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Posts from November 2005

The FCC and E-911--A High Stakes Game of Chicken

Vonage and VoicePulse are thumbing their noses at the FCC in complete defiance of the order. To date Vonage has not met a reasonable level of compliance and continues to sell service even where it can't provision E911. VoicePulse has lightly engaged in double-speak by saying it plans on complying, but it hasn't yet and won't until the FCC clarifies a solution. Huh?

On the other hand, it's clear that established industry players like Comcast, Cablevision, AT&T, MCI and Verizon are all working hard to comply and will no longer accept customers that it can't "protect" with E911 capabilities.

Now it's up to the FCC. Are they a paper tiger, or a guiding light? Clearly the industry can't operate under different rules for different players.

On this subject I've asked the new GM of Skype in the USA Henry Gomez to talk about the regulatory outlook when he's back from his London travels next week. While the VoIP 1.0 guys are all under the noses of the FCC the VoIP 2.0 guys are left in limbo. While the old guard wants on set of rules for all, I'm wondering if there's another set of cards that are going to be dealt for the 2.0 folks, not only for those in the PSTN replacement world.


About My Packet8 Post

A Center Ice Circle club reader sent me the following tonight. Other than masking his identity here's what he had to say:

Your post yesterday regarding Packet8's press release was slightly in error. Packet8 does not actually claim that they have provided E911 to all U.S. customers (althought they DO try and convey that impression). Even Level 3 only has the capability (interconnection with selective routers) to offer E911 in a footprint covering about 70% of U.S. households. More or less, nobody else has E911 in the

other 30%, and Packet8 did not cut off customers who fall in that 30%.

What Packet8 did say was very carefully worded:

"...successfully provisioned nomadic E911 emergency calling throughout its network..." They specifically do not say something like "to all subscribers."

"...all Packet8 subscribers with a U.S. service address can now contact emergency service personnel by dialing 911 from their

Packet8 phone..." This statement is probably true, but for some Packet8 customers, the service would be N911, not E911.

"...Previously, Packet8 offered E911 service as an optional feature to subscribers, however, earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission issued an order requiring all interconnected VoIP providers to provide E911 capabilities to their subscribers as a standard component of their service...." This just means they won'y give customers the choice of opting out of E911 service when it is available, as they had been doing previously.

In fact, there is no way of acheiving total E911 compliance in all areas of the country. The access to and interconnection with some of the selective routers simply does not exist yet.

Great blog! I read it often.

And to think I thought P8 had mended their ways. Silly me. My bad. And here I thought Packet8 was being honest and transparent. I guess all their shareholders who have filled my email box with chapter and verse telling showing me actual double talk aren't wrong after-all.


Saved By PhoneGnome

Pal Jon Arnold had a blog post over the weekend about how client TelEvolution's PhoneGnome was there for him during a power outage in a snow storm. It's a charming story.

Speaking of PhoneGnome, CEO David Beckemeyer will be on hand tomorrow night Wednesday November 30th at the CommNexus GadgetFest which Ken Rutkowski and I are hosting for the third year in a row at the La Jolla Marriott. The fun starts at 430 PM and goes until 730 PM.


Truth In Blogging

Jeff has a very good point in his post today. We actually talked about this back at the Visionary Summit a few weeks back in Washington D.C.

I support his perspective and tend to take a different approach. Since I represent some companies in the space I blog about I preface them with the word client.

I also tend to offer stories about my clients to the other bloggers before I write or comment and feel that has been my equalizer to the bias argument. Of course when no one bites on a story I blog after the release has been sent out on the wire, thus in effect scooping even myself.

I'm doing my best to be ethical and above board in an era of NDA's and changing alliances, partnerships and affiliations. Just know I'll always call em as I see em, or consult the always faithful Crystal Ball for advice, but I won't play client blog ever.

Besides with clients like mine others want the story before I can blog it anyway most of the times...


Surfing from the Skies..Some Observations From the Trip

I'm winging westward at 33,000 to 37,000 feet on Lufthansa 468 headed to Portland from Frankfurt as I blog this.

I've already Skyped and Gizmo'd on the way over so I guess I'm in the Mile High Club now for VoIPsters.

In Europe I used three different mobile carriers. Transatel in France who I have a great cheap deal with, T-Mobile and 3 in Austria on the Nokia N90, and I have no idea until I get my T-Mobile USA bill for what ran over my Blackberry.

What I don't get is why a company like T-Mobile can't just make it seamless and cheap for me to use their service in the countries they are in. Instead I have to buy a SIM, add minutes, use them up and buy more. In the case of Austria, I was sold 3 at a shop so I figured I try it and I liked the service, though T-Mobile seemed more global centric.

Hotspots and Broadband. The experiences in my hotels, the Das Triest and Le Meridian in Vienna, Loisium Hotel in Langelois and the Le Meridian Garden Beach Hotels (other than the cost here) were second to none. In Austria I never paid for broadband in my hotel room, though they do seem to charge in the public areas and have no way to coordinate the two. WiFi in Das Triest was too simple. Open you browser. In Le Meridian I connected via Ethernet and at the Loisium I used my Zyxel Travel Router and made the whole floor wireless it seemed. The travel router made it easier for Helene who also tends to spend a lot of time on line working and of course shopping.

What was super impressive is the call quality. I recorded the KenRadio World Technology Round Up on Monday with Ken (he was in L.A.) and he remarked how better it sounded than when I'm in the USA on Cable Modem. Later in the day I had a conference call using FreeConferenceCall.com and Gizmo. Not only was the call free up until around the time everyone was coming back from dinner at the hotel and the network was getting slammed, the call quality was superb.

To stay connected I used a combination of CallVantage's Locate Me, Webley and GizmoProject in. I also played with PhoneGnome's SoftGnome while Helene used that to make some calls along with her cell phones. In almost all cases no one could tell we were using Voice Over IP to make calls. I gotta believe that hotels are taking a beating on phone calls from executives armed with high quality laptops.

The only snafu I really saw was in Frankfurt where I couldn't make a VoIP call at the airport and in Austria where my T-Mobile Hotspot account seemed to not work.

Given how easy the trip is getting technology wise and how I'm finding quality hotels to work out of with broadband to only dream of in USA based hotels, I'm leaning more and more to trips to Europe to meet with clients and attend conferences when I have to.

I mean, it's becoming too easy to stay connected.


Packet8 Claims All Subscribers Now Have E-911

As long as the customer is in the United States, all Packet8 subscribers now have E-911 according to their morning announcement today.

It seems both they and AOL because of Level3's support and partners have this pretty much nailed down. AT&T also has been rather forthright and aggressive in this area.

Vonage though finally went to Level3 for the E-911 service and may also be dancing with Intrado.

I wonder how Skype is going to solve their forthcoming E-911 woes?


Changes In Skype Announced

Now about two and a half months since acquisition eBay has made some moves to put some layers of management into the free wheeling, radical minded Skype.

An eBay insider, Henry Gomez has been named general manager of Skype North America. The newly-formed division has been established to better serve Skype users in the region. Gomez had been senior vice president of corporate communications and government relations at eBay Inc. He previously reported to Meg Whitman, and for now he will report to Mr. Zennstrom. Under Meg Whiteman Gomez had global responsibilities for public relations, community development, internal communications and government relations. He is also chairman of the eBay Foundation, eBay’s charitable giving organization.

Clearly this is a guy who knows how to communicate and work the political machine including how to lobby. My take is Skype/eBay knows they have some issues to contend with from government regulators here in the USA so they put a silver tongued type into the top spot to get through whatever the FCC has to offer. That on face is logical, but Skype needs to come clean about if they want to be a Phone Company or something more Voice 2.0 like. The old Skype was always about the latter but the new Skype is sending vibes about being both. Since you can't be a little bit pregnant, Gomez has to figure all that out.

According to the account I heard Gomez is the senior eBay executive number three to join the Skype team. Alex Kazim, who was a senior vice president of new ventures at eBay, has joined Skype to take charge of several "new business areas." Rajiv Dutta, eBay’s chief financial officer, will become to president of Skype worldwide after his successor is named.


WiFi Cellphone In Korea

I wouldn't be surprised to see a phone like this end up on Helio, the new Earthlink-SK-Telecom joint venture.

The beauty of this is with the right network configurations a call to your cell number could end up on your SIP client using IMS and or eNUM.

What that would mean is cheaper international calling when you're away from home, but connected via WiFi.