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Posts from April 2004

My CallVantage Service Is Working

Less than a week ago I signed up for a trial of AT&T's new CallVantage service.

Based on some initial calling I can only say that people on the other end have no clue I'm using VoIP until I tell them so. The call quality is as close to PSTN as I have heard to date. The set up was easy as easy can be, and most of all, it all worked as promised. There was no jitter, latency, rebuffering or packet loss that I could detect.

Candidly, I'm not surprised the service is this good. AT&T has too much to lose in putting out an inferior product. By putting out a product that is at basic mode already better than the competition which went first, AT&T has really fired a shot that will be heard around the telephony world.


Good Morning Vietnam

In an article that is largely driven by Net2Phone, Internet Week draws attention to the expanding role VoIP will play in the country if Vietnam.

VoIP will indeed play a role in many countries. Given the developing nations status of Vietnam, VoIP has a chance to possibly make the country the next Singapore. Already the government has spent a good deal of time enacting Internet oriented legislation. Steps like that make the Vietnam "friendlier" to global commerce and can encourage offshoring to the reviving nation.


When Giants Unite

A non-exclusive alliance between Cisco and Ericcson is rather interesting, especially when one realizes that a few years back Cisco struke deals with USA based RBOC's to be integrators with them.

The implecations are far reaching, with the biggest being that CISCO can leverage already existing Ericsson softswitch technology and add onto it at both the network core router end and then go all the way into the home with their Linksys routers, including Wi-Fi.


TechCentralStation Launches VOIP Central

In case you're not getting enough VOIP information and insight here, Techcentralstation.com has launched VOIPCentral, a news and opinion aggregation site.

While it's got a nice format, I much prefer Om Malik's VoIP Daily. Not only does he link back here from time to time but he gets the stories I miss. His candor and insight keep him on my blog reader's top ten. Check it out !


FCC Summons Packet 8

8x8 NASDAQ: EGHT), the parent company of Packet8, has regularly been the subject of e-mails to me from some shareholders who feel that their marketing is rather anemic in light of all that Vonage and AT&T are doing. I tended to agree, for they have not really reached out to the media and embraced them the way the team @ Vonage (Brooke Schulz and Michael Slepian) and now Gary Morganstern of AT&T seem to clearly understand.

So, I found it rather apropos to post that Packet8 announced they are going to the FCC to present their video over IP solution and its benefits to the disabled.

While this niche market has all the reasons to be supported for altruistic purposes, it needs to be part of a larger and more cohesive marketing strategy. Given the announcement in March of a fifty million dollar shelf registration, and then a deal to use Level3's network and their Virtual Office announcement also both made in March, it would appear that 8x8 is heeding the advice of their shareholders and starting to market, if for no other reason than to get another round of investment dollars and to make sure they stay in the news, something they were able to do around the recent VON conference in Santa Clara.

The good news is that Packet8 is making moves to get some attention. Let's give them some room to maneuver and see where they end up.


Wireless Travels

While this post has nothing to do with VoIP, it does have everything to do with mobility, as in my mind, the two are interrelated.

Yesterday morning, I boarded an AMTRAK train north to Santa Barbara from suburban San Diego's Solana Beach station. The journey, about five hours, is no more in time than driving would be...with a few caveats. I don't have to drive. I don't sit in traffic. There is power in the train cars to plug in and power my laptop and cell phone (since my car charger is among the missing that's an extra bonus) and one more thing...I can work on the computer the whole ride up, versus drive and only think or talk on the phone....and most importantly be fully connected to the Internet for the lions share of the journey.

Both my Sprint PCS-1XRTT and Verizon EVDO card will keep me connected, and the view of the Pacific Coast on the very comfortable Surfliner can't be beat. No traffic jams. And free coffee. I used the Sprint card end to end, for two reasons. Faster upload speed and more consistent connection based on past experience.

Once in Santa Barbara, I walked all of a few blocks to a waiting rental car; a Mustang convertible lowered the top and headed off to the Wine Cask for the second of two Santa Barbara County Wine Futures tastings.

Using Yahoo Maps, while on the train north, I found an integrated hot spot map, showing no fewer than three Centrino approved hot spots within easy walking distance. This new feature is a godsend to those of us who lead (or prefer) a modern era nomadic lifestyle. Once I got to my hotel, the Embassy Suites in Lompoc, about 45 minutes into the wine region and only 20 minutes from the amazing Chef Ricks second location in Santa Ynez, I was online again using free in room Wi-Fi powered by Wayport. The FREE is the new part, for it was only in October when I last stayed in the same property, when they charged for the service. Since then Hilton, Embassy Suites' parent has made Wi-Fi an amenity, making their properties even more attractive over the competition.

With Starbucks down the road a few blocks Wi-Fi in the wine country seems to have arrived. With the train and connectivity, this makes going to Santa Barbara or even Paso Robles an easier way to go, and is much less tiring and much more productive than ever before.


USA VoIP Legislation Battles To Begin

The battle over whether or not VoIP is a service or an application delivered over the Internet is gearing up in the United States' Congress. eWeek's article provides a nice backdrop and helps clarify a situation that will only get murkier.

Here's why. First the FCC is really not making decisions around VoIP, despite the news that impacted only AT&T's IP traffic of PSTN originated and terminated calls. Secondly, there will be no doubt that at some point cases involving taxes and fees end up in court to define what is a VoIP call versus a telephone call which had part of the traffic and signals routed over IP. For example, is calling an IP telephony gateway that changes the content from analog to MGCP, SIP or h.323 a VoIP call or just data traffic over the Internet? Calls and traffic like that have been going that route for years, as it has been one way by which the so called minute stealers have built a flourishing business.

Companies like Level3 and Qwest, and before their acquisition by Level3, Genuity have reportedly worked with companies in the IP telephony space who arbitrage traffic origination and termination in the USA to avoid some of the same taxes or charges that the Telcos want AT&T to pay.

As for Congress, remember that the Telcos in the USA--i.e. Bell South, Verizon, SBC, Qwest-- all want to keep their customer bases, and having both upstarts like Vonage and others, plus a looming awakening giant like AT&T or Sprint really ready to compete due to the proliferation of broadband, means they've got their lobbyists working overtime to make sure the elected officials don't hurt them, by helping to spur innovation.


C:NET On Linksys

While I've never jumped on the Linksys bandwagon, I do own one of their wireless routers that I use when I travel to Europe as it has the European adapter. I'm anxiously awaiting their entry into the VOIP space, which as the CNET interview points out, is something they are clearly aiming for.

With their Cisco parent relationship. Linksys has the ability to leverage technology that finds its way into the Enterprise to be carried down to the home/office level. With VoIP this is a crucial step, because no one gets fired for buying Cisco, and that means use at home, for work related telecommuting, the follow on marketing efforts for Linskys through the Cisco channel is only just beginning.


SKYPE Gets More P2P Like

Reports in BoardWatch are that Skype is working with the current parent of Kazaa to integrate a file sharing on a P2P basis. Ouch.

That could be the fastest way to get the regulators into the fray once copyrighted content starts being moved back and forth, in my opinion.