Mobile VoIP Softphones Unified Communications

Knocking Down Challenges and Making New Connections

By Jim O'Brien

It is particularly fitting that as our team prepares for Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this year that I take a look both back and forward at a mission that our amazing team at CounterPath has been focused on some time now. Our mission is simple: knockdown, breakthrough and eliminate operational challenges that our carrier, enterprise and SMB customers may face when deploying CounterPath clients. Over the past few years we have taken our carrier-grade server technology, that is the core of our Network Convergence Gateway (FMC application server), and built a provisioning and remote management solution. A highly specialized web server, that is built on top of a telecom switch HA infrastructure. This server has become our Client Configuration Server (CCS) product and services.

Let’s backup…

At CounterPath we have been in the client business for some time. Everyone remembers X-Lite, X-Pro and eyebeam. All of these products feed into our current market-leading Bria offerings. Bria started, and still is, as a desktop softphone client for Windows, Mac and Linux PCs and has grown into the mobile space with clients for iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android smartphones and Android tablets. Bria supports voice and video calling, Instant Messaging, SMS and presence (along with a 100 other features I’m leaving off the list). It is sufficient to say that over the years we have learned a thing or two about deployments: carriers, enterprises, SMBs, individuals telecoms, ‘high security organizations’ – we have worked with everyone.

Raise your hand if you have ever been given a word document, PDF, or maybe a web page to follow as you install a client and walk through the 37 configuration settings that no end user should ever know about a businesses or carriers VoIP network. This is the competition. This is not carrier-grade.

The CCS has become the glue that binds Bria clients, customer networks, and services together for end users. Building the CCS has also brought CounterPath’s internal teams closer together. We collaborate internally every day on identifying and tackling challenges that our customers are working through. This involves our Client Engineering, Server Engineering, Documentation, Support, Services, and even our own own IT team (who are “Customer Zero” for our Bria SaaS offering and a great sounding board for us).

The CCS has expanded beyond its middle “C” namesake (Configuration). The CCS now supports features like: device tracking and control, royalty bearing codec tracking, and enhanced client debug logs. Each of these new features has provided some game-changing elements for our operator and enterprise customers. Picking an example of how we address an operational challenge: have you ever asked an end user to setup Wireshark on their Android tablet while on Wi-Fi at Starbucks or roaming on their HSPA+ Mifi in Toronto? NGTH: Not Going to Happen. With the new advanced client debug logs feature, the end user can push a button that auto-magically transports their client info, 2MB of SIP and XMPP traces, and a dump of the client configuration server back to the CCS admin portal where the operator or IT manager can open this as a simple text file and see the gory details of what is going on in the network.

Now scroll forward to today…

On the eve of Mobile World Congress this year we have announced a demonstration service called Bria play, previewing some new and unreleased features of our clients and server platforms. This invitation only service allows users to stay connected with work and home during the event, for free, as well as connect with other Bria play users at Mobile World Congress.

Along with giving users an easy way to connect and communicate, Bria play also demonstrates CounterPath’s simplified on-boarding process ability. This is the latest challenge that we are knocking down for our customers. On-boarding a customer, in particular for our carrier customers, is a big deal. Making sign up and provisioning easy and seamless, without people doing provisioning, is a big deal. Our solution combines a few elements, the first, and most customer oriented, piece is the in-app signup functionality in our clients. Bria-based clients are downloaded from either iTunes or Google Play, with the signup process being done completely within the app. Bria communicates with the CCS on-boarding server to collect user information, verify their identity, provision both the network elements and clients own configuration, and launch the client application – all with minimal impact on the end user.

Interested in learning more? CounterPath is providing the demo service out to customers, partners, and people we interact with at the show. I will also be on-site at MWC as well a number of our other team members. If you are attending too, stop by our meeting room in Hall 2, Room 163 for a chat. We look forward to making some new connections.

Oh, and if you want to contact me at the show, my Bria Play number is +1-813-464-2201.

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