Google grabs 1 million phone numbers for Google Voice

Google last month reserved 1 million phone numbers with Level 3, signaling that it may finally be ready to roll out its long-anticipated Google Voice service.

The free service, announced in March, lets users unify their phone numbers, allowing them to have a single number through Google Voice that rings a call through to all their phones.

SIP Addresses Unified Communications Deployment Challenges: Download now

Sources could not say when the 1 million numbers may be assigned. Level 3 has been supplying Google with phone numbers since the introduction of Google Voice, so the 1 million numbers are an indication Google is close to adding a significant amount of users.

A Google spokesperson would only say “as a matter of policy, we typically do not comment on contracts with third-party technology suppliers.”

A public launch has been anticipated since Google said in March the service would be “open to new users soon.” There has been speculation that the service would begin today – June 18 – but Google has yet to make an announcement.

“I’ve only been using Google Voice for a few months, but it’s completely changed the way I use voicemail and communicate, just in general,” said Kevin Dando, director of digital and education communications for PBS. “When it goes public, I think the rush to grab Google Voice numbers is going to be stunning. I know some of my friends check the Google Voice page almost every day to see when they can grab a number and get started using it.”

Google Voice has a number of unique features including call transfer between a user’s devices, multi-party conferencing, conversion of voice calls to text messages, cut-rate international calling, and call transcription.

Google also has integrated the Voice service with Gmail contact lists.

But the gem is the fact that a user can have one phone number people can dial to reach them regardless of where they are located, either home or mobile. Google Voice uses VoIP to link collections of phone numbers.

Google Voice is a product of Google’s March 2007 acquisition of GrandCentral. For the past two years, however, it appeared the GrandCentral technology had been tossed into a black hole.

But on March 11, Google announced Google Voice and opened the service up only to former GrandCentral users.

Last week, TechCrunch reported that Google would add number portability later this year to Google Voice, which would let users keep one of their existing phone numbers as their Google Voice number. For example, users could make their cell phone number their Google Voice number.

The feature is significant because switching to a new Google Voice number comes with a cost such as having to distribute the new number to friends and family. In addition, outbound calls and text messages show the phone number you are calling from and not your Google Voice number.

Ten Mobile VoIP Apps for the iPhone

One of the exciting places that this previously wireline-only technology has been springing up lately is on the mobile phone. And one of the hottest spots in the mobile phone world is the iPhone App store. With the iPhone’s WiFi capabilities as well as the recent lifting of the 3G VoIP calling embargo, the iPhone is playing host to numerous mobile VoIP apps that allow users to take advantage of the cost savings and advanced features of voice over IP. Here in no particular order are 10 consumer VoIP apps for the iPhone:

  • Skype
    With Skype for the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch users can make or recieve calls and instant messages from anyone else on Skype from around the world. The Skype-to-Skype calling works between iPhone users and desktop users, so it doesn’t matter what device your friends are using. In the latest release, users can now call over 3G on the iPhone and have Skype run in the background for an always-on call answering ability. Skype allows calls to phones not on Skype as well for low international calling rates at near CD quality.
  • goober VoIP
    The killer app for goober is that they offer calling to 40 countries where the first 2 minutes are always free. The cost of the first two minutes end up being credited to your account at the end of your call. The company offers flate rate plans for international calling and although it offers calls over 3G it reccomends WiFi.
  • fring
    This little app, which has caused a lot of commotion, offers free voice calls, IM chats and video calls. Recently, fring ran into trouble with Skype and no longer offer Skype calls as part of their service, but the Fring app still communications with MSN Messenger, GoogleTalk, Twitter, Yahoo, AIM, and ICQ. fring offers Push notifications and even SIP integration.
  • Nimbuzz
    Nimbuzz taps into Yahoo, MSN, and AIM as well as social networks like Facebook and Myspace. The service allows for free or low cost local and international calls as well as free messaging. Nimbuzz allows users to make calls to landline phones as well.
  • Truphone
    This app has gotten a lot of great reviews for its ability to manage many IM coversations as well as offer free WiFi and 3G calls to other Truphone users, Skype, and Google Talk users. The service also offers low cost international calling and free voice mail with Push notification. The service also provides Twitter integration. Be warned though as the most recent software update (4.0.2) has disabled the background multitasking but hopefully they will bring that back soon.
  • Vopium
    This app lets users try the service for 15 minutes free to anywhere in the world. As part of the intro, users also get 15 free SMS to anywhere in the world. The Vopium service taps into both Skype and Google Talk for additional free calling and chats with friends on Facebook, MSN, Skype, Google Talk, Yahoo, AIM and ICQ. Vopium won the 2009 European Mobile VoIP Technology Innovation award by Frost and Sullivan.
  • Gizmo5
    Recently acquired by Google, Gizmo5’s latest update was August 2 so its still alive and well on the iPhone. The only glitch is that you have to have already been a Gizmo5 subscriber before the Google takeover to really make any use of the app. Also, the Gizmo5 app costs $1.99, so don’t buy it unless you are already a subscriber.
  • Ooma Mobile for iPhone
    Ooma Mobile is for Ooma customers. The service allows them to make US and international calls from their iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch either using 3G or WiFi. Ooma’s PureVoice technology offers higher voice quality without using a lot of bandwidth. The app costs $9.99 in addition to what you are paying for your Ooma service. Calling to other Ooma users is free but calls to US numbers come in at $.019/minute.
  • Vonage Mobile
    Subscribers with the Vonage World Mobile plan can make unlimited calls with this app to anywhere in the US and to over 60 countries around the world. The app uses both cellular and WiFi networks to make calls with non-international calls being free over WiFi for minute plans.
  • iCall
    Apparently iCall was selected as the New York Times App of the Week at one point. According to the company it is used by over 4 million people worldwide to make calls. With iCall you can make calls over 3G and WiFi. The app is free but ad-supported.

Watch this space in the future for a round up of business VoIP apps.

New 3CX Assistant with Outlook 2010 CRM Integration

We are pleased to announce a new release of the 3CX Assistant for Version 9 which includes the long awaited and much requested CRM integration with Microsoft Outlook 2010.
This build is available for download from here
Version 9.14081 includes Outlook CRM add-ins for Outlook 2003/2007 and 2010 together with the latest 3CXPhone5.

New features in the CRM Component

  • Outlook 2010 support
  • Improved integration between 3CXCRM and outlook using remoting technology
  • Ability to open the contact record immediately
  • Ability to allow the CRM popup to steal focus or leave focus on current working document

This version was tested with the following components:

  • Microsoft Outlook 2003,2007,2010 (32 and 64 bit)
  • 3CX Phone System Version 9 with SP2
  • Windows OS:  XP SP3, Vista, Windows 7 (32/64 bit)
  • IMPORTANT: CRM plug-in installations will work only on Windows User administrator accounts. We will be updating this very soon

Note: It is recommended that the previous 3CX Assistant is uninstalled especially if Outlook 2003 or 2007 was previously present on the computer due to possible registry keys that remain in the office installation.

Step1. Install Microsoft Outlook 2010. Exit outlook before installing the 3CX Assistant
Step2. Download and trigger the Assistant installation

Step3. Select the CRM outlook component that suits you. The installation package will detect which Outlook version is installed on your computer. Only one version of Outlook can be installed on the same computer therefore 1 add-in can be selected.
Step4. Choose Optional 3CX Phone5 component and click on Next. Installation will complete.
Step5. Start Outlook 2010. It is important to start outlook at this point otherwise the plugin will not register and will not be able to query the contact databases. You will see a trust dialog in Outlook to approve the 3CXAddin to register. Click OK to allow.

Press refresh to query outlook for it’s contact folders

Step6. Click on the Assistant File/CRM Settings/CRM Plugins/Microsoft Outlook and press the refresh button to query outlook for it’s contact folders. The contact folder databases will be displayed on screen. Select the folders you want to monitor and press OK. This is a one time procedure only.

The 3CX CRM plug-in for Outlook 2010 is registered successfully

Step7. Click on the Plug-in status tab – you should see a confirmation message highlighted in Green informing you that the Plug-in is working fine.
You can now configure your CRM settings and contact popup’s will be brought up on screen when an incoming call is performed.
We will ship this installation package soon through the 3CX System Updates so welcome emails can be sent with this installer to company users.

More related links can be found here

Troubleshooting CRM Add-on Errors in Outlook 2003, 2007, 2010
Installing 3CX Assistant through Welcome email (Available Soon)
Installing Salesforce Plugin
Installing Microsoft Dynamics Plugin

3CX Assistant 9 CRM Salesforce Integration

3CX CRM Salesforce integration is now available with a separate installer that can be downloaded and installed with the 3CX Assistant Version 9.

As a pre-requisite you need to install the latest version of the 3CX Assistant for Version 9.
Download the Salesforce plugin package from here

Step1. Install 3CX Assistant Version 9 with at least 1 CRM option for outlook enabled.
Step2. Start the Salesforce installation.
Step3. After setup is complete, start the 3CXAssistant and go to File/CRM settings.
Step4. Click the CRM Plug-ins tab and check “Enable Salesforce Plug-in”
Step5. Enter your login details for your online Salesforce account and save. The plug in will register with Salesforce online.

New 3CXPhone 5 BETA Version 14065

3CX is proud to announce a new version of it’s popular VoIP Softphone for Windows – 3CXPhone 5 BETA for Windows. This release is a major improvement with many much requested new features and bug-fixes.  3CXPhone 5 for Windows will remain FREE! You can download the beta of 3CXPhone5 Version 5.14065 here

Key new features that have been added to 3CXPhone 5 are:  Video support, ability to support multiple SIP accounts and BLF. With the BLF feature you can subscribe to particular extensions and see their status. We have also added JABRA support, whilst we have requested that Plantronics will add us to their list of supported softphones and add us to their installation so that Plantronics headsets can be used with 3CXPhone 5. Until they do this, Plantronics headsets are not supported by 3CXPhone. We

Complete list of changes

  • Added: Multiple SIP accounts
  • Added: 20 configurable BLFs/speed dials
  • Added: 5 Line channels (5 sim calls over any account selected)
  • Added: International language support for IN/OUT bound CallerID, call history and phone-book
  • Added: AM/PM clock – click to change to 24hr
  • Added: Automatic Direct SiP call when @ is present in dialed uri
  • Added: Video improvements and custom FFDSHOW decoder
  • Added: Shortcut in File/Debug window to access user profile configuration
  • Added: JABRA headset support
  • Fixed: Issue in transfers by dialog
  • Fixed: profile validity checking
  • Fixed: bug in pop-up notification
  • Fixed: Keep phone position on multiple monitor displays
  • Fixed: reconnection problem in 3CX Assistant integration
  • Fixed: auto-muting microphone sensor to avoid audio interferences in DTMF tone sending
  • Fixed: FFDSHOW problems when FFDSHOW was pre-installed

Configuration Tips:

To configure Softkeys for BLF and Speed-dials:

  1. Click on an empty Softkey to display the softkey configuration
  2. Enter the UserID for the extension you wish to monitor example 100
  3. Choose the type: Speed dial or BLF/Xfer.
  4. Enter a Label for this Softkey, for example 3CX Engineering Dept, and choose the account that this extension is assigned to.
  5. Click OK. The phone will reload and the Softkey will turn Green if the Extension is registered. Blinking orange means ringing or dialing, whilst solid orange means connected

Configure and using Multiple SIP Accounts:

  1. Right click on the main 3CXPhone Screen and click on the Accounts button.
  2. Create new Accounts by clicking on the NEW button. Enter the required information in the Account Settings dialog box
  3. In the above example we have 4 different accounts. Select the accounts you want the 3CXPhone5 to register to by checking the Active check-boxes highlighted in red
    Click OK. 3CXPhone5 will restart and register all the active accounts. You will be able to make and receive calls on the same soft-phone to 4 different IP PBX or VoIP Providers
  4. To toggle between different accounts on a line, click on LINE 1 to open a channel.
  5. Click again on LINE 1 to change the account being used for the channel. You will see the connection details change on the top right corner of the 3CXPhone5 main screen display.
  6. Click on Line 1 again to toggle back.

Smaller firms turn to ‘flexible’ VoIP

Smaller firms turn to 'flexible' VoIPSmaller companies are adopting VoIP due to its flexibility, according to an expert.

Users can maintain and update the technology without the need to purchase supplementary infrastructure as it is based on software rather than hardware.

Hugo Harber, director of convergence and network strategy at telecommunications firm Star, claimed smaller firms can upgrade the system as the business expands.

“With IP telephony, SMEs can add functionality and flexibility to their communications to deliver an enhanced level of customer service, such as directly connecting web users with customer support staff and using automated functions such as call forwarding and three-way calling,” he wrote on freshbusinessthinking.com.

Mr Harber said that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) can also benefit form cheaper phone bills, while costs are also easier to estimate.

He said: “It offers business leaders a transparent and predictable view of a company’s communications costs, something that many finance departments struggle to have a clear view of, and sometimes struggle to effectively forecast for.”

VoIP can be merged with other forms of communication, such as e-mail, using a Unified Communication strategy, he added.

A recent study by Star revealed that 41 per cent of businesses with under100 employees have already implemented VoIP.

Around 20 per cent of respondents are considering introducing the technology within the next 12 months, which could result in a 50 per cent increase in the penetration of VoIP over the next year.

‘Great future’ ahead for VoIP

'Great future' ahead for VoIPThe development of new technologies will ensure VoIP services have a great future, according to an expert. Vlad Ellis, chief executive of US VoIP provider Speedflow Communications, expressed his belief that the global VoIP industry will continually evolve to keep up with new advancements.

In an interview with technology website tmcnet.com, he said: “VoIP technology has a great future ahead. VoIP as a technology will definitely be developing further, as the quality of services are improved and new services such as video telephony (based on VoIP technology) will appear.”

Mr Ellis also underlined a number of other trends which he believes will increase market growth such as the rise of mobile VoIP solutions.

The technology is already available on mobile phones via an application or software and Mr Ellis expects VoIP to rival traditional network operators.

Web-based VoIP clients, which allow customers to use internet telephony directly from their browser, are also set to become more popular.

Google has recently broken into this sector with the release of its own VoIP service for those who use its email package Gmail.

Customers can make free calls to the US and Canada throughout 2010, while international rates are also low.

Furthermore, as more firms look to save costs and simplify operations, VoIP may also be integrated with other static forms of communications such as email.

“The next step in development will be the integration of all communication devices into one or several multipurpose platforms for unified communication,”he told the new provider.ADNFCR-1152-ID-800041300-ADNFCR

Australian troops to use VoIP to call home

Australian troops to use VoIP to call homeAustralian soldiers will soon be able to make VoIP calls to keep in touch with friends and family, according to reports.

Technology website computerworld.com.au has revealed that personnel deployed in foreign countries or patrolling Australia’s border will be able to access VoIP via a Wi-Fi enabled PC.

Defence documents on the project obtained by the news provider stated the new initiative was introduced in a bid to boost morale.

They said: “Current-generation Australians utilise the internet for many reasons including communicating with friends and family via email, instant messaging or VoIP.

“[Australian Defence Force] personnel are no different and the provision of these services to deployed forces is seen as a major contributor to morale and an extension of its existing amenities support.”

A total of 370 computers will be issued by the Australian Defence department to the country’s armed forces – the equivalent of one computer for every ten soldiers.

All the PCs will have a bandwidth of at least 56kbps per user and will also allow troops to use word processing packages and access music and videos.

3CX releases free VoIP phone for Android: 3CXPhone

3CX, developer of the popular Windows softphone 3CXPhone and VoIP PBX 3CX Phone System, today announced the release of a free SIP phone for the Android Smartphone operating system. With 3CXPhone for Android, users can make free phone calls via wireless and 3G (mobile operator permitting). Examples of Android based phones are the HTC Desire, HTC Hero, Sony Ericsson Xperia, X10 Mini and Pro, Samsung Galaxy S and the Google Nexus.3CXPhone for Android works with standards based SIP servers – including 3CX Phone System, Asterisk and popular SIP VoIP Providers. Unlike other “free” Android SIP phones, 3CXPhone is NOT locked down to a particular provider or PBX. Users can pick and choose their favorite provider or VoIP PBX and switch at any time or use different VoIP providers simultaneously. 3CXPhone is available free of charge for commercial and non profit organizations as well as private users.

“Smart phones will soon be the defacto mobile phone and with a docking station will act as a desk phone in time. A VoIP PBX must embrace this technology and deliver seamless integration to provide true mobility to its users.” said Nick Galea, CEO, 3CX.  “Smartphone support is a key component of our strategy and the availability of 3CXPhone for Android delivers on this vision”. Nick Galea continued “We chose Android as our first platform – it is rapidly gaining market share because it’s open, standards based, vendor independent and evolving at a rapid pace. Android based Smartphones are available in different form factors and at competitive prices.”

3CXPhone for Android is based on SiPagent, a popular SIP phone for Android that 3CX acquired in June 2010. SiPagent users are able to upgrade free of charge to 3CXPhone.

Features include:

  • Fully supports the industry leading SiP standard
  • G711 and GSM codec support
  • Ability to transfer calls
  • Choose between integrated or custom dial pad
  • Record phone calls
  • Force VoIP calls when available – with this feature you can automatically make free VoIP calls take priority over 3G
  • Auto provisioning – SIP PBX’s or VoIP providers can automatically provision 3CXPhone for Android via multicast or HTTP

3CXPhone for Android is available immediately from the Android market place.  The 3CXPhone is community supported via the 3CXPhone Android forums here. 3CX Phone System users and partners can get support via their support portal account.