Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
| VoIP & Gadgets blog - Latest news in VoIP & gadgets, wireless, mobile phones, reviews, & opinions

Triple Play

Triple Play Moving to Quintuple Play?

October 10, 2008

If you thought the "triple play" offered by cable and phone service providers was pretty cool, it's time to think again.

Various providers now are looking at ways to bundle not just TV, phone and the Internet, but also a home's security and control systems into a great, big package that is being called the "quintuple play."

For the service providers whose quadruple plays currently include digital television, internet, phone, and wireless, the fifth service in the five-for-one bundle could be home control, remote monitoring and/or safety and security devices and services (sometimes referred to as SMA or security, monitoring and automation).

This new package will bring easy-to-use home control devices and applications into the home, enabling remote monitoring, simple lighting and HVAC control and remotely-accessed home security.

The devices would be available through the service provider in the form of a "starter kit" of some sort, with an up-front cost that may or may not include installation. A monthly fee would cover remote access to the system and -- in the case of the security application -- professional monitoring.

Let's get Naked (DSL) Cowboy!

July 9, 2008

Image of the famous Times Square Naked Cowboy.

An interesting new IDC Insight report reveals that although residential VoIP services have been available in Australia for the past four years, the uptake in naked DSL has been slow compared with Europe and the U.S.

The Insight report titled Residential VoIP: Let's Get Naked, attributes the slower uptake to several factors including lack of, and high cost of broadband, poor quality of service (QoS), number portability and high complexity. However, over the past 6-12 months, IDC notes there has been an upswing in consumers moving to residential VoIP services due to many of these inhibitors being overcome.

The biggest factor is the regulatory rules regarding Naked DSL, which enables service providers to offer VoIP over DSL copper lines without the unwanted bundled PSTN telephone line.

Freebox France offers VoIP, HD TV, and Internet for just 29.99 €/month

July 8, 2008

I just happened to be checking out our firewall logs and noticed traffic coming from Curious, I did a whois and figured out it was coming from which redirects to

The first thing I noticed other than the fact that website is in French,-- which I can't read -- is that they offer Internet + Telephone + Television for 29.99 €/month. I was able to figure that out since apparently Internet, Telephone, and Television don't translate at all in French. They're the same words except for some accent letters, as seen here from a website screen grab I did:

What I can gather is that they offer 250 channels, ADSL (ADSL2+?), Freebox HD receiver, unlimited phone calls to 70 destinations, and even a WiFi-MIMO (multiple-input and multiple-output) router.

AT&T Dropping CallVantage?

July 3, 2008

Just got this email stating that as of July 7th, AT&T will no longer offer CallVantage through their affiliate channel. To me, this is "codeword" for "we're no longer promoting CallVantage and expect AT&T to end CallVantage entirely in the near future." I've read about many affiliate programs that when they're ended, it's the end of the road for that product. Further, the emails explains, "We ask that you remove all of your promotion of the CallVantage product on/before July 7th and we recommend that you swap out your creative to another of our product offerings such as High Speed DSL or our latest flagship product, UVerse."

Now tell me that doesn't hint towards the end of the road for CallVantage. So current CallVantage affiliates are supposed to promote High Speed DSL which has little to do with VoIP phone service?

Verizon Boosts FiOS Internet Speed

June 19, 2008

According to Verizon, beginning next week, Verizon will make available to more than 10 million homes and businesses the nation's fastest consumer broadband connections, with download speeds up to 50 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds up to 20 Mbps over their fiber to the home (FTTH) network.

Verizon had already offered the 50/20 Mbps and 20/20 Mbps services in its FiOS markets in Connecticut (my state), Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. The company is now expanding those offerings to new Verizon FiOS customers in parts of California, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington, replacing existing offerings of 30/15 Mbps and 15/15 Mbps services, respectively.

The mid-tier connection speed in those markets for new customers is being increased from 15/2 Mbps to 20/5 Mbps, and the basic service tier is being increased from 5/2 Mbps to 10/2 Mbps. Existing FiOS Internet customers who are interested in the new speed options can call Verizon for information about the new plans.

Check out these performance benchmarks:

At 50 Mbps, downloading a 5 GB (gigabyte) file, such as a 112-minute, high-definition movie purchased online, takes approximately 13.3 minutes, while a 50 MB (megabyte), or 60-minute, Web video takes 8 seconds, and a 5 MB MP3 music file takes less than eight-tenths of a second.

Using a 20 Mbps upstream broadband connection, a consumer could upload a 250 megabyte (MB) file of 200 photos in about 90 seconds, instead of the roughly 47 minutes it takes over a 768 kilobit-per-second (Kbps) upstream connection.  A 500 MB file, such as 400 digital photos or a medical imaging data file, can be uploaded in less than four minutes, compared with about 90 minutes over a 768 Kbps connection.  A 3 gigabyte (GB) file, such as a one-hour family video shot with a high-definition video camera, can be uploaded in around 20 minutes, compared with more than nine hours with 768 Kbps upstream.

Wireless Backhaul Importance Grows

March 25, 2008

With increasing wireless mobile phone users along with more sophisticated wireless devices such as the Blackberry and iPhone chewing up bandwidth, the need for wireless backhaul technologies is increasing. I am reminded of my 2005 TMC Labs review of NMS AccessGate, a wireless backhaul platform. that aggregates T1/E1 communications onto a common backhaul between the cell site and the MSO. It also performes statistical multiplexing which suppresses idle frames and idle channels for 2G services, making the most of backhaul bandwidth.

SureWest Communications Launches Combined VoIP, TV, and HD DVR

March 12, 2008

Interesting news from SureWest where they debuted VoIP service combined with a high-definition digital video recorder (DVR) product for watching recorded and live TV. I'm assuming this is a combined set-top box that does video (TV) and voice over IP. If they really want to get crazy with combining stuff, they should stick a camera in there which will add video over IP (videoconferencing) capabilities. I'll see if I can get a photo of the set-top box.

In the meantime, here's the news from the Sacramento Business Journal:
SureWest Communications has launched Digital Phone, the telecommunication company's new Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service and a high-definition digital video recorder product.

SureWest already offers VoIP for business customers, but Digital Phone extends the service to residential customers.

SureWest (Nasdaq: SURW) has been testing the high-definition DVR in region since December.

Bye Bye Unlimited Flat-Rate Internet

January 18, 2008

Say buh bye to unlimited Internet access, or at least if Time Warner Cable has its way. In an effort to stop excessive bandwidth usage caused by "bandwidth hogs", mostly caused by P2P networks like Bittorent and video downloading, Time Warner plans on charging Internet users by usage.

After an internal memo was leaked, which said:
The introduction of Consumption Based Billing will enable TWC to charge customer based upon usage, impacting only 5% of subscribers who utilize over half of the total network bandwidth.

The trial in the Beaumont, TX division will apply to new HSD customer only, will provide a destination for customer to track usage for each month and will enable customers to upgrade from one tier to the next to avoid payment of overage charges. Existing and new subscribers will have tracking capability, however only new subscribers will be charged incrementally for bandwidth usage above the cap.

Following the trial, a determination will be made as to whether or not existing subscribers should be charged.

AT&T U-Verse Batteries Exploding

January 16, 2008

AT&T just can't catch a break with their troubled U-Verse service. AT&T has to replace the lithium metal polymer batteries in the VRAD cabinets for U-Verse IPTV because four fires have occurred in various locations. 'Fire' is a bit tame of a word choice since "explosions" have occurred in Houston, Cleveland and Wisconsin. In Wisconsin it was reportedly strong enough to blow the 50-pound cabinet door off its bolts.

Cool Phones for FiOS, Uverse and other VoIP providers

January 9, 2008

Home phone systems haven't kept up with the latest innovations in mobile handsets, such as Internet access, streaming video, camera, etc. Considering many people are now choosing VoIP providers such as Vonage, Packet8, Skype, etc. which already sit on the Internet, wouldn't it make sense to have more advanced home phone systems? Where is Phone 2.0 for the home?

In fact, most VoIP providers simply use an analog telephony adapter (ATA) that lets you use your home analog cordless phone system.

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