STREAMING / EXTERNAL music on hold (when?)


#1

Hi

I have a lot of customers who want (and are threatening to remove the system if it doesn’t happen) streaming music on hold as that means they can have a radio station or there own music / advert playing from outside the system.

The CISCO UC series did it (UC320W) i have quiet a few customers who wont purchase a Grandstream UCM system until this feature is addressed. The uC320w had a analogue input (music on hold, extension 34) and paging output (this is addressed in the UCM series by a paging SIP module so that’s good).

However external or streaming music on hold is a must, as all phone systems i am trying to replace has it (either by external hardware or built in), the moment i say “it cant take any external / streaming music on hold” they drop the product as they use external radio (most streaming), means i loose them for 5-10 years.

Image below is the Cisco UC320w
5 : LINE OUT (paging)
6 : LINE IN (music on hold)


#2

It is true that this is a highly desired function and has been discussed many times and requested. However keep in mind that technically it is illegal to stream radio broadcast or even non-licensed music. This is basically controlled by BMI and ASCAP. A quick read for rules is included here http://www.restaurant.org/Manage-My-Restaurant/Operations/Regulatory-back-office/11-questions-about-music-licensing it basically comes down to square footage, number of speakers, and if it is a free public broadcast to begin with. However once it is a phone call the “sound” is leaving the facility and based upon the number of concurrent calls going on you can quickly pass up the 6 speaker rule.

ANY playing of music that does not come from a licensed source (or public domain music which is quite old) is flat out against the rules and why there are companies that actually “rent” licensed music to companies for the on hold music normally on a monthly basis or you have an account setup with Pandora, Sirius, etc for business playback and you need to keep a copy of the contract on hand at all times as I have personally seen threat letters hit businesses from BMI for unauthorized use of copyrighted material which is normally sent in conjunction with a fine in the form of a bill for past due usage.

There are more details associated with it all but there is a reason publicly traded companies do not broadcast radio stations and are known for “elevator music”.

It is a kick in the butt and yes I have lost sales because of this as well but at the same point you have to realize that the UCM is a $500 unit and to convert analog audio to a SIP streaming source would add extra components and encoders which ultimately add to the cost of the unit. The Cisco UC series is probably the last generation IP pbx we will see with those kind of built in features for the foreseeable future as Cisco designed it as an interim replacement for key systems trying to get customers hooked and now that the UC series has been “end of life” by Cisco the only real option left now if you need that option is a traditional PBX as there is no encoding or transcoding to be performed.


#3

What ever the “status” of licensing, it doesnt apply as it hasn’t stopped NEC, Mitel and alot of others get streaming “sound” in to a phone system, mostly as its a needed feature for companies to have, so it doesn’t matter about what the law says, they all offer it.

The only thing that would stop is “streaming” but then using the “law” to back up the reason its not happening would mean all cars should be limited to 70mph as its illegal in 99% of countries (except Germany where most Autobahns are still unlimited) to go above this speed, and yet… we have cars out of the factory unlimited to at least 100 mph (even the cheapy cars).

Its not illegal to offer the facility, its illegal to do it with no payback, therefore that law wont stop Grandstream getting this hardware streaming audio somehow. To not offer means loosing sales.

I’m already battling one company to get them away from NEC, they have a radio next to the system playing sound, they wont buy it and almost signed another 3 year support with NEC provider as the Grandstream wont play audio when on hold from there source. Infact there branch office (no surprise) now has an NEC system as well, even though Grandstream was over half cheaper, didnt offer music on hold from there source so they didnt buy it.

Its hard enough getting a company to change then to add “ooo but you cant do this, or this, and that”, never going to sell it…

Even though the UC320w is end of life, ive had customers say “well i got the UC320w and 4 phones from ebay, can you install that”, lost sales again, even though the second hands Cisco was more expensive, guess what, paging and music on hold right out of the box, VERY hard to defend Grandstream when basic item like music on hold hasnt been addressed. Even worse when most NEC providers offer a support / payment plan over 2-3 years, there hardware does more and appears cheaper on paper, all over something that should already be built in.

I’d be happy if its an external RRTP or SIP streaming device (may be better as it can be reset easier to re-stream), however cant seem to find that. I know its on the wish list, however its hindering sales…


#4

SFX,
I agree with your reasoning and thought process. You hit it on the head when you said not illegal to offer as they are only offering a way to pipe in audio not particularly rebroadcasting copyrighted material as there are many companies that utilize secondary audio devices for on hold music/messaging.

I also agree that rebroadcasting a streaming audio (podcast, shoutcast, soundcloud, etc) should by theory be rather easy to be implemented with a software audio player/decoder as it can be done with asterisk via some custom added software on the server and maybe GS will jump on that bandwagon at some point. Much like you, I have lost sales due to this selling point but if a company is more concerned with having the Score (chicago sports station that a customer played through their 20 year old key system) I can’t do anything about it as much as I would like to say “hey look at this though”. I had one customer that I do other support work for and showed them how I could save them over a thousand a month in phone service fees and they were specifically more concerned over not being able to rebroadcast the sports station.

Keep in mind that just 12-18 months ago the feature list on the UCM was quite a bit smaller than it is today and if you look at the additional features that are in the new beta software it is going to be quite a bit more in the near future. So hopefully we will see a solution appear in the future.

I have been installing Cisco gear for years and have installed over a hundred UC3xx and UC5xx systems but I will not touch a ebay install of one with a ten foot pole these days and I only support systems I installed these days and I will do favors for a couple friends who install traditional PBX systems who call me for help in such matters as they are my point of information on traditional systems when it is past my knowledge base. They were great hardware when in their prime but compared to current product lines (including the UCM it’s just not worth the headache for me)


#5

all great. However doesnt change the request, when do we get streaming audio??? the codecs are in the hardware already (i would think), however considering VLC can do it software i dont see it as a super pain to add this… 3CX does it (granted there a Windows based system, but still… as far as clients go this is a standard feature that seems to halt most orders ive seen).


#6

Hi,
I’m an end user and came across this because i’m looking for the same solution.
I found a provider called Masergy. They have something called the Warp Plus by Pika Technologies. They seemed to be the only company that can do streaming MoH using this device. I have it installed and it does work just fine. My problem is with Masergy themselves and the support. So i’m trying to leave them but having a hard time finding another provider that can do this.
You say streaming can be done with 3CX, do you know how they basically do this? Cause I want to go with Appia Communications, they use 3CX.

I also wanted to add to the issue of licensing and the legalities of streaming for MoH. This was brought to my attention because here at our company we use the local Fox sports web site for our MoH. We have customers that have to wait on hold for the owner for a long time and they’ve become very custom to and expect to have that for hold music. So it’s become a deal breaker for us. But what I wanted to say is that I contacted both ESPN and Fox and told them the situation. ESPN said, no, we don not have permission to stream them for MoH. Fox on the other hand was very accepting and said they’d love for us to use them.
So at least for streaming a web site radio broadcast, I guess it comes down to getting permission from them.

But any info you can provide on how 3CX does streaming would be much appreciated.


#7

3cx no longer streams, but rumors do surface from time to time about it coming back as many used it before and it caused a stir. The stated reason for removal was the added processor load as the stream required constant transcoding.


#8

Hmm, ok. Yea the telecom vendor we want to use says they aren’t able to do it and I really trust their technical knowledge. I hope they get it to work somehow as using an analog radio has got to be the worst way to do this!
Thanks for the info, appreciate it!


#9

[quote=“DavidM, post:8, topic:13901”]Hmm, ok. Yea the telecom vendor we want to use says they aren’t able to do it and I really trust their technical knowledge. I hope they get it to work somehow as using an analog radio has got to be the worst way to do this!
Thanks for the info, appreciate it![/quote]

I was not aware you could even use a radio to do this on the UCM. I believe you can only use uploaded wav/mp3 files for MOH.


#10

[quote=“drostoker, post:9, topic:13901”][quote=“DavidM, post:8, topic:13901”]Hmm, ok. Yea the telecom vendor we want to use says they aren’t able to do it and I really trust their technical knowledge. I hope they get it to work somehow as using an analog radio has got to be the worst way to do this!
Thanks for the info, appreciate it![/quote]

I was not aware you could even use a radio to do this on the UCM. I believe you can only use uploaded wav/mp3 files for MOH.[/quote]

Sorry, I was speaking in general and I guess more on the old style pbx system. I’m an end user so i’m not very versed in these platforms. BUT, I will say this; There’s a unit made called the Warp Plus by Pika Technologies. This thing is on prem here in or office and i’m able to plug in a 3.5mm audio cable that is coming from one of my servers that is outputting the audio stream we use for MoH.
The hosting company we use is Masergy Telecom and the use Broadcore or Broadsoft. And they’re able to achieve what we need, streaming MoH. And yes, we’ve received permission from the site we’re streaming from.
So I just don’t get how they’re able to do this but no one else seems to be able to.
I want to go to #CX or MetaSwitch and the only solution i’ve come up with is downloading a podcast and uploading it as a file to play for MoH.
But at least it’s a solution that works for us and our customers that have long hold times.


#11

“When?” is a good question. other systems we work with use multicast to stream MOH…


#12

Its still not implimented, they have new hardware with no sound input on it, there are companies marketing “markering material” through “music on old” as the Grandstream wont do it, its thrown off the table, you already have a negative, so when they find another its just never looked at.

Judging by the awards Grandstream are getting its unlikely they will change it either as they dont see it as a “need”, clearly getting more sales when you have millions isnt a goal when adding a features thats been requested for 3 years wasnt added.


#13

there is no need for an analog input when they can just use multicast… other PBXs do that are Asterisk based.


#14

I am aware of that, however analog input was in the wishlist with a few backers… if they were going to do any “external” music on hold it would have been an audio input OR Ethernet based input via firmware by now.


#15

I am a provider of customized music-on-hold recordings. After 32 years in the business I can tell you that having on-hold recordings start at the beginning each time a caller is placed on hold is slowly killing my industry. Some of my customers have had recordings that are 7 minutes long, as they have a lot of information to impart to their callers, but no one is going to ever hear the last 5 minutes of it if it starts at the beginning each time, as with the Grandstream system and nearly all other VOIP systems. However, Grandstream does allow for multiple files to be saved and then set to shuffle play, which more closely approximates streaming audio. For those with custom recordings has been an acceptable temporary fix. The only problem with this arrangement on Grandstream is that all of the files don’t play before any of them repeat, so it’s possible that the same message will play twice in a row.