Wednesday, June 30, 2004 - Free Calling to 10 Countries

Erik opened up myphonebooth for free outcalls to the PSTN.

You get free 1 Minute Calls To:

United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore
Taiwan, Australia, Germany, Italy, France, United Kingdom

Now that they have Wifi on commercial flights I can see that might get some real traction. Soon it will have Acoustic Echo Cancellation so you don't even have to use a headset!

There is also Free Unlimited Calls To US 1-800 Numbers
Free Unlimited VoIP Calls on These Networks:
Call any SIPphone Account (1-747-XXX-XXXX)
Call any Free World Dialup Account (1-393-XXXXX)
Call any Account (1-477-XXXXXX)
Call any Iaxtel Account (1-700-XXX-XXXX)

The PSTN connectivity is provided by SIPphone, which was founded by Michael Robertson the founder of

For the full story see: - Free Calling to 10 Countries

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Market Status Denied

Guess who said about whom:

"that companies suffer from too much state interference, have weak corporate governance measures, do not ensure equal treatment of all companies in bankruptcy procedures and that its banking sector is not governed by market rules"

The US about Europe?


EU denies China market economy status

No joke, this is real.

28.06.2004 - 17:34 CET | By Richard Carter EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS

The European Commission today (28 June) announced that it would not grant 'market economy status' to China, citing deficiencies in four main areas.

The news is likely to come as a severe blow to the Chinese government whose premier Wen Jiabao made the issue a central plank of his visit to Brussels last month.

Brussels said that Chinese companies suffer from too much state interference, have weak corporate governance measures, do not ensure equal treatment of all companies in bankruptcy procedures and that its banking sector is not governed by market rules.

Story provided by Mahalanobis

For the full story see:

Friday, June 25, 2004

SkypeOut out

After reading the news in The Register (see below), I had to try
it out immediately.

First: go to the webpage and download skype (query for new update does not work, it says you have the latest version

Second: Login to your account, get out your credit card
and pre-pay 10 Euros.

Third: after installing, launch Skype, either click on dial or enter
a phone number in international format +xxx. Done.

If you call a fixed number, call setup is incredible fast (ISDN speed),
calling mobile phone numbers takes the usual 5-10 seconds.
QoS is Skype (Gips) quality.

Call charges to normal countries is 0,014 Euro/min including VAT
for Europeans, mobile calls are more expensive.

Connectivity seems to be global.

Outed: Skype project to dial real phone numbers | The Register

Thursday, June 24, 2004

VOIP Fritz!Box Fon from AVM

AVM just released Fritz!Box Fon, which gives DSL subscribers a complete VoIP Solution. The box contains the DSL Modem (T-DSL /Arcor Standard), an analog or ISDN FXO port, 2 analog FXS ports for phone or fax, multiple accounts, dialling plans, automatic fall back to PSTN, USB and 10/100 Base-T, SIP, Codecs: G.711, G,723.1, G729A, G726 32bit, QoS traffic shaping, IP-Masquerading/NAT, Stateful Packet Inspection FW, DMZ for own servers.

German technical description at:

Since the box is currently only sold via providers, no price is available.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Good news for WiSIP phones

Computerworld | 802.11s tackles mesh networks

Joanie Wexler, Network World
22/06/2004 13:41:28

In case you haven't heard, the wireless LAN industry is now up to 's' in the alphabet soup of 802.11 technical standard extensions.

802.11s aims to define a MAC and PHY for meshed networks that improve coverage with no single point of failure. In such networks, 802.11 cellular WLAN access points relay information from one to another, hop by hop, in a router-like fashion. As you add users and access points, you add capacity. So, as in the Internet, adding nodes becomes a scalable and redundant endeavor.

Meshed networks can serve as indoor or outdoor networks run by wireless ISPs or enterprises with large outdoor deployments. For example, municipalities might wish to extend their fiber networks wirelessly, using fiber-to-wireless gateways. 802.11 meshes might also serve the outdoor portions of campus networks or all-outdoor enterprises such as construction sites.

Among the vendors that make products for these applications are BelAir Networks, Firetide, Nortel and Tropos Networks. Another company, RoamAD, also makes outdoor products, but currently sells them exclusively to the service provider market.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Sentiro Claims ENUM First

Light Reading - Networking the Telecom Industry

TWICKENHAM, U.K. -- Shortly after announcing the first ever-commercial Voice over broadband service using ENUM technology and the +87810 number range ( Sentiro Ltd. rolls out the first worldwide commercial ENUM service ) Sentiro have successfully completed calls between its own network and the free world dialup domain ( using ENUM as the peering protocol. Users on either network can seamlessly connect to each other without having to insert prefixes before dialling a number. This immediately improves the user experience and significantly increases the number of people they can call for free.

"This is the first step on the road to creating a truly global VoIP world as more and more networks and service providers enter in to peering agreements employing ENUM technology and the +87810 number range. Also, our Business users can now connect their IP-PBXs and benefit from expanding their business phone systems to multiple branch office sites, producing voice traffic calls between offices over an IP network with significant cost savings and ease of network administration. Dialling branch offices is as easy as calling an extension down the hall.," said Alex Nikolov, Technical Director at Sentiro.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Bell Canada urges CRTC to refrain from price regulation of VoIP

Files joint submission with Aliant, SaskTel and Telebec.

OTTAWA, June 18 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Radio-television and
Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) should refrain from regulating prices for
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services offered by Canada's established
phone companies, according to a joint submission being filed today by Aliant,
Bell Canada, SaskTel and Telebec.

'What we are opposed to are rules that stand in the way of delivering
competitively-priced services to customers' said Lawson Hunter, Executive Vice
President, Bell Canada Enterprises. 'However, we do support social regulation
such as access to 9-1-1 service and rights to privacy rules to the extent that
these protect customers and the public interest.'

more at CNW Telbec

Ireland: VoIP services could get '076' prefix
Friday, June 18 2004
by Matthew Clarkin

ComReg has initiated some of the first discussions on the regulation of voice over IP (VoIP) services, which may come with a new '076' prefix.

The regulator issued a consultation document on Thursday which, among other things, said that determining a numbering strategy for voice over Internet protocol (VoIP)services is a pressing matter. As such, ComReg proposed several solutions to the matter, including one that would see new VoIP customers receive phone numbers with an '076' prefix, in much the same way that mobile phone numbers have an '08x' prefix. services could get '076' prefix

They consultation document has also a section on ENUM, ENUM-enabled numbers and generic gateways.

So they listened very well to Michael and me 3 weeks ago ;-)

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Vonage grabs Country Code 0?

According to Jeff Pulver's Blog:

The Jeff Pulver Blog: How can I dial FWD(R) from Vonage?

"How do I dial Free World Dialup from Vonage?"
The answer is:
As long as you have international dialing enabled with your Vonage account, just dial: 011 0 393 FWD_Number.

This is very interesting and funny:

Fact: Vonage hi-jacked CC 0 for Internet use and assigned NDC 393 to FWD.
Nice try ;-)

The idea is not new and has been discussed in ITU SG2 various times,
but normally more decently requesting only a 3-digit CC for this purpose

Going directly for GoC 0 is heavy.

Do they already have requested a delegation in from RIPE?

How are NDCs assigned (first come, first served by Ed Guy's speadsheet?)
Is CC 0 fixed number length or variable?
How are 5-digit FWD numbers dialed? with a 0 in front?

BTW: How is sipphone now reached via Vonage?
Via 011 0 747 xxx xxxx or 011 1 747 xxx xxxx or 011 0 1 747 xxx xxxx

And Michael Haberler gets a nice one for at43: 011 0 011 xxxxxx ;-)

Now seriously:

If you look at the FWD webpage, you find the following information
on peering:

Partner Service Provider Access Numbers

What a mess. Consider now more then 1000 operators.

First you need to renumber and go for 4-digit numbers.

This trunk dialing between providers reminds me of the days in 1950 on trunk dialling before the introduced "Trunk Auto" (which means you could dial the same trunk code all over a country and not had different trunk codes in every city to reach another city).

Finally in 1970 they did the same internationally and called it International Subscriber Dialling (ISD) and defined it in CCITT Blue Book E.29, This developed until now to (guess what) ITU-T Rec. E.164.

I hope to get this back on track will not take another 50 years. We could somewhat shorten this time by using directly existing E.164 numbers. e.g. with ENUM (surprise, surprise)

One-Phone Service to be launched next week by Korea Telecom
By Kim Tae-gyu
Staff Reporter
06-16-2004 18:20

KoreaTimes : One-Phone Service to Be Launched Next Week

KT, Korea's dominant fixed-line operator, will kick off a one-phone service from next week, which will seamlessly switch between landline and wireless voice and data.

Under the new bundling service of KT, commercially known as "MU'', customers will be able to savor landline calls at home and mobile services outdoors, through a single phone.

"Our new offering will be a convenience to customers as a single phone can work over both fixed and mobile networks. Also, data throughput will be up to 10 times faster compared to the previous mobile connection in the house,'' said Chang Byung-soo, assistant vice president of KT.

People will be able to send or receive calls through KT's traditional fixed line at home and via the firm's wireless arm KTF's mobile network while on the move.

Samsung Electronics, the world's third-largest cell phone maker, has already developed terminals for the looming service and will crank them out from next week.

The price of the handset for MU will be around 600,000 won according to Chang and cheaper models will be released by the end of this year.

Chang said the one-phone service has been in trials for the past few months with about 870 users and as a result he expected there will be no notable teething problems.

The specific service schedule was enabled as the government gave a green light to the long-awaited service, dumping its hitherto-stance of preventing KT from offering such a bundling service.

In fear of KT's acceleration of dominance in the domestic telecom sector, the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) has been hesitant in giving the nod to the convergence service.

The Ministry, however, has changed its policy to help the nation take the global initiative in the emerging market and allowed the services on July 15.

"At the same time we permitted the one-phone service, we also mapped out several measures to bar KT from expanding its dominance in the telecom market via the bundling service,'' an MIC official said.

Under the anti-trust steps, KT basically cannot integrate landline bills with mobile ones and price discounts will be banned.

Also, the company is required to reveal service specifications and terminal information to those firms which try to enter the one-phone service market, to ensure fair competition.

KT, the former state monopoly, is the nation's indisputable telecom front-runner, accounting for more than 95 percent of the landline call market and upside of 50 percent of the broadband market.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

The war on VoIP is not over, it just has begun

The plot to disconnect VoIP

By Kevin Werbach
Special to ZDNet
June 16, 2004, 7:34 AM PT

COMMENTARY--Will May 19, 2004, be a date that lives in infamy for proponents of VoIP?

Two ominous developments took place on that day. The New York Public Service Commission declared Vonage to be a regulated telephone company. Meanwhile, several key companies pulled out of the inter-carrier compensation forum (ICF) that is attempting to negotiate a replacement for the outmoded access-charge regime. That brought the effort to the brink of collapse. These seemingly unrelated events illustrate the failings of the Federal Communications Commission's current piecemeal approach to VoIP, or voice over Internet Protocol. Though no one in Washington seems to want to make VoIP subject to legacy telecommunications regulations, we may be drifting in exactly that direction.

For more, see:
The plot to disconnect VoIP - News - ZDNet: "The plot to disconnect VoIP

Press Coverage from Yesterday's Senate Hearing

for a quite extensive press coverage see:

The Jeff Pulver Blog: Press Coverage from Yesterday's Senate Hearing

Major problems discussed of course:
CALEA, Emergency Services and Universal Service Funding

Cable & Wireless launches enterprise VoIP service

Cable & Wireless launches enterprise VoIP service - ZDNet UK News

Graeme Wearden
June 17, 2004, 15:25 BST

Internet telephony is a big issue for businesses this year, and Cable & Wireless want to merge separate voice and data networks onto a single IP infrastructure

Cable & Wireless is widening its range of corporate Internet telephony products by launching a voice over IP (VoIP) service for UK businesses.

It will be called Cable & Wireless IP Voice and the company says it will offer a better quality of service than is possible with VoIP connections that run over the public Internet. Cable & Wireless said the service is aimed at businesses that have operations at multiple sites and use separate private networks for voice and data at present, and who want to merge their traffic onto a single IP-based network.

Such a converged network should be easier to manage, and could also help companies to deploy services such as video-conferencing and unified messaging.

The telco expects voice to be the "killer application" that drives UK businesses towards the adoption of IP. "The next step in their journey to an integrated communications infrastructure is to migrate their voice networks to IP," said Royston Hoggarth, Cable & Wireless's UK chief executive.

Hoggarth claims that Cable & Wireless is the first UK telco to offer a managed VoIP service for businesses. IP Voice will be formerly launched in early July.

Many other telcos are taking VoIP increasingly seriously. BT last week announced that it is upgrading its network to support IP, which will eventually mean that every BT landline will offer Internet telephony -- although this may not always be obvious to the end user.

Several companies are already offering VoIP service in the UK to both individuals and businesses, including On Instant, Gossiptel and IPspeak.

Another contender entered the market earlier this week. Noodle will offer free calls to other VoIP phones, but subscribers will need to pay a monthly subscription of at least £4.95 per month and will als

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

'Naked DSL' - much more important than many realise

"Naked DSL" - much more important than many realise

Jan Dawson, Principal Analyst

The revelation by US ILEC Verizon that it has been offering so-called 'naked DSL' - or standalone DSL - to customers in some markets follows an announcement by fellow ILEC Qwest Communications in February that it would offer the service. In both cases, this has been a response to customer demand, and has been low key so far. However, offering naked DSL services has the potential to seriously dent incumbents' revenues - and not just in the US.

The phrase 'naked DSL' is used to refer to the situation where DSL is provided to an end user without a PSTN voice service running over the same copper wire. Both Verizon and Qwest have begun offering it because customers resent having to pay for a voice line they don't need just in order to have DSL service. Cable operators providing broadband, by contrast, make no such requirement, and it is precisely to fend off this threat that Verizon and Qwest are quietly acceding to their customers' requests.

So far, these services have tended to be provided at a slightly higher charge. Qwest, which publishes its prices for naked DSL on its website, charges $5 per month more for naked DSL than for DSL provided on a line which also has voice service running over it. This $5 charge helps to cover the shared costs for the maintenance of the local loop which would normally be covered through voice line rental charges.

However, although naked DSL is primarily offered as a defensive strategy, it could have nasty knock-on effects on other aspects of incumbents' businesses. Many customers see mobile for voice and DSL for Internet access as the ideal combination, but are forced to maintain both a fixed and a mobile voice subscription in order to receive DSL service. Once this barrier is broken down, we could see rapid abandonment of the PSTN voice line in favour of mobile.

The other hit incumbents will take is from voice over IP. Once users are convinced that VoIP offers a carrier-grade service, they will be able to drop their PSTN lines and use VoIP for their calls from home and office and mobile for their calls outside the home. The combined threat of line losses to mobile and VoIP explains the reluctance of ILECs to make more noise about their naked DSL services.

Anecdotal evidence suggests there is considerable pent-up demand for naked DSL - online DSL user groups abound with messages from disgruntled customers bemoaning their inability to drop their PSTN lines. Now that the news has got out, many of these customers could rush to drop their PSTN voice lines in favour of, say, Vonage.

Things could get even worse if regulators intervened to enforce the provision of naked DSL. The current situation must be one of only very few where regulators are willing to permit "over-bundling" - users being forced to pay for a service they don't want in order to receive a service they do want. How long will it be before a proactive regulator steps in and forces an incumbent to provide naked DSL? I'd give you good odds that at least one will do it within the next 12-18 months.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Lucky warns of end-user broadband expectations

EE Times -Lucky warns of end-user broadband expectations

By Loring Wirbel
EE Times
March 31, 2004 (8:00 PM EST)

SAN FRANCISCO - Former Bellcore and Telcordia Research head Robert Lucky warned of the end-user expectations for 'free' service as a key factor affecting future telecom recovery.

At the keynote speech Wednesday (March 31) for the Communication Design Conference, Lucky said that free services have different and sometimes contradictory meanings in wireline and wireless environments. Using the example of Voice Over Internet Protocol's impact on circuit-switched voice service, Lucky said that the telecom market's primary problem is that 'no one knows what anything costs.'

'Telecom may be heading the way of DRAMs, where the price is set by the most idiotic competitor,' Lucky said. 'It's a race to the bottom, and the bottom in this case is free service.'

Lucky said that he was concerned that VoIP service providers like Vonage and Skype were forcing incumbent carriers to offer free VoIP services, "like lemmings going into the sea." It may be true that end-to-end IP networks offer slightly lower costs than circuit-switched networks, he said, but user expectations of a free lunch mean that no one pays for infrastructure maintenance.

Lucky said that even though he spent his career in the telephony realm dominated by a centralized Advanced Intelligent Network, he believed in the inevitability of a dumb central fabric and intelligent end nodes. The overall costs may be more in a connectionless packet-switched network, he said, but the empowerment provided to end users makes IP a better system " provided end users realize that some costs must be borne by users and service providers to maintain backbones of the system.

One power of wireless networks, he said, is that they can come closer to a true free network, albeit not in the model of auctioning licensed spectrum. The 3G auctions in Europe ended up costing European carriers more than it would have cost to provide fiber to every end user in Europe, he said.

The real advantage of wireless networks will come in next-generation cognitive radio, adaptive antennas, MIMO systems, ultra-wideband systems, and other technologies that assume that waves in the same frequency band are not interferers " interference is merely a property of the receiver design. With broad spectrum re-use, future wireless services will win out by coming closer to the user's expectation of virtually free provisioning of service.

But will broadband growth slow in the future? Lucky said he saw some market saturation already becoming apparent in Asia, particularly in Korea and China. If bandwidth, storage, and processing are close to free, he said, then content will have to be the driver. Based on current digital rights management policies of organizations like Motion Picture Association of America and Recording Industry Association of America, he said, interest in broadband services will slow up, and citizens will be left with the fox (owners of content rights under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act) guarding the henhouse.

Two social visions are competing in deciding telecom's future, Lucky said. The "field of dreams" camp believes that end users should simply be provided with 100 Mbits/sec per user, and applications will emerge through capability. Social engineering camps believe that social goals, such as the desire to have half of all workers be telecommuters, should drive broadband policy. In either event, better models of how costs are borne by society must help determine policy, he said.

"We still can't say for sure, were we hit by a truly perfect storm, or are the characteristics of the telecommunications business just no good any more?" Lucky said.

Kevin Werbach: the first 21st-century phone company

Not Vonage or Skype?


"I think we're watching the birth of the the first 21st-century phone company. A telco that virtualizes and outsources everything, except for a core IP backbone and a set of valuable business relationships and expertise. A company built for an all-VOIP, converged, wired/wireless telecom industry.

Not Vonage or Skype. I'll give you a hint: it was also the first great 20th century phone company. It's AT&T.

AT&T is hollowing itself out -- and that's a good thing. Under Dave Dorman, AT&T has invested heavily in building a true all-IP backbone and deploying VOIP offerings. Following the sale of AT&T Wireless to Cingular and AT&T's subsequent deal with Sprint PCS, AT&T is poised to offer a full suite of wireless offerings without the cost of owning a cellular network. And it is still the biggest player in the lucrative business services market, with a national brand second to none.

Not that there aren't challenges. AT&T's consumer long-distance business is dying. Its efforts to preserve government-mandated wholesale discounts are collapsing. The FCC shot down its attempt to treat VOIP backbone traffic an information service, exempt from paying access charges. It faces big competitors like Verizon, SBC, and Comcast, who control the last-mile pipes into the home. It still has plenty of fat and legacy infrastructure. And the company has more than its share of self-inflicted wounds. There is no guarantee AT&T will survive the next five years as an independent company.

Nonetheless, the AT&T of today comes closer than any of its rivals to my vision of the phone company of tomorrow. "

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Sentiro Launches Global ENUM Service

Light Reading - Networking the Telecom Industry

TWICKENHAM, U.K. -- Sentiro Ltd. announced today the availability of the first worldwide ENUM provisioning, directory and voice service.

ENUM introduces the revolutionary possibility of putting the routing decision of telephone calls outside of the chassis of telephone switches and put it into the hands of end-users. Anyone using ENUM would be able to redirect personal or business phone calls to their preferred VoIP or traditional (PSTN or mobile) networks. Additionally, it can provide other forms of communication, such as email, SMS, web and location based services.

Using a worldwide available numbering plan endorsed by the I.T.U. and delegated by RIPE, Sentiro has taken ENUM from the academic exercise to the commercial phase.

+878107472 becomes the first telephone number range providing worldwide portability for voice, email, SMS and web.
Sentiro provides the opportunity for developing an open information society and ENUM is an enabler for convergence of the PSTN and the Internet. It solves the problems of portability and addresses the issue of global connectivity.

Sentiro's soon to be launched global Voice over Broadband service will provide users with free on net calls, low international call rates and unified communications on a monthly subscription basis.

"The speed of getting to a new market with industry standardized solutions like ENUM is critical. AG Projects have helped Sentiro to deliver an efficient solution for the management of ENUM records and SIP subscribers complemented by CDR mediation and NAT traversal systems," said Vincent Bergin, Director, Sentiro Ltd.

Adrian Georgescu, founder of AG Project says: “We know we have breached the hull of a new era. The Telecom industry, as we know it today has been changed irreversibly by Sentiro’s initiative. This move will cause dramatic changes in the way business is done in the industry. Other effects will become soon visible. Moving the intelligence of the network to the end-user terminals will make the business more efficient and cost effective. There is no threat for the industry in providing more affordable services to the market. This will cause the explosion of new services necessary for the revival of the telecom sector and migration to the Next Generation Networks.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

BT announces network transformation timetable

-Mass migration of customers from PSTN to IP based network to begin in 2006
-Majority of customers' PSTN services on IP network by 2008
-Trials of voice services on IP network and fibre to the premises announced
-Increase in customer choice, control and service flexibility

BT today set out the timetable for the transformation of its UK networks. It announced a five year programme to underpin the next generation of converged, multimedia communications services. Mass migration of customers onto the new network will begin in 2006 with the majority due to be completed in 2008.

... see more:
BT announces network transformation timetable (June 9, 2004):

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Big Bang

VON Magazine :: Web Exclusives :: PCCW's UK wireless VoIP play: "Web Exclusives
PCCW's UK wireless VoIP play

6.2.04 | Doug Mohney

PCCW, a telephone company out of Hong Kong, took its first steps earlier this month to conquer Great Britain's phone and broadband markets with the launch of its NETVIGATOR ( wireless broadband service in six areas in the Thames Valley. Initial speeds to home and office are available at 512Kbps and 1 Mbps at Pound 18 for 512kbits/s and Pound 28 for 1Megabit/s on the basis of a 12-month contract AFTER a month's free trial. Such aggressive pricing is likely to cause BT and UK cable companies more than a few squeamish moments once the service starts rolling out across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Senior VP of Strategy and Marketing Paul Berriman sounded confident about the prospects for the NETVIGATOR service as he presented PCCW's plans at a wireless forum in Washington DC sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission two weeks ago. In a strategic move, PCCW has acquired all 13 licenses in the 3.4 GHz band across the UK and Northern Ireland, allowing them national coverage of Great Britain without having to run wires to millions of households. Back-end support is based back in the home offices of Hong Kong on systems already handling the accounts of 700,000 Hong Kong broadband users. Since the UK is expected to add 2.1 million new broadband subscribers in 2004 (double the total HK market), Britain is a great place for PCCW to make some bucks.

Initial wireless coverage for the "soft launch" is around 280,000 households. The wireless modem comes packaged as either an external box or PC-Card that doesn't require line-of-site or external antennas "in most cases" according to their website and has an install time under 3 minutes. If you don't pick up a box at the local outlet, they claim they will ship one to your doorstep within 24 hours of ordering from the web site.

Once established, the VoIP fun begins. PCCW plans to drop in a Voice over IP offering as a phase two offering, so they will likely end up stealing phone call service dollars from BT in short order. Initial targets are home power-users and small businesses that only have narrowband access today.

Within two years, PCCW plans to offer service for up to 75% of the UK population, with coverage extending to major urban areas and almost-major urban areas. The plan would put over 2,200 sites across the UK (3 base stations per site to cover 360 degrees) and anywhere between 7,000 to 9,000 households per site. One of the few obstacles encountered in the initial rollout is the headaches involved dealing with BT to provision high-speed backhaul circuits in a timely fashion to base stations.

High End Handsets - A Potential Threat - Mako Analysis

Can Telecoms firms outsmart new handsets? - Irish Times

Mako Analysis - Research, Analysis and Bespoke Consulting for the Mobile Industry

The Nokia 6600, N-Gage, 3650, 7650, Siemens SX1, Sony Ericsson P800 and P900, just a selection of devices that are currently available on the market that allow an entire range of new revenue generating services to be installed on the device. When taken at face vale this seems like an excellent development for the mobile industry, but in many cases however, a savvy user can use this open operating system to completely bypass a range of services that are normally charged for by their mobile operator.

UK based mobile consultancy Mako Analysis, are the first to publicly highlight this potential threat and state that devices that run on Symbian’s Series 60 operating system could be a significant worry in the wrong hands (Richard: why wrong hands?). This operating system functions in a similar fashion to a Microsoft Windows PC, the user can install new applications and pieces of software as well as uploading all manner of consumer content such as ringtones and java games. The crucial element of this scenario is the potential impact on the mobile operator community. From simple content such as ringtones to complete service offerings such as Mobile Music or Instant Messaging, an open operating system can bypass and therefore potentially eliminate any revenue from these services.

What is the Nature of the Threat?

Mako Analysis states that while penetration of these devices is currently low, the success of terminals such as the Nokia 6600 mean that the threat will only grow over time and that operators need to consider how they are going to deal with the problem before it is too late. The consultancy has highlighted a few examples of how these devices pose a threat to the various revenue streams of a mobile operator:

If we were to take the example of a consumer who uses text messaging extensively; at present this user spends a significant amount of money per month purely on messaging his circle of friends. If this user purchases a Nokia 6600 for example there are several ways of by passing the standard text messaging method and significantly reducing his bill spend. Firms such as Fastchat for example offer an application that allows users to communicate via text in an instant messaging style format for a completely flat rate of approx £5 per month. This application also allows users to send brief voice messages to each other in the same fashion as a Push-to-Talk service. (Richard: £5 per month for messaging?)

Mobile Music
With several major launches underway, the ability to listen to music on your mobile phone and download it whilst on the move is current hot topic. The commercial offerings currently charge per track downloaded as well as the packets of data used to transport the file to the device. Generating two revenue streams for the mobile operator in question. A current criticism of the service at present is that the tracks that have been downloaded are not easily transferred to other mediums. For example a consumer does not want to pay for a track to be downloaded to their mobile and then have to purchase that same track again if they wish to listen to it at home on their CD player.

If a consumer has a Series 60 device there are several MP3 players that can be downloaded to their device for a small one off fee. Once they have the player on the device, MP3 tracks can be moved over to the phone’s memory card for free by using Bluetooth, infrared or a USB connection cable. Given the widespread knowledge of acquiring or creating MP3’s free of charge, particularly in the youth segments that are being targeted by mobile operators, the potential to bypass mobile operator solutions is significant.

With Java gaming generating the second highest non-SMS data ARPU after ringtones, its importance to the future of the mobile operator is becoming increasingly important.

The role an open platform environment is multiple in the mobile gaming space; java games can be downloaded free of charge from the Internet and then transferred to the phone via USB, Bluetooth or infrared in the same fashion as other applications. Perhaps what is most alarming however is that if a user knows to look in the right place, full Nokia N-Gage games can be sourced and downloaded free of charge and made to work on a Nokia 6600. Our team have seen several N-Gage Games such as Tomb Raider and Sonic the Hedgehog (games with a 35-40 Euro value) working perfectly on a Nokia 6600. The titles require a small conversion application and use of the on board memory card as they can be up to 8Mb in size.

Phone Personalisation
The largest non-SMS data revenue generating income source for mobile operators at present are phone personalisation features such as ringtones, screen savers, wallpaper and “themes” that change the entire look of the feel of the device interface.

Once again, after conducting a brief search on the Internet Mako were able to find whole libraries of this content free of charge. Given the sizable memory card that is generally supplied with series 60 devices Mako were able to store vast amounts of content on the device and vary the whole look and sound of the terminal on a frequent basis.

A Mako Analysis spokesman said, “As we have shown, the increasing sophistication of high-end mobile devices opens up a range of additional problems and will continue to undermine the data revenue streams of mobile operators at a time when they desperately need them to be increasing. As with any new device feature, it will eventually infiltrate into medium and low-end terminals, in the case of practically every other advancement this would be welcomed. This historical approach has lead us to blindly encourage the addition of increasingly sophisticated devices throughout the range, in the case of open platform operating systems our approach surely has to be one of caution.”

He went on to conclude, “While Series 60 operating systems allow us to create a multitude of sophisticated business and consumer services and distribute them to the devices with ease, the threat of the intelligent user bypassing pay to use portals altogether will only increase over time and must be addressed.

Richard: Mako of course completely missed the VoIP applications possible on such general purpose devices. Or maybe they wanted to give the shock to the mobile operators in small doses and keep something for the next report?

Danny O'Brien from the Irish Times got this and stated:

Even the most basic monopoly that the mobile companies possess may vanish once smartphones become prevalent. A smart enough phone can run a VoIP programm - which means when those long distance calls are too expensive, you will be able to sneak your phone calls over your phone's 2.5 or 3G internet connection instead.

Now phone companies have some tricks to stop this kind of activity.

The ones who haven't waited for Mako to tell them the obvoius are already considering them. Hiking up the price of that internet connectivity is one obvious trick.

Except that means hiking up the price of everyones's data connectivity. Do that, and the price of data will suddenly become a point of competition between providers.

Or you could engineer ways to filter or ban such uses of your mobile phone. Such steps are common when open system enter closed markets.

While they provide opportunities, they threaten existing business models (sic)

History is of the side of those who exploit the opportunities.

It requires a great deal of change in business practices. And it may mean that some companies go to the wall.

And the writing on the wall is: give the consumer what they want.

Give them something else when they have alternatives (Richard: WiFi and WiMAX) is the road to ruin in a market economy.

When you deny your customers choice, they exercise the only choice they have left: They choose to be ex-customers.

Carrier ENUM Gains Ground

Light Reading - Networking the Telecom Industry

An industry is quietly forming around carriers' use of ENUM, a standard protocol for resolving phone numbers into IP addresses. Originally developed to link consumers' phone numbers to various IP services, the protocol is instead proving useful for interconnecting carriers' voice-over-IP (VOIP) networks. (see Cable Cadre Talks VOIP ).

The so-called carrier ENUM business is poised to take off in parallel with VOIP services. That’s because ENUM lets carriers interconnect VOIP networks directly and avoid access fees for transmitting calls over the public switched telephone network (PSTN).

Consider the following hypothetical scenario. A user of Vonage Holdings Corp.’s VOIP service calls a user of 8x8 Inc.’s VOIP service, and the call must travel over AT&T Corp.’s PSTN network to get from one VOIP network to the other. As a result, Vonage incurs a fee. But if 8x8 puts its customers’ phone numbers in an ENUM registry, the call from Vonage can trigger a query to the registry, find the target phone number, and connect directly to 8x8’s network without crossing the PSTN.

The owner of that registry stands to make money from such interconnections. Just ask VeriSign Inc., which has made millions of dollars from its Domain Name System (DNS) business. On May 3, the company introduced MSO-IP Connect, a service that uses the ENUM and Call Management Server Signaling (CMSS) protocols to route VOIP calls between cable operators and other VOIP carriers through a secure system (see VeriSign Vamps Up VOIP ). VeriSign charges an annual fee for the service. The company is developing ENUM registries to interconnect IP-PBX systems and wireless networks, too.

“There are islands of VOIP,” says Tom Kershaw, VP of next-generation networks at VeriSign. “And those islands need a trusted third party to connect with each other. When you default back to the PSTN, a lot of the features of VOIP don’t work, like you can’t do video or collaborative workflow. So, having an end-to-end VOIP connection is critical to enabling the service suite.”

Stealth Communications Inc., a New York-based ISP, in April added an ENUM registry to its Voice Peering Fabric (VPF), an exchange that lets VOIP carriers buy and sell minutes (see ENUM Registry Launches ). With the new service, VOIP carriers can not only buy the right to route calls over each other’s networks, but also look up numbers on each other’s networks to interconnect calls. “There are about 1.2 million numbers in our ENUM registry,” says Shrihari Pandit, CEO of Stealth Communications, which charges a monthly fee for use of the VPF.

Some carriers are opting to run their own ENUM registries, and Lowell, Mass.-based NetNumber Inc. sells software that lets them do it. “Our vision has always been to use the basic ENUM standard to create a standardized base of products that can be used by operators and carriers internally for their own use or for use between carriers,” says Glenn Marschel, CEO of NetNumber.

Some of NetNumber’s largest sales have been to wireless operators that use ENUM to look up local number portability (LNP) information in other carriers’ databases. The protocol is also useful for transmitting Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) messages from one wireless network to another.

Such uses of ENUM stray far from the original purpose of the protocol, which was developed to enable public registries in which anyone could list their ENUM address and phone numbers (see Internet Gets Phone Numbers ). By registering, people could establish a single address that could route calls to multiple VOIP phone numbers or IP addresses.

Standards bodies, government regulators, and industry consortiums have been testing public ENUM registries around the world for five years, but demand for such services has yet to materialize (see N. Americans Plan ENUM Directory ). “No one has figured out why a user would want to register,” says Marschel at NetNumber. Though public ENUM efforts continue, carrier ENUM is on track to outpace it.

(Share your views on the Enum Phenum. Take our June Research Poll: ENUM: Vital for VOIP?)

— Justin Hibbard, Senior Editor, Light Reading

Being in a Broadband Developing Country

The last two days I stayed in Ireland and was nearly totally disconnected, although I stayed in a first class hotel (Herbert Park, located just between the British and the American Embassy), they had no broadband connection in the room (only TV based Internet).

Of course you could go down to the "Business Room", featuring to IBM PCs with BBB (Bonsai BroadBand), but costing a fortune: 26 Euro/h (in word TWENTY SIX PER HOUR). This was the most expensive Internet hour I had in my life and the connection was very slow (I suspect ISDN). Asking for Hotspoz nearby I got the answer that some of the Pubs have it on the door, but it never works - maybe it because of the location between the two embassies - in front of the American sometimes even mobile phone do not work ;-)

So I was really happy when I finally reached the Airport announcing free WiFi access.
There where even two companies providing access in the coffee shop: Eircom and BT. I started with Eircom (being in Ireland), but the signal strength was very low and the speed was very slow (I tried to download a 1MB ppt attachment duding 1 hour and failed)

Finally the signal got so weak (no idea why, I did not move), so the laptop swiched over to BT, which was also weak and slow). So I gave up and went to the gate, which I shold have done earlier, because there was finally a third company O2 providing a decent access, so I could finally download the ppt). But now my Laptop ran out of battery, so I had to search for a power plug. So I ended up sitting on the floor in front of the toilet.

Being now in London, things have improved. The hotel (Copthorne Tara) also does not have internet access in the room, but WiFi in the Lounge (and I also found a power plug).

It is of course not free, but 36 Pounds a week, which is still a rip-off, but kind of an improvement to Ireland.

BTW, the cable operator in Ireland announced yesterday it will provide Internet via cable very soon. Maybe then VoIP will also be possible in Ireland.

Cyberphones Are No Longer Just For Nerds

Connecticut News - State, National and World News from Today's Hartford Courant - FROM TODAY'S COURANT:

Internet Calling Has Improved In Quality, Tickling The Mainstream Communications Industry

May 31, 2004
By JOHN M. MORAN, Courant Staff Writer

Internet phone calling started out as a cheap way for computer nerds to avoid traditional long-distance rates. The calls were free, but sound quality was scratchy and both parties needed computers, speakers and microphones to complete the online voice connection.

Now, roughly a decade later, phone calling using Internet technology has significantly improved and is quickly going mainstream - threatening to rattle the multibillion-dollar telephone industry and to dramatically reshape personal and business communications.


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