The migration from traditional, isolated business communications systems – where there’s a fax machine that runs separately from e-mail, which doesn’t integrate with each worker’s phone (you get the idea) – has all but faded away for larger enterprises and is evaporating among SMBs that increasingly are adopting unified communications.
Experts in the IT and telecom spaces know that the backbone of any UC system is reliable Internet-based calling. “VoIP,” as it’s known (short for “Voice over Internet Protocol”), offers integration among different forms of communication, and major cost-savings – not only because it’s Internet-based phone calls are cheaper than traditional calling, but also because the systems often are “hosted,” meaning are savings on equipment, installation and maintenance costs, scalable, and also future-proofed, meaning they’re upgradeable as IP networks evolve.
No IT segment is following the developments closer than the enhanced 911 – or “E911” space. E911 is a critically important technology that leverages location-based services to pinpoint the whereabouts of distressed 911 callers.
Right now, E911 experts and others, partly through a professional association called the National Emergency Number Association, or “NENA,” are working toward ensuring that the United States’ emergency network infrastructure can handle VoIP calls. Specifically, E911 advocates say, technologies such as VPCs, or “VoIP Positioning Centers,” and “Emergency Services Gateways” will go a long way toward ensuring that IP-based calls are handled by traditional emergency services providers.
Gauging the industry’s evolving needs, E911 solutions providers are tailoring their offerings to make sure businesses can take advantage of enhanced 911 regardless of where they are in terms of upgrading their overall systems.
That’s a large part of what makes one relatively new offering from an Everett, Wash.-based E911solutions provider so attractive.
911 ETC’s “RedConnect” offering is designed to help smaller businesses meet their in-house safety needs. Leveraging traditional telecom emergency routing,
RedConnect can deliver the location of the emergency event to local authorities for end-users that rely on VoIP-based PBXs.
Touted by 911 ETC for its cost-savings, RedConnect relies on 911 ETC’s own CLEC PS/ALI gateway.
Michael Anderson (News - Alert), the company’s national sales manager, said 911 has seen strong demand for an affordable turnkey E911 solution with the advent of VoIP and inherent 911 problems associated with implementation.
“911 ETC’s close partnership with Intrado and Verizon (News - Alert) allow 911 ETC to provide E911 over traditional 911 routing at a reasonable cost for both TDM and VoIP,” Anderson said.
And it’s a solution that’s only going to see more demand.
As TMCnet reported this week, analysts expect VoIP penetration to continue to grow this year, even as demand for demand for IP lines for the PBX (News - Alert) market declines (the result of a down economy that’s forcing some businesses to stick with analog and digital phone lines for a little longer).
Still, recession notwithstanding, the overall trend is clear. For example, researchers reported recently that the global VoIP services market grew 33 percent in 2008, to $30.8 billion.
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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan