Category Archives: General

Alon Cohen, Phone.com EVP is Recognized as for his contributions to the Voice over IP Industry

by Ari Rabban

alon_VoIP_hall-of-fame

Jeff Pulver and Alon Cohen (on right) inducted into the VoIP Hall of Fame

As some of you may know Alon Cohen, Phone.com’s Executive Vice President and Chief Evangelist was also the co-founder of the first Voice over IP company called VocalTec.
That company was involved in much of the early days of innovation in the VoIP space and spun-out perhaps two dozen or more companies and inspired the ideas for companies such as Skype and others (even ICQ – the first IM company which was acquired by AOL and evolved to AOL Messenger) ;

At ITEXPO (www.itexpo.com) the industry’s premiere conference taking place at the Miami Beach Convention Center last week) we celebrated 20 years of VoIP. A date that is based on the day VocalTec, (actually it was February 7 1995) launched its first commercial product: the “Internet Phone” or (I am not kidding) iPhone for short. I found this old photo and you can google for more. Below is a snapshot of what the Wall Street Journal published back then:VocalTEc Internet Phone

On-line : Hello, world. Audible chats on the Internet

Bulkeley, William M.. B, 1:6.

Source: Wall Street Journal. Feb 10, 1995. Section B, p. 1, col. 6.

Summary: VocalTec Inc, a small Israeli company, says it has developed software that allows two-way voice communications on the Internet at a fraction of telephone-company long-distance rates. As the company sees it, the software, called Internet Phone, has the potential to extend Internet use far beyond the province of the computer-savvy.

By the way, also in 1995:

  1. Amazon sold first book
  2. Ebay founded
  3. Google founders met
  4. Netscape went public as the first ever internet IPO (VocalTec was the 10th)

The founders of TMCNET the media corporation that puts on the ITEXPO conference and expo had a great panel discussion with several VoIP pioneers including Alon as well as the founder of Google Voice and of Vonage as well as the CEO of Digium that brought to market open source VoIP.

At the end of this keynote panel discussion Alon and Jeff Pulver (known among his many projects as the co-founder of Vonage but also an early investor in Twitter and the biggest evangelist of the VoIP industry) were inducted into a new VoIP Hall of Fame.
Part of the reason Alon was recognized is also because he continues to contribute to the industry and indeed Phone.com got nice recognition today as well.

Titexpo_2015his is what TMCNET CEO, Rich Tehrani said about Alon:

“Alon Cohen may not be a household name, not even in the telecom / VoIP world. However, he and his partner at the time, Lior Haramaty, are responsible for jumpstarting the Voice over IP industry when they co-founded VocalTec Communications in Israel, and in February 1995, introduced to the market the first commercial VoIP product: the Internet Phone.

VocalTec grew to become a known name in our industry and became somewhat of a “Xerox PARC” “think tank” for innovation with well over 2 dozen companies spinning out of it or founded by their employees. It has also become the catalyst for our own Internet Telephony Conference & Expo.

No one exemplifies this better than Alon. Since leaving VocalTec in the early 2000s after it went public, he has founded 4 more companies that all had a VoIP play.
Out of that original founding team, Alon is the only one still innovating in the space through his work at Phone.com, which probably makes him the longest serving innovator and proponent for our industry.

Alon has several patents in the VoIP space, and has influenced industry standards through his work at ETSI and the ITU. He also lectures about entrepreneurship, mentors and supports numerous startups, students and entrepreneurs. He is also one of the nicest people you will ever meet. For that we want to thank Alon.

We too would like to thank Alon for all his contributions to the industry and to the ongoing success of Phone.com.

At Phone.com, We Know Our Onions!

by Sue Walsh

Feeding America San Diego Logo

Last week, a group from Phone.com volunteered at Feeding America San Diego. During our session, we gleaned 2,800 pounds of onions and apples, sorting the good ones from the bad and boxing them for distribution to San Diego area schools.

Feeding America’s School Pantry program gives low-income families the chance to “shop” for free fruit, vegetables and staple foods when they bring their kids to school.

Our volunteers love to ham it up!

It’s a good thing onions only make you cry once they are cut because we handled a lot of them! Phone.commers now know all about soft spots and mold and gashes on veggies. Our volunteers saw some pretty nasty-looking onions and it was great to know that, because of our efforts, families would be getting only the good stuff.

Sorting the good from the bad

A Few Quick Facts

  • One in six people in San Diego—one in four kids—don’t have enough food to eat
  • Feeding America feeds 56,000 people per week in the greater San Diego area
  • When you donate one dollar to FASD, they turn it into six dollars’ worth of food for the hungry. Not a bad return!

To create even more value, Feeding America donates the bad veggies that we discarded during our gleaning session to a group that makes compost for local growers and farmers. Phone.com loves working with community groups that do so much good, and we look forward to volunteering at FASD throughout the year.

For more info, follow Feeding America San Diego on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for news and events.

Build loyalty with Mobile Apps from Appdator

by Phone.com

Guest Blog Post

In today’s competitive environment, businesses lose clients to competitors every day. Even customers who adore your business, like you and love your products or service sometimes shop elsewhere. Why? Maybe because they didn’t have time to compare, maybe because they happened to be near your competitor, or maybe because they just forgot all about your business.

Large brands have already figured that out. Once a customer rolls in the door (e.g. an acquired customer), they will try their best to get that customer to keep coming back (customer retention). It’s a well-known marketing fact that it’s far easier to sell to existing customers than to new customers, so why not put those bucks into retention marketing?

How? There are a lot of ways to reach out to customers. Emailing them, texting them, even sending good ol’ mail to their homes. But in order to do that, you first have to get those contact details, which will turn out to be a very difficult task. What do large brands do? Create a branded app. Macy’s, Walgreens, Walmart, Sears – they all have their mobile apps with lots of information about products and services, value-added features, and of course – the ability to send campaigns to customers as push notifications.

Push is rising above the regular email and promotional text “noise” and is still perceived as a non-intrusive means of contact. These are updates and campaigns that customers have specifically opted in to receive.

appdator_apps

ZZZZoom. Back to reality. A small business could never afford to build such an app, and certainly not to maintain its content or know when to send campaigns.

Until Appdator was born. It’s a service that lets small businesses build such apps in 5 minutes from the convenience of their smartphones. Customers then download these apps and can browse through the business’ photo galleries and new arrivals – and even use a loyalty punch-card and appointment scheduler (for businesses that need that). It’s a completely branded app, made by the owner. Appdator is giving away a 6-month free service for Phone.com customers. Just get the app from http://get.appdator.com and use the promotional code phone123 during sign-up.

Happy apping!

Reaching for VoIP: Grasping the Benefits, Avoiding the Obstacles

by Sue Walsh

Caller using mobile phoneVoice Over IP is no longer the new kid on the block. Emerging in the seventies, coming of age in the eighties and nineties, VoIP has matured as a feature-rich, wallet-friendly alternative to the wired services that were the backbone of the businesses of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations.

Old-fashioned phone service is a funny thing: As a business owner, you plug a traditional phone into the wall socket and place it on your new employee’s desk. Apart from paying the bill every month, you might not think about it much after that. Phone service on the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is just so straightforward and established, so plug ‘n play.

Yet a recent report by Software Advice, a free online service that offers VoIP system reviews, shows that 25 percent of the business owners they surveyed in 2014, who are currently using PSTN, would consider switching to VoIP. The reasons are pretty compelling.

VoIP is less expensive. Basic phone service, with no commitment or contract, costs as little as $9.99 with Phone.com. With our service, extensions are unlimited, features are plentiful, support is free, and you only pay for the phone numbers you need.

VoIP scales really well. And so easily! Need to add extensions quickly to support seasonal staff? No problem. Adding a brand new department to your business? No need to install additional trunk lines or guess at future capacity. VoIP service is truly elastic, growing or shrinking to meet your needs instantly and exactly.

VoIP is loaded with features. Local, toll-free and international numbers. Menus, queues and unlimited extensions. Forwarding, scheduling, faxing and SMS. Call management, voicemail, text-to-speech and voice-to-text. You can add, tweak and remove features as needed, and almost all of Phone.com’s features are included in your basic account.

VoIP is crazy-flexible and mobile friendly. Moving to a new location no longer means running a whole lot of new wiring or waiting for a phone technician to come out to your office. Your phone numbers and service simply move with you. It really is a new kind of plug ‘n play! And while PSTN might play nicely with your desk phone and fax machine, VoIP can extend phone, fax and SMS services to all of your wired, desktop and mobile devices, regardless of where you are located or traveling at the time. Think of it in terms of party games: If PSTN is really good at playing Simon Says, it’s crazy cousin VoIP is just outstanding at playing Twister!

So Why Aren’t Businesses Moving to VoIP Faster?

Software Advice’s report PSTN User Perspectives on IP Communications shows the key reasons business users are thinking about shifting to VoIP. At the top of the list? Price, mobile integration, features and scalability.

Primary Draws of VoIP - Image by Software Advice

Primary Draws of VoIP for PSTN Users (Source: Software Advice)

While it’s clear that business owners on PSTN are intrigued by all of these benefits, the idea that Internet-based VoIP services are not as reliable as legacy wired PSTN networks, especially in disaster and emergency situations, still lingers. If your connection goes down, so does your phone service, right?

Yes and no. VoIP systems designed to deal with downtime are available. Hosted solutions, like Phone.com, typically offer emergency routing to mobile devices. Our call-handling rules can redirect your incoming calls to a pre-set mobile number if connectivity to your primary VoIP device is disrupted. As long as you set those rules on your account, your calls will route to a mobile number.

We should also note that there are catastrophic disasters that will disrupt any phone service, regardless of whether it’s VoIP or hard wired. As business communications evolve, it makes sense to design your phone networks to spread connectivity and redundancy across all of your physical, IP and cellular networks.

The other reason business owners cite for not switching to VoIP is that of call quality. First, if you haven’t experienced a phone call using HD (High Definition) Voice, you will be amazed at the quality and clarity of your conversation!

According to our support team, occasional call quality issues can often be attributed to the speed and performance of your Internet connection. When our customers have consistent, adequate Internet connectivity, audio quality is not usually a problem. If, as a VoIP user, you’re experiencing degraded audio, we strongly suggest you check the performance of your Internet connection. Your ISP and VoIP provider should have tools to measure whether your connection is robust enough to support VoIP service.

If quality is a concern on calls forwarded to your cell phone, there are a number of variables at work, from the quality of your cell phone connection to the quality of the connection between Phone.com and your carrier. Our fantastic customer service team has the tools to help determine where the issue lies!

By taking these steps, businesses can ensure the reliability and quality they’ve come to appreciate with PSTN service, along with the array of services, benefits and savings offered by VoIP. Price, mobile integration, advanced features and easy scaling. It’s yours for the taking!

Friendship and Feasting! Happy Holidays from Phone.com

by Sue Walsh

Diwali candle, Phone.com international holiday potluck

With our Phone.com team hailing from every corner of the globe, our international holiday potluck last Friday was truly spectacular. Sweet plantains from Nigeria, Chutney fish in banana leaves from India, scrumptious Swedish meat balls and traditional English mince pies to name just a few. Needless to say, we did not go hungry!

Food at the Phone.com international holiday potluck

My plate was laden with latkes and blintzes, lumpia and barfis, and they were all delicious! We dimmed the lights and lit candles, wished each other cheers, l’chaim and salud, and spent the afternoon celebrating a year of hard work and friendship.Phone.com team enjoy the holiday potluck

As the year draws to a close, we wish our customers a very happy holiday season, and a peaceful, successful year in 2015.

This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays!

— American peace activist D.M. Dellinger