Previous month:
October 2012
Next month:
December 2012

Posts from November 2012

Telecom Conferences To Know About

Two interesting conferences are coming up. One in Washington D.C. and the second in San Francisco. 

On Thursday November 15 in D.C. is the Voice Innovation Summit organized by longtime VoIP insider Dan Berninger. What I like about it is the cross section of traditional, regulatory and cutting edge new thinkers that Dan has assembled. Honestly, if I wasn't jetting back on Monday from London to San Diego and already having a full week of activities at "home" I seriously thought about attending, and taking Dan up on his offer to speak or be on a panel. 

The second November conference is one I hope I can attend, as it's all about WebRTC and that's an area I think is going to explode in 2013. The TMCNet produced conference is November 27-29, just after the Thanksgiving Weekend, and since I'm going to be in SF end of that week, I may just have to spend more time away from "home."

Windows Live Messenger-Going. Going. It's Gone.

With Microsoft looking like they are killing off Windows Live Messenger by consolidating the functionality and back end engineering into Skype, one has to wonder if the interoperability that never really came of much between Yahoo Messenger and Windows Live Messenger (if it still worked) will still be in place. I doubt it.

One of the benefits early on of Windows Messenger was the access it had to the SIP stack inside Windows 98 and ME, long before VoIP was en vogue. Microsoft also has a very long history of using VoIP inside XBox Live, so one has to wonder if Skype and the Skype codecs like Opus and Silk are finding their way into XBox Live now. 

Next will be full blown Skype-Lync integration with one platform for them all. Or, at least, that's my guess.

More Good Deeds-This Time Twilio

On the subject of good deeds from telco related companies, it was nice to see Twilio, the developer focused startup backed by 500 Startups and others, offer to lend some companies a helping hand in light of the Hurricane Sandy natural disaster that is impacting many businesses along the eastern seaboard.

What's great is unlike some news releases I've read, the effort from Twilio doesn't appear to be self serving. They really want to help, and given they are from the west coast, which has been unaffected, it's nice to see.

Innovation and Disruption Not Welcome In France

I have been following the company known as Iliiad the owners of the Free brand in France since I sat a few tables away from their founder at the now shuttered Atelier Berger (it has since reopened under new owners and new name A La Margauritte and is quite good as well.

Free disrupted telecom first with uber-fast Internet, free TV access and really cheap international calling via a single box that connected over the fiber to the home or ADSL networks. Earlier this year, they came out with their mobile offer, slashing costs and giving the French consumers a real choice and cost savings.

Now, in socialist fashion, the regulators are looking at how Free is going to cause jobs to be lost within the old line mobile operators (Orange, which is state owned, SFR which is owned by Vivendi and operated by Vodafone) and third ranked Bouygues Telecom. What they are challenging is the smart deals negotiated under the prior pro-capitalist regime that has been displaced by the new, more socialist regime.

It's pure silliness, and an example of Anti-Greed, which was the premise of Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. Instead of supporting innovation and disruption of the old-guard, the socialist regime, is looking to keep the rich in power, rich. While preventing the next generation from achieving success. Boy does that sound familier.

LTE Get Wider Deployments

Two stories in WirelessWeek on the subject of LTE that have been covered in a few places caught my eye and demanded amplification. The first is about Verizon's Rural Program and a rural mobile operator in Tennessee, Blugrass Cellular joining the Verizon LTE enablement program. This is very smart business for both parties as it quickly puts Bluegrass on par with AT&T and Verizon in their backyard and helps them keep customers they have matured. As a regional and rural operator their customers no longer would be subjected to being second class digital citizens. It also paves the way longer term for possible acquisition by VZW if that would be permitted by the FCC and DOJ. More importantly, it allows their customers to roam on to the larger Verizon network when out of footprint.

The second on is also interesting both to me personally, and professionally, since I spend so much time each year working in and from Europe and the UK. The story deals with the EU opening up the 2GHZ band for LTE.

Basically, Europe is playing catch up to the USA on LTE, which in mobile is usually not the case, as the Asian and European countries normally come out with new technology first, but the race between AT&T and Verizon, as well as some pressure from the like of Metro PCS created a guinea pig environment in the Americas while Europe stood by and watch. Now, like they have done so often, you'll start to see them move as a nation states, not individual operators rolling out faster mobile networks.

What I find more interesting though is how in Portugal, PT and other operators like Optimus have already rolled out 150 megahertz download services wirelessly in select areas as a way to eliminate wired broadbad. It doesn't work everywhere yet, but it does show what home grown technology can do. The services are not LTE but some other brew, that seems to work though I have not tested it yet.




Skype Goes Pre-Paid In the UK

Engadget reports that Skype is adding Pre-Paid as a way to top off, making them look more and more like a mobile operator. They're retailing Pre-Paid cards at a slew of technology and consumer shops across the UK, much like they are already doing in Mexico.

What this means is those without credit cards, or those who wish to create a disposible account can easily do so. Think about "burner" phones that one buys at Wal*Mat from Tracfone. Now, the same crowd that needs them in the UK can set up a disposable account on Skype, pay for it using a pre-paid card, and shut the account down. Basically, this adds a new wrinkle to annonymous account creation and at the same time opens up Skype's more advanced services like Skype IN and OUT, multi-party video and more to the unbanked or crowd that doesn't want to use a personal credit card for business use.

A Welcome Site-Airports Lost and Found

If you ever lost anything while traveling, you know how frustrating the whole process of filing a claim, and ever hoping you'll receive your lost property back. In an era where we travel with smartphones, tablets, laptops, headphones and USB drives, losing any of those can be emotionally catastrophic unless you work for Apple or Google and lose a prototype which would be career ending.

A new web site and service called Airport Lost and Found works to help you recover what you lost, by streamlining the process and linking the airlines and airports together with you.

It's a brilliant idea, that can only get better once they tie in rail, commuter rail and bus, car rental and cruiseship lines to the whole model. It's the kind of service that easily American Express or Carlson Wagonlit would bundle into their business platforms so business travelers as well as those booking with Expedia or PriceLine would also want to have as an add on service. I can see this working with even Tripit as the data could easily be populated and moved over. Of course, an RFID tag on your gear would also help, sort of like the tags one puts on their pets, or the chips now available for them.


Hanging Up on In Flight Calls

According to most recent surveys, passengers don't want in flight calling on airliners flying around the globe. That's interesting because for many years GTE (now a part of Verizon) had an in flight calling service where phones were one every row, and each first class seat had a phone.

I was one of those people who took advantage one year of a flat rate, $1,000 a year calling plan and connected my Apple Newton and Palm Pilot to the data port on the phone and besides making calls over the phone, stayed connected while flying. Whatever year that was, I guess I was one of the first people to actually surf the pre-web, using apps that connected me to Compuserve Information Service, The Source and a fledgling service from Apple and AOL, as well as the The Well. 

As someone who was flying a monthly flight across the nation and at least one or two flights north and south along each coast every few months, I did the math on what I was paying on the ground, or via my then cell phone bill and came to the conclusion that staying connected in the air for $1,000.00 a year was a break even or better proposition. This was also the era where I was buying thousands of minutes a month for a flat rate for my long distance calling, as deregulation had hit the land line business.

But I digress. The story here is about calling, or not calling from the sky. Personally, I would welcome a first class or business class "phone booth" or cone of silence area so when that call needs to be made, or someone needs to be reached, they can be, the same way they would need to be reached on a private plane.

Not everything can be done via chat or email, but the idea of the rest of the travelers not hearing the conversation to me has to be an essential part of the whole process.

Reflections From An Overcast Morning

I'm sitting where it should be sunny. And, it's not. This afternoon will mean visiting with good friends from Finland, who I know from Los Angeles, who live here as my friend is the Deputy Counsel General, and his wife an international business attorney. I'm in a hotel which is by all means a resort, but paying less than what one gets less of in NYC, Las Vegas or SF. Late lunch, early dinner will be the best Peri-Peri chicken in the world, from the Jardin de Frangoes and some really good wine I have collected the last few days here in Portugal.

Breakfast was filling. Espresso. Eggs. Bacon. Sausage. Smoked salmon. Fresh fruit-lots of it. Papaya, Mango. Kiwi. Orange juice. Oh, and the usual cheese one has here. I mean, all kinds of cheese. Not exactly what I usually have but last night I skipped dinner, got lots of rest. This morning I caught two independent films on iTunes, then did something I needed to do. I cleared out alot, I mean a lot of my GMAIL accounts that I have which seem to accumulate more email that I ever read. I did it using a new beta service called and it really, really works. What I like about it is the ability to deep dive into the accounts and get rid of hundreds of emails from senders, or to archive them. One feature though I wish they had was DUPLICATE catcher. That means I'm getting the same newsletters or emails sent to duplicate email addresses or duplicates of the same email to an account. Add that, and it goes from a single steroid shot to being stacked.

I've also been realizing how much media I consume when I travel. Between iTunes, Spotify (for amateur curated music and my own assembled music tastes) plus MPme on the iPad for really great curated music based on my wishes, but from real disc jockeys whose job it is to know great music. What I realize is that on the road I listen and discover more and more music, both old and new. I just wish I had remembered my Sirius/XM settings so I could listen to Andrew Loog Oldham on Underground Garage. It's the one thing I miss.

I also have been using the best GPS in the world. It's called a Samsung Galaxy Note. I not using it as a phone, as my IPhone5 with a local Vodafone PAYG (pay as you go) NANO SIM is killing it, but honestly, GoogleMaps, Navigation feature on the Samsung Galaxy Note really rocks.

If Google or someone would simply make an Android only GPS, with 4G/LTE for data and sell it for $49.99 the rest of the GPS market would die off. I used to be using CoPilot Live, which I still like, but the Google search and maps capability gives it a massive leg up over using Bing like CoPilot Live uses, and Apple Maps...forget about it. Not even close.

The broadband to the hotel is wireless. Think Fixed WiMax. Low latency, and tests to TurboBridge have sounded great, via CounterPath's Bria and G.722. That's over their network which is Wi-Fi. Locally, my iPad has solid connectivity on either Vodaphone or OPTIMUS' Kanguru 3G+ networks.

Ok. Now I have to find the gym..or go for a walk.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Boingo VPN is Content Owner Friendly

As someone who has been using Boingo's VPN service on my iPhone and iPad, I love how elegantly it works, and what it does to protect sensistive transmissions in places where one never knows who may be snooping, so when I saw the news in Engadget about Boingo adding their VPN feature to Mac and Windows clients I immediately thought about what that meant to many of us who travel, and want to watch broadcaast programming from back home.

For those who don't know how much of rights owned content works on the Internet, the most common way of blocking access is by an IP address lookup by the CDN (content delivery network) which verifies the receiver is in the proper country, or is authorized to receive the content by license or subscription (which is how Apple iTunes works around the IP address issue.) Well, with a VPN from companies like Pure VPN the user can identify where they want to appear to be coming from, syou can get around those content restrictions.

Boingo's VPN, on the other hand doesn't allow this to happen, because Boingo sets up a secure tunnel to the nearest VPN concentrator, which are all local by region.  So if someone is in Europe, the VPN endpoint is in Europe. If they''re in Asia, the VPN endpoint is in Asia. This means users still have a regionally-assigned IP address, so IP-restricted content will still likely be restricted.  What it also means is Boingo can preserve as much of the speed one needs to maintain a nice Skype, VoIP or GoogleTalk call or even a Hangout.

What Boingo has done with their free VPN service is given users the security they need. For everything else, those users will have to find a VPN provider who lets them appear to be elsewhere.