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Posts from October 2004

More E911 Ideas

VoIP-Forum pointed me to a viewpoint of Internet Telephony's Publisher, Rich Tehrani on the subject of E911.

To me the solution is too simple. Every police and fire department has a phone line in their dispatch room called "the non emergency number." All you have to do with VoIP is program that number into speed dial. Problem solved.

Now, if you're an VoIP provider when you're signing up the customer, once you have the Zipcode how hard would it be to ask if the user would like their emergency services provider's number loaded in to their speed dial, as you guessed it. 911.

Now to take it a step further, when the IP address of the telephone adapter changes the service could likely be set up to "call you" with a message that says something like "we see you have relocated your telephone adapter. For safety purposes we can update your 911 to dial the local emergency number. Just enter the zipcode you are currently in."

Too I know some privacy advocates will get all over me on this, but for those who need to feel safe and secure, it may be a more easy to implement solution than the ones I'm seeing deployed.

More VoWiFi

A New Mexico wide area hot spot will offer unlimited VoIP over WiFi. As Nancy Gohring writes cell phone carriers should start looking over their shoulders.

While SBC has the right idea with Freedom Link access in every UPS/Mail Boxes Etc. location you can find for WiFi, what I don't get is the ignorance of the cable operators when it comes to WiFi and then VoIP.

If the cable ops really wanted to be in the VoIP business big time all they'd have to do is make everyone of their cable node boxes a hotspot and deploy some sort of mesh technology. Then, if they worked with the local business owners to create hotspots in cafe's, pizza parlors, hair salons, book stores and markets in exchange for free cable you could take your WiFi VoIP phone around town and still be connected.

This could be the counter to the Cricket Communications strategy which is also local, but more importantly it would mean one phone, one email account, one set of server settings, access setting to be on a network.

But remember. The MSOs only want to have a perfect product and we're not quite there just yet.

Clearwire Rolls On

Clearwire gets Intel to invest.

Clearwire says they will add VoIP.

Do the math. Just like Intel force fed the growth of WiFi with Centrino, next they will want to propel the growth of WiMax or WiMax like Clearwire technology to propel that. Why you ask? They want to be end to end. From your PC to the net and back.

If they can put it all "inside" then they own your Net related lifeline. And people think Microsoft is a predatory, monopolistic company...Intel and Cisco are the two biggest players of that game. Gates and company are just playing the game called LIFE. These other two are far more dangerous if you're a monopoly conspiracy theorist.

My feeling. Qualcomm has a right to worry. If McCaw can deliver true wireless broadband at T-1 speeds, own the network, the network technology and the customers he has a model that the carriers cannot duplicate because they don't own the technology. Only the customer and the hardware/software they buy. That's a very marked difference, much like Sirius Satellite vs. XM. The former owns what they use. XM licenses what they use. At some point the cost of renting versus owning is no longer viable.

McCaw has learned his lessons, and made money each step of the way. Now he wants it all, with help from Intel. That's a very strong reason to watch what happens.

Mobitus Goes VoWiFi

Mobitus, the VoIP side of FatPort, one of Canada's top WiFi operators, has added VoIP with login using the Zyxel Presitige handset according to WiFi Networking News earlier in the week.

I've used the Zyxel and have not been blown away with the sound quality at all. I just received from Net2Phone their version and should see the Broadvoice version next week. Each company has done something to the firmware, so the generic Zyxel that I have configured to work with either Vonage or VoicePulse may not be as true of an indicator of what it can really do.

The bottom line is VoWiFi is a coming thing. I prefer though a softphone and laptop in the coffee shop environment, but have found that the WiFi phone is very useful when I go to friends houses that are WiFI enabled so my phone is with me when sometimes cell service isn't.

Vonage Will Need More $$$

Om Malik has a pretty good handle on Vonage as he's talked with Jeff Citron and comes from the investment banking world, so when Om comes to a conclusion, I tend to look at it and then add on.

In my mind Vonage is using the model of "get big fast." They are doing this through super aggressive marketing, including an upcoming year long campaign in the range of $50-75 million dollars with their two new agencies, and now saying they are going to hire another 600 people to work in supporting roles.

But it's not all flat roads and cotton for Vonage. The landscape is not theirs alone. While other players were out there just behind them--all who laid back on marketing because they didn't have the money--VoicePulse, Broadvoice or lacked the marketing bent, Packet 8, Lingo, etc. or now the consumer savvty and smart and well funded products from AT&T with CallVantage, Covad and just about all the RBOCs, plus the cable companies using either Level3 or Net2Phone are in the game.

Vonage had the lead, and that led to their growth. They marketed while others played the technology building or assembling game. But, that approach won't work any more.

The others are all realizing they need to market and they are. What Vonage lacked was the deal with the big cable company or companies. The reason they couldn't go there was they lack the QoS that would have kept the cable operator's customers happy. Sure they signed some small deals with some smaller MSO's but since Vonage doesn't break out numbers, we don't know how successful those relationships have been.

So, what I'm seeing is that Vonage is really not doing anything different with the money they raised. Marketing and people to support the customer. Until Vonage gets some infrastructure of their own they are really just a customer acquisition company.

Smart companies looking to partner with a VoIP player, or VC's and investors looking to make money on an investment would be wise to look in the direction of the companies who can deliver an end to end solution that doesn't know how to market. That's really the easy part. Getting the QoS right and doing all the things necessary to keep the calls sounding great, well that's the harder part.

AT&T Gets High Marks

Internet Telephony Magazine gives high marks to AT&T and provides a very comprehensive summary about the company's VoIP efforts beyond CallVantage.

What I like about this article is that it brought together what AT&T is doing overall and paints an easy to grasp landscape of how AT&T as a company is moving in the VoIP direction. No other company in the space has laid out their roadmap so clearly. If anything, the other companies that can really compete with them, MCI, Sprint, Level3 and possibly BroadWing have so many different initiatives going on, with internal factions working at cross purposes, that a message like this never gets out.

Kudos to the author for writing such an easy to grasp story, and to Dave Dorman for pulling this approach together so soon in an industry usually tangled up by their Cat-5 cables.

WOW--I'm Blushing Thanks James

James Enck, who I consider one of the brighter analysts covering telecom from a stock brokerage perspective wrote a piece yesterday that has me blushing and reflecting on how my writing style developed.

While I've heard the comments from most people who like to read Om and I, usually ranking us in their minds as one and two in no particular, seeing James comments insight in print totally took me to the state of blushing.

I blog as an outgrowth of both the skills I need to run my business (two marketing communications agencies) and my six years of daily news commentary on KenRadio. For my agency's clients who understand that I bring what James so artfully grasped when he said Andy is very tightly focused on VoIP and its impacts, and never misses a story related to the theme, but is also adept at making connections and seeing implications which others might miss. That's a similar comment I've heard before, the last time from friend and peer in the PR profession Bill Ryan who now helps companies figure out what they are really all about. Before Bill it was from a Senior Long Term Research Director at IBM named Walter Yaciuk, who said, to me one summer day at the Broadmoor pool in Colorado Springs, "you Abramson, you see things differently sooner. We just see it long after you've already figured it out."

For this I credit my two mentors in business.

Sy Roseman, the late media relations pro who from the time I was 14 until even long after we stopped working side by side in early 1979 remained the reason I understand what media is and more importantly how to work in it. Sy was both great at looking to see the angles in order to get the story covered. In learning how to do that, he taught me how to figure out where a story was going, both pro and con before talking about it or commenting on it. Since what we did was sports, first professional box lacrosse and then building a base of fans for the Philadelphia Flyers around youth hockey, we had to see beyond what was apparent and learn to convey that first to the media and then through them, the public. What you have to realize is this was 30 years ago. I was 14. My mind was uncluttered.

The there was Ken Gesner. The slightly rotund, self made millionaire who in one sitting passed the first parts of the CPCU (Chartered Property Casulty Underwriting) state unheard of feat, but Gesner, who could memorize the entire Major League Baseball batting averages for the players, or in his head recall balance sheets of organizations he ran, usually seven or eight at the same time, both for profit and volunteer, gave the learning, tutoring me on how various actions in on direction have implications (i.e. risk and or reward) so one has to look beyond what you only see. He did this during our daily ten to fifteen phone conversations (there wasn't IM or email in 1976 when this started and Ken resitsed the computer, voice mail and cell phone up until his passing). Ken, who was the master of controversy for the sake of change for the better, was my first mentor in what I now call Asymmetrical thinking. This started when I was 16 and the discussions about how things were, what they meant and how the implications impacted a set group were what Ken's daily interactions gave me. More important was the reading of Ken's writing on issues and matters. Long, page after page discussions that often put people in the proverbial box because Ken presented facts, line by line, word by word, and often to the chagrin of the offending party.

It clearly explains to me now why I blog the way I do. For a short while the two actually were in the same organization I later ran for the Flyers, called Hockey Central. Sy helped start it, but as Gesner later explained to me long after I was running it, he was hired to train me. When Sy left to take a high paying gig at Resorts International to get it started, I stepped up to run Hockey Central, two years early before merging it into the Flyers itself. Together from the two of them I learned more about insightful reasoning, fairness, critical thinking and decision-making. They were totally different. Yet, at the same time, totally so similar, as they always taught me to focus on being right through understanding, analysis and most of all common sense.

Thanks James. You helped me start my day the right remembering two people who are always there with me every time I write.

BT May Not Be Blocking

In reading through the comments on Mr. Blogs site it seems the problem may be more hardware than software related regarding the port 5060 issue in the UK though to being caused by BT.

Jeff Pulver actually did a polll of sorts and is look to get to the bottom of it too. If the comments are right, and Mr. Blog is wrong I hope he corrects his post.