Posts Tagged ‘VoIP technology’
Someone stumbled across Comcast’s quiet rollout of “HomePoint” service in Florida at the end of last week, but the cable company is making up for a soft rollout with a launch of a marketing campaign in Denver today (Monday, October 12). Comcast plans to roll out the service to other markets in the months to come.
Most wonks looking at this seem to be going ga-ga at the simple expedient of deploying a combination of router and cable modem — can we say “yawn” here? — and missing the point that the HomePoint phone runs DECT 6.0 and has the Casabi service embedded in it.
Casabi is a client/server technology that puts a SIP client with a “lite” web browser directly on the phone so you can do very simple things like download ticker updates on things like news, sports, and the weather straight to the phone, as well as read email and do other interesting tricks.
A Comcast spokesperson said HomePoint would support SMS text messaging down the road, so a home user could get texted; the feature isn’t currently available.
Interestingly, Thomson previously said it was planning to roll out “Advanced Cable Gateway” to Comcast in the third quarter of this year.
Does this gear support HD Voice? Welll, the ACG supports DECT 6.0, but there’s no explicit naming of CAT-iq. Nor is there any reference to G.722 codec support. At this point, it is not clear if HD voice will be embedded in the second generation of ACGs Thomson is working on and/or if HD voice will be available through existing hardware as a firmware upgrade to the ACG and handsets. Comcast is being nice enough to look into some HD-specific questions I lobbed onto them today, so stay tuned.
Skype is now going to be an independent company like it always wanted. Owner eBay “unloaded” Skype for $2 billion in cash, but still holds 35 percent of the company. (Remember this, we’re coming back to it shortly).
The buying consortium is made up of Silver Lake Partners, Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. According to word on the street, the purchasers anticipate a 2.75 billion IPO in the next 12-24 months.
Soo, let’s see, eBay gets $2 billion in cash ($1.9 billion now, and a note for the rest by the end of the year; easy enough to pay out of Skype’s cash flow and/or out of the investor’s pockets). It also holds 35% of I-Skype (Independent Skype), so it can get dividends and/or sell off public stock in bits and pieces, so there’s some pretty good upside there as well.
Net-net, eBay will likley come out neutral to black after the IPO and all the smoke clears. Kudos to eBay management for standing firm in the face of shilling by The Media and backdoor lobbying by Skype’s former owners to dump the company and run.
In a sign that life is good, IP communications “stack” provider D2 Technologies has split into two business units.
Doug Makishima, one of the hardest working guys in the biz, has been promoted to COO and will also be acting head of D2′s new Mobile and Personal Communications Business Unit (MPCBU). Asian-based Paul Wu has been promoted to VP of the Fixed Access Business Unit (FABU… yes, there is a joke in here somewhere…)
You can find D2′s software on a bunch of mobile platforms, including Android. Back in May, D2 said its vPort software was processing 40 billion minutes of VoIP traffic per month.
Over at his blog, Andy Abramson is reporting that Gizmo5 is testing a way for its users to make free U.S. outbound calls using Google Voice from any SIP device.
GizmoVoice is the latest mashup service that Gizmo5 has pulled together, leveraging its pieces with other people’s pieces/services for relatively no/low cost. Users of GizmoVoice should be able to have “ANY” SIP device, be it a WiFi phone, ATA, SIP client, or even a PBX node, to make and receive (well, the make part is the key) U.S. calls without a monthly or per minute free.
But as that curmudgeon Jerry Pournelle said oh-so-long-ago, There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (TANSTAAFL), someone is making a buck off this somewhere; it’s just not clear where at this point. I suspect this is part of Mad Michael Robinson’s latest scheme to work the system to generate more minutes and more users.
Andy goes through all the permutations on how you can use Gizmo to receive Skype calls and pipe calls into GoogleVoice to get free voice mail, voicemail to email and free translation, plus a quick trick to make a call through an Apple iPhone to be IDed as a GoogleVoice number.
Skype can’t be that happy with these tricks. I really wish Skype would just suck it up and support SIP directly/natively out of its client, but if they did, it would break its walled garden concept too much and goodness knows where THAT would leave them.
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.
Forget all this crap about Google Voice being “your next phone company.” It’s Skype that is going to have some issues.
The Goog was brainwashing, showing off its latest Google Voice apps to Om Malik yesterday, with Google Voice service for BlackBerry and Android clients available. Integration with GV and address book, cheap long distance calls, yadda-yadda.
I should have seen the Android client coming; that was a no brain, brothers… but the BlackBerry client should be a wakeup call to a lot of people. Skype’s been working on a BlackBerry phone client for a while, but it ain’t available for download today as a beta. Since Skype wants to collect business dollars and CrackBlackBerry is the de facto favorite of the biz community, there is a serious hole in the portfolio, hmm? Be interesting to hear why all the delays in a Skype for BlackBerry client. Heck, even Agito Networks has a FMC client for BlackBerry!
Now, let’s talk about pre-loading apps on cell phones, shall we? Skype has been fighting with carriers to get its app pre-loaded on phones with mixed success, but the company has been relatively quiet of late in stomping its feet about open networks and net neutrality. If you buy an Android phone, having the mobile GV client included as a part of the load would seem to be a natural fit if the carrier allows — and if it doesn’t, it looks like the first or second app an Android fan boy would download to complement his shiny-new ‘droid phone. True, Skype is preloaded on more cellular platforms around the world these days, but not a Lot More.
Given that Google is more “open” than Skype on software matters and has a MUCH BIGGER market cap than Skype, when Google goes up to lobby about open networks and net neutrality, legislators are likely to pay more attention.
Finally, there’s the whole momentum/integration thing going on, whereas Skype is a one-trick (communications) pony. You have Google, the Search Engine, plus Gmail, plus Google Voice, plus Android, plus all the other beta stuff floating around. Put together gmail, the search engine, and Google Voice, plus the small-but-growing Android installed base and there’s a good chunk of critical mass right there.
Will this displace Skype? Well, not today certainly, but if GV rolls in some quick and dirty Twitter support — and it will, because Google has no problem playing with others when it suits its master plan — one might start to see some cracks in Skype’s walled-garden approach to the world. Software can come off phones and computers (well, just get forgotten) as easily as it can be loaded.
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).
I had two separate calls today, each with its own unique high-touch component.
On the first call, I logged into the weekly VoIP User’s conference session using ZipDX and G.722. Featured speaker was Anthony Stankus, Gigaset Communications product manager for North America — needless to say, he was drinking his own champaigne by using a Gigaset phone. There were somewhere between 20 to 30 people on the call listening and asking questions — and you could tell who was using G.722 and who was using G.711 (John Todd).
Maybe the contrast between the two codecs on a conference call is what people need to get that “Ah ha” moment and realize life is indeed better with HD voice and wideband codecs.
Anthony has an uphill battle getting Gigaset phones proliferated through the big box stores and the SOHO community, but he’s got a great product at an attractive price relative to the rest of the market.
My second call of the day was with author Austin Bay — well, he describes himself as “Author and syndicated columnist. Soldier, developmental aid advocate, war game designer, lecturer, and radio commentator.” The two of us have never met face-to-face, but we’ve been long-time sparring partners on a mailing list or two.
To borrow a phrase from In Living Color, “Him got 27 jobs, Mon!”
Austin and I did an experimental/experiential video call with ooVoo video software. Bay has used the software to have interactive video chats with his buds at Pajamas TV, with the net results reprocessed into news clips. Austin wants to get some of the video artifacts out of his rig and I wanted to see it in action.
Austin was using a MacBook and I was on my Acer Aspire One using its embedded webcam and mic. We seemed to get about the same results, but I was “bad” and didn’t use a headset as recommended by ooVoo; didn’t seem to bother Austin any. I had some white-wash in the background, but I’ve got a skylight behind me, so there’s a lot of natural sunlight that I’d have to adjust for if I was trying do this on a regular basis for publication.
From a working perspective, the only annoyance was Austin and I sometimes talking over each other due to a slight network time lag. He would start and I would start up at the same time with our yadda-yadda.
Without going into details, Austin is getting back into the saddle after a couple of surgeries. I’m kinda frightened to think what he’s like at 100 percent and medication free, because he was full of enthusiasm and pep from his den in Austin, Texas.
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.