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Fundamentals on computer telephony

Continuing the series of Q&A on various topics related to computer telephony, we talk about Internet call centers, convergence and more.

What are the reasons for creating a call center?
Call Centers are mainly used by large companies to provide customer assistance and services for the products they sell, they would like to sell and for after sales support.
What is the traditional architecture used in a call center?

Traditional large-scale call centers were based on closed, proprietary, vertical solutions from a narrow range of vendors with a PABX or ACD at the center. Open standards in computer telephony (CT) are altering the model so that customers can have a greater choice of vendors, architecture, features, functions and densities - all at reduced cost.

One example of the impact of CT in call centers is the emergence of "outsourced" call center bureaus. By using CT technology, a single call center bureau can answer calls on behalf of several other companies, some of which may be too small to maintain their own call center.

What are VoIP gateways?
Voices over Internet Protocol (VoIP) gateways are solutions that convert voice into IP packets and vice-versa. For example, if a VoIP call is made from point A to point B, the caller's voice will go to the gateway at location A, get converted to IP, travel over the Internet to the destination gateway at location B, get converted to voice again and then reach the called party over regular telephone lines.

Who needs an Internet call center?
Any company with a presence on the Internet! Voice over IP (VoIP) and IP Telephony mean that customers also have the ability to call a company directly over the Internet. An Internet call center or a "Contact Center", should integrate standard telephony, IP Telephony and e-mail into one environment.

What is convergence?
Convergence in the communications space refers to the integration of voice, data and computing over a common network and systems. In the long term, it will reduce company costs by eliminating the need to install and maintain separate duplicate networks for voice and data.

What is the difference between convergence and computer telephony?
Convergence is the integration of voice, data and computing over a common network. Computer telephony is the combination of voice and data processing in order to enhance telephone services and provide access to information. The difference is subtle.

How has the market accepted VoIP based Computer Telephony?
At this point of time, the telecommunications industry has accepted VoIP and IP Telephony. A majority of the voice and data switch manufacturers have started, or they are on the verge of, supporting IP Telephony on their equipment.

What is the most important benefit of VoIP?
Today it is low cost telephone calls. Tomorrow it will be about enhanced services and freedom to connect to other people using a choice of access devices and intermediary networks. In the US and other countries, traditional long-distance charges have fallen to match those of VoIP networks.

In VoIP, what is the difference between a circuit switched network and a packet switched network?
Circuit switched networks provide direct and continuous telecommunication connectivity between two parties. It is a model of one channel, one call, and one conversation. VoIP is about establishing calls over the Internet and private IP networks which are packet-based networks. Packet networks allow you to mix many conversations into one communications channel, thus increasing channel utilization and lowering the cost per call.

What is the future of CT in India?
Along with CT the newer technology that is emerging is Converged Communications. This is the technology of using a common pipeline for sending both voice and data packets. As the penetration of PCs and Internet usage increases, solutions based on converged communications will also increase. NM

Anil Sabnis, Area Manager, Dialogic Corporation, South West Asia Office, can be reached
at asia.sales@dialogic.com

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