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.
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."
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’s 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.
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 Thawdebuted 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.