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Posts from December 2009

My WiMax Experience

I was in Las Vegas a few days ago and got to experience Mobile WiMax for the first time via the Sprint/Clearwire network that's been installed there.

My reaction. Think the best of WiFi and a MiFi all rolled into one.

Speeds were solid and I was able to make VoIP and Skype calls, including video, without any problem while seated inside my hotel's restaurant and from a moving car.

Couple of hiccups. First there is a lag time from when you first seek to connect that lasts up to a minute, after that, you'd think you were on a T1 or better as everything just flies. My sending of email via my Exchange server was rocket fast, but I did see some delays on the loading of web pages, so it appears there may be some proxying of port 80 traffic being done by Clearwire or Sprint, but I didn't test for that.

Regardless, with Clearwire/Sprint 4G in Las Vegas at my disposal, it will be one more wireless way to work and stay connected. As more new devices roll out, the uptake will also be greater. This new Overdrive from Sierra Wireless should help there.

You can try out WiMax in Las Vegas via Cheetah Wireless' rental program.

(Note: To be transparent, I'm a minor stakeholder in Cheetah Wireless)

Information Week Says Skype and Avaya Are Talking Enterprise Market

When the news gets slow around the holidays you can always expect the rumor mill to be running at full tilt around the household company names.

Well, I don't think this is a rumor at all

when I read that Skype and Avaya are in talks to bring Skype into the enterprise. One reason is back on September 9 when the ShoreTel relationship with Skype was announced I wrote:

2) Second-Silver Lake Partners which just bought Skype is also a big player in Avaya so I expect Avaya to be the SME player in the mix. Avaya already embraces SIP and has a very strong understanding of softphones. Case in point, it was Avaya and Cisco which were the first to have their capability put on Nokia E series devices so the phone could be used as an extension of the PBX. To me, given the all in the family status I would expect Avaya to be one of the next ones out the door.

The Information Week story cites exactly those points. Add to the fact that Skype already has their Cisco SIP interop done (which I also forecasted)

3) Third-Cisco. It's way too logical. Cisco's ex VP Mike Volpi is part of the Index Ventures group that was in on the buying of Skype from eBay and has very strong relationships at his old company where he was once rumored to being groomed for the top job when John Chambers retires. No one knows the intersections of IP communications and impact on network growth better than he from outside Cisco, and Skype means more packets, especially video so for Cisco to embrace Skype in my mind is a no brainer. What's more I would not be surprised to find out that Skype and Cisco develop telepresence light using Skype Video one day.

Add to it that Skype now has Jonathan Rosenberg (ex-Cisco, ex founder Dynamicsoft) on board so the business VoIP stars are lining up very well in their direction, with more to come in 2010, likely in the on-premise small box PBX market or with Polycom and others. The market is just getting ripe and ready for Skype not to have a major stake in it. Rosenberg is one of the core fathers of SIP dating back to his Columbia University days and is perhaps the foremost authority today who is part of an an active telecom company.

When you add all that up, it's easy to see Skype as a winner.

Oh, and the losers? Microsoft and AT&T.

eWeek Says To Expect More From GoogleVoice in 2010

Check out the eWeek article about GoogleVoice and Gizmo. Seems the Nexus One isn't the only thing that Google is now "leaking" over.

Here's what I think.

1) Gizmo5's assets brings GoogleVoice the missing soft client on multiple platforms except the iPhone. That will have to wait. Macs, PCs, Symbian and Android will be their markets first. Symbian on the Nokia smartphones. Gizmo previously had a Truphone like app on them.

2) Gizmo's softclient becomes a lot more. Expect the Flash based Gizmo client to become embedded in Chrome and that making calls from Chrome becomes very easy.

3) On Chrome OS Netbooks, watch as Google expands the calling to integrate video. Already Google has video with Google Talk, but so does Gizmo so making it part of the operating system or browser adds a whole new dimension. SightSpeed has browser based video calling, but only inside Internet Explorer.

4) I would expect that tagging of Google Voice messages and being able to associate them to projects inside Google Apps becomes part of their roadmap.

5) Google Voice's international calling capabilities get expanded. You'll be able to add international phone numbers to be your termination numbers. You will also likely be provided the opportunity to purchase Google Voice In numbers.

6) As LTE and WiMax take hold the phone number on the device becomes less relevant. Because Google Voice and Gizmo are SIP based your email address can be called.

These and a lot more new features will play major roles with Google Voice/Gizmo simply because what's possible is what Google sets out to do. What's also clear is they don't really care about the carriers. To them the mobile operators are dumb pipes whom the customer pays for access. Everything else will be from Google.

CableVision WiFi Is Really Working

From the earliest of days of public WiFi I have always felt the biggest players that would benefit from it were the cable operators. Seems I was right as Cablevision is proving how in the contiguous areas around New York City that their WiFi cloud is attracting users. And, they are all their already existing customers as Om Malik points out at GigaOm.

By continuing to serve their customers outside of the home, Cablevision has extended their connection and kept the customers online. They are using Cablevision service and over time will have a mobile phone running some type of mobile VoIP and I predict mobile video as long as the user is the CableVision customer. Once they have reached a certain point of saturation and predictable usage levels by their customers, my feeling is CableVision will then open the network up to day pass type roamers who find themselves in the CableVision footprint.

This is a lesson that others like Comcast should look at. Deploying WiFi right is far less expensive than 4G and can go just about anywhere there's IP connectivity. No expensive spectrum licenses, and no real challenges on where to build the towers. What's more, just about every PC and smartphone has WiFi now, so the addressable audience is already there, as there is no need for anything new. Lastly, consumer behavior is such that the market is already used to using WiFi, so the leap to use it in public is not that far.

When the book is written on why pubic WiFi failed, CableVision won't be including, as for them, it will already be a rip, roarin' success.

Google Video Chat is Just That--Chat (And Why This Blog is Named VoIPWatch)

Let's set the record straight, for in 2010 we will begin to see some clear lines (are they battle lines) drawn when it comes to "face to face" communications over the Internet.

A post yesterday about Google's Video Chat got me thinking, and as someone who is very much into both branding and operation definitions, the time has come to really expand upon the approach I first took when SightSpeed was my agency's client (right up and through their acquisition by Logitech.)

When we were advising SightSpeed one of the core points we always set out to make was the fact that the offered "video conferencing." That meant they were delivering the highest quality available (media always recognized this in reviews) and were into delivering an all software based multi-party experience. Former CEO Peter Csathy would go to great lengths to extoll the nature of their video quality, tossing words like "pristine" around the way I open wine bottles (with great frequency and regularity), and to date, the only company to really match the level of SightSpeed's "pristine" on screen look is Skype.

Now, let's go into the lesson:

Cisco coined the term Telepresence because it wanted to separate the perception of what was poor video conferencing from the rest of the pack. That was a branding technique to own the space. Quickly others followed suit (HP with Halo, Vidyo, Tandberg, Lifesize) with their own versions of "telepresence." But let's not get confused. These are video conferencing solutions while services like TokBox, Yahoo Messenger with Video and others of their ilk are really video chat as their experience is not on par with any of the real "video conferencing" solutions. So, while many of the Flash video based services like to say they offer Video Conferencing, about the only thing they have in common is "video." And that's where Google's offering is TODAY. They use a combination of video from Vidyo and audio from client Global IP Solutions (GIPS)

Now, let's look at 2010. Video communications in the home and the office will be very different in the next decade. First I fully expect that we'll see embedded webcams in widescreen TV's by the end of the new year. Before that I fully expect that we'll see webcams that interoperate with these widescreen television monitors and I wouldn't be surprised if at least one of the major video chat/conferencing companies starts to work with one or more of the major electronic giants.

Looking a little farther down the road, I'd also expect that the likes of SightSpeed, Skype and others will interoperate with the room based systems very shortly. It's too logical. When you think of the millions of end points that both Skype and SightSpeed already have (not to mention ooVoo) you have to quickly see the roadmaps that Cisco (acquiring Tandberg) and Logitech (acquiring LifeSize) are on. Only someone who can't see would miss the obvious. The lines between video chat and video conferencing are starting to be drawn and the markets identified.

If the last ten years was the decade of the growth of Voice over IP, the next one will be for Video over IP...and now you know why I named this blog VoIPWatch.

Apple's Future Is Very Secure

Apple stock hit an all time high, over $200 this week. But that's just the financial story. What is really impressive is how well Apple is faring in purchase popularity in every category they compete it.

In phones.

In the desktop and laptop categories, when you consider how much more expensive their products are vs. the Windows boxes, you realize just how well they are doing.

Apple is doing this well because their products work. They look good and the require very little support. One has to also wonder how they are doing with the accessories like mice/mouse, WiFi routers (I have yet to find a consumer product that is as solid as the Airport Extreme and Airport Express for travel) or monitors.

Bottom line. Apple's demand and sell through is increasing.

The State of Google Voice on The iPhone

The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) sums up fairly concisely just what is up with the status of Google Voice on the iPhone.

If Google GIVES the Nexus One to all GoogleVoice customers, with some kind of incentive to move to T-Mobile, it will initially be AT&T who suffers. Do you remember the old days when incentives were paid to consumers to "Switch" their long distance carrier by MCI and Sprint. This was back in the days of Alternative Long Distance Dialing. It ended up creeping along until Judge Greene decreed that equal access to Long Distance carriers had to apply to all Regional Bell Operating Companies. That led to divestiture. When you look at it, you don't REALLY have a choice of long distance providers you can have with your mobile phone ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, unless you use an application that lets you dial around, call back, ring back, call through, etc. All those actually add seconds to your calling time, and without unlimited plans do eat into your bundle (think Pre-Paid users.)

My prediction is we will see the unbundling of Long Distance from your mobile plan, and the mobile operators will be forced to allow user to pick their long distance provider for calling. This will really help the international caller who uses their mobile phone.

Google Voice may end up being the martyr in the battle, but they will be remembered by those of us who do see and enjoy being a telecom revolutionary.

Twilio Minutes For The Holidays

Twilio is an platform that lets developers create service much like Voxeo and client IfByPhone.

Today they whipped up a "calling card" script using their API and turned it into a Pay As You Go calling plan.

This is great for temporary housing companies and hostels where end points can be installed, but where only the user knows the code. Once you run out of Twilio credit, its gone.