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Posts from December 9, 2012 - December 15, 2012

Voxeet Launches Amazingly Super Conferencing Service

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with the founders of Voxeet, a new audio conferencing service that just launched their iOS and Android apps after finishing on top in a competition sponsored by Bandwidth.com. Previously they had a Windows app and are promising a Mac client shortly.

In an era where pal Craig Walker launched UberConference, which I subscribe to and enjoy has set a new bar in user interface and completeness of offer, I was delighted to see how very much alive and well imagination is in the conferencing space today without WebRTC being at the core, and that someone can take an idea and deliver a very different call experience.

Not since HiDef Conferencing (former client, now part of Citrix and embedded inside GoToMeeting) have I had the kind of audio experience that Voxeet gave me, as their binaural audio approach, and the visual user interface on the iPhone and iPad Mini was simply mind blowing in an era where not much has been new. 

Because Voxeet uses binaural audio, the sound comes from inside your head. Because you can move the location around on the iPhone of where the other parties are on a call, you can really seperate the participant in a call.

Pal Tom Keating, who loves to test things, goes into detail on what the experience was like, and I agree. My experience with Voxeet was clearly head and shoulder past anything on the market today, for people who want to be on an all IP based conference call. This will put a lot of pressure on companies like ZIPDX and TurboBridge, given the pricing model and the quality.

What's more impressive is the team that built Voxeet, did all this for under one million dollars in seed funding proving that imagination, technical prowess and desire can bring great things to life.


GoGo vs. A Possible Class Action Suit

Slap suits are silly. And the idea of a class action suit against GoGo and parent Aircell is silly. While I don't disagree that the pricing model is currently flawed, the reality of the case is there is competition for GoGo and airlines have the choice of which provider they choose to use, as Skift.com points out.

The issue though is that we don't have a choice in the air of which provider we use, any more than people who want soft drinks when they go to McDonalds do. McDonalds only offers Coke, not Pepsi. And until the operators of the in the air broadband networks can figure a way to offer an MVNO like play in the sky, don't expect to see lower rates.

That said, iPass and if I recall correctly, Boingo customers have roaming deals so there are some options so this case while having some rational merit, on face is not meaningful. Personally I'd rather see more planes offering Wi-Fi. The inconsistency of planes from SouthWest with Row44 makes it impossible to pick that airline over those with GoGo and I used to be an A list flyer with SouthWest. Also when I look at the productivity I get when I fly on Virgin America, have in seat power, friendly flight attendants and Wi-Fi, I really don't worry about the costs of a monthly fee I pay GoGo because the time saved, stress removal easiy outweighs the cost.

This comes at a time when the international airlines are adding Wi-Fi as American Airlines just announced.


Is SMS Going Away? Or Is It Becoming Generic?

SMS, the texting service found on mobile phones, which now has connectivity making its way into the landline and desktop world is rumored to be going away. Well, I think rumors of its decline are not being properly portrayed as mobile operator based SMS will decline due to one reason. Alternatives that offer more, but go away? No way.

Let's look at what's out there that's taking traffic away from the mobile operators:

1. BlackBerry Messenger-Teens who text love their BlackBerry devices. Why? The keyboard makes it easier to text fast and furiously. Since it works cross-border at no added messaging cost, it makes it a winner.

2. Google Voice-free texting, delivery via SMS, to the Google Voice apps and by email. Plus, you can archive the messages in your account on Google.

3. iMessage-Apple's over the top service. All your connected devices (Macs, iPod, iPads, iPhones) get your messages making it easy. If two people are on iOS or Apple devices then the messages bypass the mobile operator and go direct over the data side.

4. WhatsApp-perhaps the biggest SMS alternative service. Works cross border, allows sending of voice notes (like BBM), share photos and more. 

5. GroupMe-purchased by Skype. Biggest plus is exactly what its name is. Group texting. Why didn't the carriers offer this years ago?

6. Twitter-sure you can SMS to and from Twitter, and in the days of unlimited SMS, why not. But with more robust features in apps and web browsers, why bother. Add in Facebook too for community reasons.

7. Failure to advance. Lack of evolution.

Perhaps the most telling reason. SMS is 20 years old. It took a long time before networks became interoperable. No simple desktop integration or gateway services led to Instant Messaging taking hold faster. Today, MMS is a limited use service, even with people sending and sharing photos and vidoes, largely due to expense. SMS is still what it was when it launched. Yes, useful, but only for what it was designed for.


WebRTC World -Tells It All about WebRTC

I was thinking about adding a section to VoIPWatch called WebRTCWatch, so I was happy to see that the folks at TMC (Rich, Eric, Tom, Paula) have powered a new site called WebRTC World.

It's a very nice compendium of news edited and compiled by Phil Edholm. 

With WebRTC taking a center stage this year as the "next big communications thing" its nice to see attention being given to it by people who are passionate about the technology and it's implications.


BBM Voice Out Now On RIM OS 7

English: BlackBerry Bold 9000 connected to T-M...English: BlackBerry Bold 9000 connected to T-Mobile USA and a DD-WRT Wi-Fi access point. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While the BlackBerry loyalist community eagerly awaits the release in late January of new RIM BlackBerries and the new OS 10, RIM has been updating to OS 7 with a key feature that those who still talk will like. As GigaOm's Kevin Tofel reports, RIM has officially released the previously  in beta BBM Voice, making the compatable BlackBerry devices now a dual OTT device by making Voice an over the top play just like BBM is to texting/SMS as long as the device is connected to Wi-Fi. Ironically, it comes out at about the same time that T-Mobile is shutting down USA hotspots, and basically neutering their UMA based calling service as recent BlackBerries have not had that service book active on the soon to merge carrier.

This is important because it basically means that bundles of voice minutes can be reduced and that mobile operators to RIM are now being relegated to being pipes for distribution and connectivity, as they no longer can be seen as the only game in town for customers to connect to make voice call on a BlackBerry smartphone.

Wi-Fi calling on BlackBerries was always wanted, but never really easy. Vopium, a former client, cracked the code, and ShoreTel acquisition Agito also had hacked the Wi-Fi stack, to the ire of former RIM leadership. But fresher eyes, like Alec Saunders, who understand what was missing, have turned things around. 

Client Truphone has also shown off Wi-Fi calling at BlackBerry Developer events, but for OS 10. My view is that everyone in the VoIP world that wants to crack the enterprise market will be working on an OS 10 BB client, except for Skype. Last I heard from their folks, there's no desire from them to be on BlackBerries any time soon.

 


Cablevision Raises Broadband Rates by Five Dollars

Cablevision rushes to install hanging wiresCablevision rushes to install hanging wires (Photo credit: Anthony Quintano)

I have friends who love Cablevision's Optimum Online who live the in the Metro New York City area and were not Fios friendly or simply didn't want to cut their copper connection to Verizon's landline network. Well for them, access to the Internet is going up by five dollars a month. 

Given that Cablevision isn't behaving like Time Warner Cable, making noise about things like rate limiting and download caps, seeing a five dollar increase to help offset the buildout and upgrading of the network, the addition of a Wi-Fi network with access to 50,000 hotspots and all seems reasonable. 

My guess is that Comcast and Cox, as well as others will make similar moves in time to increase speeds and capacity to help fight off the wireless offers that will begin to look more like cable TV companies' offers as Advanced LTE rolls out across the USA in the later part of 2013.