Monday, May 02, 2005

May 1

Andy Abramson - VoIP Watch

May 01, 2005
Hey Buddy, Can You Spare Your Skype List

Skype Journal points out that your Skype buddy list now resides on a central server. I'm very happy to hear that. Having to re-add all my buddies was a lot of work with each new Skype enabled device that came along.
May 01, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Vonage Raising More Dough
I've heard the same rumors as Om about Vonage seeking more VC money. This round will likely be what is called a late stage investment, and may even involve taking out some of the current investors and shareholders at a fair multiple. That said, I've also heard the Jeffrey Citron has about $70 million of his own money in Vonage and has been maintained his investment levels to date to avoid dilution.
All of this said, if Vonage is going to IPO this could be the time they do it.
May 01, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Skype Taking On Vonage Et Al ???
Om points out that Skype is really now going after the same market as Vonage and really all the rest. I don't fully agree, but feel he's looking the right way, just not going as deep as one can.
For 30 euros a year you get a phone number that rings in with SkypeIn. That's roughly 3 bucks a month or half of what the phone company charges for a basic no frill, pay for extra as you go, but unlike the RBOC's and PTTs around the globe, you don't get free voicemail like you do from Skype at that price.
As a matter of fact, all the third part voice mail services cost more per year than just having a SkypeIn number, even if you never had it ring on your computer or PDA.
Buying some SkypeOut credits still for the Pay as You go type or low volume caller is also a Bell disruptor.

May 01, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Skype Adds Affiliate Model

Already masters of Viral marketing, Skype has added an affiliate program via Commission Junction that creates a Skype Sign Up for Premium services and yields the advertiser some revenue.
May 01, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Why Is Qualcomm Warming Up To WiFi Finally?
When I read this, I immediately knew the answer. MEDIAFLO, a new Qualcomm effort to deliver radio and tv like content using CDMA and EVDO. There is only one problem. The signal can't go everywhere and 802.11n will help the content go where EVDO won't take it.

May 01, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Is VoIP First Wave of True IP Convergence

The Toronto Globe and Mail has a very good article on the future of IP Convergence and brings to mind that VoIP may indeed be the first of the applications which causes that.

May 01, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
What MassMarketing of VoIP will Mean To IT Marketplace

Yesterday Om Malik and I met for coffee in San Francisco. Surprisingly Om didn't look like all of Mom's cooking had taken any effect on him, other than he admitted he could now get back to blogging beyond what he's been able to do.
One of the subjects we talked about at the Starbucks (where neither of us were using laptops) was the expected surge in the level of activity that would be seen in the various sectors that are touched and matured by Broadband.
This article that deals mostly with consumer level VoIP and the chip (semi-conductor) industry made me think of one comment I made to Om. I had said that "the public doesn't want TV on their computer. They want their TV to be the computer." I went on to say that i don't understand why I can't buy a 32" flatscreen with a PC built in, and a second "remote" that is my laptop on which I can take my content with me.
Everything I read in the article makes me think that one day we will have that.

May 01, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Will VoIP Mess Up ISPs?

An InformationWeek article calls into question what VoIP will do to existing ISP's infrastructure and thinks the upsurge in voice traffic over networks really only built for certain traffic levels will cause a strain.
May 01, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Skype Smartphone Claims Disputed
An Australian has disputed some of the Skype Smartphone claims when it comes to why the new piece of software can't do thing.
May 01, 2005 | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

David Beckemeyer- Mr Blog

Hacks built using SkypeAPI are property of Skype

The Skype API lets developers build hacks onto the Skype application. It doesn't give one access to the Skype protocol but it allows external applications to interact with the Skype software.
Some folks over on the VoIP USER forum have noted that the Skype EULA says Skype owns anything developed on the SkypeAPI. It suggests that Skype would have commercial rights to anything developed using the SkypeAPI.
If this is in fact the effect of the Skype EULA, it seems to limit the possibilities of anyone doing anything interesting with the API. I mean why would anyone invest their own time and money to build something they're going to have to give away to Skype and from which only Skype can profit? Skype controls the terms of distribution of your application. That may be okay for home hacks, but certainly nobody can build a fundable business using it.
Doesn't Pulver Communicator use the Skype API? Does this mean Jeff has to give it to Niklas?
Posted 09:45 PM PST by MrBlog [Comments (0)] [permalink]

Mark Evans - Mark Evans

Another VC Round for Vonage?
by Mark Evans on May 1, 2005 09:16PM (EDT)

Om Malik is hearing a new round of speculation that Vonage is looking raise another US$100 million in private equity. This would increase Vonage's financing tally to more than US$300-million. Using 8x8's 40,000 subscribers and $56.2 million market cap as a benchmark, Vonage is worth about US$850-million. Of course, it's impossible to place an accurate value on Vonage because there is no way of telling how much money the company is losing after all those marketing expenses. So how come Vonage is doing another private round rather than an IPO? For one, a private round means Vonage gets more time to "grow" the business without disclosing its financial results. In this market where revenue and profits are apparently back in vogue, Vonage may not have the proper balance sheet to meet today's IPO criteria. Of course, it also gives Vonage more time for a suitor (Sprint?) to step forward.
Leave Comment | Permanent Link | Cosmos

A Huawei-Marconi Marriage?
by Mark Evans on May 1, 2005 11:34AM (EDT)

After being dismissed as simply a low-cost player, Huawei Technologies seems to be gaining serious street cred. Huawei received a huge boost when BT Group selected it as one of eight preferred vendors for a US$19-billion next-generation contract. Now, there is speculation (according to Lightreading) Huawei could pursue Marconi to beef up its technology portfolio and management bench strength. Marconi’s suddenly in flux after missing out on the BT deal – a major surprise given BT accounts for about 25% of Marconi’s annual sales. At current prices, Marconi's worth about US$1-billion.
It was one thing for the telecom sector to be worried about Huawei eating their lunch on price, it’s quite another when a global carrier such as BT picks Huawei’s technology to be a key part of its next-generation network. Armed with plenty of financial support from the Chinese government, Huawei has the ability to win business through vendor financing, and make large investments. If Nortel and Cisco were worried about Huawei before, they have more reason to be even more concerned.
Leave Comment | Permanent Link | Cosmos

Martin Geddes - Telepocalypse

Perusing my backlogged morning BoingBoing fix I see a Florida tiff where a criminal background checking company wishes to force all on-line dating agencies to put their customers through a check. (It’s always nice if your product is mandatory by law.)
The obvious effect of such a change would be to make people use dating sites not affiliated with Florida in any way.
A hop, skip and intellectual jump later, and we see the same issues with VoIP. The question “should we regulate VoIP?” should meet the retort “can you regulate VoIP?”
I have heard it argued that it is essential to get a single set of federal/EU/world/glactic rules so companies don’t have the costs of dealing with a zillion local sets of rules. But we can solve the problem by making two simple rules. Firstly, the laws of where the service provider has nexus apply, not where the customer may happen to be. This reflects the geographically untethered nature of the Internet. Secondly, the regulatory district needs to be clearly and prominently displayed to the user. If we’re playing Skype by Luxembourg rules, we ought to know without having to grep the whole contract.
We don’t need to get into contortions about defining layers so this only applies to the application layer. Connectivity is local (with the exception of satellite), so the moment you deploy a local lineman or have someone on standby to maintain a central office you gain nexus and local rules apply.
Where a service provider has nexus in several locations, you’ll have to come up with tiebreaker rules to decide who gets to choose which apply. I’ll leave that one to the lawyers to argue over.
For pure connectivity or service I can’t think of why this scheme shouldn’t work. This scheme wouldn’t, however, have fixed the problems I saw at Sprint, where California rules on “billing on behalf of” (BOBO) contaminate the whole country. (BOBO is where your “information service” ringtone is charged on your “telephone service” cellular bill.) Who knows whether the customer has a second home in California and sorta-counts as a resident? Just slap California rules on everyone.
This is a cross-over example: putting application-layer billable items on a connectivity-layer bill. On the other hand, maybe this is exactly the result we want: people who try to mix connectivity and service will face high costs of delivery and compliance; those whose services are purely virtual can pick and choose their regulatorium.
Posted by Martin | Permalink | Add a comment | No TrackBacks

April 30, 2005
Enough SIP / Skype Foolishness
By StephenSmith

SIP is Dead was a provocative headline after VON Canada, sparking a minor packet storm of blog commentary. The bits have been flowing ...
It all started with Niklas Zennstrom's report on exponential Skype growth at VON Canada, prompting Jeff Pulver to say Shift Happens and call Skype the iPod of Communications
Martin Geddes writes that "SIP is history as far as the future of voice is concerned" (shameless out-of-context quote) in an essay title The Telecom Earthquake
Richard Stastny and Aswath Rao traded self-referential blog postings -- Requiem for SIP, no it's not a requiem, and clarification
The backlash begins and Martin then writes a balancing viewpoint here about things that Skype doesn't address well
Jeff then steps in and writes that SIP really isn't Dead, but that Skype is making huge impact and once current projects to bake it into silicon and 3G handsets are realized that there may be no turning back. He also posted a thoughtful piece by Timothy Jasionowski who says Skype benefits by having sole accountability to make protocols work wheras SIP is slowed by IETF and competing implementations.
I had a long chat with a smart colleague on this topic. We felt that the viewpoint of a SIP vs. Skype shootout is the wrong way of looking at things. SIP and Skype solve different problems, there's a place for both of them, and they complement each other nicely.

SIP + RTP are protocols that are well suited for performing IP telephony within and between enterprises and carriers. These protocols are clear about how to set up and tear down voice media streams when you know the IP address of the other sides proxy and you yourself can configure and maintain a URI. This is great for, say, an service provider to interface with the PSTN via a carrier like Level(3). Or for an enterprise PBX that supports remote branch offices. Or an enterprise interfacing to a carrier. These are huge fractions of worldwide voice communications. The protocols are mature, debugged, well supported, and have industry momentum.

What they're not good at is being run on a home machine behind random, generic NATs, firwalls, and NetNanny filters. The ATA is a kludge, and it's problematic in that we're asking the average consumer to install and configure a home router in order to make a VoIP call. And your average user has no idea how to set a sip:user@host URI. They don't and usually can't exist in the web namespace, nor do they want to. Thus we have the hack of using PSTN 10 digit phone numbers to call IP endpoints. If you think I'm overstating the complexity of these problems, I would ask whether or not you've ever tried to configure your xten softphone to talk to your residential VoIP carrier. Or tried to write an Asterisk dial plan ...

Enter Skype. 1) they're not trying to interface to your analog phone, they give you an ability to use your PC, the one thing for sure that you have connected to the braodband even if you don't own a router. 2) the Skype protocol is flexible and was designed (with lessons learned from the p2p community) to escalate through a variety of interconnection mechanisms until eventually finding one that works. It's simple, it works, and that explains it's growth. I can't tell you how many people I have introduced to Skype, that now have virally brought their peers online. It also scales well and performs well because of it's peer-to-peer nature.

But, try to use Skype as an enterprise PBX. No go. Their exotic encrypted peer to peer directory and authentication system lives in the cloud, is closed, is aimed at consumers only, and you simply can't do it. Try to take off-the-shelf Skype APIs and build a large scale IVR . Try to use Skype in a call center. Ooops, no. Try to use Skype protocols as a enterprise to carrier or enterprise to enterprise handoff. Umm, nope.

Skype has got C to C nailed, don't even try to compete. Skype doesn't address B2C, C2B, or B2B. For those, there's SIP. Martin makes some similar points here.

Long live SIP, Long live Skype.

May 01, 2005
Guest Blogger: Henry Sinnreich - re: Enough SIP / Skype Foolishness

Stephen Smith has posted an excellent summary and conclusion about the "Enough SIP / Skype Foolishness" debate on April 30. See the excellent summary at:

So there is very little to add, except two items:
Skype is a great and welcome challenge for SIP implementers:
- To provide an equal or better user experience, all the way from downloading the application and subscribing for service to the simple use of presence, IM and voice. To assure plugging in a new SIP phone out of the box, and have it work after only entering some ID.
- To remember the P2P roots of SIP and that all call control features can be implemented using P2P SIP without an expensive VoIP network infrastructure. Not adding infrastructure costs that VoIP providers can ill afford and users should not have to pay for. Examples are expensive network based service components such as the softswitch (I don't mean the IP-PSTN gateway which is a must), the Centrex server and various other application servers, the media servers, the session border controllers, policy servers and more.
Users may even have to pay so that Skype gets blocked!
It's time to remember that on the stupid Internet the applications reside in the endpoints. There are some exceptions though confirming the rule, such as centralized conference service and PSTN gateways as mentioned.
Though private enterprise IP networks may have more and stricter requirements than consumer VoIP has, there is no reason to forget the Internet basics when buying enterprise solutions.
The topics of QoS and MOS suggest another wake-up call from Skype. Skype has demonstrated that expensive QoS enabled "VoIP network infrastructure" is not required and has arguably the best sound quality nevertheless. Wow! The best sound quality without using MPLS!
BTW: Most public VoIP providers have no QoS equipment anyway, since they don't control the network. One has to wonder who makes those buying decisions for QoS? Have they heard that QoS does not produce bandwidth (only revenue for purveyors of QoS enabled networks), nor can MPLS avoid congestion on the access links.
In conclusion, Skype is not a killer for SIP, but an excellent challenge for implementers of SIP. Skype is also a challenge when budgeting for network infrastructure, except for bandwidth.
As for security, that's another story, for some other time.
Henry Sinnreich
Richardson, Texas

Rich Tehrani - Rich Tehrani

May 01, 2005
VoIP Still Not Parasitic
The whole notion that VoIP service should be called parasitic is lost on me. In many cases, VoIP is the reason people purchase broadband and as such I would consider it symbiotic. Why don't we call Google a parasitic search? Hotmail, a parasitic e-mail service? iTunes a parasitic music service. Get the point? Whoever decided the term parasitic should be applied to VoIP has done the industry a disservice.

Here is an extended rant on the subject:
Posted by rtehrani at 02:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Telecom Revolution

Telecom visionary Jim Burton has a white paper on the future of telecom. It is a good read. Jim has been on the leading edge of telecom for many years. Others are better at self-promoting than him but he is a true visionary and I salute him for his efforts.

Posted by rtehrani at 02:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

I recently met with a company called NetScout that has some extremely useful network monitoring tools for the world of VoIP. By placing passive probes on the network, they are able to gather data flows and summarize the results in a database for you to analyze as needed. The company tells me they consider their flow recorder as the TiVo for your network. You can imagine how much storage you would need to really have a TiVo on your network -- they tell me their recorder can hold 40 terabytes.

The system can record calls, let you know what happened on your network at 2:00 AM last night, etc. Networks are alive and a single computer can change the dynamic of your data flow and even wreak havoc. It is essential to be able to monitor what is happening on a network carrying voice.

Whereas there are vendors that poll the network at 15 minute intervals, NetScout can get down to single minute intervals allowing increased level of granularity in network inspection. The system also allows for playback of VoIP calls, as well as the ability to see jitter, packet loss, codec use, etc.

Network monitoring and management is essential in VoIP implementations and NetScout is a company worth checking out before you implement VoIP on your network.
Posted by rtehrani at 10:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0

Dameon D. Welch-Abernathy - PhoneBoy's Blog

Convergence Must Be
Andy points to an article in the Toronto Globe and Mail about how VoIP enables convergence. While it's nice that the mainstream press sees it as well, this article doesn't mention the bandwidth requirements of a converged network, which I mentioned last night. They do talk about priorization, which is also important (something I forgot to mention).

00:47:35 on 05/02/05 by PhoneBoy - VoIP n Telecom - No Trackbacks - comments
More Than Just PSTN Replacement

In my last blog entry, I was decrying what some others have said about VoIP and the average consumer. Part of the problem is that just about everyone selling VoIP service, whether it be in the consumer or business space, is basically selling VoIP as toll bypass. Maybe that's because it's the only "marketable" thing to do with VoIP right now. It's something the average consumer can understand and it's something the companies selling it can make money on (albeit not much).

VoIP to me represents so much more than PSTN replacement. It represents both a way to disintermediates point-to-point voice communication and provides one of the keys to convergence.

In the PSTN world, the telcos are the intermediates in the communication path. They own the communication path. That means they can make (and do) money on every communication that passes through them everytime it happens. Telcos have been doing this for years. How else can services like IPKall be offered for free? Hint: IPKall is a service provided by a CLEC who owns the telephone numbers in question and therefore make a small amount of money on each incoming call. My guess is the folks at Free Conference are in a similar situation.

When two endpoints are talking over VoIP, the point of intermediation either completely changes or vanishes entirely depending on the situation. If you are using a commercial service like BroadVoice or VoicePulse, your intermediation point changes to that provider. Why? Because all of their customers VoIP traffic must proxy through them. There are technical reasons for this, namely the endpoints are behind NAT and the gateways are needed to aid in communication to the PSTN and to other VoIP endpoints. Skype also employs proxies, but instead of employing their own, they co-opt the computers of their users to do the dirty work.

To make the intermediary vanish, either call IP to IP or set up your own intermediary: an Asterisk server, sipX, or something similar. These servers allow you to become your own intermediary for voice communication with your friends, the PSTN, or whoemever. The power of communications in your hands. Voxilla has it's own Asterisk server. We have people in different parts of the country and the world using this server. We call amongst ourselves. We provide our own services. We control our own communications destiny. Peer-to-peer calling is free. Peer to PSTN calling is dirt-cheap.

Meanwhile, the widespread adoption of VoIP provides a major component needed to increase convergence. By convergence, I mean "all media streams flowing over one network." Right now we've got Cable TV or satellite, a telephone, a mobile phone, and who knows what else. As I've said many times, voice is just an application, even on a regular PSTN line. When the application can be transmitted in a common form over numerous different physical mediums, that clears the way for convergence. VoIP makes it possible for voice. Other technologies make it possible for video, audio, text, and whatever else anyone wants to dream up.

The major things holding convergence back: lack of bandwidth and incumbent cable and telephone companies too interested in holding onto their monopoly profits to deploy it in any serious amount. I have high hopes that these barriers will slowly come down, either by market forces or possibly regulation.
00:52:29 on 05/01/05 by PhoneBoy - VoIP n Telecom - No Trackbacks - comments


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