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Sprint Pays Klausner

April 7, 2008

Sprint recently signed a deal with Klausner Technologies to enable them to use visual voicemail without the fear of being sued. This news is interesting as Sprint is one of the companies coming after VoIP providers who the company claims is infringing on their patents. It seems more than coincidental that Sprint decided to go after so many VoIP companies around the same time they were in negotiations with Klausner.

Sprint Nextel is the seventh company to date to license the Klausner visual voicemail patents. Other licensees include ISP’s such as Time Warner’s AOL, VoIP providers such as Vonage and the visual voicemail/voicemail transcription company, Simulscribe.

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EU Authorizes Fist Fights on Planes

April 7, 2008

OK I may be a bit over the top with this headline but allowing a plane full of passengers the ability to talk on the phone -- all in different languages... What is the EU thinking?

According to TMCnet's Mae Kowalke, we will have the ability to talk in the air very, very soon. Sure, there are challenges like how will you deal with the fact that rows and rows of people will be talking at the same time while you are trying to nap?

The answer is unclear to me but riding on the trains in New York it seems like yelling at the telephone screamer seems to get them to quiet down a bit.

How do you invest to take advantage of such a change in policy.





Save Money in a Slow Economy

March 31, 2008

What is one of the best ways to cut costs without cutting heads or disrupting you key business operations? One simple solution is to explore the adoption of a telecom expense management or TEM solutions.

Recently I had a chance to sit down with the team at Anchorpoint to learn just how they are helping companies cut costs in a painless fashion.

One of the biggest problems with how companies currently deal with phone bills is that they put highly skilled workers in charge of what is really a low skill job. In addition, the job of approving telecom bills is time sensitive as phones tend to stop working when bills aren't paid. So as these highly skilled workers deal with the time sensitive job which they often feel is below their skill set they tend not to take the job very seriously and subsequently rubber stamp bills to get them through.

So companies are paying good salaries to people to do a job which doesn't get done too well.

In my conversation at Anchorpoint's headquarters in Massachusetts, we discussed how in some cases companies deploying TEM solutions can cut headcount but this usually pales in comparison to saving perhaps 10 % or more on a 10 million dollar bill.

So instead of focusing on a company's ability to cut heads they explain that these high value workers could do more important things in the company.

Of course I brought up the $99 flat rate bill phenomenon being marketed by the wireless carriers and the team told me that the result of this new marketing approach is that companies now have a metric they must come below.

So a CFO may expect phone bills to be less than $99 and a compensation plan can even be assigned to a worker based on the percentage of savings over this amount.

We further went on to discuss how telecom cost management compares with travel management.















Polycom's Software Play and More

March 31, 2008

Depending on the era, if I asked people what the name Polycom makes them think of they would give me different answers. In the nineties it was video conferencing and audio conferencing devices. Around 2000 you could add IP phones to this list. With the Spectralink acquisition you then could add wireless phones to this list.

Starting in 2008, the company will also be known for software solutions and in a recent meeting with company execs I got to learn about their new Productivity Suite which retails for a reasonable $11.99/seat.

So what void did Polycom see in the market that would have them go out and start selling software solutions?



Polycom's Durable 8002 VoIP Phone

March 31, 2008

I have to be frank… I have never been in a meeting where I saw a product launch accompanied by a phone being slammed on a table. So I was a bit surprised when Polycom's Ben Guiderian did just that with the company's new 8002 phone.

As it flashed before my eyes on the way to making a big bang on the table, I was told by Ben the new phone is an 802.11b WiFi device which is priced lower than the company's higher-end solutions. The 8002 costs just $349 for a phone, handset and charger and for another $50 you can get an extra charger and battery meaning the phone will always be functional.

On a typical AP you can get 3-4 simultaneous calls. This compares to Polycom's higher-end solutions which can potentially quadruple the number of calls.

So why would I even bother writing about a WiFi phone from Polycom at $349 when for about $150 less you can get a consumer WiFi telephony device which also supports the more robust 802.11g?

Simply stated because this device has a removable battery, Polycom has a great experience with SIP interoperability and if you break one of the consumer WiFi phones, you have now paid more than the virtually indestructible Polycom.







NEC's New Vision

March 31, 2008

Recently I had a chance to sit down with NEC Unified Solution's new president Jeffrey Kane and talk shop. Kane has an extensive background in systems integration having worked at firms like Perot Systems and EDS. Most importantly, he has a passion for success I haven't seen in my NEC telecom contacts over the past fifteen plus years.

He talks of unleashing the power of the 43 billion dollar company and bringing communications and computing together. The company purchased Sphere a while back for its SOA technology and Active Voice too is owned by the computing and telecom giant.

Still, with all that's going for them, in my experience it is always difficult for large multinational companies with non-US headquarters to compete against the likes of Cisco and Avaya.



Tax VoIP Illegally, Get a Raise

March 30, 2008

It is a sad day when a city government decides it needs to come after a specific technology -- one that has truly helped and empowered its constituents, in order to generate more revenue.

The city of Los Angeles just passed a nine percent tax on VoIP calls. In California, the voters actually have to approve tax changes and in this case, Measure S was passed by two-thirds.

Consider this however... the measure was placed on the ballot so late that there was virtually no time for anyone to counter it and let consumers know what the downsides are.

In addition, the the measure was packaged with a promise of increased police protection. Who wouldn't vote for that?





Nortel's Recent Wins and More

March 29, 2008

Nortel's Wes Durow
credit SMEI.org

One of the largest if not the largest deployment of VoIP I am aware of has to be Nortel's 10-year, $300 million dollar win with the US Social Security Administration which will support fifty-five thousand virtual workers and support baby boomers worldwide.

Nortel has had a number of DoD wins recently and part of the reason for this is due to the timing of a test network the Canadian telecom giant had at the DoD when a major network outage occurred about seven years ago. Apparently, Nortel's network was the most resilient and stayed up while others did not… Since this time, the company has been doing well supplying myriad government solutions.

In an interview with Wes Durow, who is Nortel's VP, Enterprise Solutions Global Product Marketing, we discussed the fact that the company refreshed the entire Bay Networks line (the data networking division) about seven months back and as they were doing this they had customer requests to develop more energy efficient solutions.

Now Durow proudly tells me the company's data products are much more resilient, have better performance and are extremely energy efficient.

According to Durow, "You can upgrade your data network and pay for VoIP with your energy savings."

This is all good news and Durow says candidly that companies do not buy products for the sake of being green but instead for the energy efficiency. I get the feeling he is right on with this comment.

I just can't imagine the head of IT going into a management meeting and saying I think throwing away our old network is the green thing to do and keeping her/his job.

Wes went on to tell me that there is a great deal of activity in their telepresence sales and they have partnered with Tandberg and Polycom, companies who supply some of the most open solutions on the market.

Durow went on to explain they have a suite of products that extend mobility which they refer to as unified mobile convergence. The solutions have native Microsoft and IBM UC connectivity and they further allow access to IP PBX features from the cell phone and allow you to move between WiFi zones without dropping calls.

We can also expect Nortel to get more active in the developer arena and this is good news for customers as the more developers get on the Nortel bandwagon, the more Nortel customers benefit.




















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