Originally posted in Hebrew on 12 July 2014 on the Telecom News site.
By Avi Weiss
VOIP on Tap Forum of July 2014 was dedicated to recent developments in the Open Source telecommunications world. Similarly to the way Open Source has taken over enterprise IT systems and business (as described below), the innovation of Open Source is currently leading the telecommunications world. This is also evident in installations of telecommunications equipment and telecommunications services (including new switches which come to market and are based on Open Source, cloud PBX systems, social network communication services, social applications and the abundance in start-up companies that are developing and inventing within the world of telecommunications
Nir Simionovich, CEO of GreenfieldTech and entrepreneur behind VoIP on Tap: “We are now in the era of entrepreneurship in our field as well. There are investors who made very nice exits and there will be more. The topic that concerns the community of developers, entrepreneurs and developers starting out is what to expect when you try to raise capital, especially in the early stages of the initiative.
“We have been working with entrepreneurs in the world of telephony for years and have been consulting investors and large companies that invest and acquire some the technologies. We find that the main problem lies in time frame which is Pre-Seed. Developments in the telecom world require quite a bit of money from the inception all the way through to the development of a new solution.
There are different types of investors with different levels of involvement in a startup. It is quite clear that in the first stage there is no point to reach out to the VC’s as they rarely invest in Pre-Seed. There is a tendency today to go high tech accelerators, greenhouses, Office of the Chief Scientist and look for money in the method “mass funding”. This method is not for everyone. It is even less suitable for those who develop services and products.
Ido Kanner , an Asterisk developer and entrepreneur in open source telecom: “I will concentrate this time on FreeSWITCH. This realm that was born from the world of Asterisk version 2, as a few developers wanted to solve some problems, they recognized Asterisk and that Digium was not ready to accept their open approach to repairs and updates to Asterisk. The group was led by a programmer named Anthony, who was interested in developing a more powerful telephony solution that was based on Open Source and had no dependence on Digium.
During the development, the community which rallied around this idea created four new worldviews:
A. Modularity. The system of FreeSWITCH is built from very small Core and the rest is modules, each developer can implement his way over to the Core. This simplifies the system and enables very fast application.
B. Cross-platform solution. The new system supports all operating systems including Windows and Mac. This is a big advantage versus Asterisk system, which is no built to work on Windows and Macintosh, and works anywhere on Linux.
C. Scalability. Systems built for growing and redundancy, what Asterisk is missing.
D. Stability. There is a clear attempt to provide a more stable system than Asterisk.
Whoever wants a system at Class 4; FreeSWITCH is the recommended solution for it. Asterisk was never built for this magnitude of activity in the telecom world. This is a level of activity for thousands of concurrent calls to tens of thousands of concurrent calls with maximum survivability.
FreeSWITCH project began in 2006. Announcement of the first release to the market was in 2008. There is now broad support for this technology in all aspects of telecom. There is also support for new and elaborate telecom systems developed using open source such as the WebRTC. The reason is quite clear: All XML.
Unfortunately, there is no wide distribution in Israel for FreeSWITCH. People and developers are more familiar with Asterisk, even though Asterisk was not built for the purpose of being used as a switch.
FreeSWITCH does not have the backing of a large company like Asterisk enjoys, this is an open source project all the way. There are some applications that have already been integrated in Israel on the basis of this system, for example “employee attendance” reports through fixed and mobile telephony. ”
Eric Klein, senior consultant and Vice President of Marketing and Sales for GreenfieldTech: “Worldwide telephone fraud is a huge and terrifying economically, as I have presented it in the previous meeting. Fraud detection is not an easy matter. Sometimes what seems like a scam is not a scam and what looks like legitimate traffic is basically a scam. Today’s lecture will describe a case of Call Center which was out of control and began to spend large amounts of money, growing from month to month. They suspected that they were the subject of some kind of phone scam so they called us for help.
The Phenomenon they observed before calling us was at the Call Center was a 2% increase in outgoing calls, but there was no increase in incoming calls. There was a slow rise in number of outgoing calls, calls that cost money for those who operate the telephone service center.
The first thing we checked: Is there a dialer installed inside or some other hostile code, installed in the call center. None was found. There was no outside interference in the system at the call center. So, we asked for all the logs and performed our own analysis.
What we found was an increase of 2% more minutes per month out to a service center. The increase in overall dialing was amounted to a very small amount. There was an increase in call duration without any matching increase in the number of calls. We tested those calls and we found four destinations that the call center was dialing made all of these increases. These targets were four medical clinics. We tested and found that they had changed their IVR system. This change required pressing more numbers to reach the desired group at these clinics.
Conclusion: We had a case of legitimate calls that were lasting longer because of the change in the structure of the IVR menu. The Call Center was not aware of this change and the staff had adapted to this change without notifying anyone.
Resolution: We had to work with these four clinics to arrange a direct dial number to the specific department for the service center to use. This meant fewer keystrokes in the IVR menu. This meant not only removing the reported increase in cost (time), but reducing the overall time as there was no need to use the IVR at all.
Main lesson of this customer story: It is very important that each service center monitor their call traffic to predict the cost of the calls and control spending which can be influenced by many parameters.