Wednesday, April 27, 2005

April the 26th

Abramson

Verizon Will Make Their E-911 Open To Others

Obviously with their E-911 efforts announced today Verizon could be accused of looking to coddle favor with the regulators should they successfully acquire MCI and have smartly taken one of the "chips" off the board which could have been a thorn with some.
But boardroom and political gamesmanship aside, there is no room to mess around when it comes to E-911. Verizon is to be applauded for rapidly working to come up with a solution that provides access to to the PSAPS for all VoIP carriers who want the access.
Verizon, in doing this clearly sends a message to all the VoIP and other RBOC's that there is a solution, it can work and can be used.
For the VoIP providers who are not thinking E-911 this is one of the differentiators that separates the men from the boys in business and is clearly the only call to make, as it is only in the public interest to make it happen.
Verizon. Well done.


James Enck - EuroTecoblog


My lethal weapon's my handset

This may have been blogged extensively elsewhere, I'm not sure - I've been preoccupied today with the ugly TeliaSonera results and pitched political battles against short-term thinking internally. Anyway, cutting to the chase: if there was any doubt that the handset manufacturers have seen where their future lies, then here are two more pieces of evidence which may put paid to the notion of telco dominance. I'm reminded of the old Batman series, where fight scenes were accompanied by comicbook representations of words like "pow!" and "thwack" - I almost see those same graphics when I read press releases like this. So Telcoman, take that, and that.
Permalink posted by James Enck : 5:09 PM Q1 hurts
Some serious blog congestion ahead this week as I deal with a slew of earnings releases in Europe. Last Friday I had a meeting with a new client, and when asked about my recommendations for the telecom sector, I said "buy oil and mining." Two days into results season, I might consider adding some other completely unrelated sector. Tele2 missed expectations yesterday, and got a serious kicking from the market, which continues today. Today TeliaSonera has delivered an EBITDA number below the bottom of the consensus range, and the stock is currently down 5.4%. Tomorrow Telenor, Thursday France Telecom...
I also noted with interest some extraordinarily frank comments from Rupert Murdoch in today's Financial Times (page 13 of the UK edition), in which he confesses to "quietly hoping that this thing called the digital revolution would simply go away," and describing himself as "searching for answers to an emerging medium that is not my native language." You can really tell that Sky is in its fiscal Q4, because they seem to be pulling out all the stops in the marketing arena - last week I even saw an independent sales agent with a display set up outside a shopping mall in Camberwell, South London, touting for business on the street like a charity fundraiser.
UPDATE - If it's any consolation to Mr. Murdoch, I think we're all pretty much in the same boat. Consider trying to define these two fabulous "digital revolution" examples in terms of the traditional media landscape (both via the always outstanding Near Near Future). Are they games, musical/art works, trivia hunts, cartography projects? They sure ain't television. Then again, a decade ago, what would we have made of notions like "continuous partial attention," MMOG, blogging, Skype Mega Chat, reality TV or any of the other staples of our daily lives?
Permalink posted by James Enck : 9:44 AM For those interested in open spectrum issues
This comes my way via the activist sphere. Sounds like an interesting event, and potentially one capable of influencing OFCOM thinking, if the right people turn up. Best of all, it's free. Many of the best things are.
Permalink posted by James Enck : 9:32 AM

Mark Evans - Mark Evans

Cisco Acquires Sipura for $68M by Mark Evans on April 26, 2005 03:49PM (EDT)


I'm starting to get a better idea why there is a lack of VOIP IPOs - before a company gets to go through the process, it gets snapped up. The latest "victim" is Sipura Technology Inc., which makes VOIP adaptors (a.k.a ATAs). It has accepted a US$68 million cash and options deal from Cisco, which will integrate Sipura into its Linksys SOHO division. This deal isn't a surprise given Sipura's founders also started Komodo Technology, which was acquired by Cisco in mid-2000 for US$175-million. When Jan Fandrianto and Dr. Sam Sin left Cisco to start Sipura, Cisco struggled in the ATA business. As a result, buying Sipura now makes complete sense if Cisco wants to stay in the game. Let's see how long Frandrianto and Sin stick around this time. This deals comes on the heels of Juniper Networks buying Kagoor Networks for $67.5 million last month. Kagoor had sales last year of $5-million. One day, it would be nice to see a VOIP IPO but maybe the capital markets landscape isn't friendly enough these days. Or perhaps small companies are troubled by the cost of being publicly-traded given the demaands of Sarbanes-Oxley. Maybe Vonage will be the IPO guinea pig later this year - although I believe it will be acquired before that will happen. Leave Comment Permanent Link Cosmos VOIP Blocking Alive & Well by Mark Evans on April 26, 2005 12:00PM (EDT) Reports about VOIP traffic being blocked by network operators are becoming more common in wake of Telmex customers complaining their telephony service is being degraded. In the United Arab Emirates, Internet users are complaining they have been unable to access Skype.com to buy SkypeOut minutes. The culprit seems to be Etisalat, the UAE's only ISP. In the U.S., there have been reports that Vonage's service is being blocked by Clearwire, while Madison River was fined $15K by the FCC after Vonage filed a complaint. In Canada, the major broadband operators have promised the CRTC they will not engage in this kind of nefarious activity. Earlier this month, Vonage CEO Jeff Citron said he wants a broadband bill of rights to give consumers the right to access any service or application they want. While it is a self-serving approach, he makes a very good point about a troubling situation. Leave Comment Permanent Link Cosmos Nortel Makes Acquisition by Mark Evans on April 26, 2005 07:58AM (EDT) As part of its strategic appetite for more U.S. government business, Nortel is spending US$448 million to buy an IT services firm, PEC Solutions Inc. "Nortel is playing to win....," said Nortel CEO Bill Owens, who appears to have made this phrase a corporate mantra given how often it has appeared in press releases recently. PEC makes it money by selling consulting and system integration services to homeland security, law enforcement, intelligence, defense and civilian agencies. In 2004, PEC had profits of $16.4 million on sales of $202.7 million but its profitability has declined for the past two years. Nortel's willingness to snag PEC is reflected in the sweet premium it is offering. Nortel is offering $15.50 a share for PEC, which closed yesterday at $11.31 on Nasdaq. It is an interesting deal for a couple reasons: one, it is focused on services rather than technology. As competition in the equipment market becomes more intense, services are now an important differentiator. Huawei, for example, can sell inexpensive equipment but it has a hard time matching blue-chip suppliers when it comes to servicing clients. While this is a logical move for Nortel, it stll has some technology holes to fill, particularly in the router and IP market. There are rumors the Neptune router may not make its official debut until later this year, while a partnership with Avici Systems appears to be struggling given Avici's troubles. Leave Comment Permanent Link Cosmos


Leonardo Faoro - The VoIP Weblog


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

It’s Acquisition DayPosted Apr 26, 2005, 12:38 PM ET by Ted Wallingford
Cisco has gobbled up another small equipment vendor. Sipura, the maker of the ATA devices used by a number of Internet TSPs, was the latest to be acquired by Cisco Systems. Read the full story below. Also, it appears Nortel has acquired a large government services contractor called PEC.
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Another Telecom Operator Caught Blocking VoIPPosted Apr 26, 2005, 8:36 AM ET by Ted Wallingford
After the Clearwire debacle, it appears another established telecom firm has resorted to blocking voice over IP traffic in order to protect key service revenue. The firm in question is a Mexican government-owned carrier, Telmex. It isn’t blocking VoIP entirely, subscribers say, but intentionally degrading the service of third-party VoIP applications. Read the full story at the link below.
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Martin Geddes - Telepocalypse



Perfectly and properly proprietary


I like a controversy, because that’s when we learn things.
In the ongoing debate I think we’ve lost sight of the original issue: separation of connectivity from applications. I’m a great proponent of this. Monopolies and markets above this in the stack concern me a lot less.
Skype’s network is proprietary, closed, and — yes — potentially downright dangerous in the long term. But I believe in dealing with reality as we find it, rather than an ideal world we wish we could conjure up. Pedant’s note: the Skype API opens the client UI, not the Skype network.
So far Skype isn’t particularly wedded to connectivity provision (with one exception). That means we don’t have to seek permission to use something else. Skype is a child of the Stupid Network, and self-centered as it may be we should be happy about this precocious toddler.
Enough of the B movie argument. Time of the main billing.
Being proprietary is no sin as long as the user is happy.
I admire Microsoft, and think most people whinge too much about Bill & co’s gazilions. People have forgotten how much word processors and operating systems used to cost, and how painful it was shopping for them. In the old days of the 80s and early 90s, Microsoft took expensive software and made cheaper mass-market versions. That’s a good thing.
When you buy MS Office, you’re not just buying a word processor. You’re buying the assurance that you can exchange editable documents with virtually any other business user. That’s a huge thing. With Windows, you’re buying the value of being able to employ almost anyone and know you don’t have to send them on a training course to understand what left-click and right-click might do. Microsoft’s officers and shareholders have only received a tiny sliver of the (without exaggeration) several trillions of dollars of value their standards have created.
The pattern is quite well-established. Beyond the obvious Word and Windows, SQL Server and Great Plains are more recent examples of how Microsoft has attempted to nibble away at the underbelly of my former-former employer, Oracle, by lowering prices and increasing volume. Microsoft’s products are great value for money.
I also admire Oracle. Proprietary? You betcha. But people haven’t been unloading their treasure onto Larry for nothing. Oracle does something very useful, and people are getting more value out of it than the price they pay, otherwise the revenue flow would stop. Open source alternatives, depite the hope and hype, have only nibbled at the fringes of the business. Oracle provide you with an assurance that your data will continue to be accessible for years to come, through many upgrade cycles of hardware, storage and OS. A vague hope that some voluntary collective (or tiny corporation with an experimental business model) will keep up the good work isn’t very reassuring in comparison.
I admire Skype. Predicable? Yessir - that’s me! It is successful because it solves the user’s problem. And that problem is a lot more than getting someone’s current IP address and creating a session and duplex audio channel. When you access Skype, it just works. (Err… ah. Except I’m currently Skypeless because it refuses to install the latest upgrade. Err. Um. No matter. Ignore the man behind the curtain.)
With Skype, there is no cognitive effort about having to purchase or provision the software. You can recommend it to friends without having to worry about them acquiring an incompatible version. Skype spreads because it does what the users want. It’s a cliche to say that people buy solutions to problems, not technology. Skype’s success suggests that those proffering alternatives failed to understand and solve the user’s problem. Some humility might be in order, not indignation.
That means there was a branding or marketing problem that had to be solved. And probably a usability one. Oh, and a compatibility one. And a nationalisation one. And a commercial one. Get the picture?
SIP does (almost) exactly what it says on the tin: it initiates (and tears down) sessions. No more, no less. The standard says nothing about the semantics of those sessions, or about stuff outside of the session protocol.
For example, one essential ingredient of a personal communications system is a means of limiting inbound calls on your attention. For this we have buddy lists and protocols for asking to join other peoples’ lists. Skype unifies the semantics of this: you know exactly what the other person’s experience will be, and you know it will work. (Anyone responding “XMPP/Jabber” will be given a good slap and asked to re-read this section: the absence of a unifying client means the semantics are not well-defined at the user level because you don’t know how the message will be consumed and presented at the other end; only the syntax and semantics of the machine-to-machine protocol. Machines != people.)
Skype has merely embraced and extended SIP inside a proprietary wrapper in order to solve a wider bunch of user problems. So does being a Skypehead make you the new Bellhead? Yes, but with the vital consideration that the end-to-end principle isn’t violated by Skype. Will be be getting the bill for Skype in five or ten years from now, just like we pay $60 to Bill G. when we buy a $300 PC in Wal-Mart. Possibly. But you’ll have banked a lot more value in the interim.
I wish I’d bought Microsoft stock early on, but my mind was poisoned against it by the horrors of FAR PASCAL pointers and the ugliness of Windows compared to the elegance of Unix. I’d now be a richer man if I’d seen the bigger picture.
I’m glad I worked for Oracle and got plenty of stock grants. I did very nicely out of it, thank you.
If Skype does an IPO, I’ll be calling my broker.
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Stuart Henshall - Unbound Spiral


A potential cautionary flag.


I've watched many announcements fly out on Skype to SMS. I've seen Skype Technologies quoted as if it is their program. It's not as far as I know. A few weeks ago I blogged that Connectotel had launched an SMS to Skype service using an SMS gateway. We tried it out and were impressed. Now they are testing Skype to SMS services. I think this is exciting. I would add one cautionary note. Connectotel is the gateway between Skype and the GSM gateway which means there is a "security point" risk. You should be aware that your message is not encrypted end to end.
‘Skype to SMS’ is available as a Beta test service for all users of Skype who have been authorized by Connectotel. For information about authorization please see the FAQ here: http://www.connectotel.com/sms/skypetosmsfaq.html There is no charge for the SMS messages sent, for the duration of the Beta test. The ‘SMS to Skype’ Beta test service is available free of charge to all users of Skype.
Connectotel is examining the possibility of providing other gateway services, including, for example, links to and from e-mail, fax and outside data feeds, based on similar technology.
Connectotel


Eric Lagerway - SIPthat.com


A potential cautionary flag.


I've watched many announcements fly out on Skype to SMS. I've seen Skype Technologies quoted as if it is their program. It's not as far as I know. A few weeks ago I blogged that Connectotel had launched an SMS to Skype service using an SMS gateway. We tried it out and were impressed. Now they are testing Skype to SMS services. I think this is exciting. I would add one cautionary note. Connectotel is the gateway between Skype and the GSM gateway which means there is a "security point" risk. You should be aware that your message is not encrypted end to end.
‘Skype to SMS’ is available as a Beta test service for all users of Skype who have been authorized by Connectotel. For information about authorization please see the FAQ here: http://www.connectotel.com/sms/skypetosmsfaq.html There is no charge for the SMS messages sent, for the duration of the Beta test. The ‘SMS to Skype’ Beta test service is available free of charge to all users of Skype.
Connectotel is examining the possibility of providing other gateway services, including, for example, links to and from e-mail, fax and outside data feeds, based on similar technology.
Connectotel


Om Malik - VoIP Daily


Rocky Mountain News: TechnologyRocky Mountain News: Technology has a round up story about VoIP in the Front Range of Colorado and what Qwest may or may not do.



The story also mentions Comcast, which is testing VoIP and being too cute about their plans. All one has to do is look at how successful CableVision, AT&T and even Vonage have been.
Does anyone really think that Comcast won't be a big player in 2005 in VoIP, and that Front Range network operator Level3 won't be in the mix...
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Vonage Darwin Awards and Motel 6The Vonage series of commercials has a very "don't be so stupid to pay more for phone service." That and a Tom Bodette, Motel 6 feel. They're cute, catchy, thematic. They are following the tv commercial feeling of AT&T's spots (that are no longer running) by focusing on broadband (without offering to get it for you) and they are implying you're stupid if you don't switch.
I like the creativity, the focus on price, broadband and the fact that the first half of the spots is just the jingle. What I don't like is that there is no reference to leading national retailers selling the service. My guess is Vonage wants to capture as much of the business directly to help recoup their advertising expense as fast as possible.
This is not going to be cheap and they need to start adding more than 1,000 customers a day. While they don't have to be as tribbles like as Skype, they need to start seeing faster adoption or the burn rate will finally begin.
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Techdirt:Cablevision's Bundle Is WorkingTechdirt:Cablevision's Bundle Is Working as they seem to have brought the price to a point where it's FREE according to TechDirt.
So let me get this straight. They advertise for free. They reduce the cost of services. They hurt the phone companies. Next !
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Jeff's Opinion In The WSJWSJ.com - Write to The Wall Street Journal has a letter from the guru of VoIP, Jeff Pulver. It's a great read and makes many salient points.
Give it a read.


Timothy Mcdonald - Ruminations on Telecom and the Economy



VON 2005


Like many of the VoIP faithful, I made the pilgramage to Boston for this years VON conference. Others have previously described the public events and offline activites in much detail. I wanted to share some observations that I had of VON.
First, Jeff Pulver is a solid human being. He cares for people, he is passionate about this industry, and he is genuine. Everyone in this industry should support Jeff in his various efforts. There are few people like him moving around in this world. Great job Jeff on a successful show.
While I was walking around the show floor, I kept trying to place the VoIP industry in the context of the commercialization of the Internet. I came away from Boston feeling that excited about the turnout and clear interest in the space, yet sad that the floor was virtually full with folks selling gear. It was like a flashback to the early Internet days, going to a show where all one could see were displays hawking Cisco routers, Sun boxes and an occasional telco selling T-1's. That's what I felt walking the floor. There were a ton of folks selling gear. Virtually all, save for the shining lights of vision emanating from the booths of Digium and Popular Telephony, were pitching the replication of existing services. Save for the two companies referenced above, I did not see any vision for harnessing the technology to create something radically different other than cheaper POTS. That's a shame.
On that point, the day that VON opened Lucent put out a press release touting its ability to deliver customized ringback tones. In other words, one can select the sound that a caller hears when dialing your number. Pretty cool! The mind races with ideas: AOL using this in their VoIP service to provide audio branding in the way thier ubiquitous "You've got mail" sound file did. Or, one could envision a radically different business model for VoIP whereby service is provided for free with the proviso that ringbacks are branded by companies one selects form a list of sponsors. Well, you can see the direction I am going here. Excited by this announcement, I visited the Lucent booth, where a bunch of folks who look like they are more familiar selling the 5ESS than thinking about applications development, sat around talking to eachother. I asked one of them if they could show me the ringback feature. One guy grabbed another, and yet another....you get the idea. No one could help.
VoIP needs innovation. The innovation needs to come from the development of unique features and business models. The industry needs to move beyond the stage of being proud of its ability to replicate existing features for less. The truth is that the features we have today aren't so great. We need to innovate. we need applications developers and creative entrepreneurs who can look at these capabilities and build the next EBAY, Amazon, Google or Overstock.
So my wish list for next year is to see the following:
The Dell (Apple) Pavilion: Selling a range of fixed and wireless communicators (voice and video) bringing a familiar brand and a powerful distribution channel to bear on the emerging market for IP communications gear
The VoIP Developers Pavillion: Providing a range of innovative VoIP enabled applications and services, from language translators on demand, to customized ringbacks to voice messaging applications to hyper local voice service development, to ........
Collaborative Applications Pavillion: Highlighting a range of collaboration applications, from Blogs to Notes to Istanbul which integrate voice as a feature.
I could go on, but I think its best to leave it at that. We will know that VON's time has come, when the show and the floor are dominated by applications developers, not equipment vendors. Bring on the applications developers!
As always, feel free to write back!


October 22, 2004 Permalink Comments (0) TrackBack (1)

Some Themes Worth TrackingYesterday brings the news that the feds intend to closely scrutinize Microsoft's development of its next-gen operating system Longhorn. This is coupled with an announcement from Seattle that Microsoft intends to distribute some $75 billion in cash to its shareholders over the next four years. Lets see now, the feds are essentially saying "we intend to continue to stick our noses on your business, and effectivley maintain a veto power on future functionality that you intend to incorporate in your monopoly operating system." It is control over this operating system, and the API's associated with it, that has led to the huge cash flows Microsoft has generated over the last 20 years. So, realizing that the feds seem to be intent on killing the goose that laid the golden egg, Microsoft decides its investors can find better investment opportunities for its cash than the Company can, provided the current regulatory climate.
This is by no means meant to imply that the Company does not face material issues with respect to control of the OS and the associated API's. One need only read this enlightening piece about How Microsoft Lost the API War to understand the competitive challenges facing the Company today. So Bill Gates and Company have decided to take their billions and go to another playground........
I believe that we are staring to see the beginning of some fundemental shifts in market structure in the software/communications/networking markets. This news out of Microsoft is one signpost. Other signposts include:
AT&T and MCI exiting the consumer voice business. Leaving this the domain of the RBOC's and emergent VoIP providers.
DOJ taking a closer look at the AT&T Wireless acquisition, indicating a potential stumbling block to closing this deal (structural separation of wireless and wireline in the offing?) If the folks at DOJ realize that the market definition is local (spectrum is a local asset) and that the RBOC's dominate the competitive platform (wireline) this deal would be a no brainer to reject. This would also create some interesting issue woth respect to the RBOC's bundling VoIP, DSL and wireless. In terms of local markets, the RBOC's control of the consumer market is akin to Microsofts control of the OS market.
Comcast announces internet content deal with Disney, reiterating the need to control content in order to prevent price erosion in its broadband service. Does anyone still believe cable can support the high price and high margins for much longer? And incremental competition is coming....
With Craig McCaw ready to launch a low cost wireless data/VoIP service and Nextel and Flarion readying an IP based last mile solution, competition in the consumer data space should be heating up.
And there is the increasing momentum in the VoIP market with respect to intelligent endpoints (with a nod to David Isenberg, author of The Rise of the Stupid Network) in the form of cheap, wifi phones with VoIP software embedded in the handsets. Its sort of like the early nineties when a consumer could go to a store and buy a modem to connect to an ISP. The phone Company became a dumb pipe operator, with the intelligent endpoint (modem equipped comuter) connecting over the phone line to an ISP such as AOL. Dumb pipes and intelligent endpoints....
Speaking of intelligent endpoints, check out the latest from Garmin. This GPS navigation device can pinpoint you location to within several feet, provide detailed directions and even provides a comprehensive directory of local restaurants, shopping, hotels, service stations, etc. All for the cost of the device with a software update fee for the database updates. No wireless data connection required. Intelligent endpoint indeed! Verizon, can you hear me now? Seems to me that this is a better service than andy wireless provider could ever hope to deliver in thier on demand, 3g data world.
Thats more than enough for now. Lets just say that we are at the early stage of a fundemental realignment of the software/communications/networking markets. Navigating this terrain requires an understanding of the complex interplay of communications services, data networking, software applications, digital media and wireless. All this combined with a strong dose of economics, game theory and competitive strategy. There is no doubt that we live in interesting times!
July 21, 2004 Permalink Comments (0) TrackBack (0)


Jeff Pulver - The Jeff Pulver Blog


Bill and I sat down with Jeff Pulver at VON Canada and began to get a real sense of his deeper passion for the IP community. We discussed developers and more. This post focuses on what’s wrapped up in our “freedom to connect”.
I was pleased I dropped my iPod/iTalk on the table. Jeff spoke at New York speed and my scrawl was no match. Since then I’ve also had a little time to reflect. Jeff’s Von Canada talk was titled “Shift Happens” and he wasn’t only talking to the audience. He himself has made a shift.
He told me that the one thing people should understand from Skype is that they took off-the-shelf components and assembled them and made it work better. While the industry may be very defensive (think SIP etc) about that, the reality and the result is that end to end IP is really happening. He pointed out that based on the inflection points and Skype’s current trajectory it is not a question of when. It is now. So wakey wakey!!!
Jeff on looking to the immediate future…
1. End to end IP is happening thanks to Skype.. and empowering people that wouldn’t otherwise talk to each other. 2. Disintermediation of the PBX businesses as CEO’s realize they are only selling software. 3. Skype has the potential to be the operating system like Microsoft; however, they are susceptible to Microsoft. On the consumer side Skype is like an iPod. On the industry side they need to watch their back for they will create rage at AOL and Yahoo.
He alluded to a mindset war and not a technology war. I’m wrapping that into three points:
1. Skype must create a rich developer community, and enable new strategies to accelerate innovative products that were impossible over old networks. 2. The mindset is won with users, and the user experience. Skype must very carefully balance advancement with “trust” and doing good for Skypers.3. The need to keep regulation and the old industry off the emerging VON solution set. Secure our freedom to connect.
Jeff on Net Freedoms: We had a short segment on Net Freedoms which made the most impact on me. We take our freedoms to be self-evident until they are taken away. The battle above means a very different landscape for mobile providers, and traditional telecoms. The best of the smart service providers will become dumb access pipe providers when it is all over. “We” all need connectivity and our freedom to connect. Former Chairman Powell and the new FCC Chairman must work to ensure those net freedoms become adopted and subscribed to by the service providers of the world.
Jeff shared his activities in Washington over the last few months trying to explain what his fears are. He says they are taken too much for granted. We need to guarantee the freedom to run our own applications. There really is a greater need for a call to action. This one needs to be on more than just the blogger radar. He’s running a VoIP Policy Summit 2005 in Washington on May 4th and planning a rally on the steps of the capital at the end of June. Getting the people out for the rally means the message must become one about our basic freedoms. This is not just about technology.
My wish is.. that if you Skype then you will want to support Net Freedoms. As the largest VoIP community in the world this is not just about technology. It is the freedom to connect to whomever you want. It’s the freedom to converse, the freedom and rights to privacy, to exchange data, to control your own information. So free conversations and a great app like Skype is nice. However net freedoms is bigger than that. Skype is a vehicle and it is easy to associate consumer stories with it. It already makes the net freedom story easier to tell.
Jeff commented that he thought that Niklas may take this too much for granted and could be a blind spot. I’m pretty sure he’d like Niklas on the steps of Congress telling his story and sharing his vision. Niklas recently presented this paper (CEPT Conference Presentation). He’s not unaware, he’s just powerless relative to “users”. “We” Skype users are the ones to make the case, and be the ones to march on Washington. Skype is a great app as long as it has “consumer trust” and promotes user freedoms.
My conclusion: Net Freedom is a badge that all Skypers should wear as long as Skype preserves our trust. Something we will be blogging a lot more about here.
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Aswath Rao - Aswath Weblog



April 24, 2005


Sometimes you are what others say you are.
One of my recent entries received unusual attention from high places. Richard Stastny called it a requiem for SIP. How can it be? It didn’t follow the usual norms; there were no platitudes to the dead; it contained bitter remarks. Instead, my entry was intended to be a cautionary note to Skypers that one day they also can be discarded by using the same sword – “bellheaded”.
More than a year back I have expressed my opinion about Skype and I have not changed my mind. But others may have. For some it has even become "iPod of VoIP". I thought I will make it clear by posting a comment to Richard’s entry. He responded, not with a reply comment but a new entry. He tells us that he knew it all along (but then why call my entry to be a requiem to SIP?) and then goes on to say that he wanted to provoke SIP community to change their wayward direction. No matter, the “requiem” label has stuck. So let me state the following in the clear instead of using allegory:
Skype has made it clear that it is a business enterprise.It is asking us to let it manage our net identity in return for a free software application, the inner workings of which is a secret; equivalent free software can be easily made available, if not already available/We are being told by Skype apologists that when Skype has amassed enough identities, it will collect tolls from others who want to connect you. This should alarm a potential subscriber. This means the Skype users will lose their freedom in deciding with whom to connect to; Skype will decide it for you.Instead of cautioning us of this, we are told to get over it.
And one more thing. I just plain do not agree that SIP is dead or even need to die, just as surely H.323 need not to have been killed. So please do not call my post to be a requiem.
Posted by aswath at April 24, 2005 06:58 AM TrackBack



Ted Shelton - IP Inferno



Don't try VoIP on Verizon

I was excited about Verizon's new high speed IP network -- finally some terrific speeds and broad availability on cell phones! Here is the first cell phone network that could support Skype! But wait, what's that in the user agreement?
Data sessions may be used for following purposes: (i) Internet browsing; (ii) email; and (iii) intranet access (including access to corporate intranets, email and individual productivity applications like customer relationship management, sales force and field service automation. Intranet access requires the BlackBerry Enterprise Server.). Unlimited plans are for individual use only and not for resale. The Unlimited plans cannot be used: (1) for any applications that tether the device to laptops, PCs, or other equipment for any purpose, (2) for uploading, downloading or streaming of movies, music or games, (3) with server devices or with host computer applications other than the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, including, without limitation, Web camera posts or broadcasts, continuous jpeg file transfers, automatic data feeds, telemetry applications, automated functions or any other machine-to-machine applications, (4) as substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections.Well, I am not a lawyer, but it sounds like VoIP is just plain not allowed. Not only that, but without the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, all I can do is email and web browsing!! Why the heck do I need all of this bandwidth if all I can do is email and web?
I hope that the marketplace responds to Verizon with a big raspberry, and lets them know that when we buy data services we expect to be able to USE our data services!! On another front, isn't there something the FCC can do? Aren't the public airwaves that these data services are running on a part of the commons and this kind of restraint on trade a violation of the license under which Verizon operates? Someone with more FCC knowledge please help out here!
posted by Ted at 8:57 AM 0 comments


Richard Stastny VoIP and ENUM


Tuesday, April 26, 20052nd Consulation on VoIP by the Austrian Regulator From the RTR web-site:



The Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and Telecommunications (RTR) is conducting a 6-week public consultation on the document "Guidelines for VoIP Service Providers" and invites all interested parties to submit positions and comments regarding the regulatory approach to VoIP services. RTR already held a public consultation on VoIP in June 2004 with the results influencing RTR's comments to the European Commission consultation on VoIP, This second public consultation on VoIP gives opportunity to comment on RTR's modified position. Due to the international aspect of VoIP regulation, the consultation document is published in English. Comments are welcome both in English and German. All comments received will be published on RTR's website, as long as RTR is not explicitely advised not to do so.
Please send your positions and comments until June 10, 2005 in electronic form (MS-Word, MS-Excel, PDF) via e-mail to konsultationen AT rtr.at
The consulation defines two classes of VoIP services (Class A PATS+ECS and Class B unregulated) and deals mainly with numbering issues, interconnect requirements and access to emergency services.
The proposed position is:
If you are connecting to the PSTN in Austria you are Class A and therefore regulated. One major point here is that if you want to provide VoIP service with a geographic (local) number, you need a fixed termination point at this location. If you provide a nomadic service in addition, you need also an additional nomadic number below for display if you access emergency services.
If you provide a nomadic (virtual) service only, you may use the number ranges 0720 and 0780 (ENUM) only.
Since the outcome of this consulation is important also for non-native VoIP providers, I recommend that VoIP providers interested in providing VoIP services using Austrian numbering resources or to terminate calls via gateways in Austria to retrieve this paper and also to comments on their position.
# posted by Richard : 17:18Economics of Telecommunication I am basically a technician who always gets told by the product managers of his incumbent that he has no idea about economics, markets and business cases. My cold comfort is they seem to hav e no idea either. Since I have a son Michael studying economics I even have sometimes the suspicion that I ...
Back to the story: my younger daughter Julia had a pre-paid SIM-Card where I have the control on re-charging, for very good reasons. For some period of time she used another SIM-card in her mobile phone and the old SIM got lost. This is nothing unusual in a 6-person household where much bigger things get lost: combs and glues just evaporate, mp3-players, power supplies, books, etc., sometimes even one of the kids gets lost.
Basically these things are not lost, they are just lurking somewhere. The easiest way to find them is to buy a replacement, because afterwards they are immediatly popping up. Ok, we do not replace kids, because they show up by themselves if they are hungry or need money, whatever happens first.
So I called the mobile service provider for another SIM-card:
The guy at the phone was very friendly:
No problem, that's just 29 Euro.PauseBut if you get a Nokia whatever in addition, it is only 19 Euro.
?Huh?
Ok, since mobile phones also evaporate (except the old museum bricks), it is always nice to have a spare one.
Nice, but I definitely do not understand the economics of telecommunications. I leave this to the product managers.
# posted by Richard : 09:45


Rich Tehrani - Rich Tehrani



Of course it should be obvious to anyone that VoIP is wreaking havoc on service providers. This technology had two false starts but is so entrenched now that service providers are rethinking how they will exist in the future. There is safety in numbers it seems and this is why we are seeing carriers herd together in smaller groups that eventually merge together.
But in the end consumers don’t benefit when service providers get too strong. This is exactly what Qwest is telling the FCC as they petition the government body to block the proposed merger of SBC and AT&T.
SBC has many reasons to initiate this acquisition not the least of which is reducing a powerful lobbying opponent from the industry. AT&T is one of the companies that fought tirelessly against the RBOC monopoly in the interest of consumers. AT&T did this because it was smart business for the NJ based telephone giant and in this case their interests were the same as Joe six-pack.
Here is part of the Qwest release on the matter:
"To protect the public, it is essential that if the merger application is not denied outright, then the FCC must condition its approval, at a minimum, on significant divestitures of facilities and other related overlapping operations in SBC's 13-state operating territory. In addition, because the proposed merged company will benefit from the elimination of AT&T as a competitor -- and benefit from the elimination of other competitors' access to AT&T's wholesale services and access facilities -- other significant conditions must be imposed in order to attempt to level the playing field."
On the heels of the Qwest release, an opposing announcement arrived from the Communications Workers of America, available at:
SBC-AT&T Merger Merits Quick Approval, CWA Tells FCC
According to CWA, SBC-AT&T merger will (with my comments in red):
Create a "premier U.S. communications company," with the ability to "expand the delivery of advanced technologies, services and features to all classes of customers."
"Create a company with the resources and end-to-end network essential in the deployment of advanced next-generation Internet-Protocol enabled networks and services."
They don’t need to merge to do this.
Assure that "national security will be safeguarded, by ensuring that AT&T, on which the government heavily depends for national security and other needs, will be a strong American company."
Interesting perspective but the government can just block foreign purchasers of AT&T and SBC could just as easily be acquired by a foreign corporation, right?
"Enhance, not reduce, competition by combining the different strengths of the two merger partners -- AT&T's global network and research innovation and SBC's financial strength and local exchange, broadband and wireless capabilities."
I am at a loss to understand how a merger enhances competition. AT&T’s CallVantage was a strong competitor to SBC’s phone service and the service had the added benefit of having the AT&T name behind it. The service is now apparently shelved – well not really shelved but I have yet to hear CallVantage being mentioned prominently since the merger was announced.
"Provide employees at both companies with the opportunity to share in the growth of the merged entity rather than the job loss that has been the fate of all too many AT&T employees in recent years."

I know a number of people who have their resumes ready at AT&T now that this merger was announced. Again, isnt it obvious that mergers create job loss and reduce competition?

Maybe I don’t have the smarts to understand why this merger id good for consumers. Nothing I have read to date convinces me that consumers have anything to gain.
Posted by rtehrani at 08:55 AM Comments (0) TrackBack (0)

Tom Tom - eurovoip
cisco acquires sipura cisco just announced that it is acquiring sipura technology - through its linksys division - for approximately $68 million in cash and options.
Cisco Systems today announced a definitive agreement to acquire privately-held Sipura Technology, Inc. This represents Cisco's first acquisition for its Linksys division, the leading provider of wireless and networking hardware for home, Small Office/Home Office and small business environments. Sipura is a leader in consumer voice over internet protocol technology and is a key technology provider for Linksys' current line of VoIP networking devices.


Dameon D. Welch-Abernathy - PhoneBoy's Blog



King County's Education Campaign on VoIP and E911I was looking in a recent issue of Computer Source Magazine, a Seattle tech publication. There was an ad in there from King County (Seattle is in King County), which explains that NOT ALL VoIP/Broadband Phone carriers provide full access to Enhanced 9-1-1 service. The first page of the linked PDF was in the magazine, my guess is the rest is part of a brochure that you can pick up from somewhere. There is also an information website regarding VoIP and E911 that King County has put together.
A good old-fashioned education campaign is a far cry from that place in Texas that sued Vonage for not having proper 911 service. However, there is at least one error in their education campaign.
As far as I know, 911 calls from Wireless phones do not always go to the right place as they claim they do on this site. They may in King County, or they may in other areas in western Washington, but I wouldn't bet on it either. I've also heard stories of landline 911 calls not getting routed to the right place either, though I think those were mostly in the Eastern US. Granted, landlines are generally viewed as having more reliable 911 service, and mobile phones come in second, but let's be honest.
The other error is the funding source for VoIP/Broadband 911. While they are right, the governments aren't allowed to assess a 911 tax on VoIP lines, there are other ways of getting that money that do not involve taxing the VoIP service, as they seem to suggest. Instead of making every VoIP telephone service provider comply with thousands of different tax structures and rules, the 911 tax (or whatever is called) should be taxed at the entry point to the network, i.e. at the company who provides the pipe to your house. In most cases, this means either the local telco or the cable company. They already have to collect taxes for the government, what's one more?
14:07:48 on 04/26/05 by PhoneBoy - VoIP n Telecom - No Trackbacks - 1 comment

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