|General Thoughts. If you came to the Computer
Telephony Expo four or five years ago, you would have heard and seen a lot
about TAPI, TSAPI, and various bus architectures. Over, the past few
years, however, the industry and its tools have matured to the point where
we see and hear more about business solutions instead of the underlying
technology. This year, the key theme is customer service.
Intel Vice President/Dialogic President Howard Bub continued with the theme of customer service as the key for business success and telephony applications as the key to providing customer service. His keynote was highlighted by demonstrations of an e-commerce accelerator module that offloads telephony processing from a server's microprocessor as well as At Motion's (recently bought by Phone.Com) WAP voice portal.
Cisco Vice President Peter Alexander predicted that 2000 will be the year we see second generation IP telephone handsets. The most exciting announcement was that Cisco and other vendors will soon release a specification to provide 48V power via Ethernet cabling. This means that IP telephone handsets can be powered directly from an Ethernet cable without the need for a separate power transformer. It also means that these IP phones can remain powered by a centralized UPS during power outages. The system will detect legacy Ethernet devices that could be harmed by 48V on the cable and remove the voltage for cables attached to those devices. American Power Conversion (APC), a major UPS manufacturer, is part of the group defining this exciting development.
Couple of interesting items to look at...
DSG Technology has some interesting analog and cable/DSL devices that let you make Internet phone calls without a PC. The analog telephone line device has a $229 list price. The DSL/cable modem device's list price is $299.
MediaPhonics showed their PhoneRider single-line telephony board and their PhoneRider USB intelligent TAPI device. I did not get an opportunity to speak with anyone at the booth (basically got ignored there). However, both devices appear aimed at OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) rather than consumer end-users. However, they are both interesting devices that you may want to investigate.
ShelCad Communications displayed their $159 PC Card (PCMCIA) Internet Telephony device. It preceded QuickNet's InternetJack PC Card and provides the RJ-11 connector as part of the package. They also displayed a $190 Hi Phone Desktop product that provides a single line Internet telephony gateway with echo cancellation and other features to enhance the Internet phone experience. This is a product targeted at OEMs.