Live In Toronto

I am in Toronto this morning speaking on call centers and enterprise VoIP. I was invited her by Interactive Intelligence and Vonexus. The last time I spoke in Toronto was about ten years ago. I was invited back then by a CTI association. You might say CTI was the predecessor to VoIP as it allowed the first interface between computers and telephones. I launched CTI magazine back in 1995.

Somewhere around 1996 or 1997 Internet Telephony became a monthly section of CTI and eventually spun off into its own magazine.

When I think back on it much of the promise of CTI is being realized today through VoIP. We wrote about lots of leading edge topics such as web based call control and those technologies are now embodied by today's VoIP service providers.

The one surprise is that unified messaging isn't more widely adopted. We wrote about UM probably every issue and the productivity increases from this technology were staggering.

What is amazing is that today many VoIP service providers will give you e-mailed voicemail for as little as $15/month. Couple that with Gmail or Hotmail and you have a dirt cheap unified message offering for the consumer. Why business never picked up on this technology is beyond me.

A funny thing happened yesterday as I was leaving. I switched to Verizon Wireless last year and couldn't remember if it worked in Canada. I was pretty sure I wouldn't. My office called Verizon and they confirmed it wouldn't.

I scrambled. I charged my ancient GSM phone and noticed that the battery was still good. I then decided I needed a SIM card. I thought for a moment we were in Europe and you could just buy one anywhere. No such luck. Circuit City of all places didn't have one. So I went to T-Mobile and they told me the entry level prepaid SIM card was $50. It didn't make sense to buy one for a day of calls but I was going to anyway.

I asked if the card was good in Canada and was told no. Prepaid SIM cards only work in the country where you purchase them. I have a tough time believing this is how all SIM cards work but still his was enough to convince me to leave the store empty-handed.

When I got back to the office I grabbed my VOX WiFi phone as well as I thought perhaps that would work in the airport at least.

When I landed, turns out I could roam just fine with my Verizon phone on the Telus network.

I tell you the North American mobile market is so confusing. I can't imagine how the average person navigates the various standards. Life would be easier if we all just had GSM and better US coverage on GSM networks. I wonder if Cingular/AT&T really has the best network like the ads say. I have a tough time believing it but I know GSM is the way to go if you do a lot of travel outside the states.

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I hear you loud and clear, Rich!

I landed in Canada a year ago. Before that, I lived in Jordan (Middle East) for the most part of my life.

In Jordan, I was used to mobile carriers (all of them are GSM by the way) competing for price and coverage fiercely, which of course was in my best interest. I watched the price of a minute drop from JD0.50 (about US$0.70) to as little as JD0.05 (about US$0.07) in less than 2 years! You go anywhere, and you have signal. You roam almost to any country in the world with GSM network, and you are connected, even if you are on prepaid. SMS is standard for all plans, and costs peanuts really. MMS is gaining share quickly.

I was also used to receiving as many calls as I wanted, without having to worry about RECEIVING calls! Calls are completely free on the receiving side, which makes much more sense to mesmile

So I come to North America, and I am shocked to see how primative and expensive are cellular providers! I travel from Victoria to Seattle, and I cannot make calls anymore!

I agree, GSM is the way to go, but I guess it will cost a lot of money for the conventional networks to upgrade... I hope they realize that they are falling behind, and that even third world countries are progressing fastersmile

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This page contains a single entry by Rich Tehrani published on September 27, 2005 6:45 AM.

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