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HOW TO CHOOSE A CTI CARD ?

Choosing a CTI( Computer Telephony Integration) card might not be easy for them who are going to deploy them for the first time or who want to develop their first IVR Application. I am trying to give a short introduction of CTI cards and some thumbs rule to pick your first CTI card.

Number of Port Or Number of Channels:
CTI cards come in number of channels or ports! It means number of telephone lines you can connect to the CTI card and number of calls your IVRS will be able to handle simultaneously. So for development purpose, you might be interested in a single port or single channel! But such is life, you will not find any single port CTI cards! The minimum number of ports/channels in a CTI card is normally 4! But then it makes sense! In a real life and real world situations, single port IVRS will be of no use! Even in development, if you could get a single port card to test, how could you make an application which would handle two or more channels/ports? So, you have to buy a 4PORT CTI cards! Be prepared, if you ask any vendor for a CTI Card, first thing they would ask is how many ports or channels! Smartly reply that you are looking for a 4Port card!

Analog or Digital
CTI card should be analog or digital ? well, this is little confusing, it actually means CTI card will connect to Telephone Exchange ( EPABX) using digital technology or analog technology ? By analog technology, we mean a telephone line ( which you connect to a telephone instrument) connectivity to the CTI card. How is it analog ? well, it uses TIP and RING connection, you know there is a call on the phone when there is a RING, and you UNHOOK, or lift the telephone headset to connect the call! You know the caller has disconnected when you hear engage tone! (I hope you know what is and engage tone). So, the analog CTI card detects the RING, unhooks the phone, and it detects ENGAGE TONE and it ONHOOK the phone to disconnect, puts the headset on the cradle! So all these activities are analog and takes time! And also there is limitation of number of channels! But in a digital connectivity, all those like RING, Disconnect Tone(engage Tone), everything comes in messages! And they use digital links. And all these jargons like E1/T1, ISDN PRI, R2MF, SS7 comes in! These are digital protocols to connect the CTI t the telephone exchanges! And the minimum number of channels in a DIGITAL CTI card is 30 voice ports! It uses a 2MBPS link. The number of voice channels will go up to 31 if you use a SS7 protocol on the same 2MBPS link (commonly known as E1 or PCM). So, the thumb rule is settle for analog card if you number of channels requirement is less that 20. Else go for a digital card.

Development SDK and Tools
Most important part for developers is, what SDK(Software Development Kit) the CTI vendor provides and on what platforms! Normally one should opt for a CTI cards who has SDKs for MS Windows, UNIX/LINUX and also Sun Solaris! Though configuration for Analog cards are normally pretty easier than their digital counterparts! So, if you are a new in the field, technical support is a must from the vendor! And if you have to go for a digital card, ahem, you choose only a CTI Card vendor who has a very good technical support! Else you are asking for a trouble!

Price
Well, you will have to negotiate with the vendor!

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{ 12 comments… add one }
  • Md. Asif September 9, 2008, 3:29 pm

    Very good introductory article. Its really informative. Thanx for the article. Could we get some more details about digital cards ?

  • Uttam Pegu February 27, 2009, 3:13 pm

    Thank you for the comment. Surely, I will write more about Digital cards.

  • Dipesh Patel January 6, 2010, 11:28 pm

    Hello,

    I am handling an prepaid ivr in an telecom company. Its going good and has also helped in reducing calls at helpline.

    But my question is, how can i make customer aware of the ivr and inform them to use my ivr.

    Things i do for promotion:
    1) Every marketing message carry my ivr. We ask customer to call on my ivr number to get information about particular offer promoted.
    2) Every call end at helpline we inform to call on the ivr.
    3) Poster.

    But still call at helpline are not getting reduced as per the target and call at ivr is not increasing as expected.

    Please suggest…..
    Please Help…………

    regards,
    Dipesh

    • Rupert May 16, 2013, 6:18 pm

      Dipesh,

      Very simply put, people do not like IVR.

      All through the industry, salesmen are promoting this as a fantastic way to streamline and save costs. They forget one thing, customers are people and PEOPLE LIKE TO SPEAK TO PEOPLE, not machines. With this in mind, with every layer of IVR that a customer must encounter before reaching an actual person, their frustration increases, so they will do anything they can to circumnavigate the system.

      One thing you MUST NOT do, is attempt to block people from doing this – the amount of people who circumnavigate the system is your only feedback as to how bad your system is (all IVR systems are bad, you can only hope that yours is less bad than others)
      If you can keep your system to 1 selection, to route calls, then so much the better… in more advanced countries, with more accountable industries than the Indian one, they are discovering that IVR merely degrades the customer experience and is no replacement for contact centers manned with well trained people, and a strict monitoring system with globally unique identifiers for each call.

  • Uttam Pegu January 7, 2010, 7:56 am

    Hi Dipesh,
    I think you are already promoting well about your service.

    Most probably, you should check usability of your IVR System. This is important as callers may find it difficult to use the menus, voice prompts etc. Unsuccessful call ( the calls which did not complete the call flow of IVR) count would be indicator.

    Thank you!

  • Sachin Aggarwal April 13, 2011, 11:04 am

    Hello Friends ,

    here i am a ivr developer ,if anybody want to have a cool ivr in your company or at home than contact me …

    thanks

  • Sid June 10, 2011, 5:14 pm

    Hi. One of the most important things in my 13 years expertise, is — what is the application? This is the 1st question we ask all our customers before suggesting which card they use. For example, if someone asks which car should I buy? He can buy a Maruti 800 to a Mercedes – it depends on what he wants to use the car for and his budget.
    Based on the needs, we try to help the integrator and customer by guiding him to the correct type of card.
    regards
    Sid Mehta, CEO
    foremost-systems.com

  • Cyril Zhang June 6, 2012, 3:56 pm

    Hi,This is Cyril from China Ehangcom. Eng.ehangcom.com. I am in new dehli now. We provice carrier-grade multimedia VAS platform for CRBT,SBC,Media Server,SS7 Monitoring,E-Banking,Video Conference,High Definition Voice Conference,Fax and Modem(T.150).
    It’s an All-In-One 1-u box with STM-1,64E1 and IP interface,supporting SS7,PRI,SIP,RTSP,RTMP. We can deploy VOD ,IPtv,Mobile TV and Video Ring Back Tone and Video Call Center. We are trying India Market now.Could you contact me? 0091-8826759286 Skype: Surong_zhang.

  • Nasir January 19, 2013, 8:20 pm

    Hello,
    I am developing an IVR system. The part which I am confused is how the DTMF tones will be detected and processed at Computer level. Can you please put some light on this part?

  • Uday Gupta March 6, 2013, 10:56 am

    very good knowledgbase. great stuff in all over site

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