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Posts from September 2005

Give The Edge to EvDO

I don't know what the fuss is all about with the Edge enabled laptops. No one is reporting anything in the way of useful speeds for those who need more than IM and email. I use the EvDO cards from Verizon and have given my Sprint card to my fiancee so she has connectivity on the go to write prescriptions for patients who call while she's in transit.

EvDO clearly is the faster and more stable transport layer, plus it supports VoIP/Skype/SIP. The drawback is when you leave a Broadband Access area you revert back to National Access which is the same as GPRS.

The reason Jonathan is stuck using the "slower" technology on the move has more to do with corporate think about technology. Buy everyone the same thing so it's easier to support as opposed to let the exec choose and support themselves. A lot of IT dollars could be saved is companies aggregated the "what's best" for each person across company lines.

When I consult with companies on messaging we talk about clusters of audiences and from them personalization to the individual. In the case of Jonathan, he's a power user. GPRS and Edge won't cut it for him. As a knowledge worker he needs his access, and has it with his Blackberry and will really love it when he's allowed to use his Mac again, once Intel is inside. Now if they only will provide him the EvDO. Oh, that's a Qualcomm product so his IT heads and bosses will likely say "nay" to that after Intel brings out their WiMax in some place like Siberia. Sorry, NYC isn't Siberia and if EvDO works best then Jonathan should have it.

Survey Says VoIP on The Rise But Challenges Exist

Go to market consultant David Deans has a note about research showing that VoIP is beginning to rise. The survey points out two existing challenges, calls during emergencies and keeping your number that are standing in the way of more aggressive adoption.

I guess the researchers never heard of my client's TelEvolution and their inventionPhoneGnome?

It solves both those problems by upgrading a person's phone service not making them switch.

AOL TotalTalk

I've held off for a few days to catch up on my thoughts about AOL's TotalTalk, their version of VoIP for beyond AOL's customers.

First one has to look at AOL as a company to understand what they are attempting to do. They want to change what they are and who they server. Their new offering, which provides integration with the IM client, AIM, is a major step forward for VOIP. Sadly, there isn't a MAC client yet, but I'll hopefully be testing it in a week or so on one of the PCs here in the office.

I'm overall pleased with the direction is going. They are beginning to move in the direction of what I call "Me Different" but their move into IM integration of VoIP service is not something they will be able to defend. Yahoo, now with Jeff Bonaforte (ex SipPhone) and Craig Walker (ex Dialpad) on board have the same plans.

The difference is that AOL's IM installed user base is reportedly bigger in the USA.

Second AOL went in a different direction, building a state of the art client with Pingtel, GIPS and On2, the latter for video, that will push the envelope in that realm.

Overall I think AOL's VoIP platform is in a transitionary phase. Guiding light, Jim Tobin has left for Comcast, something that makes me think that more will be happening there really soon, and he's been replaced by Alex Terry as GM and Mr. Ragui Kamel to run the overall group. Terry has been there for a while, while Kamel, a well spoken and insightful executive senior positions with both Nortel and Telecordia on his CV.

Vonage for Sale. Who's Gonna Buy 'Em?

Today a story broke on that Vonage's two investment banks have suggested a dual strategy to get sold. That likely means the initial round of chats with the hedge funds and institutional buyers are somewhat luke warm about the proposed $600 million dollar flotation that has been widely rumored. Yesterday Om had something too.

Let's see who isn't part of the likely suspects. SBC, Verizon. They are already hip deep in their own product offers and actually have more in the way of network assets than Vonage does. All Vonage has are customers, and those are according to chats this week with some competitors already jumping ship as soon as their contracts expire. Loyalty among early adopters is a wavering thought at best.

Next one has to think Bell South or Qwest. I could see Bell South licensing or building their own, they don't need Vonage, and beyond the customer base, in their own back yard, Bell South has never shown signs to be thinking beyond their current footprint. That leaves QWEST as the only remaining RBOC. While I think the chances are slim, the fit could be good. QWEST of the all the Baby Bells was the most Internet oriented in the late 90s and early years of the current decade. They have lots of smart IT folks and the ability to roll out new service offerings. Since the wanted and lost MCI, Vonage could be a good acquisition, but likely all of the current Vonage people would not be long term with them., Qwest knows how to market so aside from a handful of people, it wouldn't be that much of job saving move. Again that could be another reason why a buy would be attractive. But I'll hedge on that one.

Now comes the more interesting play. T-Mobile. The company has cash. Knows how to market. They have customers who are young and likely broadband centric. They have retail and independent sales forces. They know how to bill, collect, detect fraud and already have international termination. Of all the national wireless brands in the space they are the only one without a USA based landline offer (excluding the MVNO's).

Beyond them, who knows. News Corp. is out there looking to buy a VoIP company, but I don't see how voice fits into their media strategy the Skype could have as a piped conduit.

Old News Made Fresh @ Fall VON

This week at VON a lot of so called news was generated. Two points that I brought to light at the last VON in San Jose BACK IN MARCH that some called news now in September.

Earthlink works with Sonus.

Their idea of news.

The Andy version from March.

AOL adds Global IP Sound.

Their idea of news.

The Andy version from VON.

In both cases I didn't break any embargoes. In the case of Sonus and Earthlink the Sonus VP of Marketing broke an appointment with me, his PR person said he had to fly to the East coast (an outright lie) while sources who knew him personally told me they saw him with Earthlink at the time of our cancelled meeting.

In the case of GIPS when I walked into the AOL briefing room I saw the AOL Biz Dev team huddling with Gary of GIPS. I blurted out "I guess we know who's working with GIPS next" to him with a wink. This time around AOL added screens around each of their two or three "meeting rooms" to insure privacy. Call it the Andy effect at Work.

Who said bloggers don't have an impact on the industry? Guess they were wrong.

P.S. I really liked LightReading's coverage of the Earthlink story, especially the part about Vonage. I wonder how many subscribers Vonage has from Earthlink in their Million Lines and the impact of that business moving to Level3 on Vonage's so called $600 million dollar offering?.

Hotels Don't Get Broadband Wired or Wireless

I'm growing increasingly concerned as I travel that the hotel operators don't get broadband. They think the idea of advertising High Speed Wireless or In Room High Speed Broadband means install a DSL line offering 1.5 down and 512 up is the way to go.

In the day of two or three people a night using that type of bandwidth and everyone else on dial up that might have worked. But now we live in an always on, need it now, send it to me ASAP world.

People who travel are being asked to review and edit large graphics files, revise PowerPoints or may even choose to listen to their favorite streamed content. Over the past week I have stayed in three Hilton properties. Hilton has been a leader in hotel market in building out high speed in their properties and was the first hotel chain to actually develop a certification program for their properties integrators. Sadly my experience ranged from very good at the Hilton Garden Inn in Philadelphia (though VoWiFi was marginal) to average at the Embassy Suites Financial District in New York City (the WiFi reception would drift in and out depending on which side of the bed I was on, how many people in the room were connected) to the Back Bay Hilton in Boston where the speeds were never greater than 500k down. In all cases the upload paths were horrible as evidenced by the poor quality VoIP had on Skype or even a WiFi phone. While I could hear the other party calling me very clearly (remember how little you really need for Voice) the other party I would be speaking with always made comments about how I sounded.

You see, what worked in 2002 doesn't work in 2005. Demand exceeds the seven users a day and broadband is no longer a guest option for the executive on the go, it's a requirement.

Hotel needs to understand the concept of BandWidth on Demand. They also have to understand that in room wireless and broadband have gone way beyond what they envisioned when they budgeted for it a few years ago. The idea behind Bandwidth on Demand is quite simple. Instead of a fixed and one speed line to the hotel, as demand increases so would capacity. This would insure that when a conference is in the hotel and everyone is connected the speeds don't mimic the cars leaving Houston or Galveston due to Hurricane Rita.

Given some hotels charge for these services as much as $15.95 a day, while others just bundle it into the room rate, the guest has a right to get a true broadband experience, not a sometimes on, sometimes off, sometimes not at all event that leaves you waiting.

SpeakerPhones For VoIP

I got a gift, actually a few gifts at VON. The coolest are the two MVOX speakerphones that are actually designed for VoIP. I've been playing with the USB one and will wait until I get home to experiment with the Bluetooth enabled.

Early results? Thumbs up.