Jim Machi : Industry Insight
Jim Machi

What's Driving IMS Today?

IP multimedia system (IMS) network architecture has been around for a long time.  While it was originally conceived for mobile IP...

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Optical Transport Networks Help Operators Meet Growing Traffic Requirements

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor It has been called the “data storm;” due to increased online video usage, the cloud, and mobile...

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Altair: LTE the Right Choice for M2M & IOT

Some of my early conversations about the M2M and IoT space with carriers had them explaining to me how they love these...

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Speech Analytics - Data Mining Those Recordings

When I was in Vegas for ITExpo, I participated on a Voice Analytics panel at the SmartVoice co-located conference.  Speech /...

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Defending Against an Autocomplete Smear Campaign

What would you do if you started to Google your name and Google was to suggest you complete the query with the...

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VoLTE Versus WebRTC: I didn't know it was a battle

When I talk to customers, they often ask about how WebRTC compares to voice over LTE (VoLTE), and which technology “will...

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These 3 Do Everything Together

At a few shows, including the latest ITEXPO, the 3 big cablecos - TWC, Comcast and Charter - share a booth....

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Value-Added Services on the Menu in Delhi

July 21, 2010

VAS Asia on July 9th was an exhilarating experience. The energy was amazing all around. Everyone expects mobile VAS (Value-Added Services) to grow in India. Is this a case of since everyone here is into VAS since the show is about VAS, that everyone comes together at this big VAS love-in type of event to collectively breathe their own VAS exhaust fumes? Could be. I mean I've seen it before.  But I don't think so given the Indian market has always been supporting VAS, from CRBT to mobile radio to horoscope readings for a long time. Adding video to the mix will spice things up even more and spur some VAS innovation for sure.   In the keynote, Arvind Rao, CEO of OnMobile, talked about 4 revolutions in history. The agricultural revolution, industrial revolution, internet revolution and VAS revolution. Yes, maybe a bit over the top, but he made his point. Point being that VAS is "discretionary" today, but will be a "way of life" and a "must have" in the future. You'll just make it part of your everyday life, like we have now made mobile phones part of our life. I remember just 15 years ago getting my first mobile phone and it was not clearly an everyday part of my life at that time like it is now. So why won't VAS just be a way of life in a few years!   I expected coming into the show that there would be "complaining" about the vast amounts of money ($14.5B) spent on the recent Indian 3G auction, thus hindering growth since the mobile carriers are tapped out. I actually heard none of that, at least to me. It was more of a matter of fact type of discussion - it is what it is. Some people though predicted that there would be consolidation fallout, which makes sense. As all markets mature, typically there are under 5 real players. The Indian market now has 16 mobile carriers according to the show organizers in a question asked to the audience.  

Video Research

July 20, 2010

Readers of this blog know that I'm very bullish on mobile video services. TMCnet.com has posted an article called "How Big Will Video Telephony Be? And For Whom?" and it sites ABI Research estimating mobile video services will be greater than $2B in 2013.   This is one of the first reports that attempts to monetize mobile video revenue. I've seen some reports that discuss MMS, and I've written about the Cisco Visual Networking Index which estimates mobile data growth, including the explosive mobile video data growth. But this one tries to estimate the entire market.   When you get down to it, there are a few factors. First and foremost, the 3G and beyond networks enable mobile video because of the mobile broadband experience. The capabilities of the phones now, with cameras on the front and back, and larger screen sizes also enable mobile video.  And with mobile operator competition, the pricing plans need to be competitive in order to keep you and me as a subscriber. The compelling applications available now, such as seeing interactive IVR menus visually instead of having to listen to them, also are a big factor.   Put all this together and you understand the growth and understand why Dialogic is behind this.

The Fight for my Phone in India

July 15, 2010

It started the moment I landed and turned on my phone. The fight for registering my phone that is. Last week, I was in Delhi, India for VAS Asia.   I gave a talk about utilizing 3G networks to create Video Value Added Service Applications.   The companies in India recently committed $14.6B for the right to utilize 3G networks in India.   Monetization will occur via data services, via utilizing 3G for "premium" voice, and through innovative value-added services such as video VAS. So my talk about enabling video value-added services on the 3G networks was hopefully timely. I saw an ad for instance on my way form the airport touting mobile banking - likely now via utilizing text on your phone. But utilizing a video IVR to do mobile banking would be an improvement. To me, that's the kind of video VAS that will come first to India - video enabling some existing voice or text application that's already in the Indian market.   As I said above though, what caught my eye the moment I landed was the fight for my phone. When I landed, I was not able to use the phone, even though I noticed people around me were able to. I went into the Network Connections part of my phone and noticed it was talking to the MTNL network, but I guess it was not able to register properly and authenticate with AT&T, so I couldn't make any calls or SMS's. Once I got inside the terminal, the phone moved to the Reliance network so while I was in the immigration line I was able to check emails.      I was also "privileged" to be in the first Monsoon Jam as they called it, a massive traffic jam caused in part by a monsoon rain that ended right before I landed.  Sure it ended, but the water was still everywhere!  So it took me a long, long time to get to my hotel.   And that is where the fight really raged between Reliance and Airtel for my phone. It was flip-flopping all over the place. And quite often I went from EDGE to GSM, which screwed up the ability to do data properly. Finally the phone settled on Airtel and that was that.   Until the morning. Soon after I woke up, I noticed my hotel lost power. It must have been at least for 5 minutes. Since I was in the middle of doing emails, and I couldn't do that anymore since the Internet went down too, I switched to using my mobile phone. Nope. See, the mobile network connection was down. I guess the power was out in the city sector, which meant no power to the cell tower I was talking to. While I was calculating how long it would take my hotel room to get to the outside temperature (not a welcome though), the power came back on. And soon after my phone registered again. And the fight ensued again, except this time with Vodaphone in the fray!   Once again, Airtel ultimately won out.   My thoughts about all this? Well, there must be quite a bit of traffic to cause the shift from EDGE to GSM. Seemingly everyone here is walking around with a cell phone. So with the coming 3G networks, I can definitely see some kind of "premium voice" option for those willing to pay more for a more stable connection. And I doubt the next time I return there will be any less fierce a fight for my mobile phone.  

"Wireless Inside" Inside Japan

July 7, 2010

Japan has always been at the forefront of mobility and the use of mobile phones. It's always an interesting place to go to see how people are using mobile phones. In the land of Pok√©mon, it's not surprising this was one of the first places I remember seeing the equivalent of emoticons (emoji) built into the phones as a way to more easily get your point across when texting.    Wireless Japan is next week in Tokyo and with femtocells being at the forefront of news in Japan right now, I thought I'd write about that a bit. A femtocell is essentially a way to bring the wireless connection indoors, or in other words a way to create FMC.   A femtocell device would connect to a broadband connection on one end (your home or office DSL or cable broadband router for instance, or potentially in the future a WiMax one), which then through an IMS or IMS-like architecture gets back to the wireless or PSTN networks, and on the other end has a 3G (or other) connection to talk to your phone that's inside the building.    In places like Tokyo, where there are dense building structures, this is important as the 3G networks are not always able to penetrate the buildings. And in places like Tokyo, where people use their mobile phones a lot for texting, gaming, chatting, Facebooking, viewing videos, etc, keeping the connection going when going indoors is important.    One obvious issue with femtocells involves already having a WiFi connection in your house.   With many smartphones having both 3G and WiFi (4G) connectivity (see my June 30th blog about AT&T offloading users to WiFi services), why would you need to do this? Well, all phones are not smartphones for one thing. And all use cases are not the same, especially as I've said regarding Tokyo where the mobile phone use case is different from the US. But, it is an issue worth mentioning. And another issue is the business case - the ROI of paying for this benefit.   Two weeks ago, Ubiquisys, which makes femtocells, announced that Softbank would offer free femtocells. Softbank, which by the way is the exclusive iPhone carrier in Japan, has long been a femtocell supporter. I guess they are coming to the realization that people, while they "like" a service like that, do not like it enough to pay for that service. And this is also a way for mobile operators to keep their subscribers on their networks longer as opposed to switching to a WiFi network. Given KDDI rolled out femtocell services on July 1st, we'll see if this is successful in Japan. People are watching this closely

Oh to Solve those Mobile Bandwidth Problems!

June 30, 2010

Back 6 or so months ago, there was a BusinessWeek article titled "Can AT&T Tame the iHogs". At the time, there were issues surfacing publicly about outages on the wireless networks, with AT&T and other network operators such as O2 in the UK. AT&T said  that 3% of users accounted for 40% of the data traffic, kind of setting up the scenario of tiered pricing models. So what has happened since then?   Well, first of all, we've indeed seen the rise of tiered pricing in the data world, as AT&T announced on June 2nd that they would revamp their plans.  The pricing has been reasonable as I see no key outbursts of unfairness. This should definitely help stop people from continually streaming Pandora or whatever to their phones. But it won't by itself solve the problem.    When looking at the Cisco Visual Networking Index, mobile data is expected to grow at over 100% CAGR through 2014. This is nearly double 3G+ subscriber growth. So people are going to continue to access the Internet through their mobile broadband connection, so other measures need to be taken as well.   That AT&T tiered pricing release also talked about WiFi. Another part of the strategy relating to solving the mobile bandwidth problems is to offload data to WiFi. While at one time the network carriers were not embracing WiFi, for fear of competition, WiFi is now a key part of their strategy as a way to offload the network. My smartphone has a WiFi connection and a 3G connection. Offloading to WiFi can really free up the network. And it better with the expected growth. While that release gave a hint of the offload strategy, in May AT&T actually announced an offload trial in New York City, in Times Square no less.     But still, that won't solve the problem either. Even 4G networks, while offering better bandwidth that will help, won't solve the problem. There needs to be bandwidth optimization solutions in the network as well, which I'll write about in some future blogs.   And then even when we get there, there will be more work to do. Because within that Cisco report, when looking through the data, you see that Video as part of mobile data is actually growing even faster than anything and represents about 2/3 of all mobile data traffic by 2014. All this means in the context of this blog is that there will be more and more and more and more complex stuff passing through the mobile networks. This is an ever evolving and interesting problem to solve.

HD Voice: What's Not to Like?

June 25, 2010

  A few days ago I wrote about the growth path of HD voice and how some people think it's growing faster than expected, and some people think it's growing slower than expected.  There is definitely a lot of hype about HD Voice, which leads me to believe it is growing pretty fast.    Orange UK recently announced that they will be trialing HD voice across several major UK cities.  Their initial trails, which were done in Moldova, had positive feedback. People claimed that the new HD service was clearer, eliminating background noise and making voices more distinct and more natural sounding - like being in the same room as the person you're on the phone with!  I can only imagine how HD voice will improve business processes.  It will be great for long conference calls, and for calls that have several participants with different accents.

LTE and Germany

June 23, 2010

Back on April 15th, I wrote about Germany's spectrum auction for the spectrum beyond 3G, likely to be used for LTE. The auction ended a couple of weeks ago netting a price tag of 4.38B Euros, much less than the recent $14.5B auction of 3G spectrum in India and much less than the 50B Euro 3G auction in Germany from the year 2000.
  The price tag is seen a sign of the times. $50B was a lot for the operators to pay for 3G. Given that, and given the state of the world and European economy right now, 4.38B is what was netted. Still, that low a number was a bit of a surprise to some in EMEA and the feeling is that the LTE winners will clearly be able to monetize this. How will they monetize this - well the mobile broadband will create many opportunities for data, video and voice. And likely we'll see very innovative apps be created with this awesome mobile broadband power available.

The HD Voice Growth Path

June 16, 2010

HD Voice is on a growth path.  Some say slower than expected, some say faster than expected.  Like many things, that is dependent on your point of view.  One way to measure growth is the amount written about a topic.  There is an HD Voice News site that I visit from time to time.  And a quick search yields quite a few articles - here is a recent one talking about mobile VoIP and here is one in Polish - I don't know what it says (though it seems to be talking about telepresence) but it clearly says "HD Voice" in there, as well as "HD Video". 

Another way to measure growth is my use of a new technology.  I'm about to get an HD capable phone at work, so I'll be HD enabled soon.  Basically I'll be voice enabling my email address.  There is a whitepaper at siptosip.net that explains how this works.  I won't be able to get to the PSTN, but I'm looking forward to making some HD Voice calls and I'll let you know how it goes.

Videooooooooooooooooooooo Gooooooooooooooooooooooal!!!

June 14, 2010


With the World Cup now in full swing, people will do anything to watch a soccer game or get information on any of the games. I had to be away from a TV when the US played England this past Saturday, and using my mobile phone, I had to go to espn.com to get automatic refresh on comments to get results from the game as I could not get video of that game. (My battery juuuuuuuuuuust made it through the game). And I couldn't see the goals until later on. 
  I wish I had a video goal application, as did one of my colleagues who happened to be in Brazil the Friday the World Cup started. Since the taxi ride to the airport from downtown Sao Paulo takes a while, both he and the taxi driver were looking for goals from the first day of the World Cup.   I know CallTech is working on one
  Creating something like this is what the Dialogic Innovator Challenge is all about.

The Dawn of a New Mobile Video Era

June 9, 2010

On June 7th, Apple announced the iPhone 4.  And the title of this blog is somewhat tongue in cheek, since the resultant hyperbole generated from this is seemingly iNdelible, iNcredible, iNdubitable and iNdefatigable. This iPhone must be iNvincible! This shows the power of Apple at this point in time. So I do use the word somewhat above instead of leaving that word out entirely, since, well, if Apple does get millions and millions of people to use mobile video telephony, maybe that announcement will indeed be an inflection point in mobile video and bend the curve to be steeper.
  But as readers of this blog know, I've long been talking about mobile video applications. And Apple did get something very right, which is a camera on both the front and back of the device.  And they are using the H.264 video codec, which we've put in our products and I can tell you that the quality with that video codec is impressive.
  With a camera on the back, which is what most mobile phones have today, you can take pictures or movies of what you see. But someone on the other end can't see you, so it's not a true video calling experience. As readers of this blog also know, there are many, many mobile video apps that don't need a camera on the front - a video IVR for instance works well on a mobile phone since you can see the menu on the phone, instead of listening to it. And we're even seeing commercials in the US now with regards to someone doing video banking while she is working out in a gym, using an IVVR on her mobile phone. So there are plenty of apps that are possible without a camera on the front.
  But with a camera on the front, you can make a video call with another person from your mobile phone. So it opens up an entirely new realm of innovative mobile video applications.

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