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4.3 Voice Mail
.vml is the compressed format we use for voicemail, and is configured that way on purpose. If you are a DSL Light user, you have to use g.729, and cannot use g.711 for your voice codec. As such, we have to configure your voicemail to be in g.729. The .vml format is an implementation of g.729, which is a proprietary codec. We use the VMPlayer to allow windows users to play these files, as this is the player we were able to reasonably license.
Since the encoder is usually used by a service provider (company) to distribute content (the content being encoded is irrelevant to the patent), this is where the money can be obtained easily by the patent holder(s) - needing only a licensing contract with each service provider.
Decoders are usually free - the end user uses these and it would make not make business sense to try and obtain money from these numerous end-users (would need to manage and an account for each user).
Refer to ENCODING SCHEMES:
Currently, the only royalty free *encoder* is OGG VORBIS. It is roughly comparable to other formats such as MP3, VQF, AAC, MVA and other digital audio formats. It is different from these other formats because it is completely free, open, and unpatented, whereas the others are not.
WAV files are probably not suitable since they are uncompressed (large) and would more processing and storage resources on Primus' servers.
MP3 is Patented and would require royalties from Primus (based on revenues) if ever such an encoder is used with TBB.
The MP3 patent is being seriously applied by Thomson et al.; strictly non-revenue applications (or under $100K US) are currently exempted by Thomson. To clarify the licensing requirements, an e-mail request was made to Thomson which provided a "confidential" response. The only information permitted to be divulged is the following:
As can be seen from the Royalty Rates, depending on the total number of "units" licensed, the "unit" cost would vary from $2.50 to $5.00. Any specific details (# of servers, contract length, minimum payments, etc.) are dealt with on a case-by-case basis with the service provider.
As with most licenses, "unit" refers to each "logical" instance of an encoder; much like multi-user licenses (per server) for most commercial software like Sun or MicroSoft. The service provider would know an approximate answer to what number of "units" are needed.
Assuming 100000 accounts with one "MP3 unit" per 3 to 25 accounts, this would mean about 10 cents to $1.67 per account per annum. This translates into a total licensing cost of perhaps a low of $10,000 to a high of $167,000 per year - not considering minimum contract requirements.
Put in context, this also assumes there are 100000 customers on a plan with VM (need to exclude the basic plan accounts). Thus, it may not make business sense to add MP3 at this point - including other reasons from the VM application provider (VocalData).
All of this is speculation, of course, based on a certain amount of hard data and a certain amount of educated guessing.
You do not need to use InternetExplorer (IE) to play VML files. You only need to download VMPlayer.exe onto your computer.
The Primus TBB version of VMPlayer.exe will allow you to play a VML file as well as save it to an uncompressed WAV file format.
Using Internet Explorer only, you can play the VM directly within the Voicemail TAB by clicking the speaker ICON (in the Function column).
•VML file saved to a folder
If and when you do save a VML file, please ensure that you save it to a directory which does not contain a "space" in the name (i.e. DO NOT save it to your Desktop).
If the appropriate associations have been created, you can also click the VML file within your email client to launch VMPlayer.exe.
VML files cannot be played on the Macintosh. As the VML format is a proprietary one, there are currently no audio applications for the Macintosh that can decode and play this format. If you have Virtual PC or some other Windows emulator installed, you may be able to log in to the portal and follow the directions above for Windows Users. However, this workaround is untested.
To download VMPlayer.exe:
Before using VMPlayer.exe, you can copy or move C:\windows\system32\VMPlayer.exe to a directory such as C:windows\vml. Create the necessary .vml associations and shortcuts required to launch the application from here.
Setting a .vml association
- open windows explorer,
- click on Tool--->Folder option
- goto to the File Type tab
- under extension, find 'VML'
- Click on the 'Advance' button which is located at the bottom.
- Under Action, select open and click on the 'Edit' button
- In the field 'Application used to perform action' you will probably see something like "c:\windows\system32\vmplayer.exe" "%1". Change it to the directory you copied or moved the file to - "c:\windows\vml\vmplayer.exe" "%1"
•Custom Operator Number: See Press 0 to transfer a call from VoiceMail.
•Email forwarding: Enabling e-mail forwarding will send an audio file of all new VM messages upon receipt, to a single forwarding email address. Please note that the audio file sent is in the .VML format. There are instructions for playing VML files here. Upon receipt, they can then be saved as WAV files through the TBB supplied VMPLayer.exe.
The forwarding email address is usually your personal email address. It can be different from the notification email address below and/or your Options-->Web Profile e-mail address.
•Voice Mail Notification: You can also choose to have a Notification ALERT sent (rather than the whole voice mail file) for either All Calls or Urgent Calls Only by selecting ONE of the Notification Type (i.e. you cannot select all three). Selecting a Type will make it ACTIVE while automatically DISABLING the other two choices:
The Phone Number will ring and you will hear a prompt letting you know that a new VM is in your mailbox.
•A Numeric Pager: ** CURRENTLY NOT WORKING **.
The short text message which you specify in the Pager Message textbox is sent to any valid 10 digit Pager Number entered here. The page will appear to be sent from "yourTBBnumber".
•An email address:
The short text message which you specify in the Email Message textbox is sent to any valid Email Address entered here. The email will appear to be sent from "yourTBBnumber@primus.com" and will also contain the Name and Number (CLI) of the calling party - if available.
Note that this feature is generally used in conjunction with a cellular phone "text messaging" address (Mobile Text Messaging):
Standard incoming text messaging rates may apply as per your wireless plan. For example, as fredkiller notes:
On Rogers, you only have to pay if you want to directly receive the email, without a message indicating that you have received an email.
In either instance, the actual Email Forwarding or Notification messages will generally be sent within 1 minute of a new VM being left in your mailbox.
If you would like to set multiple email-addresses for each item, please see Sending the VML file and/or Notifications to more than one address.
There is an excellent Primus FAQ description available in the MyTBB portal forums.
However, you may want to send each of these to multiple people. This cannot currently be done through the Portal. Instead, this can actually be accomplished using your existing ISP services or your email client POP settings as described below:
•Use an email address (ISP, WebMail, gmail, ...) with a built-in copy & forward feature.
•For any email address used above, you can setup a filter or rule in your email client (Outlook, ThunderBird, ...) to forward the VML and/or notification to one or more addresses; while preserving it in the Inbox of the primary account.
•POPmail can also be used effectively in some cases:
•Setup each user's POP email client (Outlook, ThunderBird, ...) settings with the id and password for this address.
•Configure each POP email client to "leave mail on server for 7 days" or a similar setting, so that everyone will get the email - within the time period specified.