Posts Tagged ‘business voip’
XO Communications bragged about its third major nationwide network capacity upgrade last week. Using Infinera equipment, the company has “more than” doubled its inter-city transport network capacity.
According to XO, the upgrade will be completed later this year and is being done to continue to meet the increasing demand for high-capacity network services from its customers, including carriers, service providers, and large enterprise customers. As a part of the upgrade, XO will be offering a “10 Gigs in 10 Days” carrier service guarantee, able to provision high-speed service (from 1 GBps to 40 Gbps, with up to 100 Gbps in the future) between any two points in the network in 10 days or less.
(And I remember when it took weeks to get a T-3 in…)
XO says it has invest more than $450 million to enhance and expand its network infrastructure and its network is now capable of reaching nearly half of all busiensses in the United States. This is a good sign for both IP communications and economic growth in general…
Posted August 18, 2009on:
During the VoIP Users Conference (VUC) call last Friday, I put down my markers for the advance of HD Voice in North America, using the statements and actions of various service providers to provide context for my predictions.
The benchmarks I used were–
- Cablevision’s rollout of hosted HD Voice service this summer – The leading/bleeding edge
- Global Crossing’s one-off HD projects today, with work on an automated HD voice conferencing product rolling out within 6-9 months – Leading edge
- Verizon Business talk of HD Voice within its user base, with early adoption in 2010 and general adoption in 2011 – Conservative
- Cox Communications saying they expect HD in 2011 – Very conservative.
Looking at those four different data points, I believe that 2010 will be the year of HD Voice in the enterprise space in North America.
I’ll do a discussion of the consumer space and HD for North America tomorrow…
8×8 announced that it’s back in black for its first quarter of fiscal year 2010. The company reported net income for the quarter of $414,000; that’s $0.01 a share. The previous quarter had logged a net loss of $3.9 million/$0.06 per share; 1Q 2009 the company had brought in net income of $1.2 million/$0.02 per share.
During the first quarter of fiscal 2010, 8×8 had new sales to 2,907 business customers, up from its previous record of 2,792 in the prior quarter (can we say “ramp?”) annnnd increased its business customer subscriber base by 1,253 net new business customers. Business customer churn is described as “stable sequentially at 2.7%” as compared to a churn rate of 3.2 percent in the same period last year.
All total, 8×8 ended the first quarter of FY 2010 with 17,266 business customers. Total revenue for 1Q 2010 was $15.6 million as compared to $16.3 million for 1Q FY 2009 and $15.8 million for the previous quarter. Revenues from business customers grew to 69 percent of total revenues in 1Q FY 2010 as compared to 68 percent the previous quarter and 56 percent in 1Q 2009.
Cash and investments are stable are at $15.5 million, down a bit from the previous quarters $16.4 million.
In addition to the good financial results, 8×8 announced it is going to buy back up to $2 million of its common stock over the next year, using available cash. Buying up stock will do the usual increase-shareholder-value bit and also boosts the value of the stock should 8×8 find someone worthy enough to acquire down the road; 8×8 has previously expressed an interest in buying someone, but haven’t found the right business fit yet.
Not mentioned in the press release is 8×8′s plan to enable G.722 service across its network sometime in the near future. When it happens, 8×8 will likely become the largest G.722 hosted VoIP provider in North America.
Avaya and Aastra have made separate moves to get into the Nortel bankruptcy circus. Avaya is offering cash for assets, while Aastra will offer migration incentives (i.e. a sale) to get customers to switch.
In a press release today, Avaya announced it has signed agreements to pick up Nortel’s enterprise solution business for $475 million. The acquisition includes Nortel’s Enterprise Solutions voice, data and government systems businesses, but the transaction awaits clearing a competitive bidding process and approval by bankruptcy courts in Delaware and Ontario.
Avaya gets to scale a bit, expand its channel partner network, and add to its portfolio of products and services. Nortel gets cash to pay off its creditors and some of its employees will land as Avaya employees. Bell Canada and BT praised the move and BT went so far as to say it would “expand” its engagement with Avaya over the next year to offer a full unified communications portfolio.
Aastra’s move is less concrete, more ambulance-chasing. For “a limited time” Aastra says it will offer “extraordinary incentives” to get Nortel large enterprise customers to move to its Clearspan UC solution. Discounts include free unlimited numbers of SIP integration trunks, “significant” discounts on Aastra 67ix SIP phones, free instructor-lead training for admins during the first year of deployment (up to 2 students per class) and free end user, web-based training for an unlimited number of users during the first two years of deployment.
Aastra says that a 3,000 user enterprise deploying 300 SIP integration trunks and 1500 new SIP phones to users can save $500,000.
Billy Mays, you passed too soon, my friend. You could have made some serious coin off someone looking to rob Nortel of its customer base…
Mitel won’t sue the city of Ottawa over aVoIP contract award that went over to Bell Canada and Cisco, reports the Ottawa Citizen.
Issuing a statement yesterday, the company said “Although Mitel has been advised that there are legal grounds to seek judicial review of the City’s decision, we have concluded that it would not be in the best interests of Mitel, the City, nor its taxpayers to proceed further with this matter.”
Last week, Mitel was threatening to sue the city of Ottawa, but after much review, the city decided to soldier on, advised by its procurement people that Mitel’s protests were not valid and by its lawyers that Bell Canada and Cisco likely had the better case to sue if the procurement process — worth $7 million (CN) – was restarted.
Mitel invested significant time and energy trying to get a do-over for the Ottawa VoIP contract, first offering $2 million (CN) worth of VoIP phones as a “gift” in exchange for getting exclusive rights for it and its partners to supply VoIP services. When that didn’t work, it withdrew the gift and started threatening to sue if the procurement process wasn’t overturned, as it started an extensive lobbying campaign that included hiring the former mayor of Ottawa to talk to city officials.
The city council of Ottawa voted 16-5 to award a $6 million (CN) VoIP contract to Bell Canada and Cisco yesterday, reports The Ottawa Citizen. Will Mitel now sue over how the contract was handled, as it has threatened?
Mitel has waged a concerted PR and lobbying effort to get the current procurement thrown out, even going so far as hiring former Ottawa mayor Bob Chiarelli to press the flesh with councillors; Chiarelli has declined to speak with the Citizen on the work he has done on behalf of Mitel.
Ottawa city staff and advisors, including an independent procurement expert, have reviewed and rejected Mitel’s positions on all points, ranging from an allegation that Cisco had an unfair advantage on the VoIP bid because it had earlier won a contract this year to upgrade the city’s computer systems to a $2 million “gift” offer of VoIP phones in exchange for exclusive rights to supply VoIP telephony to the city.
Mitel doesn’t know when to quit, but will the PR damage be worth the cost? While we Yanks were getting an early start for the 4th on the 3rd, The Ottawa Citizen reports that Ottawa’s procurement experts said the city should reject Mitel’s protests on a VoIP contract award and immediately give the business to Bell and Cisco Systems.
This whole fiasco started in April, when Mitel first alleged the contract process was unfair while at the same time offering a $2 million (CN) “gift” of VoIP phones in exchange for an exclusive deal to provide technology and services. The “gift” was turned down, but Mitel has continued to press the attack, threatening legal action and waging a PR campaign to explain what it thought was wrong with the bid process.
Mitel wants the process canceled immediately, and start all over again. The company is whining that Cisco had an unfair advantage in the phone contract because it had been awarded a contract to upgrade the computer network — (Hello, what kind of BS is this? 1) Wasn’t the Cisco network win publicly announced by the city? Bet it was 2) Uh, IP is IP; shouldn’t make a difference if Juniper or Cisco or Nortel (well, strike last) equipment is in the core of the city’s network. VoIP is an app that goes on top of the network).
An independent review found Mitel’s claims “overblown.”
IMHO, Mitel should suck it up and move on. It tried to bribe, er “gift” its way back into contention in exchange for an exclusive to supply the city with VoIP tech. When that didn’t work, it started making noises about not knowing that Cisco had upgraded the computer network and started making noises about suing over the contract. Trying to bribe and bully your way into business is not a way to earn good will.
ChannelWeb reports that Microsoft is wishy-washy about what will to happen with it’s Response Point SMB VoIP system.
Meeting with VoIP VARs, Response Point Program Manager John Frederickson said Microsoft doesn’t currently plan to release future versions of Response Point. It will, however, continue to maintain the product and evaluate specific feature requests. The company will also continue supporting OEMs and selling Response Point 1.0 Service Pack 2.
So, you want to buy a dead/legacy-ed out product because…?
Back in May, Microsoft laid off a bunch of people working on Response Point and hasn’t said diddly about plans to develop/release a 2.0 version. Things don’t look good as the Response Point GM has been moved over to Microsoft’s search group and there’s a “small” engineering team still around to maintain the product, but Response Point is “funded” and has a marketing budget through June 30, 2010.
An email from Microsoft to ChannelWeb said the company didn’t “announce anything” at the meeting and expects to have more details to share on future development at the end of this calendar year.
Some VARs love Response Point, but they are discomforted that Microsoft has basically frozen the product. Other players in the IP PBX game would like to see Response Point just Go Away – the Digium people seem to be especially catty when it comes to the SMB PBX.
Business VoIP provider 8×8 is getting ready for the introduction of high-quality voice services sometime in the near future. The company anticipates deploying the G.722 codec in a firmware push to its over 16,000 customers, with the exact timing and business model to be determined.
“[High quality voice] would just simply be a firmware upgrade we would push to the phones, ” said Huw Rees, VP Business Development, 8×8. “We’re deploying Aastra 67 series phones… the acoustic cavity provides better than the standard 3 KHz frequency response and has much better audio characteristics. So we’ve got a nice high-quality full-duplex speaker phone and we want to deploy a codec better than G.711 or G.729.”
8×8 is currently testing the G.722 wideband codec internally for IP-to-IP calls and is also reviewing a few other codecs to “see if something sounds even better,” said Rees. “The nice thing is G.722 doesn’t use a lot of bandwidth, but it sounds very good.
Implementation for testing has so far gone smoothly. “It took about 3 days to get it up and running and working,” Rees said. “We were quite surprised.” Since 8×8′s call handling software already handles different media types for audio and video, it is a matter of making sure both sides of the call use the “highest common denominator.”
The exact timing of the roll out has yet to be determined. “I don’t have a schedule yet,” stated Rees. “My gut feel is sometime this year, that’s a guess… We’re cautious in terms of doing firmware upgrades and doing as few as possible on an annual basis, but we have the mechanisms in place to have hundreds of thousands of endpoints upgraded in providing services. We’ve got the process down, but there’s always little ‘gotchas’, so you don’t want to do [firmware upgrades] too often. We may be ready to do it next month but hold off until we have something else we need to push to the phone as the same time.”
G.722 will likely be introduced in a more “controlled” release to make sure customers and the network are not adversely affected; the codec will require some additional bandwidth.
Another area 8×8 is examining is the justification/business model for deploying HD. “Where the pricing thing comes in, is this something you charge for or is this something you provide to make the service ‘sticky’ ?” Rees said. “It’s potentially a churn reducer. When someone gets used to this type of service, is that something they would every want to give up? Probably not.”
HD interoperability with other carriers is something 8×8 is “philosophically on board” for, but past efforts with vanilla VoIP exchange have been difficult. “The issue in the past has been is the effort worth the final reward?” Rees commented. “Just the number of [VoIP] providers, the probability of talking to another compatible service provider, having a compatible codec, the percentages start to multiple… there’s been a lot of initiatives with ENUM data bases… Someone … needs to pull it all together. We’d be very happy to participate if there’s any real benefit.”
Among the remaining titans of ICT (Information and Communication Technology), HP has taken advantage of the failings and chaos of other companies (i.e. Nortel) to expand its positions in the telecom and UC arenas. In the convergence between IT and telecommunications, HP may have the upper hand.
Under an agreement rolled out earlier this month, HP and Alcatel-Lucent have established a 10 year global alliance to help customers “leverage the convergence of telecommunication and IT,” meaning the companies will jointly market solutions and capabilities for service providers and enterprises.
Once a definitive agreement has been executed, the companies will jointly market solutions and capabilities that enable end-to-end transformation for service providers and enterprises. HP and Alcatel-Lucent will have a global program for migrating communications networks into converged, next-generation infrastructure, plus services for managing new and existing infrastructures.
In addition, HP and Alcatel-Lucent will work together to selling communications solutions to larger enterprises and the public sector, with options of either buying through HP resellers or purchasing managed solutions.
It should be no big surprise that HP teamed with Alcatel-Lucent for delivering integrated IT/telecom solutions for service providers and enterprises. Alcatel-Lucent had few options and with Sun being devoured by Oracle, HP was the last remaining independent with scalable server hardware Alcatel-Lucent brings its IP telephony, mobility, security, and contact center knowledge to the table and HP can leverage its resellers.
Could Alcatel-Lucent have worked with IBM? Not really, as there was too much overlap between the telecom solutions that IBM already has in its portfolio (and conveniently running on IBM hardware). IBM is also sticking its fingers into mobile communications to the tune of $100 million, research that Alcatel-Lucent isn’t likely to be comfy with along with all those mobile apps that IBM is starting to roll out.
HP also has another card up its sleeve: A four year unified communications deal with Microsoft. Announced last month at Interop, the two companies expect to invest up to $180 million in a combination of product development, professional services, and joint sales and marketing.
Enterprises looking to embrace UC can now turn to HP and Microsoft, with HP providing additional software for network monitoring, as well as a high-end telepresence solution. HP’s continued financial success and IT hardware may make the company a much more useful partner to Microsoft than Nortel ever ways; sure, you could run OCS on a Nortel server, but if you had to put HP and Nortel head-to-head in server hardware, HP wins hands down.