Friday, April 30, 2004

Senate votes for Internet tax ban

By Paul Davidson, USA TODAY

The Senate, breaking months of deadlock, overwhelmingly agreed Thursday to renew a ban on Internet access taxes for four years.
The Senate voted 93-3 to prevent state and local governments from taxing Internet service but preserve some existing taxes.

A five-year moratorium on dial-up Internet access taxes expired late last year after lawmakers locked horns over whether to make it temporary or permanent and whether it should apply to phone-based broadband DSL lines.

More ... - Senate votes for Internet tax ban:

BT and Microsoft set to transform small business with revolutionary one-stop I.T. service

BT has joined forces with Microsoft to launch a one-stop-shop I.T. and broadband solution - an innovative first for small businesses in the UK.

BT Connected & Complete, featuring Microsoft Technology, gives small businesses access to regularly updated and individually tailored I.T. software and support - previously only available to large companies.

more ...
BT and Microsoft set to transform small business with revolutionary one-stop I.T. service (April 29, 2004):

Sunday, April 25, 2004

IP-MoU: Getting Started

The IP-MoU website launched earlier this week and the momentum surrounding this activity is starting to grow.

The IP-MoU is an international consortium of IP-based service and application providers intent on quickly realizing the promise of interconnecting ubiquitous IP communications. The IP-MoU will adopt and implement common principles designed to promote three primary objectives:

Promote the interoperability, interconnection and ubiquity of IP-based service and applications.

Establish processes to ensure that IP-based services and applications comply with local, national and international laws and social objectives such as:
Emergency Response; Law enforcement; Access by persons with disabilities.

Ensure that consumers worldwide are assured basic rights as users of IP communications:
- Freedom to Access Content: Consumers should have access to their choice of legal content;
- Freedom to Use Applications: Consumers should be able to run applications of their choice;
- Freedom to Attach Personal Devices: Consumers should be permitted to attach any devices they choose to the connection in their homes;
- Freedom to Obtain Service Plan Information: Consumers should receive meaningful information regarding their service plans; and
Protection of Consumer Privacy: Consumers should know that their personal information is safeguarded, except to the extent necessary to abide by law enforcement obligations.

The next meeting will take place at April 26th.

Friday, April 23, 2004

IDT uses Wi-Fi to offer cheaper cell service
By Paul Davidson, USA TODAY - IDT uses Wi-Fi to offer cheaper cell service: "

Believe it or not, 43% of U.S. consumers still don't have a cell phone - many for budget reasons.

Now, long-distance company IDT is aiming at low- to moderate-income holdouts with a new breed of inexpensive service that offers mobile service but only in certain areas. IDT plans to introduce a semi-mobile phone service that works in areas equipped with Wi-Fi, a popular wireless technology linked to the Internet.

The strategy could pose at least a modest threat to the big wireless carriers as it marries two hot new technologies: Wi-Fi and Internet-based phone service.

The service price will be no more than $2 a month, with calls costing less than 5 cents a minute; initially, customers will likely prepay. Unlike with cell phones, incoming calls are free. While IDT initially will give away the phones equipped with Wi-Fi chips, they will eventually cost about $100.

In two months, IDT says, it will roll out the service in the Ironbound area of Newark, N.J., blanketing the 2-square-mile neighborhood with Wi-Fi antennas and offering the phones and service at local stores. The firm plans to add a few more undetermined cities by September and about a dozen by year's end as it sets up Wi-Fi zones in areas such as senior-citizen or affordable-housing complexes. There, the handsets could serve as both the home phone and semi-mobile phone.

However, the phones also will work in any area with an open Wi-Fi network, which today lets Wi-Fi-enabled laptop users get broadband access.

Fee-based "hot spots," which offer access to Wi-Fi devices within 300 feet of an antenna hooked to a broadband line, are popping up in coffee shops, hotels, airports and even McDonald's.

But a growing number of cities, including Seattle, San Francisco and New York, have large swaths of free spots. Many college campuses are also Wi-Fi equipped. As a result, IDT may offer the phones and service nationally via the Web or toll-free number. The company's target audience includes immigrants, college students and seniors.

"We're creating a new industry ... that can provide affordable phone service for everyone," says Jim Courter, CEO of IDT, a leading provider of prepaid calling cards.

The handsets' Voice-over-Internet-Protocol, or VoIP, technology offers low-cost phone service by sending calls as data packets over proprietary data lines or the Internet. IDT will route the calls over its VoIP network.

Web Exclusives
Boucher at breakfast

4.21.04 | Doug Mohney

VON Magazine :: Web Exclusives :: Boucher at breakfast:

In a wide-ranging set of comments given at a breakfast session of the Broadband Summit ( on April 20, Congressman Rick Boucher (VA) shared his views on a range of telecom topics, including facilitating widespread broadband deployment, rural broadband, and revisions to the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

Boucher didn't want to see VoIP burdened with unnecessary regulation and predicated within a few years the technology would enable "unlimited telephone service" at a flat rate, including international calls. However, VoIP providers should pay access charges when VoIP calls cross over into the public switched phone network and contribute to the Universal Service Fund.

Linksys finds its voice?

Linksys finds its voice | Newsmakers | CNET

April 21, 2004, 2:04 PM PT
By Winston Chai
Special to CNET

If Victor Tsao has his way, your next broadband router could bear an uncanny resemblance to your living room telephone.

Ten months after his company was bought by Cisco Systems for $500 million, the founder of consumer networking gear maker Linksys plans to embark on an aggressive product expansion trail this year ...

Richard's comment: I do not really understand this article. After some bla bla Victor Tsao is announcing that Linksys will launch a Terminal Adapter - great news.

To continue: "The IP phone could be the next Linksys Ethernet router. Entertainment comes next."


What? An Intertex IX66? - An then a router with a phone and a built in MP3 player?

I just do not understand the news.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Consulation on Voice over IP (VoIP) bei German Regulator (RegTP)

The German Regulator is starting a consulation on VoIP, obviously trigged by the Analysys report to the EC and also by German VoIP service providers using geographic numbers (e.g.

Reg TP - Regulierungsbehoerde für Telekommunikation und Post

The list of questions is very comprehensive and covering the open issues quite well. Currently only the German version is available, but an English version will be available end of April.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Skype: "April 6, 2004 - Skype launches PocketSkype - Taking Free Calling Mobile

PocketSkype is free and simple to use software that enables you to make Skype voice calls using your WiFi-enabled Microsoft PocketPC based handheld computer from any WiFi hotspot. PocketSkype is a thin version of Skype, developed specifically for PDA devices, making Skype mobile with the same core features of regular Skype software including free Skype to Skype worldwide calling to any Skype user, ability to participate in free Skype conference calling, instant messaging, access to the Global Decentralised Directory, online presence and contact lists."

Skype's Cell Division
Aude Lagorce, 04.06.04, 3:27 PM ET Skype's Cell Division:

NEW YORK - By threatening to make extravagant phone bills a distant memory, voice-over-Internet Protocol technology, also known as VoIP, has become the most ominous cloud hanging over the future of traditional phone companies. In recent months, giants like AT&T and Verizon Communications have responded to its threat by launching their own discount VoIP services. Meanwhile, cell phone carriers thought they were relatively safe.

That assumption may yet turn out to be wrong: Skype, a company founded by the developers of the file-sharing service Kazaa, announced this morning that it is bringing the disruptive technology to handheld devices.

'We knew it was just a matter of time before VoIP services came to mobile devices,' says Jane Zweig, chief executive of the Shosteck Group, a telecom research firm. " ...

‘Jumping Off the Cliff‘


Article from "Communications Daily".

Austria is ready to be “first to jump the cliff” into commercial e-numbering (ENUM) services, Internet Foundation
Austria (IPA) Chmn. Michael Haberler told us. A 2-year commercial phase will launch this year, overseen
by the country’s Broadcasting & Telecom Regulatory Authority (RTR) and with providing registry services,
said Georg Serentschy, RTR managing dir.-telecom section. The plan flies in the face of claims ENUM isn’t
ready for prime time in Europe because technical and regulatory issues aren’t resolved. Because no one knows
how ENUM will develop, Serentschy said Thurs., regulators are exerting a light touch.

ENUM activities don’t fall within Austria’s telecom act because it specifically excludes domain names from
RTR’s authority, Serentschy said. However, he said, early on the govt. applied for for its ENUM
domain name because it recognized the relationship between telephone numbers and ENUM services. As the domain
owner, RTR sets rules for its use.

Austria ran an ENUM trial, but it’s shifting to a commercial rollout in the late 3rd quarter or early 4th quarter,
Serentschy said. The phase is limited to 2 years because “one of the things we want to find out” is what the
ENUM service will look like, he said. will have the right to operate the registry during that time, he said,
but if ENUM proves popular, others may be allowed to bid on providing registry services. Extensive discussion in
the U.S. has concerned whether there should be multiple registries as well as registrars. Austria is most likely to
go with a single registry and several registrars, Serentschy said, but it depends on the market. It’s not clear who
will be most interested in ENUM — consumers, businesses or both, he said. Until that’s known, the govt. doesn’t
want to overload the emerging service with regulatory constraints, he said.

The only regulatory action the govt. has taken is to dedicate a new number range — 780 — for ENUM services,
Serentschy said. The new ordinance takes effect this month. The decision grew out of the country’s ENUM
trial, said Haberler. For individual users, it’s more desirable to have a new number rather than an existing phone
number, he said. The trial showed the biggest problem with ENUM is tracking use of existing phone numbers.
An ENUM entry can exist only in relation to an existing phone number, he said, so if that number is cancelled,
ENUM “goes away, too.” With the new 780 numbers, Haberler said, that won’t be a problem, because the domain
allocation will match the number allocation.

There must be “synchronicity,” Serentschy said. ENUM marries telephony to the domain name system, he
said, so the owner of an email address must also hold the matching phone number. Ensuring that is easier with a
separate numbering space, he said.

ENUM has sparked privacy concerns in the U.S. Civil liberties advocates worry that making personal information
available in a Whois-like directory will leave people open to spammers, stalkers and other unpleasantness.
In Austria, however, the European Union privacy directive and national laws strictly control how much personal
data registries and other operators can give 3rd parties, Serentschy said.

Last month, some ENUM experts said more work was needed to ensure interoperability and resolve issues
such as certification and authentication, consumer protection and possible competition problems (WID March
17 p1). Haberler disputed comments in a Political Intelligence report to the EC that “identifier namespaces”
are in short supply and “gatekeepers” could harm the industry. Service providers won’t hamper ENUM deployment
because it’s a “user opt in service” not under providers’ control, “and that is a pretty fundamental issue,”
he said.

Also critical of earlier comments was Richard Shockey, NeuStar Inc. senior mgr., strategic technology initiatives
and co-chmn. of the Internet Engineering Task Force ENUM working group that developed the protocol.
The Washington Internet Daily article and the Political Intelligence report to the EC painted “a much too bleak
picture of actual developments in Europe,” Shockey said. “Where there are certainly small technical glitches in
the protocol, the consensus in Europe and here in the U.S. is that ‘it works,’” Shockey told us. The fact that testing
is going on to establish interoperability “in no way indicates the protocol is not ”ready for prime time," he said.
Moving Cautiously on VoIP

Austrian regulators are also moving cautiously on VoIP, Serentschy said. A minimum amount of regulation
appears key to reliable service, he said. VoIP can’t be regulated from a single country’s vantage because the service
can be provided transnationally, he said. RTR has classified VoIP services into: (1) Those like’s
Free World Dialup, with no access to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). The RTR shares the FCC’s
view this is an information service for which regulation isn’t needed, Serentschy said. (2) Voice-over-Internet services
that access the PSTN through a gateway. These could be classed as telephone services, he said, and if they
can be provided globally, they probably should be regulated, he said. (3) Voice-over-Internet services where the
provider also furnishes broadband and other services and has influence over packet routing to the PSTN. This is a
telephone service that will become increasingly important as everyone moves to all-IP networks, Serentschy said.
Callers using these networks will want guaranteed service not a “fuzzy” Internet connection, he said.
RTR sees “some need for regulation” in classes 2 and 3 to ensure emergency calls go to the proper call center,
Serentschy said. Regulation could require operators to route emergency calls to centers somewhere in the area of
the call originator, he said.

Asked whether the European Commission (EC) is likely to have a hand in VoIP regulation, Serentschy said
no. The EC could, however, craft a framework that’s either mandatory or recommended for European Union
member states, he said. The EC is working to create a single market, but unlike the U.S., Europe has many national
identities in different stages of telecom and Internet development, he said. The EC can define the goal, he
said, but “individual paths to reach that goal could be different.” VoIP “needs very strong international coordination
and harmonization” not limited to European countries because services could be provided anywhere,
Serentschy said. — Dugie Standeford

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

VON Keynote: Jeff Pulver -- Nothing is Impossible
New Network Services

"It feels like 1999 all over again," said Jeff Pulver, describing what he said called a second coming of VoIP ...

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