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Posts from December 2006

Mr. Blog: Bloom Off the Rose At Skype

David Beckemeyer may be one of the few bloggers who can write this type of post and has the chops to back it up. He co-founded Earthlink, bringing what is really the Internet to more people than anyone with the way he developed the EarthLink on ramp technology and the discs. Many think AOL was, but, no, it was EarthLink and that was David and Sky Dayton.

Now onto his post about the luster falling off of Skype. He's right and for many of the reasons he cites Niklas is back in the hot seat.

In a separate post he also expresses a concern with Skype's inconsistent Skype Out. I agree and have found the issues to be more glaring in the USA when it comes to terminating calls on mobile phones, and tend to think it is how Skype handles call routing and termination here in the USA before it gets to Level3's Network.

Story About Internet Speeds and Slowdowns

What people fail to realize is today's cable modem and DSL experience is very much like the party line of old in the early era of the telephone.

I am constantly amazed that we think a shared pipe even at what we get from the cable MSO's is going to deliver the same kind of experience as a real T-1.

I for one am looking constantly at how I can have "my own" pipe, not a shared connection.

The Softie In Me Smiles

When I read blog posts from people saying things like this I just smile, knowing that my team and client over the past year have worked very hard to reach out to the general market, not the early adopter, to enjoy the power of real time video communications on a personal level.

We're not talking out of sight priced Cisco or HP Telepresence here. We're talking a free service that works with just about any webcam and personal computer and delivers a true to life experience of face to face video communications.

I had a similar experience Monday morning, and got the damp eyes that come with joy. I was in Frankfurt, Germany getting ready to fly home after a very successful trip on a variety of fronts. My finace was at her mom's in Santa Clara (yes Helene is a child of Silicon Valley so there should be no question why I'm marrying a girl geek) with her brother, his wife, their three children, her Aunt and her two boys. She also had her Sony Vaio UXP-180 with the built in webcam which we used to have an amazing Christmas with the family. You see, I may have been twelve hours away in travel time, over six thousand air miles and nine hours different in time, but as I awoke there was Helene and the family celebrating Christmas Eve and I was overjoyed at being there without being physically there.

Last week I told the tale of dinner with Bob while I was in Paris and he was in New Rochelle, NY. Bob is Bob Cox, the founder of the Media Bloggers Association. I've known Bob and his family (his growing family) now for ten years. I think he had two kids then and now has added a few more. Bob was a former client when he founded MobileWord, a company that was far ahead of its time in delivering overnight transcripts from dictated files. Today a service called WeType4U is pretty much what MobileWord was, but Bob's bigger idea of a Word Factory never made the light of day, which was sad because it really had the right stuff. Like with MobileWord, Bob was too early.

Sometimes you gotta have faith and as my pal Tom Carter, who founded Bridgeport Networks and now is driving sales and marketing at Clarity, likes to say.."you gotta pick you ponies because somewhere in the pile is a winner." Personal Video Communications is one of those piles and I've picked my pony. You just have to know that it's important to let the winning pony grow up and become a stallion, not just a front runner, because in the end, it's the stallions who make the future.

Covad Inks Deal With United Online

Covad, which is rising like the Phoenix, has just announced a deal with "low price" leader United Online for a DSL play.

Given how tattered AOL is these days, United Online and Earthlink, both Covad customers are looking more and more like the emerging victors in the independent market for Internet customers.

United Online has one of the brightest marketing executives in North America, Mark Goldstone, at the helm. The former Reebok and L.A. Gear executive knows consumer marketing better than almost anyone in telecom so watch for some very aggressive tactics from the L.A. area based United Online.

Is Om Throwing in The Cable Broadband Towel?

Om has been a staunch believer, like myself, that the cable modem folks have a better offer than the DSL guys. Now he may be changing his tune.

He's not alone. After seeing ADSL in action recently in my hotels around Europe I'm more convinced it's how the USA based telcos set things up than what it's capable of.

My broadband experiences in Paris, Barcelona and Munich were insane. Mostly I was impressed by the lack of ANY packet loss, jitter and extremely low latency when I ran the usual VoIP Speed Tests. These experiences rivaled my experience in Austria a year ago over Thanksgiving when the quality was better than I have here at home. What's interesting is since I returned I'm now seeing 12 megs down from Cox (up from 9-10) and higher upload speeds by about 20 percent.

My guess is the "cable guys" are gearing up for the push from Ma Bell and also from the mobile EvDO and HSPDA offerings that are starting to hit the shelves now.

SF WiFi Project

It appears the highly touted San Francisco WiFi project continues to hit speed bumps.

The fact that only 12 concerned citizens (if they were all citizens and not PR and Policy representatives) is a bigger source of concern. 12 in a city as digital as San Francisco...What are we talking here? HomelessWireless? Maybe GrandCentral can give away cheap WiFi phones like they give away free voice mail boxes for the homeless to have a phone number which a great humanitarian effort by clients Craig and Vincent.

Under the current scenario voice will be limited to 10 calls per access point at any one time, and according to well informed sources in the mesh space, this is not a problem that is getting solved this year by the mesh industry.

If I was advising Earthlink and looking at spending the kind of money it will take to build this out, vs. the return rate I'd try to figure out a way to use less access points that cover the same distance, reduce overall installation and Total Cost of Ownership, ramp speed to market and get this up and running in some kind of early test in a few communities to determine acceptance and usage before spending the kind of money quoted.

Yahoo Execs: It should have been the Spam Manifesto

One of the product lines under Peanut Butter Manifesto's author Brad Garlinghouse is their email product line. If not, he's a very lucky Sr. VP, as it leaves a lot to be desired.

As an experiment I let my Yahoo Mail email account alone for fifty days. End result was over 1600 emails, of which 85 to 90 percent of spam. When I compare this to both Google's Gmail and Apple's .Mac Mail only Microsoft's HotMail has a weaker performance level at fighting spam.

Yahoo mail is a total failure as an Internet mail provider in my eyes. I used to have Yahoo as my business account's hosting company but due to SPAM issues I switched to a provider who uses Postini for Spam fighting. My spam level is almost nill, to the point of where it doesn't pose a problem and what's more the falses are nill.

What's ironic is that my business account somehow seems to have a presence still in my Yahoo Mail directory, and ironically it still catches SPAM even though the domain is not there any more and hasn't been there for almost 20 months. Since I pay some annual fee to Yahoo, I expect better performance.

So when the Yahoo team comes back to work after a peanut butter and jelly break maybe they can really deal with SPAM the right way in the new year.

VoIP News on "What is Voice 2.0"

Check out the story in VoIP News which begs the question "what is Voice 2.0?"

First I have been using the following to define voice services as I give interviews:

Voice 1.0--> The phone service you get from your local phone company (i.e. PSTN) or mobile phone operator (i.e circuit switched cellular)

Voice 1.5--> This is what Earthlink, Vonage, Packet8, Broadvoice, VoicePulse, SunRocket and the service you get from your cable or DSL provider. Basically two things change from 1.0. Who bills you and the switching of the wire from an RJ-11 to an RJ-45.

Voice 2.0-->This is the space that Free World Dialup (the original Purple 2.0 player), Gizmo Project, Skype, SightSpeed, Wengo, Yahoo Messenger with Voice, AIM PhoneLine, Earthlink's MindSpring, etc. are playing in. Soft client or next generation handset that is WiFi based, provides the ability for new applications which are 2.0 in nature such as GrandCentral, Sitofono, iotum, TalkPlus, BridgePort Networks etc. which reside in varying ways on the cloud.

The key to all of this is they can call the PSTN world without any special "codes" and don't require any "retraining" of the user. Devices and software function just like a regular phone, using DTMF touch tones.

In essence I think we are headed to Voice 3.0, which as pal Jeff Bonforte at Yahoo likes to say, brings 2.0 approaches to a 1.0 world. In my interpretation that's taking Yahoo Voice or AIM PhoneLine and all they have to offer and applying them to a 1.0 world. That's where friend and client David Beckemeyer's PhoneGnome falls in my book. I would have previously thought of them as a 2.0 solution but really PhoneGnome is in the space of bridging both worlds and providing the first and true Voice 3.0 solution even before 2.0 was fully baked.