Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Skype Developer Ecosystem Sucks

Dameon D. Welch-Abernathy - PhoneBoy's Blog


It's funny, last week Andy was saying how Skype is like Open Source and how he points to this scathing piece from Stuart Henshall on
how Skype's developer ecosystem needs major improvements.

I think I agree with Andy's last statement: "Everything Skype does is designed to HYPE SKYPE. Nothing more."

But then again, I've been saying Skype is not much more than hype for quite a while.

Eurobites: VOIP's Hot

Tom Tom - eurovoip


The inevitable is finally happening on the mainland of Europe – incumbent carriers are starting to offer widely available VOIP services that cannibalize their precious, traditional, circuit-switched voice revenues.

The time, it seems, has finally come when Europe's major operators (outside Scandinavia, where everything happens in advance) have realized that if they don't offer voice-over-broadband services, there's a queue of competitors with a host of attractively priced alternative packages just waiting to snatch their customers

AT&T Aggressively Rolling Out VoIP E-9-1-1 Service

Rich Tehrani


BEDMINSTER, N.J. – AT&T announced today that it has begun introducing
Enhanced 9-1-1 service (E-911) to its AT&T CallVantage® Service
users in a phased deployment to be largely completed later this Summer.



E-911 service delivers a caller’s name, telephone number and service address
directly to the console of the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP)
in the event of an emergency.



“AT&T is proud to be making good on its commitment to deliver an E-911
solution to our AT&T CallVantage subscribers,” said Cathy Martine, AT&T
senior vice president for Internet Telephony. “It has long been AT&T’s
heritage to serve the nation’s public safety needs and the introduction of
E-911 for many of our VoIP users is the culmination of a lot of hard work.”



AT&T began provisioning eligible new AT&T CallVantage Service
subscribers with E-911 capabilities on a phased, market-by-market approach this
past April. That means in the service areas where the company has installed and
tested the infrastructure required to support E-911, eligible new subscribers
are automatically receiving the enhanced service when activating their
accounts.



Existing AT&T CallVantage Service users in those same markets whose
accounts are eligible will be provisioned with E-911 service automatically by
mid-summer. To date, the company has migrated tens of thousands of lines
successfully across the nation.



When the migration is complete, customers will receive notification from the
company confirming they have been provisioned with E-911.



Exceptions would be those subscribers who have selected “out-of-area” telephone
numbers as their primary VoIP lines. For example, if a New Jersey resident chose a telephone number
in another part of the state, or in another state, he or she would not qualify
for E-911 service and would remain on AT&T’s 911 Alternative Emergency
Dialing service until the company is prepared to implement an “out-of-area”
E-911 solution.



AT&T is working with industry members, commercial
partners and public safety officials to rapidly expand these emergency dialing
capabilities in an attempt to provision all AT&T CallVantage subscribers
with E-911 access as quickly as possible.



In a similar manner, customers who travel with their telephone adapters are
cautioned to maintain an alternate means of accessing emergency services. While
AT&T enables customers to update their service address, in such instances
customers may be better served by using a hotel or other local phone to place
an emergency call until real-time updates are made possible.



AT&T CallVantage Service subscribers can determine their account status by
logging on to their personal Web portal and visiting the Account Management
& Settings page where they can review the emergency service type they are
currently subscribed to. All users are urged to proactively check their 911
status online, read their 911 notification letters and not to place test calls
to 911 as this creates an unnecessary burden on the nation’s emergency calling
system.



In the interest of public safety, AT&T reminds customers that VoIP E-911
does not work if there is an outage in electrical power or broadband service.



Introduced in late March 2004, AT&T CallVantage works
with a customer's broadband connection to provide a complete calling
solution with unlimited local and long-distance domestic calling, including
calls to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, unlimited calling to Canada,
discount rates for international calling, and a suite of advanced features for
$29.99 a month.



Under its AT&T CallVantage Local Plan, customers receive unlimited local
calling and access to the entire AT&T CallVantage Service advanced feature
set for $19.99 per month. All local toll and long distance calling and feature
use in the U.S. and to Canada will be
billed at $0.04 a minute.

FAQs: Definition of User and Carrier (infrastructure) ENUM

Richard Stastny VoIP and ENUM


Currently the issues User ENUM, Carrier (or Infrastructure) ENUM and VoIP peering are discussed in various bodies.

I will try to give defintions (from my point of view) of User and Carrier ENUM. The definitions are also related to the discussions on VoIP peering (Interconnect) via the public Internet.

User ENUM

User ENUM in e164.arpa allows end-users to link either existing E.164 phone numbers or phone numbers assigned specificly for this purpose to applications reachable via URIs on the Internet. The decision to request the domain associated to the E.164 number (opt-in) and to fill the domain with ressource records of choice is with the end-user. If an existing E.164 number is used, the end-user must prove the right to use this number with the request of the associated domain.

Carrier ENUM

Carriers use E.164 numbers currently as their main naming and routing vehicle. Carrier ENUM in e164.arpa or another public available tree allows Carriers to link Internet based resources such as URIs to E.164 numbers (Note: this is the other way round then User ENUM). This allows Carrier in addition to the interconnect via the PSTN (or exclusively) to peer via IP-based protocols. Carriers may announce all E.164numbers or number ranges they host, regardless if the final end-user device is on the Internet, on IP-based closed NGNs or on the PSTN, provided an access (e.g. SBC or gateway) to the destination carriers network is available on the Internet.There is also no guarantie for the originating carrier querying Carrier ENUM that he is able to access the ingress network element of the destination carriers network. Additional peering and accounting agreements requiring authentication may be necessary. The access provided may also be to a shared network of a group of carriers, resolving the final destination network within the shared network.

The usage of ENUM within a carriers network or within shared networks in private ENUM trees is out of scope.

A virtual VoIP provider on the Internet may provide his end-users access to User ENUM and at the same time also may access Carrier ENUM, provided he has peering agreements with other Carriers. He may also populate Carrier ENUM with the numbers he is hosting. It is at his discretion if he provides other Carriers access to the users holding this numbers with or without special peering agreements.

The War on Spam

Tom Keating - VoIP Blog


The war on spam is a battle that no doubt will be fought for years to come. As the spammers continue to send viruses packed with email zombie programs and terrorize unsuspecting victims who open their attachments, we have to wonder when the spamming wars will ever end. Make no mistake, it is a form of terrorism.

There are countless victims of identity fraud that are a result of keystroke loggers and other forms of viruses that send your personal information to the virus writer (aka terrorist). Even if their identity isn't stolen, just think of the panic and terror that victims feel when they open the attachment and their PC starts acting strange. The users may wonder "Did I just infect myself with spyware?" or "Did I just infect my PC with a virus?" or worse, they may wonder "Did I just give the 'keys' to all my confidential information, including all my passwords to the virus writer? Will they steal my identity and will I find strange activity on my credit report?"

The thought of identity theft is scary, indeed 'terrifying' if you think about it. It could be months of worrying if a simple double-click on an attachment resulted in the destruction of your bank account and good name/credit. Even if the virus is relatively harmless, you still may worry for months to come, especially if you aren't technically included to figure out exactly what the virus did to your PC. And if the unthinkable happens - not only will you have to spend time and money fixing your credit, but the stress itself is no picnic. Yes, spammers are terrorists - plain and simple.

I say whenever these spammer terrorists are caught, we skip the whole "due process" thing and ship them to Guantanamo (aka Gitmo) where all terrorists belong.

I bring this topic up because I just received an email (pasted below) discussing how terrorists are now using zombie PCs more often (62%) due to the "stricter" spam border patrols that for example Microsoft has put on its Hotmail servers to block illegal immigrants... err I mean 'spam' from entering Hotmail's servers. Instead, zombie PCs use legal netizen's PCs to send out the illegal terrorists spam since this bypasses Sender ID and Sender Policy Framework (SPF) email authentication spam-blocking techniques.

Where's the Minutemen Civil Defense Corp when you need them? We need Minutemen to patrol the Internet and block spam (especially foreign spam which for me is 90% of my spam) from entering our borders!

Anyway, here's the email I wanted to share...

MX LOGIC REPORTS SPAMMERS CONTINUE TO LEVERAGE SPF AND SENDER ID EMAIL AUTHENTICATION PROTOCOLS

--Zombie PCs Account for 62 Percent of Spam in June; 4 Percent of Unsolicited Commercial Email in 2005 Complies with Federal Anti-Spam Law--

DENVER July 11, 2005 MX Logic, Inc., a leading provider of innovative email defense solutions that ensure email protection and security for businesses, service providers, government organizations, resellers and their customers, today released its latest data on corporate email security. Among the key findings, the company reported that spammers continue to adopt Sender ID and Sender Policy Framework (SPF) email authentication protocols intended to help stop fraudulent email.

In a sample of more than 17.7 million unique email messages that passed through the MX Logic® Threat Center from June 19 through June 25, 2005, MX Logic found that:
9 percent were from domains that had published an SPF record, 84 percent of which were spam sending domains; and,
0.14 percent were from domains that had published a Sender ID record, 83 percent of which were spam sending domains.

Email authentication protocols including SPF, Sender ID, Domain Keys Internet Mail (DKIM) and others are intended to help verify the origins of email at the domain level, making it more difficult for spammers and phishers to stay in business.

"Spammers continue to leverage SPF and Sender ID with the intention of making their messages appear more legitimate and to possibly avoid having their messages delivered with an onscreen notification that a Sender ID record was not found, a method Microsoft recently announced it will use on Hotmail," said Scott Chasin, chief technology officer, MX Logic. "The strength of these protocols is further compromised by the fact that many legitimate senders have yet to adopt either Sender ID or SPF."

Chasin also noted that industry trials of both SPF and Sender ID have raised concerns about the protocols' effectiveness when email messages are forwarded or resent and in their ability to stop forgery of the most common user-visible mail headers. He pointed to a technical paper published by the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group, of which MX Logic is a member, which contains the results of more than six months of evaluation of SPF and Sender ID email authentication protocols.

"While we applaud industry efforts to develop email authentication protocols, no domain authentication protocol can guarantee that a message you receive really does come from who you think it comes from," said Chasin. "Additionally, for any domain-based email authentication protocol to be effective, it would have to be embraced by a critical mass of domain name holders. Imposing one protocol without mass adoption could result in the unfair treatment of a large number of senders of legitimate email."

In addition to data related to email authentication, MX Logic also issued the following findings:

Zombie Networks Account for Majority of Spam in June During June, spam sent through zombie PCs accounted for an average of 62 percent of all spam filtered by the MX Logic Threat Center. This compares with 55 percent in May and 44 percent in April.

"The continued proliferation of zombie PCs has levied a heavy cost on ISPs and email end users," Chasin said. "Compromised PCs have resulted in millions of email users being unknowingly blacklisted, often through no fault of their own."

Zombie PCs are neglected, "always-connected" broadband PCs that spammers hijack by installing a spam Trojan. Once infected, these zombie PCs provide worm authors with remote command-and-control spam-distribution capabilities, allowing them to create a legion of zombie computers that can pump out unwanted email and initiate Denial of Service (DoS) attacks.

"To make a real dent in the amount of spam sent globally, efforts must focus on helping service providers reduce outbound messaging abuse by identifying compromised PCs," Chasin said.

One such effort began in May, when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), along with 35 government partners from over 20 countries, unveiled "Operation Spam Zombies." This international campaign is designed to educate Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other Internet connectivity providers about hijacked, or zombie, computers that spammers use to flood inboxes.

Only 4 Percent of 2005 Unsolicited Commercial Email Complies with Federal Anti-Spam Law MX Logic also reported that monthly compliance with The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act averaged 4 percent during the first six months of 2005. The findings are based on a survey conducted by the MX Logic Threat Center of more than 250,000 email messages since January.

MX Logic has tracked compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act since the law went into force on Jan. 1, 2004, by examining a random sample of 10,000 unsolicited commercial emails each week. On average, only 3 percent of unsolicited email has complied with CAN-SPAM since the law went into effect. Compliance hit a peak of 7 percent in December 2004 and reached an all-time low of 0.54 percent in July 2004.

"In terms of stopping spam, legislation is a blunt instrument," Chasin said. "Its real value is that it provides enforcement power to ISPs, the FTC, state attorneys general and other government agencies. Consistently low CAN-SPAM compliance underscores the need for further progress in industry cooperation and consensus on email authentication protocols, as well as end-user education."

Media and analysts interested in the latest CAN-SPAM compliance number can find it at http://www.mxlogic.com/news_events/.

Monitoring billions of messages per month for over 4,300 organizations worldwide, the MX Logic Threat Center combines advanced, accurate and up-to-the-minute email defense technology and human-messaging expertise to protect MX Logic customers from spam, viruses, worms, phishing attacks and other email threats.

Balkan Broadcasting Corporation

Martin Geddes - Telepocalypse


The BBC is currently experimenting with multicast video distribution. To do this, they’ve made agreements with a select number of ISPs who peer at London’s Telehouse mega-exchange in Docklands.
If the Internet is not a thing, but a network of peering agreements then we’re seeing something interesting here. On what terms will ISPs get to peer/interconnect for multicast traffic? In effect we’re seeing a parallel internet emerge, dedicated to a particular traffic type.
Rather than trying to collar exclusive content agreements, perhaps ISPs now need to get competing on who they can get multicast peering Will we see a “top-down” approach with only a few large media sources of data allowed? Will anyone be able to access any mediamegacorp content, or will it be fragmented, with different users only seeing subsets of what’s out there? The BBC suggest the latter:
If you have non UK users we have started work on an international service, content will be different and more limited due to content rights restrictions.
Or will be see a more “end-to-end” flat-world outcome where anyone can multicast to anyone else?
Definitely one to watch — the economics, not the TV.

Skype: More Data, Please

Mark Evans

http://evans.blogware.com/



Skype Journal, which usually waves the flag for Skype, takes the company to task for a press release it issued last week that highlighted the fact the software has been downloaded 130 million times, including 30 million since April. Clearly, unsatisfied with knowing the tip of the iceberg, Skype Journal wants insight into metrics such as:
* number of accounts,
* number of SkypeIn numbers,
* number of SkypeOut calls made,
* number of SkypeOut minutes served (total and per capita),
* number of affiliate sales,
* frequency distribution of languages people choose in their profiles,
* moving averages and peaks of simultaneous users online or in calls,
* number of text conversations.
I'd also like to see the number SkypeIn and SkypeOut users, and a break-down on how frequently they use the two services. Perhaps Skype could provide ARPU as well.
Jumping on the "Now Hear This Skype" bandwagon was Skype Journal domo Stuart Henshell who slammed Skype for not supporting its independent software developer community. After going through eight different areas, he gives the company a "D" rating. Ouch!

You Say Podcast, I Say Blogcast; You Say Tomato....

Mark Evans

http://evans.blogware.com/


You have to shake your head at Microsoft's refusal to adopt/accept Podcast as the standard way to describe audio downloads. Apparently, Microsoft calls them "blogcasts" internally. It is probably too late for Microsoft to change the vernacular. Once an activity gets described - e.g. "I'll Google it" or "Just Blackberry me", it's hard to get people to call it something else. As an aside, I wonder if Steve Jobs insists that Apple employees describe Windows as "the other operating system" or "Bill Gates Evil Beast"?

Cogeco's Modest VOIP Plans

Mark Evans

http://evans.blogware.com/



Cogeco expects to have 7,000 to 8,000 cable telephone customers by the end of this year. So far, the service has only been launched in three markets, while the company still plans to spend a modest $5-million this year on capital expenditures. Cogeco's cautious approach contrasts with its Quebec peer, Videotron Ltee, which has takent market by storm (42K subscribers) with its inexpensive ($15.95 to $30 a month) telephony service in Montreal and Quebec City.

The Economics of Blogs

Mark Evans

http://evans.blogware.com/



If you didn't get a chance to read Saturday's Financial Post, I wrote a feature looking at where the money will be made in the blogging industry. It explores areas such as advertising, publishing (creation and content management) and search. Some of the people I interviewed were Business 2.0 senior writer and blogger Om Malik, Technorati's David Sifry, FeedBurner's Dick Costolo and Tucows' Elliott Noss. While the BusinessWeek feature in May focused on how blogs are changing the business world, I'm looking right at the money. You can find the story here.
In blog-related news, Mark Cuban has a post on Podcasting (a.k.a. blogcasting within Microsoft). Cuban's take is 'Podcasting is hot. Podcasting is cheap and easy. Podcasting can be fun."

SwiMax

James Enck - EuroTecoblog



The other OFCOM (in Switzerland) has announced an auction of three national WiMAX licenses to be held by year-end. Following the pattern seen elsewhere in Europe to date, I assume that two of these will end up in the hands of incumbent mobile players (Swisscom, Sunrise, or maybe the mooted convergence of Orange and Cablecom), but the third may be a wildcard. The consulation document (in French) contains some interesting details about the kinds of parties interested, where they come from (one service provider from Germany, one from Belgium - hmmm, wonder who they could be?), and what segments of the market they envisage serving with the licenses. Mobile services and fixed seem pretty equally split, as do consumer/SMEs.

Skype Technologies S.A. is failing its independent software developers.

Stuart Henshall



What must Skype do to develop a successful developer community? How would you score them? How do you approach such a problem?
Developing an effective developer community requires more than just the desire, it require a model, something that will stretch the internal team and inspire developers. It must be so simple that the parties get it. So effective that key dialogs can start.
Eight key dimensions drive the success and behaviors necessary to nurture an effective developer community. This is not just about words. It is also having the right types of personalities and roles involved to make it happen. Too often a developer community is viewed with systems focus. I'd offer up that it is about people. People in all these roles
Judge for yourself: How does Skype's management of the Skype API and developer program score on each of these factors? Where could they improve? How would this map versus Microsoft or Java or...... Rate them "A" to "F" on each of these. Rate them today, then rate where you think they will be in six months. Are they on tract to be the ultimate partner for developers? What new ground must they break to get there?

Architecture Evangelism:

Are the systems and documentation for developing your product on the Skype platform clear and comprehensive? Are short-term feature release timetables published? Are road maps disclosed and updated? Are contacts easy to find? Do you know who to talk to? Is access managed and measured? Is the developer education program diverse (accommodating many kinds of programmers), dispersed (geographically and across time zones), stepped (from beginners to gurus, from generalists to specialists), affordable, and comprehensive?

Score: D-
In Six Months? This is totally dependent on Lenn Pryor. C maybe.

Creative Opportunities:

Does the API expose many features? Can they be combined to do novel and interesting things? Do they provoke innovative and competitive products and services? What unique opportunities does the API offer? Can solutions bridge APIs etc? Does the Skype developer program provide tools for experimenting and testing a developer's work in progress?
Score: B.
In Six Months? This will be a C- unless they expose more


User Experience:

Does Skype help developers create "star" products and services? Toolkits? Is there effective brand synergy and marketing impact? Are third party tools seamlessly blended into the Skype user experience? Best practices: Apple's UI standards.
Score: F.
In Six Months? We'll see whether they become developer friendly C-.
Supportive Team: How effectively does the ecosystem work as a team, as a community? How free and productive is the exchange of ideas? How effective is Skype's communication and updates to the community? What is the opportunity for co-development with Skype? What are the risks of Skype obsoleting third party products through surprise changes to the API? When and how does Skype compete directly with developers and other partners? How well is Skype staffing to support the developer community? Best practices: Microsoft Developer Network.
Score: F.
In Six Months? Unlikely to see a roadmap in less than six months. Could still be an F although a frustrated and trying F.

Legal Agreements and Public Policy:

Are contracts and deals between Skype and developers effective? Are they fair? Do they reflect the realities of how programmers develop software and how users use software? Is the legal language clear? Are accurate translations easily available? Are the license terms and conditions best-in-industry? How much does Skype protect developer rights and interests? How well does Skype protect developers by protecting end user privacy? How actively does Skype advocate to governments and industry for personal data privacy, the right to connect, and against hostile regulation?
Score: F.
In Six Months? Complete lack of action or general obstruction. This needs to be an A if Skype is to win.

Business Exchange:

Working on Developer Time: Do you respect the ISV developer's time? How many minutes does it take for a developer to get a technical answer? to apply to the developer program?
Does the Skype application enable a two way information exchange? Is data flow through the API one way or two-way or even multi-way? How much is static vs dynamic? Exchanges with the client, exchange of information with the user? Security of information? Privacy management, user rights protection? Can developers build on information exchange to create commerce transactions?
Score F:
In Six Months? I truly wish for improvement. C.


Value Creation:

How's the money managed? Integrated? Can payment to the Skype ID be made? Can withdrawals or payments be made? Who pays for services or products? Does Skype offer download "options" for certified software add-ons? Is there a river of monetary opportunity?
Score: D. Although other free services are creating value on Skype's back.
In Six Months? D expect little change.


Investors & Peers:

As a developer can you sit at the table? Do you coexist like eBay resellers, integrated into the financial ecosystem? Is Skype a positive facilitator or are their always barriers? Are investors willing to put money in? Who bankrolls the opportunity? Are business cases relatively easy? Do you travel first class or coach?
Score: F:
In Six Months? D at best on current trajectory.


My conclusion.


Now many will say I am very harsh. You are probably right. Most developers would say "Skype is doing their best." "They are a young company." "They basically get it." What developers want is more access and functionality in the API. Communication is a big deal. They also don't want to be screwed by changing Skype road map. I gave the highest score to the API. Without it the only developers interested in Skype would be those applying for a job.
I thought long and hard about posting this blogpost. I did ask other Skype developers. I'm convinced now it has to be said. So this post is more directed to my friends (please don't shoot the messenger) at Skype. It may not be encouraging to get a "negative report card." Still that traces more to a poor attendance record (lack of people) for some of these "streams." Overall the API and developer focus can't afford to be tactical. For example, they focus on what to expose (e.g. voice messaging) rather than on broader strategic issues like how do independent developers make money, create collective value for users. etc. Perhaps thinking more broadly will enable the "score" to change rapidly.
So what score would you give to Skype's Developer Programs? Am I being too harsh? Do you want more systematic metrics? Let me know!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Spear Phishing

Rich Tehrani - Rich Tehrani


Phishing is just spam being used to trick people into revealing some information to the phisher, and relies very heavily on social engineering to succeed. By blocking spam effectively, the bait never reaches its target, and the opportunity for deception is crushed.
Phishers are now sending more targeted emails to businesses and these e-mails are designed to appear as though they were sent by another member of staff at the same organization, typically from the IT or HR departments. It seems that people will share their passwords fairly willingly via e-mail if the trust the source. It doesn’t hurt that this new breed of phisher promises treats to those who cooperate or threatens the employment of those who don’t.
In a recent US example, a phisher bluffed his way into the network of a port authority by spoofing an internal email address. Once on the inside, with an apparently genuine email identity, he was able to fool employees into revealing passwords for applications.
This sort of attack has been termed ‘spear’ phishing, designed to bamboozle unsuspecting ‘colleagues’ into revealing information that will give the perpetrator access into secure areas of corporate networks.
By spear phishing one company at a time, a phisher need only send emails to a single domain, spoofing the sender address and requesting usernames and passwords to validate some information, or providing a link to a spoofed version of the company’s website or intranet - or perhaps that of a business partner or supplier.
Many people often use the same username and password for different applications or websites, and the phisher may try and use that to their advantage in their social engineering.
It is surprisingly easy to use existing spam-sending software to dynamically generate the target email addresses, for example by combining databases of first names and last names with letters and numbers. Furthermore, it would only take a few hundred such permutations to provide a valid email address in a large organization.
Additionally, a sustained attack of this nature can quickly become a huge drain on the company’s email server, sapping its resources as it attempts to handle several hundred or thousand connections for emails that can never be delivered to recipients that don’t exist.
Nevertheless, a successful spear phishing expedition can reduce the effort required to break into a company’s network without too much difficulty.
Not only are the individual’s details potentially compromised; it can also lead to theft of intellectual property and other sensitive corporate information. Spear phishing is growing fairly quickly as a threat to corporations.

U.S. VOIP Projections

Mark Evans

http://evans.blogware.com/





According to an extensive report by TeleGeography, the number of VOIP subscribers in the U.S. will climb to four million by the end of this year from 1.8 million in Q1 2005. By 2010, the research firm forecasts there will be 17.5 million subscribers while annual revenue will be more than $5-billion. An intriguing part of the report is a survey of 1,500 consumers that suggests most of them are unfamilar with VOIP. When asked about their potential interest in VOIP based on differnet price point, the most interest was "significantly" higher at $20 than $35. TeleGeography's numbers suggest Vonage had about one-third of the VOIP market in the first-quarter. It also indicates Vonage may have to remain aggressive on price to maintain its momentum, if not its market lead. In Q1, TeleGeography said cablecos accounted for 46% of total subscribers while "enhanced service providers" such as Vonage and 8x8 had 41%.

Shaw's VOIP

Mark Evans

http://evans.blogware.com/




Shaw Communications added 22.5K cable telephony customers in fiscal Q3 - the first full quarter the service has been available from the Calgary-based cableco. All in all, it's not a pretty good number given Shaw is charging $55 a month for cable telephony - the most expensive VOIP service in Canada. There are some suggestions Canadian cablecos (Rogers, Cogeco, Shaw) have decided to have premium prices out of the gate to "control" demand and ensure customers who do sign up are happy campers. Once any kinks have been worked out, the cablecos could then get more competitive on price. Meanwhile, Videotron is having trouble keeping up with strong demand for its cable telephony service that ranges from $15.95 to $30 a month. Check out my posting earlier this week for a good look at the VOIP pricing landscape in Canada.

The Disappearance of Really Cheap LD

Mark Evans

http://evans.blogware.com/



It's not much of a surprise that Videotron has terminated its $4.95 a month for 1,000 LD minute plan today after Bell Canada and Rogers stopped similar offers last month. With LD prices returning to 4¢ or 5¢ a minute for North American calls - rather than 0.5¢ - some consumers may start to see VOIP as a more viable option again. Given consumers don't seem to be interested in Web-based calling features, VOIP service providers had tried to use the idea low-cost LD as a major marketing tool. This opportunity, however, disappeared when Bell introduced its $5 for 1,000 LD minutes plan last year.

Skype As The ClassRoom

Andy Abramson - VoIP Watch


Just after my post below, I came across this post from East Asian blogger/reporter and pal Jeremy Wagstaff about Skype In the Classroom.
Now only if Apple had really kept going with their Apple In the Classroom program as great guns as they had in the early days. Then it would have been iChat instead of Skype. But for that matter, AOL had ICQ and WASTE and never captured the imagination of what they meant.
Translation--great ideas are great ideas and just have to be allowed to grow up. That's what the Skype guys have figured out.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Illegal WiFi

Rich Tehrani - Rich Tehrani


Just when you thought the world was one big happy WiFi sharing place, someone gets arrested. Police recently charged a Florida man with a third-degree felony charge. According to this article, he allegedly accessed a WiFi network belonging to a St. Petersburg man without permission. According to the police, Benjamin Smith III was seen by Richard Dinon outside Dinon's home on the night of April 20, 2005, sitting in a parked SUV and using a laptop computer. When Dinon went outside to deposit his trash, Smith quickly closed the laptop and tried to hide it.

Dinon also stated that he later observed foreign icons on his home computer screen, and suspected that Smith, 41, may have been using his network. He called police and an officer confronted Smith at 11:30 p.m., two hours after the initial sighting.

"The arresting officer wasn't initially sure a violation took place," said George Kajtsa of the St. Petersburg Police Department. "He consulted our legal staff and they looked up the relevant statute."

The charge, unauthorized access to a computer network, applies to all varieties of computer network breaches, and gives prosecutors considerable leeway depending on the severity. It carries a potential sentence ranging from probation to 5 years in prison.

Smith faces a pretrial hearing on Monday, July 11.

"The sentence we'll seek depends on whether he was accessing the Internet for basic personal use, or using it for pecuniary gain -- like identity theft -- or other illicit reasons," said Fred Schaub of Florida's State Attorney's office.

Free Press

Rich Tehrani - Rich Tehrani


Simply stated, the US cannot have wars in the name of spreading freedom and democracy while simultaneously eroding the democracy we have at home. I can’t believe I am witnessing a person being sent to jail for doing their job. Nothing illegal, just reporting and promising to hold a confidential source in confidence.

Freedom is freedom. There are some instances in which freedom of speech doesn’t work such as yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theatre. But when doing one’s job as a reporter – a noble profession mind you, one that exposes corruption, and helps provide the substrate for democracy, how can you conceivably be arrested?

Yesterday, Judith Miller a reporter for the New York Times was sent to jail for not revealing her sources to a grand jury. We should have a national holiday in her honor. Here are some of the statements she made to the judge:

"Your Honor," she said, "in this case I cannot break my word just to stay out of jail. The right of civil disobedience based on personal conscience is fundamental to our system and honored throughout our history."

She noted that she had covered the war in Iraq, and had lived and worked all over the world.

"The freest and fairest societies are not only those with independent judiciaries," she said, "but those with an independent press that works every day to keep government accountable by publishing what the government might not want the public to know."

In a statement, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the publisher of The Times, said Ms. Miller had followed her conscience, with the paper's support. "There are times when the greater good of our democracy demands an act of conscience," Mr. Sulzberger said. "I sincerely hope that now Congress will move forward on federal shield legislation so that other journalists will not have to face imprisonment for doing their jobs."

Ms. Miller, speaking from the Virginia jail, said that her first hours in confinement had struck her as surreal but that the jail's staff had been professional and courteous. Her trip from the courthouse to the jail, she said, had brought home the gravity of her situation.

"They put shackles on my hands and my feet," she said. "They put you in the back of this car. I passed the Capitol and all the office buildings I used to cover. And I thought, 'My God, how did it come to this?' "

Here is a new York Times article and editorial on the topic.

Here are some great excerpts from the editorial:

Some people - including, sadly, some of our colleagues in the news media - have mistakenly assumed that a reporter and a news organization place themselves above the law by rejecting a court order to testify. Nothing could be further from the truth. When another Times reporter, M. A. Farber, went to jail in 1978 rather than release his confidential notes, he declared, "I have no such right and I seek none."
By accepting her sentence, Ms. Miller bowed to the authority of the court. But she acted in the great tradition of civil disobedience that began with this nation's founding, which holds that the common good is best served in some instances by private citizens who are willing to defy a legal, but unjust or unwise, order.

This tradition stretches from the Boston Tea Party to the Underground Railroad, to the Americans who defied the McCarthy inquisitions and to the civil rights movement. It has called forth ordinary citizens, like Rosa Parks; government officials, like Daniel Ellsberg and Mark Felt; and statesmen, like Martin Luther King. Frequently, it falls to news organizations to uphold this tradition. As Justice William O. Douglas wrote in 1972, "The press has a preferred position in our constitutional scheme, not to enable it to make money, not to set newsmen apart as a favored class, but to bring to fulfillment the public's right to know."
Critics point out that even presidents must bow to the Supreme Court. But presidents are agents of the government, sworn to enforce the law. Journalists are private citizens, and Ms. Miller's actions are faithful to the Constitution. She is defending the right of Americans to get vital information from news organizations that need not fear government retaliation - an imperative defended by the 49 states that recognize a reporter's right to protect sources.

A second reporter facing a possible jail term, Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, agreed yesterday to testify before the grand jury. Last week, Time decided, over Mr. Cooper's protests, to release documents demanded by the judge that revealed his confidential sources. We were deeply disappointed by that decision.

We do not see how a newspaper, magazine or television station can support a reporter's decision to protect confidential sources even if the potential price is lost liberty, and then hand over the notes or documents that make the reporter's sacrifice meaningless. The point of this struggle is to make sure that people with critical information can feel confident that if they speak to a reporter on the condition of anonymity, their identities will be protected. No journalist's promise will be worth much if the employer that stands behind him or her is prepared to undercut such a vow of secrecy.

It is for these reasons that most states have shield laws that protect reporters' rights to conceal their sources. Those laws need to be reviewed and strengthened, even as members of Congress continue to work to pass a federal shield law. But at this moment, there is no statute that protects Judith Miller when she defies a federal trial judge's order to reveal who told her what about Valerie Plame Wilson's identity as an undercover C.I.A. operative.

Ms. Miller understands this perfectly, and she accepts the consequences with full respect for the court. We hope that her sacrifice will alert the nation to the need to protect the basic tools reporters use in doing their most critical work.

To be frank, this is far from an ideal case. We would not have wanted our reporter to give up her liberty over a situation whose details are so complicated and muddy. But history is very seldom kind enough to provide the ideal venue for a principled stand. Ms. Miller is going to jail over an article that she never wrote, yet she has been unwavering in her determination to protect the people with whom she had spoken on the promise of confidentiality.

I echo the sentiment that concludes the editorial:

We stand with Ms. Miller and thank her for taking on that fight for the rest of us.

A Call to Arms to Protect the Internet:

Jeff Pulver - The Jeff Pulver Blog


I am growing increasingly concerned that end-users are losing the battle over control of the Internet. What is it that Internet innovators, entrepreneurs and users need? It’s pretty simple: we need robust, IP-capable broadband pipes, the freedom to access the content and applications of our choice and the right to attach equipment of our choice to our end of the broadband pipe. A few legal and policy conclusions have emerged that are dramatically affecting consumer control over the Internet and communications experience.
(1) With the whittling away of unbundled wholesale access to broadband pipes, consumers have lost some choice among alternate providers of broadband access. On the flip side, some would argue that that was a necessary prerequisite to encourage last mile access providers to deploy more robust broadband pipes to end users. I don’t want to delve into that debate here. Suffice it to say, that both positions have some merit.
(2) With the Supreme Court’s Brand X decision, consumers will likely have fewer choices among Internet service providers, as both cable and wireline broadband access providers are less compelled to provide unaffiliated ISPs access to end users. So one side of the argument goes, this too will encourage last mile access providers more financial incentive to deploy more robust broadband pipes. On the flip side, it does seem like it would have been a positive, competitive check, to ensure that consumers had a choice among a multitude of Internet service providers.
(3) Regulators, in an effort to ensure the public good, have begun to impose some social obligations on information service providers (at least those offering voice application that interconnect to the public switched telephone network). We have seen this move in the US and Canada with regard to emergency response obligations. We are likely to see similar government compelled obligations with regard to lawful intercept and, perhaps, disabilities access. I suspect the lawful intercept obligations will go even further than the emergency response rules and impose obligations even upon purer, peer-to-peer communications networks.
Thus, the previously regulated telecom carriers are becoming less subject to regulatory checks and oversight (with regard to both access and pricing obligations). There is less of an affirmative duty to ensure that end user might obtain service from competing telecom carriers and unaffiliated ISPs. Conversely, there is movement on the other side to impose some social obligations (akin to those traditionally imposed upon common carriers), upon information service and application providers. As a result, unaffiliated application service providers are getting slammed from both sides: the prospect of social obligations on the one hand, and less access to alternative broadband access providers on the other hand.
There is a way to minimize the potential harm to end-user control and guaranteed end-user access by unaffiliated Internet application and content providers, without the market power and bargaining leverage to ensure just and reasonable access to end users. Call it what you will – Net Freedom, Net Neutrality, Connectivity Principles, a layered regulatory model, expedited, administratively-enforced, antitrust-like rules, consumer empowerment – but there does need to be some affirmative rule in place that will ensure that the END-USER and no one else, controls the user experience.
We do not yet have any long-term guarantee that consumers will have a choice among alternative application service providers. We saw the FCC, in its Madison River Consent Decree, declare that a telecom carrier may not block ports to deny the user access to unaffiliated VoIP providers. That decision becomes somewhat suspect in a post Brand X America. Furthermore, I am not aware of any other country that has taken affirmative steps to prohibit port blocking or other anticompetitive practices that would preclude the consumer from controlling her own bitstream.
We must not become complacent and assume that government understands our concerns while they write the rules that will shape the future of communications and the Internet. Certainly those with the money and lobbying muscle are not standing by. We have to engage. We don’t need to ask for much – just for a few certain consumer empowerment rules -- but we do need to ask.
It is essential that governments around the world understand the power and value of IP technology and the Internet to radically enhance the ways in which we communicate. They all must adopt meaningful rules ensuring and enforcing consumer empowerment and net freedom.
Without the ability for consumers to rely on alternate Internet service providers, unaffiliated with the access provider, there is an immediate, compelling need for government to adopt enforceable consumer empowerment rules. End users, innovators and entrepreneurs need an assurance that government will not tolerate any effort by any entity to unreasonably affect a consumer’s access to the Internet content and applications of her choice, and the right to attach the devices of her choice to her end of her communications pipe. The real power of the Internet rests in the ability of the consumer to reach it and control her own experience. The one rule that must apply is that last-mile network owners must not be permitted to harm consumer control and freedom.
I have tried at various times to build coalition and incite the movement. Over the years I held a couple of “Internet Freedom Rallies” on the Steps of the US Capitol. I have tried to unite the IP-based communications industry through such coalitions as the VON Coalition and the Global IP Alliance. I have tried to make the VON Conferences and my other conferences (such as my newly emerging Peripheral Visionaries’ Summits) places to hammer out the issues, build the community and consensus. I don’t care much what vehicles we use to communicate these messages, but we, as a community of Internet users, innovators and entrepreneurs, cannot afford to sit silently on the sidelines while governments write the rules that will shape our future.
I encourage you all to look to our efforts with the Global IP Alliance and consider becoming a member. If your schedules permit, I encourage you to join us at the Fall 2005 VON Conference in Boston, September 19-22, or at our Peripheral Visionaries' Policy Summit in DC on Nov. 10th, or at any of our other international conferences. We intend to use the Peripheral Visionaries Conference, in particular, as a vehicle to communicate these essential themes to US legislators and policymakers.
If you are interested in joining with us, but do not currently have the financial resources to commit to the fight to protect end user control of the Internet, please send an email to my General Counsel, Jonathan Askin, jaskin at pulver.com, and we will keep you in the loop as the battle proceeds.

Not all VoIP is Made the Same

Eric Lagerway - SIPthat.com



VoIP Magazine writer Bryan Richard has a lot to say about Skype. I happen to think Skype is a good thing for VoIP in general as it increases awareness and brings more attention to the softphone. I also firmly beleive that Skype will either adopt SIP [by partnership or other] or be a smaller VoIP player in the near future. Proprietary protocols will never make it long term when there are good open standard alternatives out there.
To say that Skype is a SIP killer is pure garbage.
Om referenced a report saying softphones mean nothing, Om - Skype IS a softphone. Om also comments that VoIP is all about cheap calls. Om, I think you will find in fairly short order that price will not be the determining factor for most consumers, instead consumers will want better quality, more features, and the flexability required to take their IP comunications with them wherever they go.
Skype actually creates more interest in softphones and SIP, which is where I beleive the future lies. No provider wants to be under the thumb of any other operator. Skype is not unlike the telcos of old and we are now seeing history repeating itself, revolt has already begun. Yahoo! [now including Dialpad] could have partnered with Skype but didn't and instead went with SIP. If you did a trace on AOL's new VoIP service or Verizon, SBC, Net2Phone, iConnect Here [Deltathree] Microsoft, Vonage and just about every other VoIP provider or VoIP device manufacturer I can think of, including Cisco, Linksys and Intel you will see they all use SIP, not Skype.
SIP is paving the way for better communications today and in the future. I would much rather be working with a coalition of great minds on open standards as opposed to following a single company using proprietary technology, and have no voice.

Is Comcast tampering with its customers’ VoIP?

Leonardo Faoro - The VoIP Weblog


The odd things happening to VoIP users on Comcast’s network continue, even today.
First, there was my personal debacle dealing with Comcast support. Then, there was Jim Studnicki’s revelation of what certainly appears to be intentional penalizing of third-party VoIP traffic by Vonage. Then, just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court decided, in effect, that Comcast and other cable companies don’t have to share their infrastructure with competitors. Now, another outraged Comcast customer has posted about his 14% packet loss when using VoIP.
This all begs the question—what in the world is going on at Comcast? It really does look like Comcast is intentionally blocking at least some RTP (VoIP) traffic in certain areas of the country. What has your experience been?

To our friends in London

Leonardo Faoro - The VoIP Weblog


I would personally like to take a moment to voice solidarity with and concern for our friends in London, which was attacked by terrorists this morning. I know this blog has an international audience, so those of you reading from the United Kingdom are in my thoughts this evening. As an American, I deplore the awful, murderous deed perpetrated on Londoners, and sincerely hope for the best for all those injured and for comfort to the families of the dead.

Opera-Bit Torrent: A Deal with the Devil?

Mark Evans
http://evans.blogware.com/



Not sure what to make of a deal that will see Opera launch a technical preview that integrates BitTorrent to support faster downloads. Of course, Opera says these would only be legal downloads such as "Linux software and computer game demos" rather than all those songs and movies that have driven the entertainment industry crazy. Opera said it twigged onto the benefits of Bit Torrent after the release of Opera 8 knocked out its servers due to high demand. There are a couple ways to look at this deal. It's either the beginning of the legitimization of Bit Torrent and torrent technology as a way to efficiently deliver digital content. This would give Opera a competitive advantage/head start over browser rivals such as Internet Explorer and Firefox. Then again, this could be an act of strategic desperation by Opera, which has lost its status as the "other" browser since Firefox exploded on the scene. Sure, Bit Torrent has cache and its become one of the tools to download movies, TV shows and music but it's a digital rebel - in other words, a modern-day Napster. The entertaiment industry has already pursued legal action against other Torrent sites so Opera shouldn't be surprised if it finds itself under the legal spotlight.

11M VOIP Users Can't Be Wrong

Mark Evans
http://evans.blogware.com/



Point Topic, which does research on broadband services, estimates more than 11 million people were using a retail VOIP service for at least some of their telephone calls at the end of March - compared with more five million in mid-2004. The largest market is Japan (7.2 million users) where Yahoo Softbank provides free VOIP service as part of a broadband bundle, while U.S. cablecos had 2.1 million VOIP customers. I'm leary about Point Topic's assessment of Yahoo Softbank's VOIP users because it's impossible to tell how many of the 7.2 million customers are actually using the service and, if so, how often they are doing it. That said, I'm intrigued by the concept of free VOIP with DSL, or free DSL with VOIP (hat trip to http://ricksegal.typepad.com/). With VOIP service providers battling it out on price (unless you're a Canadian cableco), the idea of selling VOIP and/or broadband services in new and different ways is intriguing. In a recent blog posting, O'Reilly recounted a story told at an Intel Capital CEO conference in Beijing about a Mexico ISP, MBS.net, that responded to lower DSL prices from Telmex by switching gear and selling VOIP as a service with DSL tossed into the mix for no cost. It's food for thought.

Mike Lazaridis: RIM CEO, Amex Pitchman

Mark Evans
http://evans.blogware.com/




Of Research in Motion's two co-CEOs, the talkative Jim Balsillie comes across as the more natural salesman. It's somewhat surprising, therefore, Amex Canada selected Mike Lazaridis to be part of a new ad campaign focusing on "fascinating" individuals. Lazaridis was selected - along with Robert De Niro, TV host Ellen DeGeneres and professional surfer Laird Hamilton - because of the Blackberry's success and his philanthropic and education activities. Amex's decision to feature Lazaridis is more evidence of how the Blackberry has become a cultural and business phenomena. Despite all the buzz about Blackberry-killers on the horizon, the Blackberry has what I call "default" status where consumers think of the Blackberry when it comes to mobile e-mail - much like eBay enjoys this status in the online auction market while the iPod has it for MP3 players. Once you achieve this position, it is very difficult to lose it. By selecting Lazaridis, Amex is not only recognizing the Blackberry's popularity but it is hoping to benefit from it as well.

Morgan Freeman Saves Movie Industry from P2P

Mark Evans
http://evans.blogware.com/



I'm intrigued by Intel's investment in ClickStar Inc., a company co-founded by actor Morgan Freeman that aims to develop technology to deliver first-run movies on the Internet before they become available on P2P networks. It's a two-pronged move by Intel: it provides its VC arm with a little profile, and it will hopefully encourage computer users to buy more powerful machines to download and play movies. Freeman may be just one of many entrepreneurs trying to solve the online movie distribution issue but he's definitely among the most well-known. And maybe his status as a big Hollywood star will give ClickStar an edge in establishing relationships with the major studios.
The news about Intel's investment in ClickStar coincides with a column by the Financial Times' John Gapper who suggests the "golden age of the DVD is coming to an end". His thesis is based on the notion that DVD sales aren't growing as quickly, and retailers are reducing the amount of time a DVD title gets to spend on the shelf. At the same time, box office sales are suffering as ticket prices climb - a trend that could become worse as the industry consolidates. Meanwhile, downloads of movies are rising as Bit Torrent technology makes the process even easier.
So maybe Morgan Freeman will be Hollywood's salvation if ClickStar can figure out a way to deliver first-run movies efficiently, securely and, more importantly, at the right price. If ClickStar cracks this nut, Intel's investment could be very prescient and the movie industry will discover the Internet will give it a much-needed financial boost - much like the VCR and DVD did in the 1980s and 1990s.

Shall we go quiet into that good night?

David Beckemeyer- Mr Blog


Jeff Pulver is a white hat, that's for sure. He has a Call to Arms in opposition of Brand X among other atrocities, that is worth a read.
If I get a moment, I will try to elaborate on some of my views of Brand X. My guess is I'll be far less kind than Jeff is in his post.
Perhaps it's time for an FCC Part 68 style rule for the Internet. Part 68 arrived as part of the break-up of AT&T and is the rule that allows us to connect our own telephones, as well as devices like answering machines and modems, to the phone line. Before Part 68, the phone company had absolute control of all telephones. In the fifties, AT&T argued that even the Hushaphone (pictured) that didn't even connect to the phone wires, but simply clamped to the phone's mouthpiece to block out noise, would damage their network! The FCC did as Ma Bell told them, and agreed! The Hushaphone people fought a long battle, and that case, along with the Carterphone case, signalled the begining of a breakup in this effective monopoly that ultimately allowed other companies to interconnect with the telephone network.
Despite the limitations of what one can do with end of a traditional phone line, just think of all the innovation that has occurred in terms of what we can plug into our wall jacks, without asking the permission of the phone company, or paying extra. This is now a significant micro-economy, representing wealth, jobs, and consumer choices. We would have none of this if all innovations had to come from the old-guard at AT&T, as was the case before the breakup. In all the time that AT&T had full control of the edge, we saw very little innovation.
If you are not old enough to have lived it, imagine a world in which there were two or three kinds of phones available, you had to get them from the phone company, and they had to be "rented" at exorbitant prices. There is no phone section in Fry's or Bestbuy or Target. We cannot buy modems, answering machines, or any other of the countless phone gadgets available today, because they do not exist.
Now imagine the same thing for the Internet. Imagine that we have to "subscribe" to the devices and applications we want to use at the end of our Internet pipes and we can only obtain them from our phone company or cable company. If the phone companies and cable companies get their way, that is the exactly the world we will have.
The Internet we have enjoyed for many years, in which we connect the devices we a want, and purchase and run the Internet applications we want, is being attacked on many fronts. Our freedom of choice has already started to erode. And so far, there has been little outcry.

The Recent Skype Survey

Andy Abramson - VoIP Watch


Dina @ SkypeJournal questions the sincerity of the recent Skype questionaire/survey sent out to some subscribers.
It was meant to validate, not project based on the questions I saw. While I fully agree with Dina's assessment that Skype missed some opportunities, I also understand their motivation.
The survey was in my view a way to do some post sales introduction of Skype In, Out and VoiceMail solely to gauge how effective their past efforts were. While all the information Dina (who is an excellent researcher) would like to see gathered that would help Skype, it only becomes appropriate if Skype were going to do more mass marketing even on a microcast level. One must remember that Skype does almost ZERO marketing and is almost all word of mouse and via their excellent media relations efforts.
For Skype, clearly the model of "less is more" applies culturally and all the way down the line thus making what Dina suggests appropriate only if Skype wants to become more of less.

High Speed Internet Increasing

Andy Abramson - VoIP Watch


Access to VoIP is in 95% of the USA's zipcodes according to an FCC announcement.
This then means that VoIP is available in 95 percent of the USA. How the VoIP providers approach the one person in timbuktu versus the masses in the more densly high speed user communities is called marketing.
What I don't see is really smart marketing going on by the smaller players. Some seem to start and end with the online universe. Others seem to go full bore with retail. Then others just seem to say "hi" we're here.
The answers are obvious. If you want to know, just ask me.

Holy SIP!

Andy Abramson - VoIP Watch


It's turning into a holy war as the loyalists square off with the not so ready to believe.
Erik's point about SIP is very well taken. Like him, I think standards based technology will win out. Skype, while an overnight success story only has to integrate SIP into itself and the telco world would change even more.
For what it's worth, my Gizmo to Gizmo chat with Michael Robertson sounded better than a Skype To Skype chat. Then again, I'm sure Mr. Disruptor was on a T-1 and we're not that far from one another. Still it says a lot for what he's done. And oh, contrary to some reports, Gizmo isn't using the XTEN softphone at all. Robertson's team built it on their own

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Why get hung up on the Gizmo client?

Dameon D. Welch-Abernathy - PhoneBoy's Blog




(Disclaimer: I haven't loaded the Gizmo Project on my computers yet because, quite frankly, I try and avoid mucking about in Windows)

Aswath blogged today that Gizmo is locked to use only SIPPhone. This is from the company that sued Vonage for locking their ATAs. Om also picked up on this. I personally don't think this is as big of a deal as these two obviously think it is. Gizmo is basically a free softphone for SIPphone. Why is this a bad thing?

There is a fair difference between Skype, the service, and Gizmo Project, the service. Granted, the Gizmo client may be "locked to use only SIPPhone," but who really cares so long as the underlying network isn't? Gizmo Project, based on SIPphone, lets you use whatever device or client you'd like so long as it conforms to the SIP standards. Because SIPphone has connectivity with a lot of different SIP networks, you can also call those networks from the Gizmo client as well. You can also do cool stuff like get an IPKall number and point it to youre Gizmo client.

Contrast to Skype. The underlying Skype network is proprietary and requires you to use only the Skype client to access it.

More on Skype versus Gizmo

Dameon D. Welch-Abernathy - PhoneBoy's Blog



This is a continuation of my last blog entry, Why get hung up on the Gizmo client?. It focuses more on the comment made by Aswath in his entry about the Gizmo client. Specifically, I want to focus on the comment "Gizmo is locked to use only SIPPhone. This is from the company that sued Vonage for locking their ATAs."

Maybe I'm wrong, but I think there's a huge difference between locking a piece of hardware that you pay good money for without that fact being disclosed clearly on the box and "locking" a piece of software you get for free. The former is arguably false advertising (which is what Michael Robertson really had a problem with), the latter is not. I cannot equate locking a piece of software you get for free to locking a piece of hardware you paid for. They are not one and the same.

Software is ephemeral: it exists as a collection of ones and zeros inside of a hard drive. If I like the program, I'll use it. It has value as long as I am willing and able to use it. When I no longer wish to use it, it disappears into the ones and zeros of your hard drive. Environmentally friendly, unlike the hardware sold by Vonage and other VoIP companies. When my Vonage (or similar) service runs its course, the VoIP portion of the hardware becomes a doorstop. Vonage provides no mechanism to "unlock" these devices and permit you to use them with another service. The device will likely sit on the shelf for a while until it is either given to someone else or thrown out, creating an environmental impact.

I think I understand why Vonage, et. al. doesn't provide an unlock mechanism. They subsidize the cost of the equipment to a large degree. If they give a mechanism for unlocking the device, they're basically giving away money. Considering how much money isn't being made by these companies, they really don't want to be giving away any more money than they have to. Though I don't understand why for a small fee to offset the subsidy, those devices couldn't be unlocked.

I am a strong proponent of requiring device manfacturers and service providers to allow their devices to be unlocked, either after a period of time and/or for the cost of the subsidy. Furthermore, where technically possible, providers should be required to allow people to "bring their own devices." This goes for any device tied to a particular service, regardless of the type of service. This is required in European countries with mobile phone networks, so why not?

Gizmo - Alpha Beta

Richard Stastny VoIP and ENUM


Basically I am getting too old being an alpha-tester according to Tom Evslin's "Decoding Programmers Speak":

“It’s Beta ready.”
Translation: It’s Alpha ready.”

When I downloaded and installed it on Thursday, I could not even register. It said invalid whatever, every time I tried richard.stastny, richard, stastny or f*ck off. So I gave up. BTW, it would have been helpful to get a notice that you could also register with your old sipphone account. I detected this later. The behaviour on this day must have been somewhat erratic, because a collegue of mine had the same problem, but in his case ALL his tries succeeded despite of the error messages, so he has now 4 accounts, as he detected after receiving the ack e-mails. BTW, I never received any welcome e-mail, despite of being registered now as stastny. (One also gets a Sipphone Boing 747 number again in the background, which you also only find out looking up your own profile)

So I gave it a last try yesterday and first thing it did was downloading an update. Aha - and I could register ;-)

My first impression: a Skype clone - which is basically not a bad idea. If you clone something, take the best product. So it makes sense.

It also uses the ILBC codec, again not a bad idea, so one can expect a good sound quality.

But to clone something, it takes more: e.g. usability.

Since I had no buddies yet to call on Gizmo, and since you get 0,25 cents for out calls, I tried to call some numbers. I entered some numbers in the well known international format, also called E.164, e.g. +43xxxx.

Result: a nice announcement: "The number you have dialed is crash". Of course she did not say "crash", it just sounded like this.

Then I tried to call some sip URIs, e.g. on fwd and sipgate, same effect.

After thinking a bit about this, and since I know from earlier discussions whith Michael that he has the same understanding on numbering I have on baseball, I tried 01143xxx and voila, it worked.

Having this worked out, I also found that you may call another SIP user with entering the sip URI with SIP:16241@fwd.pulver.com and not without. Entering such an acoount into the Buddy List does not work, it is not accepted.

I was even able to reach my sipphone account from FWD, still remebering that the URI to call sipphone is proxy01.sipphone.com, which also nobody tells you (or the siphone number). Note on the side: It is urgently needed that presence finally works between such domains.

One major drawback from my point of view: Gizmo is not ENUM-enabled.

Another issue I do not like is that voice-mail only works SER style by sending you the voice-mail in an e-mail attachment. I got used to the Skype-style in just clicking a botton in the call list.

InCalls use the combined FWD and Sipphone gateway e.g. at Washington 1 202 742 5739, which is not very user-friendly, because it is two-stage dialing. And it worked only with my FWD account, but not with Gizmo, because of a "codec mismatch". Gateway not understanding ILBC yet, or what? ;-)

There are of course other comments on Gizmo, the general impression is that most welcome the idea to have finally a non-propriatory SIP product similar to Skype, but that is is still very Beta.

It is really very Beta, my rant at the beginning is cause by the fact that I had to stop testing because the application stopped working. This is not quite true, it is hiding (lurking?). If you log in, it is showing up in the task bar as running, but you cannot see it. It is still running and working, it even rings, but it does not show up on the desktop. I re-booted Windows, but still the same. Maybe I have to re-install it, but here I will wait on the next version.

Andy and Phoneboy are quite positive and are awaiting additional clients:


Of course, if they want to go head-to-head with Skype, they're going to have to
get clients out there for Linux, Pocket PC, and Symbian. God, I wish I could
find a free SIP client for my Nokia 9500...


Stuart from the Skype Journal is raising some good and valid questions, the same I have:

What would be the compelling reason to switch? From Skype to Gizmo?
How and what opportunities does this provide for PBX integration; something many Skypers want?
Is the fragmentation of the VON VoIP market only going to affect other SIP players and have no impact on Skype?
Why aren't the "rates" for CallOut or CallIn competitive?
The last point is very important: Skype is already very sticky, and if one really wants to use Skype for outcalls (e.g. from a plane ;-), he will still use Skype and not Gizmo. And how many VoIP clients does a normal person have on his laptop or Softphone?

David is first blaming Niklas for being assymetric (BTW - this is quite a usual behaviour from all alternative providers (TDM and IP) - basically being in contact with the voice business turns you in a bellhead sooner than later).


At a recent conference, a Skype founder suggested "regulating the incumbents" to force others to carry Skype calls. Skype calls go over the public Internet, but are often carried on telephone company wiring (DSL) which Skype is worried could be configured to block their calls. They are proposing that the government should step in and demand that those telephone company networks carry Skype calls.

Meanwhile, Skype is refusing to carry anyone else's calls on their own phone system. They are engaging in exact behavior - they are worried about others trying. Skype can't have it both ways. If Skype wants to lock others out of their system, shouldn't the telephone companies have the same right also?

SIPphone.com really stresses the open standard and interoperability aspects of Gizmo and for my part, I couldn't agree more.

He really likes the app on the Mac (ok, I missed this one) and then he is missing the find button - this is not true - you just have to use "search" - or they forgot this on the Mac.

He continues: So in fact, Gizmo interoperates with any service, PBX, or network using SIP, i.e. every service out there except Skype.

One solution may be that Gizmo is also using the Skype API like the Pulver Communicator.

The other possibility is that SIP applications like Gizmo will finally overtake Skype, but this will not be easy.

Skype has shown that normal customes do not want to configure the client and attach it to a provider, they want to have a bundled product.

Gone Native?

Aswath Rao - Aswath Weblog


A few days back a new VoIP client, called Gizmo, was released claiming to be a Skype killer. This is closely associated with SIPPhone, which had earlier released another client called GAIM, an integrated IM and VoIP client.

First a summary of what one can do with Gizmo. It gives a nice UI to use the SIPPhone system. The first notable feature is the way it supports the voice mail. The system collects voice mail and then forwards to a specified email. This is in contrast to Skype, which hosts the messages. The second feature of note is the ability to record the conversation. Their website indicates that they have a partnership with Golbal IP Sound. Even though it is not stated on the nature of partnership, the consensus seems to be that Gizmo uses their wideband codec.
Then there are the standard set of features like call-logs and buddy lists. It also offers the ability to make and receive calls from PSTN. But the surprising thing is there is a price difference between Gizmo and SIPPhone – prices to some destinations are higher and others are lower. At least to India the charge is almost the same as what AT&T charges for PSTN customers. Given Skype’s difficulty with DTMF tones on a PSTN call, it will be interesting to know how Gizmo fares.
It is interesting to compare Gizmo to pulverCommunicator. Both are SIP based and both have plans to distribute to others with the ability to brand it. But pC has texting capability that is missing from Gizmo. Call-me link feature of pC is not widely discussed, but I hope Gizmo adds in a future release. pC does not support a wideband codec. But it can be unlocked and used with any other SIP based service. As far as I can determine Gizmo is locked to use only SIPPhone. This is from the company that sued Vonage for locking their ATAs. Have they gone native? In the same vein, I wish they supported Speex, an open source and loyalty free codec. (By the way I hope pC supports a wideband codec in the near future.)

IM VoIP Clients - Interop is Key

Eric Lagerway - SIPthat.com


Aswath has created a bit of a stir with his recent post regarding Gizmo and Pulver Communicator. Jeff Pulver had something to say about Gizmo on his blog as well. All in all I think we need to remember that the key to creating a good IP communications client will rest in the features and interop. Interop means incorporating open standards like SIP and using royalty free codecs [preferably open source]. With Video it's H.263++ [for now] and for audio it's Speex Wideband. H.263++ provides close to 264/AVC quality with the codec royalty and uses far less CPU. Speex-wb provides for excellent sound quality, so much in fact Yahoo! decided to implement it.
Om Malik, Andy Abramson and of course Stuart Henshall all had things to say about Gizmo.
Remember, when building these new IP communications clients, interop is key. If it you are not building something that will work with the open standards proposed by the IETF you are not building something that will stand the test of time. If you want to deliver something new where there is no standard, then work with someone to create it!

Data, data everywhere – but not a drop to drink

Martin Geddes - Telepocalypse


You can get a cellular signal even in the remotest places you go on holiday. However, progress is a patchy thing, and some of my experiences getting mobile data to work were so spectacularly, splendidly and unrelentingly dismal, I thought I’d share them with you. It’s quite long, so maybe get yourself a coffee first. If you’re an investor in telcos, I’d make that an Irish coffee. A stiff one.
My objective was simple: be able to access my e-mail while I’m away without my laptop, so I know there are no fires in my little consulting business needing my urgent attention.
Firstly, you need some connectivity.

The sincerest form of flattery

Martin Geddes - Telepocalypse



Well, I tried downloading Skype-clone Gizmo and making a call.
But it doesn’t work. Just hangs after trying to connect to the login server post-registration. I’ve got a bog-standard HP Windows XP laptop.
Remember, it’s not just free Internet telephony that counts. It’s free Internet telephony that just works.

Tried Gizmo yet?

Ted Wallingford


As first reported on TUAW, Gizmo is a softphone for Mac and Windows (and soon Linux) that appears a lot like Skype in form and function. Perhaps coolest of all is its developers’ insistence on open standards (SIP most notably) under the hood, the lack of which will eventually come back to bite Skype, I think. Also included are some really great features Skype doesn’t have—like call recording and a world map showing the approximate location of your call buddies. Check it out at http://www.gizmoproject.com/download.html and let me know what your first experiences with Gizmo have been like.

VoIP by the numbers: just 17 million?

Leonardo Faoro - The VoIP Weblog


According to an article at Tom’s Hardware Guide, VoIP service providers worldwide have thusfar enlisted 17 million subscribers, a number that I find both paltry and encouraging. First off, it doesn’t speak to the millions of VoIP users who host their own call-routing services. As a result, it seems abnormally low. Cisco, Avaya, and Nortel have equipped millions of VoIP desktops, but this isn’t reflected in the number since their VoIP PBX systems tend to be connected to the outside world using traditional, non-VoIP phone lines like T1s.

But I also find the number encouraging, because, with 320+ million people in the U.S. alone, there is a huge hole for low-cost telephony that is going to get plugged by today’s VoIP service startups, anxious to quench the thirst of an increasingly value-conscious market. Not surprisingly, Japan is the leader in VoIP service adoption, while America is second. Check out all the numbers at the link below.

Skype for Outlook

Mark Evans
http://evans.blogware.com/



Om Malik has a posting on Skype's new took for Outlook, a toolbar that lets you use Skype directly from Outlook. Skype users will like the fact it appears easy to connect Skype IDs with Oulook contacts. You have to admire Skype's chutzpah for essentially tweaking its nose at Microsoft. The new tool should encourage people, who rely on Outlook and intrigued by VOIP, to at least give Skype a test-run. The newest Skype product is also a nice strategic counter-move to the buzz created by Michael Robertson's Gizmo application, which is taking direct aim at Skype. In light of Skype move on Outlook, you wonder how much longer it will be before Microsoft unveils its own VOIP application or IM add-on.

Videotron's VOIP Growth

Mark Evans
http://evans.blogware.com/



Videotron - perhaps the most aggressive cable telephony service provider in North America - has attracted 42K customers since February. Videotron's success is not a surprise given its prices ($15.95 to $29.95, not including LD) make cable telephony service a no-brainer, particularly if you're already a cable and high-speed Internet subscriber. Concius Capital analyst Kona Shio expects that Videotron will have 90K telephony users by the end of this year. You wonder how Bell will respond to losing serious market share. Given Videotron's telephone service has few bells and whistles other than low prices, perhaps Videotron's picking up customers who just like bundles - something Bell has embraced as well. The real challenge for Bell is making sure its own customers, who buy two or more services, don't jump to Videotron. Losing them would means losing lucrative customers. Another way of looking at Videtron's success is it could accelerate the de-regulation of the local phone market in Montreal. Then, Bell could really start to compete on price and promotions.

Sean Kane took my money and ran?

David Beckemeyer- Mr Blog


Another VoIP provider bites the dust?
I had been using Simpletelecom for SIP PSTN termination for some time, with generally good results. They offered 1.7 cents per minute to the US/Canada and much of the world. As of July 1, they seem to have vanished. The SIP servers and website are down and in fact the DNS servers for the entire domain are dead. Their published phone number 775.324.3994 has been disconnected with no forwarding number.
It was a prepaid service and I had a balance when they shut the service down, so in my personal case, they literally appear to have taken the money and run.
The company was founded by MP3.com co-founder Sean Kane who at one time may have used the email address sean@kane.org.
If anyone knows how to reach Sean or Simpletelecom, please give me a shout: mrblog at mrblog.org

Gizmo-Lacking In Support

Andy Abramson - VoIP Watch


One of the things I love about CallVantage and Broadvoice is how rapidly each of those companies support teams jumps on problems and get back to me with answers, usually its a senior tech or ops person. Sometimes it's a ranking executive, but always the problem gets resolved, even if I'm proxing for a reader who has gotten frustrated.
With Gizmo, like Skype, they use one of those online systems where you enter a trouble ticket. While that may be good for some people (i.e. techies) as a business person and media member, I'm a bit more interested in having someone "talk" with me about the problem, understand the problem, and discuss the solution process.
That's why I was floored by the reply I received from Gizmo's support person who shall remain nameless to my report that calls to my CallVantage number would not terminate, and received a "Number Not In Service" error message which from what I can tell meant that Gizmo couldn't fully complete the call to the number when called directly or when the call was forwarded from my SBC PSTN line, a test that I regularly run with every VoIP provider I test (fyi-Skype works perfectly on this test) Here's what I received back:
Andy,
I received the same result when calling from a cell phone and from my gizmo phone.
Your number just keeps on ringing with no pickup. I would suggest trying this again
Rate this ticket: Helpful Not Helpful
Ticket ID:
HZM-OMMITTED
Tracking URL:
Click Here
Created On:
02 Jul 2005 06:32 PM
Last Update:
02 Jul 2005 06:32 PM
Status:
Closed
The tech's response doesn't make any sense at all, as not only doesn't it replicate my experience, it implies that my phone service doesn't answer, something received dozen or so voice mails I received yesterday, or the over 30 calls my CallVantage call log of incoming calls shows, including my Gizmo 747 number reaching it. As a result I reopened the trouble ticket. Of course the Gizmo team can always call me on Gizmo too to talk about it :-)
UPDATE--Got a call from Michael Robertson...he's looking into this and thinks it's a PSTN termination partner issue

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Tell me again why the Mac is better?

Kevin Werback - werblog


I'm still finding the Mac experience surprisingly frustrating. I posted this in the comments, but it's worth putting it on my main blog to invite people to respond.
My biggest surprise is that I'm seeing few things that are actually better on my Powerbook than my old Thinkpad. Can someone help me out here?
The reasons for preferring the Mac that I've heard so far are:
Better stability -- I believe this is true, but in a week with the Powerbook I've had two crashes requiring me to remove the battery, and at least one force quit per day. No unexplained chronic problems like I got from time to time with Windows, but again, it has only been a week.
fewer viruses -- Definitely true. On the other hand, I used a firewall and virus checker on my Windows machine, and didn't use Microsoft's email or Web browser apps. So I never spent any time dealing with viruses on my Thinkpad.
Better networking -- So far, this has been the biggest surprise. My Powerbook doesn't recognize the Linksys WiFi access point right next to it, and it often fails to recognize USB hard drives and keychain drives. Since I use USB drives all the time for backup and file transfer, the latter is a royal pain. I also couldn't get the Powerbook to print over the Internet to a laser printer that worked right away on my Thinkpad. So, how is the Mac actually better in this department?
Print to PDF -- Useful, but that's just bundling a feature I already had with Acrobat.
Dashboard -- Doesn't do it for me. If I'm going to use widgets, I want them always available on the desktop, rather than requiring a mode switch. I know I can get that with Konfabulator, but I had that on Windows.
Spotlight -- A nice feature. But the biggest thing I search through is email, and I can already do that with much more powerful features within Eudora.
Instant on from sleep -- Better, but trivial.
So, what am I missing? Why is a Mac today actually better than a PC? Virtually everything I've seen so far is an improvement in basic, out-of-the-box functionality, but not an advantage over the tuned Thinkpad I gave up.
And before anyone flames me, I'll reiterate that I was a die-hard Mac user for a decade before I (grudgingly) went over to Windows. I've just spent $9,000 on Mac hardware and software, and I want to feel that I made the right choice.

Project Gizmo?

Dameon D. Welch-Abernathy - PhoneBoy's Blog


Hey look, it's Michael Robertson's attempt at cloning Skype: Project Gizmo. Since it basically is using the existing SIPphone infrastructure to pull it off, it's definitely SIP, it's definitely got connectivity with other SIP networks, and they've got inbound and outbound PSTN connectivity.

Of course, if they want to go head-to-head with Skype, they're going to have to get clients out there for Linux, Pocket PC, and Symbian. God, I wish I could find a free SIP client for my Nokia 9500...

Gizmo - Alpha Beta

Richard Stastny VoIP and ENUM


Basically I am getting too old being an alpha-tester according to Tom Evslin's "Decoding Programmers Speak":

“It’s Beta ready.”
Translation: It’s Alpha ready.”

When I downloaded and installed it on Thursday, I could not even register. It said invalid whatever, every time I tried richard.stastny, richard, stastny or f*ck off. So I gave up. BTW, it would have been helpful to get a notice that you could also register with your old sipphone account. I detected this later. The behaviour on this day must have been somewhat erratic, because a collegue of mine had the same problem, but in his case ALL his tries succeeded despite of the error messages, so he has now 4 accounts, as he detected after receiving the ack e-mails. BTW, I never received any welcome e-mail, despite of being registered now as stastny. (One also gets a Sipphone Boing 747 number again in the background, which you also only find out looking up your own profile)

So I gave it a last try yesterday and first thing it did was downloading an update. Aha - and I could register ;-)

My first impression: a Skype clone - which is basically not a bad idea. If you clone something, take the best product. So it makes sense.

It also uses the ILBC codec, again not a bad idea, so one can expect a good sound quality.

But to clone something, it takes more: e.g. usability.

Since I had no buddies yet to call on Gizmo, and since you get 0,25 cents for out calls, I tried to call some numbers. I entered some numbers in the well known international format, also called E.164, e.g. +43xxxx.

Result: a nice announcement: "The number you have dialed is crash". Of course she did not say "crash", it just sounded like this.

Then I tried to call some sip URIs, e.g. on fwd and sipgate, same effect.

After thinking a bit about this, and since I know from earlier discussions whith Michael that he has the same understanding on numbering I have on baseball, I tried 01143xxx and voila, it worked.

Having this worked out, I also found that you may call another SIP user with entering the sip URI with SIP:16241@fwd.pulver.com and not without. Entering such an acoount into the Buddy List does not work, it is not accepted.

I was even able to reach my sipphone account from FWD, still remebering that the URI to call sipphone is proxy01.sipphone.com, which also nobody tells you (or the siphone number). Note on the side: It is urgently needed that presence finally works between such domains.

One major drawback from my point of view: Gizmo is not ENUM-enabled.

Another issue I do not like is that voice-mail only works SER style by sending you the voice-mail in an e-mail attachment. I got used to the Skype-style in just clicking a botton in the call list.

InCalls use the combined FWD and Sipphone gateway e.g. at Washington 1 202 742 5739, which is not very user-friendly, because it is two-stage dialing. And it worked only with my FWD account, but not with Gizmo, because of a "codec mismatch". Gateway not understanding ILBC yet, or what? ;-)

There are of course other comments on Gizmo, the general impression is that most welcome the idea to have finally a non-propriatory SIP product similar to Skype, but that is is still very Beta.

It is really very Beta, my rant at the beginning is cause by the fact that I had to stop testing because the application stopped working. This is not quite true, it is hiding (lurking?). If you log in, it is showing up in the task bar as running, but you cannot see it. It is still running and working, it even rings, but it does not show up on the desktop. I re-booted Windows, but still the same. Maybe I have to re-install it, but here I will wait on the next version.

Andy and Phoneboy are quite positive and are awaiting additional clients:

Of course, if they want to go head-to-head with Skype, they're going to have to
get clients out there for Linux, Pocket PC, and Symbian. God, I wish I could
find a free SIP client for my Nokia 9500...

Stuart from the Skype Journal is raising some good and valid questions, the same I have:
What would be the compelling reason to switch? From Skype to Gizmo?
How and what opportunities does this provide for PBX integration; something many Skypers want?
Is the fragmentation of the VON VoIP market only going to affect other SIP players and have no impact on Skype?
Why aren't the "rates" for CallOut or CallIn competitive?
The last point is very important: Skype is already very sticky, and if one really wants to use Skype for outcalls (e.g. from a plane ;-), he will still use Skype and not Gizmo. And how many VoIP clients does a normal person have on his laptop or Softphone?

David is first blaming Niklas for being assymetric (BTW - this is quite a usual behaviour from all alternative providers (TDM and IP) - basically being in contact with the voice business turns you in a bellhead sooner than later).

At a recent conference, a Skype founder suggested "regulating the incumbents" to force others to carry Skype calls. Skype calls go over the public Internet, but are often carried on telephone company wiring (DSL) which Skype is worried could be configured to block their calls. They are proposing that the government should step in and demand that those telephone company networks carry Skype calls.
Meanwhile, Skype is refusing to carry anyone else's calls on their own phone system. They are engaging in exact behavior - they are worried about others trying. Skype can't have it both ways. If Skype wants to lock others out of their system, shouldn't the telephone companies have the same right also?

SIPphone.com really stresses the open standard and interoperability aspects of Gizmo and for my part, I couldn't agree more.
He really likes the app on the Mac (ok, I missed this one) and then he is missing the find button - this is not true - you just have to use "search" - or they forgot this on the Mac.

He continues: So in fact, Gizmo interoperates with any service, PBX, or network using SIP, i.e. every service out there except Skype.

One solution may be that Gizmo is also using the Skype API like the Pulver Communicator.

The other possibility is that SIP applications like Gizmo will finally overtake Skype, but this will not be easy.

Skype has shown that normal customes do not want to configure the client and attach it to a provider, they want to have a bundled product.

The Joke That Was Jajah

Aswath Rao - Aswath Weblog



A few days back I read about Jajah in a note written by Phil Wolff in Skype Journal. Based on that, when I visited Jajah’s website, some of the claims were outlandish. And when I read Om’s entry, I felt that we might have discussed this. (wink, wink). So I decided to elaborate on my thoughts, questioning some of the claims. As I searched for the exact references, lo and behold they were not to be found. Did I hallucinate reading these or they disappeared from the original site? I am not sure. What follows are some of the points I thought I read, but I can not locate them now.

Jajah is a P2P phone, but unlike Skype will not use the resources of your computer. Of course this is not true. In their description of the network architecture, they do identify that they have supernodes and also admit that they have “bootstrap” supernodes.
Connect to Skype users, even if the Skype client is turned off. I am sure I read this. Honest. But I searched their entire website. It is not there now. In any event, Stuart Henshall points out that they have a few Skype clients running that acts like a proxy. Still I am not sure how this thing works exactly. Surely this will not work for Skype to Jajah direction. But if my Skype partner will accept calls only from his buddies, won’t my Jajah invite get blocked by Skype, because as far as Skype is concerned it is coming from this Skype proxy. Finally let us assume that the session gets established. Since we do not know the encryption done by Skype, Jajah proxy has to deliver raw voice sample to Skype. This means there has to be double encoding, leading to increased delay. This should surely affect the quality.
Talk to “millions of SIP and IAX phones for free”. Of course this applies only to those that have established a peering agreement. For example, I am sure Vonage is out.
But one amusing item is still available. It is the background story that is told via a press clipping. But there is no reference or even the date of publication. What is more, the accompanying picture seems to suggest that Bill Gates is listening to this mystic person very attentively. Is that supposed to mean something? If so, I am not sure what that is. Any currently I think the “founder” is not a real person, but a “Bourbaki”.
Given the changes, I am scaling back my total rejection. So here is a summary of Jajah. Like Skype and other IMs, the client is an integrated client that provides text, voice and video chat. The system is a P2P system (as if that bestows magical powers). They offer “Out” service. Some of the rates are much lower than available from other places. I hope it is not “an introductory offer”.
Of course I have neither installed nor used the client. People with more experience in usability aspects will eventually comment on it. But I have the same set of questions that I raised in reference to Skype: if I need to communicate with my buddies, why do I need to register with an entity and beholden to them? I am still rooting for Autonomous Communication.

Gizmo, not just another furry monster

Eric Lagerway - SIPthat.com


I am a litle behind the times due to my son's arrival but I thought I would comment on some IP communications news of late..
Michael Robertson looks to be up to no good, as far as the ILECs may be concerned, he has just launched Gizmo a new Skype-like IM & VoIP service which could cause pain for some traditional operators. Like Skype, Gizmo uses Global IP Sound's technology at the core and like Xten software uses SIP so it's open standards compliant. It would seem Michael is looking to combine the best of both worlds and that sounds like a winning combination to me. I would personally like to see some video functionality, maybe in the next release?

SIPphone.com puts out another IM/voice Skype alternative

David Beckemeyer- Mr Blog


SIPphone.com already launched PhoneGaim last fall. Now they are launching another Skype-like application called Gizmo. In their newsletter titled Skype Bad, Gizmo Good they hammer Skype:
At a recent conference, a Skype founder suggested "regulating the incumbents" to force others to carry Skype calls. Skype calls go over the public Internet, but are often carried on telephone company wiring (DSL) which Skype is worried could be configured to block their calls. They are proposing that the government should step in and demand that those telephone company networks carry Skype calls.
Meanwhile, Skype is refusing to carry anyone else's calls on their own phone system. They are engaging in exact behavior - they are worried about others trying. Skype can't have it both ways. If Skype wants to lock others out of their system, shouldn't the telephone companies have the same right also?
SIPphone.com really stresses the open standard and interoperability aspects of Gizmo and for my part, I couldn't agree more.
They do say "Gizmo matches Skype's features plus adds some neat ones" and I'm not sure I'd go that far yet. The app does look really good on Mac OS X and is perhaps the best looking Voice/IM app I've seen, especially one that supports SIP. The first thing I noticed missing in Gizmo was a "Find People" option to find people on the network. Without that, the "nobody to talk to problem" (the fax problem) smacks one in the face right away. I don't think Gizmo matches Skype's built-in multi-chat and conferencing capabilities yet either. I'm sure Skype aficionados will find many things that Gizmo won't do yet.
The main limitation for Skype users of course is that Gizmo doesn't interoperate with Skype. You cannot call your Skype buddies. Now you and I know that what is really going on is that Skype is the one that doesn't interoperate. Other services interoperate with each other: FWD, SIPphone, thousands of smaller services, businesses, universities, and many other net calling communities. Only Skype has elected not to interoperate. So in fact, Gizmo interoperates with any service, PBX, or network using SIP, i.e. every service out there except Skype. But the business reality is that no matter what other features any Skype-like Gizmo has, lacking interoperabiluty with Skype will be a real barrier to adoption. And of course it will always appear to be the other guy's fault. Skype always seems to get away Scot free with the community.
I wish Gizmo well though, and I hope they attract millions of users. I certainly hope the populace will wake up and move to an open-standards based platform (or at least that the SIP user-base grows enough that Skype users eventually demand that Skype interoperate).