The phrase “moving toward the cloud,” has encompassed the telecommunications world.
Convergence Communications offers technical telephony (electronic transmission) products, and is a provider, offering service, including helping groups assign communication to a combination of connections, software and services accessed over a network.
Convergence Communications is a smaller telecommunications company based in Burr Ridge, distributing the latest telephone systems and computer networks, while also specializing in VoIP systems (Voice over Internet Protocol) and unified messaging systems. They are bringing advances in products to residences and smaller clients wanting to think big and communicate even bigger.
Jerry Schnepp, a communications consultant for Convergence Communications says they’re “on the fringe,” but they always stay on top of changes. Integration of newer systems and improved products has been a key issue in the industry.
“The past 10 to 15 years, in telecom, it’s been a game of making systems ‘play nice’ together,” Schnepp says. “For instance, a fax: this is an old, old technology; (and) the quality of a fax. It’s better to scan an email if you have to get a print document across. Insurance companies are still faxing everything. We’re trying to make this old, clunky technology work with newer stuff.”
Schnepp knows tireless improvements of the integration of mobile voicemail and email communication is challenging.
“It’s hard to do any kind of text recognition on a fax—especially if it’s poor quality—
so now you have to integrate OCR (Optical Character Recognition), just to make these ‘play nice’ together.”
Schnepp believes VoIP, the PSTN (public switched telephone network), and even cell networks “vary” in their similarities.
“There are challenges to make them all work together. That’s what the past 10 years has really been about. We’re sort of getting over the hump at this point—and everything is starting to work together, naturally.”
He says the services seem to be moving onto the Internet, as fewer are purchasing file servers; more people are purchasing online space. People aren’t running their own email servers anymore—spam and firewalls are to thank for that trend. Individuals and companies are using a service for their web hosting, their email server and Intranet.
“So things are ‘moving toward the cloud’—you hear that all the time; that’s a big buzz word (phrase),” Schnepp adds.
They are always trying to make all the systems “handshake, and communicate with each other,” says Schnepp on merging the technologies. “The big thing is reliability. Technology has been around for a long time—VoIP in particular, has been around. And, there was a push in the early 2000’s for enterprises to start to adopt it. That’s where it really started to become more of a quality issue, because you just can’t deal with latency or jitter, or any kind of degradation in a business environment.”
Schnepp says that the technology put into VoIP quality today has become equal to the quality of PSTN. “It is really feasible, and economically feasible for any organization to switch over to VoIP service.”
He says Convergence Communications is primarily servicing law firms, medical clinics, and ad agencies, and other municipalities—environments where the mobile nature of these workers makes them ideal clients.
“One interesting application of this is mobile workers—people being able to work from home as if they were in their office. We’ll set up a ‘soft phone’ or SKYPE set up—to make calls from a computer.”
With the technological improvements to the headsets that they provide (their website has a product link, including new Panasonic products), clients can have this soft phone operability on their laptop or desk set while they’re away.
“The law firm partners have several homes and offices in different locations, or they’re traveling abroad, and they can work as if they’re in their office and utilize all their phone system features,” he says.
Schnepp added they can use call recording and call accounting. The law firm wants to bill all their hours, now they can automatically log the hours on the phone for them. The quality of the telecommunication world’s products and technology has started to work together with more efficiency in recent years.
“It really has been an iterative quality improvement, because a VoIP call relies on the entire network, from end to end. If anything is not up to par, it’s going to affect the whole quality of the call. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”
The backbone, high-end routers have had a QoS (Quality of Service) built in, he says. Today a VoIP packet gets priority over a normal HTTP request or a mail request, because these two require a couple millisecond delay, Schnepp says.
(For more about Convergence Communications and advances with products, read additional, part 2 of story at www.tincmag.com )