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Posts from August 2007

Credit Where Credit is Due

David Beckemeyer could have thrown in the towel. He didn't.

Just two days or so ago he IM'd me to say that one of the data centers he was using for Phonegnome was pulling the plug and turning the lights out IN TWO DAYS. David to his credit found another data center, and within a day, it was running. He's busy making sure all things are done right.

Much to my dismay some people scolded him for being offline for all of 15 minutes. GEEZ....Here's little PhoneGnome out for all of 15 minutes and customers are losing it...Get a life. David did more things right in one day, and with much less in the way of resources or staff than Skype or RIM did in more time when they had outages.

David is a pioneer in many ways and he should be thanked.


PhoneGnome Users Can Call Truphone Users Easily

If you know that you pal is using Truphone and you have a PhoneGnome you can easily call them for free now since both are SIP based companies.

Just dial **878 and the Truphone number. This is just one of the networks you can call for free from a PhoneGnome. Once people get beyond the idea of 1+ dialing in the USA or + dialing elsewhere on mobile phones the power of the little box really shows itself.


VoIP News and Notes for Friday August 31 2007

I'm going to start a short one or two line post as needed when I see news stories that need to be read, but don't need a lot of commentary or which may be commented on later.

Here's todays as of 745 AM EDT!

Verizon Pushing Wholesale- this clearly puts more pressure on XO, Global Crossing and Level3. Now along with AT&T the wholesale game for voice minutes has to be heating up.

Jaxtr raises ten million--VCs see money in minutes still, but also in social networks. Jaxtr claims to do both. This means they need to keep an eye out for Mig33 and a few others. In Jaxtrs case they raised money from two very sharp VC's who already made money in the same space with other companies.

Keep an eye on cBeyond. The company is opening up offices all over Southern California. There brand of managed VoIP puts them at odds with Fonality and CallTower. They're a company to watch as they offer a full suite of services and have a very aggressive sales team.

Cisco isn't the only game in town when it comes to Telepresence. HP and Tandberg are going after the same pricey and highly lucrative market. At the same time SightSpeed is coming out with a business grade offering that provides everyday business with the ability to have high quality face time with existing networks and equipment.

Virgin Mobile in Australia which offers real 3G had a four hour outage in the middle of the night. It seems customers got irate. To me an outage under a half hour is manageable. Four hours leads to being concerned if it happens again.

Unstrung comments on the issues with Muni WiFi and runs a lot of spin job quotes about mesh networking from Tropos and Cisco, two companies now looking for new places to peddle their wares. If Cisco was so behind mesh why do they still sell other 802.11 solutions that out perform it in the Enterprise environment?

Dan York highlights the RebTel Facebook app. Big whoop. All the RebTel app is one more layer on top of a complicated way to make a cheap call yawn...I'm more excited about Pat from Roam4Free's list of FaceBook apps PSST..Alec Saunders tells me that the iotum team have something that will really be relevant for the Facebook crowd....Check his blog out next week....Obviously Alec knows that announcing after Labor Day is a smarter idea. I mean, the bulk of Facebook is still in college, and that starts next week. This week those at college are looking for a new face and hook up. Not an app that makes it hard to hook up. I think Alec has that figured out too.


San Diego Airport WiFi Slows Down

San Diego Airport used to charge for WiFi via a third party provider. When they had an option to make a change they chose to go "free."

Tonight at gate 33 waiting for my US Air flight I saw what free gets me. 82K download.

That is pathetic. I spoke earlier in the week to the IT Director for the San Diego Regional Airport Authority. He claimed they would be monitoring speeds and loads and that they had two DS-1 lines. Basically three megs for all the traffic. I did some math and figured out that would be between 50 and 100k per user at off times. Looks like I was right.

Airports going the free route need to either have ten-20 megs of bandwidth or have access to bandwidth on demand.

Where is Boingo when I need them!


How Not To Handle A Layoff

First Atlanta Falcons' QB Michael Vick falls from grace, now one of Atlanta's bright and shining corporate citizens does the same....Things sure aren't peachy in Georgia this month.

From this account it looks like Earthlink's mail room fumbled the ball and missed a Fed Ex shipment yesterday and some of the "packages" for those on the west coast never reached them.

The first person story though from the engineer laid off touches on VoIP and leads me to believe they may be exiting that business, which is counter to what I've heard already from some insiders.

Hopefully some clarity comes through soon.


Truphone Add InTones and More

MobileCrunch picks up the news about client Truphone adding a range of ringtones that their users hear when originating calls.

But the big news is Truphone Out+ that really makes the service fly in countries they don't yet offer DIDs. In a nutshell from the Truphone press office:

Truphone Out+ means that a customer's existing phone number is now displayed as their 'calling line identification' (CLI) when they make a Truphone call.

Carrier pre-select is achieved transparently: when a Truphone call is made the Truphone's servers recognise if the 'ordinary' telephone number being called is linked to a Truphone account. If the destination user is online, a free Truphone-to-Truphone call is setup.

This means that users of Truphone won't miss calls when they leave a WiFi environment just like before, but that the number called by a Truphone user to reach another Truphone user in the new markets can be an existing mobile number. Neat!


Om On Earthlink's Day Today

Mid day yesterday Om broke a story that likely affects some friends at Earthlink. I've been unable to reach them so like everyone else including Om and Cynthia the world is awaiting the morning news today out of Atlanta.

A lot of this is a result of the untimely passing of Gary Betty from cancer. But what good can you say when the company still has his bio up, unedited since his death . To me that shows no one is really paying attention to the little things there any more, and the executives are busy figuring out how to sell the company to someone like NetZero or even the private equity market where an all dial up generating cash cow, shed of foolish moves into WiFi and mobile, without a Fixed Mobile Strategy since Brent Cobb (now at cBeyond) left the company via Helio in 2005..

A friend at a leading network equipment provider has been saying that the folks at Earthlink have been on an annuity for years, collecting their pay checks and basically not really innovating outside of VoIP (i.e. Steve Howe and David Elgas). Their Muni-Wireless model is in trouble, and people I knew there from MuniWireless activities who were on the network build out team have also left over the last few months, signaling that changes were coming and now with the news out of Chicago of a pull back seem to be right on the money.

Friends in the mobile world tell me that Sky Dayton's unfettered Earthlink money train has also run off the tracks. With over $200 million in sunk costs and a ton of the mobile customers that Earthlink had running on their Earthlink Mobile service (really a rebranded Sprint or Verizon service) that got handed over to Helio, it seems the "divine right" of dollars from ELN won't be coming their way any more. For a company with less than a rumored 100,000 subs (about a third reportedly came from ELN Mobile to help Helio get on their way) this could mean that Helio may be the next AMP'd in the MVNO world as they follow Disney and others.

Basically for Dayton and the Helio folks, the days of being in Fantasyland are over. That means no more rumored first class flights for executives for business trips and likely a trimming back of their expensive store front leases, like the one in Palo Alto where the hottest game on campus is "guess the time a customer will actually be in the Helio shop." This comes at a time when the word out of South Korea is that SK senior executives are very displeased with Helio's performance and are struggling to continue to find reasons to support it. I'd say Helio's days are numbered unless they can find a way to get new money fast.

For now we sit back and wait for the news...........

As for the Muni Wireless projects Earthlink was so boldly going after, albeit with a flawed model, just look at the news over the last two weeks.

Houston, TX-On hold

St. Petersburg, FL- On hold.

Alexandria and Arlington, VA-on hold.

Now the Windy City too.....

I'd say Om pretty much nailed things.....


Vonage-All About The Numbers

Tom Keating has someone's tale of woe that sounds just dreadful about continuing to be billed after a phone number was ported away from Vonage. Ouch.

I went through a similar experience, but back in the day of Mad Dog Mike Slepian on the PR team some satisfaction was gained and after porting my number to Junction Networks (who are now a client). I had to pay the termination fee, but was credited for the months after I had moved the number and Vonage had stopped being the service provider.

Dear Andrew Abramson,

Your Vonage service has been cancelled and a final credit of ($65.00) was issued to your credit card on 07/13/2006.

Here's my take. The customer will eventually get their money back and Vonage gets one more black eye in the area of customer service.