ACMA Issues Australia VoIP Codes

Australia is issuing certain phone codes to VoIP numbers under the guidance of the communications regulator ACMA.

The legislation will allow area codes such as 02 and 03 to be issued to outbound VoIP services, while there will be implications for customers who do not assign geographical codes to their VoIP numbers.

Providers must warn clients that it could lead to them paying more money, as many people use VoIP because it is so cost effective.

An ACMA spokesman said: "VoIP customers who have been issued geographic numbers may also have difficulty porting the number to another carriage service provider."

An alternative is to take the nomadic area code which starts with 0550 and VoIP providers have already been issued with thousands of nomadic numbers.

The ACMA acting chairman, Richard Bean, said: "These amendments represent an important step in regulatory transition to converged services such as VoIP."

The ACMA will follow the 2010 public consultation on geographic number amendments with three more discussion papers in the near future.

Facebook VoIP is the Future

The social networking phenomenon Facebook is all about connecting people. Plans to add Voice over Internet Protocol communication to Facebook could be the chosen method of staying in touch for many in the future.

While Facebook has been adding various features including Facebook Places, one user by accident discovered a whole new level of connectivity.

Tipster Williams said: "I was just chatting on Facebook when suddenly an option appeared to 'call' my friend, before quickly disappearing again."

For a short amount of time an option was given to allow the user to place a VoIP call over Facebook, and this is more likely to be a sign of things to come than a glitch.

The idea is hardly revolutionary given Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's plans to add new layers to social networking.

While he denied that Facebook wanted to create a VoIP phone in the mould of Android, he said that the company planned to add a horizontal layer to make every app more social and integratable with Facebook.

While Facebook VoIP apps already exist this would be the first time that the platform itself is VoIP enabled.

Yet there are rumours that Facebook and HTC have teamed up and will release a new smarthone product at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year. That could push Facebook into direct competition with Google and their call phones service.

3CX Offers Free Mobile VoIP on iPhone

3CX Phone System developers have now released a Windows-based softphone which is compatible with the iPhone.

Users who enjoy the 3CX IP PBX experience can now make free VoIP calls via 3G or wi-fi on their iPhone.

The 3CXPhone for iPhone app is sure to be popular because it is not locked into any one PBX or provider, which sets it apart from other free SIP phones. That gives customers the freedom to choose various VoIP providers and VoIP PBXs.

Nick Galea, the 3CX CEO, said: “3CX turns the iPhone into a perfect endpoint for a VoIP PBX. Therefore when you are out of the office, 3CXPhone for iPhone can allow you to receive calls to an extension via 3G or Wifi. And when you are in the office, 3CXPhone coverts the iPhone into a convenient and user-friendly wireless desk phone.”

The free app has many benefits including allowing multiple profiles and access to your existing iPhone contact list.

Meanwhile the 3CX iPhone app is the only free VoIP client that can perform unattended transfers and also has a toggle which allows you to switch between an external and an internal PBX server.

Claire Hodgson, the Managing Director of Franklin West New York, said: “Since downloading 3CXPhone for iPhone life has become more efficient, both in the office and on the go. This app is great because it's free and it allows me to take my desk phone with me."

3CXPhone for iPhone features include:

• Fully supports the industry leading SIP standard
• G711 and GSM codec support
• Ability to transfer (blind transfer) and place calls on hold
• Internal and external server configuration in one profile
• Record and playback phone calls
• Profile Names, Caller ID, Proxy Server, STUN and NAT support
• Auto provisioning – SIP PBX’s or VoIP providers can automatically provision the 3CXPhone for iPhone app via multicast

3CX Offers Partner Training in the UK

3CX, creator of the award winning 3CX phone system VoIP PBX software for Windows, will offer partner training in the UK in March. The training is free for all 3CX partners.

Training on best techniques for the IP PBX system, such as deployment and reseller advice, will take place over two days - March 14 and March 15 or alternatively March 17 and March 18. The sessions are split into basic and advanced training.

The events take place at the 3CX offices in Saint John’s Road, Kingston upon Thames, with the full address and booking forms available at the 3CX website.

There are a limited number of spaces and 3CX works on a first-come-first-served basis so you are advised to make your reservation as soon as possible.

If your plans change at any time you can cancel the event free of charge up to five days beforehand. You should have your booking reference to hand. There is a £50 charge for late cancellations or non-attendance.

For any further queries you can contact the 3CX events organiser.

Cheaper Broadband Enables Rural VoIP Solutions

Ofcom may be making Voice over Internet Protocol more easily available thanks to a new pricing scheme.

The idea is to help countryside businesses in the UK which struggle to keep up with their city competitors due to slow internet access.

To make cheap VoIP calls (or even free calls in the case of Skype and other providers), fast internet access is a must, at least if you want a half-way decent call quality.

In this way broadband and VoIP solutions can save businesses large amounts of money while also allowing easy communication which in turn facilitates increased productivity.

Which is why that fact that Ofcom is asking BT Wholesale to change its pricing scheme is good news. The regulatory body wants to make sure the market is fair for consumers who don't have a lot of choice in areas where BT Wholesale is the only UK VoIP provider.

That could affect three millions business and homes, especially in the counties of Northumberland, Norfolk, Cumbria and other largely rural areas.

An Ofcom statement read: "The charge controls which Ofcom is proposing could even up the broadband prices paid by consumers in urban and rural areas."

Not only could this make cheap internet more widely accessible, but it is hoped to make BT's internet services across the UK more efficient.

Australia Treasury turns to VoIP

The Treasury of the Australian Government is to bring in a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) system in place of its old private automatic branch exchange (PABX).

To make the Treasury offices more efficient the upgrade will include a number of unified communications benefits such as video conferencing, instant messaging and telepresence. These are all expected to be cost saving solutions.

VoIP will be offered with the help of 1300 standard user handsets, 300 expansion modules, 20 wall mount handsets and 20 meeting room handsets.

The new phone system will provide increased support for the high volume of inbound calls that the Treasury recieves.

Treasury documents stated: “The proposed software console will meet the requirements for directory searching, accepting and dispatching calls, call queuing and reporting.”

Microsoft Exchange 2010 will also be installed at the same time as the upgrade is part of a wider unified communication strategy by the Federal Government.

In November 2010, the Attorney-General offices of the Western Australian government received enterprise IP telephony services.

Australian VoIP Takeoff Delayed

VoIP will be the next big thing in Australian telecommunications, but not until the speed of braodband catches up with the technology.

So says the senior national marketing executive for Uniden, Brad Hales,
in response to a new Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) report.

The report discusses telecommunications and media plans in regard to the the new digital economy.

It states: “Increasingly generous data allowances are being offered to consumers. These include internet and VoIP bundling as telecommunication providers compete for new business in the rapidly changing digital world." asked Mr Hales how the mobile and smartphone industry was being affected.

He said his company was intently watching the evolution of digital communication.

“VoIP will be the next big thing in telecommunications but this is still a couple of years off," Mr Hales explained.

“As a company we have supporting products and are waiting to see what will happen, but at the moment the Australian infrastructure to support VoIP is not up to speed.

"VoIP will take off when the National Broadband infrastructure is rolled out and Australia’s internet speeds are acceptable compared with worldwide standards.

Uniden research suggests VoIP uptake is being hampered by poor voice clarity and a lack of reliability. VoIP must first offer reliable, high-quality calls in order to compete with traditional fixed line services.

3CX Expands Operations with Swiss Office

3CX, the company which created the award-winning VoIP product - 3CX Phone System for Windows - is opening a new office in Switzerland.

The 3CX CEO Nick Galea said: “3CX recognizes that Switzerland is a key market for SIP-based IP PBX systems and our Swiss team can provide businesses of all sizes the know-how and support required to successfully adopt a complete IP PBX for Windows.

"The product, together with a comprehensive support team, will give customers productivity enhancements and mobility. We are extremely excited about the opportunities that exist in Switzerland and will expand our operations in line with company growth.”

3CX already has a number of worldwide offices in countries such as the USA, the UK, Germany and Australia and the new Swiss office will help to meet rising VoIP demand in that country.

The office is located in the city of Zug where it can support Swiss 3CX users while becoming pivotal in the expanding 3CX partner network. That includes 3CX clients, suppliers and partners.

The 3CX Phone System for Windows works with VoIP gateways and SIP Phones to replace a traditional proprietary PBX system.

3CX is a SIP-based IP PBX that allows businesses to break free from costly hardware and is very easy to integrate and manage, especially within the Windows Network infrastructure.

Tobias Eberhart, the MD of 3CX Switzerland, added: “3CX is a global leader in VoIP systems. Our marquee product, the 3CX Phone System, has already achieved an excellent reputation for its quality and extensive feature set. We are proud to announce the launch of 3CX in Switzerland and are expecting a significant market share in the IP PBX field.”

The new 3CX office address is:

3CX Software Service Center Schweiz
Bahnhofstrasse 32
Postfach 1103
6301 Zug

It can be contacted on:

Tel: +41 (0)41 511 8000
Fax: +41 (0)41 511 8001

3CX Releases VAD Update

3CX, the award winning phone system for Windows, has released build number 3659 of the Voice Application Designer.

This update includes improvements to the deployment settings, a new installer package and it also fixes any bugs.

The new installer is easy to download on the 3cx website.

Along with the new installer package, here are some of the changes you can expect.

- In order to fix invalid characters problems, the encoding during project deployment and file saving has changed.

- You can load files and projects even after network travel and format transformations because invalid XML characters are now ignored.

- When a custom component is deleted, it is automatically disabled everywhere it is being used.

- XML return values are now well handled by every component.

- The deployment properties have been simplified. Users now only need to select the web server used by the 3CX installation and all parameters are automatically configured (URL, port etc.). Project properties have been changed, but the project files are compatible assuming the default value.

For a full list of changes visit 3CX.

UAE Enjoys Free VoIP Calls

Residents of the United Arab Emirates can now make use of the Viber application for free voice over internet protocol(VoIP) calls on their iPhones.

The program works by sending bunches of data across a wireless Internet connection. It is legal as long as used in a special data package.

The application can be purchased from the Apple store and allows both domestic and international VOIP calls on the iPhone. It also has a nifty feature of being able to detect which other phones have the Viber application in your address book and showing you the contact details.

The Chief Commercial Officer for telecoms company du, Farid Faraidooni, said that this was one of a number of legal VoIP in the UAE applications.

Strict legislation preventing VoIP in most cases throughout the Emirates has now been lifted.

He said “Voice over Internet protocol is popular among UAE iPhone users and some products are legal in the UAE telecommunications sector. Their use will not affect our revenue.”

VOIP is now accessible in the UAE from iPhone to iPhone but not from smartphones to landlines or mobile phones.

Practice SIP Safely

I just read an amusingly titled article about practising safe SIP.

This is a witty title but also a good analogy when you consider that computers can get diseases in the same way that humans do.

Therefore there are a lot of decisions to be made and risks to be recognised when setting up VoIP. VoIP and SIP Trunking is incredibly useful for fast and cost efficient communication. However any such system is always at risk of being corrupted, and if it is corrupted there is a lot of important data at stake.

You only have to look at the events over at gossip website Gawker recently when hackers managed to access more than 1 million user passwords through a security breach. It is thought that there are many more infiltrations which are not reported due to embarrassment on the part of the company. The cost of these breaches is significant.

When you are considering the advantages of virtual PBX hosting, you should also keep in mind the risks. These include denial of service attacks and the exposure of network vulnerabilities. IP telephony is a particularly good target because there are so many endpoints as well as weak infrastructures created by the transition to IP communications.

It is up to sellers, value added resellers, IT professionals and users to make the system as secure as possible with high security passwords to prevent it being compromised.

An authority on the subject Dan York wrote a book entitled the Seven Deadliest Unified Communications Attacks. He identifies the weak spots as being in applications, integration and equipment. That includes PBXs, database access and the integration of video into your VoIP or UC system.

Yet there are a number of Session Border Controllers firms which offer managed VoIP security solutions such as AudioCodes and Sipera. They could be a worthwhile investment.

VoIP Equipment Industry Worth $6bn

The VoIP equipment industry will be worth $6bn by 2015, according to market research firm In-Stat.

Mobile VoIP gateway equipment market is being snapped up by mobile and fixed-line users.

Service providers are making big bucks and can also offer infrastructure support to both individuals and enterprises. While the VoIP industry is profitable, there are consumer savings to be had compared to normal cellular bills.

The advantage of VoIP can really be felt among mobile workers who can stay connected with the office even when they are in transit.

VoIP can increasingly be accessed via smartphones as long as you are in reach of Wi-Fi connectivity.

With faster and faster broadband networks, VoIP is just one of a number of
unified communications advantages which include instant messaging and presence.

Increasingly VoIP is becoming a must have technology, but many users will play catch up for a while as they learn to deploy and manage their systems.

Yet companies such as 3CX offer an upgrade or replacement of your standard PBX to small and medium sized businesses.

Nepal Fights Illegal VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol is causing problems in the Himalayan country of Nepal.

Companies which have sprung up and are using the service illegally are costing the legal telecoms companies big bucks.

Only four companies — ATS Telecom, United Telecom, Nepal Telecom and Spice Nepal Ltd have licences to operate VoIP services and they are suffering at the hands of a number of illgeal operators.

Lost revenue totals more than two million US dollars (NPR160 million) per month, according to the parliament’s Public Account Committee.

Rajendra Singh Bhandari, the Deputy Inspector General of Nepal Police said in a statement: "Illegal VoIP channels are eating up huge amount of revenue and account for calls worth two million minutes. They are also posing the country of Nepal with serious security threats."

Nepal has attemped a crackdown, but black market VoIP providers are hard to track down. Although they have shut down around 160 operations, 5 still remain.

Jay Mukunda Khanal, the joint Home Ministry secretary, explained that VoIP accounts for great revnue loss and can also be used by organised crime outfits to commit fraud.

Companies breaking the law can be tried under Article 47 of 1997 Nepal Doorsanchar Act. It states that doing anything harmful to the telecom system or its equipment with malicious intent is a punishable crime with a fine or jail time.

Skype Celebrates Record VoIP Users

Skype may have suffered from the recent service outage which left millions of users disappointed, but the VoIP company also has something to celebrate.

The launch of the Skype video-calling service for the Apple iPhone has been a huge success.

Record numbers of users downloaded the app this month. Normally Skype sees around 25 million users sign on at peak times, but this week that figure was boosted to 27 million users.

Another filip for Skype has been the announcement of a deal with video streaming company Qik. That will help to provide excellent quality video calls.

These developments will be good news for the company which is seeking an Initial Public Offering and it also hopes to a corporate service to users.

The Research firm Telegeography reported that one in five international calls were made using Skype last year.

UAE VoIP Regulations Relaxed

While one door closes on Voice over Internet Protocol, another opens. China VoIP may be illegal to all but the approved state carriers, but UAE VoIP is becoming more widely accessible.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), which regulates VoIP for the United Arab Emirates, is now allowing licensees to offer VoIP services.

The TRA has stated that only regulated licensees such as Etisalat and du may provide VoIP services, although other parties may approach the licencees to work with them.

This is a step forward from a previous ban on VoIP services in much of the UAE and the Middle East.

VoIP services are defined as an end-to-end voice service or an additional feature to a connectivity service.

Executive director at the TRA, Mohammed Gheyath, said: "We believe that this regulatory policy will provide opportunities to benefit from VoIP services in keeping with the market demands.

He added: "The TRA looks forward to the introduction of VoIP services which respond to business and consumer needs."

Meanwhile Mohamed Al Ghanim, the director general of the TRA, explained that the rules protect telecom customers, as the TRA can only help customers of registered services.

He also said that the TRA had been working with Skype and other VoIP providers to potentially establish their services in the UAE.

China says VoIP Ban is Misunderstood

Last week China sought to clarify what it says is a misunderstanding about its position on Voice over Internet protocol in the country.

Most news outlets believed that this would lead to an attempt to ban the Internet calling service Skype in order to protect the state telecoms carriers.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has now said it is supportive of Internet-based telephone services as long as they are legal.

Wen Ku, the director of the ministry technology department, said: "The ministry is not against Internet-based telephone services, but only those operating illegally in the country."

He added: "VoIP is a worldwide trend in the telecom industry and we are not against that technology."

Of course in China it is always difficult to tell what is legal. After all this is a nation where public access to Google is censored.

So far there is no sign of any ban taking place and China's Skype users have reported business as usual.

Ministry spokesman Wang Lijian told the China Daily newspaper that the "whole issue is over". Heexplained that the purpose of the crackdown was to target online fraud and crime.

Nevertheless only two companies have been allowed to trial VoIP in four Chinese cities. It is probable that only their VoIP services will be deemed legal.

That will give China Unicom and China Telecom a virtual monopoly while getting rid of other Internet phone services that have sprung up in the meantime.

Kan Kaili, a professor at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, said: "I think the authorities will be extremely cautious in dealing with the regulations to avoid raising international concerns."

VoIP service Skype Acquires Qik


Skype is moving on from recent unfortunate events with the acquisition of the video internet service Qik.

According to reports the company could pay anything from $100 - $150 million to acquire the fast-growing mobile video software provider.

That will be a step in the right direction after the recent Skype service outage which saw them offer compensation to millions of customers.

In only one year Qik has proved very popular by amassing more than 5 million users. In the meantime it went into partnership with huge companies such as T-Mobile, Samsung, Nokia and Sprint.

Buying Qik makes sense for Skype as the companies have complementary services. The announcement was made at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with private terms expected to conclude by the end of the month.

Skype’s CEO Tony Bates stated: “The Qik team has delivered exceptional video experiences for its mobile partners and millions of end users across a range of devices.

"Skype’s software enables an estimated 25% of the world’s international long distance voice calling minutes, and approximately 40% of those Skype-to-Skype calls are happening over video. Qik’s deep engineering capabilities and strong mobile relationships will be an impressive complementary fit with Skype.”

What Net Neutrality means for VoIP

Anyone wondering what the concept of net neutrality means for VoIP
will be intrigued by MetroPCS’s discounted 4G LTE mobile broadband plans.

They are an example of wireless Internet Service Providers charging consumers different rates for content depending on who produces it.

A $40 a month tier includes unlimited talk, text and 4G Web browsing with unlimited YouTube access.

For $50 per month you also get VoIP, international text messaging, turn-by-turn navigation, corporate e-mail, mobile instant messaging and 1 GB of additional data access.

At $60 per month, users get unlimited data access and MetroSTUDIO premium content such as 18 video-on-demand channels and audio downloads.

Basically that means you will not get broad unlimited internet access to things like VoIPSkype unless you can afford the top two tiers. And while you can access Youtube videos, other video services may be inaccessible.

This may contravene the new FCC net neutrality guidelines, according to Gigaom, and the organisation will be looking into MetroPCS’s pricing tiers.

Spokesperson Drew Crowell said: "MetroPCS is not prepared to discuss the net neutrality implications of our latest service plans."

“We saw that YouTube is one of the main ways that our customers get multimedia content and we wanted to make sure that content was available to them.

He added: "The $50 and $60 plans are about choice and providing options to meet the needs of our consumers.”

If MetroPCS is granted its way it could have a big impact on the future of mobile broadband and VoIP.

China VoIP Ban Not in Effect

The media has been awash with reports of a VoIP ban in China but so far it has not taken effect.

While newspapers and websites have singled out Skype for special treatment this is not in fact the case and the government ban will extend to all illegal voice over Internet protocol telephone services.

The China Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) stated on its website. “Currently our ministry is working with relevant departments on striking against illegal Voice over Internet Protocol services, and we are collecting clues from the public.”

The website listed a phone number that locals could call to report illegal VoIP, which is seen as a threat to the state telecoms companies.

Skype operates openly in China through TOM-Skype and a venture known as Tel-Online Ltd, which is 51% owned by TOM Online and 49% owned by Skype.

Despite there being an estimated 88 million Skype users in China, only two million of them are connecting to Skype on a monthly basis

Skype stated. “Users in China can access Skype via TOM Online. All operations and access are normal, and operations in China conform with national regulations. Nothing has changed.”

China VoIP has become a booming industry recently, one which the government is watching closely.

BT Promotes VoIP in Rural Britain

British Telecom will promote VoIP in rural Britain by giving six communities access to high-speed broadband.

The move follows a BT competition to see which parts of the country were most desperate to have excellent internet access.

That is in turn part of a wider UK government initiative to allow all parts of the United Kingdom to have broadband.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has said that he wants to deliver high-speed broadband to rural areas by 2015.

The idea is to give a boost to small and medium-sized country businesses which would benefit from using the Internet and services such as voiceover internet protocol. The scheme will even receive funding from the television licence fee.

The six communities are Baschurch in Shropshire, Whitchurch in Hampshire, Blewbury in Oxfordshire, Madingley in Cambridgeshire, Innerleithen in Tweeddale and Caxton in Cambridgeshire.

Originally it was only planned to offer broadband to five communities but the scheme was incredibly popular so BT increased it to six.

They will each get a superfast broadband hub with download speeds of up to 40 megabits per second by the beginning of 2012.

Campaign co-ordinator for the Blewbury exchange, Chris Whatmore, said: “With proper, future-proof broadband, Blewbury can attract people or businesses that need and depend on high-speed data connectivity and VoIP.”

Two of the companies looking at UK broadband access opportunities are BT and Virgin Media.

They are testing in which areas of the country it is practical to lay down fibre optic cables.

Cloud-based VoIP with VoX and Nimbuzz

Nimbuzz and VoX have joined forces to offer a Cloud-based VoIP application for the iPhone.

The application will work with SIP standards. Pervasip's CIO Mark Richards said: "We are very excited to become the first American premier partner to integrate Nimbuzz with our cloud-based SIP mobile calling software."

VoX Mobile Out is embedded in Nimbuzz so that iPhone smartphone users can make low cost calls within the United States.

The Nimbuzz Chief Executive Officer Evert Jaap Lugt said: "The VoX and Nimbuzz service offerings give users freedom and power.

"Wherever they are, they can choose how they communicate, across any device and network."

The VoX Communications new mobile VoIP is availble for the Apple iPhone or via a calling plan for just $4.95 per month.