Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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August 2004

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VoIP news hotter than ever

August 31, 2004

There has been a flurry of VoIP news, announcements, and VoIP reports, which all point to the same thing. VoIP is exploding!

For example, according to this Yankee Group VoIP release, more than one million US consumers will have subscribed to an IP telephone service by the end of this year, up from only 131,000 at the end of 2003.

The report also predicts that 17.5 million US households will be using the technology by the end of 2008.

Skype Lauches Apple Mac OS X version

August 31, 2004

Charter goes for the Telecom Triple Play (voice, data, video)

August 31, 2004

As of late, several phone companies have been partnering with cable and satellite TV providers to complete their triple play, while at the same time, several major cable firms are moving strongly into phone services via VoIP.

Well, my cable provider Charter Communications is set to complete the "telecom triple play" with the addition of phone service.

Service providers have long considered the so-called triple play of voice, video and data the Holy Grail because it allows them to become a customer's sole provider with one package price and one bill.

Charter announced deals Monday that will allow it to add VoIP phone services to its cable TV and cable Internet access offerings.

About Me

August 31, 2004

Welcome to my VoIP & Gadget Blog. My name is Tom Keating and I've been in telecom/datacom since 1994 when I joined Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC), a publisher of VoIP news, call center & CRM news, as well as other telecom information. My interests in computers started at the age of 12 in 1982. My first computer was a Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer (CoCo) and I subscribed to Rainbow Magazine which covered the CoCo. Growing up a computer geek, I pursued computer science in college and graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Connecticut.

In 1995 my boss, Rich Tehrani offered me a new challenge - create a labs that tests CTI Computer Telephony Integration), the precursor to VoIP, as well as call center products, and other telecom products for TMC's magazines.

Aruba Wireless and Ortronics Wi-Jack - the First WiFi Wall Outlet

August 31, 2004

I came across an interesting release that claims they have developed the world's first Wi-Fi wall outlet.

Here's an excerpt:
Aruba Wireless Networks (Aruba) and Ortronics Inc., a global leader in enterprise structured cabling systems, today announced they have developed the world’s first Wi-Fi wall outlet.

The new patent-pending Wi-Jack™ Wi-Fi wall outlet will be marketed and manufactured by Ortronics and will integrate Aruba’s next generation enterprise wireless LAN (WLAN) technology directly into an office network wall outlet.

Today, most access points (APs) are deployed in the ceiling at significant cost and on-going operational expense.

AT&T David Dorman interview on VoIP and AT&T's plans

August 30, 2004

AT&T is not a phone company - they're "a networking company"

August 30, 2004 Ma Bell Up for Sale? [Motley Fool Take] August 23, 2004

This article has an interesting "theory" that with AT&T's latest financial and marketing moves, including a strong push for VoIP offerings (AT&T CallVantage), that AT&T is setting itself up for sale or takeover bid. This is an incredible claim if it is true.

Death Knell for Vonage, Net2Phone, Packet8, Broadvoice, Lingo?

August 27, 2004

I was just reading this article: Net2Phone Out2Dry and it brings up some interesting points regarding the positioning of phone companies/Tier 1 carriers, cable companies, and the likes of Net2Phone, Vonage, Lingo, etc.

It discusses how Sprint picked up a cable-telephony contract from Mediacom Communications Corp. and how that could spell trouble for Net2Phone which is also trying to get a foothold in cable telephony.

The article goes on to say that the reason why Mediacom chose Sprint was because of crucial telecom features such as 911 service. Of course, a counterpoint to the 911 argument is that Vonage, which is a similar company to Net2Phone supports 911 just fine.

Hmmm, It Looks like an Ipod It Smells like an Ipod, Gee it is an Ipod!

August 27, 2004

Get Ready for Nigerian VoIP Spam!

August 27, 2004


Ok, back to normal case. Well, I was reading this news story, West Africa: VoIP Wears Human Face in West Africa, which talks about how VoIP is taking off in Africa.

A quote from the article states, "Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) warms-up for its regular technical meeting, focusing on the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), with theme: 'VOIP: Face to Face with The next revolution in Telecommunicating,' the recent report of Balancing Act's Africa, seems to give credence to its over-whelming deployment in the sub-Saharan Africa."

I couldn't help but think to myself "Gee, now that's just great, now I'll be receiving Nigerian VoIP spam (at little to no cost to them) that bypasses the U.S.

AT&T Surrenders Residential Market? I don't think so!

August 26, 2004

This VoIP article titled "Competition: Gone Today, Here Tomorrow" just confirms what I blogged several days ago - that AT&T is not "surrendering" the residential market.

In fact, it bears repeating a quote from my blog entry, AT&T The Sleeping Giant Awakens to Blitzkrieg the VoIP Market, where I said "No friggin way!". AT&T is NOT giving up, they are not surrendering.

Far from it.

Volunteer Asterisk programmers adding STUN support to Asterisk

August 26, 2004

Vonage secures $105 million in financing

August 25, 2004

AT&T CallVantage partners with Amazon

August 25, 2004

8x8 (Packet8) adds Fry's Electronics

August 25, 2004

Boy, what a flurry of announcments the past few days about VoIP providers partnering with retail outlets (BestBuy) or partnering with broadband router manufacturers (LinkSys, NetGear) to embed VoIP functionality in their routers. All of the aforementioned companies in parenenthesis have some sort of deal involving VoIP.

Well, add Fry's Electronics to the VoIP bandwagon!

Here's the news release:


SANTA CLARA, Calif., Aug. 24, 2004 -- 8x8, Inc. (Nasdaq: EGHT), the Packet8 broadband voice over internet protocol (VoIP) and videophone communications service provider, announced that beginning August 27th, Fry's Electronics, a leading electronics retailer serving the western U.S., will be offering the Packet8 Broadband Videophone and Packet8 Broadband Phone Adapter.

Samsung MM-A700 - TV on your cell phone

August 25, 2004

The Samsung MM-A700 is one cool cell phone. It's loaded with Sprint PCS's Vision Multimedia Services and a built-in Media Player application. It features a sharp 262,000-color screen, stereo sound, and can play back pre-recorded TV shows at 15fps.

Unfortunately, they don't currently support streaming live TV, though the technology exists today.

Apple's iPod problematic install on Windows

August 24, 2004

Apple is known for having the most userfriendly experience in computing. I've always been a PC fan, even in the old 8086 and 80286 days before Windows even existed - DOS was my friend.

My first experience with Apple was a Macintosh IISE I believe which my college roommate had. I could never get used to the one-click mouse.

BugMeNot is no more

August 24, 2004

I probably surf over 200 web pages a day both for my job and for personal reasons. As such, one of my major pet-peeves is having to register on certain websites. I don't mind so much for certain types of sites, such as financial institutions (credit cards, banks), forums (i.e. VoIP Forum, 3000GT forum, Viper forum), so I can get notified for any new posts or replied to my posts.

AT&T makes deal with the devil (cable companies)

August 19, 2004

I was reading on Cnet and several other news outlets that AT&T struck some deals with Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Cox Communications, and Charter Communications. But have they struck a deal with the devil? Will the cable companies turn on AT&T? Read on...

U.S. Soldiers in Iraq using VoIP to call home

August 19, 2004

Whether you are in the Bush or Kerry camp, and as divisive this election year has become, I think we can all agree that we should support our troops.

I was surfing the web and came across a company, Freedom Calls Foundation, that is offering free VoIP and video services to our troops abroad so they can call home for free. When you haven't seen your loved ones for months at a time, having not just voice capabilities, but also video to "see and virtually feel" your loved ones from afar is a real morale booster for our troops. I'm sure seeing live video has a very powerful impact on the miiltary families.

Vonage new 311 service

August 18, 2004

Vonage just recently announed their new 311 service which lets you access local government services and information based on where you are located. Good stuff! Vonage 311 Service

Unfortunately, when I tried it on my Vonage line, all I got was a fast busy. I went back to their website and noticed they have a very limited number of cities supporting the 311 service- 13 total cities in fact with 7 coming soon.

Broadband overtakes narrowband dialup woohoo!

August 18, 2004

Since I'm a bandwidth fan/nut/hog, I thought I would share this interesting release announcing that broadband has overtaken narrowband, i.e. dial-up. Just don't tell my dad he's in the minority and he needs broadband - he says he's fine surfing the Web at 56kbps. Add my co-worker, gadget-phobe, former Microsoft-patch-a-phobe and somewhat of a "technology Luddite", Robert Hashemian to that list of "holdouts" still surfing..

MCI deploys Ericsson's VoIP Engine solution

August 18, 2004

Ericsson and MCI Inc. today announced an agreement to deploy Ericsson's Engine solution to migrate MCI's US-based international gateway traffic from traditional circuit switching to carrier-class Voice over IP (VoIP).

Building on its domestic VoIP migration plans, announced in June 2003, MCI has become one of the first U.S.-based service providers to provision the transition of its international voice service to its core IP backbone. Already well into the deployment of Ericsson's latest generation voice switching platform into the network, MCI
expects to begin transitioning traffic by mid 2005.

The reasons for the migration to an all IP backbone are simple:
1) It enables MCI to flexibly and cost-effectively converge international voice services onto its IP backbone to optimize the network.
2) It increases efficiency and realizes operational savings while providing more value and feature offerings (such as "follow me") to customers.
3) By having a 100% IP core, MCI can become a "true" international phone company offering phone service throughout the world.

Kagoor Delivers Session Border Control Solution For Voice over Broadband

August 17, 2004

Remember Aravox Technologies? Well I do. They were one of the first companies to offer a session border control (SBC) that solves the issue of NAT traversal over VoIP without compromising security. Basically a SBC device, is an edge device that opens and maintains a secure hole through a firewall for real-time traffic, such as voice over IP or video.

VoIP via power lines

August 17, 2004

First came voice over copper and for a over one hundred years voice was carried over copper. Then came wireless which allowed car phones and cell phones to flourish. Next, came the Internet and we had Voice over the Internet aka Voice over IP (VoIP) over dial-up (ex: VocalTec's Internet Phone, Microsoft Netmeeting). Next came broadband and much improved VoIP offerings from Vonage and other players using ATA devices such as the Cisco ATA-186 and now Sipura.

Pingtel drops hardware and goes all open source

August 17, 2004

It was only a matter of time before Pingtel switched to a completely 100% software company. (See: Pingtel Completes Strategic Transition with Sale of Its Award-Winning xpressa Desktop Phone Product Line)

First, let me state that I've always loved Pingtel's VoIP phones which include a very cool LCD display with the ability to run Java applets. In fact, their vision was that users could access the phonebook on the LCD display, lookup a local pizzeria, and even be "pushed" a coupon for a discount or special.

But the high pricetag on the Pingtel phones as well as competition from Cisco and other VoIP phones that also often had LCD displays took some of the competitive advantage away from Pingtel.

Windows XP SP2, Skype and Limiting the number of connections

August 16, 2004

VoIP Forum and other Technology Forums: Windows XP SP2, Skype, eMule
I posted this in the VoIP forums and thought it would be useful to blog it as well:

I've noticed some problems with the number of simultaneous connections after installing Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2).

Apparently, as a security measure, Microsoft has limited the number of simultaneous connections to 10 to reduce the spread of viruses such as MSBlast.

As a side effect, this has slowed down many eMule users and I've noticed some issues with my Skype client.

Well, I found a patch for it! It patches the new TCPIP.SYS file in the C:\Windows\system32\drivers directory. It does a simple change to the hex value 10 in the file. more...

Hawking cracks black hole paradox

August 13, 2004

AT&T CallVantage VoIP calls blocked

August 12, 2004

Some VoIP calls being blocked | CNET has reported that some users are having issue receiving inbound calls. This has once again raised the issue of whether or not cable broadband companies are blocking VoIP calls.

I discussed the potential for network service providers to block VoIP traffic in my Vonage Outage Part 2 blog entry. Damn hypercompetive bastards!

Playing chicken installing Microsoft Windows XP SP2

August 12, 2004

A few fellow co-workers that all work in IT played a game of "chicken" yesterday. That is, we were trying to figure out who would be the guinea pig to install the Microsoft Windows XP SP2 (Service Pack 2). The conversation went something like this.
"You install SP2."
"No, you"
"Uhh, no.

Blocking attachments in Outlook Express

August 11, 2004

After my little episode of having my home PC infected by my wife with the Bagle virus I thought I would look into some freeware/shareware utilities that remove untrustworthy attachments (i.e. .exe, .com, .pif, .bat, .vbs, etc.) from Outlook Express. (Note: I had the latest anti-virus definitions installed, but the virus writers are always a step ahead, so best to just block certain file types if at all possible)

I found one shareware called Outlook Express Quick Tools (OE Quick Tools for short) for $29.95 that lets you remove attachments, but it's unclear if you have to manually remove them or not. I think iit just removes attachments of all kinds just to reduce the size of your Outlook Express database. "We have Number Portability - Our Competitors Do Not!"

August 10, 2004 "We have Number Portability - Our Competitors Do Not!"
Na na na na!

Well they weren't actually quoted saying it like that, but pretty damn close! : )

I just saw this release hit the wire:
PRESS RELEASE: Broadband Internet Phone Company, Announces Full Phone Number Portability

The release claims that Vonage, Packet8, Voice Glo, Lingo and I-Connect do not allow customers to keep their phone number the company assigned to them, if the customer decided to switch to another phone company. I know I have heard complaints from users when they tried porting their phone number when switching from one broadband VoIP service provider to another.

Snom's new 220 VoIP phone

August 10, 2004

I am a fan of the Snom VoIP phones, TMC Labs reviewed a couple Snom phones recently and were pretty impressed. (Snom 100 and 200 product review)

so I thought I would share their press release announcing their new 220 phone which features a 128 X 64 pixel graphical backlit display:

Berlin, 2004-08-10: snom technology, situated in Berlin, is expanding its VoIP phones business line with the new IP phone snom 220, which has been specially developed for the small and medium-sized enterprise segment. This high-end affordable device addresses the communication needs of power users such as executive and administrative staff who require very high standards from communication systems.

Convenience is guaranteed by the 128 x 64 pixel graphical backlit display.

AT&T the Sleeping Giant Awakens to blitzkrieg the VoIP market

August 10, 2004

So every industry pundit is claiming that AT&T has surrendered to the Baby Bells, but I know better.

Here are some headlines:
AT&T surrenders fight for home telephone services
AT&T Gives Up on Consumer Market
AT&T rings in a new business strategy

"AT&T last month said that it would stop promoting its local and long-distance services to consumers, marking the end of an era for the company that once served virtually every U.S. home. AT&T plans to focus exclusively on big business customers, which account for 75% of overall revenue.

Windows XP SP2 Download - If you know where to look

August 9, 2004

Stooges have been colorized on DVD - Say it ain't so!

August 9, 2004

Nortel buys 5 percent of Global IP Sound

August 9, 2004

In the February 2003 issue of Internet Telephony Magazine, I wrote about Global IP Sound's excellent GIPS VoiceEngine codec, which can be integrated into VoIP applications. GIPS VoiceEngine is a software package that handles all the voice components and includes an adaptive jitter buffer (GIPS NetEQ), acoustic echo control, packet loss concealer, and any standard codec can be plugged in, including G.711, Enhanced G.711, and iPCM.

Their codec is designed to handle heavy latency and heavy packet loss. In fact, I tested their codec using Shunra's Cloud 4.0 to induce 25% and 50% packet loss to see how their codec would handle it and it performed remarkably well.

Could VoIP market become fragmented?

August 9, 2004

One of the beauties of VoIP is its openness, its adherence to industry standards, and its ability to easily route calls across the public Internet or private networks. Unfortunately, many VoIP startups are building their own proprietary networks (i.e. their own “islands”) that don't communicate with each other.

For example, say you sign-up with Vonage and then you make a call to a Packet8 user.

Are Hackers Stealing your Data via Wireless WiFi Signals?

August 8, 2004

Until I read this "Stealth wallpaper keeps company secrets safe | New Scientist" article, the only way I knew of to block external access to WiFi signals was to line the building's walls with aluminium foil, and use special glass that absorbs radio waves in the windows. While this method ensures that all electromagnetic emissions are absorbed, it also blocks cellphone signals from getting through. No one is going to want to give up cell phone access in the name of security. Can you imagine the employee rebellion?

New WiFi standards causing me upgraditis

August 8, 2004

Years ago I was ribbed by my fellow IT friends and coworkers for always wanting to have the latest and greatest technology - whether it was the latest 3dFx Voodoo video card (now defunct) or the latest PC, or the latest software and patches, I had a serious case of upgraditis - an incurable condition that causes you to want to upgrade and have the best technology out there.

My upgraditis went into "remission" for a few years. My PC was fast enough, the video card did what I needed it to do, i was happy. But then along came Wifi wireless access to the Internet which caused my upgraditis to come back with a vengeance.

In Search of a Linux-based PBX 3 years later

August 7, 2004

In the November 2001 issue of Communications Solutions Magazine I wrote about my quest to find an open-source Linux-based PBX. I actually wrote the article in August 2001 (magazine lead time), so it is exactly 3 years ago that I wrote that article.

I remember thinking "Linux is taking off everywhere, why hasn't it taken off in telephony?" I did find a few companies such as Picazo (which was bought by Dialogic and then acquired by Telecor). Where they are today is anyone's guess.

SkypeOut free calling to PSTN due to network congestion problems

August 5, 2004

Check out this quote from the About SkypeOut website.
"As a result of overwhelming demand and unforeseen call traffic to the regular telephone network, we are unfortunately experiencing technical difficulties which impact call completions and quality in the SkypeOut network.

For your troubles and while we resolve these matters, even if you were or are able to successfully complete a SkypeOut call, we will not be charging for any minutes/calls made after today Friday 30 July 2004 10.00 am British summertime [GMT +1h] -- until our quality and reliability has improved and another announcement is posted here."

Hey, cool... free PC-to-PSTN caliling using VoIP? All because they are having network congestion?

Proof of life on Mars?

August 5, 2004

I was reading this CNN story forwarded to me from a friend. - Digging for life in the deadest desert - Aug 5, 2004

It is amazing that bacteria can survive in nuclear waste, volcanic vents, and other extremes. Just about any place on Earth you can point your finger down at the ground and be sure there are billions of bacteria where you are pointing. But not in Chile's Atacama Desert!

Scientists are studying Chile's Atacama Desert, the driest part on Earth.

FCC lets TiVo share digital TV shows equals empty football stadiums

August 4, 2004

Well, the Federal Communications Commission gave the OK to let TiVo allow users to share and send digital broadcast shows over the Internet, but limited to just 9 TiVo"friends" or users. It uses a key to limit access to the TV show.

The NFL is up in arms since they fear people won't attend football games in areas where a blackout is in effect. The theory is that blackouts cause more people to go to the game.

Vonage competitor

August 4, 2004

Vonage Outage Part 2

August 3, 2004

It would appear that Vonage is not the only broadband VoIP provider with a major outage this week. I blogged the Vonage outage and joked that maybe it was a conspiracy by the phone companies to intentionally block Vonage's traffic.

Well, it's no joke in Korea. Apparently, a Korean company, PCCW, is accused of blocking rival phone services to Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) and and Hutchison Global Communications (HGC) for about 15 hours on Sunday and Monday.

Digital Memory cards survive extreme tests

August 3, 2004

Many of us own digital cameras or PDAs that use CompactFlash or SD memory cards. Well, I'm sure none of us would want to lose precious photos or important data contained on these memory cards. A show of hands - "Who backs up their memory card?" Most probably don't, although I'm sure most people download their photos to their computer's hard drive. But as CF/SD cards get larger in size and cheaper in price, I guarantee people will download and erase photos off of their memory cards much less.

Vonage Outage as Reported in VoIP forums

August 3, 2004

As first reported in TMC's VoIP Forum, Vonage experienced a major outage today.

The first post (Is Vonage Down?) was at 10:34am EDT. Then another posted Vonage was down at 12:05pm. I knew something was up.

Is Firefox hotter than Britney Spears and Paris Hilton

August 1, 2004

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you have probably heard about Firefox. No, this is not a plug for the 1982 Firefox movie starring Clint Eastwood.

Speaking of Clint Eastwood, if I may sidetrack for a moment; I read recently in a Forbes article titled "How Clint Eastwood Rouses Guys' Love Hormone" that watching a Clint Eastwood movie can actually raise your testosterone levels. (Bridges of Madison County excluded) Don't believe me?

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