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Posts from May 2004

Stop The Hype

VON God and the recognized leader of the VoIP world, Jeff Pulver is right. It's time to stop the hype and get to the facts about IP Telephony and what it means to the users, not just keep blowing hot air about cheap telephone calls.

IP Telephony is not only about that. It's about next generation services and being able to do more things in different ways.

If it was about price, there is a good chance in many cases the RBOCs could easily match the costs of the VoIP players for most, if not all, here in the USA. First, for the most part, after you deduct cost of labor, much of the infrastructure for PSTN is already in place and paid for. Cables, wiring, switching equipment. That legacy equipment has been paid for, amortized and recouped over and over again.

Second, here in California, SBC offers unlimited long distance for $20.00 a month. When I add up my basic service and some options, the price is about the same as the highest VoIP service offering from Vonage, plus tax and maybe a few dollars more. But, I also have wire maintanence, real 911 service and some features that the average person would not think to add that I pay for, like remote call forwarding, line hunting and so forth. So on a dollars to dollars basis, since the unlimited USA calling came into play, my phone bill dropped massively as all calls, both local and long distance now are part of that, or of course I use either my AT&T Call Vantage or Vonage home phones. So, the aspect of cost savings is only a skim of the surface.

What VoIP offers, regardless of carrier is flaxibility. Can I do free conference calls on my PSTN line? Well three way calling. But that's not the same. AT&T CallVantage provides me ten people.

Can I change where my calls go? Well if I use remote call forwarding. But that's not available to everyone. With any VoIP carrier changing where your calls terminate is as easy as visiting the web site and making a few keystrokes, or with some, like AT&T CallVantage, I can dial in to my access number and manage my advanced features. Can't easily do that with PSTN from SBC.

Can I say, NO CALLS at certain hours and not hear the phone ring without unplugging the line? Only sometimes and I have to forward the phone manually. With some VoIP providers like BroadVox and AT&T CallVantage I can set up call rules and not have to worry, that the calls will wake me up.

Can I make phone calls from a hotspot? With Vonage and their softphone I can. Not so with PSTN.

Can I take my number with me when I go on vacation or stay at friend's broadband enabled house? I can with VoIP and the telephone adapter that the carriers provide. Heck, I've even taken my Vonage box to the UK and France, have friends in foriegn countries who use the phone as if they stay live in the USA for the sake of saving money for their parents and kid's friends. Can a PSTN carrier offer that?

Does the PSTN carrier provide you integration with Outlook, so you can Click2Call? No, but Vonage does, and so does CallVantage from a list you compile on their web site.

Can you use a WiFi phone over PSTN? Not very easily. Sure you can use a cordless phone, but you can't really take that with you to a free hotspot. You can with VoIP.

Can you look up your calling log and see who called you easily? Not with PSTN. You can with VoIP.

Does your PSTN provider e-mail you your voice mail? Not many if any, do.

Hopefully more of the media sees Pulver's very needed posting, and this one. Like Jeff, many of you see these benefits. I know I do, and many more.

VoIP For Business, UK Style

On Instant, which we first reported on earlier in the week as one of the new UK based VoIP provider is starting to generate coverage on a global basis.

What is interesting about their model is while SKYPE, SIPPHONE, Firefly are all generating free individual users, On Instant is going after the global enterprise audience.

UK Paper Touts VoIP

The Independent, one of the UK's larger circulated newspapers has a rather interesting, almost promotional story about the impact Voice Over IP will be having. They cite some sources and draw some interesting conclusions.

Despite the newness of "official" carriers like Gossip-Tel in the U.K. the media seems somewhat better aware of what IP Telephony can mean to the existing carriers and the new players in the game.

Do I Hear An Echo?

Seems VoIPWatch isn't the only concerned outlet when it comes to Quality of Service. Now, the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates , an organization that can best be described as super consumer advocates have made their feelings known to the FCC through comments disclosed today.

Their main concerns include two topics we've been saying for months are the essential needs when it comes to VoIP; QoS and E911 service. One more they have put forth that makes sense is making service readily accessible to persons with disabilities.

XTEN Updates Pocket PC Client for VOIP

XTEN, which in my opinion makes the best VoIP softphone client has released a beta of their Pocket PC client for registered users of XTEN PRO. Version 2.1 should be out once the beta has been tested.

The client is a major step up from their previous release and features:

This recently re-released Pocket PC software has been built for performance.
The VoIP has been optimized to provide the best end-user experience. Here are the features of this softphone:

- 2 Lines
- Line Hold
- Line Transfer
- 3-way Calling
- Redial
- Caller-ID via SIP
- Push-to-Talk
- Proxy MD5 Authentication
- Touch-tones [DTMF]
- Do Not Disturb
- Inbound Call 'Ignore'
- Inbound Call 'Go to Voicemail'
- Auto-conference
- Dial & Hang-up
- Auto-answer
- CODECs G.711 & G.729
- Dynamic CODEC Selection
- Auto Silence Threshold
- Backspace/Clear/Delete
- Mute
- Microphone & Speakers Levels
- Proxy Settings Dialog

Is Cisco Your The Next Telco?

Back in the days of the Janet Reno led Microsoft Anti-Trust case, I used to always comment on KenRadio's World Technology Round Up about Cisco being the real monopoly player out there.

Between their swarming sales tactics, drive the upstarts out of business (or buy them) and their very solid management leadership with John Chambers (one of the best CEO's around) but when Cisco bought Linksys I realized how accurate that comment really was.

Linksys has become one of the most known consumer brands in the WiFi and home networking space. When you get done reading the comments of Robert X. Cringely you may want to jump and say PRONTO (hello i Italian) to someone you know at the local phone company and mention the story to them. Cringe is right on the mark about what could happen. Then again, a lot more has to happen before he's right.

Is Vonage Nervous

Vonage, and all IP Telephony marketers going after the home user should have reason to worry. The same fear of port blocking that I've raised before that has the likes of Amazon and Microsoft nervous is starting to get the attention of VoIP executives.

"Technology now exists that enables network operators to recognize the data packets that move across their systems, and to prioritize them," says the Washington Post

The problem rests largely with how the FCC interprets what the Internet is considered with regard to network neutrality. Is it a freeway or a tollway? Are the companies which supply the service to the home, mostly cable or local telephone companies going to charge the VoIP providers for access to their portion of the Internet?

A second problem which Vonage, VoicePulse, VoiceGlo, Packet8, SIPPhone and Viper will all experience, as pointed out by the Yankee Group, is that the incumbant providers all have the ability to provide a higher grade of service wth QoS assured or to bundle their packages at lower prices. Do you see now why Vonage lowered their prices?

With SLA's in place, companies like Level3, SPRINT, MCI and AT&T already have contracts that enable their traffic to pass over the cable or DSL providers network with a set degree of priority and vice versa. Those SLAs (Service Level Agreements) likely have QoS levels already established. That means packets of either parties customers travel over the network a certain way.

But Vonage, which only sells to the end customer and has never admitted to having any SLA's in place with carriers, nor using a softswitch in their network, could be left out in the cold unless it gets some deals in place with the cable companies and RBOC'sm because in theory, the last mile providers could begin impacting them.

VOIP, Inc. Files 911 Patent

In what likely will be a hotly contested patent area, VOIP, Inc. has filed a patent application with the US Patent Office for technology that routes 911 calls originating on a VoIP line over PSTN lines.

While it's great that a patent like this has been filed, it still has to pass the muster of the PTO. Filing and receiving are two different matters. The process sounds low tech, not high tech, and may be something after all.