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Posts from September 2005

Trusted Partners

It seems the concept of trusted partners is becoming more en vogue. While in theory any SIP based VoIP service can run over any IP network I'm sensing a move in the direction of trusted partners to avoid problems and more importantly really add teeth to the idea of "we don't support that" by adding "but we do support X that works really well with our network."

While with software like e-mail and browsers that are standards based that song doesn't sing real well with me, in an era where so many new players are in the emerging voice services space, a startup like Clearwire can only support so many. Hence this idea of Trusted Partner makes sense.

It's not much different than what client PhoneGnome has announced with VocalNet as an officially supported ITSP for long distance in their Equal Access program.


SunRocket Hits The Money

The Washington Post broke the story early today about SunRocket scoring more VC capital. What's important about this is the fact that they have raised $34 million could be crucial in helping Wall Street set the value of Vonage.

SunRocket actually owns some technology which Vonage doesn't. They also have an annual $199 per year pricing model. That makes them somewhat less pricey than all the other VoIP. Recently they added XO as their carrier partner.

This is a company which is on the move. I've had the SunRocket phone in the VoIPWatch lab and have experienced good results.


Simply Relevant Blog Launched

Pals Alec Saunders and Howard Thaw have launched Simply Relevant, a blog that helps explain how their next generation relevance engine works as it is clearly the first serious application to come along for VoIP.

Their new offering is light years ahead of anything on the market today and is a logical add-in to any carriers network. While they have not yet shown it to the world at the VON conference, the two long time presenters here at VON have been busy holding meetings with many potential carriers and technology partners who are beginning to see the value of the application as it provides a logical bridge between office, home and mobile phones, and yes your laptop's soft-phone too.

In a nutshell, the iotum team has crafted a technology that lets you get the telephone calls you need, when you need them, while shuttling off the calls you don't need to voice mail or to someone else. iotum uses a sophisticated model of the interaction between two people, and the preferences you might have. It attempts to situationalize you, and then make judgments on your behalf based on a combination of clues it has collected, and preferences you have previously supplied.

In our era where secretarial help and administrative assistants are not as common place the iotum technology goes far beyond what people have been calling unified messaging.

If you're still at VON you may want to find either Alec or Howard as their new offering is just more than simply relevant, it's totally relevant to everything I have been saying for months about the need for applications.


Bridgeport Networks Keeps Growing

Hot on the heals of the China Unicom deal, BridgePort Networks has added Net2Phone, Acme Packet and CounterPath (previously XTen) to their Mobile Ignite program.

What's so important about this? Bridgeport Networks is at the center of the IMS efforts. When I met with Verisign this week they too revealed how Bridgeport's technology plays a crucial part in their network topology for the future delivery of content.

All these deals keep Bridgeport Networks on the path of delivering end-to-end standards-based, interoperable MobileVoIP solutions to carriers and endpoint manufacturers.


AOL's New IM Client With VoIP

As expected AOL has launched a new VoIP client wrapped around AIM. Called Triton it features software from Pingtel and Global IP Sound. Their video is coming from another source, and it won't be one of the usual suspects.

Sources tell me its got higher resolution and works better than the other soft video clients out there. I hope to see it later today when Imeet up with their new GM of Voice.


Times @ Level3 Must Be Tough

Last night Level3 hosted a dinner at The Harvard Club in Boston. While the conversation and panel discussion that was masterfully led by FierceVoIP's Ryun Williamson was informative with reps from AOL, Level3, 8x8, NGT and Comcast, someone's choice in wine was rather tacky.

Salmon Creek.

This is a wine that is sold to restaurants and private clubs for less than $3.00 a bottle, or about where Level3's stock was at the start of the year.

Basically the wine is the same as "Two Buck Chuck" with a slightly fancier label. It's made with bulk grapes harvested from anywhere but the better wine growing regions in California. As a matter of fact the wine bottler has been the sued and recently lost the right to even claim "bottled in Napa, CA." as the wine industry there viewed the claim as rather misleading....to say the least.

So while Level3 has may not asked me for my help, opinions and viewpoint on things related VoIP the way other VoIP companies have perhaps in the future Level3 will at least turn to me for wine advice. You see for the last three year I have written a wine column for the Del Mar Times :-)

Between the trade tastings, wine events and wine dinners I attend plus wines from my personal collection of 10,000 plus bottles, I think I can find them something better without hurting their bottom line.

FYI-I passed on the Salmon Creek. It is about as good as Kool-Aid. That's something else I never swallow!


Packet 8 to Use EyeBeam

When I met with Packet8's chairman a few months back I raised the question regarding licensing XTEN's (now CounterPath's) EyeBeam technology vs. doing what he said they were going to do, which was build their own soft client for video calls over a PC.

Well it looks like my suggestion took hold because today the two companies have announced a licensing agreement.

The move is all about interoperability. That's something that Erik Lagerway was preaching about during his days at XTEN. Now over at EyeBall Networks he's gearing up to do just that with their highly regarded Eyeball client.

As for this deal, P8 now has a means to let people who don't have their video phone see those that do. Why it took them this long for packet 8 to go in that direction is anyone's guess. My two cents are the reason for this move now is the cost of development to build vs. buy was getting to high for P8. By licensing a proven platform they cut down time to market and can also forecast costs better.

Congrats to Mark Bruk and the CounterPath team on this win.


Why AOL/MSN Is A Good Idea

Mark Evan's points about networks owning content in a twisted way supports my views on why AOL and MSN would be a great marriage. Carriers need to have something to offer other than dumb pipe that adds value to the service offering.

MSN will be the tech. AOL/TW will be the content. Microsoft stops having to worry about content deals, or even how to make them. TW already knows how and with whom to do them beyond their own. This is akin to being like P&G is as category captain in the grocery story, in this case TW/AOL plays content captain, determining the mix of what gets the best position in the browser, while MSN figures out the best ways to serve it up. No one restricts access to the rest of the content, but where the money and support goes (i.e browser real estate) is determined.

For TW/AOL their upper echelons don't have to figure out what technology to invest in. Microsoft does that for them.


Level 3 To Help Vonage with E911

A friendly reporter and I were speculating on Saturday about what the Level3 announcement would be. I guessed they would be working with either Skype or Vonage on E-911. Looks like I was right in one case. Level3 also has rolled out something more with Nomadic VoIP. Gee didn't AT&T talk about that a few months back from Intrado when they made this announcement?

Here's the release about VONAGE who is spending lots of money to get their E911 act together. I guess they have to in order to be a real phone company.

Vonage® Selects Level 3 To Expand 911 Capabilities

New VoIP Contract Will Provide Vonage With E-911 Solution For

Nomadic VoIP Customers

EDISON, N.J. and BROOMFIELD, Colo., September 19, 2005 - Vonage Network, a subsidiary of Vonage Holdings Corp, a leading provider of broadband phone service, today announced it has selected Level 3 Communications, LLC, the U.S. operating subsidiary of Level 3 Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq:LVLT) to enable critical components of Vonage’s nomadic E-911 service. Under the terms of the agreement, Level 3 will deliver its Level(3) E-911 DirectSM service to support Vonage’s E-911 rollout.

“Vonage is running hard and fast to meet the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 120-day deadline to turn up E-911 service throughout our footprint. To meet this ambitious goal, physical connectivity is the first critical piece of infrastructure we need to build to get our calls to the selective routers,” said Martin Hakim Din, senior vice president, Architecture, Vonage Network. “Level 3 offered the comprehensive and reliable set of services that enables us to get these connections up and running.”

With its advanced service offerings, Level 3 is setting the pace in enabling companies like Vonage to deliver Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) 911 services to their customers. While others are now just beginning to develop their E-911 network assets, today Level 3 has network connections to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) that serve approximately 67% of all U.S. households, with a projected build-out to 70% by the end of 2005. Having network connections to the PSAPs is a necessary component of the delivery of any nomadic E-911 solution, and Level 3 believes that having its network connectivity already in place provides it with an advantage over its competitors.

Vonage will utilize Level 3’s existing Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) infrastructure for interconnection into hundreds of Selective Routers across the country. The Level (3) E-911 DirectSM service provides a critical component of Vonage’s E-911 solution needed to comply with the FCC’s mandate that all interconnected VoIP providers automatically provide E-911 services to their two-way voice customers. The two companies plan to begin deploying E-911 service for Vonage customers in the fourth quarter of 2005.

“National Emergency Number Association (NENA) looks forward to the E-911 service benefits which should result from Vonage's use of Level 3's established IP network and access to E-911 systems across large parts of the nation,” said David Jones, president, NENA. “The Emergency Services Gateway approach is supportive of NENA's Interim Solution (I2) path forward for VoIP E-911.”

In addition to the new Level(3) E-911 Direct service, Level 3 also provides key building blocks for VoIP services. These include (3)Voice® Termination service, which provides wholesale termination of voice calls, (3)VoIPSM Local Inbound service, which delivers local phone calls to IP end points nationwide, and (3)VoIP EnhancedSM Local service, which helps providers deliver IP-based local and long-distance communications services.

“Our work with Vonage is an important industry milestone. Vonage will be able to provide their customers with one of the industry’s broadest reaching E-911 network solutions,” said Sureel Choksi, executive vice president, Services of Level 3 Communications. “Our industry-leading Level(3) E-911 Direct offering is just one example of Level 3’s belief that technology advances should not sacrifice consumer safety.”