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Posts from August 2014

Checking Out The On Demand Society-Fiverr

We live in a era where "right now" and "immediately" are pretty much common place. In Las Veags and New York you can have breakfast or dinner at any time, day or night. Services like UPS, FedEx and even Amazon are delivering the goods you want overnight and even same day in some markets in the USA. Companies like UBER and Lyft make it easy to get reliable transportation in an ever growing number of major metropolitan areas around the world. And, thanks to the Internet, services that used to take days or weeks are now available to us in an instant.

Over the past week I've been experimenting with Fiverr, a service where for $5.00 or more people all around the world will deliver basic entry level or better work almost immediately. Pal David Coleman and I are working on a new project together and we needed a logo. And we needed it now. For $85.00 I secured two logo concepts, source files and finished art all in less than one day. We needed letterhead but the logo designer wasn't available so for $5.00 plus another $10.00 for one day and source files, plus a Word template for Letterhead. Total cost, $100.00 all in less than 48 hours. Is the work as good as what I see from a longtime graphic designer I work with? No. But we're getting what we need to have an MVP level presentation off the ground and looking far more professional than if either of us had tried our hand at graphics.

In an era where services like 99Designs and eLance provide a range of professionals new arrivals to the world of the On Demand Society are flourishing. My next trial will be with stay tuned.

Watching Real Time Communications

Do you have a company or technology that's
changing the game in Real Time Communications and with WebRTC?

If you do...Tell me more.

A few years back, before he zapped it and wound it down, Ken Camp authored a blog all about Real Time Communications. He was obviously ahead of his time with the name because today, more and more of what we are hearing about is RTC, and specifically WebRTC.

While companies like Blue Jeans Networks, Twilio and TokBox seem to be in the news a lot because they're inside the San Francisco and Silicon Valley echo chamber for news generation, there's more companies outthere doing new, novel and eventually game changing innovatinve stuff. As a matter of fact some of these companies are at the forefront of what's about to happen, so let's name names.

Temasys Corporation based in Singapore makes it easy to build, deploy and manage WebRTC. Think of them as a combination of Twilio and Amazon Web Services for real time communication. Dr. Alex Gouaillard is one of the key drivers in the industry shaping the WebRTC standard within the IETF and W3C working groups. Already Temasys has released the first plug-in that makes WebRTC work on Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Apple's Safari web browsers. Temasys is already working with IBM.

Hookflash's Erik Lagerway has been around reat time voice communications since he started XTEN which is now known as CounterPath. Today, he's leading Hookflash and championing the effort around ORTC which is all about making WebRTC more mobile via their ORTC API. 

PubNub is a company that is already supplying core underlying technology to the likes of Rebtel and others to work around the limitations of signaling and presence found in SS7 technology. One of the things they're doing is taking the data streams concept of WebSockets to power the signalling connection needed between web connected devices and apps.

Pexip was started by a bunch of very smart executives who built Tandberg's video conferncing solutions and then went to work at Cisco. They're attacking the same area that Vidtel, which was quietly acquired by Fidelity Investments, was taking to make collaboratoon interoperable between platforms in the cloud. Pexip's core strength is the ability to virtualize meeting and collaboration rooms in the cloud, on the fly. The big benefit to Pexip is their ability to be interoperable with Cisco's Jabber and Microsoft Lync via their Infinity Connect platform and apps for iOS and Android.

As second company playing in this same space is Acano which is all about video, audio and web Integration for collaboration. They look at incompatability as the problem their coSpaces platform solves. Their video does a very good job at demontrating how Acano works across so many diverging modes of collaboration devices.






MSN Messenger Finally Put To Rest

GigaOm and Engadget are both reporting that Microsoft's MSN Messenger will finally be a thing of the past. While Skype has largely taken its place, it was still running in China. 

Looking back over history my first Messenger was AOL's AIM and then quickly I was using ICQ. Yahoo Messenger came along about the same time as Windows Messenger which actually was able to access the SIP stack buried inside Windows 98. It was back then that I made my first VoIP call via Webley's never released VoIP platform.

Skype pretty much wiped out all the IM clients but today other are really taking their place. Mobile apps like WhatsApp and a few others rule the roost in mobile, the reduction in cost for SMS and services like GoogleVoice have also taken the need for IM down a peg, but with services like Slack and HipChat taking a bigger piece of the desktop and knowledge worker messaging activity, greater interoperability with other apps and hooks into them via API access from IFTTT and Zapier even Skype's days may be numbered.

Verizon Wireless To Rollout HD Voice and Video-SOON

While pal Doug Mohney is on hiatus from HD Voice News, I figured I'd fill the gap on the news that broke over the past day of so surrounding Verizon and HD Voice and Video (official announcement) that another pal, Kevin Tofel wrote about at Gigaom.

To me, the move by VZW is a catchup play. T-Mobile acquired MetroPCS which was the first to offer HD voice but reading the number of "requirements" for what Verizon Wireless is offering leave me wondering if we're really anywhere yet:

HD Voice and Video Calling work only when both people are in the Verizon 4G LTE coverage area and are using VoLTE-enabled smartphones from Verizon

Those three requirements-in the LTE footprint, using a VoLTE phone and being on Verizon remind me when SMS between mobile operators didn't exist. This means a T-Mobile, AT&T, Truphone, Sprint or any other operator's customer calling someone on another network using the same phone with VoLTE/HD capabilities, on a network which enables HD Voice and Video to work, won't have a call of higher quality.

This all gets into the lack of true peering, interoperability and only adds to the inconsistency between carriers and the lip service standards are really give. Next issue is how already existing HD Voice based conferencing services like Voxeet, UberConference, ZIPDX, Calliflower, GoToMeeting, etc, which already have "HD" quality calling via their apps or WebRTC will be handled. Nowhere have i seen of any real interconnectivity despite Eli Katz's XConnect has had an HDVoice interconnect around for years.

To me, true HD voice and video won't be here until it's as transparent and fully functional as SMS is on delivery but just like iMessage and WhatsApp have outmoded the mobile operators. Today, we have Skype but given how easy it is to deprecate service quality between operators and networks, without the FCC stepping in and making sure quality won't be disrupted., 

This also raises issues in my mind around Net Neutrality, here in the USA at least, a topic that long time friend, Craig Walker opinied about in the Wall Street Journal this past Sunday. To that end, my question is given how landlines/wireline connectivity is being deprecated by the telcos in favor of wireless, why isn't the doctrine of Equal Access from the 80's where any long distance carrier was to have the ability to deliver LD while the Regional Bell Operating Company provided the connectivity to the premise being applied to mobile?

SideNote-->When you think about it, Walker's prior company, GrandCentral, really was the first alternative Long Distance provider for mobile which was a disguied as a Find Me, Follow Me service, but really only works easily on Android devices with the ALD model really become integrated, and that's at the device level, not in the network. And, we all know that the network is really where Google is going with things, but that example demonstrates why apps contriol the smarts of the network, while the operators in the middle remain "dumb pipes."




My Gramofon and FON and Could Be The Phone Network of The Future

This week my Gramofon arrived. In case you don't know what a Gramofon is, it's the streaming connector and router from the team behind FON that lets you connect a speaker system and send your online audio to them much like AirPlay or Chromecast. But what FON is really doing is creating the connective tissue of the Internet one access point at a time that allows any FONERO (that's a user and ower of a FON device) to connect to another FONERO's FON or Gramofon for free. As an early backer of FON's Gramofon Kickstarter campaign, I was able to get mine before commercial release as campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo are becoming the way to find new, cool and cutting edge products that fit my digital lifestyle long before they end up at BestBuy or Amazon, which I posted about yesterday on LinkedIn.

For me, I've been a FONERO since the start, often frustrated at my inability to find FON hotspots that were really working, but the more I traveled to Europe the more I was finding FON's technology being deployed by the fixed line and wireless Internet providers making it easier to connect in more places. At the heart of the Gramofon is Qualcomm's Allplay, an OEM neutral set of chips that lets speakers and mobile devices that run iOS or Android connect.

What this all means is very simple to me. Today the Gramofon streams music. Next will likely come a VideoFon for streaming your favorite video network like Hulu and Netflix, but for now I'm able to stream services like WahWah and Spotify to my Gramofon and maybe one day, SiriusXM whose mix of DJ's on so many of their channels brings great tales about musical history from great story tellers like Andrew Loog Oldham and now Michael Des Barres on Steve Van Zandt's Underground Garage.

But what is really happening is a changing of the guard. In the old days Sony and Panasonic were the mass market music brands. Now it's an Apple or Android device that's the receiver that has replaced the radio or the Walkman the same way that Apple's iPhone and the plethora of Android devices have replaced the phones from Ericsson and Nokia. 

The games are changing as are the players, and the Internet era has caused the disruption. Companies like FON are working with the mobile operators to bascially make them smarter pipes, but the smarts are coming from outside, not inside. And those transitions are better for all of us, as long as we stay net neutral.


Faster Speeds at Home and On Mobile-But Where's the Beef?

A few news items passed my eyes this morning, and it got me thinking about a conversation that Truphone Founder and CTO James Tagg and I had last week during IT Expo in Las Vegas. James, who invented mobile VoIP and the touch screen technology we all use at airports and other kiosks, remarked that while we are seeing faster speeds, we're not seeing services coming along that can really take advantage of them, except to download a movie or upload massive databases. His comment reminded me of the Wendy's TV commercial of a distant time, "Where's the Beef?"

But that's not stopping the carriers, information service providers and mobile operators from entering into the race to be first and fastests.

Over in Singapore we're seeing uber operator SingTel roll out 300 mbps mobile service based on the LTE-A (A= Advanced) or as James puts it, "real LTE" into the market.  Here in the USA Google and AT&T are waging a space race towards the Gigabit Internet with salvos being fired across the bow on where fiber is being laid and which cities and town across the USA get "lit" up.

To me, until such time as the "beef" is there, all these speed claims are more about "mine being bigger than yours" but we will start to see new companies come along who are indeed developing the next big thing, and those companies will be the "Wendy's" while everyone else will still be "McDonalds."


Skype on 3 Again in Hong Kong

3 the original 3G carrier with operations in Hong Kong, the UK and elsewhere has once again made a move with Skype, following their efforts in the past to make Skype an integral part of their service offering.

In Hong Kong, for $69 HK Dollars a month, or $8.90 USD, under a new collaborative agreement with Skype the mobile operator will offer its customers Skype‚Äôs Unlimited World calling plan the ability make calls to mobile and landline phones to both Skype and non-Skype users on mobiles in eight destinations, plus landlines in 63 countries and regions, for a monthly fee of just HK$69 over a contract duration of 12 months.

What this basically does is concede to Skype their international long distance traffic over their data network, while allowing the operator to keep the local voice traffic on their network as well as the roaming traffic which pays a higher margin. What the deal doesn't include yet is video calling but that already goes over the data network as part of someone's data plan. What this also does is set a bar that other VOIP providers with apps would have to pay to access the 3 network in HK and be assured some level of quality. How this impacts those will only be learned from those in Hong Kong so in some ways this is much like the Netflix deal with Comcast but only really for mobile.

Don't be surprised to see deals on Nokia Handsets with Windows Phone to come out soon too in Hong Kong, as well to find in a short while that Skype deals like these come from other mobile operators around the world so they can push more data plans, which is exactly what 3 did in the UK when they first had the Skype Phone.

AT&T's Cascade Sounds like Grand Central and iotum Take 2

Today I read in re:Code about a new AT&T Foundry experiment, called Cascade. In reading through description I couldn't help but think about it being the second coming of Grand Central, the company started by Crag Walker and Vincent Paquet who now are the team behind UberConference.

Cascade is at the core just really find me, follow me, albeit a very advanced version. But to me, and those who look at it from a historical perspective, it's not really a new idea. Going back, even before there was GrandCentral (which was a client all the way up through and for a short while after acquisition by Google) there was Alec Saunders and Howard Thaw's company, iotum, which we also helped launch, and which now is also in the conferencing business with Calliflower and other conferencing brands. Back in 2006 Saunders and Thaw debuted Pronto at DEMO where the core idea was intelligence in the way calls were handled.

With Cascade the difference isn't what Cascade does but the devices it moves calls between.

To see the the news about Cascade eight years later brings back memories of the era where VoIP was at the core of IP real time communications. The idea of apps and services coming from third parties and not the telco was what led to the concept of OTT (over the top). Now today, what we're seeing is not so much what's new, as what we're seeing and hearing from the telcos seems to tie back to an approach I dubbed "Me Too, Me Also, Me Different" a theme that others picked up on.

Cascade is a good idea. It's one that AT&T will provide to IoT and connected car technology suppliers with the ability to send calls to them....and by the time the get there, Google with the combination of Nest, GoogleVoice, Android, Hangouts, Maps and their smarts will already have been delivering it. as part of Google Now.

Bye Bye SkypeKit...What's Next

Today users of Invoxia were notified that SkypeKit is no more. While a few months ago rumors were that SkypeKit enabled devices would keep working, I was telling others that I wouldn't count on anything that was hardware related that worked with Skype to expect it to keep working. Invoxia's revelation pretty much shows the continual pattern of Skype cutting off its partners that started with Asterisk a few years ago, and now is impacting others.

BlueJeans Networks who recently announced a major interop with Google Hangouts likely are now going to also be affected to at some point if they haven't been already cut off, as are any of the video interops. This makes client Truphone look very smart in ripping out Skype interoperability a few years back, and other companies who figured out early on that Skype wasn't there for them for the long haul, further underscoring why standards like WebRTC are needed, and interoperability, the way the mobile and telephone networks operate is required.

So if today it's SkypeKit, can we expect Skype In numbers to be the next thing to go?

Here's the letter from Invoxia that was received today:


Dear NVX users,

We're sorry to announce that Skype won't be supported on invoxia products anymore .
Today, Microsoft stopped the ability for Skype accounts to connect on devices using SkypeKit.
All support for SkypeKit ended and no further updates to the SkypeKit SDK will be available. As a result, anyone accessing SkypeKit enabled app will now be unable to sign in to Skype or access any Skype-enabled functionality via our app.

The NVX 610, NVX 620 and NVX 220 using Skype are affected.

This Skype denial of service causes the Voice App to crash and restart indefinitely.
We have just released a new firmware update to block Skype features and avoid this issue.

To update your firmware, please turn your NVX OFF and ON again (on your NVX 610 and NVX 620 using the ON / OFF button or unplug and plug again the power unit cable on NVX 220).

After the reboot, the device will check for an update and will update into 8.14.2 blocking the Skype features.

We're deeply sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Best regards,

The invoxia team.