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Verizon Wireless Opens Up

November 27, 2007

In the history of United States communications, this day ranks right up there with the day of the Carterfone (Wikipedia) decision allowing any device to work on AT&T’s PSTN network. Today, almost 30 years later, Verizon chose to tell the world they will open up their wireless network to devices other than their own.   The news may be even more surprising in light of the fact that Skype has been petitioning the FCC for this exact thing. How often does Skype agree with the carriers?   Another surprise is the fact that Verizon is the first carrier to make such an announcement. Remember, this is the same company that routinely cripples the current devices they sell consumers.   Amazingly, this development is exactly what I have been asking for.

Star Wars VoIP Phone

November 27, 2007

I came across a Star Wars VoIP phone this past weekend while perusing catalogues. I was going to write about it today but apparently either Tom Keating checks his mail more often than I do or he gets access to catalogues faster than me.   As part of the VoIP phone package, you can get an R2-D2 roving webcam. For the Star Wars lover this is a no-brainer gift and the only downside may be the $380 cost which is reasonable if you compare it to an iPhone – basically replacing the cult of George Lucas with the cult of Steve Jobs.   To get really geeky, I wonder if there will be bluetooth connectivity to the famous headphones Princess Vespa used in SpaceBalls by Mel Brooks.

Communications Webinars

November 26, 2007

I came across some webinars of potential interest coming soon from TMC. There are a bunch and they are quite varied so it would seem there is certainly something for everyone. I am certainly interested in the 10 myths of voice automation, reducing customer churn and multi service business gateways.  

Black Monday For Yahoo! Merchant Services

November 26, 2007

According to CNBC there is a problem with the Yahoo! merchant services and some merchants haven’t seen a single transaction go through since six this morning. Obviously this is not good news for Yahoo! or the companies depending on the service.

Latest Skype Problems

November 26, 2007

WiFi, Autism Link

November 24, 2007

For obvious reasons I became alarmed when I read an article linking WiFi and autism (article intentionally not linked). I told some friends and relatives about the report and they all seemed concerned and asked for links to the story.   I should point out that when I heard about the link I thought it odd that WiFi was singled out as there are so many wireless signals in our houses from electric cables, cellular base stations, FM transmitters, satellite radio and TV. The list goes on and on in fact. For example cordless phones should be roughly equivalent to WiFi signals.   In any event, I did some post-Thanksgiving research and came across this article in the Financial Post which says another website has debunked the study.

The Latest VoIP Security Threat

November 24, 2007

For years I have been covering VoIP security and throughout this time it has been a one-sided conversation as there have been few documented cases of VOIP security attacks. Companies are generally not too happy to discuss VoIP security breaches so this news shouldn’t be very surprising to anyone.   In the absence of news regarding companies who have had voice or video conversations compromised, vendors in the VoIP security market have been proactive. Some such as Sipera have revealed vulnerabilities of existing equipment and more recently one person has even released a proof-of concept program named SIPtap with the goal of showing how easy it is -- once a program is slipped onto a corporate computer via a Trojan horse or some other means, to record enterprise VoIP calls as WAV files for later analysis.   The person behind this proof of concept program is Peter Cox who co-founded and was CTO of BorderWare, a company in the VoIP security and session border control space. I first wrote about the company in August, 2005 in a blog entry titled Secure VoIP and I covered them more recently in an entry titled Borderware's SBC Strategy.   Cox left BorderWare and has his own VoIP Consultancy which will be up and running in 2008 according to PC World.   The issue of protecting VoIP calls is likely something corporate decision-makers gloss over all too often and just because companies are not reporting more security incidents, does not mean they aren’t happening.   In the end, if you are responsible for the IP communications infrastructure of your company you need to be 100% up to date on the latest solutions on the market.   For this reason it is essential you study the problem as thoroughly as time allows and network with others in the space.   One way to do this is to attend TMC's Internet Telephony Conference & Expo in Miami, January 23-25, 2008 where there is a session titled Security Challenges in the Enterprise, which takes place Wednesday – January 23, 2008, 1:30-2:15pm EST.   As more and more crucial information gets carried over internet protocol networks, the incentive to eavesdrop on these conversations will grow dramatically.

Skype Foiling German Police

November 23, 2007

VoIP has reduced the cost of phone calls worldwide allowing many the ability to speak with others at a low cost or even for free. Because of IP communications in fact, there has also been a business productivity renaissance. When you combine these gains with those afforded by mobility-enabling devices like Blackberries, it is incredible what has been achieved.   But there is a dark side to VoIP and it has to do with the ability to encrypt IP packets in a manner that precludes eavesdropping.   This is great from a security perspective but not great for law enforcement. Especially in Germany where Police are complaining vociferously about their inability to tap calls made via Skype and potentially other VoIP providers.   For more check out:   VNUnet: Skype encryption foils German police Register: Skype crypto stumps German cops Inquirer: Skype baffles German plod

Why Verizon Sued Vonage

November 23, 2007

I receive many questions about patents and why one company sues another. Patent portfolios are like nuclear weapons – if you have them, you are less likely to end up in a war. I was reminded of this idea as I read Ike Elliot’s Telecosm blog where he has an entry focusing on why Verizon is picking on smaller companies to sue.   Here is an excerpt:  
How does a patent holder decide who to target? They usually consider the following:
1.

Advertising 2.0: What it Shouldn’t Be

November 22, 2007

The internet has evolved to a point where there is almost no information you can’t find about someone if you really want it. Enter a phone number in some search engines for example and you can get a home address.   Over the years there have been many advances in technology which over time have raised concern by privacy advocates. Toolbars which track websites a user visits -- like those supplied by Alexa (now a division of Amazon), scared some in the nineties. A few years back, fears were raised when Google announced their new Gmail e-mail service would have the company’s computers “read” e-mails and match ads based on keywords in a message.   The latest privacy controversy has to do with social networking and in particular, Facebook.
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