Companies specializing in PBX systems for Internet telephony providers (ITSPs), ISPs, and other VoIP providers create complex software platforms for supporting, managing, and directing VoIP calls. PBX systems are often divided into modules, with some of the most critical modules being user interface, voice processing, voicemail, network protocols, network management, and system services. Other VoIP PBX software modules that might be considered add-on modules include:
- Fax over IP
- Advanced speech compression
- Speech recognition
- IVR prompts
- Real-time system monitoring
- Echo cancelation
- Automatic call distribution (ACD)
- Auto attendants
- Conference bridging
Asterisk is a popular open source VoIP PBX software engine for Hosted VoIP providers and companies with a self-supported, premise-based IP PBX. Some VoIP software developers, such as Bicom Systems, offer special multi-tenant VoIP PBX software for resellers and VoIP service providers.
Visit our VoIP software directory to find the best VoIP PBX software for your needs.
VoIP Softswitches and Gateways
Softswitches and media gateways are key components of a VoIP PBX system. A softswitch and gateway are similar types of VoIP software that facilitate IP phone service by making phone connections and handoffs at various points of the phone call's journey over the VoIP network. Companies using VoIP phone service may use a softswitch or gateway or even both working together (separately, or in one combined product).
Although a VoIP softswitch and a VoIP media gateway can fulfill the same functions, a softswitch will typically make the connection between VoIP networks (IP to IP calls) while VoIP gateway software is often used to make a PSTN to IP connection. VoIP softswitches and VoIP gateway software are usually based on the open source SIP protocol, but may also support H.323 or MGCP. The best VoIP software will support multiple protocols and voice codecs.
Softswitches are also commonly referred to as the call agent, as they are typically responsible for routing and billing. Class 4 softswitches are usually used for high-volume long distance calling, while class 5 softswitches are used with local and long distance calls. Class 5 softswitches offer more features than the simple transcoding, protocol support, and conversions of class 4 softswitches. Class 5 softswitches offer:
- Authentication, authorization, and accounting functions
- Support for call centers and calling card companies
- More sophisticated billing options
Softswitches can sometimes be located far beyond the company firewall, including at the host's location when using a Hosted PBX service. Companies known for producing quality softswitches include:
- Adore Infotech
VoIP gateway software can sometimes offer the same services of a class 4 softswitch. In addition to signal compression and decompression, a more sophisticated media gateway can facilitate IVR services, generate accounting records, and support concurrent calls. Primarily, a gateway:
- Supports at least 2 T1/E1 channels
- Controls signals
- Compresses/decompresses fax and voice
- Routes calls
- Packetizes data
Because they offer origination and termination conversion services, VoIP gateways must be located close to the company's connection to the PSTN. Popular VoIP gateway software developers include:
Find out more about the best VoIP software for you — softswitches and VoIP gateway software — in our VoIP software directory.
Third-Party VoIP Software
Many third-party vendors offer custom solutions for small to large enterprises using VoIP systems. These VoIP software companies recognize that the needs of businesses — from end users to ITSPs — are often not fully supported by the standard components of a VoIP PBX software system.
Sometimes, when using an open source VoIP engine such as Asterisk, configuring the code to accommodate the new features may be too expensive. Or, it may not incorporate the degree of customization the business desires. That's where third-party VoIP software developers come in.
VoIP services provided by VoIP software developers include:
- VoIP billing software
- VoIP testing software
- VoIP monitoring software
- VoIP call center software
- VoIP IVR software
- VoIP call recording software
- Predictive dialers
Billing, Testing, Monitoring
VoIP billing software offers ITSPs, resellers, wholesalers, and other VoIP businesses more finely tuned control over billing. VoIP billing software provides AAA services, supports multiple currencies, and offers flexible billing cycles as well as customer and vendor self-care and detailed analytics. VoIP billing solutions also feature incremental billing, DID management, and pre- and postpaid billing services. Our VoIP software directory includes a number of VoIP billing software solutions.
VoIP testing software helps to analyze traffic patterns, which in turn can help the network administrator to optimize the network for voice calls and to provide the best call quality. VoIP testing software assesses bandwidth speed and quality and explores options for flow control through call simulation. In least cost routing (LCR), carriers offering wholesale VoIP services need to be be able to know quickly which way to route calls based on rate tables that are constantly changing.
VoIP monitoring software offers real-time analysis of network performance. Like VoIP testing software, VoIP monitoring software also helps administrators ensure optimal call quality by monitoring the threshold violations of traffic and ensuring that all protocols are functioning as they should. VoIP monitoring software can identify impedances by other applications, track network-wide quality of service (QoS), and passively monitor live calls for consistent speech quality. VoIP monitoring software identifies bandwidth use for voice and data use and supports proactive capacity planning. Check the VoIP software directory for VoIP monitoring software providers.
Call Center, IVR, and Other Software
VoIP call center software provides customer service departments and call centers with more strengths-based metrics to improve CRM performance. Call center software in the modern era seeks to shift the statistical focus to first-contact resolution rather than short interaction times. Rather than relying on quantitative rather than qualitative features such as average handle time, VoIP call center software increasingly integrates speech analysis tools such as inflection, tone, pauses, and crosstalk to identify the strengths and weaknesses of call center personnel and to pinpoint areas for more training. Today's call center software also incorporates multi-channel analytics, accommodating chat, blogs, social media, and email into the overall CRM toolbox and tracking customer service interaction and satisfaction across the various intersection points.
VoIP software companies such as Mizutech offer an IVR module for use with their proprietary softswitch. Another VoIP solution for IVR is hosted IVR software, which offers call center controls such as queues and distribution. Hosted VoIP IVR software offers the advantage of scalability with no required equipment. With hosted VoIP IVR software, companies such as Plum Voice are able to support thousands of concurrent calls without needing hundreds of T1 lines — and at a fraction of the cost. Hosted VoIP IVR software supports detailed CDRs and real-time metrics. VoIP IVR software as a service companies such as the IVR Technology Group offer cloud routing with redundancies — no single point of failure — and the ability to have a unified, central cloud-based queue to distribute calls to multiple contact centers. VoIP IVR software service firms can also offer secondary queues; call monitoring, reporting, and recording; and load balancing to limit call spikes.
VoIP call recording software, offered by companies such as Call Company, is a VoIP solution for any company with a strong CRM focus. Call recording helps companies to improve their customer service through coaching and training, provide quality monitoring, comply with regulations, and assist with dispute resolution.
Predictive dialers are another call center tool. A predictive dialer is a VoIP software program that allows small batches of numbers to be dialed simultaneously. Predictive dialers screen call connections, eliminating answering machines and busy signals, and passes the properly completed calls on to available call center personnel.
Looking for the best VoIP software vendor for your company? Check the VoIP software directory for a range of third-party solutions.
Softphones are another type of VoIP software. Softphones can be used to make VoIP calls using any Internet connected device without requiring a physical piece of hardware (a traditional or IP phone, or a headset). Callers interact with the VoIP software through their keyboard, touch screen (on a smartphone), or mouse.
Softphones can be used by residential VoIP customers — Skype, magicJack, and Vonage all offer softphones — and are also quite common in business environments. Business VoIP providers such as RingCentral, Vocalocity, or 8x8 — VoIP companies offering Hosted PBX services to small and medium sized businesses — might offer customers their own proprietary softphones or support the use of third-party solutions such as CounterPath's Bria softphone.
When using VoIP for business, companies might use softphones on an IP PBX system to avoid the expense of IP phones. Softphones also offer certain conveniences, such as address book integration (with click-to-call functionality). Some softphones and VoIP service providers can also support video calls or instant messaging. Whether using VoIP for business or personal needs, video calls can improve communication.
Other companies may find that their employees' computer use and phone use are so interdependent, it just makes more sense to use softphones. Call centers or emergency dispatchers might use softphones, for instance. Some businesses even integrate their softphones into their unified communications suite, or with other key software functions — billing, order tracking, inventory, and so on.
Softphones can also be used on cell phones. Apps that support mobile VoIP calls are technically softphones. These types of VoIP software include Line2, Skype, fring, and Truphone, for instance. Quite a few softphone apps are examples of free VoIP software.
Some of the more well-known softphone developers are:
- Express Talk
Find more VoIP softphone providers in our VoIP softphone directory.
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