As the supplier of a key element in delivering voice-enabled solutions, Global IP Solutions’ activities provide a window into the world of voice- and video-enabled applications and IP-based communications beyond the Skype ecosystem. The GIPS Voice Engine contains API’s that allow a service provider or application publisher to readily incorporate robust, reliable, high quality voice and video calling into their offerings. A recent announcement from Global IP Solutions provides a classic example where we catch a glimpse of the role of IP-based communications in delivering commercial and large enterprise communications solutions.
I first learned of CommuniGate Systems as a provider of Internet-based communications infrastructure software solutions when one of my business planning clients from ten years ago, a business services ISP, was installing the CommuniGate Pro Messaging Suite as the backbone of their email offerings. From that time until last June, when an acquiring ISP failed to provide an appropriate level of support, my own email had been run through this particular CommuniGate-enabled server.
But CommuniGate, building on their CommuniGate Pro communications architecture, has gone on to be a major supplier of unified communications infrastructure. From their website:
CommuniGate Systems’ goal is to consolidate all forms of Internet Communications into one address space, making the single address for email, IM, VoIP and video calling, more productive, portable, and independent of tariffs and tolls of closed network topologies. We see all Internet Communications becoming accessible to multiple media types through one account, providing true portability of an “address” no matter where you access the Internet.
Communigate’s 12,000 strong customer base services over 2 billion email accounts through broadband, wireline and wireless service providers as well as larger enterprises who require “private” communications services. Secure airline communications services, such as required by British Airways, is one significant vertical enterprise market for CommuniGate.
In the fall of 2007 CommuniGate announced the launch of a Flash-based unified communications client, Pronto!, that now serves as a “single dashboard for e-mail, collaboration, secure instant messaging, RSS feeds, and Rich Media”. Pronto!, with an Outlook-style interface and built on Adobe Air, supports contacts, calendar, email, Instant Messaging, voice calling, conference calling, voicemail, news, photos, audio and video player. Users can access their communications services via the Pronto! client on any PC and network connection.
Over time CommuniGate has been adding features to Pronto!; for instance, last summer they announced the addition of video mail, contact and calendaring features, RSS “news” feed support and audio media support. But they also had been evaluating solutions that would improve the voice calling experience with a more robust voice engine that incorporates the enhanced sound quality characteristic of wideband audio HD Voice. After an investigation of their options over the past few months, it was announced at the end of March that CommuniGate had signed an agreement with Global IP Solutions to incorporate the GIPS Voice Engine into Pronto.
“Global IP Solutions has been a pioneer in HD Voice for many years. They have over 800 million downloads and a growing list of brand name customers to prove it,” says Jon Doyle, VP Business Development CommuniGate Systems. “GIPS has a unique engineering team that is focused on addressing the processing issues related to IP communications on various network topologies. With GIPS superior engineering skills, we are able to deliver on the promise of a truly business grade UC experience.”
In a recent interview with CommuniGate’s John Doyle and Larry Golob, GIPS Senior Director of Business Development it was pointed out that:
- CommuniGate was seeking a solution that met HD Voice specifications supporting 8KHz wideband audio during voice calls; the GIPS wideband iSAC codec meets these specifications.
- However, they were also looking for a full voice engine package that could call quality issues such as jitter, packet loss, echo cancellation while adapting readily to network congestion conditions through bandwidth management features.
- In the future, CommuniGate may elect to investigate Skype’s superwideband SILK voice codec for incorporation into their GIPS Voice Engine; however, as its royalty-free licensing had only recently been announced, they would consider the SILK codec at some point in the future, especially if customer demand existed
- CommuniGate is also evaluating the expansion of the role of video in Pronto!; they will be evaluating GIPS video technology later this year.
While services using Pronto! are distributed to end users via either Internet Service Providers or large enterprise “closed network” operations, one can experience Pronto! by setting up an account at TalktoIP.com.
A final question: how will Pronto! users be able to have access via mobile smartphones? Is there an opportunity for GIPS’ mobile offerings?
Bottom Line: Meeting large enterprise and service provider requirements for low cost, secure IP-based communications creates a separate market space – of significant size – not addressed by Skype’s current business model and strategy. On the other hand, it will be interesting to see if CommuniGate incorporates connections with Skype users as another offering within their unified communications suite. Certainly Skype for SIP opens up an interesting opportunity for CommuniGate to consider as they move forward.
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