Alan Percy : The SIP Invite
Alan Percy
| Observations by Alan D. Percy on VoIP enabling technology, industry and our personal reach for success.


Video Telephony or Video Services

August 3, 2007

This last week I've been doing some reading and discussing with others the role that video will play in our daily lives and communications needs.  Just as background, we have two Tivos at home and the Slingbox that Jeff gave us at VON last year.  And yes, I have the mobile slingbox client loaded on my phone.

Since having and using Slingbox for the last year, I'm a convert and yes, I am convinced that people will pay for video on demand services via the Internet (both broadband and mobile). 

Interview on VoIP Blog -

August 13, 2007

Last week, Rich Tehrani and I had an opportunity to compare notes on a few questions:

You can see the full interview at:

What happened to Skype?

August 23, 2007

By now, everyone who cares has heard about the Skype outage (see: Skype Outage Article).  This is not another blog entry about reliability, peer-to-peer vs. centrally managed applications or about Skype's twisted use of other's PCs for their infrastructure.  Instead this is a discussion about popularity.


December 3, 2007

Imagine if the US Government found an un-charted new island, just off the coast of Florida with plenty of ready-to-develop shovel-ready beach front property, and decided to parcel the island up and auction it off to the highest bidders.   Sound crazy?  Well that's exactly what is happening over at the FCC this next year as the 700 MHz band is freed up by ending analog television transmissions.

While I'm a huge proponent of creating space for new services and giving opportunities for new business to capture this unique opportunity, I worry about how this is working financially. 

Broadband Internet for the masses

December 10, 2007

In reading this morning's paper, I saw an article about something that I have been preaching for the last few years: Broadband Internet Accessibility.  See: The Buffalo News: Buffalo News Editorials: Boost Internet access

Those of us that live in urban or suburbia are lucky in that we have access to a range of choices for broadband internet service.  This allows us to choose between DSL, Cable and Fiber optic technologies needed to connect our homes and businesses to the internet. 

Fios - $1,000 per household?

February 28, 2008

After it seems like an eternity of waiting, Verizon is finally starting the process to install Fios on my street.  They have most of my home town of Orchard Park, NY strung with fiberoptic cable from pole to pole, but those of us that are serviced by underground cables were last in line.

Anyhow, now I understand why Verizon plans on spending an average of $1,000 per household to install Fios.  First all the utility companies (gas, water, telephone, cable...) all have to mark/flag their lines. 

More on Universal Broadband

August 20, 2008

An interesting article in today's USAToday about FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's efforts to expand access to the Internet to more Americans.  If you've been following along, you know that I've been writing and talking about the importance of Universal Broadband for the health and wealth of all Americans.

Many that live in urban and suburban America don't realize this, but once you leave most metro areas, broadband access to the Internet is very difficult to get and very expensive.  I know this first hand because I've been trying for years to get broadband access to a summer cottage that our extended family shares.  We can get phone service, but for broadband we have only one option - Satellite - and frankly, that's not a good option due to the 3 second latency.

When I spend time with other year-round residents in the neighborhood, I'm amazed at the difficulty they have in doing what we consider every-day activities.  This effects not just the entertainment part of the Internet, but real business too.  Weather forecasts for farmers, tax information and filing, educational materials are all very difficult (if not impossible) to accomplish with dial-up Internet access.

However, I do struggle with the "free wireless" idea that FCC Chairman Martin is pushing in his interview.  Nothing is ever free and the complexity of installation and operation of a wireless network needs to be professionally managed and supported (partially) by those using it.  

I'd rather see an approach that provides incentives for the existing wire line and wireless operators to expand their infrastructure and coverage to Universal Broadband.  

Universal Broadband is actually very good for our industry as it will speed up the transition of all telephony over to VoIP, increase demand for ATAs and core network media gateways, softswitches and other supporting systems.

Frankly, we just need the leadership - I hope that FCC Chairman Martin can find the common ground to get the operators to support the concept of Universal Broadband without starting a fight over "free wireless".

Verizon Fios - an update

October 17, 2008

Okay, time to update you on how my migration over to Verizon Fios has gone so far.

Just a little background on the situation here: I work primarily from my home office in Orchard Park, NY in a neighborhood that was built in the mid-70's (pre cable and definitely pre- fiber-to-the-home aka FTTH).  When moving in seven years ago, I had then-Adelphia cable broadband, Verizon wireline phone and DirecTV for television.  A bit of a mish-mash of disconnected parts, but it worked (most of the time).  
  • Here in snow country, we regularly lost DirecTV due to ice and snow on the dish.
  • The long cable run between my house and the nearest telephone pole causes problems with the broadband internet incurring day-long outages that seemed to stymie Adelphia.  
  • The aging analog phone lines I used for both my wife's and my home office were noisy, which interfered with our frequent long conference calls and webinars.
  • To save money on the infrequently-used home phone I switched it over to Vonage about a year ago, which I must say has worked out really well.
So, when the Verizon trucks rolled through town this winter and installed the conduit and fiber infrastructure for Fios, I was literally first on the block to sign-up.

Installation started with broadband internet and two phone lines.  This went pretty smooth with mounting the Optical Network Termination (ONT) in the basement and a WiFi-enabled router.  Cut-over to the new 20Mbps broadband was literally as easy as moving an RJ-45 plug from one router to the other.  Frankly the hardest part was untangling all the old wires and moving them to the new router!  After a reboot of the computers in the house and the Vonage gateway, everything was back up and running.

Getting the phone lines configured correctly took a couple calls to Verizon.  I have my office line forward to my cell phone after three rings or if I'm on the phone and it took a couple support reps to understand how to configure the new switch correctly.  End result after one day - faster internet, no more noise on the phone lines and everything is working perfect. 

It took a couple calls to get the guys to come back and bury the fiber-optic cable that laid across my lawn.   Frankly, it was a race between my 13 year-old son that mows our lawn and the Verizon crew.  Was my son going to mow over the cable and cut it to shreds or was Verizon going to bury it first?  Fortunately, Verizon won.

Remember that I was on DirecTV?  I loved the service and the new HD DVR, but we were averaging $85/month and still suffering from weather-related outages.  So when I caught wind that the town of Orchard Park finally signed the franchise agreement with Verizon to allow them to offer FiosTV, guess who called Verizon the same day to order Fios TV service?  Me.

Installation day for the TV started with a really nice technician surveying the coax TV cabling that already ran through my house and making a few quick additions for Fios.  He was able to add a splitter next to the entry point where the four DirecTV cables came from the dish outside and headed out to the three different rooms where we had TVs.  All the old DirecTV set top boxes were pulled out and set aside with new Motorola devices going in their place.  Lots of cables for our HD TV and audio system in the family room - component video, optical audio (5.1) connects between the DVR and my audio receiver. One surprising connection was between the TV cable and a coax jack on the back of the router - I later found out that the STBs use this to access the program guide information and relay purchases back to Verizon.  End of this day - and the TVs all worked and I was ready to figure out the new Motorola set top boxes and DVR features.

Now things get interesting.....

Later that same evening, I turn on the TV, DVR and audio system to find a great picture, but no sound.  Okay, what changed?  Cables are all okay and my receiver is showing the optical input is active, but still no sound!?!  Go to the DVR and start digging through menus - settings - sound - all of a sudden the sound comes back.  But I didn't change anything!?!  Weird.  Next time the DVR gets turned on, same result.  Okay this is screwy.  After doing some trial and error, I find out that upon power-up, the DVR doesn't activate the optical output for sound, you need to go to the menu each time to activate it.  Bug!  Unplug the optical cable on the audio system and live with just stereo sound for now.

Next day - the STB in the basement shows all dashes on the screen and no picture.  Now what?  Unplug, reboot, call Verizon and they send out a technician.  Remember that splitter in the basement?  One of the ports died.  It took him most of an hour to find a .99 broken splitter.

So at this point, I've had three separate visits from Verizon techs and finally have almost everything working, but still learning the ins and outs of the new DVR and STBs.  More on this in the next posting.....

Verizon FiOS TV - Part II

November 1, 2008

Okay, it has been a few weeks since the last post on my FiOS installation and I promised you a review of the newly activated television capabilities.

FiOS TV is installed pretty much like any other cable TV with one big exception - Fiberoptics cable from the central office to the Optical Network Terminator (ONT) in my basement.  From there, it is standard RJ-6 cable-TV coax cable to each of the Motorola Set Top Boxes (STBs).  The data traffic from the STBs goes over the same coax, avoiding a separate Ethernet and/or phone line run to each box (which was required for DirecTV). The installer was able to re-use the existing wiring in my house, which dramatically simplified installation.  

Breaking the Sound Barrier with VoIP

November 3, 2008

Okay, it's the 21st century and there are many new innovations and technologies that make our lives a whole lot easier, efficient or entertaining.  Think back about life before cell phones.  Remember pagers and calling cards?  How about the changes in TV?  With super clear picture and surround sound, HD TV makes you feel like you are at the game.  Things sure have changed for the better over the last twenty years.

Well, with one big exception - the voice quality on your telephone.

You see, the current Public Switch Telephone Network is built on technology invented in the late 50's based on digital sampling of your voice using Pulse Code Modulation (PCM) sampling.  Back then, it was groundbreaking improvement in reliability and clarity.  But to use the infrastructure and cabling efficiently, they had to make some choices about how much of your voice to collect and transmit.  The choice was a cost/benefit decision that came up with a 3.4 kHz bandwidth that created a "sound barrier", limiting the fidelity of your voice ever since then.  

Why is this important?  The 3.4 kHz bandwidth limitation in the PSTN is universal, allowing carriers to interoperate and pass voice from one to another.  It's also the ultimate commodity  - "one size fits all" in communications.  No matter whether you use one of the Bell companies or a smaller competitive carrier, everything sounds the same.  The result?  Price wars and customer churn to chase the ever cheaper commodity service.

At least until now.

With VoIP and SIP working together, we finally have the tools at our disposal to dramatically improve the quality of voice communications and break through the "sound barrier" with VoIP that uses higher sampling rates and new voice coding algorithms.

We here at AudioCodes are quite pleased to announce our HD VoIP strategy that we feel will play a critical role in migrating both the wireline and wireless communications infrastructure away from the limitations of the PSTN and into the future of High Definition Voice over IP (HD VoIP).  HD VoIP will allow carriers to differentiate their services with much higher quality voice calls and create affinity amongth their customer base.  Enterprises will be able to improve efficiency and reinforce their branding with high-fidelity customer contact.

Want to learn more?  See our dedicated landing page at:

Or attend the live webinar that I am hosting on Tuesday, November 18th at 2:00 PM EST.  Click here to visit the Webinar Registration Page

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