Microsoft is making lots of moves these days. Their efforts in collaboration are going to challenge the usual suspects, but the biggest target is Cisco. This FastCompany article is worthy of a read, as it seriously explains Microsoft's approach with video conferencing.

A lot of what Microsoft is doing now still doesn't justify the changes they have made with Skype over the past half a dozen years or so, but it does paint a picture of a company with a plan. 

Why Google Fi May Be Best for Your New iPhone

I have Google Fi on a Pixel and my bill this month will be roughly $25.00. That's for unlimited voice and text, and a PAYG data plan. Since the Fi spends so much time on WiFi, and so little on 4G/LTE, the data that is being consumed is almost nothing so I pay almost nothing. Subtract $20.00 for helping a friend sign up for Fi, and my bill will be roughly $5.00 this month.

Looking at the new iPhones, I realize I'll be able to use AT&T or T-Mobile (or both) as my eSIM provider in the USA, but I'll also be able to buy their lowest voice and data plan, as I'll be able to use the Fi's data only SIM in the other slot. Basically with an eSIM I'll have the best option around, as I can flip flop between AT&T and T-Mobile based on coverage areas, and still have the Fi Sim connected to T-Mobile or Sprint (until they merge). When I go internationally, I'll activate a PAYG Truphone plan for voice and data, and use that.

Of course I could also just put my Fi phone and data SIM into the SIM card slot and then use any of the UK or EU mobile operators as the PAYG eSIM provider when I'm in that part of the world, and Truphone or Fi everywhere else

There's a really big play here for Google and Truphone in the global traveller market, as it really takes off after the iPhone turns on the eSIM for everyone. Already the dual SIM Pixel2 provides this type of benefit, but let's face it, with what Apple is doing, it will bring the idea of dual SIM, dual carrier, mainstream in the USA, as it has been a big deal in Asia for a while.

For people who spend most of their time connected to the cloud, or on conference calls without the need to dial a number, the dual SIM plan will be golden. As a VoIP user, I already make calls for the most part over IP via LTE or WiFi. With apps using the data plan and regular calls going over the mobile operator SIM in the Voice/DataFi SIM scenario, I can forward the calls to my mobile operator to deal with calls when I'm in lower speed, poorer coverage areas. But when I'm in full coverage or WiFi, the Google Fi line becomes primary.

Even more, I can use services like Dialpad, Telzio or other cloud telephony providers to be my published line and take advantage of their wider array native features over WiFi and LTE. While FI may not support WiFi calling given how I use a VoIP provider more than my cellphone provider number to make calls, it's no big deal.

With CPaaS services from SignalWIRE, Twilio, Plivo and Nexmo, I can create various messaging and voice functions tied to applications or workflows. With location based features it will be likely that I'll be able to toggle between the two SIM service providers and the trigger services on and off, further taking advantage of the WiFi or LTE/4G networks.

At the end of the day, the dual SIM approach will likely provide a means to save money, by eliminating the cost of a second phone, and providing power users to really be able to choose which network is best for them, where they are and for what they do versus the current one size fits all approach being sold by the mobile operators.

The dual SIM really does offer, Power To The People.....right now.


Apple's eSIM Play for Truphone Could Be Game Changing

Longtime VoIPWatcher and close friend James Body and I were chatting this morning and he alerted me to an overlooked piece of news surrounding his former employer, and my former client, Truphone. The news surrounds Truphone being one of the chosen eSIM providers on the new iPhone.

This is both massive news for the UK based global mobile operator, but also very big news for the global road warrior or multinational. Already available on the Apple SIM for Data, on a pay as you go basis, the eSIM changes the game and makes so much possible. And, given Truphone's global network architecture, which is much like Facebook, AWS or Google's, traffic if very local, or as close to local as it can get. That makes voice and data traffic far less jittery. Less latent. 

But most of all, Truphone eliminates roaming in ways that T-Mobile only dreams of.

  • For starters, it's LTE, 4G or 3G around the world. T-Mobile is 2G.
  • Second it's on demand. That means I can land in Europe, activate Truphone on a Pay As You Go (PAYG) basis.
  • Third, the eSIM and Truphone just eliminated standing in line to buy SIM cards.
  • Fourth, for local mobile operators loss of "traveler" revenue on the retail side, but lots of revenue on the wholesale side.
  • Fifth, VoIP based calling and conferencing services like Skype, Telzio, Vonage, Dialpad, Hangouts, UberConference, Zoom, WebEx, JoinMe, GoToMeeting, Facetime, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, WhatsApp, Signal, all of which work very well over Truphone on my iPad will be data vs. voice network, further saving money and being of far better quality than a PSTN call. 
  • Truphone's USA number means Google Voice rings it. Something Google Fi doesn't permit.

As a global road warrior, who has traveled often outside the USA I couldn't be happier..

Skype Over Echo is a Big Deal

Skype is coming to the Amazon Echo soon. This is a big win for Amazon, and also at the same time could have massive ramifications to the entire voice and video calling industry. And it may also be the biggest boost to Skype resuming being a force in calling. 

Here's why

  • Echo devices are becoming almost ubiquitous. They are also becoming dirt cheap. As low as $50.00 for the Echo dot. With the new in car Echo coming to mobile (2020) the ability to reach anyone, anywhere, will be easier.
  • Imagine if Amazon and T-Mobile put SIM cards inside Echos for data. Skype can call over the network. BOOM.
  • By connecting to Echos Skype now has millions of endpoints world wide.....That's a big number......
  • Video-Amazon has made voice control of a video call already possible between Amazon Show devices. But Show to Show is a limited market. Add in Skype and connectivity to mobile devices, Macs and PCs, and now Skype is the switchboard.
  • Apple hasn't done this with FaceTime yet. Google hasn't done this with Hangouts.
  • A Skype In or Skype Out call is like a phone call. Add voice control and it's no different than using your iPhone with Siri.
  • You know my name, you don't have to look up my number.-Just like you can ask Alexa to play a song over Spotify, Pandora, or Amazon Music, you'll be able to do the same thing with your Echo. So today, while you can Connect and call Echo to Echo, with Skype that audience just got really huge.
  • Even though Google Home can call over Google Voice, it doesn't receive phone calls (yet). Skype on the Echo is an full service endpoint.
  • This could eliminate the need for a voice plan as all you'll need in the car for calls

Calling on the Echo though isn't new. In it's infancy Telzio did the first integration ever as a VoIP player, followed by OnSip. Dialpad also has done one too. These though are edge cases and really proof of concept. Skype still has 300 million users worldwide. But it's the Skype In and Out capability that changes the game though. WhatsApp has 1.5 billion connected users but you can't call someone from WhatsApp that not a WhatsApp user. Nor can Facebook Messenger call out. 

Given the deskphone is going the way of the dinosaur, the Echo is the ideal replacement, and since Skype is like a switchboard, Microsoft's move to cozy up with Alexa, is a big, big move.


People - Comings and Goings

In the telecom world, people come and go from companies all the time. But this week three major forces who have shaped VoIP have chosen to depart their companies.

Longtime VoIP and Collaboration guru, and one of the fathers of SIP, Jonathan Rosenberg is leaving Cisco (for the second time). He'll be replaced by Cullen "Fluffy" Jennings....At Counterpath, CEO Donovan Jones has resigned and no successor has been named yet. His departure further makes Todd Carothers the go-to guy, while CFO David Karp will run the business day to day operationally.....and last but hardly least, Jeff Bonforte, one of the minds behind Gizmo Project, then Yahoo Voice, has left Yahoo again.....

Good luck to all and to all a good day!

Leaks Are A Strategy And Everyone Is Doing It

We hear every day about a news leak, a photo leak or a video leak. It comes across like someone "discovered" something, found an image, heard a report, saw something. The reality is that in most cases these "leaks" are part of a strategy to build up interest. It's a lead up to the big news day.

To give you background, I ran PR for the Upper Deck Company in 1991 and 1992. Granted social media wasn't around back then, but the so called "hobby press" was as aggressive about finding things out, especially about Upper Deck as we were the Apple of trading cards. And, nothing ever leaked about our cards (though our Trade Jordan outdoor campaign did get leaked by an outdoor ad company by accident.) 

When I say, NOTHING. I mean NOTHING. We kept everything IN HOUSE. Nothing made it to the media if we didn't want it to. That's why when I see all these leaks I know better. As a public rule, Apple will terminate a company that allows things to get leaked, yet, do you see Apple changing suppliers? No. You see them internalizing more. Google on the other hand plays the game very well. While they control everything, like Apple, the amount of information that comes out surrounding their products is far too detailed and too well orchestrated.

So the next time you hear about a product leak, know that they're not really leaks. Just another rung in a well thought out PR strategy.

Comcast and Charter Storm In With Free Wi-Fi

The news broke yesterday what the cable operators and mobile operators will be doing surrounding the impending mother of all hurricanes and tropical storms. Florence. Like clockwork both Comcast (Xfinity) and Charter (Spectrum) announced they are making Wi-Fi free in the affected areas. 

From the cable operators perspective, the storm may be the moment of truth for them. Over the past decade they have been building out their own data networks, installing Wi-Fi access point and basically recreating the phone system. 

Opening the Wi-Fi networks and making them free is the right thing to do. Of course, there's more to this than just being nice and by making Wi-Fi available to the millions of displaced residents and workers in the Carolinas who are subscribers or not, they get the value of free promotion through the news angle. But there's really more than just good PR.

Both of the two cable giants (known as MSO for multiple system operators) also get to prove out how weatherproof and reliable their Wi-Fi networks are in the eye of a hell of a big storm. Second, they show off how their dual mode phone service is better suited for today vs. having a landline as it provides the ability to take the phone and go, vs. being trapped at home and how connected their customers can be. Third, and possibly the most important, they can demonstrate how they provide coverage where their may not be any cell coverage to begin with, taking aim at the mobile operators, all of whom have made plans of their own.

Here's to hoping the storm passes, and that those affected stay safe. But if Florence does hit, this is a supreme test of technology that wasn't here in the past, and where preparations from lessons learned, based upon what has happened before, are put to the test. 


Bye Bye Inbox

Two days ago I mused about the Google Disconnect, mentioning how big G has a way of just ending projects. Well Inbox is biting the dust under the guise of merging is best features into the GMail application. It's the right move. Having duplicate applications that basically are performing the same function leads to internal rivalry and customer confusion. It also divides the developer audience who have to pick which pony to bet on when it comes to building integrations. Lastly, it means divided loyalty amongst the users.

Google isn't the first to go through this shedding and consolidation. Long time rival Microsoft went through this before as well. There were multiple versions of Messenger and Outlook. Heck, even Skype and Lync and WebMeeting. Now there is only one of each, albeit with multiple feature sets. Google is going the same way.

By combining the apps and the teams behind them, Google delivers one product, not two. It's what's likely going on with Meet, Duo, Hangouts, Google Voice and Project Fi over the next few years as Google is setting out to eliminate redundancy in their divisions, and offer one solution set to the market.


AI and Collaboration

A few months back AI got a swift kick in the pants with VoIP as Dialpad, 8x8 and RingCentral all made noise about their move into the Voice AI space. Clearly, in all cases, collaboration was not an afterthought, but a core part of the rationale as to why the three cloud communications companies were moving quickly in the direction of AI.

Yesterday, ZDNet had a piece on this direction, quoting pal Irwin Lazar of Nemertes Research. Lazar has always been a favorite of mine when it comes to collaboration, for as much as he muses about Unified Communications platforms, and the cloud, he's always been most at home in the collaboration and conferencing space, right up there with David Coleman of Collaborative Strategies.  David's encyclopedic mind may hold more about the industry than anyone's.

The ZDNet account is great from a where things are today perspective. Machine Learning. Natural Language Processing. Predictive analytics. Those are the table stakes for any Voice AI platform. Where it really gets sexy though is when you toss in a neural network, that really imitates the human behavior, by adding in reasoning to the mix.

AI in telecom is here today, and over the next year or two, the call center and collaboration worlds will start to see new services and functionality which adds a broader set of features, all surrounding recall and usage, while also dipping into the automated process space (Robotic Process Automation) that bots and chat bots occupy. Those will provide ease of use and greater functionality, much like what we're seeing already with EVA from Voicera

The Google Disconnect

Screenshot 2018-09-11 at 12.56.57

Google is my provider for so much these days. GSuite. Pixel phone. Pixelbook. The Google Cloud powers my phone service, Dialpad and my conference bridge, UberConference. I dumped cable for YouTubeTV. In my life, Google is like Santa Claus. It knows when I've been sleeping. It knows when I'm awake. It knows when I've been bad or good (by my search habits) and Google knows where I go, via Google Maps and Waze. Google knows my music likes via YouTube Music. It knows my questions, via Google Home. To me, if Google doesn't know me by now.....well you get my point.

So how come when I arrive for the first time at Starbucks with my Pixel and my Pixelbook I have to log in to the Google powered hotspot?