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Mobile Virtual Worlds Emerge

June 4, 2008

There are so many communications companies pushing products and services revolving around virtual worlds, one wonders if we are about to see a new subset of communications break out and achieve mass appeal like VoIP, the iPhone or Blackberry. Do you think we could see a time when we all have avatars -- or even multiple avatars used when communicating with different people?

Think about it... A work avatar in a suit, a casually dressed avatar for hanging out with your friends and yet another more "elegantly dressed" avatar for communicating with members of the opposite sex.

I recently wrote that Nortel, Dialogic and NMS are in this space but I forgot to mention that IBM too is deploying a virtual world communications system for US intelligence agencies. (Credit goes to Tony Rybczynski for reminding me yesterday of this).

Nortel recently espoused how we will one day use avatars on our mobile phones and it seems they were right on -- at least in theory.





One More Reason To Vacation in the Bahamas

June 1, 2008

Recently the Bahamas Telecom Company (BTC) decided to migrate its existing countrywide wireline network to IP using Sonus and Calix gear. The move to IP will reduce the amount of equipment that needs managing and in addition, the Bahamian phone company expects to save over one million dollars a year in electricity as a result of this switch. Another million or more is expected to be saved in reduced upgrade and maintenance costs.

In addition to replacing the existing infrastructure, the plan includes a disaster recovery site in Miami which will enable the carrier to quickly recover the island’s communications network in case of a natural disaster or other emergency.

What is interesting about this news is that Hassan Ahmed, CEO and chairman at Sonus Networks mentioned that the Bahamas is ahead of many major carriers in its adoption of IP-based telephony. While most of us in the telecom field know this to be true, it is still baffling to me.



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?



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.















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

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.

















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