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Rich Tehrani
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| Communications and Technology Blog - Latest news in IP communications, telecom, VoIP, call center & CRM space

May 2008

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Speaking at IP Sizzles 2008

May 30, 2008

I am really looking forward to IP Sizzles 2008 -- formerly VoIP Sizzles 2008. What is it you ask? Well I am glad you did. IP Sizzles is an event put on by ABP which focuses on educating resellers on the the opportunities available in the IP communications space.

Eyeball Networks Signs 5-Year Micro-Community Agreement with TMC

May 30, 2008

You may recall past writings about how TMCnet has been building communities of interest for customers worldwide in an effort to educate purchasing decision makers about the products and services in different subsets of the communications and technology markets.

Our micro-community program is called channels and our more comprehensive program is called GOCs or Global Online Communities.

Currently TMCnet has built sponsored communities devoted to over 100 topics such as: IP VPN, Telecom Expense Management Solutions, IPTV CRM and HD Voice.

In addition, there are over 30 more in development and a number of our customers have been asking for longer term contracts -- ensuring they are able to keep the key term which represents the channel or GOC they sponsor.

One such customer -- Eyeball Networks, the company sponsoring the NAT Traversal channel has just signed a five year contract to hold the term as the name of a channel.

TMC's customers -- the service providers, resellers, enterprises, SMBs and developers tell us they search for products to purchase at trade shows, via magazines and the web. I believe it will soon become obvious that in addition to traditional activities such as trade show exhibits and magazine ads, all companies should explore building viral, news-generated communities in order to help educate the markets they serve, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have found that online communities build a company's brand, thought leadership and ultimately its sales.

Most importantly, as communities are online products, they can be measured, tracked and adjusted frequently to ensure they perform well.

So thanks to our customers for continuing to choose TMCnet as a destination which helps them make  purchasing decisions and thanks to sponsors such as Eyeball Networks who enable us to bring you all the quality content you have come to rely on day after day.













Microsoft Response Point at Costco

May 30, 2008

Is the world ready to buy their IP PBXs from Costco? We are about to find out as the warehouse club with 537 worldwide stores and over 51 million card holders will be carrying Syspine/Microsft's Response Point, the entry level PBX that is not short on features like mobility and speech recognition support.

My take? This is a great trial for Microsoft and its partners but I am not sure that every small business is ready to deploy an IP communications phone system without the aid of a reseller or technical person. Then again, the typical SMB is likely deploying more and more technology these days without reseller assistance.

It will certainly be interesting to watch how sales are and how much space Costco devotes to these products.



Vocaltec Sells Patents to Karo Millennium

May 29, 2008

In a way, I must thank VocalTec because it was companies like them that helped me realize how IP would revolutionize communications and further help me decide to launch a magazine dedicated to the market in 1997. VocalTec was one of the first to have a column in Internet Telephony Magazine and I will never forget my many interactions with the company over the years.

So it is with mixed emotions I witness the fact that the company is selling some of its VoIP patents to Karo Millennium J.P., L.L.C. It should go without saying that these patents will likely be used to get others in the industry to pay a "tax" for using VoIP and this is likely bad news for many in the market.

On the flipside, you cannot fault VocalTec for selling 11 patents -- or half its portfolio for $12.5 million. Why?



New Asterisk Community

May 29, 2008

In an effort to further educate purchasing decision-makers and influencers in the world of communications and technology, TMC has partnered with Digium to build an Asterisk Global Online Community.

The goal of TMCnet's communities (and channels which are micro-communities) is to educate purchasing decision-makers by providing them with news, opinion and analysis on a specific field or topic area.

The community just went live this week and already there are lots of informative articles worth your attention.

For example, by perusing the site, you can learn about Thirdlane PBX 6.0 which adds cluster management and CRM integration for hosted providers, enterprises and resellers.

In addition, here is an article discussing how Vitelity Communications has been selected by PBX in a Flash, an open source, Asterisk-based PBX downloaded up to 15,000 times per month.

There is lots more of course so be sure to visit the community and click on the gray tabs to see all the stories.

































WiMAX Research Launched

May 28, 2008

If you are interested in analysis on the ClearWire WiMAX deal and other facets of the exciting WiMAX industry, you are in luck as Sidecut Reports has a new report which goes into depth on all parts of the burgeoning market.

The growth of WiMAX is probably going to be like so many other technologies. It will be over-hyped, slow and then do well when we aren't looking. This of course is easy for me to say but what about the countless people who need to make investment decisions that turn into quick profit?

These people need actionable intelligence and they need it ASAP.

Is this report what you need?

I browsed the 39-page draft executive summary and liked what I saw. In addition, I know the author Paul Kaputska quite well and he is great writer -- knowledgeable and with good connections.

Some of the topics in the summary include why now is the time to launch WiMAX networks in the US as the threat of 4G looms; an iPhone discussion; LTE; cCompeting wireless timelines; A discussion of the players in the space; and WiMAX chips, costs and more.

I recommend this report to anyone who needs to keep up with the busy and often exciting wireless/WiMAX space.











Google in Travel and A Monopoly

May 28, 2008

I was just reading how Google may soon get into travel search and as I realized this I wondered which companies would be affected. Travelocity? Expedia? Countless others? It will be interesting to watch.

I also came across an article basically trashing Google for being accountable to no one.

The article goes on to describe all the people it is not accountable to...



Sangoma Blows Out Earnings -- Again

May 28, 2008

Wow! Yes -- I know we are supposed to be in a slowdown and all -- but if the news that Sangoma had yet another record quarter is not enough to let you know that there are strong pockets of growth in  communications then I don't know what is.

The company's second quarter results show annual net income growth of 66%. This as a result of record sales of $3.21 million and record net earnings of $0.96 million.

Where were these sales taking place you ask? Well consider there was positive growth in ALL geographic regions with sales outside of North America growing 84%.

What this shows me is that companies in the open source space have the potential to do very well.





Tech Trade War?

May 28, 2008

In this corner weighing in at many billions of euros we have the EU... In the other corner -- backed by an anemic dollar and a slightly stronger yen we have the tag-team duo of the US and Japan...


Let's hope there is a nice and easy solution to the brewing tech trade skirmish taking place between the US and EU authorities. The EU is placing duties as high as 14% on printers and some flat panel monitors.

The US says these duties violate the terms of a 1996 WTO agreement. What is interesting is that Japan has also complained regarding the same issue.

The EU said that the flat-panel screens cited by the U.S., for example, are capable of working with DVD players, not just computers, and are therefore properly classified as video monitors, which are not covered by the ITA [Information Trade Agreement].

The EU further says it wants to renegotiate the agreement but the US has been unresponsive.

Let's hope this issue can be resolved amicably and that a fair resolution can reached which satisfies all parties.

Personally I believe tariffs of products are never good and always lead to dislocations in economic markets which is ultimately terrible for consumers.

See Also:

CompTIA Applauds USTR's Actions to WTO on the Information Technology Agreement
















Google Gears Powers MySpace

May 28, 2008

There is a fascinating transformation always taking place in computing. Mainframe computing relied on dumb terminals and then as clients became smarter, we started to migrate to client/server environments. Over time, news ways of working appeared and disappeared and more recently we have seen the hosted model become more important.

I have mentioned in the past that Google Gears allows hosted applications the ability to run when there is no Internet access. It seems now that Gears as it is now known is being used to help websites offload processing to local computers.

In fact, MySpace will now use Gears to enable message sorting and searching -- all powered by the local PC.



Too Fat For That Camera Phone?

May 28, 2008

SIP Forum Growth

May 28, 2008

The SIP Forum seems to be making some nice progress in attracting a broad swath of companies to its organization.

In case you aren't aware, The SIP Forum is a non-profit IP communications industry association that engages in numerous activities that advance and promote SIP technology, such as the development of industry recommendations, the SIPit interoperability and testing events, special interoperability workshops, and general promotion of SIP in the industry.

One of the Forum's recent technical activities is the development of the SIPconnect Technical Recommendation -- a standards-based recommendation that provides detailed guidelines for direct IP peering and interoperability between IP PBXs and VoIP service provider networks, and the SIPconnect Compliant Certification Program through which eligible companies can gain SIPconnect validation and the right to license the use of the SIP Forum's 'SIPconnect Compliant' certification mark.

What sort of progress are they making you ask? Well, they have recently told the world they are experianceing 100% 100% growth compared to the last quarter of 2007. The organization now has
46 Full Member companies and more than 5,000 individual members from around the world.

Why do people join the forum? Well Ken Kuenzel, Founder and CTO, Covergence, Inc. says his company joined the SIP Forum because of its efforts to build on existing IETF standards to define a standards-based approach that will enable seamless IP peering between IP PBXs and VoIP service providers.

Eric Swift, Senior Director of the Office Communications Group at Microsoft Corporation said We at Microsoft have long embraced SIP as an important standard and foundation for interoperability...










Of Cell Phones and Unborn Babies

May 28, 2008

Does cell phone use cause behavioral problems in children? A new study is out on the the matter and while it is not conclusive it did find increased cell phone use does seem to lead to children with more behavioral problems.

The study took place between researchers in Denmark and UCLA and as part of the process, more than 13 thousand women were questioned.

Over the past years, I have seen studies which show radio waves are harmful to people and other surveys which say just the opposite. What does seem obvious to me is that we are being hit with more and more radio waves as time goes on. WiFi, satellite radio and WiMAX are just a few of the new sorts of electronic radiation our bodies have to now deal with.

In case you are getting worried about this study, it should be noted that the people behind it do not think it is conclusive and moreover they think there many reasons why we shouldn't be too concerned with the results.

Here is an excerpt worth reading:

“I think this is a competently and well-done study, but I think there are enough red flags that this should probably not be something the U.S.










Post Memorial Day Communications Update

May 27, 2008

It has been a long weekend for many in the US as the weather these past few days was fantastic and based on the level of incoming e-mail I received, it seems many in the tech and telecom industries took the time off to barbeque and do whatever else they do with their families on long holiday weekends.

This week, TMC roars back to its super-productive non-vacationing self with an abundance of articles designed to help you get the most out of today's communications systems.

I have outlined a few of them here for your perusal and if you want a full list of original TMCnet articles as they happen, please visit this page and check out our services page for the latest and greatest TMCnet updates.

But getting back to the articles, if you are looking to bring the benefits of Microsoft OCS to your Nokia smartphones, you may be interested to hear what WebMessenger is doing to make this a reality.

If you are wondering what is happening outside the US with respect to communications you may not be surprised to hear that Asia and the surrounding areas are investing heavily in the latest in audio and video communications technologies. This article speaks of staggering growth rates in the region and is worth a read.

By the way, TMCnet has a dedicated communications and technology research page which you may be interested in checking out as well.

Many of you you in the communications market for some time are aware that NMS has been an early innovator in telecom and more recently the company has become a mobile player. This is why I read with interest the comments of Maggie Smith, NMS Director of Product Marketing in an interview she had with TMCnet.

Of special note were estimates she quoted about the size of the mobile video market. In fact, Frost and Sullivan estimates revenue from mobile video services in the United States are expected to reach $1.6B by 2011 and IDC has reported that revenues from mobile video and mobile TV applications in Western Europe are expected to reach nearly $2 Billion by 2009.

Another interesting part of this interview is how customers are using NMS technology to provide avatars in the communications mix.















Flash to SIP Video and Back

May 27, 2008

Google To Explain Search Rankings

May 24, 2008

Quite simply, ranking on search engines is crucial for so many businesses and a even slight change in the way search engines rank results can cripple a business. Having said that, it seems Google is one of the more active search engines in terms of constantly changing algorithms.

Since the search engine is so popular, it is also one of those search engines people obsess about and I have been involved in more and more conversations lately where people have mentioned how a slight change in Google Rank can wreak havoc on a company's web traffic. In fact, even Yahoo! and Microsoft, two of the company's biggest competitors rely on Google for massive amounts of traffic.

For all the talk of Microsoft being a big, bad company and controlling the world, the simple fact is a simple algorithm sneeze by Google can wipe out legions of companies in a moment. Some have even concluded that Google is more proprietary than Microsoft.

Microsoft has erased many competitors over the years but this has usually been done by giving something away for free or at a lower price or developing something better than the competition.

But in Google's case, when they do change algorithms and subsequently shift a company's search rank, the company blames it on an algorithmic change designed to serve users better.







Salesforce.com Grows 50%

May 24, 2008

If you have any doubts about the growth of CRM and the growth of SaaS models, I advise you to consider the fact that Salesforce.com just announced earnings up 52% for the quarter -- year-over-year.

Here are some financial stats from an article on the matter:

Total Q1 revenue was $247.6 million, an increase of 52 percent on a year-over-year basis and an increase of 14 percent on a quarter-over-quarter basis. Subscription and support revenues were $225.3 million, an increase of 53 percent on a year-over-year basis and an increase of 15 percent on a quarter-over-quarter basis.   Q1 GAAP diluted earnings per share were approximately $0.08, including approximately $18 million in stock based compensation and approximately $1.3 million in amortization of purchased intangibles related to previously announced acquisitions.    Net paying customers rose approximately 2,600 during the quarter to approximately 43,600. Compared with the year ago quarter, net paying customers have grown by approximately 11,300.   Cash from operations for the fiscal first quarter was approximately $84 million, up 128 percent year-over-year, up 4 percent from Q4, and a company record for the 3rd consecutive quarter. 




Being Part of Squawk Box

May 23, 2008

I spent part of my morning on Alex Saunders' Squawk Box -- a gathering place for industry analysts and thought leaders to discuss important technology issues of the day.

Topics today included Ariel Waldman's harassment allegations against Twitter. This conversation digressed into what Twitter is... Is it a communications vehicle or is it media -- like a magazine or website?

Andy Abramson had some well thought out comments on the matter and others had great points too. Andy likened the concept of harassing someone on Twitter to taking a megaphone out and broadcasting negative things about them in public.

The whole argument reminded me a tremendous amount of the Juicy Campus website and the problems the site is having as it seems to be a forum where college kinds primarily gossip about one another.

This conversation morphed into a discussion regarding freedom of speech and the refusal of YouTube to take down Al Qaeda videos from its site.







Podcast: Objectworld's David Levy

May 22, 2008

Microsoft Live Search Cashback Analysis

May 22, 2008

Would you switch your search engine if you got paid to do so? Amazon tried this recently with their A9 search engine and countless dotcoms did as well with chances to win millions if you used them. No one seems to have ever been successful so far using this approach.

Microsoft has pretty much given up on beating Google with a better search engine since no matter how much money they have thrown at this market, Google keeps gaining share. Instead, they will now pay you to use their search engine by offering money back on select purchases.

Communications Developer 2008

May 21, 2008

If you haven't been watching, you may have missed the fact that  TMC's Communications Developer event has been gaining some major top level sponsors and I have taken an early look at the registration database and there are a good number of conferees from major TEMs (telecom equipment manufacturers) and service providers worldwide.

TMC's Communications Developer remains the only show of its kind worldwide and we are more than excited to help the industry gather and learn the best way to develop communications solutions.

Here is part of the growing sponsor list so far and these are companies you definitely want to come and see...

  • Avaya
  • Sangoma
  • Aculab
  • AudioCodes
  • Voxeo
  • Texas Instruments (TI)
  • Pika
  • TelcoBridges
  • Voxbone

The show will be taking place at the same time and place as ITEXPO -- September 16-18, 2008 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. I sincerely hope to see you there and if you aren't the appropriate person in your company for this event be sure to come to ITEXPO instead and send your tech team to the developer event.


Here is a photo from the last Communications Developer event in San Jose, CA











Camera Van Exposed

May 21, 2008





Many of us have seen the street level view of Google Maps and other mapping software company services and wondered just what sort of van is taking the pictures. After all, the van does not have a big sign on the side saying hey -- smile, you are on candid camera.

Generally the vans traveling the country taking videos and photos of you are in disguise. Most people in fact have never seen one of them in action.

So imagine my surprise as traffic slowed to 15 MPH in a speed zone which is usually double this amount. I was calculating how I could get around the van and even contemplated passing over the double-yellow line.







Podcast: Zed-3's Iain Milnes Discusses The GS8

May 21, 2008




Zed-3 is the company most people have never heard of but it is backed by telecom veteran Iain Milnes who launched Zarak -- the successful testing company later sold to Spirent and Zultys -- the company which made a huge splash in enterpise telecom, went bankrupt and later emerged from bankruptcy and is now up and running.

Milnes shared the details of how he founded Zed-3 about a year ago and more recently he announced a brand new product which he was excited to tell me has no match in the market.

I got Milnes to share his enthusiasm on a podcast where he explained the company has developed a modular gateway called the GS8 Modular Gateway where you can plug CDMA, GSM and analog modules enabling you to connect your communications system into a variety of wireless networks.

This solution allows you to connect your network directly to the wireless network of choice without the need to connect with a traditional telecom carrier. This product fits into the suite of phones and PBX systems the company sells and Milnes thinks this gateway will not only be used with their SIP products but expect to see it communicating with other SIP boxes and even other telecom systems not using IP.

I could go on and on talking about how you could create a virtual gateway with these devices and so on and how you could save a ton of money in many countries by bypassing more expensive phone networks but I would ruin the podcast for you which you definitely want to listen to.










Podcast: Starent Networks Thierry Maupilé

May 21, 2008

As the wireless industry evolves, the level of complexity has evolved with it allowing companies such as Starent Networks to thrive by delivering technology which enables carriers to deliver rich content multimedia services.

We all have cell phones and it seems obvious these devices will be delivering TV, YouTube and a host of other multimedia services as time progresses. Those of you who have kids with cell phones know more about this than others of course.

As this transition takes place, carriers need to think about taking advantage of adding intelligence to their gateways so they are able to build the most flexible next generation network possible.

I had a candid conversation with Maupilé about wireless barriers to entry, Apple's iPhone, the latest generation of devices and the incredible opportunities ahead for service providers.

This podcast is certainly worth a listen and I hope you enjoy it thoroughly.







Roku: The Apple of TV?

May 21, 2008



Without a doubt, the new Netflix Player by Roku set top box will become a serious contender for the title "iPod of the world of television." I haven't seen this device yet but based on what I have read on Tom Keating's blog and on the New York Times, it is a killer offering.

Here are the details... A $100 set top box, a sub $10/month subscription and a web-based interface which helps you narrow down movie selections from a total of 10,000 Netflix offerings which are ultimately made by remote control.

At these price points some could be tempted to give up cable TV service altogether and if the box gains traction, it can become the TV delivery mechanism of the future -- worldwide.

I am not naive enough to think Roku will easily take over the world as Apple, Microsoft, the cable companies and phone companies will be looking to do everything short of hiring hitmen (is hitpersons more PC?).

Expect the box to eventually support YouTube, streaming TV and perhaps newer movies.

Really, everyone should be gunning for Roku except for content providers (including Yahoo! and Google) and chip manufacturers who can benefit from lower cost distribution and the sale of product to this consumer electronics company.

It is not hard to see Roku becoming a telephony provider in the future by upgrading these boxes with ATA functionality.

Expect this company to be included in net neutrality discussions of the future and if they aren't purchased in six months I will be very surprised. If Vonage had the finances or access to capital -- their brand would be a huge help in getting this box in millions of homes as fast as possible. They should consider a merger.

Then there is Google who could get broader YouTube penetration.

















Skype Adding Video Clips

May 21, 2008

Om Malik discusses how Skype is evolving to show video clips. I have detailed at length many of the ideas Skype should embrace to make money and showing videos makes good sense as it leverages the success of other video sharing services and helps Skype become more of a media sharing social network.

For those of you keeping track, here is the complete list of product suggestions I proposed to Skype in October of 2007... I look forward to hearing Rodrigo Madanes, Skype's Chief product Strategist discuss their future product rollouts and upgrades at his ITEXPO keynote this September in Los Angeles, CA.

---

1)      Enhance the social network capabilities: Skype currently is in a good position to expand into social networking via Facebook like features. They have added some community services but not enough to be taken seriously as a real social network.





Linux In The Dashboard?

May 21, 2008

Would you want an open source OS in your car... Controlling everything from the motor to the brakes to the internet access? Frankly, over the years, TMC has grown with not only Microsoft computers but we relied on Unix since about 1982. Today we have a mix of Microsoft and Linux boxes powering TMCnet and and TMC in general.

I think a Linux-based approach to automotive computing makes sense since it will drive costs down.

Plaxo Sends a Message

May 21, 2008

As I mentioned recently, Comcast picked up Plaxo. Just today I received this e-mail to Plaxo users, explaining the company has been acquired and will remain an independent entity, evolving and growing. It is a pretty good letter as it makes sure to tell users that their privacy will be protected while thanking them for their patronage.

Enjoy:

A Letter from the CEO and Founders

Dear Plaxo member,

We are excited to announce some of the biggest news in the history of Plaxo.






AT&T Webinar Focuses on Hosted Market

May 20, 2008

Remember when hosted communications was called Centrex? Those were the days. Life was slower back then. We didn't have smart phones -- really we didn't even have mobile phones. Heck, we didn't even have e-mail or voicemail...

My, how things have changed...

MindWireless Podcast

May 20, 2008

MindWireless is focused on the wireless expense management space which as you might imagine is an area of growing importance inside telecom expense management. Just think about how complicated it is to manage wireless gadgets as employees have become obsessed with having the latest and greatest devices and moreover, many consumers pick the provider they want as they need to have cell phone service at home, etc.

MindWireless helps companies organize and optimize their wireless devices. In addition, they help with outsourcing and client engagements.

One of the areas of change in the wireless device space is obviously the iPhone... This and other smartphones have changed the face of wireless device management but are users getting smarter?

In reality, users are getting devices which are more and more complicated and they are oftentimes confused about how to best use them.





Major Spanish Hackers in Jail

May 19, 2008

Cisco EMC Merger Rumor

May 19, 2008

With a majority stake in VMware and a commanding lead of the storage space, what's not to like about EMC. If you are Cisco, it makes sense to pick up EMC now because the stock is down a bit and moreover Cisco would be able to immediately expand its product line beyond networking, telepresence and networking.

Overnight, Cisco could become a leader in storage and a very strong security player.

Remember that Cisco was an early VMware investor and they likely want to expand their ownership of the company.

Remember also that Cisco is doing some amazing things with virtualization in their routers and owning a premiere name in the virtualization space can only help their core offerings.

At this point the rumor is just that but I have been pretty amazed at just how many of these speculative discussions have become reality.

One of the exceptions was the Microsoft/Yahoo merger and even that one seems to be happening in some capacity again.

I think there is little room for complaint if this rumor is true as shareholders may be better off with Cisco stock and customers would likely want to consolidate their purchasing with less vendors. At this point such a deal -- even if hypothetical, makes sense for most involved.











CBS Picks up CNET

May 18, 2008

Microsoft and Yahoo at it Again!

May 18, 2008

Border Patrol Benny Hill Style

May 17, 2008

Alorica Adds Jobs

May 17, 2008

In a slowing economy where many industries are shedding jobs, it is great to see a company in the call center market adding. California-based Alorica will be adding 500-600 new jobs in Indiana in the next year and a half or so.

The Chino-Calif.-based company will provide inbound customer care service, billing, inbound sales and some technical assistance, said Jeffrey Sopko, Alorica vice president of human resources, on Thursday.

The company plans initially to hire 100 workers to undergo a seven-week company training class starting June 9. The majority of positions will pay $9 an hour plus benefits, while management positions can go "to the mid- to high five figures," Sopko said.

With so many outsourcing companies moving to India and other countries it is great to see some of them adding jobs in the U.S.

See also:











Put Down That Danish -- You are Destroying the Plant

May 17, 2008

When I read about obesity causing global warming I wasn't surprised. After all, look at how hard airlines try to shed a few dozen pounds from an airplane just to save weight -- which in turn will save fuel. All that effort can be counteracted by a single passenger who is overweight. Let alone a plane where 30% of the passengers are obese.

Now it seems that it is not just the obese people that fly causing a problem.

Packet8 SIP Trunking Rumor

May 17, 2008

I have heard a rumor regarding 8x8/Packet8 getting into the SIP trunking business. No confirmation yet but this makes great sense as this area of the market is doing well. All trunks will eventually be SIP trunks it seems... Unless of course they are Skype-based.

The business model here is a bit different as 8x8, the parent company of Packet8 would need to work with a plethora of hardware manufacturers to ensure compatibility.

New WiMAX News Site

May 16, 2008




TMCnet grows daily with thousands of new news items and stories. As the site grows, we are always looking for ways to improve. One of these ways is to develop community pages which focus on a particular subject matter such as HD Voice, IP communications, IPTV, CRM and hosted communications or outbound call center.

Today we just announced TMCnet's WiMAX Today, a new site devoted to the WiMAX space. You probably already know TMCnet as a site which has more WiMAX news, information, opinion and analysis than any other site online.

Now you have a single place where you can go on the site to keep up with virtually every topic in this fast-growing wireless market.

I personally invite you to visit wimaxtoday.tmcnet.com for more.








ITEXPO West 2008 Conference Announced

May 16, 2008

One of the areas we have been feverishly working on at TMC is our conference program for ITEXPO,September 16-18, 2008 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

We have truly strengthened this offering with the addition of new TMC University certifications.

Here is the complete list of tracks:
  • TMC University: Unified Communications
  • TMC University: Microsoft OCS
  • TMC University: FMC/Mobility
  • TMC University: Open Source Communications
  • TMC University: SIP
  • IPTV Workshop (For carriers)
  • Unified Communications
  • Service Provider Solutions
  • VoIP for SMBs
  • Hosted Communications
  • Call Center 2.0 at INTERNET TELEPHONY

TMC University certification courses offer a cohesive series of classes on a single topic, training how to select, deploy and manage complete systems. Conference tracks present a range of views on the most important challenges and opportunities faced in The transition to IP communications.

Certification courses and conference tracks present the perfect mix of technical and business-related information, allowing you to determine which solutions best fit your company.

As always, I am looking forward to seeing you all at ITEXPO and I have a great feeling about the show this fall. It should be very productive for all of us.









My Canada Trip and Nortel Wrap Up

May 16, 2008

I am back from Canada and the first thing I did when turning on my phone was praise the engineers who came up with the awkward-sounding acronym called EVDO. By the way in my discussions in Canada it seems the people who told me Rogers will be offering EVDO are wrong as Rogers uses GSM/GPRS and their evolution is to LTE - which coincidentally stands for long term evolution.

Bell Mobility is going to be upgrading to EVDO according to my sources and moreover the high price for wireless access is explained by Canadian analysts as the problem of providing access to an entire country where only a fraction of the land is inhabited. Apparently country-wide access is mandated. Oh - and it also seems that Bell Mobility is intentionally throttling bandwidth to what I would have to say are inhumane levels.

One of my most memorable moments these last few days was driving from Ottawa to Montreal and back.



Nortel Telepresence Demo

May 15, 2008

Blackberry Thunder Coming to Verizon Stores

May 15, 2008

H.having experienced touch-screen browsing on the iPhone and even via Skyfire, I can tell you browsing without a touchscreen is a painful experience. Of course this applies to mobile devices.

RIM knows this and is subsequently rolling out a new touch screen device named Thunder which will offer a better browsing experience than current Blackberry models.

RIM devices are wonderful for email but come up short on browsing. This change will level the field and having seen the iPhone, the Canadian company could even leapfrog Apple.

Of course Apple is the king of the interface but nonetheless I am sure RIM knows they need to develop more usable products which have the broad consumer appeal of an Apple consumer electronics wonder.

The best news of all is the device should have built-in GSM meaning it should be a true world phone.







Nortel UC Demo

May 15, 2008

Virtual Worlds, The Future of Communications

May 15, 2008



I am here at Nortel R&D headquarters in Ottawa, Canada where the Nortel incubation team is showing us a bunch of the latest technologies they are working on in the labs. This is the first day the media has been allowed to see the next-gen products the Canadian-based communications company is working on.

We are an hour or so into the demo and so far we have seen a Nortel specific virtual world where all avatars use their corporate identities. In addition, there is voice collaboration with 3D stereo built-in.

If this sounds familiar it is because Diamondware has similar technology. Nortel cannot comment on whether they are working with the Arizona-based company but regardless (I would say they are working together and even will even potentially buy the company), the demo was impressive as it reinforces how the quality of audio really is more important than we realize.

We use a single ear to listen to one another while on the phone and we compress the audio and filter out most of the feeling.







Comcast Buys Plaxo

May 14, 2008

Social networking investments are certainly happening at a rapid pace and many never would have thought Comcast would purchase one. As you may remember however, Plaxo service is integrated to the telephony offering Comcast sells and the contacts are actually automatically downloaded to special web browsing home phone I wrote about many months ago.

For Comcast this move ensures an important partner does not get taken out by a competitor and it further allows the company to leverage Plaxo as it rolls out more web services.

By having profiles of users and tracking them online, the cable giant can now target advertising more effectively leading to higher premiums and better content targeting for users of Comcast services and websites.

Oh and by the way, I suppose this news puts an end to the rumors that Google was buying the company but then again there could have been an auction process or Plaxo may have reached out to the search giant for interest prior to the sale going through.

This could be a good move for Plaxo as it adds a stronger parent into the mix. The cultural issues of dealing with a social network/cable company merger is another story.







More Shots Of Ottowa

May 14, 2008

Early Morning Canada Shots

May 13, 2008

What the HP/EDS Deal Means

May 13, 2008

When you look around the tech market you see factors which suck the profit out of every nook and cranny. In hardware there is a trend towards standards-based hardware which is not slowing down. As this trend continues, prices shrink and more competition exists in building computers, etc.

Moreover, as computers get more powerful they suck the life out proprietary solutions. It is very difficult to build a proprietary hardware system and not get undercut by a competitor who uses PC-based technology.

Software should be immune to this trend but open-source has made this segment of the market more challenging.



Digium Picks Integrics to Power Carrier Solutions

May 13, 2008

Perhaps one of the biggest misperceptions among those who dabble in communications is that Asterisk is only used in small business environments. The reality is that Asterisk is being used in service provider environments as well.

Of course this doesn't mean that a product which happens to work great in a small to medium business is also able to simply flip a switch to become the heart of a service provider install.

In other words Asterisk + "a variety of additions" is what Mrs. or Mr. service provider needs to use this popular open source product to power services to their customers.

In an effort to simplify the process of adding Asterisk to the service provider environment, Digium -- the company behind the world's most popular open source communications software has partnered with Integrics, the maker of Enswitch.

According to an article on the subject by TMCnet's Susan Campbell, Enswitch allows service providers to use Asterisk in order to provide, full-featured, telephone management and billing solutions, calling card integration, toll free and number translation services, voice mail, call queuing, ACD, fax to e-mail, and multi-level IVR.

I am pretty impressed with the feature-set of Enswitch. For example, they provide XML and PDF invoices for customers, wizard-based activation, simple sales tax management, web-based administration, sophisticated authentication mechanisms, shared speed dials, .csv integration, dial by name, unlimited classes of service, etc.

In fact you may be hard pressed as a carrier to find a feature that Integrics hasn't thought of.

So what does such an announcement mean to the market? Well first off, service providers are likely to feel more comfortable working with products from Integrics as they now have the Digium brand, muscle and market power behind them.

In addition, we can expect the service provider market to embrace open source at an even more rapid pace than they are already doing.















Day One in Canada

May 12, 2008

I had an amazingly smooth trip up to Canada considering the weather in New York was stormy when I left. It felt like 40 degree weather with 40+ MPH gusts. Somehow we took off and had a flight that wasn't too turbulent.

We landed without a hitch and I had a chance to see a few companies today. Amazingly and thankfully it was sunny and warm in Canada.

Great White Trip

May 12, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

May 11, 2008

Proof Our Brains Are Underutilized

May 10, 2008

If you thought your memory was photographic, consider the fact this woman can remember every moment of every day going back to the age of eight years old. If anything, this condition called hyperthymestic syndrome from the Greek thymesis, for remembering, and hyper, meaning well above normal show us that perhaps many of us do only use 10% of our brains.

Once anonymous and referred to in scientific texts by initials, Jill Price has recently come out in the open about her condition and calls it a curse as she is able to focus on every bad decision she has ever made.

Speaking of bad decisions, I realize I am off my main news area of focus but hey -- it's Saturday -- don't my readers need a break from communications and tech from time to time? 

But getting back to Ms. Price, she is a school administrator and this begs the question as to why she hasn't decided to put this incredible memory to use in politics, counting cards the military, etc.

Finally, I would imagine such a gift would be a blessing if applied in business. BTW, we are always looking for top talent here at TMC.







UMAThought Leader Steve Shaw on TMCnet

May 9, 2008

10 Reasons SPOT Watches Died Out

May 9, 2008

As one of the biggest advocates of SPOT watches, the wrist-carried devices which allowed you to receive immediate stock quotes, news and calendar updates on the go -- I could not be more sad to hear these gadgets will no longer be supported by Microsoft.

Here are the reasons the watch is gone:

1) High Cost: Many of these devices cost around $400+ and this is simply too much for a digital watch.
2) Ugliness: The watches are horrid looking but the Tissot High-T which was the best looking one of the bunch was priced high and is now discontinued.
3) Battery Life: 4-5 days of life was just not enough for a watch. One month is more acceptable.
4) Reliability: My experience with these watches (at least from Tissot) is that they break often.
5) One-Way Signals: The network only works in one direction so traveling to another location means telling the service ahead of time that you are going to be away from your home "range."
6) Weight/Size: Not everyone wants a big and heavy watch.
7) Watch Popularity: Watches are less popular in general -- SPOT watches are no exception.
8) Cell Phone Competition: They say the latest generation won't even use a watch because they have phones. Phones do everything a spot watch does and more.
9) Geek Factor:  Do I need to explain this one?
10) Cost: $10/month is a lot to spend if you are also paying a phone bill.

Having listed all of these items, owning a watch that vibrated 15 minutes before each meeting really helped me stay on track. In addition, it was easier to glance down at my watch for information because in many cases my phone was in my pocket or not in reach.

Sadly, the High-T was the only device in this genre that vibrated and I am not interested in devices that beep as they interrupt meetings, etc.
















Cablevision's WiFi Network in New York City

May 9, 2008



WiFi is not new and providing WiFi to a city is not new. What is new and worth noodling on is the fact Cablevision will soon have a WiFi network in New York City -- well over the next few years really.

The network will be voice-ready -- supporting WiFi telephony/VoWLAN and speeds could reach 1.5 Mbps.

Over the decades, Ethernet technology has always evolved to kill the competition. Although LTE and WiMax will be viable options, one wonders what would happen if WiFi continues to evolve -- like Ethernet to eventually cover more and more areas of the world.

Of course this scenario seems unlikely based on the fact that most companies haven't figured out how to make money in the WiFi ISP space. Still, it will be worth watching to see how this all plays out.

After all, I still don't have a WiMax or LTE radio in my cell phone or laptop.

See Also:















PAETEC: Success Under the Radar

May 8, 2008

Recently I traveled to San Francisco to PAETEC World, the largest of annual meetings that PAETEC has with its customers. During this cold San Francisco week, over 350 customers and well over 100 PAETEC employees spent a few days in a downtown San Francisco, CA hotel learning, exchanging ideas and networking at evening receptions.

To my knowledge I am the first analyst or reporter ever invited to this event and this fact coupled with my desire to learn more about the company made me jump on a plane to meet with the company's execs and customers.

In a keynote speech there were slides showing how much farther ahead the Company is than the competition in terms of service. At the same time, PAETEC was frank in recognizing they still have room for improvement, admitted their imperfections, and shared their plans for growth. They frankly want to change the dynamics of the industry.

Now let's sit back and think about that for a moment.





Vonage Record Quarter: Jeff Citron Interview

May 8, 2008

Vonage has done a great job this last quarter --  posting growth numbers in a slower economy. I just had a podcast interview with Jeffrey Citron where he talked about the company's growth rate and the number of new initiatives at the pure-play VoIP service provider.

Citron explains that they are pleased with their financial performance as their revenue was $225 million and this is a 15% increase from the previous year. One great bit of news is that expenses increased and adjusted operating income is now $8 million.

These results were ahead of expectations and in addition to the news on earnings, Citron was proud to explain how well-received his new  products have been. Visual voicemail and unlimited international calling are some of these new items.

Moreover, the company has a new prosumer product and another called Companion which installs on your computer and works in conjunction with your phone service.

Perhaps most importantly, Vonage is becoming a double-play provider by reselling Covad broadband DSL service.







SkyFire: The Cure for iPhone Envy

May 8, 2008

Do you have iPhone envy? I do. In fact, just this past Sunday I walked into the AT&T store and I browsed TMCnet on the iPhone and was blown away at how easy it was to surf on this phone compared to a Windows Mobile 6 device. I then asked if there was a firm ETA on the 3G iPhone (there isn't) and as I walked into the nearby Starbucks with my family I debated with my wife the pros and cons of switching to the Apple device from my HTC 6800 on Verizon.

I was close to deciding to switch to Apple (you already know I hate the soft keyboard) when I received my text message invite to the Skyfire Beta 0.6 release of their new browser.

Skype as David, Telcos as Goliath

May 7, 2008

OK, now I have heard it all. Large, incumbent telephone companies are going to launch a competitor to Skype.

But before I proceed with my thoughts, as often the case with such amazing speculation, it is good to air out the details before dismissing them outright. After all, an informed reader may think they know better than me and I have been wrong in the past. Pobody's nerfect as they say.

The Details

Apparently ThinkPanmure, a research firm has been speculating for years that incumbent telecoms from around the world will work together to make a software package that will interoperate on various networks and leverage 3G and wired broadband investments.





Traveling Upstate Today

May 6, 2008



I am on the road again today and I could not have picked a sunnier day to be on the road. it is cool -- about 60 degrees and not a cloud anywhere to be seen. I am actually in New York State, not Connecticut and I have to give a shout out (is that an appropriate term for a tech blog? ) to the folks over at Targus as I am using the PA248U Notebook Chill Pad which is keeping my laptop nice and cool on my lap.

This thing has really saved me a few times -- especially on the couch on a weekend and I do recommend it to those who hate having a laptop scorch their thighs.



Google Pushes Verizon on 700 MHz Open Access

May 6, 2008

Many of us thought the open access provisions of the 700 MHz auction were taken care of and this was the reason Google got involved in the auction in the first place. It seems now that Verizon is saying that open access means open access to any application on their approved devices.

This as opposed tot he concept of bring whatever device you want to the party and it will work fine.

Google's attorneys are writing letters tot he FCC about the matter and this debate underscores the different points of view held by carriers and and Internet companies.

Matthew Lasar over at  ars technica has a great article on the matter.

See Also:

Update: Google concerned about Verizon's open access









eGlue Interview With Dror Pockard

May 5, 2008

Hosted Application Demand Fuels SalesForce.com

May 5, 2008

Hosted applications continue to get more press as time goes on. Similar to the e-commerce space, this market saw a slew of new entrants during the bubble times and many of these companies subsequently crashed and burned. Obviously having ASPs (remember that term?) drop like flies was not conducive to customer uptake of these solutions. In addition as an industry, we went from a time when the term ASP was ubiquitous to one where VCs actually told companies to not use these banished initials.

As you might imagine if you were an ASP in 2001-2003 and your financial backers told you to stop identifying the industry in which you played, you had trouble acquiring new customers.

This is likely why the term ASP is now gone and we use terms like hosted, on demand and software as a service (SaaS) instead.

While on the subject, note to self… Short stocks of companies where the investors micromanage.

Over time, companies have gotten more comfortable with e-commerce and the hosted model and one of the poster children for the latter has certainly become SalesForce.com.

Just making it through an ASP, tech and telecom depression speaks volumes about the company.

If this wasn't bad enough, Tom Siebel the much-respected company behind Siebel Systems publicly stated SalesForce.com wouldn't be around for long.

SalesForce.com seems to thrive as the underdog but are they still?













Sprint to sell Nextel

May 5, 2008

The most logical move for Sprint is to sell Nextel to a company that can manage it better than they can. Thankfully for Sprint shareholders, this is exactly what the company has in mind.

Recently, Sprint had finally started to run Separate Nextel ads that don't mention Sprint or at least mention Sprint a great deal less.

As I have mentioned before, Nextel is a unique push-to-talk brand and aside from strategic and customer service issues, a major challenge for Sprint has been having a single brand Sprint Nextel which encompasses two types of wireless calling.

When you think of push-to-talk you think of "Nextel."

As a separate company -- or at least a separate brand, the chance of success is much greater.

See this Wall Street Journal article for more.









Eaton’s Ugly Server Monitors Power

May 4, 2008

There is a mad dash to make servers look better. In the communications space the first good looking server I remember was the Orca from Nuera (now part of Audiocodes). The drive to make servers even better looking came as the consumer electronics market and especially Apple began to increase its influence on designers.

The exception to this rule is definitely Eaton Electric, the company behind the Power Xpert Server Solution which they claim to be the ugliest server you have ever seen. They further go on to say you’d be ugly too if you had your hands across 4,000 amps.

Avtech Software Protects Data Centers

May 4, 2008

Companies spend incredible sums of money on their communications and technology infrastructure but all too often they do not focus enough attention on protecting the investment in such equipment. As telepresence, unified communications, handheld devices, mobility and IP communications turbocharge corporate productivity; a simple air conditioner malfunction can put an end to racks of equipment which house the tools many corporate workers need to get their jobs done.

Having said that there are companies whose main focus is to ensure your data center functions at all times regardless of humidity, fire, flood or other factors which generally do not mesh well with your typical server.

I recently caught up with Michael Sigourney, the founder of Avtech Software to discuss how his products are helping companies protect their investments in technology and productivity.

The company’s flagship product is the 26W and for a list price of $1,195 you get hardware, a web interface, alerting and the ability to begin corrective action such as initiating a system shutdown in the case of triggered events.

The Ferrari red colored box (which not coincidentally contains a bright red circuit board) allows connections for a variety of external sensors such as power, flood, smoke, motion, air flow, room entry, sound, light, panic buttons and more.

The data the box collects is output into an unmodifiable file which is great for companies who need such a feature to help them with regulations relating to compliance. And yes, of course you could export this file and modify it elsewhere if needed.

Sigourney proudly tells me that every branch of the US government and the majority of the Fortune 1,000 use his products and even some military aircrafts and missiles have his technology in them.

The company’s latest product the Signal Tower is fairly unexciting as it is essentially a traffic light which can be seen any angle and set to signal problems. Green, yellow and red lights can blink, etc in conjunction with an alarm depending on network and other events.

But having a product that is boring does not mean it is not useful.















Microsoft Withdraws Yahoo Proposal

May 3, 2008

In a surprise move, Microsoft announced it has withdrawn its offer for Yahoo. Boy this thing is taking a long time. If this is just posturing, it seems like it is taking focus off the big picture for both firms.

More to come.

Update from RTT News:

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) said on Saturday that it has withdrawn its proposal to purchase Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO).






CellPoint Flamingo Music Headphones

May 3, 2008

A little known fact about me is I love to review products. Of course if you know me well, you know I just don't have the time to test every product I learn about. Moreover many of the items I discover take up space and my wife has been complaining about the pile of softswitches and session border controllers I lug home to review in my home office.

So when I got an e-mail asking me to review a pair of Flamingo Music headphones from CellPoint, I figured...

The Liability of Social Networking

May 3, 2008

About a decade ago an attorney friend of mine told me that you should always delete emails that are one year old. He went on to explain from a lawsuit/discovery process, these e-mails could come back to haunt you.

And I think of this statement every time someone writes me via one of the myriad social networking sites on the market. I wonder for example, is there any recourse for me if I want to permanently delete messages at a later date?

Based on the preliminary research I have done, the answer is a resounding maybe. Even some sites which allow you to delete messages still archive them and may or may not get rid of the content.

In a society where there is likely to be more and more lawsuits, I wonder what sort of disastrous mess many are getting into by communicating via sites which could in turn could be broken into or even subpoenaed at a later date.





Blackberry Outage

May 3, 2008

Sangoma's David Mandelstam Shares Thoughts

May 2, 2008

Nortel's Joel Hackney Discusses Earnings

May 2, 2008

Amazon Fights back Against New York Tax

May 2, 2008

Amazon, feeling singled out by what New York state officials have dubbed the Amazon Tax has decided to sue the state. According to the New York Times, the state changed the law regarding who has to collect taxes and instead of requiring only retailers with a physical location in the state to pay, now -- any company with an affiliate in New York state has to collect them as well.

Amazon is saying their affiliates are not really agents but sites on which Amazon places ads.

The ecommerce giant further states that the law is overly broad and vague and finally that it is targeted at a single company -- referring to state officials calling it the Amazon Tax.

I first reported on this tax a few weeks back and it will be very interesting to see how this plays out.

If New York wins, it will benefit many retailers in the state and other states will likely follow suit. None of this of course would be good for any online retailer as one of their main advantages will be taken away.







NET has Record Quarter

May 1, 2008

Good news in the communications space from from NET who announced their highest level of profitability in 10 years. According to the company, total revenue in the fourth quarter was $33.4 million, a 15 percent increase from $29 million in the third quarter, and a 34 percent increase from $25 million in the fourth quarter of the prior fiscal year.

I have written about NET before -- specifically their military systems and unified communications solutions.

More recently, Quintum was purchased by the company allowing NET to have a more balanced product line including smaller gateways.

It is worth pointing out once again that many companies in the communications space are doing better than last year -- even in a slowing economy.

Yesterday I wrote about how rising gas prices could boost UC spending and the day before it was record results from Interactive Intelligence. Sure there was negative Shoretel news as well but there could be other problems at the company besides the economy.

Heading into Q2 it seems most communications companies are optimistic and as I have said before the companies who have consistent branding and marketing are doing better than those who do less.

Consistent press releases, media outreach and messaging is what needs to be done in a slowing economy. Communications products and services can help companies greatly if we are indeed in the "dreaded R word".











Heading Back From Interop Vegas 2008

May 1, 2008

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