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

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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.

















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.





CBS Picks up CNET

May 18, 2008

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.








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.







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.







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.















UMAThought Leader Steve Shaw on TMCnet

May 9, 2008

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.

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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.

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