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Rich Tehrani
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December 2007

You are browsing the archive for December 2007.

Mother of all Outsourcing Jobs

December 31, 2007

Orexin A The Miracle Sleep Aid

December 30, 2007

Time Standing Still

December 28, 2007

2008 Airport Battery Rules

December 28, 2007

From the same people who brought you the alternative minimum tax comes something all new for 2008. It's what you have been waiting for. It is the equivalent of the tax code for gadget freaks. It is - virtual drum roll please, the new airport battery rules for 2008.

If you thought the security procedures weren't confusing enough, just wait… 2008 promises to be full of surprises, starting with the first time you encounter a TSA agent who starts to ask you probing questions about the lithium content of your batteries.

Yes, we now have new limits on the batteries we can take with us on flights.

Dell's XPS One desktop

December 28, 2007

I have always wondered why the entire PC market is just so inept. Apple routinely designs better looking computers and charges a premium for such products. Not so for PC makers who think if they keep designing commodity looking products they will do better. Well surprise, this is not a winning strategy.

To drive this point home in fact, Dell has done what I suggested back in a March, 2007 column where I asked if any PC maker can just copy Apple.

Wanted: Dead or Alive

December 28, 2007

Haven’t we all seen those old Western movies with those “Wanted” posters looking for bandits? I know I have. Now it is time for those posters to go high-tech in the form of electronic billboards the FBI will use to display the faces and names of criminals.

As the engadget article points out, be sure to commit your crimes quickly as once these billboards get rolled out, your odds of getting caught for your crimes will likely rise greatly.

I am just wondering what might be next for the FBI and law enforcement in general? Now that they embraced electronic billboards, will web advertising be next?

Technology News Wrap Dec 27, 2007

December 27, 2007

It has been a slow news week as you might imagine and there have been a number of stories which have caught my eye. Stories wrapping up 2007 are rampant and one worth reading is from Mae Kowalke and is titled 2007 VoIP News Highlights from TMCnet. Within the article is a summary of news regarding Microsoft OCS, Vonage, SunRocket and more.   In other news, Sonus got nice recognition as a market leader from Infonetics in a report which states Sonus has captured 26 percent of the worldwide market, with 42% coverage in North America region representing increases over Q2 2007.   A rumor which could be a deal changer for the technology market comes from Seeking Alpha and discusses a potential new Apple device which seems like a Nokia N800 clone. I am a huge fan of the Nokia N800 as it is speedy, has wonderful resolution at 800x480 and can do so much more that a smartphone.

Did Bell Steal Ideas?

December 26, 2007

If you are interested in historical telephony and whether Alexander Graham Bell actually invented the telephone or “borrowed” some patent ideas, you will want to read this story.

In "The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell's Secret," journalist Seth Shulman argues that Bell -- aided by aggressive lawyers and a corrupt patent examiner -- got an improper peek at patent documents Gray had filed, and that Bell was erroneously credited with filing first.   Shulman believes the smoking gun is Bell's lab notebook, which was restricted by Bell's family until 1976, then digitized and made widely available in 1999.

The notebook details the false starts Bell encountered as he and assistant Thomas Watson tried transmitting sound electromagnetically over a wire. Then, after a 12-day gap in 1876 -- when Bell went to Washington to sort out patent questions about his work -- he suddenly began trying another kind of voice transmitter. That method was the one that proved successful.

Mobile Menu Productivity

December 26, 2007

It has been a fairly busy holiday season from a work perspective but over the holidays I found some hours to get some much needed work done. I have gotten on a productivity and efficiency kick that started with my change to the Google Reader. The more I use this reader, the more I like it.   One reason I made this switch you may recall was because I want to take my RSS feeds on the go and the Google Reader works well with my phone.   But I now have another dilemma. I don’t always want to open my mobile browser to the Reader.

TMC Goes JibJab

December 26, 2007

Google Reader: Time to Switch

December 25, 2007

I am slowly becoming more and more of a Google convert and the reason is exactly the one they were hoping for.   My first RSS reader was actually called RSS reader and located at A while back I decided to use a hosted RSS reader so I could have access to my feeds anywhere. I decided the Google Reader didn’t have the good looks of PageFlakes so I went with the latter.   What I found is that in exchange for the much nicer interface, PageFlakes can bog down my entire browser and sometimes my computer. Of course I have dozens of feeds on a page which I am sure is a big part of the problem.   Still, I liked the PageFlakes interface (and still do).

Be Careful at Best Buy

December 24, 2007

For those last minute holiday shoppers – beware of Best Buy redirecting you to a website that is not the real but instead a site for those people in the store. Prices on this website may be higher than on the real Best Buy website.   I have heard of a duplicate or phantom site being developed for the reason of giving competitors bogus information but doing something similar for customers is new to me.   In order to avoid getting on this potentially inflated site while at Best Buy be sure to bring in a print out of prices from your home computer or if you surf from the store be sure your laptop or cell phone does not use the company’s in-store WiFi network and instead use your wireless provider.   See Also:   Gizmodo

OnStar Shut Down

December 24, 2007

For those cars with analog cellular cell phone OnStar connections you have until February 18, 2008 before your service will stop working. Some who have complained to GM about this problem have received a $500 gift certificate towards the purchase of a new vehicle.   What is amazing to me is the fact the electronics for the cellular connection are hard-wired into vehicles. Today, cell phones are dirt cheap and even come in the disposable variety; can you believe you need to throw away the car because the network was upgraded?  

Cars made on or around 2002 upgraded to digital cellular networks and will not be affected by the shut down. About 500,000 OnStar users have cars made prior to this time.   See Also:   AP: Users Left in Lurch by Network Shutdown

In-Flight Internet Access Update

December 24, 2007

I think I want internet access when I fly. I really do. Yes, the plane is usually a quiet time to reflect and write compelling content… Still, I can now feel comfortable flying during the business day from the west coast to east because I will not miss anything that is happening. While in the air, I can participate in decisions and stay on top of the latest news without missing anything.   JetBlue really kicked off the latest round of stories about in-flight internet access and now it seems many airlines have an internet strategy of one sort or another.   Some which fly over land have base stations and others use satellite.   According to the Wall Street Journal:  
JetBlue's LiveTV subsidiary paid the Federal Communications Commission $7 million for wireless spectrum that one test JetBlue aircraft has been using since Dec. 11 to communicate with about 100 cell towers spread across the continental United States.

The Shrinking Bible

December 24, 2007

VoIP Banned on Some Flights

December 24, 2007

Perhaps the best holiday gift for people who enjoy peace and quiet on their flights is an all out ban on VoIP in the sky. The AP is reporting on the sorts of things we may be allowed to do in the sky like view porn or talk.   It is too soon to know which airlines will allow what but I am sure there will be extreme pressure on airlines to allow talking if they can monetize it effectively. The question is how to allow talking without disturbing passengers who want quiet.   Will airlines have talking sections like they used to have smoking sections?   Then again, what happens when you are seated in a row that has a baby crying? Is talking more annoying than a baby crying?   As a frequent Metro North train traveler I can sympathize with how annoying some callers can be.

NY Times vs. Blogs: A Surprise Winner

December 21, 2007

I find the competition between blogs and news outlets fascinating as here at TMC we have dozens of reporters and a number of bloggers as well. Today I was reading Workbench by Rogers Cadenhead and I learned of the following contest: 
In 2002, blogging evangelist Dave Winer made a long bet with New York Times executive Martin Nisenholtz: "In a Google search of five keywords or phrases representing the top five news stories of 2007, weblogs will rank higher than the New York Times' Web site."
  Since the AP recently released its top stories of 2007 the contest could officially begin.   To avoid suspense – the winner was blogs by a 3-2 margin.   It seems to me that this bet is unfair as the New York Times is but a single news source and blogs of course are everywhere. There are millions of them.   But what is not surprising is the fact that Wikipedia beat both and The New York Times on every story.   It is tough to express dismay over this issue in a more eloquent manner than Cadenhead who said:  
Winer predicted a news environment "changed so thoroughly that informed people will look to amateurs they trust for the information they want." Nisenholtz expected the professional media to remain the authoritative source for "unbiased, accurate, and coherent" information.
Instead, our most trusted source on the biggest news stories of 2007 is a horde of nameless, faceless amateurs who are not required to prove expertise in the subjects they cover.

So there you have it… Wikipedia has become the most highly-ranked site on important news stories – and just about everything else.

The Need to Browse on the go

December 20, 2007

Lobbyists Writing US Telecom Policy?

December 20, 2007

Predicting Future Work Behavior

December 20, 2007

Many of my readers grew up in a generation where e-mail became common. Some of us might even remember the time when there was no Web or e-mail and communications was done in-person, with paper and/or using the telephone.   E-mail has immeasurably increased productivity in the workforce but with e-mail has come a barrage of spam that has made e-mail less efficient.   So if we look to the future of communications in the workplace it is probably logical to look at the next generation of workers to see what they are doing. Recently the Pew Internet and American Life Project conducted a survey of teenagers which should shed some light on how the younger generation communicates.   In the less than surprising category is the fact that nearly 40 percent of teens say they talk to friends on a traditional wired phone every day, and 35 percent say they do so on a cell phone.   In the less than surprising category is the fact that thirty-one percent of teens say they spend time in person with friends every day. Perhaps the reason I am not surprised is because kids go to school and hang out after class, etc.   Even a smaller percentage say they use social networking sites on a daily basis.   E-mail has lost favor among teens.


December 19, 2007

GENBAND has a nice UK win with its The M6 Communication Application Server which will help UK-based BNS Telecom Group PLC provide mobile PBX and PBX trunking services.   Paul Gill, head of BNS marketing said “After one demonstration of the M6 product, we immediately saw how easy it was to use, and we recognized the revolutionary, market-moving aspect of the platform.”   BNS as an alternative to international roaming is deploying their voice over Wi-Fi service, branded WiDial, allowing users to make mobile phone calls across wireless broadband networks when in Wi-Fi hotspot areas.   With solutions like those provided by GENBAND, next generation carriers utilizing IP communications are truly able to compete aggressively against incumbent providers for customers. IP communications continues to level the playing field for the telecom market and continues to benefit consumers worldwide.

Tech Firms Fined For Helping Online Gambling

December 19, 2007

Some of technology’s biggest players were just hit with a fine of over $30 million in total for aiding in internet gambling. Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google will all be paying varying amounts and admitting varying amounts of guilt.   Far be it from me to become political here in this blog but why is it illegal to promote internet gambling but legal to have gambling in certain cities? Why are lottery tickets sold throughout the country? Why is betting on horse racing allowed?   I don’t want to get too far away from the technology roots of my writing but why on earth does the US government have different rules for different types of gambling in different places?   Imagine explaining this to a friend from another country.

Asterisk Hits One Million Downloads

December 19, 2007

If you have any doubt that there is tremendous interest in open source communications consider the fact that Digium has recently announced the one millionth download of Asterisk – the open-source PBX.   Yes, that is “One million!”   This is a staggering number as after all; we are talking about a product which most people use as a PBX. This just shows the incredible need for this software – the brainchild of Mark Spencer.   In a press release the company made this announcement with a laundry list of other accomplishments.   TMCnet’s Tom Keating was blown away by the fact that Digium is now 24+ quarters old. In his own words, “When I heard that number - 24 quarters, I couldn't believe it's been that long. That's 6 years!

Google Chat Translate

December 19, 2007

Real-Time Machine Translation now One Step Closer   Certainly a holy grail of many in the computer industry is that of real-time machine translation. While there are all sorts of translation engines out there, they generally fail at translating anything but simple phrases accurately.   Google has been a player in the computer translation market for a while now and while I would like to say they have made a translation breakthrough that would be pushing it. What they have done is create translate bots that allow instant translation of phrases via a chat window. The translation is done with their current translation engine.   At the moment the bot chats are with yourself, meaning you enter a phrase in one language and it appears in yet another.

  In the future we can expect to be able to e-mail and chat with anyone in our native tongue and have the content translated to our intended audience.   Google’s translation bot shows us a baby step in this direction as one imagines soon the translation layer will site between disparate parties allowing users to communicate in real time using various languages.   If you want to try this bot for yourself just add to your Google Chat list where xx and yy represent the “from” and “to” language.

NY Travel Day Today

December 18, 2007

The Latest on Mitel

December 17, 2007

SIP Trunking Training

December 17, 2007

If you have attended any of TMC’s Internet Telephony Conference & Expo’s in the past eighteen months you are no doubt aware that one of the very well attended workshops focuses on SIP trunking.   The reason for this is obvious as there are so many IP PBXs that are still connected to the PSTN with gateways and subsequently not taking advantage of SIP to the fullest extent. As companies embrace SIP trunking they are able to save tremendous amount of money on phone calls while improving quality and reducing latency.   As we have done in previous events, TMC will once again partner with Ingate to bring you this excellent SIP trunking training at ITEXPO taking place January 23-25 in Miami, FL.

  As time has evolved, so has this session. Expect lots of new content at the event.   Here is the schedule:   Wednesday, January 23   SIP Trunking Professional Development Program   10:00am          Introduction to SIP Trunking                  ** Live demo of a SIP Trunk deployment to be featured ** 12:30pm          The Service Provider Perspective   2:30pm           The Enterprise Infrastructure   Thursday, January 24   Shattering the Myths of SIP Communications   8:30am           Myth: VoIP is Not Secure   1:15pm           Myth: Enterprise VoIP is Difficult to Deploy                  ** Live demo of a SIP Trunk deployment to be featured **   3:00pm           Myth: SIP Trunking is a Dead End   Friday, January 25   10:00am          SIP Forum SIPconnect Compliance Workshop     Speakers include:      -- IP-PBX vendors Avaya, Bluesocket, BroadSoft, Objectworld, ShoreTel    -- SIP trunking service providers BandTel,, Broadvox,       Cbeyond    -- Thought leaders from the SIP Forum, etc.   Here are the details and registration information for the SIP Trunking Workshop.

Avaya’s Unified Communications Future

December 17, 2007

When you think of enterprise communications Avaya is certainly one of the first names that comes to mind. A huge player in the space, the company has a tremendous amount of influence in the future shape of things to come in telecom.   As we all know by now, one of the fastest-growing segments of the market is unified communications. In order to get a read on Avaya’s positioning in the UC space I decided my readers would benefit from a high level Avaya interview.   The following is that interview with Stuart Wells, President, Global Communications Solutions at Avaya. I was pretty interested in many of his thoughts and especially in how Avaya is evolving to become a software company.

Nortel Sues Vonage

December 17, 2007

Vonage just can’t catch a break these days and seems to be the target of more lawsuits related to patent infringements than just about any other company out there. The latest patent fight is with Nortel, a company who says Vonage is infringing on twelve of its patents.   ``Defending our intellectual property rights is a top priority for Nortel,'' said Nortel spokesman Mohammed Nakhooda. ``That's why we are seeking damages and to put an injunction on the use of our technology with respect to Vonage.''   ``The litigation is ongoing and both parties have filed and will continue to file papers,'' said Vonage spokesman Charles Sahner. Nortel's filing ``is a countersuit in defense.''   Generally speaking when a company becomes as high profile as Vonage they also have an arsenal of patents.

Online Advertising Growth at 25%

December 14, 2007

Google Knol: Squeezing out the Little Guy

December 14, 2007

Google will soon be launching Knol – a knowledge archive similar to Wikipedia with the exception being t hat authors of content will be tracked more closely and ads will optionally be allowed to run on listings with authors getting a share of the profits.   It seems without a doubt that this will be a successful venture because authors will get paid to post content.   While it is logical for Google to have such a service it is obvious that as services like Wikipedia and others grow in size, they dominate search results. Already Wikipedia dominates top spots for so many search keywords… It is only a matter of time before the top six results on a page are from Knol, Wikipedia and Yahoo! Answers.   While it is difficult to fault Google for wanting to get into the search repository business I find it tough to believe that such a service is needed. Wikipedia does a fine job as is.

  But if people are incentivized to provide content it may make the results of Knol more accurate than Wikipedia.

Custom Readers: The Future of Newspapers?

December 14, 2007

While the internet news revolution continues to move along, I have recently become fascinated with proprietary readers. For example The New York Times offers a reader which requires a paid download for nonsubscribers and runs on Microsoft based operating systems.   Then there is Amazon’s Kindle, a wireless book/RSS reader about the size of a small paperback. I wondered what sorts of content people read on the Kindle and a quick check of the Amazon Kindle site shows some of their most popular downloads are the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Le Monde.   Perhaps spurred on by the notion of providing news on the go, the Wall Street Journal has been pushing the fact that their news is mobile friendly. In addition, the company is dipping its toes in the mobile reader market with the beta offering of a mobile reader for Windows Mobile devices.   I downloaded the software by entering my carrier and phone number on this web page and a few moments later I received an SMS message with a web link which I clicked on.   Within about 90 seconds the program was downloaded and running.   The software interface was quite attractive and you are able to see news of various types from a variety of countries.

OCS Training

December 13, 2007

It goes without saying that unified communications was one of the most exciting growth areas in the communications market this past quarter. Microsoft continues to be a major driver of this technology with its Office Communications Server (OCS) product. In fact, not only has Steve Ballmer been on stage to promote UC and OCS but recently Bill Gates was brought out to tout the technology as well.   The launch of OCS represents a watershed event in telecom and as I have mentioned earlier, never in the history of telecom has there been a new product roll-out supported by over 50 other companies.   To be sure, Microsoft OCS is THE communications product of 2007. Whether you plan on installing OCS in your organization or not, you should be aware that the marketing push Microsoft is putting behind this product has showed no signs of slowing down.

Cell Phone Cameras catch Criminals

December 13, 2007

Google, Blackberry and Skype News

December 13, 2007

Two things worth noting this morning have to do with mobility and video. First off, Google Calendar now syncs with Blackberrys. This is big news, allowing corporations to slowly wean themselves off of Microsoft software if they so choose. As Mashable reports, this comes a few days after Google announced a mobile application suite for RIM’s wireless handheld device.   In other news, David Meyer reports that Skype will soon be allowing multi-party videoconferencing otherwise known as Brady Bunch calling or video.   You may recall I asked Skype execs about this feature back in February of this year.

Apple in 2008

December 12, 2007

Net Neutrality 2.0

December 12, 2007

Should service providers be allowed to alter your web pages? The issue came up yet again when Toronto-based Rogers decided to insert messages containing sales messages in web pages they display on their customer’s browsers.   "We are concerned about these reports," Google said in an emailed statement to the Toronto Star.   "As a general principle, we believe that maintaining the Internet as a neutral platform means that carriers shouldn't be able to interfere with Web content without users' permission," the Google statement said. "We are in the process of contacting the relevant parties to bring this to a quick resolution."   Without a doubt, this is the sort of issue that begs for politicians to ensure there is network neutrality.   If service providers are allowed to display messages in web browsers, there are virtually unlimited things they can do to destroy other businesses. They could for example only show messages on Google search pages thereby giving users the incentive to switch search engines.  

They could reformat pages in such a way that they look unattractive.

What Toshiba is Doing Right

December 12, 2007

Wow! A while back I commented that Toshiba’s products were not very well known in the telecom space. This is an excerpt from that blog entry:  
My point is the company is well-known in computing but virtually unknown in communications. What if they installed soft client telephony applications on all their computers and devices?

SCiB Battery Breakthrough

December 12, 2007

The biggest problem with mobile devices has been -- and for the foreseeable future -- will be the fact that battery technology is not advancing fast enough to keep up with the power needs of today’s mobile devices. Battery breakthrough is something technology enthusiasts dream about but rarely get.   This may have changed as Toshiba has announced a new technology called SCiB or Super Charge ion Battery. And the great news for battery enthusiasts (do people really fit such a moniker?) is that there are two breakthroughs here.   The first is that in five minutes the battery charges to 90%. This is huge for mobile users and car drivers as they can rapidly charge their devices.   The second breakthrough is battery life which the company says is ten-years under rapid charging stress.   The technology is also environmentally friendly as it will make it possible to have more flexible battery-operated vehicles and the batteries will last so much longer.   It seems impossible that battery technology could have improved this dramatically but according to Toshiba, you don’t need to pinch yourself.

NextPoint Analysis

December 11, 2007

If you meet David Walsh a partner with One Equity Partners, you immediately think banker. For those of you who may not frequent the tiny (and blisteringly cold when I was there) island of Manhattan, banker generally means investment banker. At a telecom conference you can always pick out the bankers because they dress nicer than most telecom types.   I recently had a chance to meet with Walsh and discuss the formation of NextPoint with him. Generally the “money people” are shielded from the communications and technology media as there are generally more technical people who are better at communicating with the “trade” media.

Star Wars Everywhere

December 11, 2007

Should we be alarmed with the amount of Star Wars content on Tom Keating’s blog? I am not sure. As a huge fan of the Star Wars trilogy (quadrilogy?, quintilogy?, sextilogy?) movies I guess I am OK with it but what happened all of a sudden? Did George Lucas realize the price of jet and yacht fuel has just tripled and subsequently started licensing like crazy?   Here is Tom’s most recent post – an R2-D2 DLP video projector and here is an R2-D2 phone that Tom beat me to writing about.   Here is a Philips VoIP phone that I am sure Darth Vader would have used.

Genesys Buys Informiam

December 11, 2007

Genesys– once called Genesys Labs is one of the companies at the head of the CTI (computer-telephony-integration) revolution of the nineties. Often referred to as a middleware company, Genesys always seemed to fight the designation. In reality, Genesys was just so good at connecting call centers consisting of disparate equipment; they never entirely shook this “middleware” reputation.   Eventually acquired by Alcatel and later merged with Lucent to form Alcatel-Lucent the company became a smaller part of a large parent.   Until today, the Genesys division has been quiet for a company of its size. This is not unusual in such situations but today the company made an acquisition which may signal more moves to come.   Genesys purchased Informiam a company focusing on reporting and analytics.

Security: The Best IP Topping of All

December 11, 2007

The Internet Protocol is one of the largest enablers of the last decade. It allows communications to take place wherever there is broadband connectivity. Voice over IP, video over IP, fax over IP… Just about everything runs over IP it seems. But this is old news – right?

Dell Latitude XT Vs. Commenters

December 11, 2007

Perhaps Dell should get an award for superior CRM in launching a new tablet computer, the Latitude XT. After all, the company released the news on its blog and allowed potential customers to absolutely skewer it. The reason the company is being marinated and ready to grill has to do with the price of the new portable computer which many commenters say is a full $1,000 more than the competition.

  Here is an excerpt from commenter named Manifold:  
I'd like to add a few more question and exclamation marks there, but I'll refrain.   Dell, you've come all this way, after continual delays and disappointments, and after so much smack talk (the whole sawing tablets in half business), you end the race by just shooting yourself in the foot.   $2500 STARTING price...    What's that gonna get me?

Egads I’ve been Elfed!

December 10, 2007

Visual Voicemail: Get it Now

December 10, 2007

As the race for corporate efficiency continues and companies look for ways to get more from their employees without breaking the bank, one technology worth serious consideration is voicemail-to-text or visual voicemail which allows voicemail to be read instead of heard.   While this may seem like a trivial technology at first, the ability to be talking with a caller and receive voicemail messages as text while still talking is an amazing productivity booster. A busy executive can be on the phone while forwarding voicemail messages as action items via e-mail. Others in an organization can respond to these voicemails while the executive continues speaking.   If they choose, the executive can respond themselves via e-mail or SMS to callers without ever picking up a phone.   The only downside of the systems on the market may be the slight lag in time it takes to receive transcribed messages. Generally twenty minutes is about as long as it takes to receive messages via e-mail but short messages can be received in a few minutes.   In addition, if callers have accents or poor English, the messages may not come in clearly.   In my testing, even when you are dealing with difficult accents (those you just can’t help but imitate to your friends, relatives and/or colleagues), you will get the gist of the message.   I have written about SpinVox and SimulScribe before… Both services transcribe voicemail but SimulScribe also has applications designed for mobile devices which actually download the voicemails as audio files for easy listening while offline.   In this way, SimulScribe provides unified messaging functionality allowing a person to listen to voicemails on an airplane, subway or anywhere.

VoIP Inc. Gets Co-CTOs

December 10, 2007

Recently I wrote about Shawn Lewis leaving VoIP Inc. and a result I received a number of e-mails asking how the company can continue operations without Lewis. Today the company has responded to the departure of Lewis with the appointment of Arthur L. McCabe and Kevin Behanna as Co-Chief Technology Officers.   Investors have been asking me in-depth questions about the company but I haven’t had enough communication with them in the past few years to give any worthwhile thoughts.   In addition, I haven’t studied the company’s financials but I can tell you that VoIP Inc. has been extremely quiet for many months and the stock did much better when they were putting out more frequent positive news and engaging the media.   Finally, the company has recently dropped its contract with its current PR firm. We will see what the next moves are for VoIP Inc. I will certainly keep you posted.

It’s Google Vs. the Carriers

December 8, 2007

This past week at the VPF Winter event in Manhattan on a panel dedicated to the intersection of the internet, media and telecom I made the prediction that the company with the biggest advertising network will win the media and telecom war. My comments went unchallenged for a while the audience asked questions relating to fiber capacity and the like. Thankfully, Hunter Newby was sitting to my left and the rest of my esteemed panelists handled optical questions while I wondered silently why no one said anything about comments. Did the whole room agree with my thoughts I wondered?   And then suddenly, someone in the audience asked if anyone wanted to challenge my assumptions and then all hell broke loose as questions started to pour in regarding Google’s ability to be a serious telecom threat.   Here are some points made by both sides:  
  • Google is giving away many services for free and they are ad supported.
  • Many of these services don’t make money.
  • How can Google be a threat to telecom if none of their new services seem to be successful?
  • It doesn’t matter because the mere threat of Google in many industries is enough to make VCs wet themselves and scamper away like hurt children.

CompUSA to Close

December 8, 2007

In the neighborhood near TMC, three stores have recently been wiped away in the past years. The first to go was the hardware store which could not compete against Home Depot. The next was the photo development store because of ofoto and Walmart. The most recent was CompUsa because – well a number of reasons.

Bubble 2.0

December 7, 2007

Skype Developer Program Change

December 7, 2007

Andy Abramson reports that Paul Amery (interview) is no longer the Director of Developer Programming at Skype. I liked Paul a great deal and he had tremendous passion and enthusiasm for his work at Skype.   You may remember Amery was a keynoter at a past TMC event so I subsequently had the opportunity to spend a good deal of time with him.   I am not sure what the reason for this departure is but perhaps it was just time. Here is the statement the company put out:  
Change has always been a constant at Skype and will continue to be. We will keep re-shaping our business to take advantage of the immediate and short-term opportunities in front of us.

Google Chart API: 2008 Mashup Fuel

December 7, 2007

With all the talk of web mashups I find it amazing that the most interesting ones still seem to be map-based and especially revolve around the Google Map API. Although Google doesn’t monetize this API, the free publicity the company has received because of this application programming interface is immense.   So if mapping APIs was the first phase of mashups, will the second phase be charts? It would seem we may find out soon as according to Google Blogoscoped the new Google Chart API allows you to display charts and graphs by sending parameters to the API and receiving a PNG graphic in return.   For example the following URL:
&chl=Avaya|Cisco|Nortel|Toshiba|NEC|Aastra   will yield the following chart:

    This is what the parameters mean:   cht=p3 chart type: in this case, a pie chart. p would specify a flat pie chart chd=t: 40,49,20,2,2,2 chart values: text-encoded, and separated by a comma chs=450x225 custom chart size: 350x150 pixels chl=Avaya|Cisco|Nortel
|Toshiba|NEC|Aastra Labels: separated by the pipe character   What I like about this service is how easy it is to generate the charts.

JetBlue WiFi

December 6, 2007

Although I am disappointed by JetBlue’s decision to allow e-mail access only via a Yahoo! account and a Blackberry device (update: the service will also work with laptops) I am extremely happy to hear that at least e-mail will now be available while in-flight. And best of all, this service will be free!   Many executives have told me they don’t want e-mail access on United States flights because the plane is the last place where you can officially be offline and no one will fault you for it.   I always took the opposite side of this argument.   I must admit however that the airplane is where I write many of my articles and blogs. It looks like I will have to find a new quiet place in which to concentrate on writing.   Then again, unless the Blackberry 9000 is as good as I hope I may not be switching to a RIM device anyway… So I don’t need to worry about any of this.

Mediaware Communications: the new Blue Silicon

December 6, 2007

In 2000 my team at TMC received a call from a new company named Blue Silicon that received around 70+ million dollars to form a company that would integrate voicemail across disparate systems. The company launched at Internet Telephony Conference & Expo and in a keynote session the response from the audience was very very encouraging.   It seems the problem the company was solving intersected with a corporate need.   Shortly thereafter, the telecom bubble burst and funding for many new companies in telecom and datacom was ceased. Blue Silicon closed was forced to cease operations.   I couldn’t help but think of Blue Silicon when I read this Wall Street Journal story about Mediaware Communications, a new company allowing a user to have a web browser interface to a variety of telecommunications services from disparate providers.   In the article there is a comparison of this solution to the way Slingbox works – in both cases you are able to remotely access a service. But in the case of Mediaware, you are able to access your voicemail via a web browser and in so doing you are able to dramatically improve it.   I tried to access the company’s service but could not find them on the Internet.

FCC Upholds Metro Competition

December 6, 2007

At yesterday’s VPF meeting a number of people had trouble believing that Verizon opening its network is an authentic move to help consumers. This is partly because the company while on the one hand was opening was on the other, petitioning the FCC to decrease deregulation -- meaning they would be able to effectively block competition in major metropolitan areas.   If accepted, the petition would have subjected 34 million Americans in broad areas surrounding Boston, Providence, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Virginia Beach to fewer choices and higher prices for telecommunications services, according to COMPTEL (News - Alert) CEO Jerry James.   But then again, the two news items are not really related. Although there is a lack of details regarding what Verizon means when it says it is opening its network, the move is for the company’s own benefit. In the end, companies do what is best for their own interests and subsequently we need to applaud Chairman Martin and the FCC for upholding the best interests of consumers and businesses by ensuring adequate competition.   See also:  

Telecom Growing Nicely

December 5, 2007

It’s a good time to be in telecom. With all the housing gloom and doom it is nice to see that at least the telecom market is doing exceedingly well. Of course you have to pick your battles… Consumer VoIP is a rough space to be in (just ask Vonage) but companies focusing on the enterprise are as happy as pigs – well let’s keep this semi clean – Pigs in subprime mortgages.   Case in point, after a sluggish second quarter in 2007, enterprise telephony equipment manufacturers saw an 11 percent jump in worldwide sales in 3Q07 to reach $2.6 billion, according to a recent study.   “The Big Three (Avaya, Cisco, and Nortel) had excellent quarters, all growing well into the double digits,” said Matthias Machowinski, directing analyst for enterprise voice and data at Infonetics Research.   Worldwide sales of service provider next-gen voice equipment are up 5 percent in 3Q07 from 2Q07 to $956.4 million, says Infonetics Research in its "Service Provider VoIP and IMS Equipment and Subscribers" report.   “The bump this quarter was partially due to seasonal factors, as the third quarter tends to be strong, but also because of increased demand across the board, even in the TDM segment.

Speaking at VPF Winter 2007 Today

December 5, 2007

I am speaking today by the way. I forgot to mention it. Here is the session you can see me at later today –4:00 PM in fact.   Keynote Panel   Web, Media and Telecom Market   Panelists include Bhupender Kaul from Time Warner Cable and Hunter Newby from Telx. See below for some of the discussion points.   The panel will be an informal discussion on how these various markets are intersecting, and potentially merging into a single industry. Specifics include:  
  • Opportunities and disruptive influences of the Web and Media on Telecoms industry
  • Open standards, interoperability, peer-to-peer are viewed with concern by the telecom and media industry
  • Strategies carriers are taking in their "home" markets and in global markets
  • The transition of CableTV to Video over Internet and IPTV and its impact on the MSO market
  • What will the role of a traditional telecom company look like in 2, 5 and 10 years?
  • How will Google's 700Mhz bid change the industry?
  • Is the Web the new "telecom" industry?
  I know it is a bit late but assuming you are reading this blog entry on your mobile device while jogging in Central Park you can make it here by 4:00PM EST.  

Voice Peering Forum Winter 2007 Kicks Off

December 5, 2007

At the Voice Peering Forum Winter 2007 conference the attendance is very good which indicates tremendous interest in this burgeoning market. So far it seems clear that Stealth Communications, the company behind this event has yet another successful conference under its belt.   Perhaps the best indication of how this market has evolved is the fact I am sitting in a session on wholesale VoIP meaning the Voice Peering Forum is not just about peering but has evolved to the point where it focuses on more general service provider topics – not just peering.   The session really focuses on international long distance growth and is being chaired by Stephen Beckert, Research Director at TeleGeography Research is speaking. Here are some of the session points worth noting:  
  • Aggregate wholesale revenues are growing 2-3% annually while traffic is growing 20-30%.
  • The impact on carriers net is not as bad as on gross.

Off to the Voice Peering Forum New York

December 4, 2007

Tomorrow I am off to the Voice Peering Forum Winter 2007 hosted by Stealth Communications. Shrihari Pandit the VPF Founder asked me to help with some video reporting which is always very exciting. If you know Hunter Newby from Telx, you know Hunter has been evangelizing video interviews for at least a year. So tomorrow I get the privilege of being a reporter and instead of the printed word I will be dealing with the video frame.   When you get used to dealing with words all day your mind seems to know that when you interview you can go back and modify things later.

Certified WiFi Telephony

December 4, 2007

Good news for those vendors looking for 3rd-party certification of their WiFi solutions as well as companies and consumers looking for the authentic “WiFi telephony” seal so glaringly absent from the marketplace today.   Russell Shaw’s blog discusses how the WiFi Alliance has established a Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Voice Personal Initiative and discusses how you can get involved.   Why would such a seal make sense you ask? Well, not only does WiFi telephony have all the inherent challenges associated with packetized voice such as having to deal with bandwidth issues, latency and jitter… It has to deal with wireless issues as well. Examples include seamless hand-off of calls between base stations and eventually seamless hand-offs between base stations and cellular, WiMax and who knows what other sorts of wireless standards.   This new initiative should be very good for the WiFi telephony market.

Sell your Calling Card Business

December 4, 2007

Shawn Lewis Leaves VoIP Inc.

December 4, 2007

Blackberry 9000: The Real iPhone Killer?

December 4, 2007

If LG/Verizon can’t come up with an iPhone killer can RIM? Will the next Blackberry due in Q1of 2008 – the 9000 -- be the real iPhone killer? Moreover as a business device will the newest Blackberry have all the best features of an iPhone (sans iTunes connectivity of course) with the best of business functionality?   Will RIM give us the ultimate consumer/business gadget? There is a lot of potential here.

NextPoint is Born

December 4, 2007

TMCnet’s Greg Galitzine announced the rumor on October 19th that NexTone and Reef Point were to merge. Today the news becomes real as the companies are combining to create NextPoint. Here are some quick facts and quotes according to the companies:  
  • Combined Companies to Deliver First Integrated Border Gateway, in Addition to Full Suite of Products Under the new NextPoint Name
  • Woody Ritchey Named CEO; David Walsh Named Chairman
  • JP Morgan Chase’s One Equity Partners Leads $20 Million Investment Round To Address Accelerating Market Demand
  “The integration of session border controllers for both fixed and mobile networks with a security gateway enabled by the merger of Reef Point and NexTone will create a powerful product family for next generation networks,” said Malcolm Wardlaw, Director, Converged Services, Intelligence and Applications, BT. “The IBG has the potential to simplify network design as well as reduce the total cost of ownership in a converged world, supporting the needs of our customers in an all-IP world.”   “The increasing demand for secured IP-based mobility services in a multi-access environment is creating a need for a new category of equipment called the multi-access convergence gateways that provides intelligent interaction with subscribers, services, and transport mechanisms,” said Stéphane Téral, Principal Analyst, Service Provider VoIP, IMS & FMC, Infonetics Research.

Podcast Interview: Oswin Eleanora, Acision

December 3, 2007

In my travels, one of the more knowledgeable players I have run across in the space of telecom – and especially wireless communications is Oswin Eleonora (Oz) the Senior VP Sales and Marketing North America for Acision. You may recall I wrote about Oz and Acision back in July of this year.   I had a chance to pick his brain again regarding Verizon’s open network announcement, the iPhone, the future of wireless, the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), Android, CDMA, GSM and more.   How will service providers differentiate themselves in the upcoming years as networks become more commoditized? Oz has the answer.

Titanium Watches? What about Headsets?

December 3, 2007

Recently I picked up a titanium watch. In fact I now am the proud owner of two titanium watches. I just love the stuff… More durable than steel and much lighter. What if everything in the world was made out of titanium…?

Laptopless Meetings

December 3, 2007

I am obviously in the majority in my thinking that a meeting without a laptop or Blackberry is a wasted meeting. How often have you been in a one-hour meeting where thirty or more minutes did not even pertain to you? You are supposed to just sit quietly in the room and shut up and do nothing.   When you leave the meeting and your top customer wonders why you weren’t available for thirty minutes, you tell them it is because you were doing nothing for the last thirty minutes in a room full of people who spoke about things that didn’t really concern you.   If you are of the anti-productivity variety and your response is “You shouldn’t have been in the meeting in the first place” – you missed the point. Many times you need to be aware of the conversations around you so you can interject at the appropriate time.

Open Communications is the Future

December 3, 2007

If there is one thing Avaya is doing exceedingly well it is courting developers. Out of all the PBX vendors, Avaya has decided they will be the leader in this space. Cisco and Inter-Tel (now Mitel U.S.) have also done an admirable job but no one has matched the six thousand plus members in the Avaya DevConnect program.   Why is this important you ask? In the computer industry the size of the developer program is what determined the success of a vendor.

Dinosaur Mummy

December 3, 2007

Recently a dinosaur mummy was found in the Hell Creek Formation in North Dakota and while a dinosaur mummy has no skin – just rock, it has given scientists a fantastic look at what dinosaurs look like in real life. The 65 million year-old animal was 25 feet in length and of the duck-billed variety.   Scientists were able to discern scales of various sizes and even fleshy pads of skins on the hands which lead them to believe the creature generally walked on two and not four legs.

  The mummy actually has another mummy inside it as a crocodile began eating the creature and died during the act.   Scientists are upset that television documentaries and books are being produced about the discovery without the traditional peer review that should take place. It is not surprising that the need to instantaneously report on news that has changed journalism and virtually all facets of the media is now beginning to change the way science works. It would seem to me those scientists better get comfortable with wikis and videoconferencing if they want to continue peer reviewing discoveries before the public is made aware of the details.   See Also:   Washington Post: Scientists Get Rare Look at Dinosaur Soft Tissue, also photo credit Space Daily: Dinosaur From Sahara Ate Like A Mesozoic Cow

TringMe and Flash Floods

December 3, 2007

Like flash floods, Flash phones will soon be overtaking the market in a rapid fashion as more and more developers realize Flash gives them the ability to so much more than other programming environments. TechCrunch has an overview of a new company in this space called TringMe. Currently the Indian-based organization is looking to license its technology to VoIP providers. There is a demo on the Tringme website which is not so impressive at the moment but it shows what a Flash phone could be.   Why does a Flash phone make sense?

Consumer Gadgets Eclipse Business Phones

December 1, 2007

The maddening division between consumer and business mobile devices continues to grow and as the trend picks up steam it is apparent consumers are the winners and businesspeople suffer. This is not to say the problem isn’t in some ways necessary.   Case in point was the amount of time it took for Research in Motion to put cameras on their Blackberrys. Many corporate customers actually didn’t want cameras on phones it purchased and this is the reason many of these e-mail workhorses seemed so featureless for so long.   This weekend however it really hit me. Consumers are getting unbelievable products and businesspeople are left wondering why our devices are so boring and devoid of features.
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