Posts Tagged ‘telecom policy’
Over on Jeff Pulver’s blog, guest columnist and Pulver-cohort Daniel Berninger calls for an HD upgrade in the near-mythical communications “hotline” between the White House and Moscow, as well as other dedicated diplomatic communications channels around the globe.
Originally set up during the scary days of the Cold War, the original teletype service has been upgraded with voice and fax capabilities and is still tested every 24 hours between the two countries.
Upgrading to HD would drastically improve conversations between parties, especially when understanding a non-native speaker or when a translator is involved. More importantly, it is a very cost-effective upgrade given that the infrastructure is already in place — OK, you have to establish a secure IP pipe, but this is off the shelf stuff, not rocket science and not ginormous expensive — and HD phones are available for under $200 bucks these days.
I suppose this is where Cisco, Polycom and/or Tandberg appear and says “You should spend big bucks and go for a telepresence solution!” Of course, the cost of implementing even a humble telepresence solution is around $70K per end point, plus a lot more bandwidth to secure on an intercontinental basis. Can you smell the dollars cooking?
You can buy a lot of HD phones for that $70K, and distribute HD a lot more widely. Admittedly, it isn’t the same thing as a full-bore telepresense solution, but this looks like one of these “most bang for the buck” solutions when you bring HD phones into a government agency.
And if there are any implementation questions, France Telecom can no doubt provide its expertise, since they already have over 400,000 consumer HD VoIP users on their network.. (Yes, I expect screaming after that statement).
My Verizon landline went dead on Monday. I filed a trouble ticket on Monday evening. At that time I was told that “the latest someone would be out to look at my line would be Monday, July 13, but if there’s someone free earlier, we’ll call you…”
Seven days for a tech to come out seems excessive by any stretch of the imagination. I suppose I could call the President of Verizon Virginia to complain — that’s the secret ninja trick that all Verizon employees know — but I don’t have his number in my cards.
Instead, this morning I went to the Virgina PUC and emailed in a complaint this morning. By the time I returned from the gym today, I received a response which read in part…
“As to the current service quality regulations, 95% or more of all telephone company outages should be cleared within 48 hours. The quoted ‘seven days’ interval is not acceptable to the Commission’s standards and should not be a company policy within Verizon.”
Tech and social media pundit Jeff Pulver is penciled in to make a trip to Washington D.C. on Tuesday, July 14, to promote the cause of HD Communications.
An agenda for the trip to the nation’s capital is still being finalized, but Pulver is expected to host a social media breakfast centered around HD Communications and a lunchtime briefing with telecommunications lawyers.
Pulver is no stranger to D.C., having hosted numerous events in the city and filed the so-called “Pulver Petition” at the Federal Communications Commission to gain regulatory relief for IP communications services from traditional telephony regulation.
Registration for the social media breakfast is being handled by Daniel Berninger (email@example.com).
What can the Obama Administration do for HD Communications? A look back at what Vice President Al Gore did before he won his Nobel Prize provides some clues.
Back in 1994, Al was the point many for “Reinventing Government” As a part of his mission, he put a “date certain” marker down for all of the executive agencies of the government to establish an internet presence by the fall of 1994. Needless to say, this action lit a fire under a lot of organizations who went out and put up websites, ranging to the Consumer Product Safety Commission to the Central Intelligence Agency. Nobody wanted to make Al or his acolytes unhappy.
When October 1, 2004 rolled around, government agencies were bragging about their shiny new websites and Internet connectivity. As a net result, the (U.S.) open standards-based Internet suddenly had a lot more intrinsic value for private industry, academia, and individual citizens. Subsequent administrations and Congresses, have continued to build upon that base, trying to out do the previous generation as to who has the coolest toys.
Back to the question of the day: What can the Obama Administration do for HD Communications?
With all due respect to the current Amtrak-loving Vice President, Joe Biden is no Al Gore when it comes to carrying the torch of technological advancement. Fortunately, President Obama has nominated both a national CTO and a well-admired Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Both have roles to play.
Aneesh Chopra, the nation’s CTO, will be responsible for promoting technology innovation including “national strategies for using advanced technologies to transform our economy and our society, such as fostering private sector innovation, reducing administrative costs and medical errors using health IT, and using technology to change the way teachers teach and students learn.”
HD voice = advanced technology to transform the way we communicate. Perfect fit.
Chopra could state the obvious:Existing technology for voice phone calls is in need of an upgrade, so the federal government and the organizations that work with it should all adopt G.722 as the standard way it conducts broadband voice communications by some date certain, starting with conference calls and working all the way down to individual departments and offices. Simply switching to VoIP provides a base for other apps, but HD Communications provides an uplift in quality that should improve communications between government agencies, and ultimately between other nations; after all, the French, British, Germans, and Italians are all implementing HD voice in the form of G.722.
The White House should be the first organization to go “All G,” providing a suitable example and incentive for other agencies to make the move up to HD Voice. It’ll make a good complement to go with the secure BlackBerry.
The FCC is the point agency for a creating and implementing a national broadband policy, so Julius Genachowski and the FCC’s broadband’s main man, Blair Levin, can incorporate and trumpet the use of HD voice and G.722 in the creation of said policy. The FCC may have to provide some suggestion/clue/encouragement by service providers to interoperate, but hopefully such mechanisms/suggestions will be relatively loose and not require a Big Club or a complex settlements formula.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman nominee Julius Genachowski got the typical Capital Hill posturing lectures today at his confirmation hearing, but appears to be on track to be confirmed with Senate Commerce Committee leadership homing for a confirmation vote before July 4.
Democratic Senators seemed to be more on point to delivery lectures more appropriate for former Chairman Kevin Martin. “”Fix the agency or we will fix it for you,” said Senator John Rockefeller ( D-W.Va.), “Prove to us that the FCC is not battered beyond repair.” Senator Bryon Dorgan (D-N.D.) also chimed in with “It seems to me that you will lead a rather unhealthy agency. We’ve been through a period of substantial secrecy.”
For his part, Genachowski stuck to happy script sound bites, such as telling Rockefeller “The FCC should be a model for transparency, openness and fairness” and saying he would bring “common sense” to government rule-making and that the FCC can serve as a model for “excellence in government” through “open, fair and data-driven processes.” (The ghost of Kevin Martin wasn’t known for open processes).
Robert McDowell also appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday for his confirmation hearing. McDowell is the Republican “bundled” into this set of hearings and is up for his second term as a FCC Commissioner. McDowell is known as a free-market guy, but has demonstrated a more collegial approach to working out issues than Martin.
As I clean out my in-box of bits and pieces this week, Cox and Global Crossing are two different companies that have indicated they doing to do something with HD Communications and HD Voice. The bigger questions are “When?” and “How?”
A Cox spokesperson said the company was looking into HD Voice, but at this point in time a product will emerge “closer to 2011.” He also said that 2011 is a long way out and “a lot can happen” between now and then.
Based upon some previous conversations I’ve had, Cox’s biggest project these days is rolling out its telephony applications platform to all of its market. Once that is done, then HD is — to grab the phrase from Optimum Lightpath — just another app.
Global Crossing has made no official statements about HD Voice product(s), but one of its network gurus — Adam “voiploser” Uzelac — is certainly making some interesting comments about about HD on his twitter feed and company blog. Speaking from personal experience, you don’t really think about HD that deeply until you start to do HD.
Me thinks Adam is doing HD, and he’s not doing it for the novelty factor.
Since Global Crossing has a strong Enterprise business and offers collaboration solutions (i.e. audio and video conferencing), an HD voice offering build around conferencing isn’t a big stretch of the imagination. Based upon my perspective and experience, Global Crossing tends to buy best-of-breed solutions, deploy them, then allow the vendors supplying the nuts and bolts to talk about the technical details 12-18 months later
You almost get the impression that Qwest has a death wish. It wants to sell off a business it is making money with — its long-haul network — while continuing to hold onto all of its (steadily declining) landline business. What is wrong with this picture?
Since everyone knows Qwest is a wounded duck with its heavy debt load and that there aren’t that many quality buyers for long-haul these days , bidders are offering as little as under $1 billion — Wayyyy lower than the $3 billion Qwest sought for the network.
Qwest is managing to generate profits by cost cutting, so what’s the rush to sell? As Cartman would say “This. Does Not. Make Sense.”
The company needs to borrow a page from Verizon and start selling off some of its landline assets to other carriers, shedding some of its declining parts of its business. To be fair, the financial instrument that Qwest really wants — cold hard cash — may not be as readily available to potential buyers, so some creative deal-making might be necessary.
For example, Qwest could engineer a three-way deal to shed some of its rural territories with Verizon — someone who has cash — and a smaller carrier, such as Frontier, WindStream, or CenturyLink (formerly CenturyTel). This complicated trade would include something less valuable (rural area landlines/territories), more valuable (a territory Verizon really would like to have, say Colorado or Washington), and cash provided by Verizon.
When the smoke cleared, the rural carrier would have more rural lines (check), Qwest would have cash (check), and Verizon would add on a new major city or two to its portfolio (check).
Would Verizon be party to such a transaction? Certainly it has both cash and cash flow to invest. It isn’t shy about buying to expand market share (Alltel) and it has shed its unattractive wireline holdings to other buyers.
One might argue that simply purchasing Qwest outright would be the best move, but I think its unlikely because of its big debt load and the regulatory headaches a full blown purchase would entail. A smaller deal would allow Qwest to pay down its debt and Verizon to expand with a minimum of regulatory headaches.
FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell has been nominated for a second term by President Barak Obama. Now maybe the Republicans can stop stalling and start voting to approve him and FCC Chairman nominee Julius Genachowski already.
According to reports floating around since Genachowski was nominated, the Republican leadership and/or Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) didn’t want to vote on Genachowski and other FCC Democratic nominees until they had “pairs” of Republicans to approve at the same time. Trouble was the Republicans either couldn’t agree or weren’t ready to nominate their own people, so the process of approving Genachowski has been stalled.
Now it appears Genachowski will get his day on Capital Hill later this month, along with McDowell. A second pairs hearing of Democratic nominee Migon Clyburn and former NTIA head Meredith Baker is expected further down the road and should prove to be interesting given Clyburn’s relative inexperience with spectrum issues and Baker’s involvement with the DTV coupon box program and its associated delays.
McDowell, a Republican and Bush-era appointed commissioner, was first confirmed by the Senate in June 2006 and had been the senior VP and assistant general counsel for COMPTEL and had represented competitors to AT&T, so he recused himself from voting on the AT&T/Bell South merger before the commission.
When FCC Commissioners were deadlocked 2-2 in December 2006 to approve the merger, Martin asked McDowell to vote to break the tie and the FCC General Counsel issued a memo saying the government’s “significant interest” in the merger outweighed the appearance of a personal conflict. Once again, McDowell disqualified himself from participating.
Two week later, AT&T, Bell South and the FCC worked out terms and the FCC voted to approve the merger 4-0 on December 29, 2006. McDowell stood his ground and stuck to his principles. Don’t find that often in Washington D.C. Unsurprisingly, AT&T reportedly wasn’t in favor of McDowell getting a second term; be interesting to hear the off-the-record story on why McDowell got the thumbs up all of a sudden.
An interview I did with McDowell for (the original) VON Magazine in April 2007 is still available on line.
Verizon Business has rolled out its “cloud-based” Computing as a Service (CaaS, not to be confused with SaaS) solution today. Targeted to large enterprise customers, it isn’t likely to make a lot of waves at Amazon.
CaaS is being sharply aimed at business and government customers who want on-demand and surge computing resources. It is available immediately (Yes, really, today) in the U.S. and Europe and will be rolled out to the Asia-Pacific region in August. You can run the service either over Verizon’s public IP network or its MPLS-based private IP network or even run the service over anyone else’s IP connection, but you can guess what Verizon would prefer.
Part of the pitch for CaaS is a migration of the IT/data center from a simple “overhead” expense to more of a service-based organization complete with chargebacks to individual departments or business units.
Security gets heavy emphasis with both proactive security management and physical security audits and CaaS-specific security features, including virtual firewalls, an audit-trail for all changes, and secure connections to customer-provisioned resources (MPLS, MPLS). Customers can also spring for an optional add-on security services including various security assessment tools, host intrusion detection, and identity and access management.
The other part of the “secret sauce” to Verizon CaaS is an internally developed workflow and automated resource engine for customers to manage computing resources for provisioning of both physical and virtual server environments.
About the only surprise out of Verizon’s briefing was no mention of using cloud computing as a disaster recovery mechanism. A spokesperson for Verizon said they planned to address that application down the road.
List price cost for the service is $525 for setup and $250/month for subscription, plus usage charges for resources. Again, this service isn’t being marketed like Amazon’s cloud (“Show up with a credit card and go”), so $250/month is noise in the budget of a major corporation or government agency (Not to mention that businesses doing volume with Verizon are going to haggle on price — or should be).
Deutsche Telekom (DT) has said it won’t ban VoIP on its mobile networks in Germany, but customers will have to pay extra for the service. Can’t wait to see this get taking to the EU.
DT T-Mobile customers in Germany will shell out a surcharge starting at 9.95 euros per month to use VoIP services; the phone company is justifying the gouging by sayng it has to make “significant investments” in in its networks and IP addresses to offer the customer the option to use VoIP within its mobile network. However, the spokesperson would not elaborate futher on how this “necessary investment” differs from vanilla data services already running across its network to iPhones, G1 Android phones or windows Mobile phones.
At the end of 2008, T-Mobile had sold more than 330,000 iPhones; it wasn’t talking about the number of Android phones it had running.
So for $14 and loose change per month, DT will charge extra to “allow” the use of such apps. No details if this extra charge will include a quality of service guarantee for the “investment.” Can’t wait to hear about how DT will charge extra for the app, yet not guarantee QoS for it.
Skype is going to have a field day with this announcement, beating its chest about how this illustrates the need for net neutrality and open networks, yadda-yadda-yadda.
Source: Wall Street Journal