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Posts from June 16, 2013 - June 22, 2013

Wi-Fi is Back on International Flights For Me

What a very pleasant surprise. Wi-Fi connectivity on my Virgin Atlantic flight to Washington D.C. from London on a new Airbus 330. What a joy it was to see the Cabin Connect insert inside the seat side compartment. And, even more of a joy, it's working before we get to the USA territory. Am I stoked.

It has been years since the old Boeing Connexion service was around on Lufthansa and a few other airlines, and while at 15 pounds for unlimited time, and only 40 megs of data. I love the idea of "staying connected" in the air on what will be an 8 hour flight.

So far I can surf the web, get my email and Facebook. I also am connected via Skype for text, but there's no voice connectivity, nor are any of my SIP accounts working.

Now this makes my choice of flights, airlines and aircraft, as well as routes a wee bit more interesting.

- Posted not while at 38,000 feet on an Airbus 330 flown by Virgin Atlantic using BlogPress from my iPad

Call Obi Devices with WebRTC

Spotted---You can call Obi devices with webrtc now, but the set up seems to be challenging some die hards.

Bascially, because it's SIP based the Obi devices can route calls to any SIP endpoint and vice versa. By creating a simple Chome widget the really intelligent folks behind Obi have come up with a way to make their devices, and thus the phones connected to them more accessible. Think of Chrome being the softphone. Since they also have Android and iOS apps, I'm wondering if the apps become reachable from Chrome to a mobile device.

OTT with WebRTC is getting very interesting.

Marriott: Seriously. Who Wants To Travel Stupidly?

Marriott InternationalMarriott International (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I'm a frequent traveler and a long time Marriott hotel guest, dating back to 1974 when my very first office was inside the long demolished City Line Avenue Marriott in Philadelphia. So when I read that Marriott was rebranding I was all gooy inside, feeling nostalgic, thinking back to the days of orange ice cream, Thousand Island dressing on my salad, and a counter seat looking at the grill, or a poolside view of bikini clad ladies during those hot summer days while at ag 14 I learned the art of media relations from one of the best in the business, the late Sy Roseman.

Then I saw the theme.."Travel Brilliantly" and I shuddered. I mean, come on Grey Advertising and Marriott, se

riously, who wants to travel stupidly? More importantly, brand is not about image, icon, logo or tagline. It's about a top to bottom, through the middle, perceptual and public understanding about what makes the business be seen by other for what it is.

If that's rebranding versus an identity and image makeover, then every property in the chain, near and far would have IMMEDIATELY the same TV sets in the room. Guests would discover the EXACT same clock radios and phones on every nightstand, the identical SSID for WiFi at every property. Each hotel would have exactly the same authentication router, and the bandwidth coming to a hotel would be exactly the same, with the same experince at each and every property--THE WORLD OVER. Properties would be ALL BOINGO, or NO BOINGO--Everywhere. iBahn would be managing all your properties, or NONE of your properties. The in room experience of Ethernet jacks and power plug would be EVERYWHERE or NOWHERE, and all this would not be done one hotel at a time over a three year period, but done OVERNIGHT, where crews come in with the NEW branded hardware, bedroom kits and technology and it's all deployed AT THE SAME TIME. This means all of your signage, all of your letterhead, all of your stationary, all of your uniforms would be the same--AT THE SAME TIME. But more importantly, all of your people would be thinking and acting BRILLIANTLY, and that's the hardest thing to do, to get them all to the same level of BRILLIANT. Come on Marriott, you serve Starbucks Coffee, and they are all about BRAND.....from package to store locations and everything in between--right down to the same consistently over roasted beans, lovingly poured into each and every cup.

Green logo used from 1987-2010, still being us...(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So Bill Marriott and family, if "Travel Brilliantly" is your idea of appealing to the hipster, younger, more youthful generation, then maybe, you need to smarten up, because why would anyone really want to travel stupidly?

P.S. When Apple did their famed "Think DIfferent" campaign to mark the debut of the iMac and the return of Steve Jobs, don't you think they could have said "think brilliant" too. Instead they shifted the minds of many to go to a "different" place.

Telcos: Feeling a Wee Bit Insecure about WebRTC?

WebRTC Single Page ApplicationWebRTC Single Page Application (Photo credit: Tsahi Levent-Levi)

I think there's a bit of "insecurity" going on within both the last gen and next gen telco providers when it comes to WebRTC. And honestly, it's the same old story. An instant replay of sorts. Honestly, is it live or is it Memorex?

As a matter of fact, the playbook now being being replayed at any analyst firm and media outlet near you seems to be the "new" WebRTC edition of FUD Volume One.

There's the first down play of "spreading fear", followed by the second down play of "uncertainty" and then the third down play of "doubt" especially in the face of what can't be trapped, tapped or tampered with. ---WebRTC--- as TMCnet's Tom Keating pointed out earlier this month.

If you want a text book example of FUDDING Up the mix it is all best exemplified today by Microsoft's brilliant, if not besmerching ad campaign called "Scroogle" as they attempt to take on Google that tells users of search engine not to get "Scroogled" ... Didn't they try this with Apple or was it the other way around?

That's all why Dr. Brent Kelly's recap of what can happen with WebRTC was such a good read over on NoJitter. It's so very good because it's reminds me of how transparently (if you know where to look) larger companies still softly attempt to do what we call "verbal martial arts" or "verbal judo" of leveraging the words the competition uses to weaken them. In this case the "sell on fear"angle is at work because to sell on security today means tell those who want to possibly change to stand pat and not change because you know what you have, not what you don't. Comprende? 

Now, don't get me wrong, Kelly's piece, like the writing of pal Dean Bubley of Disruptive Analysis is spot on about issues that will impact WebRTC, but in fact for those of us who have been around long enough to remember, are in essence, and at their very core, the very same types of arguments that the big telcos and other who were part of the supply chain (Nortel for example) tossed up about Skype and VoIP in the past. Back then too, they were starting with SECURITY to create insecurity.

In the communication's arts field we call this verbal judo, akido, jui-jitsu and it all works this way--find a common point of combat -- like taking calls away from the established carrier by the upstart (can you spell Skype), immediately raise a concern about the threat to your network under the guise of "security" --Sidenote Skype's encryption was in reality stronger than what was in place by the telcos you didn't see Skype giving up your call history when independent now did you????----and get the attention away from "our problem" by making the problem the "other guys problem" meaning the customer's problem.

In one of the historical cases of telco FUD, cica the mid-2000s, it was telcos and IT saying "we can't control Skype, so make them the problem" when in reality, Skype actually was the more the more secure communications protocol. What Skype really did was point out more security issues than it caused by swarming ports, finding what was opened, and driving its' traffic through it..all of it...but I digress..

Let's face it. In light of everyone, except the most paranoid, getting "Snowdened" it seems nothing is really secure, so get over it and move on. Take a line from Deborah Harry/Blondie hit son , "One Way or Another" which includes the great line "gonna get ya', get ya' ,get ya', get ya". To me this means your privacy may be a"priority" to some companies, but really now, it seems more like that priority of protection only can reallly go so far.

History always repeats. You can't rewrite it. Just like Skype disrupted the old guard Bell companies, and as VoIP is doing in business communications with everything from origination to termination, wholesale, retail, in business, with call centers, cable MSOs, conference calling, mobile operators and even inside the enterprise, you can bet WebRTC will do the same thing.

Reality time....."The Song Remains the Same." Remember ARAVOX, a long gone company that promised the telco world greater security via a SIP firewall. I bring this up because at the start of SIP Aravox was going to be the great network protector but it took the likes of Acme Packet and client Sansay to begin to really do it right, by drawing attention to the need for an Session Border Controller, by serving it up as an appliance to really protect the network and do things right.

So, don't be surprised to read the same old arguments pro-and con about it from our industry's best and brightest, because to see the future all one needs to do is look at the past as it's already been written.  Now, where did I leave my John Madden autographed Telestrator.......

When In Roam, Consider This

Ace Los Angeles Times' consumer and biz travel reporter Catherine Hamm and I had a nice "chat" the other day about the problems that still plague those who travel internationally, especially those who travel on business or for extended periods. Trust me I know, and while I have client Truphone as my Swiss Army Knife of global service, and their recently introduced "Truphone Zone" basically makes five countries feel like one, I still like to see how the other half live in every country I visit. 

Catherine nailed the point about how much hassle it can be sometimes. For example, my colleague Bill Ryan spent all day in the Orange shop in Paris just to get a SIM. I can relate, as I've had that same experience in some SFR and Orange stores, though my experience recently in Marseille was so fast I went back to see if it was a dream--it wasn't. The team in the Vieux Port store rock, but don't forget your carte d'identite (passport, drivers licence or in my case, Global Access). In Spain it's not much different, and same for Italy. Not so in Hong Kong, the UK or Austria where you simply walk into a shop, plunk down some local currency and walk out with a SIM. But then, as Hamm picked up from our chat, topping up isn't always easy.

I can recall one Sunday in Austria when I had no credit left, Euros in my pocket, and only fifth grade German to get me by. I found a petrol station and an English speaking local who helped me, but topping up a diesel car is easier than topping up a smartphone if you don't read or speak the language, something that Truphone also eliminates.

The one angle that I wish Catherine had gone into is Wi-Fi access and making calls. My view is that as the SIM begins to become the authentication process for public Wi-Fi networks, watch how the mobile operators start to "charge" for Wi-Fi offload, and then Wi-Fi calling. With the new standards in place between the WBA and GSMA looming, the days of "Skype Me" for free may be over.....if you don't have the right local plans.