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Posts from July 2004

UK: Is Carphone Warehouse Your Next Telco?

One of the things I believe is that wireless (i.e. mobile phone) carriers will be your next all encompassing telco. In the UK, as James Enck points out in his EuroTelcoBlog, Carphone Warehouse is doing just that.

When you look at the USA's wireless companies they have all they need to be just that, when they can decide to compete in some cases with the mother ship (i.e. Verizon, SBC/Bell South for Cingular). But for T-Mobile and Nextel this is virgin territory. Sprint, which does some of it, and SBC the same, is seeking bundling and lock in through combination offers. But all of it is perceived as coming from the traditional phone company (which has the customer billing aggregation tools).

Now turn this model on its head. Put the power in the hands of the wireless companies. Let them sell VoIP, DSL, Satellite TV or soon, IPTV, UPS or Fed EX delivered hardware from distribution centers in Nebraska where labor is less and rents lower than on the coasts, where the business is right now.

This is the model that the wireless companies like T-Mobile, with an already existing, high quality network can move towards. Carphone Warehouse in the UK is already proving that, and VoIP is the change agent.


HTC Has PDA w/WiFi/GPRS/BT Coming Soon

Reports out of Taiwan are that HTC, the folks who made T-Mobile's XDA in the USA, have phone coming that is built on the Pocket PC platform. It will will have Windows Mobile Second Edition, 64 megs of Program Memory, 64 Megs of Storage memory, on board WiFi and Bluetooth, GPRS network access, plus the chasis will slide revealing a easy to use keyboard.

No certainty if this PocketPC will make it to the USA, with T-Mobile going with HP for the h6315, leaving one wondering if the the quad band platform was designed for elsewhere and with the hope that another USA carrier would pick it up. AT&T had the XDA also in its first release, but with their merger with Cingular, and Cingular's needing to clearly define a data package like T-Mobile has, one would have to cautiously keep that door open for this device, but nothing is for certain.

BT Cuts Prices

BT is cutting prices on Broadband Telephony.

In an email today, noted Eurotelcoblog author James Enck said:

BT Group has, in our opinion, the most forward-looking management team and strategy in the sector, probably globally, but the problem the company faces is that visibility is very, very poor - both in terms of the competitive landscape and the rate of decline of traditional sources of cash flow generation. Today’s results show signs of growing strain - unexpectedly large losses in market share, traffic volumes and access lines, and an apparent structural weakness in gross margin.

Clearly something is wrong with the marketing, positioning and a lack of understanding of what the market wants, or perhaps, an inability to execute because the overseeers and management are at odds. Bottom line is BT is an awesome company, that is right now experiencing the blind staggers that the market is clearly able to see.

Signs MCI Making Major Move into VoIP

MCI, which in the last century became the first major player in alternative long distance carrier is signaling the market that they are about to be a major player in VoIP, either as a wholesale carrier or a business and consumer service.

Their announcement today about raising their SLA guarantee has to be interpreted that way.

MCI is also introducing a jitter guarantee of one millisecond for U.S. traffic that will enable customers to better carry time-sensitive applications like VoIP over their networks. The new metrics are being applied across all MCI Internet Protocol (IP) services, including dedicated and remote Internet access, IP VPN Dedicated and Remote, and Internet Colocation services, at no additional cost to customers.

If I ever saw a smoke signal, this is one of them from MCI...

Ecuity To Roll Out Virtual PBX

Ecuity, a Washington state based company is rolling out a virtual PBX service based on the Intel backed venture, TelSym. This market sector is heating up very quickly.

Already active or announced in the space is Packet8, Covad's GoBeam and Voice Glo, with more sure to follow. But the Ecuity offering, when live, proposes to be available all the way down to the PocketPC form factor, something that when blended with WiFi connectivity, will provide even more ways to cut costs for the mobile professional and maintain connectivity.

I've used Skype on my Pocket PC and other than the tinny mic quality, not an issue of Skype, but of HP, the quality in public hotspots is fine for short chats. TelSym, which was designed for thin client use is likely to finally be able to gain traction. The weakness is that it is not SIP based, limiting features or meaning somewhere in the chain additional software is needed to drive the service offering.

The whole PBX market will be changing. Other companies have different plays on this, including Popular Telephony who are moving in a non server direction. If you're in the market for a new PBX, it may be best to wait until more information comes out.

Malta Ponders VoIP

Malta, one of the jewels of the Med, and a tax haven for some, is pondering how to legislate VoIP.

As you can see, more countries around the world are looking how to keep control via the PTT's or through licensed/tarrif based carriers. In my opinion those countries that over regulate will fall prey to the disruptive nature of services like Skype before the legitimate carriers can gain a foothold.

VoIP Official In Africa Soon?

A report on IT Web, about the best South African tech web site has a very concise view of what will soon happen in Africa. For years many African countries have been behind in allowing the advances of the Internet to be considered legal. As the article points out, a grey market has evolved.

Given how advanced in many ways South Africa is, they really need to get into the 2000's. They have one of the most affluent communities on the dark continent. Allowing VoIP, and making other mods to their Internet laws would go a long way in advancing their economy. If they don't move fast, West Africa may beat them to the punch.

Level3 On a Roll

Level3 (NASDAQ: LVLT) announced earnings today. They also announced customer wins.

What Level3 is clearly doing is building upon their past, and in some cases, long term relationships in the data and streaming business are coming around to be VoIP customers. AOL's Moviefone on VoIP means costs get lower for AOL. That's really important for a company that is looking to leverage their exhaustive database and turn it from screen to voice for more than just movies. Think reservations for restaurants. Think buying tickets. Think airline reservations. IVR. AOL with Voice becomes a big player all of a sudden, as their customers are into simple, and nothing is easier than the spoken word.

Speech recognition is rapidly improving and with VoIP it becomes cheaper. With centralized processing inside the network, ala Level3, on a scalable, national platform, it becomes an amazing value proposition for AOL to go to market with.

Level3 also announced wins from Net2Phone, Skype, Tiscali, Teliris and 8x8. They didn't announce Speakeasy, whose reps have told me they plan to roll out Level3, not Covad's GoBeam.

Seems like Level3 is on a roll again...