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Skype Serves up 100 Billion Minutes

February 20, 2008

What can you say about a company that has generated 100 billion minutes of telephone traffic. Skype has been around for 4.5 years by the way making this milestone an even greater accomplishment.

While these minutes were all free, it shows just how Skype has changed the way the world communicates.

I remember when long-distance calls in the US were about 25 cents. If you assume that Skype could charge this amount per minute of calling this would amount to a cool $25 billion in cash.

Of course this exercise is kind of ridiculous -- especially when you consider all these minutes of use are due to the service being free.

Then again, I use Skype video because it is convenient. I would pay may $10/month if I had to for such a service.

Many will look at Skype as the ultimate company that has brought the telecom companies to their knees but it is amazing to me that they are also the company with the most video users.

Why did it take a start-up from Europe to give us the most popular videoconferencing software in the world?

It goes to show you how disruptive companies are generally the greatest innovators as well.













More Cable Details Emerge

February 20, 2008

The Problem with Triple-Play Providers

February 20, 2008



I am a cable quadruple customer. VoIP, broadband, TV and the reason I switched from standalone VoIP to cable had to do with dropped packets on my network. After spending days trying to figure out what the problem was with the network I finally threw in the towel and went with cable because I figured they would now own any problems I had. Surprisingly my problems went away as soon as I switched, leading me to believe that either my old cable modem was at fault or the ATA from my VoIP service provider which intercepted every packet on the network.

Yesterday I wrote about Jon Arnold's analysis of Vonage and I said it would be sad if Vonage was to go away.



Jon Arnold on Vonage

February 19, 2008

Jon Arnold has done a great job of analyzing how Vonage is doing and according to the Arnold, the latest quarter had some ups and downs. Jon spells out why Vonage may not make it into 2009 and I for one would be sad to see this happen as Vonage does a great job with its services and web interface.

In addition, if Cable becomes one of the few choices left for residential service, we all lose as Vonage allowed the ATA to move with the customer. In addition, the ability to block calls at certain hours of the day has not been widely matched by the cablecos, etc.

Here are some excerpts of an article which is worth a close read:

Vonage is trying to strengthen its value proposition with new features such as visual voice mail and virtual phone numbers, and planned features such as outbound fax and ContactBook, but it essentially remains a landline replacement service.






Verizon Wireless and AT&T Lowering Rates

February 19, 2008

I have been intentionally staying away from the news regarding Verizon Wireless introducing new unlimited voice plans but now that AT&T has come out and matched Verizon's plans, it seems I have to at least mention it and point to GigaOM as they are covering the news and can give you the details.

I am a bit surprised by this move as Verizon Wireless has been doing well charging more than its rivals. These new rates mean that Verizon Wireless is either seeing a slowing economy and have decided this is a way to increase share or they have decided it is time to do away with their weaker competitors T-Mobile and Sprint.

One wonders if this is an opening salvo in a price war where only the customers will be the winners. It certainly seems like this is a likely scenario and the wireless market could soon end up (from a profit perspective) being a lot like the domestic airline market.



TMCnet Continues to Grow

February 19, 2008

Thanks once again to our loyal TMCnet readers. Because of you, TMCnet has broken more online records. In January of 2008 TMCnet experienced 38,368,961 page views (meaning total number of web pages viewed on TMCnet in January alone.

The total number of unique visitors on our site in January was 2,446,403 which is not an all time record but it is higher than recent months. Average Visit Length per person on TMCnet in January was 28 minutes and 59 seconds this past month.

The ISPS Strike Back

February 18, 2008

In the quest for behavioral targeting, companies who control ad networks have been working as hard as possible to allow advertisers to reach web surfers based on their online behavior and not just what page they happen to be on.

The company best positioned to take advantage of behavioral targeting without a doubt was once Yahoo. The wealth of services the company offers is surely staggering and they are able to ascertain what stocks you are considering, what content is in your e-mails, what sports teams you track and much more.

Google has one-upped Yahoo! with their purchase of DoubleClick and in an article titled Google Achieves Behavioral Targeting Nirvana, written about ten months ago, I spelled out why Google is now in a better place than Yahoo! to take advantage of the most accurate behavioral targeting. As a reminder, between Google and DoubleClick the surfing habits of virtually all web surfers will be known to Google.

But it is really the ISPs who have a better handle on where people go online than even Google.





RIM Sues Motorola over Patents

February 18, 2008

The sheer nastiness of what is about to happen could become something of legend. The first few grenades have been lobbed back and forth between Canada and Illinois. First Motorola jacked up licensing fees for its patents for things like using WiFi on a handheld device and now RIM is suing and saying these moves are unreasonable and moreover Motorola has infringed on one of RIM's patents which covers a device which has a keyboard optimized for use with the thumbs.

RIM's complaint alludes to Motorola's setbacks and argues that Motorola boosted its royalty demands in response to the "declining fortunes of its handset business" along with the fact that RIM has become a "more substantial competitor in the wireless market." As of December, RIM had 12 million BlackBerry subscribers world-wide, up from seven million in December 2006.


Aastra Acquires Ericsson's Enterprise Business

February 18, 2008

Ericsson has divested itself of its Enterprise communications business and this move reminds me a great deal of Lucent spinning off its enterprise division in 2000 or so. For Ericsson the logic behind the move is sound as it wants to focus on the service provider space and the company has never been able to penetrate the US enterprise market effectively anyway.

Truth be told, the company seemed to never have the will to become a player in the US. They never had a consistent branding message or seemed to really want to sell PBXs on our shores.

This is sad because the company is a part owner of Sony Ericsson and the synergies between these devices and corporate PBXs is immense. Somehow the company could not capitalize on this powerful differentiator.



Regulators Reshape the Internet

February 15, 2008

It is pretty amazing to see how many separate issues are surfacing that could affect the future of the internet. The FCC and government have their plates full deciding what to do with telcos and their potentially anti-competitive practices.

The first issue at hand is net neutrality. Congressman Edward Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the  “Internet Freedom Law” this week.

Rather than detailing specific regulations, the new Markey bill calls on the FCC to conduct a “thorough inquiry” to determine “broadband policies that will promote openness, competition, innovation, and affordable, ubiquitous broadband service for all.”   Part of the commission’s task is to conduct an “Internet freedom assessment” to determine whether or not service providers are adhering to “the Commission’s Broadband Policy Statement of August, 2005,” which prohibits actions that might interfere with users’ ability to access or use lawful content and services over the Internet and to attach any legal device that does not harm the network.

Next up is the case of BitTorrent and specifically, the fact that Comcast has been caught throttling traffic from this peer to peer file sharing network often used to send and receive videos. Comcast says they are within their rights to throttle bandwidth as needed to ensure things like voice get the proper quality of service while others are concerned that throttling bandwidth relating to applications violates the concept of net neutrality.

Finally, the issue of short codes has surfaced once again as Verizon has denied the use of these codes to Rebtel, a competitive service provider and others.

This month could be looked back upon as a pivotal one in the world of Internet freedom and the shaping of the world's net policies.









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