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The end of the year is always a traditional time for looking back on the previous 12 months – and looking forward to try to prepare for what’s to come. Rather than just put down my ideas, I captured some of the thoughts from Aculab’s global team to see what they thought would be the technical trends to look out for. So, without further ado, here are Aculab’s top three predictions for communications technology in 2011:-

Cloud-based communications will continue to gain in importance

Cloud computing will continue to shake up the established way of doing things, both for operators and equipment vendors such as ourselves, throughout 2011.

Cloud communications – the use of someone else’s server hardware to host your platform – sounds ideal as it eliminates CAPEX and reduces OPEX, but brings with it new challenges for time sensitive voice communications. Continue Reading...
star_trek_communicator.pngPeople of a certain age, including myself, grew up watching sci-fi shows such as Star Trek and even earlier, Flash Gordon (remember that?) – and the idea that a portable ‘communicator’ could be carried or worn to enable communications back to base was certainly a space-age idea. The communication would be not just voice, but often video also from the distant crew member. Here we are a few decades later, and this type of communication is now possible – amazing! However, whilst we have all seized the opportunity to have a personal voice communicator with us at all times, how many have tried out the facilities now becoming more widespread of video communication?

What, then, should enterprises and operators do with video technologies to make them sell?

Video chat

There is no doubt that mobile video chat is a technically viable service – Skype, Fring, Qik and Apple’s FaceTime video applications have proved it can work well – though you notice that these services are all IP-based with a video ‘pipe’ that is not restricted to 64kbit/s as is the case with 3G mobile video calls using the 3G-324M protocol. Continue Reading...
Video communications is (still) in the early adopter stage of the product lifecycle curve (PLC). As I hinted previously in my blog, it was given a big push up the ramp last week with the launch of the iPhone 4, but what it needs for mass success is ubiquity in the core network.

ubiquity graphic.png

I believe that there are two good reasons why Apple might have chosen to provide the FaceTime video chat application over Wi-Fi only:
  1. Video chat is possible over a 3G connection, but is inherently limited to a low bitrate by the nature of the 3G network
  2. In contrast to 3G networks, IP networks are ubiquitous
A video call on a 3G mobile network provides a low bandwidth for the video, so that careful choice of frame rate and resolution is needed to keep within the constraints. When 3G video capable devices were first introduced, screen sizes and the resolutions possible over the network were well matched. Reasonable video quality (QCIF, 176x144 pixels) could be achieved, despite 3G bandwidth restrictions.
Continue Reading...
Today is the day - queues at Apple stores around the world of people waiting to get their hands on Apple's latest piece of tech. It sounds like a fantastic piece of kit, and I would love to have one (if I hadn't just splashed out on a Nikon DSLR camera then I might have been tempted). The feature I have been most interested in is the video chat application that Apple has come up with, FaceTime.

As I wrote in my previous post, this could kick start the video communications market, a feat that others have tried previously but with limited success. You may also know that one of the other topics I am following closely, and for which Aculab has a great product, is HD voice.
Continue Reading...

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