Noor Chowdhury is CEO of BroTecs Technology, a software development company that specializes in custom converged application development, including the Internet phone software X2Phone. In addition to setting strategic direction for the company, Noor architects and positions Brotecs’s next generation packet voice technologies and converged applications. Prior to Brotecs, Noor held leadership roles at Hypercom, Cirilium and Alcatel in the US, andITT/STC in the UK.

 

NTT: As part of its X2Phone VoIP solution, BroTecs recently launched a new application that lets Facebook users call friends within the social media site. What led you to add this function to the X2Phone service?

Chowdhury: X2Phone is a unique technology in that it is a cloud-based voice application. So unlike other voice applications, which require a software download and installation on your PC or laptop, you can simply log in to your voice account using any device with an Internet connection. Social media applications like Facebook and Twitter are cloud-based as well. X2Phone is the same kind of app, but for voice. So we found it was really a perfect fit between Facebook and our voice application.

NTT: How does the Facebook application work?

Chowdhury: Our main goal with this application was to help people connect seamlessly through voice within social media. Users can call their Facebook friends over the Internet for free. They can also call their non-Facebook friends’ landlines and cell phones very cost effectively. We are implementing a feature that will let users set up preferences for where they can be reached when they’re offline. So if a friend using Facebook tries to call you, the system will automatically find you, whether you are on your cell phone or a landline. If you don’t answer, the caller can leave a voice message, which will be posted to your wall the next time you check Facebook.

NTT: There seems currently to be a lack of voice functionality in our social media platforms. Do you think voice will eventually run in the cloud, like so many of our other communication applications?

Chowdhury: As everything moves to the cloud, we know when we connect, our information will be there. Our email is there for us; our Facebook page is there for us. But if you look at voice communication, it is not cloud-centric yet. X2Phone is moving voice communication to the cloud. It does not matter which communication device you use, whose PC you use—it does not matter. You still can use your voice communication account. From our system, it is always your voice, your account, no matter where you access it.

NTT: So, other than providing a way to actually speak with Facebook friends around the world, in what other ways does X2Phone resemble social media?

Chowdhury: Applications like Facebook remind us to greet our friends on their birthday or anniversary. But sometimes we forget. We may not log in on a particular day. Or we may want to be more personal and call a friend rather than leave a post on her wall. X2Phone can provide a reminder to call the people you want, and it will actually prompt you to make the phone call on a particular day. We are also working on a feature that will allow Facebook users to pre-record a voice message for a friend and save it to post to her wall on a particular day. Then your friend can click and listen to your birthday message.

NTT: What does the idea of cloud-based voice communication mean for business professionals?

Chowdhury: In business, we are seeing more people working from a virtual office. So at your office, at your cubicle, all the applications that you connect to on your computer through your corporate network are now available through the cloud. Now, if you want to work from home one day, you can access all your desktop applications because they are available through the cloud. But your hardwired phone is still sitting in your cubicle on the desk. This voice application allows you to move your phone to the cloud, and it works just like your regular office phone, except that it is available everywhere. Moving your office phone to the cloud really completes the virtual office.

Another benefit this system provides is the ability to converge voice into other existing communication applications. For instance, you can send a voice email that people can listen to from their inbox, which is really useful when you’re driving.

NTT: Voice over IP phone service has not always been the most reliable option. How has it changed?

Chowdhury: If you remember about 10 years back, cell phone communication still had quality issues and dropped calls. But over time, it became better. Today, we pretty much rely on cell phones, not only for personal communication, but also to handle business. The same thing has happened to VoIP. Access to faster Internet connections has improved, making VoIP much more reliable today. And not only that, we have improved the technology by adding some very unique features. We also use a unique codec protocol that allows our voice packets to increase compression, helping calls get through networks with smaller bandwidth while still providing the same quality of call.

NTT: From a big picture perspective, what do you think cloud-based voice systems really do for us?

Chowdhury: We are really looking at how we can connect people through voice instead of just email or message posts like we have now. Today with things like Facebook, there are no boundaries to communication anymore. We are connected to people all over the world. Cloud-based phone applications let people connect by voice without boundaries as well.

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