Jim Machi : Industry Insight
Jim Machi

2 Ways to Maximize Your Vendor Relationship

As channel partners, we get hammered all the time to sell vendor's stuff - even if it is unreasonable or doesn't...

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The Changing Definition of the Diameter Signaling Controller and Diameter Routing Agent (DRA)

Next week, I will be speaking at the Signaling Focus Day of LTE Asia.  The signaling focus day obviously will have...

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The Cat Video Index: A Simple View of Data Costs

By: Andy Porter, Product Manager in the Payment, Policy and Charging department at Alcatel-Lucent

The Economist has its famous Big Mac index for comparing buying power across countries. But I wanted an index that focuses on the cost of mobile data usage. That meant I had to find a data-charging equivalent of the Big Mac. I needed an item that crosses cultural boundaries, is universally understood and is available worldwide.

I considered many possibilities. But the answer arrived when I saw my daughter laughing at a video of a cat playing a piano. Obviously, the mobile data equivalent of the Big Mac is the YouTube video. It’s a universally available service that is easily measured in quantitative terms, making it ideal for comparing mobile data costs.

In honor of my daughter, I chose the classic “piano-playing cat” as the baseline video. And by the way, this cat video has been viewed over 34 million times, proving its suitability as a baseline.

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THE SECRET VALUE OF VoLTE - WHAT'S IN IT FOR CONSUMERS

By: Ed Elkin, Director, IP Platforms Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent 

Today’s consumers want faster mobile broadband, and lots of it. That’s the dominant fact shaping Mobile Service Providers’ competitive strategies. So let’s look at what you can offer these valuable subscribers with voice over LTE (VoLTE).

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California Lawmakers Plunge Some Transactions into 3rd World

California has come up with a law that hurts the very people it says it is protecting by making it difficult to...

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Globys Uses the Power of Social to Boost Carrier Sales

You may recall a commercial for Faberge Organic shampoo from decades back where the person using the shampoo said when you...

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The Expo News Update

Datapipe, a global managed IT provider, acquired Layered Tech to add to its US federal government business. Layered Tech adds security...

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IT Expo West Action

October 6, 2010

As I write this, I'm at IT Expo West in Los Angeles. The convention center is located right next to the Staples Center (where the Lakers play basketball) and there is much action right around this site. And action inside the convention center with IT Expo going on as well.   This is a memorable site for me since in the late 90's I would come here with 200 other Dialogic colleagues for CT Expo and descend upon the place in a swarm of blue shirts. This is an excellent venue for a conference.   I sat in the beginning of day two of the SIP Trunking and UC Summit day sponsored by InGate. I wasn't able to spend all day in here due to other commitments, but the day looked interesting given the discussion to be had on UC in the service provider market, hosted UC, Enterprise UC and even going over a case study. I also spent some time in the 4GWE part of this conference, heard Avaya speak at lunch about innovation, and also spent time in the Mobile Communication track piece of the conference I spoke it.  This all just confirmed my belief that this is a good conference to attend. 

Dialogic's Deals - Veraz Merger is Complete and the Magic of Early October

October 4, 2010

Yes, it's early October and that means the magic of baseball playoffs in New York. Unfortunately, increasingly, and much to my disappointment, this has nothing to do with the New York Mets. But it's still exciting at this time of year since early October at Dialogic has typically been deal time, meaning, we've either announced or completed a deal - in 2006 (Dialogic assets from Intel), 2007 (Cantata), 2008 (NMS), and now 2010 (Veraz merger). On Friday, we announced the completion of our merger with Veraz Networks. The combined company will be known as Dialogic and is now listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker DLGC.

Since the agreement to merge was announced in May, I've been asked multiple times why we did this deal. People typically commented to me that they figured we'd do a deal, but didn't see a deal with Veraz coming. OK, that's fair enough, but let me explain why.

First of all, we like California and need to go there more and given Veraz is in California; it made sense! In all seriousness though, this does fit into the Dialogic strategy of expanding more into the service provider market. The combined Dialogic now has a very comprehensive portfolio of both multimedia processing infrastructure (which includes media server platforms, VoIP gateways, video gateways, and session border controllers) and call control infrastructure (softswitch and signaling). Dialogic has also touted for quite a few years the importance of security and session border controllers because of the emergence of border elements in general (i.e. IP to IP, including elements of media and signaling and security), and given Veraz has an SBC product, this now means Dialogic is squarely in this space.

And the Veraz portfolio is excellent. In fact, in June, Gartner published a Magic Quadrant for Softswitch Architecture and Veraz moved to the challenger quadrant "because of its focus on its core competency, as well as good execution in emerging markets and with alternative carriers." And the Veraz bandwidth optimized gateways give Dialogic an improved presence in the emerging optimization space.

From a technology perspective, we are clearly unique and differentiated in that we now have media processing, signaling, switching and security technologies and products. I honestly feel that no one else in the market has this breadth of technologies and products. It will be up to us to leverage all these assets appropriately, such as with building improved integrated border elements and marrying video and optimization technologies, but I am confident we will do so as we will be able to focus a larger engineering organization on this. So in a nutshell, the product sets all fit into our strategy.

  This means our customers will benefit because they can now focus on their development and deployment competencies by leaving the complexities of network call control and media processing to us. Our customer base and prospect base can build out their networks, or build their value-added service solutions on Dialogic. 

  It's important to remember that even though this deal is about improving the service provider footprint for Dialogic, the enterprise segment is still forecasted to comprise about 40% of the overall revenue for the combined company, and we will remain focused on the enterprise customer base. We plan to continue with support of Project DiaStarâ„¢ and associated telephony open source initiatives as well. At a higher level, the enterprise customer base will stand to benefit from this deal given that more and more enterprise applications are moving to the cloud, and there is potential synergy among the service provider relationships with Veraz. 

  It's up to us now to successfully integrate into a single Dialogic. We've done that successfully with each of our previous deals, and I'm confident we'll be able to do it again here and that the combined Dialogic will continue to serve your needs if you are a current customer, or will if you have not already worked with us.

  And from our legal department, since this blog is somewhat forward looking, I have the following important message: This material is covered by the Dialogic Legal Notice and the Safe Harbor provisions set forth therein.















The Growth of Location-Based Services

September 28, 2010

                                            
I've been seeing a growth in the marketing of location-based services so I decided to look into it more. If you want to learn more about LBS, go to the Creativity Software website, which has a good overview of location based services.   One thing that the mobile operators have as an advantage (with regard to the over-the-top players) is that they know your location. Now, someone could map every wifi connection in the world as per something similar on this website, but clearly there will be more coverage and more accuracy with a mobile operator. And another advantage is that the mobile operators know how to bill you, which is important since LBS is worth monetizing.   Two of the fist and best known LBS apps are fleet management tracking and "family finder," which helps you keep track of where your children are. According to Creativity Software, people are willing to pay at least $1 ARPU/month for this, which makes these kinds of apps very appealing and which make for an easy return on investment for the mobile operator. Clearly, then, upping the take rate of these family finder apps to yield a higher subscriber update would be an excellent marketing campaign for a mobile operator.    I also view location-based mobile advertising as a huge growth area for location-based services. If you can get an ad to a mobile phone that is relevant to the location of the phone, the person may be more apt to take advantage of that ad.    This concept is conveyed well in the Dialogic corporate video and I put a snapshot of that above. The restaurant ad pops up as someone is watching a soccer game near the restaurant. Then when they click on the ad, the next screen shows up.    If the restaurant had a special and wanted to "advertise" it, a basic way of course would be to advertise it in the newspaper. But instead of doing this, what if they made a deal to advertise it to a phone near the location? The ad could be clickable to a voice call or a website to set up a dinner reservation as well (which is how this video showed it).   There is a digital advertising ecosystem that could make this happen. I would guess that within a few years this will be fairly commonplace.




The Mobile Phone Gamer

September 22, 2010

Games are another avenue for money-making in the video value-added service value chain. What is a "game" though on a mobile phone? Your mobile phone probably comes with some games downloaded already - possibly some kind of card or board game, or some kind of simple basic game where you need to move a target or shoot at a target. It's very interactive. So like downloading a ring tone, or wallpaper, there is a market for downloading games to your mobile device.    But games can be more complicated as well. There are many internet games - just go on the internet and play some game that would be web-based. You can play these on your phone as well. But there are some games that you can't access from a mobile device, and I can see for sure that in the future, we'll be able to play games like these. And lo and behold, when I was in Korea some time ago, they were able to play internet-accessed games on their mobile devices (which also had fairly large screens).   The games can be solo games, like a card game, or can be multiplayer games, like my son does with this X-Box.   With mobile devices, though, playing a multiplayer game can be time-consuming, and can mean you are on the "phone" for a significant portion of time, possibly becoming an expensive proposition depending on your payment plan.    I'm guessing that mobile phone games will continue to grow and that they will incorporate the touch screen and location in these games so they are in fact unique to the mobile device, as opposed to being some game accessed by a different broadband mechanism.

Wither a Whipsan WiMax?

September 15, 2010

Try saying that 5 times fast. But with Intel announcing it is purchasing Infineon's Wireless Solutions Business for $1.4B, Intel is getting into LTE in a much bigger way. Or did they do it since the Intel logo and the Infineon logo look quite similar? Assuming they did it to drive LTE, though, I'm sure the logo similarity couldn't have hurt. But what does that mean for Wimax? Oh, that woebegone Wimax. Intel once supported that and even drove that wholeheartedly, likely even hoping WiMax would become the "next WiFi" so that could drive a whole new laptop refresh. Intel is saying all the right things about supporting all wireless initiatives, such as WiFi, 3G, LTE and WiMax, but this has to hurt WiMax, at least mobile WiMax. 
  WiMax, from what I recall, was created to address the last mile as a wireless alternative to cable and DSL.   Mobile WiMax came later.  So perhaps WiMax could still play an important role if it does that really well. After all, from a personal perspective, I get my broadband through cable at home, and I do notice speed issues from time to time - I definitely would be open to an improved broadband experience if it really was improved and cost-effective. I'm sure I'm not the only one. So potentially fixed Wimax for the last mile could still be in play, and could be useful for even mobile backhaul. 
  So let's not write WiMax off just yet, but there clearly are hurdles ahead.

Everything Everywhere Except...3G and HD Voice and...

September 8, 2010

As some of you may know, Everything Everywhere is a merger of the UK Orange and UK T-Mobile. The EU took a hard look at it since it would be the UK's largest mobile operator and approved the deal in March
  Everything Everywhere just announced the first tangible benefit of the deal is free roaming between networks. This makes sense as it's the easiest thing to do. A September 6th press release actually claims though this is the "single, biggest improvement of network coverage since the birth of mobile". As a marketing guy, I love how bombastic this is, but really? 
  To me, the network coverage is exactly the same. There are no extra towers being built. It's just a first step in a single network. But this is only for 2G services. Why? I don't know. Is it because most people are on 3G now and that won't be free if you happen to roam between networks?  I hope there is a technical reason as opposed to that since only a 2G benefit is specious.
  Given Orange UK just announced HD Voice coverage in the UK, HD Voice calls also can't be switched between networks at this time since T-Mobile UK would need to have that implemented, including having HD capable phones. So it's not quite everything everywhere yet, except as a vision. A good vision at that, but the everything and everywhere part still has some ground to plow.


A Mobile HD Voice Update

September 1, 2010

As readers of this blog know, I periodically write about HD Voice. And I've written about Orange being a leader with mobile HD Voice. On their website, they claim that "by the end of the summer 2010, their 3G network will be 100% HD voice." (Note: you can click the Google translate bar if you don't read French!). And today, they have announced that they are the first operator to launch mobile HD Voice in the UK. This is indeed good news and it's good to see that Orange is sticking to their commitments regarding HD Voice on their network.
  While we know mobile HD Voice is a known quantity in Europe, and is known in the US (though more on the enterprise side), it's also good to see that HD Voice is getting a voice in Asia. Here is an excellent article written by John Tanner in Telecom Asia. Remember that there are 5 pages in this article, so you need to click to go to pages 2, 3, 4 and 5.
  If you want to hear more about HD Voice, you can come to my panel in the Mobile Communication track at IT Expo in Los Angeles in early October.

Who is Really Benefiting from the Stimulus Packages?

August 25, 2010

In July, Rasmussen Reports indicated a US voter split between whether the economic stimulus packages helped or hurt the economy.   I was kind of split myself on that topic, but I now have a clear position.   Because when I think of economic stimulus packages, this is now what I think of.   Recently, I drove from New Jersey to Michigan, and then all the way to the top of Michigan and then back to NJ. I saw the roadway economic stimulus packages in action! I literally saw thousands of these reflective portable barriers during this trip - I snapped this picture somewhere in Pennsylvania, or was it Ohio. It doesn't really matter since these things are EVERYWHERE! Oh yeah, I saw about 10 workers too. I literally I saw just 10. So I think the real beneficiaries of these economic stimulus packages are whoever is making these barriers!   I did, however, see some results of the broadband stimulus package. In a remote part of Michigan, 5 of these 10 workers I saw were, I think, putting in fiber. Without any houses around for miles, we drove past a group of workers putting non-water carrying tubes into the ground and sticking wires through them. I'm guessing they were bringing broadband to the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes. So there were at least some tangible results from that package.

The SIP Trunk and the Border Element, as Opposed to the SIP Trunk and the Border Elephant

August 18, 2010

Recently, I was asked by a customer about the benefits of SIP Trunking. Before I respond to this, it's important to understand that SIP Trunking will put a dent in the concept of a classic VoIP gateway. The SIP Trunk term refers to the connection to the enterprise - it's a SIP-based Trunk coming in as opposed to a PSTN (T1 or E1) trunk. The border element concept will remain, but converting from TDM to IP won't be necessary. It's more about IP to IP - an IP to IP gateway if you will, with mediation / security services. This is what I've been referring to as a border element for quite a few years. In other words, the classic VoIP gateway evolves to be a different kind of border element. If you want to read more, the TMC website has a Global Online Community dedicated to SIP Trunking.   So with that in mind, the benefits of SIP Trunking really relate to cost. First of all, assuming the enterprise already has internet access, then you already have the physical connection and you are already paying for this. There just has to be a software based provision for the "voice" trunk. In the end, you are really just utilizing the internet bandwidth more efficiently for both voice and data services. That's what it comes down to.     Additionally, it's probably also easier as an IT manager to upgrade the number of users you support as your business grows. Not as much hardware required. And ultimately, this will enable enhanced unified communications since all the traffic is coming over the same line.

Don't Wallpaper Your House, Wallpaper Your Mobile Phone

August 11, 2010

Some time ago, I was giving a talk about "Challenges and Opportunities in the Mobile Value Added Service Space." I was talking about the ARPU, CAPEX, OPEX and competition challenges operators are facing, but I also talked about the opportunities out there to differentiate and to innovative, particularly with video applications. One area I drilled into a little bit was offering "personalization" to the consumer, that is, offering ring tones, video ring tones, different kinds of applications, and potentially more customized services/payment plans that made sense to the consumer.   After the talk, someone came to speak to me about mobile phone wallpapers, which would be what you see on your screen when it's inactive. Yes, downloading a wallpaper would be another type of video service. Think about a music ring tone. You only hear that when you make or receive a call. With a wallpaper, you see that much more - in fact, every time you look at your phone.   Many people I know (right now, myself included) either go with the basic wallpaper that the phone offers, or put one of their pictures taken by the mobile device up on the screen.    But there is a substantial market for downloaded (i.e. paid for) wallpapers for the right price (similar to music ring tones). Yes, there are many free wallpapers but there are also wallpapers that people would be willing to pay for, such as wallpapers of famous paintings or wallpapers related to movies, or wallpapers that behave like screen savers, animated wallpapers, and wallpapers that update automatically with information.  If every video-enabled phone downloaded a wallpaper and paid $1.00 for it, wow, that's a market...
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