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Posts from April 2005

Final Thoughts on VoN Canada

Ex Frost and Sullivan Analyst Jon Arnold has some final thoughts on VoN Canada, with a focus on Telus. On the subject of analysts, I keep hearing rumors that Probe Research has died a quiet death. One of my favorite VoIP analysts, and sometimes wine drinking pal, Danny Klein has left Yankee Group. Seems right after Spring VON he was offered a sweet deal at VC firm Versabridge. Danny was one of the bright lights in a business that has gone through lots of changes. At Yankee he succeeded Kristin Flynn, who along with ex-Probe, now Alacatel hotshot Hilary Mine were two of the best at understanding what the world of VoIP and IT were all about. Now with Danny's departure at Yankee a new person needs to fill two pair of big shoes. Congrats and we'll hoist some wine glasses in September my friend.

Firetide Moves InTo Europe

The unconfirmed Qualcomm aspects of this post in Gizmodo aside, Firetide, whose mesh WiFi technology is second to none of what I've seen and used, has invaded Europe and the VoIP aspects of having FireTide in the network makes for a hot concept.

Firetide is one of those companies that makes technology that works. When I saw their debut back in 2003 @ DEMO Mobile I thought to myself these guys have the technology and lots of smarts. They continue to demonstrate that each time I read about another deployment or effort.

My view is that Firetide brings to WiFi the QoS today that is needed for VoIP to really work perfectly.

Skype On A Stick

James at the end of a post about a Skype install/uninstall issue, has drawn attention to a novel idea, Skype On a Stick. VoIP on a Stick isn't a new idea, and actually, I've had conversations with other telecom folks on this exact subject with client Popular Telephony. In my mind, and I'm sort of echoing James here, this would be rather neat. But the idea isn't so new. During the Internet Telephony show in Miami this past February,'s Scott Kargman pointed me towards a booth that was giving away VoIP on a Stick, a Softphone on a USB memory stick. Hot Dog, I said and off I went to find the bone. When I finally installed it and ran it on a few different high powered PC Laptops which have out of this world audio, trust me, XTEN's PRO, Light and EyeBeam sound like desk phones, I got nothing like that when I used the i2Telecom service other than a bill for activation that wasn't worth it. In a word the service was horrible. Words like garbled and muddy would be understatements. There was no QoS at all. While the VoiceStick may be a useful "in a pinch" type of service, it sure didn't measure up to a real VoIP service or come close to what I've used of late on the same PC's and even a Mac. That's the Broadvoice/XTEN Eyebeam combo which I'm thrilled by.

Skype Journal--Welcome to the Martin Mash

When Skype Journal started out it was just Stuart and then he added other writers.

So when Martin Geddes, who is in the top five of "he's too darn smart" category of VoIP bloggers, took a look at a recent post over there he just mashed it.

In many ways Martin is correct. Features that are already available in the Class 5 world should be automatic. Why make a fuss over it. Skype, if the ever plan on being in the enterprise will need those. My view remains, as I said in an interview yesterday, about VoIP is the value proposition can't just be price. It has to be features and benefits. Offering cheaper calling without the basic features, means your not really replacing and improving, it means simply costs are being cut.

But, I gotta admit, some of those features would be cool...

Vonage End Runs Clearwire

Hat tip to Tom Keating at TMC and Internet Telephony magazine for this one.

There is no doubt in my mind that Clearwire plans to introduce a phone service. The question is what they introduce and when. If you recall, Clearwire founder Craig McCaw's roots are in mobile phones with what became AT&T Wireless and Nextel. All WiMax offers him is a new way to do what he has always done, which is why this is such a big deal to Clearwire.

Until the FCC makes some hard and fast decisions about what is and what isn't telephony battles like this will always happen. Hey, maybe Clearwire will merge with Vonage. Now wouldn't that be interesting !

Vonage Is Not The Biggest VoIP Player

When everyone gets excited about Vonage and their half a million subscribers, they don't hold a candle to the world's largest Broadband Phone company.

What's really interesting in the story is how the folks over in Japan marketed and got people hooked on IP telephony, long before it was in vogue on a global basis.

It's thinking like that why I'm so convinced Yahoo can likely be your next phone company. (See below)

Who Will Rescue Skype

In a post that could turn into a battle of the blog titans, Om "The Bombay Bomber" weighs in against "Knight of Newcastle" Martin Geddes in differing views of Skype versus SIP.

But as the Skype world gets bigger at some point some telcos better start to take them seriously.

While Martin's points sort of echos my views of never being religious about your technology, there is some validity about Om's closing point regarding the FCC. I mean, is government going to back the pirate who won't set up shop or step foot in the US of A even though Skype takes USA VC and customer money? That's a good question to ponder as we wait for the next chapter of the Bomber versus the Knight.

The Eyes and Ears of VON

Jeff Pulver continues to innovate and by allowing the bloggers open access to the conferences at VON Canada this week the news that was coming out of the event actually reached those that matter.

By the time the magazines come out next week or next month, it will be OLD news, as my PR mentor Sy Roseman used to say.

Pulver and his crew are to be commended for letting the bloggers in and empowering them to cover the conference.

BTW, it seems I'm going to moderate another VoIP Blogger session in Boston at Fall VON 2005. Last time we had the media and technical bloggers on the panel and it was a lively one.

I've got a few ideas for the fall that may make it even more memorable...I mean the city is the home of the Boston Tea Party so shouldn't we revolutionize how stories get told so they are never forgotten !

XTEN Should Be Saying Yahoo-Updated

I have been asked by readers and investment community executives over recent weeks about both Packet 8 and Xten. While I have opinions about both, I started to do some digging for what makes the two publicly traded companies different. When I found this post on ZDNet some things started to appear clearer.

Obviously this win for XTEN is a huge endorsement for their technology, not to mention they added a customer in Yahoo which has massive credibility. Last month at the VON in San Jose AT&T was seen demoing an XTEN Softphone connected to CallVantage. But let's all think what's in it for Yahoo. They already have a very tight and cozy relationship with BT in the UK. Here in the USA they are already working with SBC. The lack of a formal "announcement" means Yahoo is not yet ready to move. Just like SBC has a deal that was only referenced in a filing with Delta Three about their agreement, but the San Antonio Baby Bell stayed mum on, some connecting the dots could possibly mean where there's smoke, there's fire between Yahoo and XTEN and possibly even CallVantage. Remember, not everything that is announced happens right away, and for some companies, not saying something at all is as much an indicator as others saying a lot.

While this is all speculation, I've also been hearing all kinds of rumors that Yahoo is seriously looking at getting into VoIP in a big way. Unlike Google which has been the subject of similar speculation, Yahoo's already a proven player in Japan and the UK with VoIP oriented deployments. Since AOL is already in, and making some noise about a softphone in the future, and where Yahoo has already demonstrated a commitment in that direction via Messenger with BT, layering in XTEN's Eyebeam and then backing it up with SBC/AT&T's CallVantage is a triple win for all the players. SBC extends their DSL oriented broadband with VoIP while Yahoo uses their online marketing might to attract customers to the combined Yahoo, CallVantage and XTEN offering. Unlike AOL, I don't Yahoo would come out with a Telephone Adapter which in many ways in more analog culture, when software and on screen is core to their whole experience.

Considering that each party already has the best of breed offering and that they can all easily be considered a category leader in their sector, this looks even more to make sense.

- XTEN for their softphone. It's award winning, based on SIP and has a proven track record with customers and users. Vonage, SIPPhone and others all use it.

- AT&T for CallVantage has the best VoIP product out there in the consumer market.

- Yahoo is the best at building an online brand and consistently delivers services which they get paid for.

Given their recent success I would say that Yahoo in the VoIP business with these two partners could be something for investors to really scream "yahoo" about once it gets launched.

Based on some emails I received this morning, I did some more digging around.

While the details about Yahoo are limited, and the XTEN folks have been mum on the subject, a further review of their most recent 10-Q clearly shows the customer win, along with one from Belkin.

For those challenged by EDGAR when it comes to looking for details like these here's the actual text.

The significant increase in software sales revenue consisted of fees paid to us by numerous small and medium sized IP telephony service providers. However, the following customers purchased unlimited licenses to our software and represent material customers: Belkin Corporation and Yahoo!. Under the terms of our agreements, neither Belkin nor Yahoo! are required to display any Xten trademarks due to the fact that they purchased a private label version of our software.