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Posts from April 2005

Nextel of VoIP with GSM/WiFi Phone Investment?

Is Asylum Telecom the Nextel of VoIP for Motorola? With the news today about an investment in Asylum by Motrola's VC arm, it appears that the Chicago suburb telecom supplier isn't sitting idle just wanting to make VoIP gateways for Vonage and AOL.

With this investment in a company that is heading down the road of producing a device that does seamless GSM and WiFi hand-offs they may just well be.

As stated in the press release, Asylum’s product portfolio includes anytime-anywhere access, voice VPN services, converged GSM/IP mobile, and instant messaging. Via a global network of channel partners, Asylum provides a seamless solution, including full OSS/BSS (Operation and Business Support Systems) — eliminating traditional integration and deployment delays. Asylum will focus Motorola Venture’s investment towards R&D to continue building solutions that will increase communications convenience while driving down end-user cost.

Instead, via their investment in Asylum Telecom, a company that sells an end to end VoIP solution in at least 25 countries, Motorola has said that they believe in VoIP and now want to be competition to the companies that they sell hardware to, such as AOL, for whom they manufactured a home telephone adapter. Why a giant like AOL would continue to work with a company that is gearing up to compete is anyone's guess.

In many way's this also reminds me of what Belkin sort of did but with a different twist. Belkin with has decided to leverage their retail distribution to build a phone company. Belkin, which according to SEC filings and comments from executives during Spring VON signed on and licensed the XTEN softphone, went out and bought technology from iNuntius, Inc

Also, Motorola has the OJO, an overly expensive, but high quality videophone. Just as Alcatel is buying VoIP infrastructure companies, Motorola is showing signs of investing in the VoIP endpoint market, as well as the infrastructure of it as well.

This is obviously, like all VC type investment by companies, a gamble. But with Motorola's sales, distribution and marketing clout it could be a move that lets them offer the Nextel of VoIP on a global basis, that being a closed end, walled garden VoIP service that does the handoff between mobile phones and WiFi quite easily.

Asylum is clearly not a company to dismiss, as it appears they have a game plan and are executing on it quite well.

Aswath on His SIP is Not Dead "I come not to bury SIP, but to praise it"

Aswath responds to Richard Stastny's requiem for SIP. Perhaps he should have said, "news of SIP's death is bit premature."

SIP has a long future ahead, the Bellheads will modify their views on networking and services, and SKYPE will remain something of a force along with many other new and misunderstood technologies that are starting to make their way to the public space.

The MCI QWEST VERIZON Game of Chess Continues

Om says Verizon should walk and likely spur a proxy fight. I say he's right.

Start with the fact that Verizon now owns a huge chunk of MCI via the Carlos Slim sale, and then add in that MCI will have to cough up 250 Million smackers for breaking up the deal they agreed to and Verizon can play a waiting game, while taunting Qwest.

I say Verizon should buy Bell South, the company that has the most to really offer Verizon--full control of the east and then the southeast. After that they can figure out with SBC what to do with the QWEST pest. In my view Verizon after Verizon and Bell South merge, the combined entity can sell off their stake in Cingular to SBC, buy out Vodafone for the same money leaving the USA with three RBOC's with national reach and Sprint being largely a data company with a wireless sister, Sprint PCS.

What will then happen will be a page taken out of the cable operators. Territory or system swaps. SBC and Verizon can look at the map and swap assets that are inside the other's core territory. Phone service returns to some semblance of order on a local level, the cable operators become their target and they can begin really rolling the trucks for FTTP.

QWEST, who was before SBC went after AT&T, the most network ready, remains the most network entrenched of the RBOC's behind SBC/AT&T. That means Verizon sets its sights on Sprint and gets the national network and smarts it lacks, or what it would have gotten from MCI, but acquires a few more key markts, the whole Latin American gateway market in Miami, the growing Carolina's tech sector, Atlanta which consistently is growing farther and wider and the rapidly growing Nashville area, all of which alone are worth the price of buying Bell South.

While all of this is speculation, in my mind it makes total sense. Verizon can even sell back to Qwest for cash the Carlos Slim stock, at a hefty premium after they are done being the spoiler shareholder just by being irritating.

In doing all this, Verizon eliminates Vodafone (Verizon Wireless via SBC buying out Cingular stake), widens their reach (BellSouth and Sprint), expands their market size (BellSouth) and gets a more advanced networking company (SPRINT). This is an investment banker's dream, and what's more, a large chunk of it gets fueled by other people's money.

Ojo Set To Debut, But Why?

I saw the Motorola Ojo during CES and compared to the Packet8 Videophone it was an advancement in home and office video phone technology. The call quality was far better than P8 and it had a sharp design, and the marketing muscle of Motorola.

That said, I kept going back to the primary line of thinking that I had about video phone calls. The idea has been around since 1964's World's Fair and if the demand was there the sales would be there.

That's when I realized the missing link with all these companies was the lack of softphone type endpoints, like Eyebeam from XTEN or even Sightspeed. You see, when mommy or daddy's away on a road trip and wants to see the kids who are at home there's no way to do it using these camera. Yet, with Sightspeed which is a soft phone like video application or EyeBeam, which combines phone and videophone features loaded on laptops (PC or MAC) you can easily have video reception wherever you may be, and with a small portable camera like those from Logitec or Creative Labs, or if you want the Ferrari of cameras, the Apple iSight, you end up with two way video for far less money than the Ojo and don't have to lug something as heavy or as bulky as the Packet8 VideoPhone, whose price just got slashed to $99.00 for purchase.

Why the videophone service sellers or proposed sellers like cable operators don't bundle in EyeBeam, which I now use a lot for voice calls as well, is simply beyond me. For the cable companies thinking of selling VoIP and the Ojo, if it uses open standards, it would be a true market differentiator that the RBOC's landline service could never offer. If the Ojo isn't using open standards, then it's got less of a chance to survive, because between SIP and SKYPE the standards or proprietary protocols are pretty much already entrenched, and the MSO's and Cable Labs are less likely to want to go down another path just yet in my opinion.

Is There A Way To A New Network

Tom Evslin has another interesting post about the way to create a new network.

I like his comment about ICQ. According to folks in Israel who know the founders, they had to settle for 400 million from AOL. They were running out of cash on their side and had no way to keep the servers that ran ICQ up and running at the rate ICQ was growing. In my view AOL never got the value out of the acquisition.

Is SIP Dead?

Did Cisco make a blunder when they bought leading SIP developers Dynamicsoft? That's the indication if you read between the lines beneath Austrian ENUM pundit Richard Stastny writes in his post he may be onto to something.

A few weeks back I said that companies should not be religious about their technology. The same goes for developers. Standards are quickly evolving, and are needed. That said interoperability and open platforms that can work with one another are key. Solutions that ride atop the protocol layer to enable cross protocol transcoding mean that yesterday's investment isn't grounds for a pink slip tomorrow.

Someone will always invent something better. If Skype was SIP enabled it would go a long way to getting into the Enterprise. And then there is IMS, and all that it brings to the Mobile world...

Times. They are a changing.