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Unified Communications

COTS to the Service Provider Rescue

November 20, 2007

There was a time when service providers had to purchase massively expensive proprietary equipment in order to deploy telephone service. Class 4 and 5 switches required enormous investment and could be justified as this equipment would be depreciated over many years in a well-known and slow-moving competitive environment.   Then along came VoIP and the market shifted into high gear. All of a sudden customers wanted more services and they wanted to spend less money for it all. Competition seemed to come from every direction with crazy “woohoo” ads from companies like Vonage and more sober ads from the cable companies.   Even worse, the wireless companies began to take share making it that much more difficult to pay for the massive iron sitting in central offices worldwide.   Just before VoIP became popular, new architectures such as CompactPCI and later Advanced TCA emerged allowing service providers to benefit from technologies being popularized in the enterprise and consumer markets.   As voice becomes a cheaper and cheaper commodity, service providers must look for other services to replace lost revenue.

Voice Peering Forum Winter 2007

November 20, 2007

If you are going to go to one voice peering conference in 2007 it needs to be VPF or Voice Peering Forum Winter 2007, New York City at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Here are some of the speakers you can hear at this conference:  
  • Dr. Judy Reed Smith, Founder & CEO, ATLANTIC-ACM
  • Jon Romm, COO, Avail Media
  • Mark Ericson, Director of Product Strategy, BlueNote Networks
  • Kevin P. Fleming, Sr Software Engineer and Co-Maintainer of Asterisk, Digium
  • Thanh Nguyen, Director for Business Development, France Telecom
  • Joseph Gillan, Economist, Gillan Associates
  • Christopher Lengyel, Director, Product Management, iBasis
  • Eric Hanselman, Network Protection Architect, IBM Internet Security Systems
  • Gary Kim, Editor-in-Chief, IP Business
  • Bill Binning, Vice President, Marketing, Jaduka
  • Joe Trainor, Vice President, Narrowstep
  • Georges Smine, Senior Director, Product Marketing, Nominum
  • Bernardin Arnason, Managing Partner, Pivot Media
  • Sanford McMurtry, VP - Strategic Operations, RNK Telecom
  • Shrihari Pandit, President & CEO, Stealth Communications
  • Bob Bradley, Product Line Manager, Sonus Networks
  • Pankaj Shroff, Chief Applications Architect, Sonus Networks
  • Stephan Beckert, Director of Research, TeleGeography
  • Rich Tehrani, President & Editor-in-Chief, TMCnet
  • Patrick Murphy, COO, The Thomas Howe Company
  • Hunter Newby, Chief Strategy Officer, The telx Group
  • Bhupender Kaul, Vice President, Business Services, Time Warner Cable
  • Jim Dalton, Founder & CEO, TransNexus
  • Rodrigue Ullens, Co-founder & CEO, Voxbone
  • Tom Schlatter, Director of Data Architecture, XO Communications
Oh yes, and I will be speaking as well. I hope to see you at the show…   This is the preeminent voice peering conference in the world and Shrihari Pandit the conference chairman has done an incredible job educating the peering market year after year and if you aren’t aware has held a peering conference at ITEXPO for many years.   You will definitely want to be in Miami in January 2008 as well to stay on top of this fast-moving industry

Avaya DevConnect

November 20, 2007

Over the years, TMC has worked closely with Avaya to host their DevConnect Developer Conference at TMC events such as Communications/VoIP Developer. I have always found these events to be extremely valuable as Avaya does a great job getting the world’s best and most knowledgeable speakers to be part of this show.   In a way I feel a special closeness to this conference because back in 2000 when Avaya hadn’t spun out of Lucent and their first ever IP-PBX was called the IP Exchange System – I was invited to be the first keynote speaker in Las Vegas. This event was being held concurrently with a TMC event as well.   So if you are interested in learning more about Avaya’s Developer Connection program or communications development in general, I recommend this conference.   The DevConnect Developer Conference is happening November 28, 2007 at Avaya Labs in Lincroft, New Jersey and is free for attendees who will benefit from great networking opportunities with Avaya professionals as well as the ability to connect with Avaya engineers and business development managers. Also, attendees will be offered hands-on demonstrations within the Avaya DevConnect Labs.   As an added bonus, attendees of the conference will also qualify to win an Apple iPod Touch.

Google in Wireless

November 16, 2007

More discussions regarding Google getting into the wireless game were sparked today by a Wall Street Journal article focusing on Google’s wireless ambitions.   In summary:  
  • Google will likely bid on the 700 MHz spectrum or lose good will in Washington
  • The company’s bid will be $4.6 billion or more.
  • Google has a test FCC license and has cell towers at its campus which it uses with Android-based phones.
  • The company has been in semi-serious discussions with Clearwire regarding building out a WiMAX network.
  • Google has invested in femtocell maker Ubiquisys
  • Everyone and their brother is on record explaining how difficult it is to build a wireless network.
  • Wall Street is enthusiastic about lending money to Google to bid at the auction
  • Google will think about bringing in partners after the auction is over and it sees what happens.
  • The company has brought on game theory experts to help it in the bidding process.
  There has been a great deal of speculation regarding the rumors of Google acquiring Sprint with many thinking the idea is farfetched. It would seem however that since Google is working on its own wireless network, they are very serious about getting into the wireless space.   As we discussed in my recent post on the matter, Google likes to build everything itself from scratch. This is just the way the company operates. However if you are going to go into the wireless business it will take years to put towers around the US and then the world.   Think about the layers of negotiation which need to take place… City by city… Neighborhood by neighborhood -- the company has to place base stations with antennas on tall buildings, water towers and hilltops as far as the eye can see.   Sure this can be done, but it will take such a long time… Let’s say five years to cover the U.S.

Rumor Mill: Google Acquiring Sprint

November 10, 2007

Recent news that Sprint is not going to work with Clearwire to build out a WiMAX network only added to the rumors I have been hearing about Google acquiring Sprint Nextel. On the surface it seems like this would be a bad move for Google but in reality the world’s leading search engine has become so much more than just a website to go to when you want to find a trinket of information… The company now needs a wireless network to allow it to grow in the mobile search and related spaces such as watching YouTube videos on the subway.   Let’s look at Google from a philosophical level. The company has built almost everything from scratch in its past and present. Computers, operating system, web server software and more.

PR and Marketing Done Right

November 10, 2007

Oftentimes companies in the communications space ask me how they are doing compared to their competition in the areas of marketing and PR. They generally do this by asking me to take surveys about their company’s standing in the market. In addition, I often get calls from organizations on Wall Street asking about specific companies. These analysts typically want to know if target companies are worth investing in, etc.   While I am not a financial analyst myself I feel I am in a pretty good position to discuss a communications and or technology company’s standing in a market.

Cisco VARs Feeling Microsoft Pressure

November 10, 2007

I saw an article in CRN titled Cisco VoIP VARs Feeling Microsoft Pressure and I found it interesting that Cisco VARs are having to deal with customer doubt regarding selling unified communications solutions.   Imagine this news is coming less than a month after I wrote Microsoft’s Big Unified Communications Launch which discussed Microsoft’s official entry into the space with a Bill Gates cameo appearance in San Francisco.   What amazes me most is that Cisco has shipping products and is such a dominant player and the threat of Microsoft entering the Unified Communications space is slowing down the networking giant’s telecom sales.   One wonders if Cisco VARs are having such problems are the VARs of other PBX players feeling the pain as well? Many of the other players in the market are doing their best to embrace the Microsoft Unified Communications strategy so perhaps this challenge is unique to Cisco and Avaya.   Why do I throw Avaya into the mix? Only because they haven’t tied themselves closely to the Microsoft UC strategy as of yet.   At the last ITEXPO this past September in Los Angles, CA, approximately one in five VARs I spoke with said Microsoft’s entry into the space would change the competitive landscape. Most were not concerned.

ITEXPO Discount – Act Fast

November 7, 2007

Sometimes I think I have the best job on earth as I get to meet with the real thought leaders in the communications market and see the latest products and services in the industry. Then I get the distinct pleasure of writing about my meetings.   Now there are times – don’t get me wrong – when I am on deadline and I can’t seem to type a cohesive sentence. But other than these few times each year, I have a great job made even better when I get to meet my many readers in person at trade shows and events around the world.   Each year, thousands of service providers, enterprise decision makers, resellers and developers come to TMC’s Internet Telephony Conference & Expo to learn about what is happening in the world of IP communications and to make purchasing decisions   In an effort to get to meet more of my readers in person, I would like to offer something I have never offered before… A major discount to attend ITEXPO, the world’s best-attended IP communications event drawing attendees from over 100 countries.   As you can see from these photos and videos, this is the world best attended IP communications event. We are very excited to have you come to this show.

Nortel is Back

November 6, 2007

Recently it is has been a mixed ride for communications companies as those relying on tier-one service providers for the majority of their growth have been battered. Case in point is Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent who each have lost over $15 billion in market capitalization in the last three months alone.   On the other hand companies like Cbeyond and ShoreTel have been fantastically well as they focus on the small business market exclusively.   Enter Nortel, who has a mix of products in its portfolio serving enterprise customers as well as service providers in the wireless and wired spaces. The company’s shares have been decelerating since early in 2004.   So Nortel’s prospects for beating earnings this quarter were less than clear. Would they have a great quarter like so many technology names with worldwide exposure or would they have a terrible quarter like both Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent?   Well the results are in and the news is very good as the Toronto-based company said it had net income of $27 million or 5 cents per share in the third quarter.

IP Communications News November 6, 2007

November 6, 2007

What are some of the interesting things happening in the wide world of communications today? For one, Excel telecommunications and Allworx have partnered to provide SMBs with SIP trunking and a PBX solution respectively (check out the SIP Trunking channel for more news on this segment).   The SMB space seems to be brimming with choice as Cisco too has decided to focus more energy on this are with a series of new additions and upgrades to the company’s product line.   In a more patriotic move, ReCellular has launched a program allowing people to donate their old cell phones so the proceeds can be used to provide calling cards for US troops around the world.   Moving to the software world, Aspect Software has moved up on the Software 500 list at 76 overall – a nice 6 place increase from the prior year.   Moving right along into the service provider market, Pactolus Communications has recently announced a quarter million session benchmark translating into upwards of 8-10 million subscribers served on an ongoing basis.   From their lets discuss the consumer market where Packet8 has done something new by updating the firmware on its Tango Video Terminal Adapter in order to allow it to also be a digital picture frame when not engaged in an IP communications call.   Priced at $99 after mail-in rebate this is one of the greatest IP communications values around. Having recently spent around $700 myself for two digital picture frames n the past few months I can tell you this price is good.   As always, the TMC team is diligently writing more articles for your perusal so check back often for more exciting developments.
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