Notes from EC18: Why is Everybody Talking About Teams?

Enterprise Connect 2018 Logoby Alan Percy, Senior Director of Product Marketing for TelcoBridges

As I pack my bags and head home from Orlando and put another Enterprise Connect event behind me, I wondered why (more than ever) has one communications platform gained so much mindshare as Microsoft Teams did this week?

Only a few years ago I remember calling the Microsoft Lync marketing team, begging them to come to Enterprise Connect and share what they were doing with the enterprise buyers in Orlando.  At the time, AudioCodes, Plantronics, Polycom and a host of other were launching devices that were core to deploying Microsoft’s new Lync platform and we needed someone to explain what that vision included.

Skip ahead to 2017 and after a few product renaming cycles and do-overs, Microsoft launched Teams, a persistent chat-based team collaborative platform that included voice, video and desktop sharing.  After leaving the event last year, I committed to getting my Marketing department on the platform, pulling our content into the shared channels file folders and declaring an end to email within the group.  Fortunately, Teams was part of our Office365 subscription, so there were no excuses for not giving it a try.  Three months later, we were mostly there and you could call us “Teams converts”.   The voice and video experience was better than Skype for Business, the file sharing and collaboration was native and fully integrated into Office.   Life couldn’t get any better…or could it?  As good as our experience was with Teams, it was missing PSTN integration, was not integrated with Skype for Business and did not support external users (outside our domain).  There was room for improvement.

No surprise when planning my visit to Enterprise Connect this year that Microsoft expanded their footprint on the show floor and saw they had submitted Teams for nomination as “Best of Show”.  The keynote presentation by Bob Davis, Corporate Vice President of Office365 at Microsoft was a “must see” for me.

Much missed features were addressed in the keynote, including PSTN calling, using either DID numbers provided by Microsoft or bring your own SIP trunks.  Conference recording is soon to arrive, allowing sessions to be recorded and captioned, allowing post-event review.   Language translation would allow people to communicate in their native language and allow others to see their chat messages in their own language.

For organizations that need hard-phone devices, Microsoft showed off two devices from Yealink and AudioCodes that put a Teams client on a desktop phone for shared spaces or executive desktops.  Meeting rooms are addressed with a host of new room systems from Logitech, Polycom, Lenovo and HP.

There was a time when Microsoft’s commitment to enterprise communications was “questionable”.  Those days are long gone and with the one year anniversary of Teams, it seems teams collaboration is now front and center for Microsoft.

Alan Percy studies the communications landscape and manages the product marketing function for TelcoBridges FreeSBC software solution.  Learn more about the industry’s first no-cost commercial session border controller at 

Notes from MWC 2018: 5G was Everywhere and Nowhere

By Alan Percy, Senior Director of Product Marketing

For four days every spring, Mobile World Congress is the center of the mobile industry universe. Under the guidance of the GSMA, the event is a chance for the industry to show off their new mobile and wireless consumer products, underlying technologies and most importantly, a vision of the future. Based on these goals, the 2018 event did not disappoint.

Much like last year, 5G wireless was a central theme for much of the messaging and presentations delivered by service and technology providers.   The promise of the fifth-generation wireless is to improve throughput, reduce latency and enable a greater number of internet-connected devices. This is warranted by the ever-increasing wireless needs of Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices, autonomous vehicles, drones and consumer products. 5G will enable smaller, more dense cells that can handle greater device density, but will also require considerable investment in new equipment and siting agreements and labor.

Despite the challenges, it does seem that the industry is committed to the technology and 5G will soon be deployed in select high-value locations and for applications that can benefit from better performance. As my industry friend and pundit Dean Bubley regularly reminds me, there is a very narrow intersection of locations and applications that need this technology – plus a well-engineered WiFi network can often solve the same problem for a fraction of the cost.

So what does this mean for TelcoBridges? One goal of 5G is enabling smaller and more affordable consumer products that can support high band-width applications. Video, Virtual Reality, 3D holograms and other media types will be possible in consumer products, automotive and industrial applications. You think we have a lot of cameras and screens now? Just wait. All these applications will need infrastructure to provide network connectivity and security, giving access to the existing voice and video applications – the ideal application for Session Border Controllers.

Sometimes the vision doesn’t match the reality and MWC showed us first-hand the issues with large-venue environments where 100,000+ people and their mobile devices congregate. The Fira Barcelona was a communications black hole. Despite the best efforts of the local mobile operators, 4G/LTE connectivity was almost impossible for anything more than SMS communications. WiFi was a mess too, with hundreds of access points all overlapping each other while vying for the same shared spectrum. Even if the carriers could have deployed 5G in the nine massive exhibition halls (like they did for the Winter Olympics), very few attendees would have devices capable of using 5G. Hopefully the 5G network of the future will arrive soon and shed light on the communications black hole.

More good reading:  5G Promises Breakneck Internet Speeds.

FreeSBC – A New Approach to the SBC

Webinar Post-event Follow-up

Wow – what a response! Thanks so much for participating in the event and our apologies for those that arrived to find the webinar platform at capacity. Your response far exceeded our expectations.

The webinar recording is now available for playback:

Click here to play the Webinar.

You can also view the slides on Slideshare.

You asked so many great questions – we’ve captured all your questions and posted them with answers on the FreeSBC FAQ Forum – take a look!

In addition, many of the common questions about compatibility and installation procedures can be found on the TelcoBridges FreeSBC Wiki.