First Coffee

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
| CRM, ERP, Contact Center, Turkish Coffee and Astroichthiology:

First Coffee

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.

Evidently mounting a semi-hostile bid for MCI gets expensive, to the point where Qwest feels the need to offer services which will cannibalize revenue from its standard telephony offerings.
Orascom Telecom Holding S.A.E.
and Research In Motion are announcing plans to offer the BlackBerry to mobile customers in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. BlackBerry will operate on Orascom’s GSM/GPRS networks and international roaming will be supported in countries where Orascom has GPRS roaming agreements in place.

The BlackBerry service will be available with the BlackBerry 7290 Wireless Handheld and the BlackBerry 7100g business phone.
Ottawa-based Pronexus Inc., a vendor of computer telephony and speech software has announced a distribution agreement with CTI-PRO, a distributor of hardware and software resources for IVR and telephony in Eastern Europe.

Under the agreement Czech Republic-based CTI-PRO will distribute VBVoice, Pronexus’ Rapid Application Development environment for creating IVRs, telephony and speech products.

CTI-PRO gets to sell a development tool that uses the Microsoft .NET platform and Visual Studio .NET for developer productivity. Petr Spacil, CTI-PRO’s sales manager said developers interested in creating telephony and speech products on the Microsoft .NET platform are “a significant market in our region,” and that VBVoice can pick up the slack left after Visual Voice Pro 5.0 was discontinued.

VBVoice can be used to create speech-enabled IVRs, hardware-less VoIP tools, emergency response systems, bill payment systems, call center applications with screen pops and database connectivity, voice portals, stuff like that.
At the Telecom Video 2005 show in Amsterdam this week MRG is announcing a new installment of its IPTV Tracking Service series, “IPTV Content Strategies – May 2005,” which they’re billing as “a comprehensive analysis of Internet Protocol TV content deployment strategies in four major global markets.”

The report focuses on how international and local content developers, aggregators, and consultants are assisting IPTV service providers in the design and deployment of linear video, video-on-demand and interactive services. Content producers include the likes of BBC Worldwide, Hallmark Channel, ImaginAsianTV, Mag Rack, Shalom TV and lots of other channels First Coffee©’s never heard of.

IPTV flopped badly about ten years ago – remember Tele-TV? First Coffee© doesn’t either – and today it’s still too expensive and there are far too many errors, unstandardized technologies and transmission delays for mass-market breakout, but hope springs eternal.

The heavyweight IPTV operators today are Italy’s Fastweb, Japan’s YahooBB/Softbank and NOW Broadband TV in Hong Kong. In America SBC and Verizon are working on it. Belgacom TV was promising commercial IPTV in 2005, see their online demo here.

“IPTV services cannot simply mimic cable or satellite to be successful,” thinks Bob Larribeau, senior analyst at MRG. “Service providers have to offer different and better choices to succeed against cable or satellite.” First Coffee© imagines improved transmission quality and affordable, standardized technology would help, too.

Larribeau thinks forced buy-through, which requires consumers to subscribe up to 80 “basic” channels before accessing premium channels is passé, but likes personalization, where consumers have direct choice over large groupings of linear and VOD channels.
Wanna quit your boring day job and be your own boss, set your own hours and work in your underwear while drinking beer? Well, sorry, First Coffee©’s already taken. But you can haul junk.

The San Jose Business Journal tells of Alan Remer, a successful Bay Area stockbroker who threw it all over in 2002 and bought the 22nd 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchise for $35,000. He grossed $280,000 and says he’ll do just south of a million this year.

Instead of some half-stoned rock star wannabe and his bassist in a pickup truck showing up an hour and a half late to haul away your old sofa for however much he needs to pay off his dealer, a uniformed 1-800-GOT-JUNK driver will arrive on time in a clean, shiny truck with a preset price of $99 for a single item or $500 for a truckload. The average job is about $300.

Since 1-800-GOT-JUNK, headquartered in City Avenue in Philadelphia is frequently cheaper than even renting a Dumpster (where you do all the work yourself anyway), reliable and courteous, business is good with 148 franchises as of last count. 75 percent of the business comes from residential jobs, but commercial firms are increasingly using the service. Remer says offices being renovations are great customers.

Other than the standard sofas and fridges, Remer says he’s hauled “three toilets out of a guy’s garage,” jukeboxes, 48-inch color televisions, prosthetic arms and Playboy collections. “Once we found a bag of money in the basement,” he says. “We gave it to the homeowner.

First Coffee© would like to remind the world at large, preferably with a substantial fine, that it’s “espresso,” not “expresso.

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