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Posts from August 24, 2014 - August 30, 2014

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.