Engineer UC voip

Job Specification VoIP Carrier Pre-Sales Engineer

VoIP Carrier pre-sales engineer

Netaxis are a rapidly growing Telecoms Systems Integrator with their own in house software development team. Partner solutions from Oracle, Genband, Sonus, Broadsoft etc are combined with our own suite of products that include Network Monitoring, Call simulation, anti-fraud, Session Routing Engines, API Orchestration, Video and WebRTC solutions.

In their Benelux home territories Netaxis sell to most Tier 1 and 2 telcos and the company is now successfully expanding in other European markets including France, Italy and the UK and also around the globe with customers in Asia and Africa.

The company is now looking for a UK based Senior pre-sales engineer with knowledge of the UK market to assist with the business development process. Whilst this is a technical pre-sales role the successful candidate could also be required, at least in the short term, to assist with Systems Integration activities. The job will also involve overseas travel, mostly to Europe but there is the potential for the occasional trip further afield.

Skills required include knowledge of the design and deployment of Session Border Controller and Softswitch platforms together with the accompanying suite of products and services. The candidate must be a native English speaker and be a good communicator. Key relationships will be with vendor partners, customers and your own colleagues across Europe.

Drop me a line if you are interested and think you fit the bill – tref at netaxis dot solutions. The salary and package will be whatever is right for the individual concerned.

I am not currently seeking referrals from Recruitment Companies.

Business business applications UC voip webrtc

How WebRTC will deliver contextual communication and AI in the contact centre

Contextual communication, AI and chatbots are on track to revolutionise the way we communicate, prompting experts to herald the dawn of a major communications revolution. What about the contact centre, and how does WebRTC underpin this shift towards improved customer engagement?

More than just chatbots

Most of us have already grown accustomed to talking more and more with machines. Consumers have been given a taste of this new era of communication with the likes of Siri and Alexa, but we’re starting to see this new technology make its mark in the business world. Some contact centres, for instance, are starting to use chatbots to deal with common queries and complaints based on database suggestions.  We’ve also witnessed a number of councils using a form of AI as a virtual agent to deal with front line requests. As the number of interactions increases, we can expect to see robots like this learning rapidly and becoming more sophisticated.

However, the impact of AI and machine learning is greater than just for improving chatbots. If we look at the bigger story we can see there is another innovation gaining a foothold in the industry: contextual communication. Made possible by open web technologies like WebRTC, it enables context to be added to every communication to make customer interactions more efficient, personalised and engaged. These contextual communications applications mesh together pertinent information in real-time from CRMs and other databases. The end result is the ability to deal with customer enquiries via web video, chat box or through a mobile app.

The value of context

This is where AI can make a dramatic impact. Determining the right information and communication “context” to serve, informed by a wealth of data, leads to better decision making throughout sales or customer service processes. This ultimately leads to a greater customer experience and applies equally to customer-facing chatbots as it does to virtual assistants. Imagine a VA that could recommend the next course of action for a customer service agent or salesperson to take. Then, move it a stage further and consider that cognitive interactions will understand accents, sentiment and context. This will enable even greater personalisation and decision-making capabilities – a far cry from today’s annoying automated services.

This is how the future of enterprise communications is shaping up –  making communication “transparent”, so it’s integral and inherent in applications, and augmenting it with context. What does it mean for ITSPs? We can start with differentiated propositions offering huge productivity and efficiency gains – and a more natural communications experience for customers.

Join us next week to learn more

We’ll be discussing these impacts and more at the ITSPA WebRTC Workshop next Thursday 28th September, Central London. Both Tref and I will be keen to hear your views on contextual communication and how it can drive new revenue opportunities for ITSPs in the coming years. If you are in London and want to come along, register here – it’s free – using the member’s registration.

Other WebRTC content on this blog.

Business webrtc

WebRTC coming of age

WebRTC coming of age

Three years ago we hosted a WebRTC workshop and back then the promise was there to be seen but the reality seemed a long way off. Now we’re teaming up again with ITSPA to take a fresh look at WebRTC – where is it now and what real applications are out there? One of our guest speakers, Rob Pickering, is a big WebRTC advocate and in fact his company, IPCortex, did the UK’s first public demonstration of a call between a web browser and the PSTN using WebRTC at their 10th birthday party, back in 2012. I know, because I was there and witnessed it!

Now I think it’s fair to say that WebRTC has really come of age and Rob will be bringing us up to date.  Standards are now firm and Apple recently announced it will support WebRTC for the first time bringing browser support to the brink of ubiquity. All of this has made it easier to realise the full benefits and mass deployment of WebRTC.  Rob believes this will mean a disruptive impact on the way people communicate, for good.

The sort of stuff we’re going to see are where developers remove any complexity and barriers to smooth communication by embedding audio, visual, chat, file and desktop sharing directly into web pages, browsers and even IoT and mobile platforms without plugins. People can just start communicating from the same space they’re already doing a task. We’re calling this “contextual communication” – a phrase you’re going to hear a lot of in the industry in coming months and years.

Developers are already building applications that solve the challenge of siloed non-unified platforms and distracting “context switches” – the design point being to deliver the internal efficiencies they know that businesses need, while also enriching the experience for external contacts – whether they’re contractors or customers.

Looking at some of the examples around call centre empathy, right through to private healthcare consultation – and of course day to day business communication – I think we’re really only now starting to reimagine the ways in which we can transform and open up communications. WebRTC will be the enabler of the way we communicate in the future and ITSPs especially would do well to get involved, now.

Join Rob Pickering, CEO at IPCortex and others from Genband, Oracle, Sonus Networks, Netaxis at the WebRTC Workshop and find out how ITSPs can use WebRTC to make money, on Thursday 28th September, Central London. If you are in London and want to come along just register here – it’s free – just use the member’s registration.

Business webrtc

WebRTC Workshop – how ITSPs can use WebRTC to make money

WebRTC Workshop – how ITSPs can use WebRTC to make money itspa voip security workshop has once again teamed up with ITSPA to provide you with relevant workshop content. The last time we looked at WebRTC was a good three years ago. At that time all most of us could say was “uhuh”. We saw functionality that we had been used to in the SIP world for years. We could see the promise but there were too many things yet to be solved.

So where is WebRTC now? Applications are beginning to emerge and the vendor infrastructure is mature enough to consider the technology mainstream. WebRTC has progressed. It’s about time we took another look at the subject.

On Thursday 28th we have a workshop that will cover all relevant aspects of WebRTC technology.

We start with our friend Rob Pickering, CEO of IPCortex who is going to bring us up to date with the standard and support for WebRTC.

We have vendor presentations from Genband, Oracle, Quobis, Sonus and IPCortex together with Netaxis.

Normally I’m not much of a one for vendor presentations. however in this case they are very useful and will cover two things. Firstly they will give us a heads up on what we can do with their products and secondly look at real world applications/case studies.

We will finish off with a panel discussion on how Service Providers might incorporate WebRTC solutions into their offerings.

The plan for afterwards is beer and curry which is very generously being sponsored by GenbandOracleSonus Networks,  Netaxis and IP Cortex. If you want to come please register.

Let me know if you want to stay for the meal afterwards as I will need to sort numbers. Finally I’d like to thank Osborne Clarke for their usual very generous providing of the venue and refreshments. They are a great supporter of ITSPA.

Other WebRTC content on this blog.

Business voip

Hot news from the white hot world of Telecoms Technology :)

Feeling funky with my headlines today

gnTel choose Oracle Netaxis. I like this. I’ve replicated the press release here which is something I don’t normally do as I normally only do original stuff and I used not to want Google to penalise me in SEO rankings for plagiarising. However I’m not all that bothered about that kind of thang anymore so I don’t care if they do.

The bit I wanted to highlight was where it says “gnTel also chose NetAxis Solutions, an Oracle professional services partner, with deep technology competencies and experience, to design and implement their new service infrastructure.”

This is why me and Netaxis got together. Netaxis are a bunch of engineers with seriously good engineering capabilities. OK the press release is Oracle big company PR speak blurb but that’s by the by really. Oracle happen to be Netaxis’ biggest vendor partner as well so it is good that we are able to jointly shout about some good news like this.

2017 is a really busy year for us and it looks set to continue. The PR refers to NFV and cloud. This is where the action is all moving to. All our own software products, and there are many, are available to run in Virtual Environments. The telco world, especially that of big telcos, is not quick to move into new technology. They are wary, fearful. It’s why new smaller companies can win business from them. However the big telcos are now looking at moving into new fluffy white areas and I think we are well placed to have a bit of the action.

If you are a telco, however large or small we have something for you. If you are interested in Hosted VoIP platform integration – Session Border Controllers – Provisioning and Self Care – API Orchestration &  Service Creation – Fixed Mobile Convergence  – Network Monitoring and Call Tracing – SIP Call Simulator – Session Routing Engine – VoIP Fraud Management – Video Communications & Unified Messaging (lifted from my email signature) get in touch.

Ciao amigos. Press Release below.

REDWOOD SHORES, Calif., June 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — gnTel, a fast growing cloud-based telecom service provider to small and medium sized businesses in the Netherlands, has selected Oracle Communications technology to better scale their operations and lay the groundwork for the evolution of their network to NFV.  Replacing their existing solution, gnTel will use Oracle Communications Session Border Controller (OCSBC) running on Acme Packet 4600 purpose-built hardware platforms to immediately create a new scalable access and peering infrastructure for their customers. This solution will allow gnTel to not only jumpstart their services but because of the close interworking between physical and virtualized OCSBC instances, and a flexible licensing scheme, also preserve this investment while they migrate to NFV.

Oracle Communications Session Border Controller is one of the industry’s leading border control solution that operates with most major IP-PBX, unified communications, and application server providers – reducing risks associated with commercial production level installations. Available on both purpose-built physical and commercial-off-the-shelf virtualized platforms, and coupled with a perpetual network-wide licensing scheme, OCSBC provides maximum flexibility to operators.

gnTel also chose NetAxis Solutions, an Oracle professional services partner, with deep technology competencies and experience, to design and implement their new service infrastructure.

“At gnTel, we recognize the fast pace of technology evolution in the telecom industry. We wanted to invest in a proven solution from a company that brings together expertise in cloud, virtualization, IT, and telecommunications,” said Onno Speekenbrink, gnTel. “Oracle’s solution and NetAxis Solution’s implementation will position us well for future growth.”

“Oracle’s cloud-ready session delivery solutions coupled with their extensive interoperability with third-party equipment and with our network monitoring software makes it simple for us to size, configure, deploy, and maintain the complex multi-vendor solution that gnTel requested,” said Bart van de Kar, NetAxis. “This project will further cement our expertise and relationship with Oracle.”

“In today’s marketplace, operators are looking for long-term, cost-effective and verified solutions that can improve their agility, streamline operations and accelerate time to market,” said Doug Suriano, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Communications. “Oracle Communications SBC provides CSPs, such as gnTel, the unconstrained flexibility that supports their efforts now and in the future.”

To learn more about Oracle Communications solutions, please connect on Twitter @OracleComms and at, or visit

To learn more about NetAxis Solutions, please visit

For further information about gnTel please visit


Business voip

ITSPA Summer Forum Update

Jeff Pulver – the hottest ticket in town

As of this morning there are seven places left for the ITSPA Summer Forum (sponsored by Netaxis Solutions – that fine telecommunications infrastructure company). The Summer Forum is one of the highlights of the ITSPA calendar and we can expect a pretty packed house.

This is especially true this year as our guest keynote speaker is my friend Jeff Pulver who has very kindly agreed to fly over from the good old US of A to talk to us about his MoNage conference. Monage is all about AI, Chatbots and the internet of things. If you are clueless about this you might want to think about coming along. As I said we have seven places left, officially, although I suspect that if more wanted to come we would make room for them.

After all it’s not often you get the chance to hear Jeff speak. For those of you who weren’t around in the early days of SIP/VoIP Jeff became famous as a VoIP Pioneer with his Voice on the Net (VON) conferences. Jeff also founded the world’s first global ITSP, Free World Dialup, and was the founder of the company we all now know as Vonage. He has been around.

If you are in London and want to come along just register here – it’s free – just use the members’ registration.

Oh and there is an evening meal which is fully booked but at which the dress code is Hawaiian shirt. So if you see some of us colourfully dressed you will know why.

Btw if you are an ITSP and not already a member you should seriously consider joining ITSPA. Apart from fantastic networking events that give you the opportunity to mingle with others in the industry they have a whole host of benefits – check it out here.

Ciao amigos


Engineer voip

Looking for a Session Routing Engine? It needs to be carrier grade

Carrier grade architecture for Session Routing Engines

It’s a fact that many ITSPs, certainly in the UK where there is a proliferation of them, do not need a call routing engine. Their (mostly) least cost routing needs are covered by their existing softswitch or by the Session Border Controllers they stick in front if it. As you get bigger however you do get to want more sophistication in a Session Routing Engine.

For example if you want to add more logic to the routing decision. I’ve already written about routing based on MOS scores but there are a whole load of other scenarios where routing decisions may be influenced by external factors. For example in scenarios where users are switching between persona and want different voicemail policies to be applied between personal and business calls.

The Netaxis environment supports this type of scenario and our Session Routing Engine plays an important part in it.

SRE was built for Tier 1 and 2 operators who need sophisticated routing capabilities. As a relatively new product we have also been able to play in features that make a carrier’s life a lot easier.

SRE Routing Framework

The SRE routing framework guiding principles are flexibility and openness. The data model and routing logic let you have unlimited routing policies.  Call handling is defined as a set of sequential actions – the SRE comes with a rich set of predefined actions that drive the  creation of the routing logic.  New actions can easily be added to build up fully customized routing logic.

In addition, SRE is natively designed to query third party elements. This ranges from simple queries such as external database interrogation to much more complex scenarios like PBX interaction.

Service Logic Editor

The Service Logic Editor has extremely powerful and versatile functionality and is designed to let you create service logic in a few clicks. It allows the creation of any kind of route including those that are perhaps very specific or temporary/transient. Routes can be run in simulation/validation mode before being deployed to the operational network.

Carrier Grade & Scalable

In considering the architecture it has also been important to recognise that the end product has to be carrier grade. Resilience and capacity scalability is key.

An SRE based solution can be made of several Call Processing instances managed by a centralized Element Manager. The multi-instance approach offers wide deployment possibilities and huge scalability. Load balancers can be added to complete the picture. Call Processing is fully redundant working in High Availability mode.   

Long experience has also told us that things can go wrong when rolling out network upgrades, even if you have tested it to the umpteenth degree. Bearing this in mind the SRE has a really cute data versioning feature. The SRE always keeps 2 set of configuration settings that can be toggled with a clock of the metaphorical button. Reversion to a stable release in the event of a problem during an upgrade is easy.

Who could ask for more? 🙂

If you do have any questions or would be interested in finding out more about our Session Routing Engine feel free to let me have your name and work email  in the form below and I’d drop you some info. I won’t spam you but I need to know I’m dealing with serious people so no generic gmail type addresses please.

    Netaxis is a competence centre for telecoms and now operates in the UK 🙂

    Engineer voip

    MOS based route selection using Netaxis Session Routing Engine

    Session Routing Engine is us

    Had a really good working lunch last week with special guest Laurent Debacker. Laurent runs fixed and mobile network operations for Belgian telco Voo and provided us with a very interesting talk about their implementation of the Netaxis Session Routing Engine.

    Some of you might think there is nothing much to say about routing engines. After all, you just set one up, point traffic in the desired direction and your Uncle’s name is Bob. Maybe you employ least cost routing and periodically upload new rate cards. That’s about it when it comes to routing engines. Isn’t it?

    Well maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. Classically routing engines are unwieldy beasts and offer little incentive for people to do anything imaginative with them. However the telco world is rapidly evolving and your routing implementation needs to evolve with it.

    Here I offer you one scenario:

    Least cost routing is important because if you don’t watch your supplier rate cards you can quickly rack up losses on any given routes. However if you don’t watch the quality of your chosen routes you can quickly lose customers, or at least build up sufficient levels of disatisfaction that they start to bombard your helpdesk.

    If you had a means of actively monitoring the quality of lines to specific destinations you could avoid this. Happy customers mean higher spending customers.

    Netaxis have a suit of products that are built around our Session Routing Engine. The combined system includes the Nemo Network Monitoring tool which provides MOS scores for specific calls and the Dory call simulator. When combined with the SRE you can produce data on the quality of specific connectivity partners and make routing changes in real time based on this quality. It is also possible to get network alerts telling you that specific destinations have had changes to the carrier. The new carrier may not be the lowest cost but could serve as an interim solution whilst you address the quality issue with the original.  

    If you want to know more about how we can do this just get in touch.

    Engineer engineering voip

    Self Learning Control Layer in VoIP Networks

    Taking Control of Your Network – The Self Learning Control Layer

    The development and implementation of telecommunications networks and services has traditionally been a long drawn out affair. Even the smallest project might have an 18 month gestation period. Major network roll outs much longer. The advent of API driven environments provides us with the opportunity to change all this and here I discuss the concept of the Self Learning Control Layer (SLCL). The SLCL is an intelligent overlays  to VoIP networks driving efficiency, reducing costs and making it easier to add new products and services.

    Self Learning Control Layer Building Blocks

    An SLCL has three building blocks:

    • Data Mining,
    • Call Control &
    • Orchestration.

    Data mining is used to monitor activity and health in a network. Call Control is used to effect change to traffic routing based on information provided by the Data Mining and Orchestration. Orchestration makes provisioning decisions based on predefined policy, inputs from both the network and from end users.

    The types of learning the network might make include:

    • addition of capacity to or traffic rerouting away from congested areas – eg based on MOS scores
    • automatic shut off of calls considered to be fraudulent traffic
    • Routing policies altered by a change in an user’s status (eg from “business” mode to “personal”) or the provisioning of additional capacity based on the addition of new users to a network.

    The SLCL is designed to make your network easier and cheaper to operate to make your customers happier. Being API based it also makes it easy to integrate with your existing network infrastructure. The SLCL is a concept developed by Netaxis who provide all the building blocks you need to implement it.

    I’ve already discussed elements of the SLCL in my posts and workshops on VoIP Network Monitoring, fraud detection and call simulation.

    Session Routing Engines

    My next focus is going  to be on Session Routing Engines. The SRE is a key component of the SLCL and is the heart of the Call Control function.

    Essential features include:

    • APIs to standard network elements such as softswitches, Session Border Controllers, VoLTE and IMS and indeed other existing Core Routing Engines
    • SIP & ENUM
    • Be flexible and easy to implement

    The SRE is the subject matter of my next working lunch which is in London on Wednesday 3rd May. At this event we have a special guest, Laurent Debacker of Belgian telco Voo who is going to talk us through their own implementation of the SRE and act as a catalyst for a general discussion around this subject.

    You can check out details of the event here. It’s free to come to but you have to be a VOIP network geek for it to be worthwhile for all attendees – we want an active discussion on this subject and places are limited.

    Business voip

    Proud winners again – Oracle style

    Netaxis win Prestigious Oracle Award

    Totally thrilled to tell you that last week, at the Oracle Industry Connect event in sunny Orlando Florida, Netaxis Solutions were presented with a prestigious Oracle Award for services to the industry. Or something like that 🙂

    Oracle are important business partners for Netaxis. We use their Session Border Controllers in many customer solutions. The business was originally built around these products. We have moved on to some extent in that much of our business these days hinges around products we have developed ourselves – network monitoring, provisioning, anti fraud etc etc but Oracle are still important.

    So it’s nice to have an award you can stick in the company reception, or on the internet more like. In fact blog posts like this are just the point of these awards. Something you can write about, boast about.

    It isn’t without justification. Netaxis, a relatively small Belgian company but one with expansion plans (enter moi stage left), are going places. We have an unique skillset in the telecoms industry, especially for a company our size (30ish engineers). There ain’t many companies around who do the Systems Integration but also can develop the missing bits of the systems being integrated. That’s really how our product suite has been built up – customers have asked for features and we developed them. Quickly.

    As I write this I’m sat in our company Annual Review (still jet lagged). We have 54 customers in 7 countries. These are all Telco customers. I’m quite impressed, considering the company is only 6 years old. It shows there is something there. Something Netaxis has that is interesting.

    What is really interesting, and this comes from the fact that we deal with so many Tier 1 telcos, is the fact that there is a lot of mobile network development going on at the moment that is based on global standards: 3GPP and IMS/LTE. These standards are very constraining. They have to be in order to make the network work. This in turn makes it difficult for operators to differentiate themselves. Although these standards expose APIs few companies using these APIs.

    That’s where Netaxis come in. Our own products make it easy for network operators to differentiate themselves. We are API based. This also makes it easier for operators to design cheaper to run, lower cost networks.

    It’s an exciting to be involved. In case you didn’t spot it I have a joint venture with Netaxis in the UK.  I am going to unashamedly discussing Netaxis and their capabilities on this blog. Not really any different to what I did with Timico. Only interesting stuff of course. No boring stuff.

    Anyway we won a Prestigious Oracle  Award. In Orlando, Florida. Good eh? The pic is of us three Netaxis boys, me, Alessandro and Bart, flanked by Oracle high ups. That’s a Welsh-Irish/Italian/Dutchman working for a Belgian company.

    Ciao amigos…

    PS this pic is the only one in which you will see me wearing long trousers in Florida.

    PPS was sad to hear from the Uber driver to the airport that tourism is the main industry of Florida. This is obvious. The sad thing is that it used to be orange growing. A far simpler existence, if less lucrative.

    Business voip

    Mobile World Congress 2017

    Report from Mobile World Congress 2017

    It’s been a busy few weeks with some highlights, not the least of which being our exit from Timico shareholding. It brings to an end what was a great journey. We started Timico in April 2004. I kind of retired after ten years or so but remained a shareholder. It now feels as if the project has finally come to an end. Obviously Timico continue its journey but whilst I retain a fondness for the company it feels good to be able to move on.

    Last week I was in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2017 supporting Netaxis. I’ve always been a bit sceptical about the business case for exhibitors at these big huge trade shows. They are so big you wonder how anyone can find anything. My justification for going was to meet partners. All the big infrastructure players (Oracle, Sonus, Genband, Broadsoft et al) have a presence there so it is a useful spot to arrange to meet all of these folks, even though it can be a 20 minute walk between meetings!

    However I did come across a real example of the customer acquisition process. I was sat on my own at the Netaxis booth, just resting my feet really, when someone wandered by and stopped in front of me to read our spiel. I looked at him, he looked at me. I sat there passively. He came up to me and we started to chat. I realised I was having to move into elevator pitch mode which I did reasonably well I think.

    We were just approaching the top floor in the elevator when Jean Seb came back to the booth. Jean Seb is the designer of our Nemo VoIP Network Monitoring tool. I casually handed the pitch over to Jean Seb and joined in where relevant. The prospect, a US based telco, was suitably impressed and we now have a lead to follow up. Don’t you just love it when it goes well like that?:)

    The easiest way to do MWC is to just find a comfy seat and sit there. Everyone you know will swing by at sometime. I was sitting on a sofa at the Genband stand chatting to old SIP Forum pal Professor Alan Johnston, one of the original authors of the SIP protocol when a steady stream of people we knew walked by. Why have a booth when you can borrow someone else’s:).

    I also took the opportunity to catch up over breakfast with Jeff Pulver who I hadn’t seen for years but who was in Barca to speak at a different gig.

    The best bit about MWC are the evenings. These make the trip that much more exhausting but are the fun bits. If I tell you that my normal bedtime is 10pm but that the earliest I got to bed in Barcelona was 1.30am it will help you to understand. On my last night we ended up at “Swedish Beers” with Curtis Peterson of RingCentral and Adam Beaumont for AQL. Adam has been a long term sponsor of the event which as far as I can see has nothing to do with Sweden or Swedish Beers. The beer did flow voluminously and a good time was had by all. I later found out from Facebook that Alan Johnston was there at the same time. It was so packed we didn’t see each other.

    So that’s it. Name dropping over. We are now well and truly into March and the third month of being for Netaxis Solutions UK. Watch this space…

    Engineer voip

    VoIP Network Monitoring Workshop Wrapup

    VoIP Network Monitoring workshop learnings

    Terrific VoIP Network Monitoring workshop on Tuesday. Ended up with around 25 engineers in the room. Who would have thought that 3 hours would whizz by when talking about this subject? Thanks to all who came especially Raph from Netaxis, Ade and Ben from Zen Internet and Florian from Oracle. They all did a sterling performance with their respective demos.

    These small workshops are great. You always learn something new and there are a lot of nuances to this subject. I found a particularly useful feature on the Netaxis Nemo tool (OK I am with Netaxis but it is an useful feature:) ) Nemo can correlate CDR data with the traces and logs of the call being made. It is therefore very easy to track down a recording that may have been made using a network probe based on the number of the calling party. Handy in situations such as call centres where someone may ring back and complain that what they got was not what they asked for previously.

    I think the biggest issue this industry is going to have with VoIP Network Monitoring is in the move to the cloud. Currently for anything more than a low number of sessions it isn’t particularly practical to monitor RTP traffic in the cloud. Data throughputs mean you need physical network TAPs to mirror the traffic and the cloud ain’t physical is it. Picture the scene. A massive AWS datacentre with rows and rows of identical cabinets but with one TAP sticking out like a sore thumb.

    If all you want is signalling data you will probably be ok but most network managers want to be able to listen to real media when troubleshooting problems.

    Afterwards we all trooped to Craft Beer on Mitre Street and then on to The Lahore Kebab House on Commercial Road. This curry house is a real find. Great food. No booze but you can bring your own from the off license next door. I especially recommend the chicken tikka and lamb chops. If you’re ordering onion bhaji that’s a meal in itself.

    I digress. Get in touch if you want to know more about what we can offer in the way of VoIP Network Monitoring. Or anything else in the VoIP network game really 🙂

    Next workshop is about Session Routing Engines on Wednesday 26th April. Exciting eh? Save the date. More deets to follow.

    Thanks to Oracle and Netaxis for the food and drink afterwards 🙂

    Engineer voip

    More VoIP Network Monitoring Stuff

    All about VoIP Network Monitoring

    The UK VoIP industry is maturing. Networks are growing, subscriber numbers are increasing and the tools people used when they first started may no longer do the job.

    Once upon a time it was just fine to use freeware. After all there is plenty of support out there. Usergroups willing and eager to help. On a best efforts basis obvs, or paid for even. Now you haven’t got the time to do all that stuff yourself nor all the learning that has to accompany it. There comes a time where the growing ITSP that once managed on a shoestring has to face reality and begin to look at turnkey vendor solutions that come with their own support and carrier strength operations.

    Network monitoring is one such area. I’m finding a real interest in this subject in the UK. My VoIP Network Monitoring Workshop has been very well subscribed. Of course it helps that there is free beer and curry afterwards but to be honest that is by the by. The UK tech community is interested.

    I wear a number of hats where VoIP Network Monitoring is concerned. Netaxis have our own product, NEMO, which has just undergone its third major release. Netaxis also act as a Systems Integrator  and support a wide range of 3rd Party vendor tools. Included in this is Oracle’s OCOM integrates well with Oracle’s own Session Border Controller line as well as via external probes.

    It’s only recently I’ve really dug into this whole subject. Obviously things do go wrong in any network and especially in VoIP network where there can be so many topologies involved. Also as your number of subscribers increases the more likely it is that you will encounter problems. Because voice is mission critical to a business these problems are going to make for uncomfortable times unless you have the right troubleshooting tools.

    This means being able to drill down into into individual voice calls to see what is going on. What’s the voice quality (MOS Score) looking like? Is the problem only happening at particular times of the day? Why is that phone constantly re-registering? Is it a site wide problem? Are calls timing out after the same amount of time? Is it handset specific? Codec specific? Lots of variables to contend with.

    When your network grows you also need to start thinking about how and where you deploy your VoIP Network monitoring tools. Network data needs collecting, storing and analyzing. How do you work out how much storage you need? What’s the profile of your customer base? How many simultaneous calls? What’s the average duration? Which calls do you want to record? All of them or just ones that you are trying to troubleshoot? How long do you want to store the RTAP data for.

    All of a sudden you are into an engineering effort just to figure out what the specs of your probes are going to look like. Will you need much bandwidth between the probe and your network monitoring server. What TAP spec do you need? Traffic has to be mirrored somehow.

    There’s a lot more to VoIP Network Monitoring that people sometimes realise. What’s more the scope of what is wanted out of a VoIP Network Monitoring tool has grown. Firstly it’s a natural source of data for call recording purposes other than mere troubleshooting. Regulatory requirements perhaps?

    Then there’s fraud. If you are monitoring all your network traffic it seems to make sense to be able to analyze this traffic for patterns that suggest fraudulent activity. What steps do you take for fraud mitigation? Does your VoIP Network Monitoring tool also help you detect fraud?

    I think I’ve gone on long enough. If you want to join the discussion on this subject just sign up for my VoIP Network Monitoring Workshop on 21st February. Don’t come along just for the beer and curry though. I’m after participation. Involvement. 🙂

    Oh and if you want to talk to me directly about what we can do for you in respect of VoIP Network Monitoring just get in touch. Y’awl.

    Engineer voip

    VoIP Network Monitoring Workshop Update

    VoIP Network Monitoring Workshop update stuff

    Quick VoIP Network Monitoring Workshop update I have planned in town on Tuesday 21st February. The workshop is being held at Gamma’s offices near the Gherkin (St Mary Axe) with free beer and curry generously provided by Oracle and me, with my Netaxis Solutions UK hat on (blows on fingernails and polishes).

    I’ve booked the pub and the curry house. Pub is The Craft Beer Co at St Mary Axe where we have the downstairs room for a couple of hours after the workshop. 5 – 7pm say. Check out their beer . Some seriously good stuff there.

    Secondly I’ve booked Lahore Kebab House on Commercial Road. This is not only supposed to be one of London’s top Pakistani gaffs and can handle large groups but comes recommended by people I trust about this sort of thing.

    If you are in the industry and can’t make the workshop but fancy coming for a beer then you are welcome to do so. Just let me know. only beer though. Curry is reserved for the hard core who sign up for the VoIP Network Monitoring Workshop.

    Currently we have 24 people coming to the Workshop and have room for 30. More if you are late to the party but run a VoIP network and are really interested. Again let me know. At the moment I have 6 spaces left with  3 people who i know are coming but have yet to sign their names in the box.

    I have now run a number of workshops at the Gamma offices in the City. They have great meeting facilities and are very happy to loan me the space. However I have had bounceback from one or two network operators who are Gamma competitors. I am happy to move the show around if you want to get in touch about using your space. Needs to be able to cope with at least 30 and up to 50 people with some coffee facilities (beer is also acceptable). In return you get  some great exposure in the ITSP community. Let me know.

    That’s my VoIP Network Monitoring Workshop update. If you want to come sign here.

    Business Mobile voip

    Who is going to Mobile World Congress next month?

    Showcasing Fixed Mobile Convergence Mobile World Congress 2017

    Fixed Mobile Convergence Mobile World Congress. If you are thinking of going to Mobile World Congress in Barca next month let me know and we can hook up. I’ll be there with Netaxis where we will be showcasing a load of nifty stuff including our Fixed Mobile Convergence server PIE.

    Netaxis Solutions provides innovative Fixed Mobile Convergence solutions for mobile network operators. Grow your fixed line business and make your mobile offering more sticky and vice versa. Our PIE server provides customer self care and provisioning, is a bridge between Fixed and Mobile networks and provides an interface to all mainstream hosted VoIP platforms.

    This Fixed Mobile proposition is a very simple solution. Our PIE server acts as a gateway between the fixed and mobile worlds and lets ITSPs easily integrate their own platforms with your networks. You do need a mobile network or a relationship with one.

    If you have a mobile network then this is a serious proposition especially if you are a fixed or mobile wholesaler. Attract new ITSP business partners/resellers by allowing them to offer their customers the ability to integrate mobile solutions with their own hosted service. Works with all the main Vendors: Broadsoft, Cisco, Skype For Business et al and we can easily adapt it to others.

    Come and talk to us about it at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona between February 27th and March 2nd. You can find us on our stand 7G71 in Hall 7.

    See live demos at the booth of products and services that will help you run your networks more efficiently.

    • Nemo – Network Monitoring & Call Tracing
    • PIE – SelfCare Provisioning & Fixed-Mobile Convergence
    • Engo – Voice Fraud Management
    • Dory – SIP Call Simulator
    • SRE – Session Routing Engine
    • Vivo – Video Communication & Unified Messaging Platform

    Mobile World Congress is the world’s largest gathering of the mobile industry. I won’t be manning the stand specifically but I can arrange to meet you there and/or go for a beer. Just let me know. You can email me at [email protected] (I’m still working on this).

    Business Mobile Net UC

    Announcing Netaxis Solutions UK

    Netaxis Solutions UK

    Thought I’d share some news with y’all. Last week we set up Netaxis Solutions UK, This is a joint venture between me and Netaxis in Belgium, a business I worked with last year on a consultative basis.

    Quite exciting really. Netaxis are an engineering based company that partners with telecoms network operators.They are very successful in their space For me it’s a step back into the core of technology rather than the retail world of Timico, which is what took up the best part of the last decade or so.

    I say telecoms operators but the game has changed massively since the word telecoms was first coined. It’s almost a redundant term but there isn’t one that has come along to replace it. At least not one that people readily identify with. The word communications provider is a little wishy washy and Internet Telephony Service Provider doesn’t tell the whole story.

    The reality is that in providing services to end users (business or consumer) a network operator has to be able to grasp a huge range of technological capabilities. Some choose to specialise in Over The Top fields such as video conferencing or VoIP services. These might be quite big markets in their own right but such companies rely on partners to provide the network.

    Operators of networks themselves can’t do everything. They too have to partner. Netaxis is such a partner. We began life as a systems integrator but gradually began to add our own technological capabilities and IP based on requests of the customers of our SI services. This has resulted in the development of a broad and still evolving set of capabilities that includes network monitoring, call simulation and VoIP network stress testing, anti-fraud software and services, routing engines, Fixed Mobile Convergence servers,provisioning servers, video capability and WebRTC function integration.

    Add to this IMS core network design and development skills and you have a pretty powerful mix of capabilities that makes us well placed to help network operators in the UK move ahead in what can be bewildering waters.

    Netaxis still offer a range of services and solutions from industry players such as Oracle, Genband, Broadsoft, Audiocodes et al but our pitch is that we are vendor independent and can work with anyone.

    I’m not really a sales person but I plan to market Netaxis in the UK through some tried and tested methods. Customers need to see the value of working with technology partners. We aim to do this be expanding on the number of workshops and seminars during the course of 2017 to include subjects that might not be particularly sexy but should be of interest to service providers and network operators in our game. Whilst at Timico I kept independent – the same is going to apply here.

    In the second half of 2016 I held a successful fraud workshop and a working lunch (finished at 6.15pm!) where we discussed VoIP call simulation techniques and uses. Look out for event announcements in the near future. Note that these are going to be events. They may even have Netaxis competitors in attendance. I’m not in the game of trying to sell people things they don’t need or want. I want an easy life:). I am betting though that you will want something we have.  I want people to come and say to me “Iike the look of that left handed server Tref” or “hmm wouldn’t mind trying out Netaxis’ call simulator” etc etc.

    What I also want is to make it easy to do business with Netaxis. Push that door and I hope you will find it swings open. Time will tell but in the meantime wish me luck and feel free to ask me questions on life the universe and Netaxis Solutions UK. I trust 2017 is going to be a great year for us all.

    PS I decided I was too young to stop working 🙂 What did it for me was two weeks I had set aside for jury service that was cancelled at the last minute. I had nothing in the diary and there is a limit to how many holidays you can go on. I needed motivation and with Netaxis Solutions UK I now have the motivation.

    Business UC video

    Video conferencing takes the strain out of taking the train

    Vidyo video conferencing takes the strain out of taking the train

    Interesting statistics for Netaxis’ internal usage of their Vidyo video conferencing solution in 2016. We had a cumulative total of  91,496 minutes of connections. That’s 2 months, 3 days, 12 hours and 56 minutes of connections. There were a total of 974 meetings connecting 2,000 people with  an average of 2.05 persons per meeting at a duration of 45 minutes. Meetings under 15 minutes were not counted.

    Those are quite chunky stats. Over the period concerned Netaxis had around 25 folk in the company and they operate a flexible working policy which means any one person can be working from home, at a customer site or in the office (or down the pub etc).

    I was quite surprised when I saw these numbers. They are impressive. What jogged my memory was seeing people on Facebook complain about the Tube strikes in London:

    eg Not often I post but today……tube strikes can do one!! ????  (Name withheld to protect the innocent.)

    These Netaxis Vidyo video conferencing statistics could be turned into a pounds shillings and pence number (well we did vote to leave the EU) representing time and money saved by people not having to travel to meetings plus the Carbon footprint savings. You can work those out yourselves as they might apply to your own business.

    I’ve always been somewhat sceptical of the usefulness of video for business meetings. All the big video conference companies have lots of business case material for why it is worth shelling out hundreds of thousands of pounds (shillings and pence) for their kit but I suspect it is only big business with global presence that bought it. I use desktop video a lot in my personal life taking to the family but before I met the Netaxis folk have never bothered with it for business.

    With Netaxis I use it a lot. Firstly it means free international calls from both my phone and desktop and you get all the usual desktop sharing/IM/presence stuff which does get used. We don’t only use it for internal meetings. We use it for customer demos as well. The point is it is so easy to use and it works well over the cellular data network as well so the experience of video on your mobile is good.

    This isn’t really a sales pitch for Netaxis and Vidyo but an observation that the world is changing before our very eyes and I think that the tech we have been pushing for perhaps 15 years is finally becoming useful and being used.

    Actually scratch that. This is definitely a sales pitch. So if you are reading this whilst stationary in gridlocked traffic somewhere near London, crammed on to a Southwest train running late or walking along trying to stay on the pavement somewhere between a mainline station and your office we need to talk:) Especially if you want to easily integrate video conferencing services with your existing service proposition.

    Take the strain out of using the train.

    Disclosure I do consultancy work for Netaxis. They are good guys.

    Other video related posts on this blog.

    Engineer voip

    how do you perform interop testing after firmware upgrade?

    voip interop testing made easy?

    I’d be interested in chatting to anyone out there who has to periodically does voip interop testing to certify equipment after a firmware upgrade. You may be an IP telephony handset manufacturer or a vendor of other equipment that needs to be certified against an operator’s platform or network.

    This could be the subject of a future workshop. The whole process, which has traditionally been quite expensive because of the time it took to perform manual testing of sometimes hundreds of features is ripe for automation.

    If you use a voip call simulator such as Dory this is fairly straightforward but I wouldn’t mind hearing how others do it.

    Business voip

    Differentiate your service from that of other Broadsoft users

    Broadsoft provisioning server – PIE by Netaxis

    Broadsoft would appear to be the leader in the hosted PBX market. The problem with this is that many Broadsoft based hosted VoIP services will have little to differentiate themselves from the competition. It is a situation reached in the mature on premise market many years ago.

    Their customer portals all look the same. The features are all the same. This might be ok from a customer’s perspective but it’s quite likely that all the service providers will be able to do is compete based on price. Broadsoft is not known for its cheap licensing so the point so going to come where provider margins are going to be squeezed and squeezed.

    The industry is already consolidating. The biggest problem with consolidation from a VoIP perspective is how to transfer acquired customers over to your own platform. A huge amount of project management is going to be involved with some subscribers needing to be individually managed across. The setup and feature set of the new system need to be identical to the old or you risk upsetting and losing a customer.

    The proliferation of Broadsoft does to a certain extent remove this problem. The features of both platforms are likely to be identical so the migration should be straightforward.

    Most service providers will not have the resources to be able to customise their customer front ends – what the customer sees when they log into their online account. This is where the Netaxis PIE server comes in. PIE makes the provisioning of new customers simpler and offers customers a differentiated, simpler User Interface. From the service provider this also comes at a cost significantly lower than the Broadsoft product.

    Moreover PIE comes with multi country support so if you are planning to offer services in France and Germany (for example) then you can do so in the language native to that country.

    Gimme a shout if you want to hear more about PIE or see a demo.

    Ciao amigos.

    Disclosure. I am doing some consultancy work for Netaxis. I wouldn’t however write something about their products and solutions if I didn’t think they were good.

    Engineer voip

    What’s the Dory Story?

    Call simulator finds problems before your customer

    Dory call simulator can be used to quickly certify new firmware releases on CPE such as PBXs or to stress test a network after upgrades to carrier platforms.

    Some of you will know I’ve been doing some consultancy work for a Belgian outfit called Netaxis Solutions. Netaxis develop software that is used by telcos around the world to help run their networks.

    Recently I’ve been looking at their Dory call simulator. I hadn’t quite sussed how useful these thing are. If you are performing upgrades to your hosted platform then the ability to run stress tests overnight before your customers come in in the morning could save you a lot of angst. An upgrade that at first appearance seems to have been successful isn’t really tested until the network is carrying lots of calls. If you can avoid it (and I know from bitter experience) it’s better not to have your customers perform the stress tests on your behalf. What price peace of mind.

    The Dory call simulator can be setup to initiate multiple calls per second and build scenarios  that replicate real life situations. It empowers you to decide whether to roll back an upgrade before it is customer affecting.

    The other cool feature is Dory’s ability to test CPE such as PBXs. If you provide SIP trunks to your customers then the likelihood is that these customers will use a wide variety of equipments at the end of the SIP trunk. The more the type of kit the bigger the support headache. Most operators don’t have the luxury of being able to constrain their customers to a small number of supported CPE.

    The problem is every  time a vendor upgrades their firmware this kit has to be recertified on your network. This is an expensive and time consuming process. Imaging it it could be automated. Well this is what Dory does.

    You can easily construct scenarios that match all the call types handled by a piece of equipment. Call transfer, hold, hunt groups etc etc. You build up your library of scenarios and every time an interop test needs running you just point Dory at the kit and hey presto, it runs the tests.

    There is a little more to it than this but you get the drift. Dory comes with a console, a scheduler and logger, can simulate both inbound and outbound calls and can be run as multiple instances around your network. I have some spiel/data so if you want to know more feel free to get in touch. Also if you think you would like a demo you can request it from the Netaxis Dory page on their website.


    Business voip

    Amusing LinkedIn congratulatory messages

    Amusing LinkedIn congratulatory messages

    Started getting  load of LinkedIn congrats this week. I couldn’t understand why. It was happy anniversary in the job type stuff. I asked someone what it was for and turns out I’ve been on the ITSPA council for ten years.

    Actually that is wrong. ITSPA is now, in its current form, 11 years old and I was there at the start. What’s more there was an ITSPA before ITSPA. After a year we relaunched it formally with a professional secretariat.

    I must at some stage have guessed the start date and stuck that down in LinkedIn at some point. None of it really matters.

    ITSPA itself has changed significantly in that ten (eleven (twelve?)) years. When we first began there were probably fewer than 10 ITSPs in the UK. I had an instance of a SIP Express Router with a free service but next to no one on it. Now we have 80 or 90 members and hold big (ish) events at posh spots in town.

    In the meantime don’t stop the congrats a coming. It must be said that LinkedIn makes it really easy for people to push these messages to people by shoving them in your face every time you login to the site. This is especially the case when it come to endorsements.

    I often get endorsements for skills from people who I know darn well will have no idea what that skill represents. Either thats or for such generic knowledge bases such as “Trefor really knows his stuff when it comes to telecommunications”.

    Gordon Bennet.

    PS I think I will give a prize for the funkiest endorsement on LinkedIn. Bring em on 🙂

    Business voip

    UK telecoms revenues plummet because of England v Wales game

    punters hang on to their seats not their phones

    voipgThe number of calls being made by people in UK small businesses plummets during the England v Wales European footy match, according to highly respected telecoms chief Colin Duffy. In an exclusive revelation to Duffy reveals that his customers spent more time watching the game than using their phones.

    The graph shows top VoIP service provider Voipfone’s call levels on a normal day compared with today.The green line is last Thursday compared with today.

    Duffy goes on to say “They need to stop scheduling these games during the working day – it’s bad for business.”

    If this pattern has been seen by every phone company out there, and there is no reason to believe this is not the case then some of them, incumbent BT included, will be issuing profit warnings. editor in chief Trefor Davies personally spent the whole game in the Peacock pub in Lincoln and didn’t make a single phone call which corroborates Duffy’s claim. “I didn’t see a single person make a phone call during the game” says Davies. The fact that Davies had several pints of Tribute Pale Ale had no effect on his observations, he went on to claim.

    Davies has since tried calling his wife on her mobile to see when she will be returning from her girly day out at a spa. He has warmed up the chilli con carne and the rice is now on the go. He has not been able to contact the first Mrs Davies since she presumably began celebrating the England victory in the football.

    Davies, who is Welsh has been unavailable for further comment and is now contemplating opening a bottle of red wine while he waits. It will be down to whether he wants to risk the wrath of Mrs Davies when she returns from her day out. What the heck…

    Business voip

    VoIP monitoring tools for a world where SIP trunks outnumber ISDN

    VoIP monitoring tools for the 21st century.

    I’m doing some work with a company called Netaxis Solutions who amongst other things provide a suite of VoIP monitoring tools for network operators/Internet Telephony Service Providers. This post highlights how the operational requirements of ITSPs change as they grow. Customers get more demanding and it becomes increasingly important to up the game when it comes to support.

    Communications providers use all sorts of tools to run their networks these days. Many of them are open source, particularly in the ISP game. ISPs almost run their business on free software.

    The downside of this is that you have to have enough engineering resource support and manage these tools. This is fine when a business is small and the small team of network engineers is both netops, dev and support.

    When a business grows and evolves into distinct functional departments, as we all hope ours will, the game changes. Not only does the larger organisation tend to have fewer generalists who can do everything and hence support every bit of open source software they have grown up with. The growing business tends to have demands put upon it by its customer base that applies stress to an organisation and forces it to change. Customers of such businesses want less downtime/increased reliability, better quality and more responsive technical support.

    If a business copes with this stress it has a chance to succeed and part of this success is its ability to evolve its systems to cope.  They can’t afford to have someone spending half his time trying to fix his own software build whilst at the same time helping a customer.

    This evolution not only means more integrated help desk, ticketing, scheduling, provisioning and billing functions (etc). It also means a move towards automation in the network wherever possible. We are already seeing this with the advent of Software Defined Networks (notionally – do you know anyone who has implemented one?) and the automated provisioning of Wide Area Network connectivity.

    The integration of voice and data networks adds to the pressures. Why is that connection poor? Is it congested? Is the link down? Is it using a low quality voice termination partner? Is there something going on in the LAN?

    One key area in this new world of engineering operations is the toolset that is needed. You want to be able to tell at a glance whether there is a problem, or even when a problem is about to happen. Being able to see what is going on and respond quickly is not only going to be a way of keeping customers happy and growing your business from your existing base but it is also going to entice new customers.

    In the voice world the tools required are very specific. We need to be able to properly understand what is happening to voice in a network. Whilst the technology involved is more complicated in one sense in another it helps to make life easier. We now have tools that are far more flexible than just being able to see whether a specific link is up or down as might have been the case in the old circuit switched world.

    Now we can drill into problem areas in a network in a very granular way because all connections are IP enabled. Problems can be isolated to specific phone calls and specific network connections or trunks. We can employ tools that give us a very clear picture of what is happening.

    Is a trunk hitting it’s headroom for simultaneous call capacity? Is the call quality deteriorating and why? What is the MOS score? Is the trunk down? We can even see whether a connection has been deteriorating over time.

    Think of the peace of mind you would give a  customer if he knew that you could foresee problems and fix them before they happened. It is even a revenue opportunity. Have you thought about upgrading from xDSL to Ethernet Mr Customer. Or do you need some more SIP trunks?

    You would certainly be able to make him happy by fixing his problems quickly when he calls in to complain.

    There are tools available for this type of service. Vendors of Session Border Controllers provide them for example. They ain’t cheap though and an SBC user interface isn’t particularly easy to use.

    Really you need to find something that does the job in a cost effective way. I’ve been doing some work with a gem of a company called Netaxis Solutions. Out of 25 people 23 or so are engineers which is one of the reasons I got interested in them. Netaxis have sponsored a number of events in the past 12 months (declaration of interest).

    Netaxis are not only all nice guys but they are also a multi talented group of people who work with Tier 1 and 2 operators to provide VoIP solutions primarily for corporates such as banks and insurance companies. They have a string of VoIP vendor accreditations as long as your arm with terrific experience of deploying and managing multi site VoIP rollouts. They are kings of the SBC and the softswitch.

    Over the last few years in performing this sort of work Netaxis have seen the need to develop a set of tools that help them support their customers’ networks. These tools support functions such as monitoring and reporting, call simulators and traffic generator, fraud detection and a self care and provisioning portal.

    I’ve just done a quick screenshot of one of the tabs of Nemo, the monitoring tool. The picture is just sample data but you can immediately see how you could make use of the facility. A customer’s call traffic patterns will show whether they have enough capacity to service their peak needs. It would be an easy way to upsell additional SIP trunks or to help a customer see where their problem lies.

    voip monitoring tools

    Nemo allows you to drill into specific customer accounts, even to individual telephone extensions and check out the relevant statistics. Imaging being able to track the MOS scores over time – an easy way to anticipate problems or to see when a specific problem happened.

    voip monitoring tools - mos scores

    I’m not going to spend too much time itemising everything that can be done but it gives you the idea. Drop me a line if you want to know more or come and see me at the Telecoms Fraud Workshop tomorrow in London.

    Business fun stuff webrtc

    WebRTC: hacking apps for mental health services

    WebRTC hacks for social benefit

    Last week I explained how we at IPCortex were working with a social enterprise called Founders and Coders to use WebRTC to help solve some social challenges.

    The plan was to introduce the ambitious FAC team (16 trainee Javascript developers), to WebRTC via a week long workshop. We’d then support them in using the IPCortex API to quickly put together proof of concept applications for other social enterprises. Afterwards, we’d demo it together at TADHack, the go-to event for devs pushing the boundaries of WebRTC.

    TADHack was last weekend and I’m proud to be able to share more about the application we developed, called Confidant, and what we learned during the process.

    Developing an idea

    The idea we selected comes from a real life requirement brought to us by a charity and an NHS Trust. Their aim was to enhance the provision of youth mental health counselling services remotely: an idea that demonstrates the feasibility of using WebRTC to provide better access to support services. They’d use a community of volunteers on related university courses to provide supervised mentoring services – with the mentors receiving credit for professional experience gained by volunteering their time.

    The original intention was to split the development team up and do several different smaller scale hacks. However, the use case for Confidant was very tangible and so well thought out that it immediately caught the team’s imagination. They were excited about making a real difference and decided they wanted to work as one team to deliver the best possible proof of concept hack in the time available.

    From zero to demo in 7 days flat

    By the time we got to talking about the hack we’d been working with the Founders and Coders students in the WebRTC workshop for a couple of days. I’d seen them working individually or in small groups on some basic WebRTC practical exercises, but wasn’t sure how a huge project with 16 student developers, all working to deliver one application, was going to work. To add to the challenge, they mostly work in React, a technology about which I knew nearly nothing before this week. It looked like I would be learning a lot too.

    What came next was a big surprise. Just to recap, this was a team of 16 trainee developers who are about 12 weeks in on an intensive Javascript course. This was their first taste of the real time web and telecoms APIs, and I think also the first time they had worked on a project of this magnitude in a large team. They pretty much immediately, and with no externally obvious single point of leadership, organised themselves into a couple of sub-teams to analyse the requirements and map user journeys for the mentor and client respectively.

    The sub teams then presented their results back and a working priority feature list and realistic plan of what was feasible in a couple of days development was quickly produced. A git repository and wiki were there from the start to share information and track issues from the requirements analysis stage. This was by far the most professional hack development process I have ever seen!

    Three incredibly intense days later they presented Confidant together at TADHack (video at the bottom of this post). I had the opportunity to present with them about the whole process at the WebRTC Global Summit on Monday, and the positive feedback was overwhelming. You can read a bit more in the Prezi I created for the session.

    The next step is to present the application back to the charity customer, and hopefully find some buy-in and resources to start work on taking it a minimum viable product, so that it can be deployed as a pilot to see how it works in real life.

    Overall it’s been a fascinating process. We’re delighted to have had the opportunity to use WebRTC for social good and hopefully do our bit to help improve mental health services for young people.

    Rob Pickering is CEO of communications company IPCortex and is a good friend of this blog.

    Loads of other WebRTC posts here.

    End User webrtc

    Hacking WebRTC for Social Benefit

    Social Enterprise WebRTC

    A few weeks ago, I came across a social enterprise called Founders and Coders. They provide free Javascript development courses in East London via peer learning, mentoring and exposure to projects brought to them by other social enterprises and corporate clients. It’s an innovative response to the skills gap that most of us in the industry are acutely aware of.

    I had a chat with the current cohort on the kind of the capabilities that can be introduced into applications using WebRTC. They were fascinated and we quickly hatched a plan for us to run a training workshop with them and following on from that, a development project where we invite third sector organisations to present ideas that Founders and Coders can take forwards into proof of concept hacks.

    Yesterday was the first day of the workshop, and we were able to quickly get them up to speed with how WebRTC works and how they can use the IPCortex API to make phone calls and initiate video chat.

    We are finishing the workshop today and start work on a project with a really interesting real world social use case first thing tomorrow morning. There is lots to do, but the intention is to take the idea to TADHack London which is conveniently happening over this weekend to work on it a bit further.

    We’ve already selected the project from a health charity that we will develop, and I’ll talk a bit more about the it as it starts to unfold, but it is ambitious! None of the FAC students participating will have been exposed to implementing real time communications before the workshop which started yesterday, and by the end of the week they will have hopefully developed a real application from scratch. I don’t think we have ever done anything like this on this kind of timescale before but it is going to be great fun. We just might also generate something that has a lasting impact using communication for social good.

    Rob Pickering is CEO of communications company IPCortex and is a good friend of this blog.

    Loads of other WebRTC posts here.

    broadband Business Cloud voip

    The move to cloud based services gathers momentum as superfast broadband penetration grows

    Philip Little of Lincoln cloud based telephony service provider Bluecube discusses the growth of cloud services in Lincolnshire

    The trend in businesses moving to cloud services in Lincolnshire has been gathering momentum for quite some time now. However, at Bluecube, we have seen an exponential growth in this over the last 18 months in particular, so why is that?

    The swing could be attributed to increased awareness of hosted voice services through better marketing and advertising efforts from providers and networks. The technology gets better, slicker and the argument to move to cloud services more compelling than ever, but we think the main reason so many businesses are moving to the cloud is because of the availability of superfast broadband services.

    The majority of businesses, regardless of their size or industry now have superfast broadband available to them, yes even in Lincolnshire! What this article centres on is whether these businesses are taking full advantage of the speeds they now have at their disposal.

    If you upgrade to superfast broadband and carry on working the way you always have done, you’re not going to see huge changes. Yes you will be able to open large email attachments much faster and streaming video should be a much smoother experience (goodbye buffering!), but that’s about it. Once you have the speed available you’ll need to adopt a cloud strategy to take full advantage of your investment.

    That might sound complicated, expensive, and scary or even a little over the top if you’re only a small business, but bear with me on this – a cloud strategy can be as simple as deciding your one man business is going to move all documents from an external hard drive to something like, Google Drive and start using Skype for calls. If you’re a larger company it might mean that you start to work on a migration plan to get rid of your legacy on site equipment (phone system, servers, storage) and start moving services, data and processes into the cloud. Whatever the size of your of business or the business you are in, you’ll need to start thinking differently to take advantage of this opportunity.

    What opportunity I hear you ask? A recent report from Deloitte has shown that SMB’s that use cloud technology grow 26% faster and deliver 21% higher gross profits.  85% of those surveyed believe cloud enabled their businesses to scale and grow faster. This means that the advantage of being a city based company is slowly disappearing. Small businesses now are also able to compete on a more level playing field with larger businesses, as cloud services are generally charged on a per user/per license basis. Small companies can now have the same specification phone system as a large corporate because they don’t have to invest in expensive equipment, as it’s all hosted in the cloud. Starting to get the full picture now?

    To realise the full potential of superfast broadband and the real savings you can make through replacing on site equipment and resources with cloud based services, you’ll need some expert advice. There are plenty of companies out there that can help guide you through the process, Bluecube are just one of them.

    One thing is for certain, the cloud revolution will continue and it will grow until either it cannot be ignored or your hand is forced. For example, BT have announced that digital ISDN services will have been completely phased out within 10 years and replaced by the 21st century network (i.e. internet based) completely.

    Philip Little is Senior Business Development Manager of Lincoln based Internet Telephony Service Provider Bluecube Telecom.

    Footnote by Trefor Davies

    The concept of Internet Telephony is growing in popularity. Although it has been around for over a decade in the early stages of the market growth was stymied by the lack of good broadband upload speeds.

    With the advent of superfast broadband this has changed and the reliability and quality of experience of cloud services has dramatically improved. If you have fast broadband then the move to cloud services is a no brainer and most of’s business is conducted through this medium.

    Read our other posts in Lincolnshire Broadband week

    Intro to day 4 by Tref

    Broadband for all by Tref

    Could we have a B4RN in Lincolnshire (B4RL)

    Gigaclear Ultrafast broadband in Lincolnshire by CEO Matthew Hare

    BT fibrebroadband Managing Director Bill Murphy discusses superfast broadband progress in Lincolnshire

    Lincolnshire broadband programme update by Steve Brookes

    End User scams voip

    Hi it’s Michael here – do you have an Apple or Microsoft computer in the house?

    snom dect and Michael the Microsoft pirate

    I was thrilled to answer the home phone this morning to find it was Michael at the other end. I’m sure it was Michael though it did take him a couple of goes to get his own name right. He wasn’t your average Michael. He sounded very sub-continental, if you get my drift.

    I had just come in from doing mellow fruitfulness stuff in the back garden and had to race to answer the (SNOM DECT SIP) phone before it rang off so I wasn’t totally on the ball meself. I did answer the phone with my right name though, I think.

    Mike got straight to the point. Actually I’m not sure that he calls himself Mike but I didn’t get that far in relationship building in our short time together but that is by the by. Anyway Mike informed me that he was ringing regarding the Microsoft or Apple PC in the house. I asked him how to could tell the differenced and how he knew it was either Microsoft or Apple. He said most people had either Microsoft of Apple PCS.

    Now the frustrating thing about our very short lived conversation is that Mickey didn’t hang around long enough for me to tell him I didn’t use either but was a Chromebook aficionado. Before I knew it click, he was gone. V disappointing. I was just in the right mood for a long conversation about the fact that my PC had a virus or simlar.

    Never mind. Mick had a dirty target to reach and couldn’t waste time chatting with me about the pros and cons of browser based operating systems versus the old fashioned stuff.

    With an element of sadness, nay mellowness in keeping with the season, I put the handset back in its cradle.

    Our home phone use btw has been revolutionised by the use of SIP but I’ll keep my powder dry on that one until next week as we are having a Lincolnshire Broadband week on the blog. I currently haver around 10 posts in my sights but can still take more if you want to contribute. Can be about apps running over broadband or about broadband tech itself. Or even how broadband has changed your life for the better. Hey it happens 🙂

    The featured image btw is a snom dect handset on a background of black granite. V artistic I thought although the handset itself didn’t come out in perfect focus as I kept taking pics to try and get the red led in shot – at least I got that bit. Adds a bit of colour don’t you think?

    Engineer voip

    Nominet kills off ENUM project

    Nominet ENUM is no more um

    This arrived in the email this morning from Nominet Head of Policy David Abrahams via ITSPA:

    “As you will be aware the Nominet ENUM project of 2007 was intended to provide a method for end-users to register ENUM domain names in the zone. Nominet signed a contract with the UK ENUM Consortium in 2007 to operate the infrastructure for the UK ENUM system for an initial five year period.  Although the UK ENUM Consortium went into liquidation in 2012 we have continued to run a provisioning system (EPP) and dynamic updates and nameservers to support ENUM. 

    The registration process for ENUM requires a participating registrar and a Validation Agency.  The Validation Agency has to be appointed by the UK ENUM Consortium.  There are currently no ENUM registrars or Validation Agencies operating for UK ENUM and there have only ever been 6 external registrations since the service was launched, that last being in August 2011.

    We therefore intend to suspend support for ENUM services in November, to reduce our overheads of maintaining the infrastructure and service at a time when there is no prospect of any further registrations in the near future.   A copy of the DNS zone as it stands now will be held in a repository in the event there is a decision or sufficient demand in the future to resurrect this service.  We will endeavour to contact the registrants to notify them of the suspension.

    We have made DCMS and Ofcom aware of our intention and thought we would let you know for good measure.”

    This is kind of sad. Those of us who were around in the early days of VoIP and SIP had big hopes for ENUM, the system whereby voice calls would be routed over the internet.

    The biggest problem was in those days I worked for a PBX vendor, Mitel. PBX vendors have no vested interest in which medium actually carries a phone call or whether that phone call is free or not. The ENUM proposition was that calls would simply be data sessions and therefore free over the internet.

    This didn’t really fit in with telcos/carriers who make their money, and in fairness recover their overheads, by charging for calls. It’s no wonder that ENUM didn’t make it as an universal free service. That doesn’t mean to say that ENUM-like tech is not used by carriers to run their voice services as part of their core network.

    It is also clear that free Over The Top voice services can be successful – witness Skype, Google Hangouts , Apple Facetime etc etc etc. It’s just that these services have been better marketed by organisations with very deep pockets and other ways of generating their cash.

    Still I had a quiet moment of reflection in advance of writing this post in memory of Nominet ENUM and the people involved in the project.

    PS featured image is an old stock photo mentioning Nominet. The one of me and Vint Cerf at a Nominet conference was too small to use. Check out the post I wrote following the Nominet ENUM project launch.

    Bad Stuff Business voip

    Tickets now available for Exec Dinner with Danny Prieskel – Telecom Fraud Experiences

    Danny Prieskel discusses Telecom Fraud at Exec Dinner

    Fraud is a big problem for providers of telecommunications services, be they traditional voice or VoIP services. ITSPA runs workshops where we discuss the subject and has been very active in working with the Metropolitan Police where it comes to fraud response and anti-fraud measures.

    The next UC Exec dinner will focus on Telecom Fraud and has Danny Prieskel along as guest speaker. If you want to understand more about Telecom Fraud and be part of the debate then you need to be at this event.

    Danny PrieskelDanny Prieskel is a co-founder of Preiskel & Co and has over 20 years’ experience working in the telecoms, media and technology sectors, advising across the globe. He has been ranked for over 15 years in major independent research guides as one of the world’s leading communications lawyers.

    He is a friend of our industry and has very generously agreed to come along to this dinner to chat about his experiences with VoIP fraud.

    voip fraudTelecom fraud is a subject that affects most of us in the communications game. Both the Internet Telephony Service Providers Association (ITSPA) and The Federation of Communication Services (FCS) have active programmes on the subject and the joint ITSPA/ biannual workshops frequently cover the topic.

    This evening is an opportunity to get together with senior peers in the industry to discuss the issue.

    This event is very generously supported by anti-fraud vendor NetAxis who are currently offering free trials of their Engo fraud detection services to ITSPA members. Exec Dinners are events that gather together leading players from industry for evenings of debate over dinner. Our guest speakers are experts in their field and are there as a catalyst for the debate which is conducted under Chatham House rules. The speakers get as much out of these dinners as the other attendees so we are able to attract some of the leading players in their field.

    Previous dinners and lunches have had an interesting variety of guest speakers:

    • Tony Cox of Microsoft talking about the future of Lync
    • Huw Rees of 8×8 on the USA market for hosted Internet Telephony
    • Joe Baguley of VMware talking virtualisation futures
    • Mehdi Nezarati of talking about the Google Unified Communications landscape for business
    • Prof Alan Johnston talking WebRTC
    • Steph Watson on the future of the PBX
    • Andy Davidson on “instant on” WANs
    • Dean Elwood on the Large Telco market
    • Kevin Murphy of BT on the challenges of moving Voice to the 21CN
    • Curtis Peterson Global SVP Operations RingCentral


    What people have said about Exec Dinners:

    Sally Fuller – Director Marketing & Centres of Excellence, KCOM
    Trefs annual UC dinners are held twice a year and that should give you a clue about their surprising nature from the outset. Tref has a knack of picking interested, interesting and inspiring people that are at the core of making our industry a great one (yes I sneak in on the b list). Tref’s guests get more from sharing their insights and ideas than withholding them. Every time I learn something new, meet someone new, get a new perspective & miss my last train home.

    Colin Duffy – CEO,  Voipfone
    The dinners are always good for high quality gossip, industry chit chat and networking – you can guarantee learning something or meeting someone new and useful. Far more importantly though, they’re just a damn good evening out.

    Tim Meredith – Director of Unified Communications and Mobile, Daisy Group PLC

    I just wanted to thank you for being an excellent host and putting on a really informative (and fun) evening. I hope to attend many future evenings!

    Andy Davidson – CTO Allegro Networks, Chairman LONAP, Chairman IX-Leeds, Director Euro-IX

    Lively, informative, and tasty!  That’s how I’d describe each evening I’ve spent in the company of Tref and his invited guests.  You’re guaranteed several conversations with colleagues and key decision makers at organisations across the industry over a relaxed dinner at a fantastic hand-picked menu and location.

    Business voip ITSPA workshop final lineup announced ITSPA workshop attracts global players to panel

    The Autumn workshop is colocated with Convergence Summit South in Sandown Park Racecourse on 7th October. The final lineup has been announced and includes some big names from the global VoIP community. The general theme is how to make money and how to stop losing money.

    Curtis Peterson (SVP of Operations, RingCentral), Mike Wilkinson (Vice President, Market Offers, Broadsoft) and Dave Axam (DIrector Hosted Communications, BT) join Trefor Davies on a panel to discuss opportunities for Communications Providers to make money.


    After the coffee break  we have an update on ITSPA’s work with ActionFraud, an introduction to the ENGO fraud protection system from sponsors Netaxi, an introduction from Jose Saras (Partner, Preiskel & Co) on the ITSPA/Preiskel & Co guidance on end user terms and conditions and sponsors Yaana Technologies are going to talk about data retention and the upcoming Investigatory Powers Bill.yanna

    The full schedule is below:

    The workshop will start at 2.30pm in the Royal Box and finish around 4.30pm.

    The agenda:

    2.30pm – Part 1: The Telecoms Business – How can providers still make money?

    As the market changes, this panel will discuss the best opportunities available for CPs to make decent returns, the market developments that will bring extra value as well as highlighting the markets to consider avoiding.

    The panel will include:

    • Trefor Davies (
    • Curtis Peterson (SVP of Operations, RingCentral)
    • Mike Wilkinson (Vice President, Market Offers, Broadsoft)
    • Dave Axam (DIrector Hosted Communications, BT)

    3.15pm – Teas and Coffees

    3.30pm – Part 2:  The Telecoms Business Fraud Update- The ITSPA tool kit to stop your business losing money

    This session will provide a summary of ITSPA initiatives to prevent against fraud and options to consider to help strengthen your current fraud prevention procedures, including:

    • Update on ITSPA’s work with ActionFraud
    • Introduction to the ENGO fraud protection system from sponsors Netaxis
    • Introduction from Jose Saras (Partner, Preiskel & Co) on the ITSPA/Preiskel & Co guidance on end user terms and conditions

    If you want to come just RSVP to [email protected].