller regarding a confirmation, but so far, the company is yet to officially confirm the rollout of VoIP feature for all Truecaller Premium users. We'll keep you updated once the wider rollout of Truecaller's VoIP feature begins.

7 Ways to Improve VoIP Call Quality - PCMag UK

Posted: 06 Jun 2019 10:00 AM PDT

If you've purchased a business Voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone service, then you're undoubtedly savoring the bliss of lower calling rates as well as integrating your phone data with your other business applications, especially your customer relationship management (CRM) software and your help desk operation.

But the core metric by which you'll continue to measure VoIP success is, well, voice. Is the call quality still as good as it was before you digitized your phone? If conversations are garbled or drop sporadically, all the other benefits of VoIP really don't mean much. Fortunately, solutions such as Editors' Choice tools Intermedia Unite and RingCentral generally offer incredible voice quality. Even mid-tier solutions tend to show a marked improvement over local telco systems and smartphones. But a lot of that quality depends on more than how the VoIP vendor engineered their solution. Much of it rests on the underlying network, and that's a combination of your IT staff and your Internet provider. Thankfully, we've put together this list of potential problems and solutions to keep your business calls clear and garble-free.

However, before you continue investing time and effort making adjustments to your hardware and network, it might be prudent for you to contact your VoIP service provider. Their customer service engineers might be able to pinpoint your specific problem and offer you a fix much faster than a general IT staffer who doesn't deal with VoIP issues every day. You should also contact your internet service provider (ISP) to ensure they're not suffering a major broadband meltdown. If both of those calls prove fruitless, or if you've already spent too many hours listening to the sweet sounds of hold music, try the following six recommendations.

1. Jitter Ju Jitsu

Cisco has a wonderful explanation of what jitter is and how it can impact your VoIP call quality. Essentially, voice data is sent through your network in packets organized in chronological order. According to Cisco, "network congestion, improper queuing, or configuration errors" can cause delays in how these packets are organized and received.

In order to fix the issue, upgrade your Ethernet cord to a Category 6 (CAT6) cable. Your VoIP provider may have given you a previous-generation Category 5 (CAT5) cable, which only supports about 125 MHz, while CAT6 cables can transmit data at around 250 MHz. This is the easiest fix. For minor VoIP issues, this trick should solve your problem.

If the new cable doesn't unjitter your jitters, then try implementing a jitter buffer. Your VoIP vendor will happily help you configure a buffer, which will temporarily store your data packets in the sequence in which they are received, and then transmit those packets into your network in evenly spaced intervals. This will help to deliver voice data in a manner that is more accurate to how it was spoken.

6 Ways to Improve VoIP Call Quality

2. Buy a New Headset

VoIP headsets range in price from really cheap $1 earpieces to $400 luxury headsets. You wouldn't expect your favorite recording artist to mix an album using a cheap set of headphones, though, so why would you manage your business with a cruddy VoIP headset? When choosing a headset, there are a bunch of factors to consider. For one, if call quality is your main concern, choose noise-cancelling headphones that deliver sound in both ears. Corded and USB headsets typically deliver more stable sound quality than wireless or Bluetooth headsets


3. Buy a VoIP-Optimized Router

Don't let your standard home or small business router transmit your business VoIP calls. You should buy a router that expressly prioritizes VoIP traffic over other types of internet data. These routers can be as inexpensive as $200 for small businesses or as expensive as $3,000 for more heavy-duty use. It's also important that your router supports the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), which helps to deliver data reliably between the client and the server. You'll also want virtual LAN (VLAN) support, which helps to group and disperse data based on where latency is lowest.

4. Monitor Your Network Traffic

As previously mentioned, the amount of bandwidth being used on your network will have an impact on your call audio. If jitter buffers don't solve your problem, try protecting your VoIP traffic stream. IT professionals can use most any network monitoring tool to identify which packet streams on their networks are carrying VoIP data. That allows them to tag that traffic and protect it in a number of ways. In small business settings, one of the most popular methods is to employ Quality of Service (QoS) protection on tagged VoIP data. Essentially, this lets an IT pro dedicate a portion of your overall bandwidth (let's say 10 percent) to carrying VoIP. That 10 percent will always be there for your voice traffic no matter what anyone else is doing on the network.

5. Interference Clearance

Phones with higher GHz frequencies tend to produce interference. Your typical VoIP phone runs at 2.4 GHz. However, there are also 5.8-GHz phones on the market as well as a variety of 5-GHz devices, including VoIP equipment. In general, the 2.4-GHz band gives you a longer range but its data throughput is slower. The 5-GHz band provides less coverage, but where it does cover, data will flow faster.

If you're experiencing interference, then check to see on which frequency your phone runs. If you've got a 5.8-GHz phone, then switch to a 2.4-GHz phone (some phones even let you choose). Also, most home and small business routers, as well as most Wi-Fi range extenders, offer the ability to either choose whether to run in the 2.4-GHz versus 5-GHz spectrums or run both simultaneously, allowing you to choose which traffic will run in which spectrum. Check with your VoIP provider's service technicians and ask about optimal performance for their particular platform.

Small Smartphones

6. Standardize Your Mobile VoIP

Communicating on the go is something most businesses, even smaller ones, need to address. Some folks need to make sure their smartphone rings when someone dials their desk extension if they're at home or on the road; others simply need to make sure they can wander around the office or campus with a fully functioning headset in their ear. To keep call quality good, you'll want to look at all of the ways your employees are conducting their mobile conversations, and then look to standardize.

For those looking to wander the office, consider a Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) phone. Because these phones essentially utilize their own spectrum, using one to access your VoIP system means less chance of interference from other wireless sources. And depending on which VoIP vendor you've chosen, you may be able to opt for a DECT phone that's available through that vendor, which means fewer installation hassles. For some in-system configurations, it's just a matter of plugging the phone into an open USB port on the host system.

If you're one of those who needs their smartphone to ring when their desk phone is dialed, contact your VoIP provider and see what they've got in the way of a softphone or call forwarding options. The softphone is usually the more attractive option as these are software apps that turn whatever they're running on into something that can take and make VoIP phone calls. This way, you can conduct conversations, shared meetings, and other collaborative tasks using your desktop, your notebook, or a wide variety of mobile devices, especially smartphones. Using the softphone built by your VoIP provider guarantees full compatibility with your phone service and also means their customer service technicians will have an easier time identifying and solving problems. These days, some vendors, such as Dialpad, have eliminated hardware phones entirely, opting to offer their entire service portfolio via software.

7. If All Else Fails, Hire an Expert

Sure, DIY is part of modern VoIP's attraction. Even business-grade VoIP providers often tout how easy it is to "get up and running fast." And as we saw when we tested these products, that's mostly true. But when you've hit a performance snag where calls are garbled or even dropping sometimes, and you've exhausted both your in-house expertise and your customer service rep's calling script, it's time to think about hiring outside help.

Fortunately, today's VoIP consultants can do a lot more than simply install and maintain a VoIP system. These companies typically also work on optimizing your Wi-Fi network coverage as that's often part and parcel of a top performing VoIP system. And they can help with getting your communications to the next level by implementing advanced features, such as securing your call data and transmissions, automating shared meetings and scheduling, designing a full-functioning auto-attendant (aka an Interactive Voice Response or IVR system, something most business VoIP systems can do as long as you're willing to put in the time to set it up), developing custom integrations with your other back-end software, and even setting up call analytics and dashboards, not just for billing, but for marketing and sales, too.

Sure, hiring help will cost money, but as long as you take the time to fully investigate what your chosen consultant can do, you'll be getting a lot of bang for your buck.

10 Things About VoIP You Didn't Know You Needed to Know -

Posted: 07 Jun 2019 05:00 AM PDT

VoIP Phone

Voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone services, especially those delivered via the cloud, have become the standard these days, especially for small to midsized businesses (SMBs). The choices are vast, the potential savings are great, and for many businesses, it turns out they can do things with VoIP they simply can't do any other way, especially around integrating it with other call-heavy back-end systems, like help desk, for example. But VoIP is also complex. As such, it can be finnicky, and it might not save you as much as you think it will. It could even cost you more than a plain old telephone service (POTS) after all is said and done.

IT Watch bug art During the series of tests I just completed for an upcoming PCMag review roundup of business-grade VoIP providers and phone services, I found 10 potential pitfalls for people who have never implemented a new phone system. Some of these pitfalls should be obvious, but they may not be to everyone—and some might not be obvious at all. But they're all important, and watching out for them can save you some serious headaches down the road.

  1. Before you do anything else, decide exactly why you're moving to a VoIP phone system. There are lots of reasons it might be a good idea but, unless you know what those reasons are and how they might affect your business, you're not ready to make the actual purchase or migration. A vague idea that it might save money is not one of those reasons. Examples of good reasons include building out a call center, providing a means of collaboration between different office locations, retaining call data from your customer relationship management (CRM) platform for use in marketing or customer service, as well as preparing for a new location or expected growth.

  2. Decide who is going to be in charge of the important stages in your move to VoIP. These stages include the initial needs analysis and design, the procurement process, the implementation, and finally, the ongoing operation of the system. Note that usually this can't be the same person. An IT staffer may be the best choice for implementation and operation, but they're usually not the ones who design the IVR system your customers will use or decide just what calling data is most useful to the marketing department. So you need to designate who all your stakeholders will be; and, yes, some of them may well be a vendor or consultant if you don't have the in-house expertise.

  3. You'll need to find or hire an employee to represent the company's interests during the procurement and implementation processes. While there will be plenty of vendors that will offer to do the whole thing, they don't necessarily have the same interests. Typically, they're all about selling you as much as they can, getting it installed and signed off on quickly, and then charging extra for any subsequent "scope creep." Only someone from your side of the tracks will worry about long-term operational reliability and ancillary things like maintaining call data securely so your company can remain compliant with any industry data safety regulations, for instance. Note that, for a really small company, this might be a collateral duty, but someone needs to be the point person. This person needs to have enough understanding of VoIP technology to make decisions and to know how those decisions will affect the rest of the company. This is not the same person mentioned in the previous bullet point.

  4. Make sure that your current network infrastructure can support VoIP and has the capacity to handle the increase in network traffic. You also need to know whether your infrastructure can handle the specific requirements of voice and video traffic, including supporting any Quality of Service (QoS) or virtual LAN (VLAN) requirements. This may mean some infrastructure upgrades if your current routers or switches don't support these capabilities. You may also need to upgrade your Internet Service Provider (ISP) if your current provider can't support the bandwidth requirements of a lot of phone traffic. Estimating your how much your call volume will increase your bandwidth is something your VoIP vendor should be able to handle, but you can hire an outside specialist to do those calculations, too.

  5. Don't underestimate the cost of VoIP. Sure, those monthly rates look good but dig deeper. If all you get are softphones that run on cell phones, then you'll need to also buy everyone a cell phone, with lots of data minutes or more likely an Unlimited plan. If those softphones run on Windows or Mac machines, then everyone will have to have a computer with the hardware to support VoIP, access to the internet, and something internally to handle sound and a headset. If the VoIP choice uses (or at least supports) desk phones, then remember that those cost somewhere between $75 and $150 each plus the cost of a wired network connection to each phone. Few VoIP desk phones support Wi-Fi, but those that do will require you to upgrade your access points if you give everyone a Wi-Fi phone. Oh, and remember the personnel costs: Someone has to manage all of this and somebody has to provide support. And then there's ongoing maintenance and licensing; it all adds up, so make sure you walk through the whole implementation in detail so you're not surprised by new expenses as they crop up.

  6. Figure out a realistic timetable for the change over to VoIP. Despite what some vendors might say, it will not be immediate. Even if you're changing from one VoIP system to another, this isn't a one-day operation. Sit down and calculate the time for planning, acquisition, implementation, training, and switching over, and then double it. Maybe even triple it. This is a major change to your company's ability to communicate with itself and the outside world. Rushing it is simply foolish. Work in time for a pilot roll-out, testing and optimization, and then a final roll-out that comes in stages so your whole operation isn't in chaos if something goes wrong.

  7. Decide what you're going to do with your old phone system. If you have a bunch of analog phones that are in good condition, then you may be able to use them with your VoIP phone system for employees who don't need VoIP features. Or you may want them in areas where they're available to the public or where they are in difficult environments, such as an outdoor assembly area or on the factory floor. And you may want some for backup (more on that next).

  8. Realize that your contingency of operations and business continuity plans will have to change, and that you will have to plan for, and invest in, added reliability. Basically, how are you going to continue doing business if the network goes down or even just has trouble? Because your phone system will depend on the reliability and performance of both your local network and the internet, you need to think in terms of failsafes and alternatives. Backups to your primary internet service provider (ISP), and if voice is critical to your operation, a way to have phone service even if the internet outage is total. Yes, this could mean keeping some analog lines and compatible phones available. It will also mean planning for failover, network redundancy, and of course backup.

  9. Don't forget security. All of the things that can attack your IT network can also attack your VoIP network, plus there are things such as call tampering and call hijacking as well as bad guys using your VoIP phone system to make long-distance calls and using your in-house equipment as a host for malware attacks. This can be made worse if your VoIP system doesn't play well with your security, such as requiring that you turn off packet inspection (as I found in one phone system I tested). Additionally, data privacy regulations sometimes have their own requirements when it comes to protecting VoIP traffic in transit and at rest if you retain any call data for sales or service purposes. If your industry is regulated this way, make sure you understand exactly how VoIP fits into the rest of your data safety precautions.

  10. Finally, take the needs of your employees and your customers into account when choosing a VoIP phone system. This includes deciding what features your employees actually need and what they don't. Generally, this means assigning stakeholders who'll map out any processes that involve your phone system and also sit down with the front-line employees operating those processes to see how they can be made better. It also includes designing the system so that customers don't get lost in menus, suffer weird key choices, or hear endless choices from the auto-attendant. If you lack the expertise to do this in-house, it's something most VoIP consultancies are trained to handle; just remember to add them to your overall cost tally during planning.

You also need to keep your real priorities in mind when choosing a VoIP system. For example, if you want it to work well, then cost shouldn't be the primary factor. Instead, you want functionality. If your VoIP system functions as it should and doesn't have features you don't need, then it will probably also save you some money directly, and it should make your staff more productive, which will save money indirectly.

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