|Open Architecture Computer Telephony Servers and Tools|
BASICS OF COMPUTER TELEPHONY INTEGRATION (CTI)
World of Computer Telephony can be complicated and full of Jargon - most of
which is understood by only a relatively few people. For prospective purchasers
this can present a barrier to taking advantage of the many benefits the
integration of Telephones and Computers presents. How do you get started if you
don't understand the language people use to explain what they are offering?
This section is intended to introduce new Computer Telephony users to the
benefits of Call Management Systems - a getting started section -
without too much Jargon. Most of us are already using CTI without knowing it!
To understand Computer Telephony, we must address four important questions:
In CTI, "C" stands for Computer which, in the case of Chelston's CallHandler is a Windows 2000 based PC; "T" stands for Telephony system, the standard phone system used to communicate with, and "I" stands for Integration of these, which means the benefits of both are available to the users. Put another way, it is a person making a telephone call that is interacting with a computer i.e. a user picks up a telephone and by speaking into it, and perhaps manipulating the keypad, controls and/or is controlled, by a computer. Therefore, CTI is simply any communications system that incorporates both computers and telephones.
Telephones provide convenient speech and data connectivity world-wide. Computers (PC's) are a world-wide standard, which can manage and manipulate data and can also be connected world-wide. So, by combining the two together you get the best of both worlds. Simply put, telephones provide the connection to people, and computers manage this connection. CallHandler is the technology that enables the combination of telephone and voice networks. Computers can log data, are cost effective, they run scripts, network with other computers, connect over the Internet, send Email and FAXes, recognise voice, offer graphical interfaces for control and monitoring purposes and can be controlled and updated remotely. Call Management and Control is the process by which a telephone switch passes certain information to a computer allowing the computer and/or an individual to better manage the calls. The benefits of this Computer Telephony Integration are many and are best understood by considering the many new applications/services that are created. These include, fax on demand, on-line voice response information systems, chat lines, the Internet automated Contact Centres and many, many more.
Computers are digital, this means every piece of information they process is based on individual numbers, e.g. digits. Give a computer a string of numbers to process and it is happy - to do this it even uses a software program, which itself is based on a string of numbers. Numbers are the language of the computer. We humans, however, process information which varies continuously - a sound wave hitting your ears does not vary in the same way as a string of numbers but in a continuously varying form. If you speak into a telephone you are causing a diaphragm to generate a continuously varying voltage, which is transmitted down the line. For a computer to understand this speech the voltage it generates must be converted into digits. Since telephone operators, such as British Telecom, use computers to control the telephone network it makes sense to convert this analogue speech into digits as soon as possible. This is what British Telecom does - if you are telephoning your mother in Leicester from London then your speech is first converted to digits at the telephone exchange, transmitted to the Leicester exchange where it is converted back to an analogue signal for transmission to your mothers telephone earpiece.
Since a standard domestic telephone is analogue, a computer connecting via it (for example, when you connect to the Internet), has to convert from digital to analogue otherwise it cannot transmit. A modem converts the digital signals from the computer into analogue signals, to speak across the telephone line to the exchange. Remember, this modem speak is still converted back to a digital representation to traverse telephone network (I know this sounds crazy) If you want to avoid this conversion, you can have an ISDN digital line connected to your house. Computers prefer ISDN lines because they don't have to go through the analogue conversation stage - things go a lot faster and there are generally fewer chances for error. It makes sense therefore, if you are a business user of a call handler system, to use digital lines.
Large numbers of digital lines are delivered to a location in the form of E1 (or T1) connections. An E1 line is simply a connection that can handle up to 30 calls simultaneously down the same connection, (T1 is the North American equivalent of E1, but can only handle 23 calls simultaneously).
Voice Over IP (VoIP) can provide organisations with an alternative to
analogue telephone connections. Instead of using a dedicated circuit between
parties, as happens with calls over the public telephone network or mobile
networks, VoIP digitises conversations and transmits the data using standard
TCP/IP networking packets. This allows voice traffic to be carried over the
same wires as Ethernet LAN and WAN data, or across wireless networks if
required. With the right equipment, voice calls can be transmitted over the
Internet, just like ordinary emails, Web pages and other Net-borne data.
Because carrying voice and data on the same wire removes the need for
separate networks, implementing VoIP can save companies money, although
special digital systems and telephones are required. Savings can be made on
calls between offices, and especially from international calls, as traffic
can be sent via the Internet to call anywhere in the world. Fax costs can
also be cut using VoIP.
Call Systems Ltd.