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May 2005

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First Coffee

May 31, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Dave Brubeck’s landmark 1959 album Time Out, the first jazz album to feature all original compositions, and the first jazz instrumental album to sell a million copies:

Cingular Wireless is offering Good Technologies Inc.’s mobile e-mail service for business customers – at a nice price: free.

Cingular, the largest mobile phone service provider in the United States, will bundle the GoodLink service with its wireless Internet service for mobile phones free of charge, the Associated Press reports, “charging $45 a month for unlimited usage. Previously, users also paid the equivalent of $27.50 a month to GoodLink.”

The one-time account fee of $1,500 and one-time set-up fee of $99 for each individual user still apply, though. Gotta make money somewhere.

This is a huge boost for Good, still far short of BlackBerry and their over three million customers. Under a previous agreement Good Technology users had to sign separate contracts with the company and Cingular. They’ll now use the single-contract system Cingular does for BlackBerry.

Cingular Wireless executive Michael Woodward told Reuters there aren’t any problems with BlackBerry, but “we heard our customers saying… they were looking for some choice, a little bit of flexibility.”

This is the first time GoodLink, compatible with other providers’ mobile devices “will be sold directly by a major carrier in nearly a year,” according to AP: “By contrast, Cingular and the other four national cell carriers already sell BlackBerry devices… and its complimentary e-mail system directly to corporate customers.”

Good’s growing fast, but it’s nowhere near BlackBerry.

First Coffee

May 30, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Primal Scream’s 1992 album Screamadelica:

Kuwaiti mobile operator Wataniya Telecom and Nokia  have signed a $125 million contract for Nokia to provide Wataniya with a network to support the carrier’s high speed packet access network.

Wataniya, the second-largest mobile operator in Kuwait, in a statement said Nokia would deliver state-of-the-art radio and core networks technology for “beyond 3G” mobile technologies. CEO Harri Koponen said the deal gives Wataniya “a platform to provide the most advanced, capable and reliable network services in the region.”

First CoffeeSM isn’t up to scratch on the validity of that claim, but Wataniya is getting advanced mobile services such as Push to Talk, video calls and video sharing for its subscribers in Kuwait. Nokia will also modernize Wataniya’s GSM network in order to create an EDGE layer that will support advanced services even outside 3G coverage.

Nokia will support High Speed Packet Access technology, which will give Wataniya the ability to offer mobile broadband Internet access at up to two megabits per second in the first phase.

The agreement was signed yesterday in the presence of Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen during his state visit to Kuwait.

InnoMedia, a privately-held supplier of Internet and broadband access IP telephony today unveiled the “new generation of entry-level videophones with 3G interoperability and VoIP International call capability,” according to company officials.

The MTA 5410S videophones, according to reports, feature a stylish yet classical design, in a black and grey color combination, as well as a simple to use icon-based graphical user interface.

First CoffeeSM favors most anything that is stylish, classical and simple to use, but is grateful videophones have not caught on in a big way – what if the person on the other end of the call could see your facial expressions and hand signals while you’re talking? First CoffeeSM cringes to think.

The MTA 5410S will be marketed to “value-conscious consumers,” according to company officials: “The MTA 5410S is designed with a classical touch and ease of use that will appeal to the general public, especially with a competitive pricing that will enable carriers to put a videophone in every household,” says Alex Chua, Senior Director, Product Management, InnoMedia Pte Ltd.

The MTA 5410S is compatible with 3G networks and mobile videophones.

First Coffee

May 27, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Al Stewart’s 1975 album Modern Times, glittering, intelligent songwriting:

Maybe First CoffeeSM should be listening to Led Zeppelin’s first album, since “communication breakdown” is the reason given for Australia’s Telstra to announce that yes… no… yes, the telco will offer retail clients VoIP in 2005/06.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Telstra Corp Ltd is officially – as of now, anyway – retracting its earlier statement that it had “scrapped plans to offer its retail clients the ability to make calls over the internet for at least another year.”

So to sum up: Telstra will offer VoIP to retail clients either this year or next. Honest.

Telstra is saying that its VoIP isn’t quite ready for prime-time, though. “The company does hope to have a consumer launch in the coming financial year, depending on customer demand,” a Telstra spokesman told the Morning Herald. “But we still have a lot more work to do… the trial found that the consumer experience was below expectations in terms of voice quality and reliability.”

Telstra group managing director of technology, innovation and product Ted Pretty told AAP in March that the company wanted to see the service being taken by broadband customers with a BigPond connection before the end of calendar 2005, the Morning Herald reports.

Rumors of a Siebel takeover are being both fueled and allayed by the company’s new staff retention plan.

First Coffee

May 26, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the best currently available Donovan anthology, Troubadour: The Definitive Collection 1964 – 1976:

Luxembourg-based Gemplus International S.A., one of the world’s largest providers of smart card based products has been picked by “operator galaxy” T-Mobile to provide its new GemXplore Generations operating system as the basis for future card and service deployment.

T-Mobile evidently liked GemXplore’s ability to comply with the latest multimedia features and standards releases, both of which can be updated over the air at any stage of the SIM lifecycle – thereby reducing time to market.

Przemek Czarnecki, Executive Vice President Terminal Technology, T-Mobile said the Gemplus’ GemXplore Generations was “revealed to be the most technologically advanced concept of OS.”

First CoffeeSM lives on the Mediterranean coast and loves how foreigners use English. Locutions that would never occur to a native speaker sound almost… poetic.

T-Mobile will use GemXplore Generations to provide a common smartcard platform for the T-Mobile group.

Gemplus International S.A. is, company officials claim, according to Gartner-Dataquest (2005), Frost & Sullivan and Datamonitor “the world’s leading player in the smart card industry in both revenue and total shipments.” It has sold over 5 billion smart cards, and its 2004 revenue was just north of a billion dollars.

First CoffeeSM hopes you’re sitting down, because the latest Network Management Group study shows – hold onto something – that “commercial-free radio over mobile phones and the ability to download music to phones are the two most interesting advanced mobile services to young adults,” according to Reuters.

They’d also rather put up with ads and get free mobile video than sign up – and pay – for subscription video services of the kind offered by Verizon Wireless and Sprint for about $15 a month, the survey finds.

First Coffee

May 25, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Ignacy Paderewski’s Symphony in B minor (Polonia), Op. 24 in Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh in January 1998, Jerzy Maksymiuk conducting:

Consummating a deal which had been announced Monday, Norwegian state telephony provider Telenor ASA today paid over $1 billion for two broadband services providers in Sweden and Denmark “as the switch to IP telephony threatens to crank up competition in the whole of Europe,” according to Computer Wire.

The price breaks down to $821.8 million for Bredbandsbolaget AB in Sweden, and $202.6 million for Cybercity A/S in Denmark. Growth in broadband is big in the Nordic region now, and this purchase moves Telenor, 53 percent owned by the Norwegian government, ahead of Sweden’s TeliaSonera AB in the lucrative market.

“Strategically, this is a necessary move for Telenor,” Poul Jessen, an analyst at Danske Bank A/S in Copenhagen tells Bloomberg. “Fixed and wireless services are converging, and Telenor needs to be able to provide a complete package to compete” with TDC A/S and TeliaSonera AB.

According to TheDeal.com, the purchase will double Telenor’s broadband customer base to about 800,000. Telenor expects the move to save about $390 million over the next few years on its existing Sweden and Denmark operations.

With its core wireline revenue in decline, Computer Wire says, “Telenor sees growth prospects of the triple play of voice, data, and TV to the home, and a whole raft of IP-based services to business users.”

“There is huge growth potential in the broadband market in this region,” Berit Svendsen, head of Telenor’s fixed line division tells TheDeal.com. “We expect the market to grow from [$3.9 billion] to [over $6 billion] over the next five years and we want to be a part of that.”

As Robert Parker’s Spenser or Susan Silverman might say, “anybody would.”

The Taiwan telecom industry is “making history today,” in the words of Taiwan Mobile company officials, with the initial launch of Taiwan’s first 3G service by Taiwan Mobile.

Primary amongst such 3G offerings will be Hong Kong-based Artificial Life’s products V-girl – “Your Virtual Girlfriend!,” “Virtual Disco” and “Virtual News Reporter Service.” The launch of the 3G products in Taiwan is scheduled for Q3, 2005.

Virtual girlfriend, disco and news reporter?

First Coffee

May 24, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Bob Dylan’s unequaled 1965-1966 run of brilliance, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde On Blonde and Live 1966 in honor of ol’ Minnesota Mudthroat’s 64th birthday today:

Looks like Vodafone Group Plc’s having a good year: The world’s largest mobile company by revenue, according to Reuters, is buying back $8.23 billion worth of their stock and doubling their dividend as “as higher full-year earnings and revenues topped average market forecasts.”

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization rose by 7 percent to 13.041 billion pounds on 2 percent higher revenues of 34.13 billion pounds. Vodafone has 154.8 million subscribers and a dividend of about “4.07 pence,” about seven cents, “as part of its strategy to increase a payout ratio that, at 22 percent of earnings, had been low by industry standards.”

Mitel has chosen Texas Instruments as the primary supplier for both its IP phone sets and VoIP gateway systems. The Ottawa-based broadband communications products provider is specifically interested in TI’s TNETV1050 IP phone technology, TNETV1xxx and TNETV2xxx series of VoIP gateway technology.

New products based on TI’s VoIP technology will be available from Mitel later this year.

Mitel plans to use TI’s technology in both its business telephone sets and its core Integrated Communications Platform portfolio. TI’s TNETV1050 gives Mitel a “highly integrated IP phone system-on-a-chip” with a comprehensive feature set and robust integrated LCD controllers, according to company officials.

First Coffee

May 23, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is John Mellencamp’s 1994 Dance Naked. If read off-site hit http://blog.tmcnet.com/telecom-crm/ for all links:

First CoffeeSM had an interesting conversation Friday evening (Antalya time) with Adeeb Shanaa and Amit Desai, CEO and Vice President Products respectively for Voxify. The company is launching ten automated speech-recognition agents this morning, using a new patented technology that  renders obsolete the old practice of hard-coding responses to questions.

Voxify Automated Agents, according to technical descriptions, differ from other speech automation systems in that they are “imbued with the intelligence needed to follow a customer’s conversation, gather data, and complete a transaction – even when only incomplete information is available,” as opposed to other approaches that hard-code expected responses and stall when they encounter a response not in their database.

It always impresses First CoffeeSM when someone puts their money where their mouth is, and “we tell them to hold us responsible for concrete numbers and deliverables, we’re paid by a percentage of calls successfully handled,” Shanaa says. In other words, if you don’t have any success with Voxify’s agents they don’t get paid. First CoffeeSM wishes other businesses – the Washington Redskins, say – worked the same way.

Desai says in the reservations area, for example, “our metric of success is completion rates of reservations.

First Coffee

May 20, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is last year’s release The Platinum Collection, Frank Sinatra’s three-discer from what’s probably his artistic peak, his 1953 – 1961 tenure on Capitol Records:

By now you may have heard about the Federal Communications Commission’s ruling yesterday that Voice-over Internet Protocol telephony providers have about four months to offer the sort of standard 911 service you get from your telco – you dial in and you’re automatically connected to an emergency dispatcher, and the address you’re calling from shows up on their screen.

First CoffeeSM is all for VoIP telephony providers including 911 in their services, favors making it an opt-out feature instead of opt-in, and believes the four Bells which control the nation’s 911 system should be required to strike reasonable deals to allow VoIP providers to offer 911 to their customers.

The Heartless Bastard agrees.

First CoffeeSM views government regulation as a necessary evil, many things are better off left to the common sense and personal freedom of Americans, who can be trusted to act in their own best interests far more frequently than government can be trusted to legislate it for them and who learn by suffering consequences when they do not, and notes that in recent weeks VoIP providers have, in fact, been striking deals with Bells to gain 911 access for their customers.

Okay, everybody knew the FCC’s ruling was imminent, maybe Vonage and SkyRocket, two of the more prominent VoIPers to get 911 access deals were just staying a step ahead of legislation, and maybe they wouldn’t have been so keen to get deals done if they hadn’t seen the FCC in their rear-view mirrors.

But the fact is that before the FCC issued a rather draconian 120-day deadline for providing standard 911 deals were being made, and the VoIP industry was moving a lot faster to get standard 911 than the cellular industry, which didn’t have it for years and years.

Maybe the FCC could have said six months to a year, since once you have a VoIP provider offering standard 911 customers have the option available to them. In that case the market can take over and weed out the responsible carriers from the irresponsible ones.

The Heartless Bastard finds this the best solution.

Anyway, the Bells will be more or less forced to negotiate in good faith with the VoIPers, and First CoffeeSM thinks extensions will be fairly generously granted to companies who are genuinely trying to get something done, the FCC will realistically only shut down those scofflaws who don’t even pretend to be in serious negotiations or on a timetable to include standard 911. People like that don’t need to be offering VoIP in the first place. Good riddance to ‘em.

Yesterday before issuing the ruling the Commission heard from Florida resident Cheryl Waller who recounted, in heartbreaking detail, how in March her three and a half-month old daughter Julia died after she stopped breathing, and Waller tried to call 911 from her Vonage connection, reached a sheriff’s administrative office, took what by the account First CoffeeSM’s seen “seconds” to find a 911-enabled phone and call emergency personnel. By the time help arrived the child had, sadly, died.

The Heartless Bastard wipes his eyes, but has a few questions here.

First CoffeeSM is a father of three, and can’t imagine the grief Mrs. Waller must be feeling. There’s nothing but sympathy for her loss.

First Coffee

May 19, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the 1969 album Crosby, Stills and Nash by – wait for it – Crosby, Stills and Nash:

Qualcomm’s CEO took time out from the Seoul Digital Forum to tell Reuters that, in his opinion, demand for cell phones worldwide will decrease this year. He attributes the soft demand to “a slow transition to next generation mobile services.”

Noting that “last year we saw very strong growth,” Irwin Mark Jacobs said “this year it will be little slower than that,” leading Qualcomm to revise their shipment forecast downward from 55 million to 50 million.

No moss growing on Qualcomm, though – they’re planning to test a wireless broadcasting service in the U.S. at the end of the year, according to Dow Jones. They’re also in talks with Korean “broadcasters, content providers and operators.”

“I expect first commercial trials to occur in the U.S.

First Coffee

May 18, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the Jim White trifecta on the changer: 1997’s The Mysterious Tale Of How I Shouted “Wrong-Eyed Jesus!”, 2000’s No Such Place and 2004’s Drill A Hole In That Substrate And Tell Me What You See. Yes, First CoffeeSM’s Lovely And Talented Wife is gone for the day, how did you guess:

Yahoo! is set to introduce today a test version of instant messaging software that promotes VoIP communication and the internet media company’s new social network, according to an early review on silicon.com.

Yahoo! will offer their estimated 65 million users a free update to Yahoo!

First Coffee

May 17, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Willie Nelson’s 1978 album Stardust, his heartfelt tribute to Tin Pan Alley:

The next version of Microsoft Office will center on VoIP, IM and XML technology, according to Ina Fried.

It adds up to an emphasis on collaboration, Fried thinks, and Microsoft’s “gotten some help in that effort from Groove Networks, the Ray Ozzie-led company that Microsoft acquired earlier this year, strategy executive Bill Hilf said at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in San Francisco.”

Hilf says Microsoft is building the ability to handle VoIP technology as “one of the core features in the next version of Office.”

Microsoft promises that the so-improved Office 12 will ship next year, and First CoffeeSM knows how reliable Microsoft ship dates are, of course.

 Hilf refused to discuss details or specifics, but said for an idea of what Office is going to look like consider Microsoft Office Communicator 2005, the instant messaging add-on currently in beta.

Fried notes that with the program, “out-of-office messages pop up automatically, as does a user’s IM presence information. If companies integrate the software with their traditional or VoIP gear, workers can also start phone calls through their PC and redirect incoming calls when they are going to be away from their desk.”

Disturbing little news bit on the invaluable Engadget: Donald Melanson posts that “a Redwood City-based tech start-up called Rosum has found a way to track individuals using television signals, reaching places even GPS can’t (like inside buildings).”

Melanson claims that “Q-Tel, the investment arm of the Central Intelligence Agency, is one of the investors in the company.” The first actual working device using this capability is still in prototype, but Rosum does expect “commercial navigation products using the technology to start showing up next year.”

So the CIA gets this technology, but when an organization that knows what it’s doing gets ahold of it, such as New York City parking enforcement, First CoffeeSM will be concerned.

The Israeli telecom provider ECI Telecom is opening a subsidiary office in Moscow, in the words of company officials, “to further broaden and establish ECI’s direct presence in Russia in addition to a local support company.” The office should open in June.

ECI, which has been working in Russia for twelve years, says there is “increasing customer demand for ECI’s solutions in the Russian market,” a market which has grown extensively over the past few years.

ECI must think pretty highly of the Russian market, they held a recent Board of Directors meeting in Moscow, and it probably wasn’t for the food or scenery. The company specializes in metro optical networks, broadband access, bandwidth management and carrier-class VoIP solutions.

Continuing with First CoffeeSM’s coverage of the former Second World (you knew what First World and Third World were, “Second World” was used to refer to the Soviet Union and its satellite states), Teleunit Spa, an Italian telecom wholesale service provider has signed a direct interconnection agreement with Albania Online SP Ltd.

Albania Online, frequently confused with America Online, was founded in 1997 and provides Internet connection through dial-up, leased lines, ADSL and Wireless, VOIP, VPN, E-mail and hosting solutions. It’s the only private entity in Albania that has fiber-optic interconnection with state operators Albtelecom and Telecom Montenegro, which in that part of the world is technically known as “one heck of a competitive advantage.”

Teleunit and Albania Online will exchange international voice and IP traffic, and Teleunit has put in place a new Internet Protocol gateway direct to Albania to transmit voice data using VOIP technology.

Gianfranco Cimica, Chief Executive of Teleunit explained that “a large amount of voice traffic is directed to Albania due to the historical relationship between Italy and Albania and the large Albanian population in Italy.”

Shifting back to the First World, in an interview with Renai LeMay security vendor Check Point’s Australia manager, Scott McKinnel, argues that voice and Internet “camps” have different security priorities.

According to McKinnel, when implementing VoIP-based systems traditional telephony experts “try to address the primary concerns as they would see them in a telephony world – which are latency, PABX and voice-mail functionality, quality of service, things of that nature.”

McKinnel doesn’t see security as a pressing issue, saying that telephony gurus “haven’t even had encrypted voice circuits,” let alone anything more sophisticated than that – “there’s never been a shared network infrastructure.”

In his completely unvendorly-influenced opinion, Internet security experts could show their telephony counterparts the way.

First Coffee

May 16, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is former fellow Boston subway musician Mary Lou Lord’s 1998 Got No Shadow album. That’s right, First CoffeeSM has not always been The World’s Most Dangerously Overcaffeinated Business Writer©:

Although nobody is writing the obituary quite yet, Siebel Systems is losing key battles to regain their mojo.

The upcoming issue of Business Week will sketch a bleak profile of the tottering software giant. It tells of the May 5 meeting in New York where Siebel’s investors and analysts “gathered for a powwow with company execs in New York,” and left disappointed that Siebel’s new top management still has no idea of how to use their $2.2 billion to actually help the company – issue a dividend, buy stock back, sell out to the highest bidder or what.

Interviews with Siebel current and former employees show a disheartened staff, beaten down by Mike Lawrie’s abrupt firing, a new round of layoffs and a shareholder revolt. Employees are streaming to SAP – “by the dozen,” according to Business Week – and talk is of who’ll end up taking them over. Current water cooler bets are on Oracle or – believe it – Carl Icahn.

First Coffee

May 13, 2005


By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Al Stewart’s rare 1995 album, Between The Wars. First CoffeeSM purchased his copy of this CD a few years ago for $29.95, and notes it’s up to $89.99 on Amazon.com now:

Regular readers of this space know that First CoffeeSM is endlessly amused by these studies “forecasting” broadband connections over the next ten years, VoIP usage in six years, Wi-Fi penetration in three years or whatever, all down to the tenth of a percentage point.

This morning

Datamonitor’s announcing the availability ofThe Definitive Guide to the IVR Marketplace: North America and EMEA,” which “finds” that spending on traditional IVR licenses will dip from $277 million to $179 million in North America and EMEA by 2009 even as spending on open-standards IVR licenses will grow from $166 million to $332 million.

“‘Traditional’ touchtone interactive voice response used by businesses over the past two decades for the purposes of phone-based routing and self-service functionality, is firmly in its twilight years,” Datamonitor concludes, confidently predicting that revenues from proprietary touchtone IVR in North America and EMEA will decrease by more than 35% through 2009.

Where will this smart money go? To open-standard IVR platforms such as Voice-XML and SALT which make better use of web infrastructure, improve functionality and can graduate to speech technology.

Traditional IVR is based on proprietary languages. As such, maintenance, upgrades and back-end data integration is expensive, complex and causes vendor lock-in. No doubt Datamonitor’s on the money when they say the emergence of open standards will improve the functionality and availability of higher quality phone-based applications in the market.

Datamonitor predicts fairly aggressive growth, forecasting the North American and EMEA businesses spending in open-standards IVR platforms to double in the next five years to over $330 million and the average annual spending on speech-enabled IVR in the US and EMEA markets to increase by 13.4% during that time.

Point-four, now, not 13.5%. Sheesh.

The U.S.

First Coffee

May 12, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Beethoven’s String Quartet Op. 132 in A minor, performed by the Quartetto Italiano for a 1967 Philips recording:

Vonage has announced that it will change its registration process to make 911 services an opt-out, rather than an opt-in option. This sound business and marketing move should get the attorney generals of Connecticut, Michigan, Texas and New York off its back, at least for a little while.

According to Paul Kapustka, Vonage CEO Jeffrey Citron said the change would happen “sometime this summer,” as  part of an overall revamping of the company’s 911 services implementations.

With over 650,000 claimed sign-ups Vonage is the leading VoIP provider, so First Coffee© suspects that depending on how effective this new policy is in quashing lawsuits, it will quickly become the industry norm.

According to Citron, Vonage customers would automatically be signed up for some level of 911 during initial registration, and would have to specifically request not to have it, which First Coffee© is sure somebody with a walnut for a brain will do thinking he’ll have a lower phone bill by doing so, and about a week later try to call 911 when he shoots a foot off while using a shotgun to deter roaches from gittin’ at his homebrew, and when it’s not there he’ll file a multimillion-dollar lawsuit and the state’s attorney general who’d really like to be governor will seize upon this and make a huge deal out of (slap slap) Huh? Oh sorry.

Of course Vonage and the industry are cocking an eye to next Thursday’s open meeting of the FCC, where chairman Kevin Martin will probably announce something to make VoIP providers implement 911 services.

First Coffee© is sure there will be some sort of 911 requirements, it’s the nature of government to require things, and it’s probably a good idea but would like Chairman Martin to bear in mind that the problem isn’t simply VoIP providers neglecting 911, but their trouble getting access to the emergency-call infrastructure run by the large telcos like Verizon, SBC, BellSouth and Qwest, who would like to offer customers their own VoIP services. A mandate to open the emergency services infrastructure would greatly help the independents and provide better competition and services all around.

Kai-Uwe Ricke, chief executive of Deutsche Telekom AG has announced that the German telecommunications company won’t bid for Turk Telekom.

Although Turkish minister of transportation and communication Binali Yildirim had asked Deutsche Telekom to reconsider their position, Ricke declined to enter a bid, declaring “I can be clear on this: we have no interest in (bidding for Turk Telekom).”

Yildirim was reported saying that, although Deutsche Telekom already has dropped out of the bidding process, the Turkish government would still welcome a bid from the Germans before the bidding period ends in late May.

Millions of Turks live and work in Germany, millions more visit Germany and the cultural affinity of Turks for Germany is strong, so the German company was a favored suitor for Turk Telekom.

Turk Telekom, which owns most of Turkey’s fixed line telecoms infrastructure and has more than 19 million wireline subscribers, is slated for privatization this summer with the sale of a 55% stake.

First Coffee

May 11, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Rod Stewart’s absolutely glorious 1971 album Every Picture Tells A Story:

Evidently British Telecom is fretting over the “competitive impact” of AT&T merging with SBC and MCI with Verizon. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is too, but all it takes is a kid to buy out another kid’s lemonade stand for Spitzer to start picking at his shorts.

BT has gone so far as tomeet with the FCC and ask them to block the two mergers, according to a filing just unsealed, saying that they would create a classic duopoly in the telecommunications market and consolidate control of the internet backbone, leading to less competition, higher prices, lower quality, reduced innovation, floods, earthquakes and a plague of ravenous locusts.

BT estimates that 50% of the relevant market is US-based and that SBCs and Verizon’s geographic franchises cover 70% of customer locations. Not that BT cares all that much about the American market, but they foresee a day when internationally it would be difficult for any other competitor – itself, Colt, Cable & Wireless, Global Crossing, Equant, T-Systems, Vanco, et al – to compete.

Spitzer hasn’t actually opposed the two mergers, but has asked the FCC consider whether Verizon should be forced to offer naked DSL, broadband internet connectivity without the requirement to take phone service, if it buys MCI. He also thinks Verizon should be dissuaded from preferentially routing IP over MCI's internet backbone.

Vonage, who’s just signed a deal with Verizon to handle 911 emergency calls, thinks the FCC should examine whether the merger will negatively affect the ability of standalone VoIP providers to gain nondiscriminatory and reasonable access to number porting, necessary access, Internet backbone facilities and wireless platforms.

First Coffee© hears that EarthLink threw their two cents in the filing as well.

BlackBerry has just signed up its three millionth user, going from two to three million in the past six months after needing five years to hit one million.

Mobile operators such as Vodafone and T-Mobile, resentful of having to offer a hardware product with someone else’s branding, have struck deals with ISVs developing rival push e-mail technology such as Visto and Seven. These are companies who effectively white-box their products to the operators, who then offer them to their subscribers on a range of mobile phones, rather than just on dedicated devices like the BlackBerry.

Research In Motion is fighting back, cutting licensing deals of its own for the software with such heavyweights as Nokia.

First Coffee

May 10, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is May Your Song Always Be Sung, a 1997 grab-bag of semi-obscure artists, the likes of Nilsson, Dream Syndicate, Jennifer Warnes and the self-proclaimed “Worst Band On Earth,” the Leningrad Cowboys doing for the most part pretty damn good Bob Dylan covers:

LiveVoip LLC, Mesa, Arizona-based worldwide resellers to the Asterisk-based PBX market has rejected a takeover offer from RV Wireless, Inc. LiveVoip’s management feels VoIP is the “next wave,” the future of the Internet and therefore privately-held LiveVoip “must consider all offers and options presented in order to gain maximum value for its shareholders and customers.” Go for it, guys.
Staple First Coffee© newsmaker Qwest Communications has launched residential Internet telephone service for roughly the same price as traditional phone service, according to the Rocky Mountain News‘s Official Qwestwatch Guy, Jeff Smith.

Qwest OneFlex will be available in 48 states, but it requires a customer to have a high-speed Internet connection at $29.99 a month for unlimited local phone calls. Domestic long-distance costs an additional 5 cents a minute, with a minimum fee of $2.99 a month and a maximum charge of $19.99 a month, Smith reports.

Calls are routed over Qwest’s private fiber-optic network, which some believe would make it more reliable than VoIP over the public Internet. Yet many VoIP competitors offer unlimited local and domestic long-distance for less than $30 a month – heck, Vonage offers unlimited local and long-distance for $24.99 a month.

First Coffee

May 9, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is The Best Of The Beach Boys 1970 – 1986: The Brother Years by The Beach Boys, gems from such grossly underrated post-surf music albums as Holland, Sunflower and the ironically-titled Surf’s Up:

Qwest isn’t giving up on its quest for MCI. The Wall Street Journal is reporting this morning that MCI could be facing shareholder dissent over its acceptance of an $8.5 billion sale to Verizon. A shareholder vote could as soon as late June or early July.

Qwest withdrew a $9.9 billion offer last week, but was in talks with MCI shareholders and “believed there could be enough support to vote down Verizon’s bid,” the paper said, citing people close to the situation.

MCI, the second-largest U.S.

Turkish Coffee

May 4, 2005

First Coffee© will not post tomorrow or Friday, but instead will be taking in the sights with his family at the ancient Biblical city of Ephesus in southwestern Turkey, a few hours west of our home in Antalya.

The picture of the war.

May 4, 2005

Picture released by the U.S. Army Tuesday, May 3, 2005 shows a U.S. Army soldier comforting a child fatally wounded in a car bomb blast in Mosul, 360 km (225 miles) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, May 2, 2005.

First Coffee

May 4, 2005

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the May 1960 recording of Aaron Copland’s Rodeo at the Manhattan Center in New York City, Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic:

Forrester Research is saying that almost half of marketers plan to decrease spending in traditional advertising channels like magazines, direct mail, and newspapers to fund an increase in online ad spending in 2005.

First Coffee© finds predictions about 2005 made halfway through 2005 not quite as bracing as those made in, oh, 2002.

Total US online advertising and marketing spending will reach $14.7 billion in 2005, a 23 percent increase over 2004, according to the crystal balls at Forrester, which also think online marketing and advertising will represent 8 percent of total advertising spending in 2010, rivaling ad spending on cable/satellite TV and radio.

Forrester also thinks that search engine marketing will reach $11.6 billion by 2010 and that display advertising, which includes traditional banners and sponsorships, will grow at the average rate of 11 percent over the next five years to $8 billion by 2010. Now that’s more like it, sheer wild guesses are so much fun. Not $11.5, or $11.7, but $11.6 billion, mind you.

Siixty-four percent of respondents are interested in advertising on blogs, 57 percent through RSS, and 52 percent on mobile devices, including phones and PDAs.

No mention of when admen will be knocking First Coffee©’s virtual door down.
Avaya CEO Don Peterson says worries over viruses and network downtime are keeping CIOs from embracing IP networks.

According to Peterson, call centers in particular have fielded security as a reason to avoid switching to an IP network: “They don’t want two devices with virus exposure on their desk."

Peterson says security’s a big concern with IP telephony. “Many of our customers say it’s why they don’t deploy IP influence,” he said, adding that security “is why we have chosen to deliver our IP telephony solution on Linux rather than on Windows."

Still analyst house The Radcati Group predicts that 44 per cent of corporate telephone lines will be using VoIP by 2008. Ever notice that these companies in the business of predictions rarely publish their accuracy rates?
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group, whose backers include Nokia, Motorola and Intel has started working with wireless developers to make Bluetooth and ultrawideband compatible.

Wireless developers are planning how to work together to meld Bluetooth with UWB to do cool things like beam video and other large content short distances between TVs, home entertainment systems and computers.

The discussions with the WiMedia Alliance and the UWB Forum are described as “preliminary,” which means nothing’s actually happening yet.

Of course Bluetooth might be passé already – the best transmission speed it can offer is up to 3 megabits per second, while UWB allows speeds of 100 mbps and higher.

First Coffee

May 3, 2005

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the 2003 three-CD set Swing Brother, Swing, 54 big band favorites from 1925 – Fletcher Henderson’s “Sugar Foot Stomp” – to Artie Shaw’s “The Continental” in 1950:

Qwest has lost the bidding for MCI to Verizon’s $26 a share (or up to $27.70, depending on triggering clauses) offer for a $8.44 billion package, as everyone knew they would, and First Coffee© wishes they’d be more of a man about the whole thing.

Qwest has been issuing self-pitying statements ever since, claiming the whole process “seems to be permanently skewed against Qwest,” “MCI never intended to negotiate in good faith with Qwest” and that MCI had allowed Verizon to “impugn” Qwest.


First Coffee© would like to remind Qwest that they’re a company with $17.5 billion in debt and a measly $14 billion in annual revenue, they’re one of the most highly leveraged carriers in telecom, that their stock price has fluctuated wildly the past year – dropping from $4.85 to $3.42 since their takeover bid, that many analysts believe the stock price was illegally manipulated Friday just to keep their bid for MCI alive, and that they still haven’t resolved shareholder lawsuits from $2.5 billion in overstated earnings.

Verizon, on the other hand, is the country’s largest communications company, the country’s No. 1 phone company with more than $70 billion in annual revenue and a majority stake in Verizon Wireless, the No. 2 carrier behind Cingular.

MCI looked at the relative financial strength of the two companies, the achievability of the projected cost savings, the expected competitive position of a combined Verizon/MCI vs. a combined Qwest/MCI, Qwest’s lack of its own wireless network operation and stockholder lawsuits stemming from Qwest’s accounting scandal and, to their credit, did right by their fanatically loyal customers, who were almost unanimous in preferring a Verizon takeover to Qwest.

Some analysts have suggested Qwest consider bankruptcy reorganization. First Coffee© suggests they consider reality immersion therapy.

Stockholm-based TeliaSonera is starting tests in Denmark of a new concept integrating mobile telephony with IP telephony at home. TeliaSonera’s self-confessed ambition is “to lead the migration from fixed to mobile and Internet-based services.”

The aim is to integrate mobile and IP-based telephony so the customer only needs a single wireless phone for all telephone needs.

Hey Qwest: Shut Up And Grow Up.

May 2, 2005

Look, Qwest, it’s one thing to get your butt kicked by a far superior company, it’s another thing to blame everyone and everything except your own pitiful condition for losing a fight nobody but you and the guy who picked Mondale to beat Reagan thought you had a shot of winning.

Qwest dropped out of the bidding war for MCI Inc. on Monday after MCI agreed to another new deal with Verizon, rejecting a higher-priced bid from Qwest for the fourth time.

Fourth time! I was turned down by a lot of girls in college but nobody, nobody had to turn me down four times. Two or three was usually sufficient for me to get the message.

“It is no longer in the best interests of shareowners, customers and employees to continue in a process that seems to be permanently skewed against Qwest,” the Denver-based company groused in a statement. “We pursued MCI with tenacity and discipline and feel strongly that our bid would have brought far more value to MCI shareholders.”

Whatever Qwest might have “felt” is irrelevant, since a large number of MCI’s most important business customers had indicated that they preferred a transaction between MCI and Verizon rather than a transaction between MCI and Qwest, according to MCI’s statement, as of course any sentinent business customer would.

“Additionally, as their contracts come up for renewal,” MCI said, “a number of customers have also requested rights to terminate their arrangements with MCI in the event of a Qwest transaction.

Verizon ups bid for MCI.

May 2, 2005

The Associated Press is reporting that Verizon has raised its bid for MCI to "at least $26" per share in cash and stock.

The increased offer from Verizon Communications Inc. is still less than the $30 a share that Qwest Communications International Inc. has offered.

But MCI's board has favored Verizon's past offers even though they were lower than what Qwest was offering because of Verizon's larger size and presumed healthier prospects.

Under the sweetened deal with Verizon, each MCI share would be exchanged for cash and stock worth at least $26, consisting of $5.60 in cash plus the greater of 0.5743 Verizon shares for every common share of MCI or a sufficient number of Verizon shares to deliver $20.40 of value.

Under this price protection feature, Verizon may elect to pay additional cash instead of issuing added shares over the 0.5743 exchange ratio.

First Coffee

May 2, 2005

The news as of the first cup of coffee this morning, 2 May 2005, and the music is the 1970 Deutsche Grammophon recording of Beethoven’s Sonata for piano and violin No. 5 in F major, op. 24, “Spring,” Yehudi Menuhin on violin and Wilhelm Kempff on piano:

Qwest’s Carriages To Pumpkins Tonight?

Qwest has said its nearly $10 billion offer for MCI will be withdrawn at midnight tonight if MCI's board does not officially switch its support away from a deal with Verizon by that time.

Last weekend MCI declared its $7.5 billion deal with Verizon inferior to the Qwest bid and indicated it would change its recommendation to shareholders if it did not receive a revised proposal from Verizon.

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