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June 2011

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magicJack Plus Review

June 30, 2011

The magicJack Plus is due out very soon, perhaps as early as next month, but I was able to get an early sneak peek at it for a review. The big new feature in the MagicJack Plus is that it sports an on-board ARM CPU, which means you can make calls without the need for the MagicJack Plus to be connected to a PC. It looks almost identical to the original magicJack USB stick, but it now has an Ethernet jack for connecting to any broadband connection, enabling PC-less VoIP calling.

Skype for Android Gets Video Love

June 30, 2011


Skype today announced an updated version of its Skype for Android app (Skype for Android 2.0), which finally brings Skype video calling to the Android platform. No longer is the Android playing second fiddle to the Apple iPhone's version of Skype.

They did a complete redesign of the Skype for Android user interface. There's a new main menu on the Skype app for Android where users can navigate through their contacts, access their Skype profile to change personal details or see the balance of their Skype Credit.


Blue Jeans Network Launches Video Conferencing Service

June 29, 2011


Today, Blue Jeans Network announced the commercial availability of its cloud-based multi-party video conferencing service, which they've dubbed "any(ware) videoconferencing". I reviewed their impressive video conferencing product last month. I liked how their platform bridges together various business video solutions from Cisco/Tandberg, Polycom, Lifesize along with consumer video offerings from Skype and Google Talk. Users each get a private “meeting room” in the Blue Jeans cloud that they can use to schedule, host, and manage meetings through an easy web interface. Users can join the meeting using anything from a high-end Cisco/Tandberg videophone all the way down to a user running Skype and a cheap webcam.

As part of its public release, Blue Jeans announced that it has raised $23.5 million from Accel Partners, New Enterprise Associates, and Norwest Venture Partners.


Zombies, Toshiba Laptops, and the Butterfly Effect

June 29, 2011

Microsoft Patents VoIP and Skype Wiretapping

June 29, 2011


Microsoft was recently granted a patent for a technology called Legal Intercept, which apparently enables Microsoft to secretly intercept, monitor and record Skype calls. I'm skeptical. Many Skype calls are peer-to-peer (P2P) with the packets traveling across different router hops. There's no way to predict exactly where the packets are going.

Of course, if you know the target user's ISP, a government entity could put a packet capture device at the ISP where all the user's traffic goes first.


U.S. House of Representatives Approves Skype for Video Calls

June 28, 2011

Looks like the U.S. House of Representatives is adopting Skype to lower costs. According to Skype's Big Blog:
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Administration announced that they will open up the world of Skype communications to Members of Congress and their staff.

Microsoft Office 365 Launches

June 28, 2011


Today, Microsoft officially launched Office 365, the "cloud-based" version of Office, featuring the entire Office productivity suite and collaboration capabilities. Office 365 offers a range of service plans with monthly prices ranging from $2 to $27 per user per month.

Office 365 offers each user a 25-gigabyte (GB) mailbox and lets them send email messages up to 25 megabytes (MB). Besides email you can shared documents, do instant messaging, share your Desktop, perform video and Web conferencing, and more. The feature-rich Lync client lets you view presence, send IMs, and make VoIP or video calls.


Social ENUM Platform Enables Facebook & Twitter Phone Calls

June 27, 2011


ENUM resolves phone numbers into a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) or IP addresses. It's basically "DNS" for phone numbers, mapping a person's phone number to the person's IP address on the network for routing the call over IP over a carrier's network. ENUM offered the promise of a single point of contact for all communication devices, that has largely been unfulfilled. Now, with the exponential rise of social media networks, people are starting to self-identify themselves with their Facebook username or Twitter account ID more than their phone number.

Elfiq LB-800E Link Balancer Review

June 27, 2011

I had the opportunity to test and review the Elfiq LB-800E Link Balancer as part of a TMC Labs review for the September issue of Internet Telephony Magazine. It's an impressive product that does traffic balancing, ISP bonding, Ethernet bonding (EtherChannel), and enables plug-and-play bandwidth redundancy. I thought I'd share my review here. Enjoy!

FTC Lets Intel into the Nortel Patent Sweepstakes

June 24, 2011

Google Talk Adopts Jingle As Default VoIP Protocol

June 24, 2011


Google has adopted Jingle as the default protocol for Google Talk. Jingle is an extension of the XMPP which allows for peer-to-peer and session control (signalling) for multimedia interactions such as VoIP and videoconferencing.

The protocol was developed by Google, Collabora, Yate, Tandberg and Jabber Inc. Others that support it include Asterisk, FreeSWITCH, Nimbuzz, and Pidgin. Imagine a P2P protocol that lets the thousands of Asterisk-based PBXs to communicate with each other using XMPP. Taking the Asterisk ecosystem along with other large user bases from Nimbuzz, Google Talk, and potentially others could potentially build the largest P2P VoIP / video conferencing network in the world. Bigger than Skype.


Techmeme + Memo Plugin = Blogger Heaven!

June 23, 2011


I came up with a cool recipe that takes the Movable Type Memo plugin, co-worker Vahid Hashemian's JavaScript RSS/ATOM Subscription Feed Web Widget, and Techmeme's RSS feed to display Techmeme's "Top Stories" of the day within the Movable Type CMS editor interface.

This has obvious benefits.
1) You can be blogging about something and then see a breaking news story or just an interesting story you will blog about next. I find just seeing hot stories from around the web and blogosphere within the Movable Type interface helps me keep the creative writing juices flowing.
2) You can drag-and-drop Techmeme links into the Movable Type editor. (see video demonstration below). Now I can quickly drag-and-drop a hyperlink to an important story right into Movable Type.
3) If you want to post Related Articles, you can easily just grab a few Techmeme related stories and drop them into the Movable Type editor.
4) I often get caught up during my day testing products, checking email, meetings, blogging here, phone briefings, etc., which then limits my ability to check out my Google Reader RSS feeds or visit Techmeme.






Google Building Skype-like App in the Browser

June 22, 2011


Look out out Skype, Google Chrome is looking to add voice & video capabilities to the Google Chrome browser. Shortly after releasing WebRTC audio and video chat software as open-source, Google has begun to integrate WebRTC into Google Chrome. They're leveraging Global IP Solutions (GIPS) for the VoIP and video codec pieces. As you know, GIPS used to be the packet loss concealment and VoIP codec used by Skype before Skype dropped them in 2006. Google acquired GIPS in May of 2010.

Gmail currently has audio and video capabilities but it requires the use of a proprietary plug-in, so it can benefit from this as well.


XConnect Launches Video Interconnection Exchange (VIE) to Improve Video Calling Adoption

June 21, 2011

At a recent ITEXPO, XConnect announced the first carrier-based HD Federation which enables scalable, secure all-IP interconnection, using ENUM technology, to enable cross-network, end-to-end HD voice traffic between service providers. This "High-Definition (HD) Voice Peering Federation", was voice only, but they told me video federation was in the works.

Well, today XConnect announced it has launched a global Video Interconnection Exchange (VIE) – the world’s first neutral federation for exchanging video calls across networks, operators, service providers, B2B exchanges and vendors.

LightSquared Solution to GPS Interference Clears Way for Nationwide 4G Network (Sorta)

June 20, 2011

Came across an interesting news release from LightSquared, the nation’s first wholesale-only integrated wireless broadband and satellite network, today outlined a comprehensive solution to the problem of interference with Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers. This solution will permit LightSquared to proceed with its business plan, protect the public’s stake in GPS and lay the foundation for the future co-existence of a variety of wireless broadband services and GPS.

“This is a solution which ensures that tens of millions of GPS users won’t be affected by LightSquared’s launch.

Nimbuzz Still Growing - Even Without Skype

June 20, 2011


According to Nimbuzz, since July of 2010, more than 28 million new users joined Nimbuzz. That amounts to an impressive 100,000 new users every day and they've doubled in size in year to 50 million users. That's even with Skype telling Nimbuzz to buzz off and remove Skype integration.

Of course, even with Skype integration removed, Nimbuzz still supports Facebook, Yahoo, Windows Live, Google Talk, AIM, and others. So it's still a popular mobile VoIP and instant messaging app.

Still, without Skype support, I'd expect Nimbuzz's growth to slow a bit.




Fonality Named Newest Platinum Sponsor of ITEXPO

June 20, 2011


With TMC's ITEXPO West coming up sooner than you think (September 13-15), I thought I'd share the news that Fonality has been signed as the newest platinum sponsor for TMC's ITEXPO. For the first time ever, ITEXPO will be at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas, near the well-known "The Telecom Corridor", moving from it's prior location in Los Angeles.
 
ITEXPO is the world’s largest and best-attended communications and technology trade show. ITEXPO West is currently ranked as the No. 3 fastest-growing event on Trade Show Executive Magazine’s Fastest 50 List. TMC expects to accelerate ITEXPO West’s growth by bringing the show to Austin, one of the fast-growing technology hubs in the U.S.


Skype Integrates Deeper with Facebook

June 20, 2011

Skype today announced beta version 5.5 for Windows which adds more Facebook features to its already tight integration with Facebook. The new version lets Skype for Windows v5.5 users instant message their Facebook friends via Skype, making Skype a nice consolidated app for all your IM needs. You can also comment on friend's Facebook status updates. You also have the ability to use the Facebook News Feed within Skype to "like" a friend's status or comment on it without logging into Facebook.

Google Promotes $.0007 VoIP Access Rate to FCC

June 17, 2011


Google recently weighed in on the Universal Service Fund (USF) and carrier access charges, which will affect the future of both broadband and VoIP. Over the past few years, there have been past court skirmishes over whether VoIP service providers must contribute to the FCC. VoIP has changed the landscape of telecom regulation and the FCC is scrambling to keep up, while not killing innovation or slowing the fast growing VoIP industry in the process.

With Google offering the popular Google Voice offering, which technically isn't VoIP, but could head in that direction, Google is leery over having to pay into the USF or pay carrier access charges. After all, if Google carries the voice call over IP, why should they have to pay into the USF, which was designed to help rural areas have subsidized access to the PSTN network?


VoIP now has >120 million subscribers Worldwide According to recent analysis

June 15, 2011

According to Point Topic's recent analysis, (landline) Voice over IP now has over 120 million subscribers worldwide and its growth looks set to accelerate as predictions indicate a $40 billion annual VoIP market by 2015.

Point Topic’s data revealed a global growth in VoIP of 12.6% during 2010 and shows that there is plenty of headroom left for VoIP around the world.

“The growth of VoIP has been bumpy but shows signs of acceleration,” said John Bosnell, Senior Analyst at Point Topic.

Cotendo Accelerates Mobile Content Delivery Via Mobile Acceleration Suite

June 15, 2011


Companies are struggling to keep up with their customer’s mobile browsing usage, which is one of the fastest growing data consumption segments. Problems include limited bandwidth on mobile devices, smaller screens, and limited capabilities, such as no Flash on the iPhone. Companies can lose out on financial transactions if the user experience isn’t good. Part of the challenge is different devices have different capabilities.

Top 20 VoIP Innovators of All Time

June 13, 2011


VoIP has come a long way since it was first popularized by VocalTec in the mid 1990s. Here is a slideshow of the Top 20 VoIP Innovators of all time with photo captions explaining why they merit this top 20 ranking. Most innovators are companies, but not all. Two important VoIP standards make the list, which cannot be attributed to a single individual or company.

Upgrade to iOS 5 Now via Ridiculously Easy Hack

June 7, 2011


It appears iOS 5 has already been jailbroken and you can even install it now without a developer account, which costs money. First, go download the iOS 5 IPSW file. Then update your iPhone using typical iTunes method - connect your iPhone, click on the Check for Update button holding the Shift key on your PC or the Option on the Mac. Then you can select the iOS 5 IPSW file you downloaded. iOS 5 is still in beta, but it has 200+ new features, so you may want to be on the bleeding edge.

Patent Lawsuit Filed Against Skype - Here we go again!

June 7, 2011


When I saw the TechCrunch headline 'Patent Lawsuit Filed Against Skype Same Day Microsoft Deal Was Announced' I immediately thought of the various Joltid lawsuits filed by co-founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, who own the P2P technology licensed by Skype. But surely, Microsoft, which acquired Skype would have made their due diligence before paying out $8.5 billion for Skype. It turns out that it's not JoltId's Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis suing.

According to Techcrunch:
The case is Via Vadis Vs. Skype and was filed in the Eastern District of Virginia. Via Vadis is a Luxembourg-based company with a license to the patents in question: U.S.



Windows 8 Preview Video - I hate it already!

June 2, 2011



So Microsoft announced a Windows 8 Preview video. I hate it. It's designed with a touch Windows tablet (i.e. iPad) in mind. The Start Menu is replaced by these humongous graphical tiles taking up way too much screen real-estate.

CounterPath Hosted Service Delivers Over-the-Top Fixed Mobile Services

June 1, 2011


Today, Counterpath launched a hosted service that enables wireline operators to deliver voice and SMS to any mobile phone on any mobile network. Their NCG Exchange product gives telcos, cable operators, hosted VoIP providers, Internet Telephony service providers, CLECs and other Wireline Operators with a cost-effective solution for enabling Over-the-Top, Fixed-Mobile Services. One of the features includes Voice Call Continuity (VCC), which Counterpath's Todd Carothers demonstrated to me at ITEXPO

With NCG Exchange, wireline operators can immediately provide their enterprise, SMB and SOHO customers with mobile VoIP and messaging services that are delivered over-the-top (OTT) of mobile networks, regardless of which carrier the customer uses.


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