UAE may consider unblocking instant messaging applications (VoIP calls) - Gizchina.com

UAE may consider unblocking instant messaging applications (VoIP calls) - Gizchina.com


UAE may consider unblocking instant messaging applications (VoIP calls) - Gizchina.com

Posted: 04 Mar 2020 01:55 PM PST

According to media reports, the coronavirus situation has forced the UAE government to suspend school for one month. This decision has once again sparked discussions about the ban on "UAE instant messaging applications". The ban prohibits people from making free calls over the Internet, which complicates distance learning and work at home.

In order to curb the new coronavirus epidemic, the UAE Ministry of Education recently issued a statement announcing that starting from this Sunday (March 8), all public and private schools and higher education institutions will suspend classes for 4 weeks. During the suspension period, students can take homework through the distance education system.

Prior to this, the UAE Ministry of Education has instructed all schools to cancel extracurricular group activities including competitions, tours, and parties. Currently, 27 people in the UAE are infected with the new coronavirus. 

85% of the UAE's population are foreigners, and the country bans people from using instant messaging applications (VoIP calls). This includes Microsoft's Skype, Facebook's WhatsApp and Apple's FaceTime. These restrictions have long frustrated foreigners who want to stay in touch with family and friends in their hometown.

UAE may now reconsider its ban on VoIP calls

In response, Sultan Sooud al-Qassami, a UAE columnist with 490,000 followers, said on Twitter today: "Given the spread of the coronavirus, I strongly recommend that the UAE now reconsider its Ban on VoIP calls. You don't want people to talk face to face, you have to let them do business online. "

Global companies such as Twitter and JP Morgan Chase currently encourage employees to work from home. A survey released today by online recruitment portal GulfTalent shows that one-third of Gulf companies plan to have employees work from home to deal with the virus threat.

As of now, there is no comment from the UAE Telecommunications Authority (TRA). In the UAE, VoIP calls are banned, but people can use these services through a virtual private network (VPN). However, this is considered a cybercrime and could result in fines, imprisonment, or both. The fines could be as high as AED 500,000 (about $136,000).

This is not the first time that the ban on instant messaging applications in the country has come under fire. Last year, billionaire and UAE businessman Khalaf Al Habtoor called on Twitter to lift the restriction.

Analog Phones: No Plans for Extinction - No Jitter

Posted: 03 Mar 2020 10:12 AM PST

Why do we have so many analog ports, and do we need them? This question continues to come up repeatedly in our conversations with clients.

Analog telephones use standard copper wire, connect to plain old telephone service (POTS) lines, are extremely reliable, and have good voice quality. However, they only support employ basic features, like call transfer. This simplicity makes analog phones inexpensive to purchase and easy to use even in the VoIP world. They still have many uses.

The legacy interface and analog telephone lines in enterprise, government, healthcare, and educational institutions are more common than the average telecom person realizes. Potential VoIP/IP telephony customers invariably find analog lines/interfaces that must stay as analog connections for the foreseeable future.

Examples of analog phone applications include:

Hospitals and Nursing Homes – The healthcare industry benefits from the use of low-cost disposable endpoints in use throughout hospitals and residential medical facilities. Analog phones are easy to install, configure, repair, and most likely already located at the site. They're also employable as dictation equipment, utilized in nurse call stations, code calls, paging, patient hospital bed tracking, plus many other applications. Changing them out would require a huge investment in newer, more complex endpoints and expensive infrastructure upgrades. In these facilities, simplicity for the end user or patient is critical.

Hotels and Motels – Most have heavy investments in PBX systems connected to hundreds of analog telephone sets in guest rooms, common areas, and administrative offices. These PBX systems are often older and lacking in features, but it's costly for hotels to switch over to more modern, VoIP systems. Challenges include the cost of upgrading hundreds of inexpensive analog sets to more expensive IP phones and the cost of upgrading voice-grade cable (CAT-3) to more high-priced data-grade cabling (CAT-5 or CAT-6) required along with those phones. VoIP systems also require expensive Power- over Ethernet (PoE) switches, and the requisite electrical power and cooling. Fortunately, there are ways to integrate VoIP PBX equipment with the existing analog phones and wiring in a hybrid model, which is considerably more cost-effective than a total forklift upgrade.

Higher Education – Some schools and universities still provide room phones for students that connect to the campus phone system. This adds a level of security as compared to using a personal cell phone when issues arise. Most college campuses across the U.S. employ emergency blue light phones as a preeminent security feature. When someone feels unsafe on a college campus, they can push the call button on the blue tower to reach campus police.

Many universities are complementing traditional campus call stations with two-way mobile apps that let user's text, send alerts when they feel in danger, and receive bulletins from authorized parties during emergencies.

Lobbies/Break Rooms – One major advantage of an analog telephone station is cost, especially compared to IP telephone sets. This makes them ideal for common or infrequently used areas like lobbies, employee break rooms, waiting rooms, maintenance closets, and remotely located offices that require only basic calling capability.

Fax Machines and Alarm Systems – An analog fax, alarm, or phone system can connect to a VoIP system using analog gateways or adapters. Selecting the right adapter can be a challenge, as the number and types of ports are dependent on the requirements of your VoIP provider, and you'll likely need a professional to install it. But companies with existing analog equipment still clearly need analog connectivity, at least for now.

Conferencing Endpoints, Point-of-Sale Devices, and Credit Card Readers – Analog telephones aren't the only type of device that can connect to an analog station port. Other common analog equipment includes desktop and tabletop conferencing phones, point-of-sale readers, and credit card terminals. When one of these is needed, companies should confirm that an analog station port is available on their phone system.

Modems – In the PSTN world, the network provides a constant delay for any particular call – the speed at which data enters the network is always the same as the speed at which it leaves – and modems require this. In an IP network, jitter is a fact of life. It's manageable on a modest level, using the quality of service (QoS) features available in IP equipment, but only if the network is controllable from end-to-end. If a VoIP network works only across a LAN or a QoS-managed WAN link, there might be a near guarantee of zero packet loss and fairly low jitter. Modems need a continuous audio path. If there is packet loss, the consequences are severe. As a result, other methods of using modems may be required in order to avoid complications; analog connectivity is one way to do this.

Elevator and Emergency Phones – One of the least expensive and most secure ways to provision emergency calling in elevators and elsewhere is via analog. When the phone is accessed, caller ID information immediately transmits to an emergency center. Gateways, software, and other additional equipment are often required to provide this service through VoIP PBX service.

Power Failure Transfer (PFT) and Teletypewriter Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TTY) – A TTY is a special device that lets people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired use the telephone to communicate, by allowing them to type text messages instead of talking and listening.

The technology for PFT and TTY devices has improved over time, and provide an inexpensive way of communicating, especially when power is lost. Since they use the telecommunications grid for electricity, local power isn't necessary to operate them during an outage.

Technology changes rapidly in the telephony industry and will continue to do so. Eventually, analog endpoints and services will evolve to work over IP or will be eliminated.

For now, analog endpoints will continue to thrive, but IT managers should be on the lookout for alternate methods of providing these services and prepare their businesses to make the change.

For the foreseeable future, expect to see analog ports persist for:

• Alarm system connections

• Telemetry systems

• Elevator and emergency phones

• Analog phones in otherwise unoccupied buildings

• Janitor and network closets

• Phone lines outside a building used to call guards for off-hours access

• Emergency phones as a lifeline to the PSTN

• Analog fax machines that operate the T.30 standard

• TDD support for hearing impaired

• Phones in common areas that have little or no physical security

• That guard shack that is thousands of feet from any building and can be economically accessed only by an old analog line

• Phones in a warehouse, where installing Ethernet for a single phone is too expensive

• Dial-up PC modems, point-of-sale devices, and credit-card readers

• Intercom lines

• Announcement lines

• Turret systems for traders

• Access to mobile channels

• Mobile channel interconnection

• Server connections for healthcare, such as dictation, patient/bed/transport tracking, and nurse call stations

• Legacy key systems

What are your thoughts on the future of analog devices? Share in the comments section below.


"SCTC Perspective" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

Business Choice Awards 2020: Voice Over IP (VoIP) Providers - PCMag

Posted: 04 Mar 2020 05:43 AM PST

The Voice over IP (VoIP) category covers a lot of ground, from Google Voice, which offers virtual numbers, to major corporate accounts with ISPs and standalone providers that install cloud-based PBX services.

This year, 12 VoIP brands received enough responses in our Business Choice survey to be included in the mix. But one particular vendor remains the most worthy of your office's consideration.

Voice Over IP Providers for 2020

Business Choice Winner: OOMA
This is the seventh year in a row that Ooma's VoIP service has crushed the competition, according to PCMag readers who use it. There isn't a single measurement we ask about—satisfaction, cost, ease of use, likelihood to recommend—where Ooma doesn't dominate.

Ooma has won top honors in PCMag's VoIP category for the last seven years, and 2020 isn't going to alter that. In our survey this year, Ooma was the most used vendor by far, which in many other categories doesn't help—simply because a company is ubiquitous, especially in business, doesn't make it beloved. Ooma is both.

Ooma has the top score in every single category of our survey. That's really all you need to know. Browse the chart below for each section and you'll see it clearly. Most of Ooma's scores are even above 9.0 (out of 10). One exception is the overall satisfaction score—the most important number we look at when determining Business Choice Award winners—but at 8.9, it's still worlds ahead of other top brands. Ooma's lowest score is actually for tech support, but that still-stellar 8.8 tells you that Ooma is a company worth calling when you need help.

Is there another VoIP system worth considering among the vendors that made the cut this year? Definitely. Our Editors' Choice, RingCentral, also scores incredibly well. Not enough to overtake or even equal Ooma's numbers, but it came close in many cases, including an excellent 8.6 for overall satisfaction. Its score overall is a nice lift from the 8.1 it received last year, when it was in sixth place.

It's interesting to see big names like Avaya and Mitel back on the list this year, but the corporate-leaning vendors have dismal scores, indicating that office users are not huge fans. ISPs with VoIP services—like Spectrum, Verizon, and AT&T—were all pretty middle of the road.

For expert opinion, read The Best Business VoIP Providers for 2020.

Here's the full table of results for Business Choice 2020: Voice over IP Services:


Business Choice 2020: Voice over IP Services FULL TABLE

The PCMag Readers' Choice survey for Voice over IP Services was in the field from January 27, 2020, through February 17, 2020. For more information on how the survey is conducted, read the survey methodology.

You could win $350 to spend at Amazon.com! Sign up for the What's New Now mailing list to receive invitations for future survey sweepstakes.

Further Reading

VoIP & Phone Service Reviews

TNS Report: Americans Now Receive 300 Million Unwanted Robocalls Per Day - Odessa American

Posted: 04 Mar 2020 06:03 AM PST

RESTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mar 4, 2020--

US consumers received 106 billion unwanted robocalls (325 per person) in 2019 - a 49% increase from the previous year - according to the Transaction Network Services (TNS) 2020 Robocall Investigation Report released today. A key finding from the TNS report shows that robocallers are increasingly spoofing legitimate customer-care numbers from trusted brands to try to trick consumers.

The 2020 Robocall Investigation Report is a bi-annual update of key robocall trends drawing from over one billion daily call events from more than 500 carriers. The report looks at data trends for two types of unwanted robocalls: high-risk robocalls (scam/fraudulent calls which attempt to acquire call recipient personal information and/or money) and nuisance robocalls (which are not of malicious intent).

Both nuisance and high-risk calls grew over 40% in 2019 compared to the prior year, and the rate of unwanted robocalls accelerated in the second half of 2019 – jumping 70% from the same period the prior year. Additional key findings from the 2020 Robocall Investigation Report include:

89% of High-Risk Calls Come from Non-Tier 1 Carriers

While 68% of US calls originate from the six largest carriers (AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon), the TNS report finds that only 11% of calls coming from Tier-1 telephone numbers are considered high-risk. This suggests that as top carriers deploy STIR/SHAKEN and take other aggressive measures to combat robocalls, bad actors will continue to target smaller carriers to launch their robocall campaigns.

High-Risk Calls from Toll-Free Numbers More Than Doubled in 2019

The second half of 2019 saw a dramatic shift by bad actors from spoofing VoIP numbers to spoofing legitimate toll-free numbers, as toll-free originated calls increased to 28% of high-risk calls (up from 12% in 2018). Of greater concern is the fact that consumers are increasingly inundated with calls that appear to come from well-known, trusted brands - increasing the risk of being scammed out of money and information.

Neighbor Spoofing Up 40% in 2019

The use of neighbor spoofing increased 40% in 2019. Snowshoe spamming (spreading spoofed calls over several telephone numbers in low volume, then rapidly churning through the numbers to evade detection) also remains a preferred tactic that is difficult for over-the-top (OTT) robocall blocking apps to detect because they are not integrated with the network to detect real time, cross-carrier call events.

"Americans received nearly 300 million daily unwanted calls in 2019, which is staggering. However, carriers, other industry participants and regulators aggressively collaborated in the second half of 2019 to address this issue and now have well thought out plans and strategies to execute in 2020 to combat robocalls. The recently passed Pallone-Thune TRACED Act, broader deployment of STIR/SHAKEN and carrier usage of analytics engines should reduce unwanted robocalls," said Bill Versen, Chief Product Officer at Transaction Network Services. "It takes a layered approach to restore trust in voice calling."

TNS' Call Guardian technology enables carriers to identify more unwanted robocalls than competitors. By integrating big data analytics with call attestation parameters from STIR/SHAKEN, Call Guardian is the most accurate reputation profile solution and delivers a better customer experience by using a layered approach to analytics.

Click here for a full copy of the 2020 TNS Robocall Investigation Report.

About Transaction Network Services

From small rural operators in the US to the largest multi-national carriers, TNS has over 500 operator customers and addresses the full needs of wireless and wireline operators in the US and globally. The TNS Call Guardian robocall detection solution is used by leading US wireless service providers as well as US landline providers and is accessible via numerous types of signaling protocols, can be customized by the individual operator, and is available to all types of service providers, including wireless, VoIP, and TDM wireline. TNS analyzes over 1 billion call events across over 500 operators every single day. For additional information visit here.

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200304005116/en/

CONTACT: Company:

Terry Nakagawa/Clare Cockroft

TNS

703.814.8065

pr@tnsi.comMedia:

Brian Lustig, Bluetext for TNS

202.836.9112

TNS@bluetext.com

KEYWORD: UNITED STATES NORTH AMERICA VIRGINIA

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: FAMILY CONSUMER TECHNOLOGY VOIP MOBILE/WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS

SOURCE: Transaction Network Services

Copyright Business Wire 2020.

PUB: 03/04/2020 09:03 AM/DISC: 03/04/2020 09:03 AM

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200304005116/en

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