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Rich Tehrani
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| Communications and Technology Blog - Latest news in IP communications, telecom, VoIP, call center & CRM space

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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?



OnRelay's Mobile PBX Solution

March 31, 2008

Years ago I realized that mobile phones would get cheaper and cheaper and eventually cause a threat to the PBX vendors of the world. Of course… trends are generally easy to spot but timing technology adoption is generally very difficult.

My friends, the time has come for PBX vendors to fear the mobile phone as a company called OnRelay is embarking on a super-aggressive campaign to get us to scrap our desk phones for mobile devices.

In a conversation with company President and CFO Marie Wold I got to see her configure her phone settings right from an application on her Nokia phone. When I asked her repeatedly if you could also use a web portal to change the settings of the phone service, she repeatedly answered, "Why would you need a web browser?" At first I thought she was being difficult but then I realized in most cases she is likely right. Besides, it is tough to argue with a company whose marketing says they will help eliminate 47 million Kg of e-waste.



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?





TMC Growth Update

March 28, 2008

Congratulations to TMC's Kevin Kiley who was just promoted to VP of Finance. Great job Kevin.

In addition I would like to thank TMC readers and our partners who have allowed us to continue our wave of growth.

In the past few months we have hired the following new team additions:

  • John McInerney, Marketing Projects Manager
  • Tim Bongiovanni, Account Executive, Customer Interaction Solutions magazine
  • Mo Harrim, Web Developer
  • Richard Moavero, Account Executive, IP Communications Group
  • Kevin Lake, Account Executive, Events Division
  • Tullio Gianitti, Account Executive, Webinar Group

This does not include our new writers (Charlotte Wolter, Gary Kim, Jon Arnold, Peter Radzieski, Scott Wharton, David Yedwab, Taran Singh, Rick Graves, Dr. Alan Solheim, Jagan Jagannathan, Phil Hill, Chris Gatch, Dan Miller and eight full-time freelance editorial contributors.)

Once again, I would like to extend my appreciation to TMC readers, sponsors and team members for helping us achieve our current growth levels and we look forward to making 2008 the year when all of our products perform better than ever.

[TMCnet]










Cubans Can Now Use Cell Phones

March 28, 2008

Comcast and BitTorrent Collaborate

March 27, 2008

In a dramatic turn of events, two companies that seemed to be at each other's throats just a few months back, Comcast and BitTorrent have decided to join forces and work together to advance ways in which rich media can be shared on the internet.

As you may recall there has been much attention paid to the fact that Comcast slowed BitTorrent packets on their network.

BitTorrent wasn't happy about having their packets slowed and as you can imagine, Comcast was embarrassed when they were caught slowing the aforementioned bits of data.

BitTorrent is a software program that allows users to download files of any size by using a peer to peer mechanism (p2p). The way the software works is to download a file in a non-sequential order meaning files cannot be used until they are downloaded in full.

Instead of thinking of BitTorrent as a file sharing solution, think of it as sharing chunks of files at a time.

Network operators have complained that BitTorrent is an extremely inefficient way to share data and this explains why some operators worldwide are either slowing this p2p traffic or halting it altogether.

For slowing these p2p packets, Comcast was recently vilified at an FCC conference and it seems as a result of all the negative publicity, the company decided to embrace the industry and perhaps even improve it.

In fact, Comcast will now work with BitTorrent on standards and protocols that allow more efficient p2p dissemination of content on networks.

For Comcast, this could be a great move as embracing p2p file sharing could actually allow the company to share files more efficiently in the future without relying as much on their own servers to push all the data to customers.

For BitTorrent, this move cements its position as king of file sharing software programs and moreover puts it at the center of the evolving industry.

A side benefit of this collaboration could potentially be that these companies will come together to ensure copyrighted content does not get transferred on p2p networks. You can be sure that record labels, software companies and other media companies are looking at this relationship very carefully and there will likely be a lawsuit or two as a result.



















Plantronics Doing Something Big

March 23, 2008

Plantronics is planning something big. I have discussed this before and they are staying pretty quiet about what they are working on. Moreover whatever they are doing has been in development for over a year and they aren't close enough to a launch to even drop serious hints.

Two things I do know is they want to be big in CEBP space and they are also looking to extend the headset paradigm.

It is tough to know what they have up there sleeves but the only hint I have is that when I asked if they are looking to add a heads up display to the headset, they say they did consider this idea but decided against it.

So I can only conclude they will be getting more deeply into the mobile device market. I suppose there is room for the company in the space occupied by Polycom.





Vermark's Big Telecom Expense Management Ambitions

March 23, 2008

One of the fastest areas of growth in the communications market has got to be telecom expense management as TEM solutions are needed to better manage corporate telecom spend levels. The sheer variety of communications services like PSTN, SIP trunking and wireless account for billions of dollars of cost each year. In many cases, companies are unsure how to make heads and tails of disparate bills from various providers which oftentimes overlap with one another.

I often come across new vendors in the TEM space and the latest one is Veramark Technologies, a company who has its roots in call accounting. According to President and CEO Tony Mazzullo, Veramark is 25 years-old with seven thousand installations and over 200 resellers.

They recently rolled out Communications Management Suite software, version 7.0 which has enhanced user-configurable dashboards, as well as more seamless integration with Microsoft solutions and the ability to deal better with disparate business groups and carriers.

Today, the company's software manages telecom TCO including maintenance and service levels.





700 MHz Auction Concludes

March 21, 2008

The FCC 700 MHz auction concluded recently and the major winners were Verizon and AT&T. While this may seem like bad news to those who would have preferred more competition as a result of this auction, FCC Chairman Martin explains that a number of smaller competitive companies did indeed win a large chunk of spectrum.

For example, 99 bidders who were not AT&T or Verizon won 754 licenses representing 69 percent of the 1,090 licenses sold. For example, Frontier Wireless, won 168 licenses in the E block to establish a near nationwide footprint for its services.

In a press release, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin had this to say:

Even in a difficult economic climate, revenues raised in this auction exceeded congressional estimates of $10.182 billion by approximately 187 percent – nearly twice the amount Congress had anticipated would be raised to support public safety initiatives, the digital television transition and $7 billion in budget deficit reduction.


I suppose from the FCC's perspective this is great news and moreover it is a nice shot in the arm for the US government at a time when we could use the revenue.

The problem here is that this money and much more will now be extracted by the winning companies who the last time I checked were not non-profit organizations.

In other words, the government has just ensured the price of broadband will be substantially more than it could have been.

If you want to understand the power of free wireless spectrum, just think about life before WiFi. Think about how much it has improved and how much more productive the world economy is as a result of WiFi using unlicensed spectrum which was blessed by the FCC.

How many WiFi devices have been sold in the US these past years? Tens of millions?














Carriers Need Advertising

March 20, 2008

I have been saying for over a decade that carriers need to explore ways to deliver enhanced services.

To be fair, some companies are doing this. AT&T has done an amazing job partnering with Apple (the way I hear it, Verizon declined to work with Apple which is why AT&T had the option) and then they have further offered Pandora radio as a $10/month service.

I got to thinking about these services as I was reading an eComm 2008 wrap up from Jon Arnold where he discusses the future of service providers.

One of the points made by Jon is that advertising revenue pales in comparison to current subscriber revenues and as such carriers need to focus on innovating.

While I agree with this notion, I do believe carriers must consider advertising as a major revenue source. Moreover, advertising revenue models of the old days pale in comparison to what is possible with the web, interactive television and location based services.

I have written before about the potential for mobile providers to supply customers with intimately targeted ads based on location and I am still awaiting the fantastic services of the future.

Perhaps the biggest problem service providers face is cultural.











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