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January 2004

Posts from December 2003

Here Comes Cisco!

Cisco loves to play Monopoly. So while the Justice Department a few years back was going after Microsoft, I regularly said on the KenRadio World Technology RoundUp that the company Janet Reno and her team should have been studying and investigating was Cisco.

The more I see, the more I read, and the more I hear, Cisco is a true monopoly player. Ask companies that ever competed head to head about the way they operate. How they do swarm sales tactics. How they use the sales channel mix to cultivate leads. Cisco, when it comes to sales has a "take no prisoners" approach. Honestly, I admire a company that knows how to win. Cisco uses their might, size and checkbook to compete and usually wins, not with the best of class technology all the time either. What they do best is out sell and market better, and thus gain market share. Gee, isn't that what Microsoft does too?

Now, after working their way through the telecom slow down, Cisco has shown they used that period of limited spending by the carriers to think what the market will be wanting, when money starts flowing. Much of what Cisco is banking on has more to do with their MPLS (Muti-Protocol Label Switching) based technology and the future surrounding IPv6.

Cisco is starting to show their cards, and their colors. Watch for their efforts in acquisitions to take hold in 2004.

Stay Connected,

Andy Abramson

Pulver Is Write Again!

VoIP uber Evangelist, Jeff Pulver in his personal blog explained that Marketing will be the key effort that the carriers will need to put behind their efforts to convert customers to Voice over IP.

Give Pulver credit for taking on the cause. His FreeWorldDialup which enables free calls to other FWD subscribers and as a promotion, free calls to traditional land lines hs been red hot lately with nothing more than a word of mouse promotional effort. No individual has done more ever to promote Voice over IP and if anyone gets what's important to make the technology thrive, it's Pulver.

But, while Pulver emphasizes the carriers will need to market to acquire and retain customers, to go one step further, another point that is so important. It's QoS. As Pulver rightfully brings out the need for applications and services, which really is where the money will be made, but without major attention on Quality of Service, these services when delivered to customers who are not techies---as. techies always allow for bugs, crashes and are willing to be paying beta testers, the general business customer and consumers will not tolerate rebuffering, latency, jitter found currently with VoIP. So while free and cheap is good, quality is better.

Stay connected,

Andy Abramson

Where Vonage Is Heading

Ken Rutkowski, with whom I co-host the daily "World Technology RoundUp" on KenRadio pointed me to a story today in Nikkei Electronics Asia quoting Louis Holder of Vonage on the subject of E911.

While basically rehashing what Vonage has been saying on this subject since it began offering a method to reach the emergency services like police, fire and ambulance, the placement of the story and the timing says more about global expansion and where they are headed by Vonage simply by not saying it at all.

While all the USA Telcos are now going to go after the USA customers of each other, Vonage is going outside the border to bring business in.

Stay connected,

Andy Abramson

Tell US What We Already Know

Dennis Berman in the December 29th Wall Street Journal (subscription required) explains that the current VoIP offering from the USA based legacy carriers is really not much more than hype, as all the carriers are offering is dial tone and basic services over IP vs analog.

Berman accurately points out that the carriers have only one weapon in their arsenal to compete with right now: Price. He clearly recognizes the missing link: Applications.

First off, the Application Server market over the past few years has focused more on being a Softswitch replacement by providing functions when connected to a IP media gateway. These application servers mimic what the Softswitch is designed to do in part, but don't do everything (yet). Given the leading companies efforts to do this, there was little energy or money devoted to applications despite the clearly recognized need.

Companies like Webley have actually taken the time to develop their own Application Server and applications. While working on the PSTN platform today in standard fashion, when Webley unleashes their IP platform, which is all SIP based, it will be the first new carrier to offer end users more than just PSTN services and Unified Messaging.

IP super-carrier Level3 (Ticker: LVLT) has taken the old Genuity platform, and combined it with their own in house Softswitch technology and the July, 2003 Telverse acquisition to offer protocol mediation, similar to the MediaRing VoizBridge that meets the International carrier's demand for the very important H.323 to SIP Interworking function . Level3’s (3)Tone and (3)VoIP Marketplace are resold to carriers or directly to enterprise customers.

It’s getting there, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the Wall Street Journal Portals today. But then, that’s why you are here.

Stay connected,

Andy Abramson

If Om's Right about Rural Broadband

Uber blogger and Business 2.0 correspondent Om Malik has drawn attention to the next wave of rural broadband in his blog today.

I tend to agree with him, as rural America represents a huge underserverd market. Add together Fixed Broadband like was done on the island of Maui by Maui Sky Fiber with Voice over IP and a whole new way of being and staying connected occurs.

Next generation services would sprout up, for if you've ever worked in places in rural America like I have, the need for Internet access and a phone connection could easily be served by this technology.

Here in California there is the Skyweb Alliance made up of three regional wireless broadband networks that provide coverage to over 60 percent of the Golden State's territory.

Wireless broadband, which had a lull when LMDS and MMDS services petered out, are making a resurgence. Add in VoIP and watch it grow.

Stay connected,

Andy Abramson

Wired On VoIP

Xeni Jardin in Wired Magazine's, January 2004 edition provides a very entry level review of some of the Voice Over IP Services that are out there but leaves out some of the players and totally excludes how to get the Voice onto the Internet.

By lumping Vonage, Sipphone, Skype and Free World DialUp together and not explaining to users how they services differ Jardin has tried to present apples and oranges in the same bowl. The need for and ATA or a Softphone, the fact that Skype is really a first generation voice presence tool, and less of a VoIP platform as it currently lacks the ability to terminate a call on PSTN, which all the rest either can, do, or have the ability to do, also adds to the thinness of the story.

Lastly, other players like Packet 8, VoicePulse and iConnectHere were left out, and those three already do what Vonage does.

Softphones and Handsets

I've been playing with the softphones that are out there with the carriers I'm currently subscribed to.

Overall, the easiest to use are from Vonage. Delta Three's iConnectHere service or Jeff Pulver's Free World Dial Up's customized softphone client, X-Ten Light.

All that said, the X-Ten Pro softphone may provide the most functionality of all. While it's not free, I've been trialing it and have been able to configure it for both Free World Dial Up and iConnectHere once I got the set up instructions from the founder of X-Ten.

As far as handsets go, the Clarisys i-750 is about the best there is. Built in speakerphone, USB port and a touch tone dialer makes it so easy to use.

What all this means is staying connected keeps getting easier and less costly. The per minute pricing ranging from free this month with FWD or .2 cents per minute for up to 500 minutes with Vonage. As someone who remembers .13 cent per minute rates in the nineties and higher before that, the cost of telephone service is being driven down to a point of where it virtually costs nothing. Services are where the money will be made in the future.

New Vonage Services In Test

It seems Vonage is quietly developing some newer technology that enables third party development of tools to make their service even more useful, according to the web site.

While we've yet to validate the service, it sure sounds like their development group is trying to stay ahead of the competition. New players are about to make a run at them (Broadvox, VoicePulse and more) so steps like this enable them to keep their market position.

Now only if they would allow any SIP gateway to work on their network.

Stay Connected,

Andy Abramson


After looking at the blogs out there I decided that it's time to start one on Voice Over IP and share my views on the a subject that will be hotly discussed in 2004 and beyond.

When I'm not writing and posting to this BLOG, I'm also covering Voice Over IP at KenRadio on the daily "World Technology Roundup" or on our weekly show, "Speculations."

So, if Voice Over IP has your interest, this is the place to be.


Andy Abramson