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Rich Tehrani
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Build Communities With Google's Help

June 10, 2008

Let's say your company plays in a few different spaces such as information technology, security and storage. And let's say your company has decided to build a community of interest which is dedicated to a specific subject area as you are hoping like-minded people will visit the community regularly and begin to associate your company as a leader in the space and hopefully some of these people will become new customers.

In this example, your resources are limited and even if they aren't, you need to choose one of these above areas to build your community. Assume each of them has equal market sizes and growth rates and you need to determine where the highest level of search interest lies.

Using the updated Google Trends, you can now see a graph over time of search volume on a relative and absolute basis and this information can be exported for analysis.

You may find for example that storage interest spikes around the year-end holidays but also seems unusually high in May of each year... This information can be useful in your business as it helps you see how people are searching for various terms.

If you have read my blog before, you know TMC has been building communities (Global Online Communities, Channels) for companies in the communications and technology space for some time now.







Podcast: AudioCodes Mediant 1000 MSBG

June 10, 2008

Recently, AudioCodes released the Mediant 1000 MSBG (Multi-Service Business Gateway) a device which combines the following: media gateway, enterprise class session border controller, data router, firewall, LAN Switch, WAN access, Stand Alone Survivability and an on-board general purpose server.

This is a big product release for the company and from what I hear there has been positive reaction from the market. In addition, this release shows the progress AudioCodes has made expanding on the solutions acquired from NetRake a few years back.

In order to learn more about this product I conducted a podcast interview with Nimrod Borovsky, Vice President, Marketing, Enterprise Business Group at AudioCodes. In the interview, we discuss how this product fits into the competitive landscape and we also delve into the benefits the gateway affords Service Providers, Businesses, OEM and ISV Customers. It is worth a listen and I hope you enjoy it.



Amazon Fights for First Amendment

June 7, 2008

The scary part about so much information about people being in a single place is that the government knows where to look. This is a good thing when they are investigating a suspect but when they start to investigate the reading habits of people who are not under any suspicion, it becomes troublesome.

In short, Amazon was asked by the government to hand over which products were purchased by a large group of people in the hopes that one or more of these customers would testify against the seller (in this case Amazon did not sell the products directly -- they were purchased through Amazon Marketplace).

Amazon refused. The government narrowed the list to 230 -- Amazon refused again.

The court records regarding this case were recently unsealed.





T-Mobile Suing Starbucks

June 7, 2008

T-Mobile is already not thrilled AT&T will replace them as the service provider of choice in Starbucks stores, now the GSM-based service provider who was early to embrace WiFi is losing revenue due to the new AT&T/Starbucks promotion of free WiFi in its stores.

While the news came out around February 11th that AT&T and Starbucks would provide free WiFi service, according to these court documents T-Mobile learned of this arrangement on or around March 30th.

Here are the salient points from this lawsuit:

  • In early 2008, Starbucks, AT&T and T-Mobile negotiated some agreements allowing a structured and seamless transition allowing AT&T to replace T-Mobile as the WiFi provider in Starbucks stores.
  • During the transition period, T-Mobile and AT&T would each promote the other brand via web pages which are displayed when a user logs onto the wireless network.
  • In addition, this page would allow customers to be authenticated by an existing subscription with either service provider.
  • AT&T and T-Mobile would not pay each other for using one another's networks.
  • Starbucks rolled out a promotional plan allowing its customers using a Starbucks card to register the card at starbucks.com and at this point the customers are directed to an AT&T page.
  • Since every US market is covered by T-Mobile except for Bakersfield, CA and San Antonio, TX, T-Mobile loses the opportunity to be marketed in front of these customers in other markets.
  • In addition, these cards are available to everyone, not just AT&T customers.
  • The agreement stipulates only AT&T customers are to have this right.
There is more but you get the idea... The point is if you have a T-Mobile account today, why not cancel it and use these cards instead to ensure you have access to the internet for free.

Based on the documents it is apparently T-Mobile thinks that Starbucks and the relationship they have with the behemoth of a coffee house is important to their success. Om Malik finds it funny that a coffehouse is a key pawn between two telecoms. He has a point.







CBX 2008 News and Analyis

June 5, 2008

Telx CBX has kicked off and I am going to be doing all the video reporting in about 20 minutes. Here is my quick take on the news breaking from the show so far:

WBS Connect will provide telepresence service and more importantly provide a global gateway allowing customers to interconnect private telepresence networks. This is a no brainer idea and certainly fills a need in the market. It may be early to call it a need but there is a proliferation of telepresence rooms at the moment and this obviously means interconnecting them all will be more important.

Tiscali International will be deploying new POPs in Toronto, Seattle, Atlanta and Dallas.



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.





Flat Rate Voice/Data Plans for SMBs

June 3, 2008

Headed to Telx CBX 2008

June 3, 2008

Later this week I will be a video reporter at the Telx CBX (customer business exchange) event in New York. I always like the CBX events and am looking forward to meeting with the companies in the carrier hotel space (many lease space in the Telx interconnection facilities throughout the US) who come to network and exchange ideas and do business with one another.

I reached out to Telx to get a quick quote on why you should be at the show and Tesh Durvasula, Chief Marketing Officer of Telx had this to say,"With over 400 NANOG attendees at the Marriott and by moving CBX to Thursday to accommodate those traveling in for ITW and GTM in Washington which ends on Wednesday, our theme 'all roads lead to the CBX' is the final networking event of a week filled with major international meetings featuring ISPs, Carriers, Service Providers and more."

Here are some more notes on the  event from the CBX website:

This year's event is shaping up to be the biggest in Telx history. 2007 was a year of tremendous growth and change at Telx as we integrated various acquisitions that included 10 Meet Me Room Facilities from Digital Realty Trust and NYC Connect, the Meet Me Room at 111 8th Avenue.

2008 offers to an aggressive start as we integrate our latest acquisition, 21,000 of Colocation Space in Dallas at 8435 Stemmons Freeway. Our growth doesn’t stop at acquisitions though, we were recently announced as the first company to Host a NANOG in New York City.

Attendees will have the unprecedented opportunity to network with over 1,000 industry decision makers in one of New York's most spectacular boroughs.

See you there this Thursday, June 5th, 2008.











Eyeball Networks Signs 5-Year Micro-Community Agreement with TMC

May 30, 2008

You may recall past writings about how TMCnet has been building communities of interest for customers worldwide in an effort to educate purchasing decision makers about the products and services in different subsets of the communications and technology markets.

Our micro-community program is called channels and our more comprehensive program is called GOCs or Global Online Communities.

Currently TMCnet has built sponsored communities devoted to over 100 topics such as: IP VPN, Telecom Expense Management Solutions, IPTV CRM and HD Voice.

In addition, there are over 30 more in development and a number of our customers have been asking for longer term contracts -- ensuring they are able to keep the key term which represents the channel or GOC they sponsor.

One such customer -- Eyeball Networks, the company sponsoring the NAT Traversal channel has just signed a five year contract to hold the term as the name of a channel.

TMC's customers -- the service providers, resellers, enterprises, SMBs and developers tell us they search for products to purchase at trade shows, via magazines and the web. I believe it will soon become obvious that in addition to traditional activities such as trade show exhibits and magazine ads, all companies should explore building viral, news-generated communities in order to help educate the markets they serve, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have found that online communities build a company's brand, thought leadership and ultimately its sales.

Most importantly, as communities are online products, they can be measured, tracked and adjusted frequently to ensure they perform well.

So thanks to our customers for continuing to choose TMCnet as a destination which helps them make  purchasing decisions and thanks to sponsors such as Eyeball Networks who enable us to bring you all the quality content you have come to rely on day after day.













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.







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