Around TMCnet:
Jon Arnold and I finally got it all together and are proud to announce the launch of our new portal, IP Communications Insights.

I'll let the announcement we sent over the wire this morning fill you in on the details:

Robins Consulting Group and J Arnold & Associates Announce the Launch of IP Communications Insights

New Web Site is Home to IP Communications Industry Newsletter, Blogs, Podcasts, Newsfeeds, and Market Research and Intelligence

NEW YORK & TORONTO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Robins Consulting Group (RCG) and J Arnold & Associates (JAA) - both prominent IP communications industry research, marketing and consulting firms - have proudly announced the launch of their new independent Web platform "IP Communications Insights", located at

IP Communications Insights is the culmination of a partnership between the two firms that includes an array of marketing, communications, advisory, consulting and research services for IP communications technology vendors and service providers.

Designed to be an independent platform for industry thought leaders and market intelligence, the goal for IP Communications Insights is to offer valuable coverage, analysis and information not readily available elsewhere.

In addition, IP Communications Insights will publish an ongoing series of industry reports designed to be very topical, highly strategic, concise and affordably priced. One study in the works, "VoIP Mashups - Where's the Money?" is a critical evaluation and insider view of this rapidly evolving space. The possibilities for VoIP mashups are limitless, but the business case scenarios are not. This ground-breaking report will survey today's landscape and provide a strategic roadmap for making VoIP mashups a viable business.

Marc Robins, IP Communications Insights Co-Founder and Chief Technology Evangelism Officer of RCG, has been involved in the IP communications industry since its inception, and has served the industry as a reporter and analyst, conference producer and magazine publisher, and marketing executive and consultant.
Continue Reading...






Jon Arnold just let me in on the official "hard" launch of a new Web portal called "IP Convergence TV", of which Jon is Portal Editor. Here's Jon's blog post about it.

IP Convergence TV is a non-profit initiative that Comverse is heading, along with a group of charter sponsors including Intel, AudiCodes, Tilgin, BEA, and Blueslice. All these companies support the initiative by contributing content about all the various aspects of IP convergence - IPTV, Triple Play, FMC, etc.

Already, there's a good chunk of content on the site, and it has a nice, clean layout and very easy navigation. Definitely worth checking out!



cisco%20logo.gif Hi everyone! I'm baaack, having been traveling the last few weeks, and haven't had much time to keep the blog posts coming.

For those of you with deep VoIP experience and backgrounds, there are a bunch of new job opportunities with the 800 pound gorilla of the enterprise VoIP equipment space -- Cisco Systems.

The company is presently looking for two VoIP marketing experts: there is a Senior Technical Marketing Engineer position open in Milpitas, CA, and a Product Manager position open in San Jose.

To protect the name (and email account of the recruiter), I'll ask that interested parties contact me directly. I'll review credentials and pass along those individuals that appear to be a good match.

Off to VON Tomorrow

March 19, 2007 9:02 PM

I'm off to the VON show in San Jose, CA tomorrow morning, and I'm interested to see if there's any truth behind Thomas Howe's brave post today about why he's not attending the event. I'll be meeting with other technologists while I'm there, so I'm curious whether this position is shared by them.

For my part, I'm looking forward to shooting the breeze with my industry friends, making new friends, and (hopefully) discovering new innovative solutions and sussing out relevant industry trends.

Also, let me extend an invitation to those also attending the event to contact me if you're interested in meeting up.

More on Second Life Voice Offer

March 19, 2007 8:52 PM

I knew I was onto something hot when I posted about this a short time ago.

Apparently my colleague Jon Arnold agrees, and has this much expanded analysis of the offer - and provides a well-deserved booster shot for the technology masterminds behind the scenes at DiamondWare.

gotvoice%20logo.gif Just when people started dissing voice mail, saying how they don't check their messages all that often and you should just email them (or SMS or IM them) if you want them to get back to you -- and this from people in the "voice" business!!! -- along comes a company that helps to breathe new life into the space.

GotVoice -- a company launched in 2003 but just coming out the gate with its service (it needed several years of development to make it so seamlessly transparent and easy to use -- and it truly is) -- has come up with a new free voice messaging service that allows consumers to manage their mobile, home and work voice messages online, from a single, unified web interface.

Actually, such changes have been afoot in the enterprise voice messaging space for some time now, thanks to the slow but steady burn under unified messaging technology. But I can't tell you how many times in years past I've heard people say, "This is the Year of Unified Messaging!" -- only to be quite underwhelmed by the offerings or the tepid adoption by the marketplace of even well-developed enterprise solutions. Continue Reading...

Loyal Blog Readers: Please enjoy this sneak peek at my upcoming Mind Share 2.0 column (more like a mini-whitepaper) -- co-authored by Cbeyond CTO Chris Gatch -- that will be running in the April issue of Internet Telephony magazine:

Managed Services Providers: Delivering on the Promise of High-Value Services

As the IP communications industry continues to evolve and mature, an array of new companies offering highly reliable and robust new products and services have made their way to market, providing users with an uncommon wealth of new productivity enhancing communications capabilities at extremely competitive prices.

Foremost among these new entrants to the marketplace are a breed of companies commonly referred to as Managed Services Providers, or MSPs. These MSPs represent a special type of service provider that leverages new Internet technologies to combine the best of Web service and network service models to deliver a whole new class of hosted services to users, and also represent a new genre of investment opportunity to Wall Street.

MSPs typically provide a unique bundling of various hosted voice and data communications services and applications, often coupled with quality of service guarantees, robust security measures and Web-based administrative features. But what exactly is a managed services provider, and what differentiates an MSP from a Web services and network services company?
The Two Types of Integration

Service providers establish their unique identity through integration – using process and technology to make distinct systems work together for the benefit of their customers.
When one examines the concept of integration with respect to an IP-based services provider, there are really two distinct types of integration to consider: network integration and application integration. In fact, the types of integration that are practiced in large-part determines whether a provider is a network services operator, Web services provider, or an MSP.

MSP%20Figure%201.JPG The matrix represented in Figure I to the left illustrates the differentiation between these two types of integration as well as the progression of derived value as the degree of integration increases across the two planes.

For example, a basic html-based website represented in the lower left-hand quadrant functions rather autonomously and displays little or no integration with other network resources or other applications running on a network. Continue Reading...

It's "Prime" Time for Skype

March 11, 2007 5:10 PM | 3 Comments
Josh Lowenstein, over at the Webware blog from, recently posted about a new paid-by-the-minute service from Skype called Skype Prime.

According to the post, Skype Prime is aimed at consultants and other professionals that need to monetize their phone time. Such users can set their own per-minute rates that get charged to the caller. Skype Prime takes 30 percent of the fees to pay for the service, and users can set up as many types of paid-for calls as they want, with short descriptions and custom pricing.

Each type of call gets listed on the users Skype profile for others to see, and there are two options for pricing: a one-time fee, or charging by the minute. Continue Reading...

Radio 2.0 Under Assault

March 7, 2007 7:16 PM

pandora.jpg I just received a troubling message, sent by Pandora CEO Tim Westergren to the Pandora user community, about the fact that the Copyright Royalty Board has just dramatically increased the fees Internet radio sites must pay to the record labels. 

If this is left unchanged, the resulting financial burden would effectively stymie -- and potentially kill off -- all Internet radio sites, including Pandora.

According to Tim, "The RIAA has convinced the Copyright Royalty Board federal committee to pass rates that will kill internet radio. For now, we are continuing to operate Pandora in the belief that rationality will return."

"Online radio has brought millions of music-lovers back into music radio, and has opened up a world of opportunity and promotion for thousands of musicians - both obscure and well known. Continue Reading...

judge.jpg Greg Galitzine just blogged about the recent FCC order “reaffirming” that wholesale providers of telecommunications services are entitled to interconnection and related items under sections 251(a) and (b) of the Communications Act.
As Greg reports, this order means that carriers that sell wholesale VoIP and other services are entitled to interconnect and exchange traffic with local exchange carriers (“LECs”).

However, according to leading telecom law firm Womble Carlyle, there are a number of areas and unanswered questions that leave the door wide open for confusion and potential abuse.


1. Asymmetrical Intercarrier Compensation. Wholesale carriers (and not their customers) are obligated to pay intercarrier compensation to incumbent LECs. The FCC makes no mention of any incumbent LEC obligation to compensate wholesale carriers for traffic termination. The FCC expressly punted on addressing intercarrier compensation for VoIP traffic under
section 251(b)(5).

2. Continue Reading...

My Vista Experience, Part Two

March 5, 2007 4:13 PM | 2 Comments

Vista%20logo.jpg Well, it's been a rather disappointing couple of weeks in Vistaland, as it seems one disappointment (read "performance issue") after another rears it's ugly head.

I've been trolling the message boards to get a sense of Vista-related problems, and it seems most fall into the following categories:

1. Devices (printers, scanners, etc.) that won't work due to lack of updated drivers.

2. Applications that don't run because they haven't been upgraded (for example, I tried to run Second  Life, to no avail -- as of now, it won't run on Vista).

3. Big performance hits to PCs that have been upgraded from XP to Vista. Apparently installing Vista on top of XP produces extra processes or some such situation that causes new core 2 systems to crawl. It seems that this isn't a problem on virgin Vista systems. If I had  purchased an XP-based screamer, that ran  laps around older PCs, and then started behaving like an ancient 486 system after installing Vista, I'd probably be livid.
4. Trouble with all the application nesting -- many tools and apps that were right out in the open in XP are buried behind multiple screens in Vista. Continue Reading...

Second Life Trials Voice Chat

February 28, 2007 8:06 PM | 1 Comment

second_life_logo.jpg The popular, virtual reality site "Second Life", run by Linden Labs, will shortly unveil a new limited service beta trial in which they will give users the option of chatting up other avatars with voice instead of text.

Prior to this announcement, Second Life users wanting to communicate with one another have had two basic choices: text chat (either personal or in a group setting) or the use of third-party voice applications like Skype.

Linden Labs  has teamed up with VoIP technology partners Vivox and DiamondWare to engineer the service, which goes live on March 6 for a limited group of users. By the end of the month, Linden Labs hopes to extend the feature to all Second Life inhabitants.

Second Life's new integrated voice chat feature will offer a group mode that lets users hear voice conversations in their immediate proximity, and personal and regular group voice chat, where users don't need to be near each other to have a conversation.

After added voice chat to its site in late 2003, many Second Life users have been clamoring for the same feature.  And after seeing users add Skype and other applications like TeamSpeak or Ventrilo into the site, Linden Labs apparently got serious about development.

The plan is to initially provide voice free of charge during the beta. Down the road, Linden Labs is considering limiting the offering to mainland property owners and island owners who pay a $295 monthly maintenance fee, and charging users living on the wrong side of the virtual train tracks an additional fee or making them upgrade to the current plan.

It's clear the site is at the very early stages of incorporating real-time voice chat, and it will be interesting to see what emerges from the user community and how people incorporate it into their virtual business and personal lives. Continue Reading...

GE%20logo.jpg GE has just introduced new incandescent light bulbs that supposedly match the new compact fluorescent type in efficiency and energy savings.

See this post from the Green Tech blog on this announcement. I agree with some of the comments that this appears to be taking two steps back, one step forward, but if the energy savings (and consequent reduction in carbon dioxide) rival fluorescents -- and the prices are right -- then we are still far better off going with either option than doing nothing at all.

Also of note, check out a new Yahoo! site -- -- designed to encourage people to change to compact fluorescent bulbs -- a task that supposedly takes 18 seconds. The site, sponsored by Wal-Mart, shows a running tally of dollars saved and amount of carbon dioxide reduced as a result of replaced bulbs.
Continue Reading...

Costco Amends TV Return Policy

February 27, 2007 2:12 PM

Costco.jpg I was sorry to hear that Costco recently ended their amazing 2-year, no-questions-asked return policy for a bunch of electronics products, including TVs, computers, cameras, camcorders, cell phones, MP3 players and iPods, It was a wildly popular, if occasionally abused, policy -- and helped make Costco the go-to place to snag a great deal on a new flat screen HDTV.

Now, customers have 90 days to return these products for a full refund (although Costco will extend manufacturers warranties up to two years and offer free phone-based tech support).

Apparently, the company was experiencing a noticeable financial hit from its largesse, and the bean counters couldn't allow it to continue.

twist%20CF.gif When I first blogged about the amazing energy savings -- and competitive pricing -- of new compact fluorescent light bulbs, I wrote about 2 common versions of the twist type bulb -- 60 and 100 watt incandescent replacements. Easily found at Costco or Walmart on the cheap.

  I've basically replaced every standard bulb in my house with a fluorescent one -- except for the more "specialty" bulbs, like chandelier bulbs, globe bulbs (for bathroom vanities), reflector and spot bulbs, outdoor bulbs, dimmer bulbs, 3-way bulbs, bug bulbs, grow bulbs, blue light bulbs, red light bulbs, and very very bright bulbs. In fact, any light bulb you can think of has a fluorescent replacement.

In other words, we're still talking a heck of a lot of incandescent light bulbs still burning in my house.

Why aren't they more readily available, and at more reasonable pricing? If you surf around, you can see little chandelier bulbs priced at $9 at piece -- and globes even higher -- and that's not including shipping charges! Continue Reading...
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