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Zoom audio feature could reduce PSTN costs for large enterprises

Zoom has expanded a service that helps large organizations reduce PSTN costs by establishing SIP connections to the Zoom audio cloud.

Zoom enhanced the SIP audio service it offers for large enterprises this week, while also rolling out two smaller audio features that should benefit all users of the web conferencing platform.

Zoom's Session Initiation Protocol audio feature lets businesses establish an SIP connection between their IP telephony network and the Zoom cloud. That way, Zoom users can conduct Zoom audio conferencing over the SIP trunk rather than the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

Zoom said the SIP connection helps enterprises save money by reducing spending on PSTN services. The vendor is targeting the feature at companies that conduct more than 1 million minutes of audio conferencing every month and have significant deployments of IP telephony.

Zoom already has several customers using the service. Now, the vendor is giving companies more control over which calls get directed to the SIP trunk and which are handled by Zoom's standard PSTN dial-in and call-out service.

This flexibility could benefit companies with multiple offices that rely on a mix of telephony endpoints. For example, a company could use the SIP trunk for calls at its headquarters in the United States, while directing calls from a remote office in Bulgaria to the PSTN.

"I think this helps Zoom in its quest to win in the larger enterprise market," said Irwin Lazar, analyst at Nemertes Research, based in Mokena, Ill. "It certainly helps them compete with the likes of Cisco and Microsoft that offer this kind of integration between their meeting apps and their on-premises phone platforms."

The SIP audio connection is available to businesses subscribed to Zoom's premium audio plan. Those customers commonly get billed per minute for the use of Zoom's call-out, toll-free dial-in and premium toll dial-in services.

"SIP Connected Audio provides opportunity to avoid or minimize those fees in exchange for the costs of establishing and maintaining the SIP trunk plus a small flat-rate, per-user fee that Zoom charges for this service," said Walt Anderson, senior product manager with Zoom.

Zoom highlights additional audio enhancements

Zoom announced two other new audio features this week for all customers. The vendor has both freemium and premium offerings.

Users can now join and start Zoom audio conferences using only phones. That is, a host no longer needs to open the Zoom desktop client or web application to start the meeting.

Zoom also updated its cloud infrastructure to avoid voicemail recordings being added to a meeting when a participant doesn't answer the phone. Now, Zoom will require users to press 1 to join the meeting if Zoom's technology detects that the phone seemed to ring for too long or too short of a time.

Founded in 2011, Zoom is facing increasing competition in the web conferencing market from Microsoft and Cisco, as well as other pure cloud startups, such as BlueJeans.

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