Monday, 9 March 2015

Softphone support with CloudPBX in Asia

If you have a customer services department or sales people that work on the road then a softphone install on your Windows or MAC computer may be the best way to stay connected with your office or colleagues. Softphones support both incoming and outgoing calls. All calls made between the user and the office would be free no matter where the laptop user was located. External calls to customers or suppliers would be charged to the company as if the person was sitting in the office.  

Softphones are available from a number of vendors. However we only support one brand of softphone with the CloudPBX. This is the Bria 4.0 client from Counterpath. This is not free software. A licenses can be purchased from the Counterpath web site at a cost of US$49.99. The softphone supports G729 compression, voicemail and call transfer.

We have user guides available to help configure the Bria client to enable it to connect to the CloudPBX service.

An alternative option is to consider Counterpath’s subscription model rather than purchasing a one-time license. Of course a one-time purchase does not cover upgrades whereas the subscription model would ensure you were always using the latest version of the software. Moreover, the subscription model allows you to purchase and centrally manage the licenses for other mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad, Tablet and Android phones. There is a minimum purchase of 5 licenses. These can be of any combination. Purchasing the Windows Bria client via this method costs US$34 per year.

In addition, we can pre-configure all softphones on the server side if the license is purchased via the subscription model. If it is a one time license then the user must configure themselves by following our user guide.

Another advantage of the subscription model for the corporate user is the license is transferable. This means if an employee leaves, the account can be disabled and the license applied to another user. Whereas, if you purchase the one-time license you may not be able to retain the softphone if it is on that persons computer.


Jabra 150 Headset
When using a softphone the best results will be experienced when using a quality headset. Laptops do have speakers and a microphone so technically, speaking directly into your laptop will work but if you are in a busy location this will create additional noise. So a headset is best. You could use the headset that comes with your mobile phone or better still, consider USB headsets from Jabra or Plantronics. If you are a customer services department then a professional headset is strongly recommended.

Your IP Address

The CloudPBX requires your softphone’s IP address to be whitelisted in the firewall of the server. It is normal for a laptop user to be changing IP addresses every time they connect to a different network. CloudPBX supports both an OpenVPN client or a DynDNS Host address. Either of these methods would be required to allow a laptop user to send an approved IP address to the CloudPBX. This of course is only applicable when the laptop is located at a hotel or coffee shop etc. It is not in the office. If it was a customer service team then they will all be located in the office so this is not application as the office IP address will be whitelisted in the server’s firewall.

If you would like to learn more about using softphones with our CloudPBX service please contact us. Call us in Singapore, +65 31582176 or Hong Kong +852 39733848. 

DISA Is A Great CloudPBX Feature

CloudPBX supports DISA. This provides for an external caller (normally staff) to access internal CloudPBX features when outside the office. The user would call a specific local phone number which would access the DISA service, once a security password was entered the CloudPBX answers the call with a dial tone allowing the user to place an internal call or long distance call. This may be required to ensure the company's Caller ID (phone number) is sent to the called party and the mobile phone number of the staff is not sent.

The basic idea behind this DISA /Call-Through solution is enabling authorised corporate users outside the office to make calls using the organisation's special low tariffs, and to capitalise on the direct connection to the different operators. As a result, the company saves money on the original direct call. Security features include only accepting calls from approved phone numbers, e.g. mobile number of the staff; along with a 4-6 digit password. Both would be required for access to be granted by the system.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Skype Connect and CloudPBX

Skype offers business owners a “Skype business account” called “Skype Manager”. This is different to a personal Skype account you may already use today.

Skype Manager allows businesses to define their users and control each account under one interface. If an employee leaves it is now easier to terminate that account. Setting up a Skype Manager account is a prerequisite to this solution.

Under the Skype Manager a company can subscribe to a service called Skype Connect. This provides for a SIP trunk to be enabled allowing the CloudPBX to be connected to the Skype community thus enabled incoming (only) calls to be received from a Skype user without the Skype user having to use Skype Out, e.g. the call is free and technically between Skype users even though the call is being received by a PBX and not the Skype software you may currently use.
Skype Connect

A business would purchase as many SIP Connect trunks as required, each trunk represents a single concurrent call. Most businesses would find one enough however if you are a heavy Skype user, 3-4 Skype Connect accounts can be subscribed to. The price is around USD$7-8 per month, per trunk. No charge for any calls being placed between Skype and the PBX.

This can be a very powerful feature to enable as all incoming voice communications to your business can now be managed by a single system, e.g. the CloudPBX. Incoming Skype calls can be placed on hold, transferred, recorded and sent to voice mail in the exact same manner as someone contacting your business from a mobile or landline telephone.

Incoming Skype calls can display on your phone the name of the calling Skype user.

Multiple business Skype names can be defined within Skype Manager such as Sales, Support, or Customer Service. The Skype name may look like sales.your-business-Skype-name. This will ensure incoming calls can be directed or mapped to the right people within your organisation. You can of course also create Skype names for individual staff such as stephen.your-business-Skype-name. This would allow Skype users to connect to Stephen directly. Or a conference room, conference.your-business-Skype-name, this would be mapped to a CloudPBX conference room.

Skype “Click-to-Dial” links can be placed on your website or at the footer of your email to allow customers to directly speak with the sender via Skype, however the business user would answer the incoming call on their normal desk phone, not a Skype client.

Skype Connect is online and available 24x7. There is no need for the business user to run Skype on their desktop or have it enabled on any device as the CloudPBX is the Skype client and is also online 24x7. Your business Skype name (e.g. sales.your-business-Skype-name) would therefore always show “available or online” to the calling Skype user. If the call cannot be answered it will simply be sent to voice mail.

For your own staff who travel, they can also use their personal Skype account to connect, for free, back to the office. This allows calls to be placed from a mobile smart phone or a laptop. This would be an alternative to using a SIP enabled client on the user’s mobile device. The only downside of using the Skype client is you cannot receive incoming calls
Skype Manager
Skype Connect with Cloud PBX

Within Skype Manager, there is a need to associate a “number” with each Skype Name created. When Skype Connect communicates with the CloudPBX it passes the number (not the name) to the PBX so the call routing can be understood by the CloudPBX as a PBX can only understand numbers. The above diagram illustrates how this mapping is defined in the Skype Manager and associates a number with a Skype name. When a Skype user clicks on a “Click to Call” web link or simply initiates a Skype call from their Window’s client, the call map will send the number to the PBX and based on the inbound call routing defined, a staff’s phone will ring.