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IP Communications

Packet8 and the Army

March 29, 2007

I recently learned that 8x8's Packet8 service was awarded a US Government contract and, there's going to be an installation of 15 Packet8 Virtual Office unlimited extensions at the US Army's, Yuma Arizona facility. It looks like the voice over IP market has gotten to the point where the government has really caught on to it and is beginning to roll out installations on a pretty widespread basis.   We've been seeing the Army, and other parts of the government coming to our Internet Telephony Conference & Expo shows since about 2001. It looks like now, the various branches of the government and military are taking voice over IP very seriously, and they see that IP communications is a great way to go in terms of communications from the stand point of reliability, redundancy, etc.   It's interesting to note that, the military has been a big user of voice over IP, in installations in remote areas that needed satellites for communications. Subsequently, what they've been able to do is use high powered compression equipment to send multiple conversations, first these conversations are encrypted and then multiple conversations are compressed into packets, and send up to satellites, and then sent back down to the receiving and calling parties.   So, this is not the Army's first foray, or the military’s foray into voice over IP, but it does show that the technology's continuing to grow in our military, and hopefully it will allow our soldiers and officers to be more efficient, and more productive, just like voice over IP has done for consumers and business users.

Internet Fax

March 27, 2007

I just happened upon the Internet Fax channel sponsored by RingCentral and thought it worth passing on if for no other reason than fax seems to keep on chugging along and has if anything been revitalized by the internet. It seems the market also received a great deal of adrenaline during the housing boom as massive stores of faxes were sent from buyers to sellers to mortgage companies, etc.   As a reminder, a channel on TMCnet is a microcommunity of interest designed to educate on a certain topic. We have built over 100 of these and I continue to be amazed at the traffic levels they generate.   If you have an interest in IP fax, be sure to check the site out when you get a chance.

Trolltech

March 27, 2007

I spent a few minutes on Wikipedia today searching for information on Norway. I wanted to learn more about this country I had never been to and while searching I discovered the country is a Kingdom in fact and was settled about 12,000 years ago. I really got into learning about Norway until a coworker told me that Wikipedia is about as accurate as the water cooler gossip you might hear at work.   Ever curious I asked for details and was told about a recent fiasco regarding comedian Sinbad who was inaccurately portrayed as dead on the site. If you don’t remember, Sinbad appeared in – well I can’t recall either.

Octware

March 27, 2007

Sounds Great, Less Filling   Octasic is well known in the world of echo canceling – a market which is not discussed too often but is important for enabling crystal clear, echo-free conversations. The company is known for providing echo cancellation for devices, IP PBXs as well as high-end echo cancellation boards with fixed function DSP-based hardware.   Recently the company realized there is a whole world out there of smaller companies who enjoy the benefits of echo-free conversations (sounds great) but who aren’t fans of paying for hardware which is basically overkill for their small company (less filling).   In fact hardware-based echo cancellers are typically 16 channels at a minimum and if you need less then you have basically wasted money. So a software solution makes a great deal of sense and this software-based solution will come from a new Octasic subsidiary known as Octware.   Software-based echo canceling is an economical $10/port and works with Asterisk-based systems. The only negative to this approach is for systems that are underpowered.

TrixBox Appliance

March 26, 2007

The rage these days seems to be that of communications appliances as installing software seems to be so last year and plug-and-play seems just so 2007. To that end Trixbox has a new – you guessed it – appliance for the masses. Formerly Asterisk@Home the Trixbox appliance is based on Asterisk open-source PBX software and as I just discussed, Trixbox marketing tells us this device makes installing an open-source PBX both fast and simple.   Now you may be confused about all these different open-source PBX companies – many of whom are based on Asterisk and at least one is indeed Asterisk. Chris Lyman the CEO of Trixbox likes to explain his products versus the competition as follows:   Asterisk is the raw materials – the hammers, nails and wood if you will.

Asterisk Appliance

March 26, 2007

  Once of the more interesting areas of growth in the VoIP market has been that of open-source appliances. I had a chance to see the Asterisk Appliance from Digium which they deem is a full-featured and cost-effective way to provide the under 50 user SMB with VoIP – or as their press release espouses, Internet Telephony. The appliance is about the size of a typical home router.   Some of the functions included in the $995 device include: 
  • Complete Asterisk server
  • Support for VoIP and analog phones to allow customers to use the legacy equipment they already own
  • Full-featured PBX, interactive voice response (IVR), voicemail, conferencing and automatic call distribution (ACD) software
  • Administrative features such as a setup wizard and autoprovisioning of Polycom IP phones
  • Call queuing functionality
  • Hardware-based echo cancellation
  • Compact flash card or MMC to support voicemail and wireless applications with no major parts
  • Craft port for debug for field technicians
  • Five Ethernet ports (1 WAN, 4 LAN)
  • Built-in router ideal for small offices
  • Eight analog ports supporting a mix of foreign exchange station (FXS) and foreign exchange office (FXO) interfaces to standard telephones
My take? This is a great idea.

ITEXPO Video

March 25, 2007

Arris

March 25, 2007

I recently touched base with my contacts over at Arris and asked what was up with the acquisition of Tandberg Television.   Jim Bauer, ARRIS VP Investor Relations said, "As discussed in our press release of March 8th, ARRIS has decided not to extend or increase its offer for the shares of Tandberg Television. However, we will continue to look for opportunities to grow our business through internal developments, partnering with other technology leaders or through acquisitions. In the meantime, our core businesses remain very strong."   If you are interested in meaning more about the company you may want to check out the following releases:     Also check out this related article: IPTV faces vertical integration.

Verizon Vs. Vonage: Round II

March 24, 2007

This has been a strong news month for the VoIP market and perhaps the biggest news of all has been the Verizon Vs. Vonage patent case. While it is too early to know whether Verizon will ultimately be victorious, it is important to note the ruling may have ramifications for other VoIP providers.

If you play out this situation to its conclusion you realize what Verizon is doing may be illogical if it helps the cable companies. Why?

Vonage Shut Down

March 23, 2007

There are rumors flying that Vonage will be shut down. Unfortunately as this company is a poster child for VoIP, what happens to it could have negative impact on the industry at large. This is too bad. There are a number of companies in IP communalizations doing a great job and making great money.   For example Acme Packet is a publicly traded company who is doing well.   One thing worth pointing out is Vonage focused too much and still focuses too much on marketing.
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