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September 2011

Posts from August 2011

Is IT Expo Getting Cloudy Again?

IT Expo moves their fall show to Austin starting September 13 and for me the cloud is where it will be. Cloud Comm, one of the many (maybe too many) co-located conferences at the fall TMCnet shindig is now in its 4th event and for the vetrans like me this event was always the one that was talking about da Cloud well before the rest of IT Expo caught up so don't accept any imposters.

The Cloud Comm event, organized by Larry Lisser and Thomas Howe, both dear friends and peers in VoIP Blogging for sometime is really the place for the cloud telecom ecosystem execs and developers to connect, learn and debate. So if you're a Service Provider, Integrator, VAR or Vendor, get your head out you *&^% and put it up in the cloud. The conference aims for an executive audience and the list from last year's attendees was almost all VP and above - lots of CEO's. We call that a schmoozefest folks.

For this year Lisser and Howe have also built in more audience interaction and really have positioned the Cloud Communications Summit as a separate, sub conference where the attending guests and speakers will want to stay for lunch, mix and mingle at the coffee breaks rather than leave and come back.

Registration/tickets: Full 3 day passes are $449 but there's a bargain basement one day pass ($149) to make this a no-brainer. This should appeal to the locals as well as those trying to take in another sub conference at IT Expo. 

Content: The first two days are on the business of cloud comm and the last on the technology of cloud comm. 

Don't miss Content: Wednesday there will be an M&A Social Networking Lunch followed by a keynote from a leading analyst.

Here is the web site -


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Another Railway With WiFi

Busy Amtrak Pacific SurflinerImage by LA Wad via Flickr

It seems in Germany some of the ICE trains also have WiFi too. Just like the Acela's on the east coast here in the USA and a few of the Pacific Surfliner trains that run along the California coast between San Diego and Santa Barbara.

Having used these in the past, including the Heathrow Express, it's nice to see the railways of the world recognizing that getting work done on a train is no longer just an amenity.


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XConnect's Cloud Solves Transcoding for HD Voice

One of the biggest issues I've seen over the years with voice services is codec mismatches. Not only do they impact how things sound, often times with conference calls they just make the calls sound odd and magnified by the effects of landline, VoIP lines and mobile networks not all speaking the same way to one another. Add in HD Voice and it only gets worse. Well thankfully one of my agency's clients,XConnect heard the same problem and is solving it in the cloud with the launch of a new transcoding service. But without this solution the concept of inter-carrier HD voice is just a dream. Well, not any more.

More information is available from xConnect on the HD Voice page.



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Report: Mobile Video Calling to Grow

Juniper Research is reporting that mobile video calling is expected to grow through 2016 as services like Apple's FaceTime drive interest and demand.

The key point here is the need for standardization of mVideo and that is clearly NOT Skype or FaceTime. The one point missed is the need for optimization regardless of whether the service is delivered by the mobile operator, or over the top. 



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Skype Buys Group Me

Skype is buying GroupMe for a reported $85 million dollars. While a lot of conjecture exists around the why, I think that the former Startup Camp participant's value was in the fact that they really do handle SMS for groups and with Skype heading into a small group/small business mine field where the mobile handset becomes a core "reach" location it was a piece they were lacking. That and some deep understanding of Windows 7 Mobile, which GroupMe has. I mean, Skype on Windows Mobile hasn't really been a focus for many years and with their new masters being the Microsoft folks, having development insight brings a team in that kick starts that from the outset.

The second reason is to be more competitive with Google. GoogleVocie has a very robust 1 to 1 text messaging platform based on Syniverse platform. But it's very much a person to person messaging solution, just like regular SMS. My guess is Syniverse comes out with a group solution very quickly to give the carriers a defensive posturing tool against Skype.

Third--Skype's SMS was limiting. It was one way mostly. Unreliable and not very well developed. It was really an add-on and not a core part of where the company was headed. Group Me solves that problem for them.

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I Can See Clear-ly Now

Over the past few months I've been privately sharing my thoughts on how the wireless landscape changes with the looming AT&T/T-Mobile merger coming upon us. With the news today about the cable guys and Sprint working to take over Clearwire (a part of the scenario I've already been talking about) I figured it's time to share the crystal ball and some rationale behind the thinking.

First the AT&T merger with T-Mobile happens. It will come at a price and that price is competition (well perceived competition anyway.) The way it works is T-Mobile and AT&T will be forced to divest a percentage of their markets where they have say more than 50 percent market share combined. That diversiture will go to guess who? The cable guys who have the cash and as soon as they buy up Clearwire, a lot of spectrum to run LTE.

Next up, is the spectrum itself. AT&T has little use for the AWS spectrum from T-Mobile. That too goes, guess where--to the Cable guys.

Okay, so now it's what you would expect, but this is where the really interesting play comes. Google buys Sprint with the cable guys. Let's face it they're all in bed together now, and Sprint is the most inventive of the four major wireless companies, plus Sprint is in the backyard of where Google plans to roll out their broadband service first, so it fits like a glove.

Net net, the data network from Spint and Google in the ground, the Clearwire, T-Mobile spectrum, part of the customer base in markets where the cable guys can offer up FourPlay and you have a winner.

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BART Turns off The Mobile Networks

Was it legal for BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to turn off mobile network coverage in stations to prevent civil disturbances? Today, a few days after all the turmoil the perspective in the news is mixed. Some say the backlash is growing, while others question BART's right to simply turn the power off to the cell sites inside the stations.

The implications here go far deeper. Imagine you're a guest in a hotel that has a DAS system that does in building distribution of the mobile networks in order to provide coverage and the hotel hears that a flash mob will decend on a floor at the hotel at an unspecified time. To make it harder for the mob to send the news out they turn off the DAS. Same at airports, or any location where the cell signals are managed by third parties who in effect are renting the air rights inside their property. 

The problem is the use of technology is surpassing the lawmaking ability of the adminstrative bodies. A new way at looking at technology and the law is needed.

Someone at BART will take the heat, but a decision made is not always a bad thing. Now that the action occured law, and order, can step in.

We likely needed this here in the USA in order to not become like Syria.

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Panasonic Gets The Cloud

Image representing Panasonic as depicted in Cr...Image via CrunchBase

Panasonic, long only thought of as a consumer brand--which they're not only--has entered the cloud communications space with support from Broadsoft. The new entry to the market is simply called Panasonic Cloud.

Simply put, the company which once rejected ad great Jerry Della Famina's ad agency to work with them when you suggested the line "from the people who brought you Pearl Harbor" is about to make a strafing run at the US Small and Medium Business market with a $39.95 a month per line charge, after the purchase of equipment that runs $299 for one corded phone and one cordless phone.

So what does this mean--

1. Just like in the era pre-deregulation you can now buy your phones and service from the same company and all under the same brand.

2. Broadsoft has become the platform of choice for cloud telephony.

3. The SMB market will be attacked by just about any company with business relationship with a business customer.

4. The cable guys have waited just a bit too long to go after the business market.

5. Panasonic has the budget dollars to draw a lot of attention to the concept of Cloud Communications. 

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Ribbit is Dead BT Bails and Says "Go To Twilio"

Image representing Ribbit as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase

BT never knew what to do with Ribbit, and Ribbit never really could do anything for BT. And now, a few years after a $105 million dollar price tag paid for by BT Ribbit, BT has decided to put Ribbit to sleep. The move comes some nine months after the mastermind behind the purchase, JP Rangaswami left BT for greener pastures, .

It was a match that was made because BT had five projects on the drawing board that Ribbit reprortedly had ready to go. In BT's mind the price to pay, back when the dollar was cheap to the British Pound, like 2:1 cheap, made the purchase what's called a buy vs. build decision.

What does Twilio get? Not really that much. They get developers who likely were already using their platform too. The news effort by BT is called in PR parlance, "face saving" and made to appear that the company is doing the right thing.

Unfotrunately, doing the right thing would have been to not have bought Ribbit back when they did.

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Video Calling In The Living Room

Image representing SightSpeed as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase

No question I fall into the category of early adopter. I've been using video for as long as there has been the possibility. CuSeeMe, SightSpeed (former client-exited to Logitech) and of course, Skype. Let's look past the deal with Comcast, which is being powered by Technicolor. Instead let's look at it from a more "personal" perspective.

A few weeks back I was fortunate to inherit a wonderful Samsung DLP 72" monitor that was able to find a home in my living room, the same way some people adopt pets. So, yesterday, after locating a Logitech HD Webcam I connected it to the new MacMini from Apple and pumped up the volume and made a call. A Skype video call, well, actually two and you know what. Skype in my living room has just made it my favorite room in the house.

Today the temproary blinds go up on the sky-lights until the remote control blinds can be installed, you see I'm in a sunny part of the country, and whe the sun shines, it makes it hard to see the screen, but when it's dark, WOW. 

But it's not just Skype that will be taking up my screen. Services like Citrix Online's GoToMeeting now supports HD Video. Six party HD video. My client, Counterpath has Bria, and Bria, which is getting installed next on the MacMini works flawlessly with my other client, Telesphere's new Video Connect service (which I have an account for--it's my Telesphere phone account) and that means calls come in, you guessed it, to my TV which is really now one giant work station as either voice or video. Neat huh.

But it's not just the services from clients and clients' partners that makes all this happen for the early adopter. As a matter of fact just about anyone can do it. All you need are:

  • Big Bandwidth-my cable provider delivers me 50-90 megs down and a steady 6 megs up
  • Big processor-the Mac Mini, like the newer Mac Book Pros are running processers in the 2+ gigahertz range. Even my new MacBook Air can handle it, but just don't run too many apps or you'll drain the processor
  • Better web cams-between Logitech and client Freetalk, the HD webcams for the living room are far better, and with beam forming mics the audio is as clear as if the person on the other end was sitting in your living room.

Tomorrow a large portion of my team will be "sitting" with me in my San Diego home office, while a few others are viewing and participating in what will be a regular thing. Virtual face to face meetings that will replace the faceless conference call. With video calling in the living room, or the conference room available for so little money, you have to wonder why people are waiting?

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