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Rich Tehrani
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March 2008

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Motorola's Helpful Help Desk Solution

March 31, 2008

As carriers look to add more and more services to their portfolio of products, it is apparent that support costs will continue to increase in direct proportion to the concurrent services offered. Sure, there are some services which have fewer problems than others but generally speaking the following formula applies:

# of services * average support call ratio * #of subscribers = total #of support calls

Of course not every subscriber gets every service which means this formula is not entirely accurate but what is important to note - as stated above -- is that as the number of services increases, the number of support calls increases in proportion.

For communications providers these increased problems come at a time when their call centers are trying to increase service levels and first call resolution ratios.

One simple way to achieve these goals is to use a web conferencing solution.

I recently had a chance to discuss one company's solutions to these problems. In a conversation with Tom Elam - Director of Software Marketing for Motorola's Broadband Solutions Group I got to learn how Motorola is helping service providers and call centers of various sizes with their support issues through the use of web conferencing.

The company has a product called eCare which provides web conferencing with the intention of improving customer support levels.

In order to activate the service, a URL is pushed to the client or generated on a web page. Once activated, the 128-bit security enabled java application is downloaded and activated on the client's desktop allowing the support center to help the customer via customer approved actions.

The customer retains total control and they can kill the session at any time they like.

Save Money in a Slow Economy

March 31, 2008

What is one of the best ways to cut costs without cutting heads or disrupting you key business operations? One simple solution is to explore the adoption of a telecom expense management or TEM solutions.

Recently I had a chance to sit down with the team at Anchorpoint to learn just how they are helping companies cut costs in a painless fashion.

One of the biggest problems with how companies currently deal with phone bills is that they put highly skilled workers in charge of what is really a low skill job. In addition, the job of approving telecom bills is time sensitive as phones tend to stop working when bills aren't paid. So as these highly skilled workers deal with the time sensitive job which they often feel is below their skill set they tend not to take the job very seriously and subsequently rubber stamp bills to get them through.

So companies are paying good salaries to people to do a job which doesn't get done too well.

In my conversation at Anchorpoint's headquarters in Massachusetts, we discussed how in some cases companies deploying TEM solutions can cut headcount but this usually pales in comparison to saving perhaps 10 % or more on a 10 million dollar bill.

So instead of focusing on a company's ability to cut heads they explain that these high value workers could do more important things in the company.

Of course I brought up the $99 flat rate bill phenomenon being marketed by the wireless carriers and the team told me that the result of this new marketing approach is that companies now have a metric they must come below.

So a CFO may expect phone bills to be less than $99 and a compensation plan can even be assigned to a worker based on the percentage of savings over this amount.

We further went on to discuss how telecom cost management compares with travel management.

Allworx Does Analog

March 31, 2008

Is it that Sandra Gault at Allworx loves her job or is it that Allworx is a great place to work? I say this because whenever I meet with her, she seems to be so excited about how her company helps SMBs be more productive and efficient.

Even when we talk and her company's news isn't earth-shattering like new Allworx Px 6/2 Expander which companies will use to add more analog ports to Allworx systems, I find myself listening intently as Gault explains that customers and resellers have been clamoring for such a product and as a result you can expect to see it released in about three months time.

By the way, if you have an Allworx 24x, 10x, or 6x system, this new Expander offers plug-and-play installation (assuming you have the latest firmware).

Why on earth would I even be writing about non-IP communications solutions you ask? Most of you probably thought analog was dead to me.

Well, in truth, IP is great and it allows companies to be more productive, etc. But you know what… Not everyone is ready for VoIP today and allowing companies a migration path is always logical.

For companies interested in adding analog trunks, you should know that three of these units can be added for a total of 18 lines and moreover, the retail price for each box is $1,550.

As Sandra points out, you can now easily replace your aging TDM system with "VoIP readiness."

In addition, Gault went on to tell me about how their systems have incredible levels of cell phone integration with the ability to transfer calls, reject or send them in voicemail right from your cellular gadget of choice.

She tells me they have 55,000 customers so far and they are doubling their customer number each month.

Certainly, Allworx is on a tear and they are one of the few companies that other new players in the market tell me they want to be like.

Sprint Success

March 31, 2008

Polycom's Software Play and More

March 31, 2008

Depending on the era, if I asked people what the name Polycom makes them think of they would give me different answers. In the nineties it was video conferencing and audio conferencing devices. Around 2000 you could add IP phones to this list. With the Spectralink acquisition you then could add wireless phones to this list.

Starting in 2008, the company will also be known for software solutions and in a recent meeting with company execs I got to learn about their new Productivity Suite which retails for a reasonable $11.99/seat.

So what void did Polycom see in the market that would have them go out and start selling software solutions?

Polycom's Durable 8002 VoIP Phone

March 31, 2008

I have to be frank… I have never been in a meeting where I saw a product launch accompanied by a phone being slammed on a table. So I was a bit surprised when Polycom's Ben Guiderian did just that with the company's new 8002 phone.

As it flashed before my eyes on the way to making a big bang on the table, I was told by Ben the new phone is an 802.11b WiFi device which is priced lower than the company's higher-end solutions. The 8002 costs just $349 for a phone, handset and charger and for another $50 you can get an extra charger and battery meaning the phone will always be functional.

On a typical AP you can get 3-4 simultaneous calls. This compares to Polycom's higher-end solutions which can potentially quadruple the number of calls.

So why would I even bother writing about a WiFi phone from Polycom at $349 when for about $150 less you can get a consumer WiFi telephony device which also supports the more robust 802.11g?

Simply stated because this device has a removable battery, Polycom has a great experience with SIP interoperability and if you break one of the consumer WiFi phones, you have now paid more than the virtually indestructible Polycom.

NEC's New Vision

March 31, 2008

Recently I had a chance to sit down with NEC Unified Solution's new president Jeffrey Kane and talk shop. Kane has an extensive background in systems integration having worked at firms like Perot Systems and EDS. Most importantly, he has a passion for success I haven't seen in my NEC telecom contacts over the past fifteen plus years.

He talks of unleashing the power of the 43 billion dollar company and bringing communications and computing together. The company purchased Sphere a while back for its SOA technology and Active Voice too is owned by the computing and telecom giant.

Still, with all that's going for them, in my experience it is always difficult for large multinational companies with non-US headquarters to compete against the likes of Cisco and Avaya.

OnRelay's Mobile PBX Solution

March 31, 2008

Years ago I realized that mobile phones would get cheaper and cheaper and eventually cause a threat to the PBX vendors of the world. Of course… trends are generally easy to spot but timing technology adoption is generally very difficult.

My friends, the time has come for PBX vendors to fear the mobile phone as a company called OnRelay is embarking on a super-aggressive campaign to get us to scrap our desk phones for mobile devices.

In a conversation with company President and CFO Marie Wold I got to see her configure her phone settings right from an application on her Nokia phone. When I asked her repeatedly if you could also use a web portal to change the settings of the phone service, she repeatedly answered, "Why would you need a web browser?" At first I thought she was being difficult but then I realized in most cases she is likely right. Besides, it is tough to argue with a company whose marketing says they will help eliminate 47 million Kg of e-waste.

Here at CTIA in Vegas

March 31, 2008

So here I am in Vegas. I had a 45 minute wait for a cab followed by a 15 minute wait to check in to find out that the hotel I thought I was staying at is not the right hotel but instead I am next door. Check in time is 3:00 but rooms aren't ready so I am at the restaurant just waiting and waiting.

As I wait I am seated next to a table with 15 women.

CTIA Bound

March 31, 2008

Skype+Keyboard Convergence

March 31, 2008

Everything seems to be coming together -- camera, phones, e-mail devices, etc. It was just a matter of time before a company decided to merge Skype, a keyboard and silicon to develop a VoIP-ready keyboard with microphone and speaker built-in.

It is bendable, waterproof, has a two-port USB hub, a volume control and LEDs to indicate status.

The only downside is that I am not sure where I would use such a product. Perhaps outside in the rain -- assuming my computer and monitor are protected from the elements?

Would this product be the ideal boating accessory? Perhaps.

Would this keyboard be great for parents who want to work at the kitchen table without the fear associated with spills?

You have to hand it to the designer who got my attention by integrating such disparate items into a single waterproof package.

I guess there is now officially no excuse for not blogging or Skyping in the rain.

[USB Fever via GeekAlerts]

VPF Winter 2007 Video Interviews

March 30, 2008

Although the temperature near TMC's Norwalk, CT headquarters is below freezing, I am told we are actually in spring. And I am admittedly late in sharing this information with you, frequent readers of these pages know I believe it is better to post late than not at all.

A few months back, Gary Kim and I had the opportunity to conduct video interviews with a number of movers and shakers in the communications market. These interviews took place at the Voice Peering Forum, Winter 2007. It is worth noting that shortly after these interviews TMC was fortunate enough to add Gary Kim as a columnist.

On this page you will find lucid interviews with the following people:

Google's Government Wins

March 30, 2008

Google is slowly but surely racking up government wins and has some pretty big names under its belt so far. For example, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the state of Alabama and Washington, D.C. are just some of the search giant's customers.

What is the government purchasing you ask?

Tax VoIP Illegally, Get a Raise

March 30, 2008

It is a sad day when a city government decides it needs to come after a specific technology -- one that has truly helped and empowered its constituents, in order to generate more revenue.

The city of Los Angeles just passed a nine percent tax on VoIP calls. In California, the voters actually have to approve tax changes and in this case, Measure S was passed by two-thirds.

Consider this however... the measure was placed on the ballot so late that there was virtually no time for anyone to counter it and let consumers know what the downsides are.

In addition, the the measure was packaged with a promise of increased police protection. Who wouldn't vote for that?

Nortel's Recent Wins and More

March 29, 2008

Nortel's Wes Durow

One of the largest if not the largest deployment of VoIP I am aware of has to be Nortel's 10-year, $300 million dollar win with the US Social Security Administration which will support fifty-five thousand virtual workers and support baby boomers worldwide.

Nortel has had a number of DoD wins recently and part of the reason for this is due to the timing of a test network the Canadian telecom giant had at the DoD when a major network outage occurred about seven years ago. Apparently, Nortel's network was the most resilient and stayed up while others did not… Since this time, the company has been doing well supplying myriad government solutions.

In an interview with Wes Durow, who is Nortel's VP, Enterprise Solutions Global Product Marketing, we discussed the fact that the company refreshed the entire Bay Networks line (the data networking division) about seven months back and as they were doing this they had customer requests to develop more energy efficient solutions.

Now Durow proudly tells me the company's data products are much more resilient, have better performance and are extremely energy efficient.

According to Durow, "You can upgrade your data network and pay for VoIP with your energy savings."

This is all good news and Durow says candidly that companies do not buy products for the sake of being green but instead for the energy efficiency. I get the feeling he is right on with this comment.

I just can't imagine the head of IT going into a management meeting and saying I think throwing away our old network is the green thing to do and keeping her/his job.

Wes went on to tell me that there is a great deal of activity in their telepresence sales and they have partnered with Tandberg and Polycom, companies who supply some of the most open solutions on the market.

Durow went on to explain they have a suite of products that extend mobility which they refer to as unified mobile convergence. The solutions have native Microsoft and IBM UC connectivity and they further allow access to IP PBX features from the cell phone and allow you to move between WiFi zones without dropping calls.

We can also expect Nortel to get more active in the developer arena and this is good news for customers as the more developers get on the Nortel bandwagon, the more Nortel customers benefit.

Whaleback Podcast

March 29, 2008

It's funny, in most other businesses, you wouldn't use the expression "one throat to choke" as a positive but in communications, the complexity of systems has evolved to a point where this expression is not only accepted, it is cherished.

That's all I could think about in fact as I listened to a recent podcast between TMC editorial director Greg Galitzine and Whaleback's Mark Galvin.

During part of the podcast, Galvin explained how his company's VoIP service allows small to medium businesses to take advantage of the services which were once only available to large enterprises.

If you are interested in learning more about hosted VoIP and some of the unique aspects of such services... especially some common pitfalls and solutions , this podcast is certainly worth a listen.

P.S. How often do you get to increase your knowledge of dolphins, whales, VoIP and Orcas by listening to a single podcast?

Disney, Netflix, Blackberry and Disney Outages

March 29, 2008

You would think the happiest place on earth would have the happiest engineers and subsequently would be immune from power outages that take out the rides and other fun attractions. After all, electricity is one of the happiest inventions around.

Sadly, a circuit breaker problem took out many of the fun things to do at Disney's Epcot Center this past week. Tom Keating has the details and I just can't help but wonder after reading Tom's blog if it makes sense to have Goofy in charge of the disaster preparedness at the park.

But it isn't just the small small worlds that had outages this past week. There was Netflix and DirecTV who were both out at the beginning of the week and RIM who at least let us know they were going to be out for up to five hours last night.

I tell you, if all this keeps up we may see people going back to books.

TMC Growth Update

March 28, 2008

Congratulations to TMC's Kevin Kiley who was just promoted to VP of Finance. Great job Kevin.

In addition I would like to thank TMC readers and our partners who have allowed us to continue our wave of growth.

In the past few months we have hired the following new team additions:

  • John McInerney, Marketing Projects Manager
  • Tim Bongiovanni, Account Executive, Customer Interaction Solutions magazine
  • Mo Harrim, Web Developer
  • Richard Moavero, Account Executive, IP Communications Group
  • Kevin Lake, Account Executive, Events Division
  • Tullio Gianitti, Account Executive, Webinar Group

This does not include our new writers (Charlotte Wolter, Gary Kim, Jon Arnold, Peter Radzieski, Scott Wharton, David Yedwab, Taran Singh, Rick Graves, Dr. Alan Solheim, Jagan Jagannathan, Phil Hill, Chris Gatch, Dan Miller and eight full-time freelance editorial contributors.)

Once again, I would like to extend my appreciation to TMC readers, sponsors and team members for helping us achieve our current growth levels and we look forward to making 2008 the year when all of our products perform better than ever.


Plantronics .Audio 480

March 28, 2008

I just had a chance to test drive the Plantronics .Audio 480 USB Headset also known as the Virtual Phone Booth. While I generally have problems with all in-the-ear headphones, these felt better in my ears than many others I have tried.

For example the Shure E3c Sound Isolating Earphones (currently discontinued) don't fit in my ears well and subsequently I have to resort to the ear plug type adapter that you roll tightly and then let expand in your ear.

The problem with the Shure ear buds is that if your fingers are not absolutely just-washed clean, the buds get dirty and don't work as well -- they then need replacement. This includes the carbon residue from newspapers that you don't even realize is embedded in your fingers.

Another problem is if you take one of these foam ear buds out to speak with someone on a flight you have to take time to roll it again before reinserting it back in your ear.

I am somewhat impressed with the sound quality of the Plantronics headset. In tests of dance, pop and classical music, I thought the range of frequencies transmitted to be good.

Cubans Can Now Use Cell Phones

March 28, 2008

Colorodo Data Center Available

March 28, 2008

A relative of mine has a data center for lease/purchase and I figured my readers may be interested. It is located in Thornton, Colorado about eleven miles north of Denver. The building includes a cafeteria, hundreds of parking spaces and almost 300 hundred thousand feet of space.

Here is the overview of the building:

The facility is located at 12121 Grant Street, City of Thornton, Adams County, in the Washington Square Business Center, which is approximately eleven miles north of Denver on Interstate Highway 25 at 120th Avenue. Built in 1983 the precast and steel building is seven stories plus a partial Penthouse.

China Weather Control

March 28, 2008

Sure you could carry an umbrella if it rains but if you are China, you have a major problem... You make the umbrellas for the world but you are so busy shipping the umbrellas to other countries that you don't have any left for your own citizens.

This sad state of affairs can only be solved with technology and some lead. You see the Chinese government has been experimenting with ways to reduce rain by shooting rockets at clouds and seeding them with liquid nitrogen which should shrink the size of the water droplets.

Is this a joke you ask? Certainly it isn't to the 1,500 weather modification professionals directing 30 aircraft and their crews, as well as 37,000 part-time workers--mostly peasant farmers--who are on call to blast away at clouds with 7,113 anti-aircraft guns and 4,991 rocket launchers!

I should point out that this effort is part of the government's way of reducing the chance of rain over an open stadium during the upcoming Olympics.

Real Visual Voicemail on your iPhone

March 28, 2008

AT&T Mobile TV

March 28, 2008

In May, millions of AT&T subscribers will have access to television via AT&T Wireless. Credit Qualcomm's MediFlow whose technology will be responsible for this service and expect it to compete with with a similar service from Verizon Wireless.

What sorts of programs might we see on mobile TV? How about CBS Mobile, Comedy Central, ESPN Mobile TV, FOX Mobile, MTV, NBC 2GO, NBC News2Go and Nickelodeon?

Will the iPhone support AT&T mobile TV? No. But the Vu from LG and the Access from Samsung will.

Comcast and BitTorrent Collaborate

March 27, 2008

In a dramatic turn of events, two companies that seemed to be at each other's throats just a few months back, Comcast and BitTorrent have decided to join forces and work together to advance ways in which rich media can be shared on the internet.

As you may recall there has been much attention paid to the fact that Comcast slowed BitTorrent packets on their network.

BitTorrent wasn't happy about having their packets slowed and as you can imagine, Comcast was embarrassed when they were caught slowing the aforementioned bits of data.

BitTorrent is a software program that allows users to download files of any size by using a peer to peer mechanism (p2p). The way the software works is to download a file in a non-sequential order meaning files cannot be used until they are downloaded in full.

Instead of thinking of BitTorrent as a file sharing solution, think of it as sharing chunks of files at a time.

Network operators have complained that BitTorrent is an extremely inefficient way to share data and this explains why some operators worldwide are either slowing this p2p traffic or halting it altogether.

For slowing these p2p packets, Comcast was recently vilified at an FCC conference and it seems as a result of all the negative publicity, the company decided to embrace the industry and perhaps even improve it.

In fact, Comcast will now work with BitTorrent on standards and protocols that allow more efficient p2p dissemination of content on networks.

For Comcast, this could be a great move as embracing p2p file sharing could actually allow the company to share files more efficiently in the future without relying as much on their own servers to push all the data to customers.

For BitTorrent, this move cements its position as king of file sharing software programs and moreover puts it at the center of the evolving industry.

A side benefit of this collaboration could potentially be that these companies will come together to ensure copyrighted content does not get transferred on p2p networks. You can be sure that record labels, software companies and other media companies are looking at this relationship very carefully and there will likely be a lawsuit or two as a result.

Motorola Splits in Two

March 26, 2008

Motorola will split into a handheld device business and another one focusing on broadband and mobility. This decision was made under tremendous pressure from Carl Icaan.

Is this a good move for the company? I think it is because Motorola is a company full of brilliant people who seem to suffer from terrible management and oodles of red tape which zap the company's synergies.

In addition, based on discussions with past Motorola employees, there seems to be a culture that is hesitant to change within the organization.

This sort of culture in the technology space can be deadly.

Splitting into two companies will not eliminate many synergies as there don't seem to be too many today. In addition, there is a chance a reduction in red tape will allow some of the talent in the company to have a greater impact on new product development and strategy.

I am sure there is a hope that change will help bring the culture in line with the times.

So in the end, this move can only be seen as positive with a worst case scenario being similar results to a pre-split Motorola.

By the way, if you think you would make a good Motorola CEO, the company is looking.

Blogging Under Fire

March 26, 2008

Organizing the World's Meteorites

March 26, 2008

Google's tagline of organizing the world's information is all I could think of when I learned that Geologist Arthur Hickman accidentally found a meteorite crater while scanning Google Earth in a search for iron ore.

The crater is between 10,000 and 100,000 years old and measures about 270 meters across. Amazingly, the energy released when this meteorite hit Australia was the equivalent of between 200,000 and 300,000 tons of TNT!

What this discovery shows us is that the intersection between the computerized or virtual world and the real world is becoming much larger, allowing us to learn more than ever before from ones and zeros. As this trend continues and data mining tools become more commonplace, we can expect more discoveries such as this and obviously researchers and scientists will become much more productive.

[Science Alert]

Grandstream's Grand GXE502X

March 25, 2008

Many of us know Grandstream for their IP Phones which offer great value as well as an assortment of analog gateways, ATAs, videophones, etc. I have spoken with resellers in fact who sell truckloads of Grandstream equipment on the show floor.

So when you make IP phones and are looking to get into new markets, where do you go? If you remember, years back, Pingtel moved from selling IP phones which won design awards into the IP-PBX and later the open-source IP-PBX space.

Grandstream is another company located in Massachusetts who has decided to branch out into the IP-PBX space but in this case they have created a simple-looking device dubbed the GXE502X which can support up to 100 extensions and over 50 simultaneous calls.

The box has many features and is surprisingly robust.

For example, there is a built-in fax server with print-to-fax capability. The server converts faxes to PDFs and e-mails them.

DirecTV Outage

March 25, 2008

Netflix Outage

March 25, 2008

Facebook Security Breach

March 25, 2008

Airvana Femtocell Win

March 24, 2008

In the battle to determine what sorts of fixed-mobile convergence solutions will win out -- WiFi, femtocell, etc. -- it seems femtocells have scored the latest victory as Airvana just signed an OEM agreement with Motorola to provide CDMA femtocells to the wireless equipment company.
This news is huge for Airvana and one assumes that Motorola will leverage its myriad relationships with wireless carriers to get these devices installed as widely as possible.

It will be very interesting to see how this market evolves and what sort of consumer and in-building calling plans these devices allow carriers to come up with.

To me, the femtocell market is bustling with excitement because it is relatively new and allows cellular coverage to be improved at the last mile without the need for new base stations, etc.

In a sense, femtocells are the disruptive equivalent of RAID hard drives as they are low cost and when aggregated give carriers tremendous connectivity potential.

LiteScape's Unified Communications Applications

March 23, 2008

One of the more interesting unified communications companies is Litescape. They are doing new things in the UC space and more importantly, I can't think of another company who does what they do.

The company's Oncast solution enables phones to act like PCs and PCs to act like phones. For example, the company has a corporate directory application which works seamlessly with any phone or PC. To pull this off, LiteScape utilizes the directories of disparate systems such as LDAP, and your personal address book to name a few.

In addition, Oncast allows Cisco and Avaya phones to have single-touch connectivity to WebEx via phone or PC.

Calabrio's Call Center Solutions Advance

March 23, 2008

The trend towards unification is something you can see everywhere from cellular phones which now include music players, GPS and cameras to desktop software allowing communications with once disparate applications.

One company in the call center space which is surfing the wave of integration is Calabrio as they have just announced a number of improvements to their software suite. The company was spun out of SpanLink Communications about a year ago and is now firmly established as a leader in the workforce and quality management areas.

In a conversation with the company's VP of marketing and Business Development, Tim Kraskey, we got to speaking about all the changes at the company. The first was to enable a single view of the customer and each user's activities.

This includes leveraging IM, presence, Wikis, RSS feeds and tagging as well as traditional workflow processes.

As you may recall, this is not unlike what Nortel was recently discussing with me regarding customer experience 2.0.

The next goal the company has is to present the appropriate "services" to each user's desktop based on their role…agent, supervisor, evaluator, manager, executive or knowledge worker, etc.

The company has a container view allowing widgets to be used within a browser in a manner which allows integration with business applications.

Calabrio WFM is now up to version 8.3 and this 100% web-based release includes things like enhanced vacation planning, strategic planning, reusable scenarios for forecasts and distribution, project scheduling and the workforce management software works with Nortel, Avaya and Cisco platforms.

Quality management improvements include knowledge worker recording, a graphical dashboard, on-demand recording, extended screen-recording for after-call work and custom metadata for recordings which allow there to be a richer set of data identifiers when playing back and analyzing calls.

In the interoperability realm, there are now CRM integrations for, Siebel Customer Relationship Management and Microsoft CRM

The call center world seems to be rapidly catching up to the web 2.0 world with myriad integrations and features which were once absent from our industry. Although the tools are coming online, I only hope call center managers and CXOs realize that the contact center can be much more useful when fully automated and this will result in higher levels of customer service and increased sales.

See also:

Calabrio Renames Its Unified Interaction Suite

Plantronics Doing Something Big

March 23, 2008

Plantronics is planning something big. I have discussed this before and they are staying pretty quiet about what they are working on. Moreover whatever they are doing has been in development for over a year and they aren't close enough to a launch to even drop serious hints.

Two things I do know is they want to be big in CEBP space and they are also looking to extend the headset paradigm.

It is tough to know what they have up there sleeves but the only hint I have is that when I asked if they are looking to add a heads up display to the headset, they say they did consider this idea but decided against it.

So I can only conclude they will be getting more deeply into the mobile device market. I suppose there is room for the company in the space occupied by Polycom.

The Talkument Evolution

March 23, 2008

Have you ever compared an e-mail conversation to one by phone? I can search e-mail conversations and forward them as needed. These conversations via e-mail become part of a company's knowledge base and can be used for analytics and other purposes. There is a gold mine in corporate e-mail if you know how to access this vital information.

For all the talk of communications progress, it is ironic that the traditional telephone call is not recorded, analyzed, forwarded or shared.

Nortel's Customer Experience 2.0

March 23, 2008

Perhaps one of my most interesting vendor meeting as of late was with Nortel where David Murashige VP & GM Multimedia Applications and Debora Glennon in Multimedia Applications Marketing really got me thinking about the way customers are serviced today. For example, Glennon started talking to me about customer experience 2.0 which reminded me a great deal of the Call Center 2.0 event TMC currently sponsors twice a year.

But Nortel really takes the 2.0 to the next level as they integrate the web with their customer service solutions. They feel that the company of the future needs to worry about social networking, blogging and all other areas of web 2.0.

The scary thing about customer service today is that a single customer can tell millions of other potential customers about how unhappy they are with your company.

Nortel thinks they are in a great position to help you solve the challenges facing customer service in a Web 2.0 world as they have been aligning people, information and communications in contact center for years.

In order to integrate more with Web 2.0 concepts, Nortel is transitioning its solutions to a web services framework and subsequently evolving from a company selling solutions for silos such as the contact center, IVR, etc to a provider of custom experience management in a Web 2.0-enabled world.

I for one cannot be more elated about this news as the contact center has been a bit stale lately as there hasn't been as much innovation as there could be. The next evolution of contact centers is definitely customer experience 2.0 and I applaud Nortel's efforts in this area and I can't wait to see their new solutions in action.

Phybridge Has a new Angle on IP Communications

March 23, 2008

Sometimes the most simple concepts make for the most incredible opportunities. In a recent meeting with Oliver Emmanual President and John Croce CEO of Phybridge I came away wondering why I didn't think of the idea these guys have just introduced to the market.

The concept driving the company is that you can create great value if you can deliver IP and PoE over CAT3 telephone cabling.

Phybridge takes advantage of this concept with its Uniphyer Layer 2 Ethernet appliance which sits in the telecom closet and connects to existing telephone lines. At each telephone you then connect a phyndMe IP Phone Jack which completes the PoE Ethernet connection.

As far as the phone and other devices are concerned, you are connected directly to the network.

Why would you need such a solution? Well, the obvious answer might be to ensure QoS.

Mitel and Sun go Green

March 23, 2008

In the communications space there are a number of companies that tell us they are green and to be honest, I am sure they are all doing their best to develop applications which are energy efficient. But until every company achieves such lofty goals, there will be some companies which are greener than others.

Case in point is Mitel. I recently had a discussion with Doug Michaelides, the company's vice president of marketing where we discussed the Mitel's alliance with SUN to deliver UC solutions. He pointed out in our meeting that of course UC is a green technology to begin with as it reduces commuting costs.

From there he went on to say a Sun/Mitel UC solution reduces power consumption per person from 90 watts to nine.

Vermark's Big Telecom Expense Management Ambitions

March 23, 2008

One of the fastest areas of growth in the communications market has got to be telecom expense management as TEM solutions are needed to better manage corporate telecom spend levels. The sheer variety of communications services like PSTN, SIP trunking and wireless account for billions of dollars of cost each year. In many cases, companies are unsure how to make heads and tails of disparate bills from various providers which oftentimes overlap with one another.

I often come across new vendors in the TEM space and the latest one is Veramark Technologies, a company who has its roots in call accounting. According to President and CEO Tony Mazzullo, Veramark is 25 years-old with seven thousand installations and over 200 resellers.

They recently rolled out Communications Management Suite software, version 7.0 which has enhanced user-configurable dashboards, as well as more seamless integration with Microsoft solutions and the ability to deal better with disparate business groups and carriers.

Today, the company's software manages telecom TCO including maintenance and service levels.

Retail Prices Dead

March 23, 2008

I never thought I would see the day when the major retailers would tell their salespeople they can allow customers to haggle over prices but that day has finally arrived. Now more than ever, when you are shopping you need to be as informed as possible.

Remember that if you go into a store and are looking to buy something and you decide to look up the price on the store's free WiFi, you may actually be redirected to a different site than you intended.

So be sure to have a wireless card that connects to Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, etc with you or head to Starbucks before you sign on the dotted line.

Which retailers have found this newfound haggling religion? Best Buy, Circuit City and home Depot are just a few.

The sad part about all this is that many say the birthplace of haggling is actually the middle east...

Superconducting Error

March 23, 2008

So there was this big hoopla last week about superconducting material which works at room temperature. This discovery would have revolutionized the world as we know it. It would have been responsible for better and faster electronics, as well as virtually limitless advances in transportation technology such as trains.

Sadly the discovery of room temperature superconductors was either an error or a misunderstanding... Depending on how you interpret the facts.

Here is an excerpt from Reduced Mass:

Basically the press-release seemed to say that they had achieved superconductivity in a material that could potentially lead to superconductors at room-temp, while other sources were claiming outright that there had been an actual room-temp superconductor.

Microsoft's Call Center Push

March 22, 2008

There is a level of excitement in the call center space I haven't witnessed since VoIP began transforming the call center into the contact center. Over the years, we have seen technology after technology change the way contact centers work and we are the point today where IP communications affords us the opportunity to distribute call centers and agents at will.

But VoIP seems so yesterday. The latest revolution to come to contact centers is that of unified communications and about a week ago I wrote about how Aspect introduced a unified communications platform that will allow call centers to increase service, sales and first call resolution levels.

Just a few days after my article, Microsoft decided to invest in Aspect and moreover the two companies decided it made sense to collaborate on a suite of contact center solutions integrating the best of Microsoft OCS and Aspect's UC solutions.

In an interview with Mike Sheridan, SVP of Strategy for Aspect and Microsoft's Clint Patterson, Director of PR for Unified Communications I had a chance to learn more about this agreement between the operating system and contact center software leaders.

The duo believe that the synergies afforded by this collaboration will be great and they really see it as transformational… They see peoples' lives improving because of better call center service levels.

 While on the surface it is easy to dismiss such comments as PR speak, one of the most frustrating experiences many of us deal with on a regular basis is communication with rock bottom contact center agents who are still digging. Even an improvement of a few percentage points will likely make our lives a bit better.

  The two companies are in a five year agreement which encompasses a collaborative roadmap between Aspect Unified IP and OCS.

Asterisk Bumper Sticker

March 22, 2008

RCP to Replace WiMAX?

March 22, 2008

I am a student of history which is ironic because when I actually took history in high school, I wasn't such a good student. Other than Teddy Roosevelt hitting someone in the back of the head with a  2x4, I think I probably blanked out the rest of the year in Dr. Marino's AP history class at Westhill High School.

I acknowledge that hundred-year-old history bores me but recent history fascinates me. Especially as it relates to technology. One thing I have learned is that whenever any technology tries to take on Ethernet, it loses.

CRM Autopsy

March 22, 2008

Podcast: The VoIP Connection

March 21, 2008

Kindle Interest Rekindled

March 21, 2008

Boy was I ever wrong about the Kindle. I said no one wants the device and it sold out in a day and Amazon can't keep up with demand. Wow! I really screwed up.

I only wish Amazon would tell us exactly how much I screwed up by.

700 MHz Auction Concludes

March 21, 2008

The FCC 700 MHz auction concluded recently and the major winners were Verizon and AT&T. While this may seem like bad news to those who would have preferred more competition as a result of this auction, FCC Chairman Martin explains that a number of smaller competitive companies did indeed win a large chunk of spectrum.

For example, 99 bidders who were not AT&T or Verizon won 754 licenses representing 69 percent of the 1,090 licenses sold. For example, Frontier Wireless, won 168 licenses in the E block to establish a near nationwide footprint for its services.

In a press release, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin had this to say:

Even in a difficult economic climate, revenues raised in this auction exceeded congressional estimates of $10.182 billion by approximately 187 percent – nearly twice the amount Congress had anticipated would be raised to support public safety initiatives, the digital television transition and $7 billion in budget deficit reduction.

I suppose from the FCC's perspective this is great news and moreover it is a nice shot in the arm for the US government at a time when we could use the revenue.

The problem here is that this money and much more will now be extracted by the winning companies who the last time I checked were not non-profit organizations.

In other words, the government has just ensured the price of broadband will be substantially more than it could have been.

If you want to understand the power of free wireless spectrum, just think about life before WiFi. Think about how much it has improved and how much more productive the world economy is as a result of WiFi using unlicensed spectrum which was blessed by the FCC.

How many WiFi devices have been sold in the US these past years? Tens of millions?

Communications To Fuel Global Economy Growth

March 20, 2008

Infonetics pegged PBX growth at 7% last year and they further mentioned that companies are beginning to slowly see the benefits of IP-PBX systems beyond the typical costs savings associated with lower phone bills.

With unified communications software now available and the meshing of such systems with business process software, perhaps we can expect even more market growth in 2008.

Most people I talk with in the communications space tell me they are seeing great promise in 2008 and moreover they believe companies will spend money in a slow economy if they see this spending paying off in some way.

Still, all is not rosy in the communications market as the once high-flying, recently IPOed ShoreTel has had some recent earnings trouble, share price pain and downgrades by Piper Jaffray and  Janney Montgomery Scott.

Of course ShoreTel is not alone but they signify the reason why all communications companies have to look into other areas to ensure they grow.

For example, CEBP is one way to justify increased spending on equipment, software and consulting. After all, increased productivity can be directly correlated into cost savings. In addition, in many companies the people with the largest technology budgets are the ones who purchase applications.

In a recent meeting with Nortel execs in fact they made a great point... Five years ago they said, the telecom manager got swallowed up by the datacom manager who began to own the budgets.

Carriers Need Advertising

March 20, 2008

I have been saying for over a decade that carriers need to explore ways to deliver enhanced services.

To be fair, some companies are doing this. AT&T has done an amazing job partnering with Apple (the way I hear it, Verizon declined to work with Apple which is why AT&T had the option) and then they have further offered Pandora radio as a $10/month service.

I got to thinking about these services as I was reading an eComm 2008 wrap up from Jon Arnold where he discusses the future of service providers.

One of the points made by Jon is that advertising revenue pales in comparison to current subscriber revenues and as such carriers need to focus on innovating.

While I agree with this notion, I do believe carriers must consider advertising as a major revenue source. Moreover, advertising revenue models of the old days pale in comparison to what is possible with the web, interactive television and location based services.

I have written before about the potential for mobile providers to supply customers with intimately targeted ads based on location and I am still awaiting the fantastic services of the future.

Perhaps the biggest problem service providers face is cultural.

IBM's Unified Communications Predictions

March 20, 2008

I have had over two dozen meetings with companies in the communications space these past two weeks and it is my sincere goal to be able to share the most important parts of each meeting with you. In the mean time, I am happy to say that in many cases, there are other TMC writers who are covering some of the news I plan to cover but from their own point of view.

What did catch my eye today was an article from Greg Galitzine about IBM's Mike Rhodin's predictions regarding UC trends. Rhodin thinks the virtual workplace will become the rule and real-time collaboration tools will soon bypass e-mail in importance. In the same article there is a reference to an IDC report which says the unified communications market will reach $17 billion in 2011, growing 38% compounded since 2007.

Although I haven't read this report I have to wonder if this includes the consulting/SI side of the business.

Dan Miller New TMCnet Columnist

March 19, 2008

As I mentioned a while back, TMC is experiencing record growth and I promised we would maintain our high levels of quality as we grow. TMCnet currently has just under 50 worldwide columnists and most of them write daily or even more often.

TMC continues to look for the absolute brightest thought leaders to keep you up to date and help you make informed purchasing decisions in the communications and technology space.

To that end, TMC's latest columnist is Dan Miller, an analyst at Opus Research who will write a column titled "Communications in Context."

Miller has over 25 years experience in marketing, business development and corporate strategy for telecom service providers, computer manufacturers and application software developers. He founded the highly respected analyst firm, Opus Research in 1985 and helped define the conversational access technologies marketplace by authoring scores of reports, advisories and newsletters addressing business opportunities that reside where automated speech leverages web services, mobility and enterprise software infrastructure.

More recently he oversaw the launch of research practices covering voice biometrics and local mobile search.

I am thrilled to have such a high quality writer as part of the TMCnet editorial mix and thanks again to all of our readers and sponsors who have made TMCnet so popular over these past years.

Dan's first article is titled Beyond UC: Contextual Communications and you are welcome to bookmark his columnist page so you don't miss any of the important things he has to say.

HTC Shift Vista UMPC does EV-DO

March 19, 2008

What is amazing to me is just how small full featured devices are getting. The HTC Shift ultra mobile PC or UMPC packs the Microsoft Vista OS, WiFi and now EVDO. Sure it has a weak processor, battery and WiFi but what do you expect for a full featured laptop that fits in your pocket?



I came across a great review from Laptop Magazine of the HTC Shift X9000 which does a good job of explaining why it barely justifies its $1,499 price tag. Can you believe this little device has the ability to switch from 800x480 and 1024x600 pixel resolution modes in a seven-inch screen?

This is an example of just how powerful these pocket-sized plus devices are these days.

Tech Data Carries Cbeyond

March 19, 2008

Spectrum Auction Concludes

March 19, 2008

3COM Deal Off the Table

March 19, 2008

Dialogic to Support Asterisk

March 18, 2008

Dialogic has announced that the company's Diva media processing boards will support Asterisk. These boards will help Asterisk systems scale and moreover increase reliability while reducing strain on the CPU. The functions handled by the Diva board include DTMF recognition/generation, PULSE detection, tone detection/generation, fax, echo cancellation, and multi-party conferencing.

In addition the Diva board can conference up to 120 active callers without causing load on the CPU.

Some of the media features of Diva boards include echo cancellation (up to 256ms), DTMF detection/clamping and modem or fax support.

SearchMe Analysis

March 18, 2008

I finally got a password for the SearchMe beta and had a chance to play with this relatively new search engine. Simply stated, this search service is what Apple might design. You put in your search term and when the system returns results it defaults to a graphical mode where pages are displayed in a stacked format.

You are able to scroll through pages as you might scroll through photos on an iPhone in fact.

So people who are comfortable with this sort of UI should be happy with SearchMe. Still, I can't help but think that graphical search is actually less efficient. Although I am able to see a number of web pages at once, I can't actually read them, to see what might be important to me.

A user can see things like site logos/names pretty quickly but this information is not so critical and can be discerned in text format as well.

I am pretty impressed however with what SearchMe has done as this is a great search engine for people who may be looking for a familiar page or trying to find a graphical web page where viewing scaled down images is still helpful.

So I suppose SearchMe is great for more graphical search while text-heavy searching is still better done the old-fashioned way.

I do applaud the company for putting a new spin on search...

Tandberg Integrates Unified Communications and Telepresence

March 18, 2008

As more and more customers deploy Microsoft's OCS, they are asking videoconferencing companies to help interconnect their products with their shiny new unified communications systems. But it isn't just video integration these companies want… These clients also want interconnection with telepresence.

Many large multinational companies in financial and manufacturing are asking for this integration according to Tandberg CTO Hakon Dahle.

The company started embracing OCS this past January and it is seeing traction now and is a shipping product according to Dahle.

He went on to tell me that the telepresence market is also doing well - both personal and room-based. To differentiate themselves in this space, the company is not just focusing on quality but interoperability via standard protocols and codecs. Tandberg is allowing telepresence connectivity to OCS clients and executive desktops in order to allow broader use of this high-quality videoconferencing technology.

Dahle predicts that in the next few years, HD will be everywhere and UC will be tightly integrated with video.

Where is the TMC Team?

March 17, 2008

Traveling Today

March 17, 2008

I am off to VoiceCon today and you probably already had a chance to see the big Avaya news of the day. To stay up to date on all things VoiceCon, be sure to check out the TMCnet VoiceCon news page.

Here are some of the stories from the page so far:

Avaya's Huge Unified Communications Push

March 16, 2008

Avaya has certainly made unified communications history today with a suite of announcements that will certainly rattle the competitive landscape. UC will never be the same in my opinion.

The New Jersey-based company's biggest news had to do with affordable unified communications… For a paltry $99/user you can get full-featured UC for your workers. This is in my opinion beyond inexpensive for UC solutions from such a premium name in the business.

And we aren't talking about bare bones solutions here… You get a thick or thin client, integration with Microsoft and IBM and best of all you get access to about 700 or so Avaya communications features via your UC client. The thin client support means your new MacBook Air will be allowed to join the Avaya low-cost UC party.

IBM's Big Unified Communications News

March 16, 2008

Recently I spent a good number of hours at the sprawling Somers, NY campus of IBM where the company announced to the media their intention to spend a billion dollars in unified communications development over the next three years. IBM is a major player in the UC space but the company has been getting beaten up in the marketing department by Microsoft. Microsoft is late to the UC game in fact and some of their products are behind IBM. You wouldn't know any of this from the blitz of a campaign Microsoft is running however.

Simply stated, while spending on R&D is essential, the company will likely have to soon respond to the Microsoft PR and marketing onslaught.

Will Backing up Music Soon Be Illegal?

March 16, 2008

Some of you may remember that was a dot-com era company allowing people to upload CDs they owned and then stream this music to various devices. It was a service ahead of its time and in fact Webot does something similar but it keeps the files on the user's computer.

Fast forward eight years and Michael Robertson the man behind is behind, a company supplying a service which does almost the same thing as

Amazingly, was sued into nonexistence by the RIAA, and now the RIAA is after MP3Tunes. Same person, different company, same or  similar lawsuit.

While I understand why the RIAA doesn't want a vast library of music on the Internet I also see why Michael Robertson's attempt to allow us to store our music online is good for consumers.  As Michael states, his company is personally defending the rights of all Internet users to back up their music.

I feel for the record labels...

Hot News: Ixia, VPI, Wyde Voice, Google, Spirent, Sangoma, LifeSize, Aculab and more

March 16, 2008

I try not to play favorites with the news and instead of giving you my picks of the week, I defer to TMC editors who picked the following stories as some of the week's best. This week, we have a truly diverse group of stories that range from the economy to open source and even SIP trunking.

Hopefully you will find them interesting as well and if you don't - please don't get mad  at me as I am just the messenger.


  • Ixia Intros Quality of Experience and Service Validation Platform for Triple Play
  • The Right Tools for Making Bandwidth Management Work for You
  • VPI's Activ! Voice Recording Solution Rated Avaya Compliant
  • Ethernet Extenders: Key Benefits and What to Look For
  • WYDE Voice Launches Wideband Audio Conferencing Appliances
  • BT Partners with RingCentral to Launch Small Business Hosted Phone Service
  • Converging Networks, Converging Channels
  • Hosted PBX: The Next Step in Voice Communications
  • Google Completes Acquisition of DoubleClick
  • Atlas Telecom Leading the IP PBX Charge
  • Broadvox Achieves Interoperability Certification with AdvanceIP
  • LifeSize Software Version 3.5
  • VoIP Usage Pattern Differs from Legacy Telephony
  • Analyst: CEOs Should Remain Steadfast in the Face of Economic Downturn
  • Spirent Picks Telchemy's VQmon for IPTV Analysis
  • VanillaSoft Adds New Features to its Web-based Lead Management System.
  • When Will Telcos Deploy VoIP?
  • Getting the Most Out of Mobile Device Management
  • Sangoma Expands its Presence in Europe and the Middle East through New Partnership with The IP Company
  • Phone System Choices: The Importance of End-User Feedback
  • A Primer on SIP and VoIP CODECs
  • Two BlueNote Networks SOA Products Win 2007 Unified Communications Product of the Year Award
  • Telecom Expense Management Solutions Provider Tangoe Wins UC Product of the Year Award
  • Esnatech Intros Telephony Office-LinX 7.1 with Disaster Recovery Enhancements
  • MOBIVOX's New Say It and Save It Feature
  • Massey University Picks Network Equipment Technologies' VX Series Intelligent Media Gateway
  • Brasil Telecom GlobeNet Hires Nokia Siemens Networks to Expand in North America
  • AOTMP's 2008 Wireless Mobility Market Landscape Now Available
  • Webcasting Helps Companies Save Money, Be Green
  • What the ApplianX Gateway from Aculab Has to Do With Pizza


Solar Keychain

March 16, 2008

I wonder if the future of conservation will include a strong focus on charging devices on our own. There are people with their own generators for example who actually supply energy back to electric companies. Now, at the opposite end of the spectrum is the key chain solar battery that basically allows you to keep your devices charged.

This little wonder is probably too small to help you charge your laptop but it could certainly add time to the battery life of a mobile phone or even a portable music player.

I should mention it can also be charged via a typical power outlet or USB if you happen to need to power it up at night or its an excessively cloudy day.

[GADGET.BRANDO.COM.HK   via GeekAlerts]

Russell Shaw and Frank Macari will be Missed

March 16, 2008

This morning I woke to horrible news as I just learned Russell Shaw has passed away. Apparently he died in his hotel room on a business trip. I cannot be sadder. Russell was a fantastic guy… And he seemed to enjoy his work more than just about anyone I know.

Ashley Dupre Update

March 15, 2008

Let's face it, how often do I get to discuss topics as interesting as Ashley Dupre? The short answer is never. I just came across an article discussing how Dupre spent countless hours updating her social networking profiles once the news broke of her involvement with Spitzer... Apparently she spent considerable time deleting pictures and contacts in her "virtual" social circles.

This shouldn't be too surprising as reporters are scouring social networking sites like gold mining prospectors looking for treasure.

MacBook Air Problems

March 15, 2008

Wow... that was fast. Just a  short while after the MacBook Air started to sell, the laptop that fits inside an envelope seems to be less useful than the envelope when pushed too hard. Apparently the laptop shuts down one of the Intel Core Duo processors under certain conditions and shuts down altogether at other times.

The solution to these problems was supposed to be a patch but users report this patch didn't help.

The laptop does seem impossibly light and thin so perhaps these problems shouldn't be totally unexpected.

Addicted to Optical Speed

March 14, 2008

Isn't there a saying, you can never be too rich or too thin? Well in my case I obviously have given up on the "thin" part and replaced it with broadband connectivity. So I say, you can never be too rich or have too much bandwidth.

Thanks to Nortel, Comcast will soon be providing monstrous broadband speed. Using the Nortel 100G Adaptive Optical Engine (AOE), Comcast is achieving speeds of 100 Gbps. The best part of all is that the AOE allows these gargantuan speeds to be achieved (You know, I've always liked that word gargantuan...) while also carrying live 10G and 40G links.

To me, what is exciting is the fact that no matter how much bandwidth we get, we always seem to find great ways to use it.

E-Mail Customer Service Complaints

March 14, 2008

Few things annoy me  as much as poor e-mail interactions with companies I either purchase from or am thinking of purchasing from. I am sick and tired of companies who send me an auto-response e-mail and then never follow through with the promised e-mail.

Generally, the situation is improving but it is still far from perfect and there is a long way to go before online customer service gets to the point where I would call it great. One of the reasons Amazon does so well is that they have really focused on customer service and it shows.

TMC's David Sim's (articles, blog) addresses this very issue in a quirky post called Newton's Law of E-mail, which as you might imagine discusses how every e-mail has an equal and opposite e-mail.

I am told this law has some applications in other fields as well.

Prosody X Gets a Win

March 14, 2008

Fingerprint Memory Drives Flawed

March 14, 2008

One would imagine that a fingerprint reader on a memory stick or hard drive was a guarantee of security. Those of us in technology for any period of time know that security in any market is more journey than destination.

In this case, many biometrics enabled memory sticks rely on software on the computer as opposed to the stick itself for part of the authentication.

The problem is that this is an easy solution to hack if you get a determined hacker.

Still, having a fingerprint reader is better than nothing. Especially if you aren't really protecting trade secrets. For the typical company this probably isn't such a big deal.

So now that you know, be careful...

Bill Gates on Innovation

March 14, 2008

Gadget Virus Complaints

March 13, 2008

FCC gets Investigated

March 13, 2008

I just get the feeling that the FCC Chairman in the united States has a job description that entails taking endless abuse from the rest of the government. Now Kevin Martin is getting slammed because the FCC is a massive bureaucracy that can't handle customer complaints.

Even worse, the bureau has just been investigated.

My question is, when did parts of our government get mad at other parts of our government for being a bureaucracy? Is this a new trend?

Google's Application Upgrade Feed

March 13, 2008

Google applications have been upgraded these past years and many times these updates are done quietly as they are software as a service SaaS applications and as such it wasn't obvious that people needed to know about these upgrades.

At least that is how many SaaS vendors start out. Then over time, they confuse users to tears as they can't figure out if the reason their programs look different in the morning is because of an upgrade the prior evening or a result of the major hangover from the prior night's holiday party.

Like many things in life, we can now keep track of all of the happenings in Google applications from a single RSS feed. As Google gets into more and more areas we can expect this feed to become massive... And it should be very interesting to see how many new features Google is able to add and how quickly they advance.

The first person of course to subscribe to these feeds was Steve Ballmer.

E-Mail Server Channel

March 13, 2008

Snap Internet Communicator

March 13, 2008

So you think you have seen everything in the communications market? Well you haven't as there is yet a new product which kind of fits into a new category and kind of doesn't. The product is the Snap Communicator from Toucan Global.

The Communicator is basically a device which sits on a desk and allows you to use VoIP to communicate with other Snap Communicators. The company is focusing on the simplicity angle as a sales tool. You basically press a button to speak with another Snap user and and press another button have a conference with yet more people.

The gadgets do have presence built in and act pretty much like a unified communications application which merges IM and VoIP calling but without the benefit of IM.

Bebo Bought

March 13, 2008

Boy was I glad I blogged about Bebo being purchased a few months back. The rumored acquirer was supposed to be Google or MySpace but it seems like AOL is getting serious about being a web player once again and came up with a not too shabby $850 to seal the deal.

The rumors said the price tag on this deal was to be as high as $1.5 billion and one wonders if the closing price includes some haircut attributable to the broader economy.

What this shows me is that media sites need more and more eyeballs to show their ads on. In addition it doesn't hurt to have hot properties that the younger crowd thinks is hot.

The wave or Internet roll ups continues onward with a special focus these past years on social networking. Where it ends, nobody knows.


Virus Fights Brain Cancer

March 13, 2008

SMash: Secure Mashups

March 13, 2008

IBM has potentially opened the door to enterprise mashups, allowing for the first time these web services which rely on multiple data and/or programming sources to have security built-in. SMash which is short for secure mashup is what the new technology is called and IBM will be donating the technology to the OpenAjax Alliance.

What will secure mashups allow? In theory they unlock data and services so they can inter-work in a fashion which allows data to be used in a more synergistic format. For example, allowing data from disparate sources comes together in a single or multiple interfaces.

In reality, mashups themselves haven't changed as a result of this announcement but the data and APIs available to the mashup community has.

Voiceless Conversations

March 13, 2008

The above video shows an example of how Audeo from Ambient Corporation allows you to communicate by moving your mouth while not producing any sound

Just when you thought you needed to use your voice to speak, along comes Audeo, a neckband which uses the signals between your brain and vocal cords to translate your mouth movement into information a computer can understand. From there, "speech recognition" can be used to convert these signals into words.

This works whether you speak or not. People could converse with one another using text to speech and not making any sound themselves. In other words you could instant message others by just moving your mouth and not making any noise or using a keyboard.

It will be interesting to see how this technology progresses.

SIP Security Webinar

March 13, 2008

While SIP is an excellent protocol which has made the IP communications market a much better place, there are security challenges with this protocol as it is very open and not inherently secure. It is ironic that the openness of the protocol itself is exactly what makes it a challenge to secure.

To aid people looking for more information on securing SIP, in areas such as SIP trunking and enterprise SIP deployment, TMC has a free webinar taking place on April 10, 2008. You can also view an archived version of the webinar if you can't make this date.

Here is an article on the webinar titled The Basics of Secure SIP Trunking and a link to the registration page of the webinar.

I hope you enjoy the presentation.

WYDE Voice Debuts Better Conferencing Solution

March 12, 2008

A new product was just announced today and I cannot be more excited as it shows innovation is very alive and well in communications.

WYDE Voice is a new start-up venture backed by Free Conferencing Corp. founder and CEO David Erickson... The company just launched the industry’s first real-time voice conferencing appliances that support 16-bit, 16 kHz voice quality.

The solution offers service providers and enterprises the capability to deliver a broad range of affordable, high-quality audio conferencing solutions.

Podcast: Peter Vicars, Newstep Networks

March 12, 2008

There is a race taking place in communications. Everyone is looking to converge as fast as they possibly can. Service providers want to provide enterprise service. Wireless carriers want to own the SMB and consumer markets.

Adding Value to Wireless VARs

March 12, 2008

In the communications space there has been accelerating progress these past decades. In the eighties we had IVR, voicemail and unified messaging. In the nineties, we had CTI (TAPI,TSAPI, etc), international callback, the PC-PBX and later the IP-PBX.

This decade we have open source, unified communications, communications as a service, communications enabled business processes and mobility as well as a host of other hot topics.

It seems the more I speak with resellers at conferences, the more I am amazed at how much growth there is still left in this space.

The innovation is not just on the business side of the house. In fact, some could easily argue that consumer telephony has leapfrogged its counterpart in business.

Yes, the world seems to have gone smart-phone crazy and now the initiative in company after company is finding ways to integrate these powerful handheld computing devices into a company's core communications infrastructure.

Bill Gates Promotes Education and Immigration Improvements

March 12, 2008

Today the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology will hold a hearing on the future of innovation and U.S. competitiveness. This hearing commemorates the committee's 50th anniversary and as part of the event, Bill Gates will be speaking.

Microsoft sent out a document prior to this meeting in order to give us an idea on what he will be saying today.

"I know we all want the United States to continue to be the world's center for innovation.

iPod Nanos Exploding in Japan

March 12, 2008

Paul Reynolds Joins XConnect Board

March 12, 2008

Sarah Hofstetter is a VoIP veteran as she was the head of PR for Net2Phone since the 1990s and has been in the IP communications space longer than just about anyone else out there. The reason I point this out is that Sarah now handles PR for XConnect, the global VoIP peering company. Recently, I just received some news from Sarah that she was able to frame nicely for all.

You see, XConnect has a new board member and this sort of thing does not generally constitute big news. But as Sarah points out, in this case the board member of this IP communications company is Dr. Paul Reynolds, the CEO of Telecom New Zealand and the former CEO of BT Wholesale.

Newest Tech, Oldest Profession

March 11, 2008

I must admit, I was not 100% sure I wanted to cover this topic in my blog but in the end the human interest angle coupled with the popularity of the news regarding the Eliot Spitzer prostitution arrest made many of us in the technology space realize just how much technology is in use in the world's oldest profession.

Bank wires, cell phones, pagers, smart phones, IM and video conferencing are just some of the technologies now used in this business. In addition, MSNBC reports of sophisticated bug and hidden camera detection devices as well.

The only thing I haven't seen brought to light is unified communications in prostitution rings. I am sure it is just a matter of time. Now that the world is catching on to just how high-tech the profession is, I am sure some of my vendor meetings will have me dealing with comments like ,"We have 35% call girl market share while our competitors are still struggling with this vertical market...

A New IP Communications Portal

March 11, 2008

Some of the brightest minds in IP communications have teamed up to launch a new site called IP Communications Insights. Readers of this blog no doubt know Marc Robins and Jon Arnold as I have discussed them both often and have always praised their past accomplishments.

We are fortunate enough to have both of these thought leaders as TMC contributors and now, you can find their news, opinions and analysis on their own portal at IP Communications Insights.

I am looking forward to keeping up to date on the latest news and events and expect to visit this site often.

One final comment...  I do endorse both Marc and Jon for any of the following services:

  • Marketing Consulting and Strategic Planning
  • Business Growth Consulting
  • Marketing Communications Services
  • Custom Marketing Research and Analysis
  • Presentations and Public Speaking
  • Technology Assessment Services
  • Distribution Channel Strategies and Development
  • Team Coordination/Employee Training
  • Awareness and Demand Creation Services
  • Product/Service and Sales Support Programs
  • Public Relations Support Services
In fact, I wish more companies in technology would realize they need outside assistance from people such as Jon and Marc as both of them have been in positions that allow them to really understand what companies need to do in order to be successful.

Not Your Father's Phone Service

March 11, 2008

SearchMe Enters Beta

March 11, 2008

I just learned of SearchMe a search engine which differentiates itself by being more graphical than others. When you search, you are presented with category tabs as well as a graphical representation of what the results pages look like.

You scroll through the results as you might scroll through the albums or photos on an iPhone.

In this manner you can determine if the web page looks appropriate before you even click on it. You can also use a non-graphical mode which is similar to current search engines.

The search engine is in "private" beta as of today and you can sign up for free trial by giving the company your e-mail address.

My only concern about this search engine is that if it becomes popular will it give an advantage to sites which are more attractive? In other words, will good content be trumped by good design?

For example would craigslist be something worthy of a click if searched via searchme?

Another concern has to do with presenting web results without people having to click on a  page.

A Nightmare for MacBook Air Owners

March 11, 2008

Outsourcers Abusing Work Visas?

March 10, 2008

The clash between U.S.-based companies and outsourcers continues as outsourcing companies such as Infosys Technologies, Wipro, Cognizant Technology Solutions and UST Global who are either based in or have the majority of their workers in India are bringing thousands of H-1B workers in the U.S. to train them and then relocate them back to other countries.

Many claim these companies are abusing the system as these visas should be used primarily to get the best and brightest workers to come and work in the United States.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out but as I have mentioned in the past, the H-1B program should be expanded to hundreds of thousands more workers in order to help U.S. businesses looking for tech talent the fuel they need to grow.


Microprocessors: The Weakest Security Link

March 10, 2008

Although there seem to be limitless ways to attack computers, a vulnerability you might not have ever seen coming takes place in the microprocessors. As chips have become more powerful than , it is now possible for a person in a  chip fab or another in the supply chain to plant counterfeit chips in place of real ones.

The reason to switch out a chip has to do with taking control of a processor at a later date for a variety of nefarious purposes.

The complexity of today's chips is an issue as it has become impossible to check them for all potential responses before they are shipped.

U.S. security agencies are very concerned but many wonder why anyone would bother to target chips when so many easier ways seem to exists to hack into today's computer systems.

[Popular Mechanics]

Gigabyte GSmart MS808

March 10, 2008

Monitor Size Boosts Productivity

March 10, 2008

In case you thought people who ask for and use multiple monitors are just being silly, there is now research which shows what I have known for many years. More monitor real estate means more productivity.

In fact two 20-inch monitors yields a 44% increase over a single 18-inch monitor. A single 24-inch monitor yields a 52% increase in productivity over that same "puny" 18-inch monitor.

A 26-inch monitor actually reduced productivity over the 24 incher.

What does all this tell us?

Comcast Gets Kevin Martin's Wrath

March 10, 2008

Alcatel-Lucent 9900 Wireless Network Guardian

March 10, 2008

Thanks to Bell Labs, the people behind the transistor, there is now a thriving a tech industry. Moreover, many innovations in telecom are due to the team at this world famous labs team. Having said that, Bell labs hasn't been in the news much lately.

Rest assured however that the good people at Bell labs are toiling away working for Alcatel-Lucent and they have just developed a product called the 9900 Wireless Network Guardian or WNG for short.

This new product allows wireless providers to track IP addresses across their wireless networks in a manner which allows these operators to more accurately track how much data such IP sessions use.

Aspect Brings Unified Communications to the Contact Center

March 9, 2008

In 1997 TMC decided to launch a magazine titled Internet Telephony to cover what we hoped would become a huge IP communications industry. A few years later, contact centers saw the technology as a great way to take advantage of remote agents and distributed call center solutions which inherently delivered lower costs and increased redundancy as compared to legacy solutions.

Looking back, we can say IP was a transformational technology for contact centers.

While in a typical enterprise, telephony may constitute a relatively small part of the spend, in the call center - telecom costs are generally much higher. This is part of the reason why any innovation in communications has a much higher proportion of importance in the call center as compared to most other areas of a company.

Not only is the contact center a part of a corporation which has large telecom costs, we all realize how important a role the contact center plays in providing customer service. Some research on the topic points out that 30% of customers who have a good customer experience will do more or much more business with a company.

Daylight Savings Time: OPEC's Friend

March 8, 2008

Indiana is home to four important things... Interactive Intelligence, some of the best steaks you will find anywhere, some of the nicest people around and really bizarre daylight savings rules that made it virtually impossible to know what time it was in the state, without the aid of computer.

You see, up until 2006, some counties in Indiana implemented daylight savings time while others did not. Thankfully the situation is better now for those who weren't thrilled about dealing with new time zones as they drove through the state.

Interestingly this change allowed researchers to study whether implementing daylight savings time actually saves energy. This is what many of us have been lead to believe.

Ken Camp is Available

March 8, 2008

Regular readers of my blog and attendees of TMC expos no doubt know Ken Camp. Ken is very knowledgeable in the field of information technology with special expertise in communications and security. He has written books, articles, spoken at shows and is a recognized thought leader in the blogoshere and beyond.

Ken does all this and is also the State Enterprise Architect for the State of Washington -- with a special focus on security.

Ken has impressed me for a number of reasons and perhaps one of the most amazing things he does is travel to industry events on his own dime. He does this because he seems to truly love the industry, being involved with it and sharing his thoughts with others via his books, internet writings and speaking assignmets.

Having said that, Ken is looking to change roles and I can think of few people who are capable as he is.

Yes, Telecom is Broken

March 8, 2008

Yes Peter, telecom is broken in some areas you mention but in others it seems to be doing just fine. What scares me most about the points you mention is how our politicians and regulators don't seem to care about fairness in the markets. But this topic we will leave for another day.

You have some good and intriguing thoughts in your blog post which I excerpted from your On Rad's Radar? blog:

From an agent side of telecom, I do think it is broken.

Service Providers Get Into Home Security

March 7, 2008

Peter Radizeski Joins TMCnet

March 7, 2008

TMCnet's latest blogger is Peter Radizeski. Peter is knowledgeable and not afraid to say what he thinks. He is direct and has a long history in telecom. He will will write things that ruffle feathers.

Airbone Settles Lawsuit

March 7, 2008

I must say that as an Airborne user, I really feel the product has helped me get better and avoid and/or shorten the duration of colds. Others disagree and have sued Airborne and the class-action lawsuit just settled for $23.3 million..

Here is an excerpt from a CNN article on the lawsuit:

"There's no credible evidence that what's in Airborne can prevent colds or protect you from a germy environment," said CSPI Senior nutritionist David Schardt. "Airborne is basically on overpriced, run-of-the-mill vitamin pill that's been cleverly, but deceptively, marketed."

According to the company's Web site, Airborne was created by second-grade teacher, Victoria Knight-McDowell, who "studied the benefits herbal therapies used in Eastern Medicine." The site says Airborne "boosts the immune system with seven herbal extracts and a proprietary blend of vitamins, electrolytes, amino acids and antioxidants."

I feel bad for suggesting this supplement in a past entry but I still feel this product works for me and yes, I know it is overpriced vitamins but I also think my car is overpriced.

Rumor: Deutsche Telecom to Acquire Sprint

March 7, 2008

I don't want to predict a disaster but having Deutsche Telecom acquire Sprint doesn't make sense from the perspective of all the different network types these companies use. Sprint uses CDMA, Deutsche Telecom's T-Mobile uses GSM and Nextel uses iDEN. Oh, don't forget to add WiMAX to this mix.

It is unclear how many of the Sprint/Nextel problems were do to management problems as opposed to having to deal with two disparate network types.

Adding yet another technology to the mix seems like something only a masochist would want to do.

Oh, did I mention Merrill Lynch predicted that Deutsche Telecom will acquire Sprint? Merrill has a point from a market share perspective.

Communications News March 7, 2008

March 7, 2008

My editorial team has selected the following stories as some of the most important ones of the week. Hopefully some or all of these news items will be useful to my readers.

Some of my favorite ones are how green Sony-Ericsson is, new patents for i2 Telecom and 8x8/Packet8, RingCentral's $12 million funding and Broadvox and The Amanda Company partnering.

Jaduka's New Products

March 7, 2008

Jaduka has a suite of new products/services which allow IP communications to enter the realm of web 2.0. The company has a suite of services in fact and they are worth discussing individually...

dukaDIAL lets you make phone-to-phone calls to anyone in North America for free. The concept is certainly not new but there is really no defacto leader in this space so the company could gain traction in this market. The way it works is via web form which you fill out and the calls are connected automatically.

dukaLINK Creates personal HTML hyperlinks that you can post on craigslist, Facebook, your blog or emails.

Google TV Ads for Adwords

March 7, 2008

3-Way Chess

March 7, 2008

Everything seems to be getting more complicated these days. Office workers have to worry about e-mails, voicemails conference calls, managing their Blackberrys, etc. Even kids have it tougher than ever. They have to be able to IM with ten friends at a time, be great at video games, do many after-school activities and so on.

Perhaps the only thing which is still simple in life is board games.

iPhone Gets ActiveSync

March 7, 2008

Last summer I wrote about by trip to Redmond to visit Microsoft and more specifically my thoughts on when the iPhone will get ActiveSync if ever. Here is an excerpt:

As part of the Redmond software giant’s mobility strategy, Jeff [Jeff Ressler, Director, Exchange Marketing] mentioned that ActiveSync has been licensed some device manufacturers which, of course, means the power of unified communications can be enjoyed on-the-go. I mentioned some rumors I heard about the iPhone supporting ActiveSync soon and Jeff told me he couldn’t comment. Perhaps this meant that there are serious talks with Apple in the works – he didn’t say they aren’t talking after all.

NEC, Microsoft, HP Labs and Comcast News

March 7, 2008

I was traveling yesterday and I didn't get a chance to communicate with my blog readers in the detail I would normally like to give. This morning I decided to share all the news that caught my eye from last night and this morning.


The first up is the the new NEC VT800 which I thought was interesting as it is a network-ready video projector for around $1,000. Apparently the Ethernet port just manages the device... Too bad -- I thought for sure you could run presentations over your LAN with this nifty addition.

Hopefully this will change in the future and NEC will see fit to have this or a future device IP communications enabled so you could have one way video presentations from remote locations.

More from PCMAG and engadget

Steve Ballmer

Steve Ballmer is in the news and shares his views that Google is the company they need to beat and how he will do everything in his power to catch the search leader.

Hunter Newby Leaves Telx

March 7, 2008

For those of you who know Hunter Newby, you are aware is one of the more knowledgeable people in our industry. Hunter is especially well-versed in areas like net neutrality, fiber deployment and not surprisingly carrier hotels.

I know many of the customers of Telx and they tell me frequently that Hunter is the main reason they enjoyed (and even started) working with the company.

Over time of course the various Telx facilities in New York, Atlanta and other areas grew not just because of the personality of the Telx team but because they offered carrier hotel space where the majority of providers were located.

As Hunter has said in the past... Carrier hotels with access to massive amounts of fiber are like waterfront property.

Hunter recently informed me he will no longer be at Telx and soon in fact he will be starting a new venture. Here is an excerpt of a letter I received last night:

Ten years is a long time to be with one company in this industry.

Sun Unified Communications Solutions

March 6, 2008

Sun is getting into the unified communications game with the aid of Mitel. This is great as IBM is big player in the space and having an alternative vendor like SUN is great for companies who are looking for options.

Meed I even mention how big a role Microsoft is playing in this space?

As you may recall, I covered Sun's offerings in communications and the expanding Mitel relationship about a year ago.

What is unknown is whether SUN will be looking to work with other vendors besides Mitel on this initiative.

This linux-based solution starts at $9,000 and can support up to 5,000 phones per server.

Greg Galitzine has the details of this news if you are interested in learning more.

Packet8 Get's 72nd Patent

March 6, 2008

Google API for Calendar and Contacts

March 6, 2008

Fred Goldstein on Net Neutrality

March 6, 2008

Just when you thought you knew everything you need to know about the net neutrality debate and the controversy involving the FCC, Comcast and BitTorrent... There is more. A fantastic article from Fred Goldstein of ionary Consulting sums up what you need to know.

Here is an excerpt:

This sounds like a motherhood-and-apple-pie kind of debate. Who wants their ISP to tell them what they can and cannot do? Run Out of Search

March 5, 2008

In a sign that competing with Google in search is very difficult to do, recently announced that they will leave the general search business and focus on helping married women manage their lives. has an Alexa ranking others would die for. Under 225, meaning that the site is in the top 225 of all sites in the world.

For what it's worth, this will put in competition with iVillage, a company with an Alexa ranking of 2,012.

It is worth pointing out that iVillage was sold last year to NBC Universal for $600 million. Competing in this space may be a lot easier than going head-to-head with the world's largest search company.

We'll see how this plays out.

White House E-mail Controversy

March 5, 2008

I just came across this summary of the White House missing e-mail fiasco and I am pretty blown away at just how out of touch Washington is with technology. I knew that this administration was tech-phobic when Dick Cheney was asked as a Vice Presidential Candidate what Napster was and he didn't know. And this was back when Napster was the "hot" software on the web.

Of course then there is President Bush saying he uses "The Google."

Before I get hate mail, I should say that I am a registered Republican (will that get me even more hate mail these days? )

Although I didn't read the entire article as it is voluminous, I did get a chance to see that the White House's IT practices border on the insane... Archiving via PST files that are ten times larger than is recommended is not smart.

They also seem to not know how much technology actually costs or perhaps vendors charge our government ten times more than they charge other companies.

AT&T's Bullish Investment

March 5, 2008

AT&T is making a major telecom investment in many areas of its business. The telecom giant cites the explosion of high-speed networks, data consuming devices and the move to IP as the reason for this investment.

The money is being spent to become a larger global player as well as a big provider of utility computing services.

Where will the company be spending money?

  • Subsea Fiber: Expect the company to expand capacity to area of the world experiencing economic growth such as Asia and the Middle East.
  • MPLS Routers: The company will add a number of these throughout the world in order to ensure there is proper capacity in areas of rapid business growth.
  • Metro Ethernet: The company will invest in a manner which allows it to have such services available in 39 countries.
  • DSL: Investments will allow AT&T to provide this service in 21 countries.
  • Data Center Increase: AT&T will add 180,000 square feet of global capacity by mid 2009 throughout its 28 data centers.
  • Unified Communications: Integrating and developing recently acquired Interwise - a web conferencing company into AT&T's network.
  • Expanding Audio Conferencing: Expect IP-based conferencing in more than 140 countries with native language support.

Here is my analysis of this news:

As AT&T gets more involved in the utility computing market, I expect them to butt heads with Sun, Amazon and Google. Google is a past foe - Amazon and Sun are new ones.

While a year ago the cable companies were eating the lunch of AT&T and Verizon, there has been a rapid about-face in the market which has been fueled by the wireless arms of both LECS, IPTV and well as international expansion.

I believe the cable companies will have to do something soon to be able to compete effectively in emerging markets.

In all, this news is fantastic for the telecom market as AT&T is spending 33 percent more than last year and double what they spent in 2006.

It will be great to see these investments allow AT&T to can overseas and whether it can compete effectively against other utility computing players in the market.

The Self-Fulfilling Recession

March 5, 2008

In my discussions with the people who run tech companies, for the most part they tell me they are lowering their guidance because people tell them they should. Yesterday in fact in a podcast interview, Joel Hackney, President of the Enterprise Solutions Group at Nortel mentioned they have lowered earnings forecasts but this move seems to have more to do with what the company is hearing than what they think their prospects might be.

Having said that, it is tough to be optimistic about your future prospects if the media is beating a recession drum 24x7.

Don't get me wrong... I realize housing in many parts of the country is in a depression.

The question is, without all this constant talk of a recession, which many argue we are not in, would the rest of the economy (non housing-related companies) even be slowing?

Frost & Sullivan is a well-respected analyst and they just put out a release on the economy which goes into a bit more detail on the above topics.

I thought it worth sharing:

Increasing pessimism about the U.S.

Shark Deterrent Product Eaten by Shark

March 4, 2008

It is not every day that your anti-shark device gets eaten by a great white shark. Experts think the reason for the attack was the poor choice of shark repellent flavoring, in this case -- wounded seal.

The device is designed to attach to a surfboard and as you might imagine, it is supposed to keep the great whites "at bay" so to speak. The problem is, the electrical signals emanating from this water-borne gadget seem to have the opposite effect of what was intended.

Well, perhaps it's just a polarity thing. Hopefully one day this device will work the way it is supposed to.

Steve Jobs Can be Proud ;-)

March 4, 2008

TMCnet's New Vertical Communities

March 4, 2008

Over the past decade, TMCnet has become the accepted resource for news, product research and analysis in communications and technology markets - including telecom, VoIP, and contact centers. Moreover, the site has become the defacto location online where companies build loyal communities of interest on a variety of topics. Since 2004, TMCnet has built close to one hundred and fifty communities of various sizes (current communities, channels/microcommunities) for our partners.

These communities have proven time and again to be one of the most successful products TMC has ever launched in conjunction with our advertisers and sponsors. With an astronomical renewal rate of 70% year-over-year, TMCnet communities drive tremendous traffic to our partner's Web sites and help them achieve higher levels of search prominence.In fact, we receive numerous testimonials from companies whose TMCnet communities actually attract more visitors than their own Web sites.

Podcast: Joel Hackney, Nortel

March 4, 2008

If you want some great perspective on Nortel's recent earnings as well as information on which areas of Nortel are doing best, be sure to check out this podcast interview with Joel Hackney, President of the Enterprise Solutions Group at Nortel.

Joel discusses a number of things with me such as the rumored acquisition by his company of the Siemens Business Communications Division.

In addition, Joel discusses how applications leaders in the CIO's office are carrying more and more of the budgets for communications spending. Business processes are becoming more important he says and this allows Nortel to enter into a dialog with customers which we haven't been involved with in some time.

From there, Hackney explained how Nortel provides a choice in the market -- with lower price points, better technology while these solutions have a lower impact on the environment.

In addition, we get to hear his perspective of how SOA and web services intertwine with UC to give more choice to companies looking to implement the best communications solutions possible.

Finally we get to hear his ideas on what Nortel really sees in terms of tech spending going forward. Do they really see a slowdown in enterprise spending or not?

Here is the podcast for your listening pleasure.

Google Gears for Mobile

March 4, 2008

It is here... Finally here. Google Gears is a middleware program with tremendous potential as it allows web based applications to run, even when there is no web connectivity.

Currently, using Google Gears is a bit clunky meaning you have to tell the system you are going offline in order to use applications without a web connection.

IMS News from Ericsson, Radvision and Quanta

March 4, 2008

There is a good amount of news in the IMS space these days and perhaps most exciting is Ericsson working with Beijing Netcom, a branch of China Netcom to provide an IMS platform for the Olympics.

It will be interesting to see what sorts of applications the companies come up with and I certainly wish I was going so I could see them myself.

In other exciting IMS news, Radvision today announced that Quanta Computer is implementing its new IMS Video Share Application which provides complete, smooth integration of IMS video sharing services for Windows Mobile and other operating systems.  Quanta will be deploying the IMS Video Share Application as the first IMS service on their Windows Mobile 6 smartphones.

Using this solution, service providers can allow users to upgrade an audio call to a unidirectional video call. In this manner a user could show others what they see -- but in real time.

These two events alone are huge for IMS and have the potential to grow awareness of IP multimedia Subsystem technology to not only operators but wireless customers. I am looking forward to seeing IMS applications rolled out more widely in 2008.

Siemens Business Communications to be Sold

March 4, 2008

Siemens has put its Enterprise Communications division up for sale and it seems potential acquirers are Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel Networks and hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management.

Alcatel-Lucent would be an interesting partner as Lucent spun off its enterprise division into Avaya about seven years ago and as I have said repeatedly, having an enterprise division allows a company to offset weak service provider sales and vice versa. The Siemens customer base would be a nice addition to the former Alcatel enterprise communications division and in theory this purchase would allow the Paris/New Jersey-based company to have a broader spectrum of customers to help contribute to its revenue.

Nortel Networks has been committed to the enterprise as well as service provider markets. Nortel is a strong technology company and so is Siemens. Both companies were early to work closely with Microsoft.

Top Ten Cell Phone Usage Offenses and Remedies

March 4, 2008

I really don't get too many e-mails from communications companies that I would put in the funny basket so when I opened my e-mail inbox today and received the SpinVox 10-Point guide to Polite Cell Phone Practices, I felt it worth sharing.

Spinvox is a leading voicemail to text/voicemail transcription service allowing your cellphone voicemails to be transcribed and e-mailed or SMSed to you.

The set up for this list is the following fact:

Eighty-two percent of all Americans report being irritated at least occasionally by loud and annoying mobile phone users who conduct their calls in public places, according to a 2006 study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

And here is the list:

  1. The Offense: `Loud Speakers` - People talking at a volume that’s loud enough for everyone around them to hear.  Your conversation is really not interesting to others, even if you’re name dropping.

The Remedy: Try finding a more appropriate location to have your conversation.


  1. The Offense: `Taste Blasters` - People that shout their musical preferences through their ringtones.

A Coke, Collaboration and a Smile

March 3, 2008

Virginia Court: Spam is not Protected Speech

March 3, 2008

Virginia's Supreme Court on Friday upheld the first US felony conviction for spamming. The spammer will serve nine years in prison for sending what authorities believe to be millions of messages over a two-month period in 2003.

Jeremy Jaynes, a North Carolina, resident made Spamhaus' top 10 list of spammers, Jaynes was arrested in 2003, before the CAN SPAM act was passed by Congress. Jaynes was convicted in 2005, but his lawyers appealed the conviction. This past Friday, the Virginia Supreme Court upheld that conviction, but the vote was a narrow 4-3.

TMCnet Services

March 3, 2008

Why are Finnish Students so Smart?

March 3, 2008

As a follow-up to my entry from last night where I discussed the problems with the U.S. education system, I thought it worth sharing a related article I just discovered from the Wall Street Journal which discusses why Finnish kids are so smart.

Interestingly, high school students in Finland get about half an hour of homework nightly and don't have sports teams or proms to distract them.

Finnish students placed at the top of 15-year olds taking tests in 57 countries whil U.S. students finished in the middle of the pack or around C level.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Finnish teachers pick books and customize lessons as they shape students to national standards.

AT&T U-verse Improves

March 3, 2008

Today I was perusing a press release from AT&T touting the new HD channels they will be offering in Fairfield County, Connecticut as part of their U-verse offering. This release was of special interest since this county is where TMC headquarters are located.

What struck me in the release however is not the new HD channels which for the record are WPIX HD (CW-NYC), WTXX HD (CW-Hartford/New Haven), WNET HD (PBS), WWOR HD (My Network-NYC), and WCTX HD (My Network-Hartford/New Haven) but instead one paragraph of the release that would have seemed unheard of ten years ago.


AT&T is the only national provider to offer a 100 percent Internet Protocol-based television (IPTV) service, making AT&T U-verse TV one of the most advanced television offerings available anywhere. AT&T is deploying next-generation video services, including AT&T U-verse TV, as part of its mission to connect people with their world, everywhere they live and work, and do it better than anyone else.

It is this reference to 100% Internet protocol that got me because when the first issue of Internet Telephony Magazine was launched back in 1998, service providers  immediately shot down the whole concept of IP telephony and said it was bad... 

Flood us With New Careers, not Money

March 2, 2008

As most people looking for technical talent know, in the U.S. there is full employment in the tech space. In addition, it is very difficult to hire foreign tech workers as the government makes workers and employers jump through hoops to get tech talent into the country.

I, like many, believe having the strongest technology workforce is one of the key ways for the U.S. economy to remain competitive.

Consider the fact that founders of Google were not born in the US and moreover, Google is responsible for thousands of new jobs in this country.

Microsoft's SaaS Push

March 1, 2008

There are rumors suggesting Microsoft will soon unveil its hosted/on demand/Software as a Service strategy where many of its applications will be provided via the Internet.

If Google is the strongest competitor in this space -- and they are... The reason Google could be more successful than Microsoft in providing hosted apps has to do with the size of the advertising network Google has amassed.

Since Microsoft has a much smaller ad network, it is at an immediate disadvantage to Google in its ability to monetize such applications.

This rumored announcement however coincides extremely well with a Yahoo! acquisition as the immediate addition to Microsoft's ad network means Microsoft can instantaneously boost its ad revenue potential.

I should point out however that to date, Microsoft's web applications have impressed me more than Google's. I am not a fan of sparse user interfaces. In the end, this may not be so important as Google on the web seems to have the same level of sex appeal that Apple has in consumer electronics.

Tech Moving From Hardware to Software

March 1, 2008

As I sit in more and more meetings with companies in the IP communications hardware space I keep hearing that these companies are moving from hardware to software because that's where the money is. In fact, at a recent conference I spoke at, dealers of Avaya were very concerned about this move as software and hardware are treated differently from an accounting perspective.

In addition, it seemed as if the dealers at the conference were not ready to make the switch as they are comfortable selling and maintaining hardware and software is somehow foreign.

It seems however that these resellers and others will have to get used to this shift as even Sun is slowly moving to become a  a major software vendor. Recently in fact Sun CEO Jonathon Schwartz mentioned that the MySQL acquisition is the most important acquisition in Sun's history.

For years, Linux was the competition to Sun's Solaris and Sun downplayed the open source threat. Now it seems the company has done a major about face and soon, the Sun brand will be synonymous with various open source solutions.


Building IMS Applications

March 1, 2008

Refurbished iPhones

March 1, 2008

What could be better than an iPhone in a slowing economy? how about a less expensive, "previously owned" iPhone which will cost $199 for 4GB and $249 for 8GB. The good news is these phones will be offered by AT&T who will likely back the refurbs up with a warranty.

In case you were thinking the whole world would convert to iPhones as soon as the price drops, this would be untrue.

And how do I know this?

last week I spoke at the Altigen Dealer conference in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and no one in the audience of over 150 had one one. Moreover, it seemed none of the audience members would ever switch as they said the platform was closed, not Microsoft compatible and apparently every member of the audience wouldn't switch from Verizon to any other network.



Vonage Spent $1.4 million on Lobbying

March 1, 2008

Why ComScore owes Google $15 Billion

March 1, 2008

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