The past week has been a blur. Coming off the holiday weekend which because I'm in Australia and a day ahead meant a six day weekend and that really piled things up. Conference calls using a combination of Calliflower, Voxeet, UberConference, GoToMeeting, WebEx and Skype. Lots of social media. Calls at 4 AM on Google Hangouts to recap the TADS Summit for this week's VUC weekly session, plus reading, writing has meant one thing. I needed to stay connected. A MiFi with a GigSky SIM, a phone with Truphone, plus a back up local SIM from OPTUS. Google Voice ringing everything, honestly, other than the 19 hour time difference, I haven't felt that far away.
And that's the way we're able to work. As a global nomad staying connected has become a game for me. Will I have strong enough WiFi or a wired connection in my hotel. Is 4G going to cut it? Will they block my UC provider Simple Signal? Will Skype work? When it does...as it has from the moment I landed in Bangkok until now...so staying connected, no problem. Sleeping normal..well that's another story...Now..on to the news.
Long time pal Ian Rogers keeps turning out the hits. Ian, who knows music and technology better than anyone I know recently took the helm at Beats Music.Their new service will take on Pandora, Spotify and iTunes so watch them do more than the others, as Ian's inside the industry approach and past successes (we helped him launch MediaCode that was acquired quickly by Yahoo) will mean, he's surely got the beat bopping along.
The new Beats Music streaming music service will launch January 2014, according to CEO Ian Rogers. The service also launched a ' name claiming' site today that lets you snag a primo username early. The project has been in private alpha for a while under the code-name Project Daisy, and has been garnering some heated attention.
We all know teens are glued to their cellphones. New data from the Family Online Safety Institute shows which mobile activities are keeping them hooked. Text messaging is the most popular activity, which 87% of teens have done in the past 30 days.
Being at the TADS Summit and ITU Telecom World two weeks ago showed me how much telecom and mobile is expanding in the Far East, Middle East and Africa. And the Dark Continent is seeing explosive growth.
We tend to have certain paradigms about the "developed world" and the "developing world." Including, of course, media-fed images of Africa as a place of almost irredeemable poverty, deprivation, and pain. Many of our paradigms are, of course, illusions.
Former Skype partner in the UK, THREE has struck back on International Roaming, creating a program where going away is the same as staying home. And they added the USA. Now when my friends in the UK visit they can take their THREE phone and use it here just as if they were there. Sounds alot like the Truphone Zone to me.
In a thoroughly consumer-friendly move that challenges its rivals, the British mobile operator Three has effectively eliminated all its roaming premiums for customers traveling to the United States. Three has form in this arena.
Speaking of Truphone. The company's first foray into sports marketing brought their brand of innovation to the Caterham FI team. Truphone delivered a Converged Operator Service solution that brought together Truphone's brand of global mobile service with Caterham's own VoIP provider so their team could always stay connected.
F1 team Caterham is looking to squeeze every penny of value out of its IT services as it refocuses its effort on major rule changes coming into force next season. As one of Formula One's newest teams, Caterham was able to start with a clean slate when it was first accepted onto the grid in 2010, with no legacy IT to deal with.
GigaOm's Kevin Tofel, who can claim to be the second to last person I ever had a Philly Cheese Steak wid (Philly folks will get the local foodie humor) picked up on client Gigsky and their global roaming data SIM that lets you buy just what you need, where you need it just in time for the holiday travel season.
It's amazing that we can use a private company to put satellites into space, yet international roaming with a smartphone, tablet or laptop is still such a hassle. I thought about this recently as some friends are planning to travel abroad this holiday season and they asked me what their options are.
UK-based mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Lycamobile has reportedly identified eight further markets in which it hopes to launch by February 2014, including Canada and unspecified countries across Latin America and Asia. Lycamobile, which generated sales of more than EUR1 billion (USD1.35 billion) in FY2012/13, currently claims a global MVNO base of more than 30 million users.
Just like in the USA, where stolen phones are a problem, in the UK OFCOM and the operators are working together to create a database that stops stolen phones from being usable while also attacking roaming fees........
Four of the UK's largest mobile phone networks have agreed to change some of the rules around pricing and contracts in a bid to reduce the charges that arise when roaming abroad or if a device is lost or stolen.
Long time friends and clients, Alon Cohen and Ari Rabban should be smiling. The duo behind rapidly growing Phone.com just scored their first patent, where they have brought some of their technology wizardy to SMS.
RIP IMS If you haven't read Chad's break up, then you should. It is touching. And true. And the comments on it are great. We've had a ball at the Expo event, but that last day got me pissed off - it was the service providers track, with many of its vendors suggesting their IMS systems should be hooked up to WebRTC in order to save it.
Gigabit-class broadband is capturing the imagination of Internet users throughout the country. With Google and other companies bringing fiber-based services that deliver a gigabit of data each second to the home, communities are accelerating their push to get the highest speeds.
On the Googlewatch front. Over in London they have created an open "campus" that is attracting all kinds of new business starting types, bringing them into the Google Ecosystem in what is known as the Hub.
Opened in April 2012, Campus London, Google's East London 'startup hub' was something of a new departure for Google. It was taking out a ten year lease of a building which would be populated by co-working spaces, hackers and startups that Google had nothing to do with and Google would not have a stake it in.
Video is still in the news..and people are using it. Taking part in a global Hangout today that was offering amazing quality, even on my iPad Air, only tells me it's not that far away from being mainstream...
With video conferencing unshackled from the confines of the expensive, high-end telepresence room, enterprises are exploring a wider swath of video options -- like desktop video calling and managed or cloud-based video services that could improve their businesses. The arrival of more accessible video endpoints is removing one of the final barriers to every conferencing vendor's dream: ubiquitous business video calling.
Last week was the third rendition of the WebRTC Conference & Expo, and it covered a range of topics from business implementations and applications to more technical aspects like signaling and the WebRTC data channel. There was also a lot of discussion about the current state of the IETF movement to decide on a video codec standard for WebRTC, mainly between H.264 and VP8.
Platitudes are a dangerous way to build a company. What passes today as start-up wisdom can be attractive, even seductive to new entrepreneurs. We have witnessed the creation of a sub-industry of how-to advice on creating the next tech blockbuster.
We hope you are enjoying The Comunicano Daily. If you want to share it with friends, colleagues and co-workers, or even your wife, child or even someone you don't like, please do. They can join by visiting The Comunicano Daily signup page: http://eepurl.com/BFXkD
I recently put mysefl on a silly diet. The kind of diet that my friends of long standing will cause their heads’ to whip around and ask, “okay, what did you do to the real Andy.”
You see, for long term health reasons I’ve decided to go very, very carb light and as much as possible, sugar free. Having been someone who was a healthy eater, but with a lousy diet, who is smart enough to know that red wine’s heart healthy powers only go so far, and that there’s more to dieting properly than simply pasta, rice, red meat and fish.
So, with some help and advice from people wiser that I, I’ve started to change my diet, dramatically. Now two weeks in, I’ve only had wine three times versus what would have been no less than three times in a week or less. I’ve had no pasta, very little rice, no pizza, no cheese steaks and no bread or bagels. Those who know me well, know I would have had at least one of each of those just about every week.
So with that in mind, it would be easy for the normal person to keep a diet that is best described as the Paleo diet, basically what the cavemen ate. And, when it comes to the kinds of restaurants I fancy, they are more about how good things look on the plate, so it means being a bit of a pain to the staff and only order things you can really eat, while still enjoying them. For example, I had the team at Pamplemousse Grill make me spaghetti squash with truffles vs. regular pasta one night..and was it ever great.
So given my life is anything but normal, -- I don’t stay at home long, tend to live on the road, stay in hotels that one would think have menus designed for comfort, and where every guest could be another guest. Nameless, faceless, simply another credit card to charge. Those hurdles exist and challenge many. Not for me. And not where I stay.
Over the past few years I developed a very close friendship with the General Manager of the Intercontinental San Francisco. Peter Koehler and his staff. The only problem with being a member of PK’s staff is you get such great training that you move on to other properties. And for a guest like me who is more loyal to the people than the brand that really helps when you need it.
Thanks to PK and his team, especially his super star assistant Jadey Chin, and former Guest Relations Manager Shehani De Marseille who now is running the front of house in Cleveland, as well as so many others who excel in delivering on what I call PKE (Peter Koehler Experience), when I travel to another Intercontinental property, what can best be described as a request for VIP treatment is sent to the GM of the property wherever I stay.
Usually that means upgrades, nice touches in the room, a friendly face and a nice warm greeting. In Sydney, PK’s peer, Joerg Boeckeler has taken to the same approach as Peter to a very nice and beneficial extreme. He had his chef put together a heart and health happy menu for me in the Club Lounge (as a Royal Ambassador I get access) that was perfect for me for breakfast and will mean I'll be in the hotel more working with a view of Sydney harbor.
So as I sit overlooking the Sydney Opera House, I'm having a very good, heart healthy carb free breakfast, all because of loyalty, not to a chain, but to people. So just like there's a PKE, we now have a JBE to go along with IHG's Royal Ambassador program. To earn either a PKE or JBE badge from me means the staff has to care, and they have to do thinks that are right for the guest, with consistency. I can tell you in San Francisico, Sydney and recently Bangkok, the guest experience, thanks to PK and JB was off the hook amazing.
In today’s travel era, hotel groups need to get back to personal relationships, because, no CRM system in the world can replicate what Peter and Joerg can do and are doing for their guests who they consider "friends." And that’s why Loyalty Programs can only go so far, and why really knowing your guests really matters.
While the panels are interesting, and mine will be highly charged as always, the social aspects of IT Expo and the networking is what does it for me. With room prices and airfare to Las Vegas so low, this summer's IT Expo has to be the most expense account friendly event of the year in telecom.
Now that got me thinking---why, some thirty years after the breakup of the Bell System, and the creation of Equal Access that led to the growth of MCI, Sprint and others, are we still trapped on a single voice and SMS supplier with our wireless plans? Why do we have to pay for things like voice mail if we don't use it? How come I'm tied to a few basic, and hard to manage services, like call forwarding, and yet so many other more advanced services are all ready for us on the cloud?
In my view its time to deregulate the wireless operators, and with LTE replacing DSL there will be plenty of reasons to do just that. To me, its time for Naked LTE, just like we saw the arrival of Naked DSL some years back.
While the standards bodies and heavyweights (Google, Microsoft, Firefox) all duke it out on the WebRTC standard the developers and visionaries of how work will get done in the future are not standing still in attacking the collaboration space at all. And its just in time as I'm tired of traveling and am finding that being home sure has its advantages. As someone who built a business from the start to be virtual, I found it odd that I was on the road so much, and now am happy to be able to always say "I'm WFH" which means working from home, as it's really the way to go.
What we're seeing today is really the start of the changing face of collaboration, and that changing face is hapening because of the nexus of five key technology sectors and the seismic shift from wired to wireless, all under the guise of convergence.
But there's more to the whole collaboration movement. The world is going wireless, and with LTE and LTE-A (advanced) not far off, the ability to collaborate and share screens, access files stored on a cloud server, bring in another service --I love to use Tripit as an example to show travel plans on screen--but it could be showing your calendar to the group on a collaboration session to schedule the next meeting time tin order to make things easier. And, all of this will happen in real-time, not with the the usual back and forth, and no longer with the use of the phrase "meet me on the bridge" because there isn't any bridge any more.
These meeting can all happen on the fly, with people being added as the call happens. It will be spontaneous, and the idea of the "visual conversation"-- a term I personally coined for Magor when I first saw their future direction last Sepetember, is starting to come to be. None of this was ever possible in the old PSTN. It's all possible due to IP communications and for that reason the telco model has to change. This includes the liftng of silly restrictions like port blocking by operators of traffic on certain devices.
The "news" is slowing down, but it's clear that WebRTC is heating up. Last night I gathered up a bunch of folks in town for the conference and invited them to a dinner of what I named the "Like Minds Group" here in Atlanta. Companies represented included leading execs from AT&T, Amdocs, Cisco, Google, Hookflash, Magor, Phone.com, Sansay, SimpleSignal, Truphone, Voxbone, Vidtel plus industry luminaries Carl Ford and Dean Bubley. The dinner was deemed a success and will likely lead to an uber-elite weekend summit of the best and brightest in telecom/webrtc/video, collaboration and messaging in November if everyone can shake free that I will likely organize as the interest was very high from those it was floated by.
The best demo of the day--Ian Small of TokBox. Hands down the most polished and most market ready. Small showed off a fast way to develop apps that cuts down the time for devs. This would seem to go hand in hand with client Sansay's RAPID developer efforts that were also announced at WebRTC World this week. This is the most important theme--DEVELOPMENT that the show has at its base.
Other news came from APEX and Dialogic with a carrier grade plug in solution that includes Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox browser based participants mixed with SIP soft-clients and streaming video using the WebRTC. In essence its transcoding and media serving further playing off of one of the main themes of interoperability.
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.
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.