Friday, January 06, 2006

Call Recording with IP Telephony

Is a mess right now!

Let me tell you what companies are doing well - mimicking the functionality of the legacy services with IP-based systems.

Let me tell you what they are doing bad - EVERYTHING ELSE.

As you can tell, I'm very frustrated by this. If you want a model of 'tapping' into trunk lines or a contact center as a location - you're good with the state of IP call recording. If, however, you need to record calls throughout an enterprise or use contact centers that are not locations - you're screwed. Why are you screwed? Because all the solutions out there today require you to 'sniff' the RTP stream to record the call. This requires that you have voice sniffers located anywhere an RTP stream may pass. In large enterprises (like the one I work at) this is EXTREMELY costly and ugly.

The call recording vendors are not allowing us to take advantage of IP Telephony. We cannot reasonably make our contact centers virtual and we cannot reasonably record calls between any handsets on the network. The legacy choke point no longer exists - IP Telephony is point to point, no PBX to travel through. In order to really record calls between any handset on our network we would have to place voice sniffers in every wiring closet on our network - and that just ain't a gunna happen.

What is the solution? Well, what I told one call recording company over a year ago (and still have not seen them change) is to make call recording a 'conference' feature. If we need to record that call, conference in the call recording server as end-point in the call. This allows us to manage call recording servers MUCH better - leveraging the efficiencies and security of centralization. This would also allow us to include ANY phone call in our recording solution as new sites are added - anywhere.

I'm I all alone on this (assuming anyone even reads this blog), or are others suffering from the same short-sightedness from call recording vendors?

Deceased - Voice Carrier Cash Cow.....

I love Om's rants about VoIP silos and breaking down the walls. Its good to get frustrated about boneheaded moves by companies, but we must remember - they are new companies out to establish themselves and make a buck. By embracing interoperability they open themselves up to CHOICE - something a new unknown company fears greatly. They do not have the brand recognition and consumer trust to make a go of it when other more recognizable brands are offering the same thing.

Its also funny to me that we are getting all bent out of shape over something that is almost a non-issue and extinct (almost being a relative term, it will take years). Again, as I mentioned in a previous post on free voice - transmitting voice traffic on the networks we're building today is extremely easily done. The bandwidth required is a mere pittance of what is available - with consumers paying for multi-megabit links into the home, ~25Kbps really isn't anything is it? My point is that in a short time (again, this is relative) there will be precious little money to be made in voice. As we transition away from the PSTN to the Internet the market is all but finished. Carriers need to get over this and get over it now. The voice cash cow is dead - flatline, there is no reviving it.

They are not letting it go though are they? Nor are the new broadband players. In order to make the money they all thought was out there, they continue to lock consumers into their product. Once again let me say - there is no money to be made in being a voice carrier. Not anymore. There is some money to be made in 'PBX' software and handsets, but the margins are going to get pretty thin. There is a little bit still out there during this transition from the PSTN to the Internet too, but once that transition is complete - fuhgetaboutit. We should be frustrated - the transition will take too long for most of us. But it will happen - if we exercise enough patience we'll get by.

The market will also not accept what is starting right now - hardware bound to a provider. As more and more players emerge this model will be smashed by the first company that doesn't care about consumer lock-in - those in which voice isn't their sole reason for existing. Enter the portals I spoke of in that previous post - Yahoo, Google, MSN, AOL. Just point your SIP phone to your portal and bingo - you have service. These guys should (and likely will) blow Skype, Vonage and the like right out of their vertically designed shoes.

These companies (legacy and broadband voice providers) made a big mistake in forecasting their market for services in the future and they are desperately trying to make it happen anyway - detrimental to consumer choice, but that's the way it goes. They will have to learn that's its not your fathers voice network anymore - its new, its dirt cheap, and it has killed your cash cow.

Deceased - voice carrier cash cow (Elvis has left the building). Services to be held at UCLA, eulogy delivered by Vint Cerf.

Those that think Elvis is still alive - AT&T, Verizon, etc. Suspension of disbelief - astounding.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Am I all wet on 911?

Recently posted here I suggested that GPS was the obvious solution to 911 services in an IP world. However, even given my significant exposure to satellite issues I overlooked the obvious - GPS doesn't always work (right now). Weather has an affect as well as things that attenuate such frequencies - buildings and the like.

Given that emergency services are required whether or not its raining outside, GPS has some limitations. Also given that the essence of emergency services is an emergency - its rather important that these things work under all sorts of nasty conditions (rain, floods, earthquakes, things your dog may eat, etc.).

I still like to idea of GPS and do not see a better solution, but must acknowledge that it may not be ready to be branded as THE solution.