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Posts from April 2013

Skype's Outlook Is Bright With Video

Kevin Tofel waxes on about Skype video in the browser today over at GigaOm. The story points out that Skype and Microsoft integrated this in to the cloud based Outlook.com, but are not using native RTC, and instead require a plugin.

But lets dig a bit deeper into this. The non native integration demonstrates that Microsoft and Skype don't want to be shut off out of the Google-Chrome ecosystem world. Tofel, who is using only a ChromeBook previously could not be reached via Skype, nor can I when I'm using mine. The plug-in strategy to me is a concession of sorts by Microsoft trying to not appear to be concerned about Google's Chrome OS. But they should be.

In talking with integration experts at one of Google's largest Google Apps migration partners, they are seeing thousands of seats per day migrating away from Exchange, as well as Lotus Notes, over to Google Apps. This migration has to do with costs and features. But while the first interpretation would be that the savings is only on less need for Office and Exchange licenses, the reality is that hardware costs using Chrome books are much lower overall than buying a Windows based PC, or even a Mac.

By adding Skype to the mix, but not going WebRTC, Microsoft is trying to hold on to the user base of Skype users anyway they can, and not have them swap out to GTalk or Google Hangouts.

In my company, we're switching too. After resisting the move to Google Apps for a few years, more because our Exchange hosting company Lanlogic are so awesome, I finally took the advice of Vidtel's Scott Wharton and a few others and started the process. And as part of that switch we'll be using Google Talk more, and likely it will take away from the use of Skype for IM and calling. With integration with GoogleVoice and UberConference so easy in the Chrome browsers on any device I'm basically feeling less and less yearning to be so Skype loyal. Maybe if and when they embrace WebRTC, but so much of what is being done is designed to perpetuate Microsoft and their installed base. Instead what I'm feeling in my gut is a departure from them, and the rise of the next OS.

-- Andy Abramson



Location:United States


VoIP Companies Are Growing In San Diego

The San Diego area is known largely for bio-tech and mobile leadership, largely due to Qualcomm and its dominance on the local technology scene. But quietly, the region is becoming home to some of the more rapidly growing VoIP companies on both an infrastructure level. 

Whose here? Well for starters here's three---Sansay, Phone.com and Telcentris. 

Sansay, led by long time friend Andy Voss who co-founded Nuera Communications in 1995, continues to be a force in the Session Border Control sector. The little heralded technology, is an integral aspect of the telecom technology eco-system, making it pretty much a necessity for ITSPs and mobile operators to deliver high quality calling and services, including the ever increasing demand for real time video and WebRTC.

While the industry goes ga-ga over Broadsoft and its softswitch technology, without companies like Sansay and Acme Packet producing technology that insures the maximization of performance and profitability for IP communications companies to route, peer and secure telcos services, much of what makes VoIP able to be better than the PSTN wouldn't happen. With Oracle's recent acquisition of Acme Packet the likely need for SBCs will only increase down to the enterprise level on a regular basis is my guess.

Phone.com, with headquarters in Newark, NJ, recently outgrew their tech side office space in Poway, CA so they moved next door into bigger quarters, as the San Diego Business Journal noted, along with SoCalTech. The growth, and recent funding led by ff Venture Capital and the Edison Innovation Venture Capital Growth Fund shows that investment in IP based communications continues.

Telcentris, best known for their unified/social/OTT offering VoxOx also has recently been growing. They raised another $5,000,000 and made some strategic hires of late adding PR and Marketing exec Joe Lawrence from the CDG and Tristan Barnum, best known for being a co-founder at Switchvox, which is now part of Digium and befoe that working with long-time friend Michael Robertson at MP3.com.

-- Andy Abramson


Surf In New York Subway Stations

AT&T, T-Mobile and Boingo jointly participated in a media event this week in New York's Times Square Station announcing the arrival of wireless coverage in 30 underground stations operated by the MTA, New York City's transit authority. 

Like in London, the coverage and services are tied to existing operators. No information was provided for people who are roaming from foriegn countries.

--Andy Abramson


OnSip Debuts Busy Lamp Field

One of the neat things about IP based calling companies is the fact that most are founded by innovators at heart. That's why today when I watched the video OnSip Busy Lamp Field note from CEO Mike Oeth, I just had to share it.

What the busy lamp field means is users can now see when someone is on the phone-whereever on the network they are. Sweet.

--Andy Abramson


WhatApp Rumors with Google and What May Happen

I love WhatsApp. I use it daily, especially to stay in touch with friends in Europe and elsewhere to avoid the costs of SMS. Sure, I can use GoogleVoice, but if those across the water don't have a US based GoogleVoice number it means an international SMS. Whatsapp helps me avoid that.

Recently rumors of a Google possibly making a purchase of Whatsapp made the rounds. And maybe there was some truth to it. Companies like Google always talk to smaller businesses about partnership or acquisition. Sometimes the negotitiations move along to a point where price is on the table, but often what Google and others like them are doing is looking under the hood to see if what's there fits into their long term strategy.

Candidly, the best buyer right now in Silicon Valley is Yahoo for WhatsApp, not the also rumored Facebook. The reason is simply this. Yahoo has basically moved in the direction of the mobile web, while Google is all about the browsable web.  The fit between Yahoo and Whatsapp is likely better, as the Whatsapp team could likely be longer term players inside a new Yahoo and shape direction, while at Google it's all about Tim, Larry and Sergey and always will be for a long time. But at Yahoo, the opportunity has become more of a greenfield play.

But while all this is going on, and it goes on all the time, the best thing for WhatsApp to be doing is to keep driving user growth and to keep signing up mobile operators because in the end, those two metrics along with user retention and usage stats will be how the company is ultimately valued by whichever buyer pays the price.


AT&T Taps Boingo For Global Wi-Fi Roaming

First AT&T cut a data GSM deal with Jasper Wireless. Last week AT&T's Kris Rinne talked about AT&T shouldn't be called a dumb pipe and discussed how the new Ma Bell will do more to lower rates internationally. Today, AT&T tapped Boingo to start to put a dent in coverage holes and give their customers access globally with Wi-FI. As the Verge points out this follows a deal with The Cloud in the UK.

But while Boingo (a former client up to their IPO date) has hundred's of thousands of accessible access points worldwide, the way the press release was phrased leads me to believe that the access is limited to only the actual Boingo owned and operated hotspots, most of which are in major airports and large commercial building or sports facilities.

The key phrase is "managed and operated by Boingo's subsidiary, Concourse Communications Group." Those are not all of the access points in the Boingo worldwide network, but are indeed the ones that Boingo can do things like guarantee a level of service and insure that access really works. 

In a lot of ways this is good for Boingo, and their partners. Too often some providers of Wi-Fi hotspots lag in keeping up with all the new standards or implement odd ball authentication schemes that make it difficult for early adopters, or Mac users, to connect. Having experienced this roaming issue first hand as a multi-account Boingo subscriber, I have also expeirenced how effortlessly all my apps work when I connect at a Boingo operated airport vs. a roaming partners' network. VoIP, Video, collaboration and cloud services sometimes work at partner locations. At Boingo locations, everything works. 

And for AT&T and their customers, the gold standard approach dictates that everything has to work, or the cost to support it outweighs the value offered.

-- Andy Abramson


Say Goodbye to DSL, Hello to LTE

It's no surprise that DSL installations are on going the way of the dinosaur from the USA's larger telcos as that news is over a year old. But the reason is LTE is cheaper for the operators to install, and there are no wires to maintain. Today's formal launch of HomeFusion by Verizon Wireless, while pricier than the wired DSL lines means higher speeds, data caps and possibly some restrictions on what services you can access.

I say possibly some restrictions because my experiments with Verizon Wireless' LTE modems have yielded mixed results when I use over the top VoIP and Video services, as well as some challenges with IP based conferencing services because of how Verizon passes traffic or doesn't. They seem to double NAT which causes some IP communications providers fits, especially SIP traffic, and my attempts to get answers on this or organize calls between service providers and Verizon's engineering team have yielded no success, all the way up through their very polite Executive Response team.

But the good news is for those who have been speed challenged by wire, the new HomeFusion means higher speeds, higher bills and less time to download. Overall this is a win for those who are not as much in need of an always on, all IP based lifestyle of business.

-- Andy Abramson


The Who-Won't Get Fooled Again--AT&T/Verizon and Vodafone-UPDATED

Verizon: Paying Politicians to Rule the Air (g...Verizon: Paying Politicians to Rule the Air
(g1a2d0047c1) (Photo credit: watchingfrogsboil)

What started out as an April Fools' Day story in the Financial Time's Alphaville on Monday has jumped to the rest of the media world and impacted the stock markets around the world. And, honestly, I don't know if it's true. UPDATE-LOOKS LIKE I WAS RIGHT. Verizon has said it's not.

The "what" is the reported teaming up of AT&T and Verizon to take over Vodafone, give Verizon 100 percent ownership in Verizon Wireless, and AT&T Vodafone's assets the world over. Truth is stranger than fiction so anything is possible but......

Forget the fact that its an end around the breakup of the Bell System as it's international, not domestic so the ruling doesn't apply, it sure is interesting. But to get a sobriety check I asked ArentFox telecom legal begal Ross Buntrock for his thoughts:

"The rumored Verizon/AT&T/Vodafone transaction promises to do for American wireless competition what Ed Whitacre did for landline competition in the late 1990’s and 2000’s:  completely eliminate any hope or possibility of it.  And as the FCC has noted in prior reports, the wireless industry in the US is not robustly competitive today."

While always on the mark, Aswath Rao had this to say to me on Twitter:

"The hint lies in the confluence of three claimed "facts": AT&T and VZ have each < $5B cash on hand, & the acq price is $245B"

Do you think all the media jumping on the story have been fooled?

-- Andy Abramson