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Unified Communications

OCS Training

December 13, 2007

It goes without saying that unified communications was one of the most exciting growth areas in the communications market this past quarter. Microsoft continues to be a major driver of this technology with its Office Communications Server (OCS) product. In fact, not only has Steve Ballmer been on stage to promote UC and OCS but recently Bill Gates was brought out to tout the technology as well.   The launch of OCS represents a watershed event in telecom and as I have mentioned earlier, never in the history of telecom has there been a new product roll-out supported by over 50 other companies.   To be sure, Microsoft OCS is THE communications product of 2007. Whether you plan on installing OCS in your organization or not, you should be aware that the marketing push Microsoft is putting behind this product has showed no signs of slowing down.

Net Neutrality 2.0

December 12, 2007

Should service providers be allowed to alter your web pages? The issue came up yet again when Toronto-based Rogers decided to insert messages containing sales messages in web pages they display on their customer’s browsers.   "We are concerned about these reports," Google said in an emailed statement to the Toronto Star.   "As a general principle, we believe that maintaining the Internet as a neutral platform means that carriers shouldn't be able to interfere with Web content without users' permission," the Google statement said. "We are in the process of contacting the relevant parties to bring this to a quick resolution."   Without a doubt, this is the sort of issue that begs for politicians to ensure there is network neutrality.   If service providers are allowed to display messages in web browsers, there are virtually unlimited things they can do to destroy other businesses. They could for example only show messages on Google search pages thereby giving users the incentive to switch search engines.  

They could reformat pages in such a way that they look unattractive.

What Toshiba is Doing Right

December 12, 2007

Wow! A while back I commented that Toshiba’s products were not very well known in the telecom space. This is an excerpt from that blog entry:  
My point is the company is well-known in computing but virtually unknown in communications. What if they installed soft client telephony applications on all their computers and devices?

Mediaware Communications: the new Blue Silicon

December 6, 2007

In 2000 my team at TMC received a call from a new company named Blue Silicon that received around 70+ million dollars to form a company that would integrate voicemail across disparate systems. The company launched at Internet Telephony Conference & Expo and in a keynote session the response from the audience was very very encouraging.   It seems the problem the company was solving intersected with a corporate need.   Shortly thereafter, the telecom bubble burst and funding for many new companies in telecom and datacom was ceased. Blue Silicon closed was forced to cease operations.   I couldn’t help but think of Blue Silicon when I read this Wall Street Journal story about Mediaware Communications, a new company allowing a user to have a web browser interface to a variety of telecommunications services from disparate providers.   In the article there is a comparison of this solution to the way Slingbox works – in both cases you are able to remotely access a service. But in the case of Mediaware, you are able to access your voicemail via a web browser and in so doing you are able to dramatically improve it.   I tried to access the company’s service but could not find them on the Internet.

Telecom Growing Nicely

December 5, 2007

It’s a good time to be in telecom. With all the housing gloom and doom it is nice to see that at least the telecom market is doing exceedingly well. Of course you have to pick your battles… Consumer VoIP is a rough space to be in (just ask Vonage) but companies focusing on the enterprise are as happy as pigs – well let’s keep this semi clean – Pigs in subprime mortgages.   Case in point, after a sluggish second quarter in 2007, enterprise telephony equipment manufacturers saw an 11 percent jump in worldwide sales in 3Q07 to reach $2.6 billion, according to a recent study.   “The Big Three (Avaya, Cisco, and Nortel) had excellent quarters, all growing well into the double digits,” said Matthias Machowinski, directing analyst for enterprise voice and data at Infonetics Research.   Worldwide sales of service provider next-gen voice equipment are up 5 percent in 3Q07 from 2Q07 to $956.4 million, says Infonetics Research in its "Service Provider VoIP and IMS Equipment and Subscribers" report.   “The bump this quarter was partially due to seasonal factors, as the third quarter tends to be strong, but also because of increased demand across the board, even in the TDM segment.

Certified WiFi Telephony

December 4, 2007

Good news for those vendors looking for 3rd-party certification of their WiFi solutions as well as companies and consumers looking for the authentic “WiFi telephony” seal so glaringly absent from the marketplace today.   Russell Shaw’s blog discusses how the WiFi Alliance has established a Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Voice Personal Initiative and discusses how you can get involved.   Why would such a seal make sense you ask? Well, not only does WiFi telephony have all the inherent challenges associated with packetized voice such as having to deal with bandwidth issues, latency and jitter… It has to deal with wireless issues as well. Examples include seamless hand-off of calls between base stations and eventually seamless hand-offs between base stations and cellular, WiMax and who knows what other sorts of wireless standards.   This new initiative should be very good for the WiFi telephony market.

NextPoint is Born

December 4, 2007

TMCnet’s Greg Galitzine announced the rumor on October 19th that NexTone and Reef Point were to merge. Today the news becomes real as the companies are combining to create NextPoint. Here are some quick facts and quotes according to the companies:  
  • Combined Companies to Deliver First Integrated Border Gateway, in Addition to Full Suite of Products Under the new NextPoint Name
 
  • Woody Ritchey Named CEO; David Walsh Named Chairman
 
  • JP Morgan Chase’s One Equity Partners Leads $20 Million Investment Round To Address Accelerating Market Demand
  “The integration of session border controllers for both fixed and mobile networks with a security gateway enabled by the merger of Reef Point and NexTone will create a powerful product family for next generation networks,” said Malcolm Wardlaw, Director, Converged Services, Intelligence and Applications, BT. “The IBG has the potential to simplify network design as well as reduce the total cost of ownership in a converged world, supporting the needs of our customers in an all-IP world.”   “The increasing demand for secured IP-based mobility services in a multi-access environment is creating a need for a new category of equipment called the multi-access convergence gateways that provides intelligent interaction with subscribers, services, and transport mechanisms,” said Stéphane Téral, Principal Analyst, Service Provider VoIP, IMS & FMC, Infonetics Research.

TringMe and Flash Floods

December 3, 2007

Like flash floods, Flash phones will soon be overtaking the market in a rapid fashion as more and more developers realize Flash gives them the ability to so much more than other programming environments. TechCrunch has an overview of a new company in this space called TringMe. Currently the Indian-based organization is looking to license its technology to VoIP providers. There is a demo on the Tringme website which is not so impressive at the moment but it shows what a Flash phone could be.   Why does a Flash phone make sense?

iPhone Gets Real Network

November 29, 2007

Many current iPhone users will certainly say it is about time that in 2008, iPhones will run on a proper 3G network allowing true wireless broadband speeds. The reason the device does not currently support 3G is because the battery life of a power-hungry device like an iPhone just wouldn’t be acceptable on a 3G network.

Apparently technology has improved to the point where it is now possible to have the right blend of iPhone size, weight, broadband speed and battery life.

This new device will obviously be a killer as the major problem with the current iPhone is the slow speed of the current AT&T network. This new addition will push many potential “on the fence” customers over to the Apple side.

See Also:   AT&T boss says 3G iPhone in 2008 Apple, AT&T Plan '3G' iPhone for 2008, MarketWatch Reports - AAPL Slips, T Just Firm





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.
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