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The Latest in Carrier Testing

June 22, 2008

Mu Dynamics Adam Stein
As service providers grapple with providing more complex individual services as well as converged services, the need to test these systems grows as well. Providers need to ensure their subscribers receive high levels of service quality as well as reliability. One of the companies addressing the reliability of service issue is Mu Dynamics. Adam Stein (pictured), the company's VP of Marketing recently sat down with me to explain how his company's Mu 4000 analysis platform is able to test for variations of service traffic, known vulnerabilities and DoS attacks.

A Possible Sea Change at the FCC

June 22, 2008

For the last eighteen months I felt as if the FCC thought the cable companies were too powerful as a result of many rulings which seemed to be in favor of the telcos. It seemed even when the telcos were in the wrong they wouldn't really get in trouble and the cable companies seemed to have to walk on egg shells.

Now it seems that cable companies are going to see something come out the FCC which is to their benefit. BusinessWeek reports that the FCC is backing the cable companies over Verizon in a alleged marketing scheme having to do with Verizon not porting numbers immediately to cable companies but instead reaching out to the switching customers and offering them gifts and discounts to stay with Verizon.

What is interesting is that Chairman Kevin Martin was the lone dissenter on a 4-1 vote meaning all other commissioners were for this ruling.

Here is an excerpt from the article worth reading:

In an unusual move, on Saturday morning FCC member Robert McDowell released his formal statement that will accompany the formal announcement of the vote.

"Consistent with Congress's intent and Commission precedent in the long-distance context, today we carry out Congress's unambiguous mandate to protect consumer privacy in local markets as well," he wrote.









Anda Networks News

June 22, 2008

You can never have too much performance or too much bandwidth it seems. Regardless of how fast our broadband connections get, we develop applications which need more. SaaS, Telepresence and other forms of video are just a few examples of applications which corporations are adopting which take up more and more bandwidth.

Service providers constantly work to ensure they can supply the bandwidth their customers need and most recently the jump has been from 1 Gbps connections to 10 Gbps. If you are Greg Gum (pictured), a Vice President at Anda Networks, you know about these issues firsthand as your company supplies the equipment which service providers use to power their networks.

Emerson Network Power News

June 21, 2008

Emerson Network Power picked up the Motorola Embedded Computing Group last September and since that time, the company has made great progress in rolling out new products. I recently had a chance to sit down with Brian Carr Strategic Marketing Manager Embedded Computing to learn more about the company's products.

Carr explained that Emerson got interested in the embedded computing market when they purchased Artesyn. Emerson is a very large company -- $22 billion dollars and the Network Power division is $5 billion dollars making it quite a substantial player in the market.

The Importance of Communications

June 21, 2008

Do we realize the importance of what we do? I have been thinking about this question a great deal lately. I see the amazing technology being developed by the entire industry and I just can't help but wonder - do we realize how important we are to the world economy. I am far from an economist but I know that when productivity improves so does the standard of living.

SMS Advertising

June 18, 2008

Robby Benedyk Senior Manager Global
Product Marketing at Tekelec
For service providers on the cutting edge, you should be exploring placing ads in the text messages your subscribers send to one another. While there is a 160 character limit on SMS messages, most messages are far shorter and the opportunity to place ads in the unused character space can help service providers looking to be ahead of the curve and make more money.

While  is unclear what the best solution is to placing advertising in text messages -- one assumes that providers will make more money from the ads they sell and be able to offer lower cost text messaging plans which translates into more customers using SMS services on their network.

In a way, text messaging is the perfect mobile advertising vehicle because it doesn't rely on web browsers on the phone. In fact, every phone can receive such text ads and the possibilities here are limitless... For example, ads can link to a short code or web address.





Ditech Networks Update

June 18, 2008

The latest at Ditech Networks is that the company has hired Hossein Eslambolchi as a technical advisor. Generally, hiring a technical advisor is not big news but Eslambolchi is a bit of a celebrity having a distinguished career in engineering and his best-known role was perhaps his tenure at AT&T where he held multiple titles including CTO.

What this does for Ditech Networks is give them access to someone who lived deep in the trenches with intimate knowledge of all things telecom. The markets Ditech plays in specifically are transcoding, session border control and its more recent messaging has focused on voice quality improvements for wireless carriers.

The company has shown that increased voice quality leads to reduced carrier churn and they are obviously right.

In order to help get this message out and penetrate wireless carriers more effectively expect  Eslambolchi to open doors at carriers worldwide.

For the famous engineer, this move puts him back in the semi-spotlight and for Ditech, this move adds a prominent name to a company looking to lift sales.









Cisco's Managed Services Push

June 17, 2008

It has been an interesting day so far here at NXTComm. The first meeting of the day was with Cisco who plans on becoming a much bigger player in the managed services spaceā€¦ Al Safarikas the Sr. Director, Wireline Segment Service Provider Marketing at the company shared some thoughts on how Cisco is helping service providers worldwide deploy managed services.

One issue that came up is what precisely is the definition of managed services. From Cisco's point of view it is as follows:

Information technology which is remotely managed and provisioned, delivered as a finished product - operated by skilled professionals from a NOC.

Safarikas mentioned where the equipment sits is immaterial and this makes good sense.

Other points worth noting from our conversation are as follows:
  • Predefined SLAs that are negotiated with end users
  • It does not matter where the box sits or who owns them
  • Companies want managed services to support business initiatives

From there we discussed how Cisco helps its partners deliver managed services.

The company has expanded on the popular Cisco Powered program and helps its partners with sales and marketing, providing channel managers and other services to ensure a partner's success. AT&T Telepresence is a great example of this.

I asked what pain Cisco takes away for customers and to this Safarikas replied, "Partner with Cisco and improve your chance for success with managed services - We have the best technology, understanding of the marketplace, best capability of building [our customer's] operating capabilities through Cisco professional services."

This was a pretty memorable meeting and Cisco should be commended for looking to help the industry by defining terms such as managed services.















XM and Sirius to Merge

June 16, 2008

It took a long time but the XM Sirius Satellite merger proposal now has backing from the FCC. The two will have to divest themselves of some stations and agree to keep a lid on prices for a few years in order to get this transaction done. Both firms are winners here and in the short term, consumers win as well since they will have access to greater content as a result of forthcoming radios which work with satellites from both companies.

In the long-term, consumers will be losers as prices will increase more quickly than they would with two satellit competitors.

Packet8 Virtual Trunking

June 12, 2008

Last month I discussed a rumor regarding 8x8/Packet8 providing SIP trunking services. It turns out this rumor was true as today the company released the news they will not only provide SIP trunking but a more comprehensive product they call Virtual Trunking.

Virtual Trunking performs just like SIP trunking - assuming you have an IP PBX which supports SIP. For those of you who do not, you can still take advantage of many of the benefits VoIP has to offer as 8x8 will provide equipment courtesy of Carrier Access to connect your older PBX to their IP communications network.

It is important not to confuse this service with a double-play offering which may bundle DSL or cable but instead you can consider it to be nomadic - so you can easily move the equipment to any Ethernet line meeting the quality criteria.

The service is available throughout the US except Alaska and Hawaii where the company currently does not have telephone numbers. Competition to the service comes from ILECs, Cbeyond, M5 and a number of others.

More than one 8x8 investor has asked me about whether this is a good move for 8x8 and I think it is because it allows the company to extend its customer base to larger companies meaning more opportunity to monetize its existing network.







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