Thursday, September 23, 2004

Jeff is giving the CRTC a ticking-off

Jeff Pulver gave yesterday his testimony to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunication Commission (CRTC) regarding the Regulatory Framework for Vioce Communications Services Using Internet Protocol.

And it was great as usual - congratulations. And Jeff are not only supporting the pioneers and innovators, you are also supporting the incumbents ;-)

I like especially this part (of course among others):

"Having said that, I think it is important that we not prejudice a company based on its DNA. The CRTC should allow incumbent telecom carriers the same latitude to offer IP-based broadband services largely free of onerous regulations. Frankly, these are the companies with the deep pockets to invest in new infrastructure and to seed innovation. The default presumption should be that regulation need not apply. If a potential monopolist demonstrates that it cannot play fair, then it should be slapped silly."

This is completely along the lines what Telekom Austria is trying to tell the European Commission how providers with Significant Market Power (SMP) should be treated in this new market.

What you are really doing is to give the regulators a ticking-off to do their job as basically intended by law:

"In Europe e.g. the aims of the “New” Regulatory Framework and the derived national Telecommunication Laws are:
-fostering of competition in the telecommunication arena,
-to ensure the adequate supply of the population and the economy,
-with reasonably priced, high quality and innovative communication services;

reached by different measures of regulation,

-but these measures should be to a large extent technology neutral,
-and innovative technologies and services as well as new emerging markets should only be regulated (ex-post) to avoid distortion of competition and to reach the above aims."

(and NOT by protecting service providers or technologies
especially NOT specific service providers or specific technologies.)

Some if them already got the message and are acting or trying to act accordingly (see US, UK, Austria, Singapore, ...), others may need some more tutorials. BTW, my experience is that regulators dealing for some time also with ENUM-issues seem to be more advanced regading VoIP and Internet-issues in general ;-)

Of course Jeff is tackling the complete scenario, so for the complete
story see The Jeff Pulver Blog: My Testimony at the CRTC

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Singapore: Proposed Policy Framework for IP Telephony and Electronic Numbering

James Seng reports in his Blog
from The APEC TEL NGN Brainstorming session. During this session he as IDA representative also announced the Proposed Policy Framework for IP Telephony and Electronic Numbering in Singapore released today and open for public consultation.

As part of its continuing efforts to engage the public in policy development to benefit the infocomm industry, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) seeks views on the policy framework to facilitate the introduction of Internet Protocol (IP) Telephony and Electronic Numbering (ENUM) in Singapore...more..

Some highlights:

1. IP Telephony will classified under SBO(Individual) license instead of the more heavy FBO license.

2. Licensee is entitled to apply numbers in a new number block +65 3xxx xxxx.

3. Optional interconnection with PSTN, no QoS, no emergency service and no universal obligation.

I have not studied the paper yet in detail, but knowing James, it will be an interesting reading ;-)

ITU-T Ranking Economies by Broadband Penetration

ITU-T released the latest report, "The Portable Internet" in conjunction with ITU TELECOM Asia 2004, which was held last week in Busan, Republic of Korea.

In the ITU Strategy and Policy Unit Newslog an extrect of the report can be found, showing the leading 15 broadband countries.

It is quite inteesting to compare this new statistic from January 2004 with the one from 2002.

The 3 top ranks are the same:
1. Korea
2. Hongkong, China
3. Canada

Iceland moved up from rank 7 to 4, overtaking Taiwan, Denmark and Belgium.
Belgium and Denmark exchanged places.

8. Japan, moving up from Rank 14.
9. Netherlands, moving up 1 from 10
10. Switzerland, moving up from 13
11. Sweden, moving down from 8
12. Singapore, moving down 1 from 11
13. United States, moving down from 9
14. Finland, new
15. Norway, new

Dropped out are the Bahamas (from 12) and, I am sorry to say, Austria (from 15).

Since all countries have IT and Broadband Strategies, which should catapult the country in the top ten or five, one can only remark "Sorry, some strategies sem not to be good enough".

Friday, September 17, 2004

Cisco Bigwig Joins Skype Board

Jeff Pulver pointed on his Blog to a story on The by Scott Moritz I also consider very interesting.

Jeff : "I just read a story on which said that a senior Cisco executive, Mike Volpi, has joined the board of Skype.

Now things are starting to get...shall we say...interesting?

Cisco, the company that has yet to meet a protocol that it doesn't like may very well be working with Skype to implement their non-standard firewall piercing technology into their family of routers and other edge devices. This would be a move that would keep Skype technology proprietary and give both them and Cisco the edge in delivering real-time communication services in what would otherwise be hostile working enviornments"

Friday, September 10, 2004

Korea IT 8-3-9 Stategy:

James Seng met my old friend Shin from National Internet Development Agency (NIDA), formerly known as KRNIC. NIDA is now a government organization under Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC)

Shin gave James an interesting booklet published by MIC on their IT 8-3-9 Strategy (The Road to $20,000 GDP/capita), a brainchild of their IT Minister Daeje Chin (formerly VP of Samsung).

Basically, IT 8-3-9 Strategy involves:

(1) Introducing and promoting Eight Services: WiBro (Wireless Broadband), DBM, Home Network Services, Telemantics Services, RFID-based Services, W-CDMA Services, Terrestrial D-TV Services and IP Telephony Services;

(2) Building Three Infrastructure: BcN (Broadband Convergence Network), U-Sensor Network and NGN Protocol (IPv6);

(3) and Development of Nine IT New Growth Engines: NG Mobile Communication, Digital TV, Home Network, IT SoC (System-on-Chip), Next-Generation PC, Embedded Software, Digital Contents, Telematics and Intelligent Service Robot.

The information and the booklet can be found at :: Ministry of Information and Communication ::

James comment: "Interesting stuff..."

I can only agree

Thursday, September 09, 2004

VoIP going Retail

Sep 8, 2004
Source: Reed Business Information

TWICE via NewsEdge Corporation : New York-- VoIP telephony continued its march onto retail shelves with three new deals inked last week by AT&T, StarNet and 8x8."

AT&T: CallVantage with Amazon and BestBuy
8x8: Packet9 Videophone with Premiere Wireless Solutions
Starnet: VoiceEclipse with Small World Communications

Americas Network - AT&T, 8x8, StarNet Push VoIP To Retail

ENUM goes commercial in Austria - English Version

On August 24 GmbH concluded the operations contract for the Austrian ENUM service (

see also here

Now the promised English version of the contract is available and also the press release.

Congress Hangs Up on VoIP for 2004
September 3, 2004
By Roy Mark

Federal legislation to exempt Internet telephony from state regulations and tariffs has all but failed in the 108th Congress, ending an ambitious effort to carve out and protect Internet-related issues from looming, and highly uncertain, telecom reform.

Congress Hangs Up on VoIP for 2004

Monday, September 06, 2004

Handset makers tout Wi-Fi, GSM roaming spec

Handset makers tout Wi-Fi, GSM roaming spec | The Register

By Tony Smith
Published Monday 6th September 2004 11:10 GMT

Fourteen mobile phone makers, telcos and others announced their intention to publish specifications that they claim will allow 802.11-equipped handsets to make calls via Wi-Fi hotspots.

Essentially it's all about roaming. The agreement should ensure that a handset within range of an WLAN access point can dial a phone number and be successfully patched through, irrespective of who owns the hotspot, its Internet connection and all the other elements in the chain along which the call is passed.

The specifications and the group behind them are called Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA). Yes, that use of 'unlicensed' does bring in other wireless technologies, including Bluetooth and, presumably, in due course UWB.

It's in no one industry player's interest not to ensure such scope for roaming, of course, so used have mobile phone users become used to making calls from one country to another, and from one network to another.

Still, it's important to have the foundation for such efforts codified and those rules back by key industry members. In this case, all the handset makers - Nokia, Siemens, Sony Ericsson, Motorola - and a number of major networks - mmO2, Cingular, T-Mobile USA, AT&T and BT - plus kit makers Ericsson, Alcatel, Nokia (again), Siemens (ditto) and Motorola (likewise).

The UMA group said it is committed to working with the 3GPP to persuade the standards body to adopt the UMA specifications as the basis for its own Wi-Fi-to-GSM roaming and handover standard.


Brits Prepare for VOIP Deluge

Light Reading - Networking the Telecom Industry

U.K. telecom regulator Office of Communications (Ofcom) effectively gave the green light to voice-over-broadband competition today by ruling that service providers could provide geographic numbers (ones with area codes) to VOIP customers (see Ofcom Speaks Out On VOIP ).

The regulator believes VOIP will benefit users from both a service and cost perspective, and that an increasingly competitive wholesale market and the relatively cheap cost of entry for startups should ensure a 'wide range of providers.'

Ofcom also believes that providing geographic numbers for VOIP will also boost competition, as it will make it easier for users to switch from their current telephony provider and retain their number. The regulator has also created a new, non-geographic code, 056, specifically for VOIP.


Ofcom to encourage the development of new voice services

Ofcom Website | Ofcom to encourage the development of new voice services

Ofcom today published its approach to new voice services, including Voice over Broadband (VoB) phone services which deliver calls over the internet rather than via traditional telephone networks.

Ofcom believes that the emergence of these services will offer important benefits to consumers. Call costs should reduce significantly; where a call connects from one VoB service to another, the only cost to the consumer is typically a standard monthly fee, regardless as to whether the call is to the next town or to the other side of the world.

New voice services also offer consumers the prospect of innovative features currently the preserve of large corporations, such as sophisticated call handling and messaging, multi-party conference calls and video calls.

Additionally, the comparatively low cost of the technology required means that the barriers to entry for new companies are lower than those in traditional switched-circuit telephony. Ofcom believes that those advantages, coupled with increasing competition in the wholesale broadband market, are likely to mean that consumers will benefit from the choice of a wide range of providers.

Ofcom’s approach is intended to minimise the regulatory burden associated with the creation and delivery of new voice services whilst ensuring that providers benefit from fair and effective competition in the infrastructure markets upon which they will depend.

Ofcom has therefore today:

-Set out the telephone numbering available for new voice services, allowing providers to:

--Offer their customers geographic phone numbers (beginning with 01 or 02), making it easier to switch from a traditional service to a VoB service, for example, without having to change telephone number.

--Offer their customers a non-geographic phone number beginning with a new code, 056, which would not be linked to any location and could be used anywhere in the country.

-Published a consumer guide to new voice services, granted a Crystal Mark by the Plain English Campaign.

-Begun a public consultation on the appropriate level of consumer protection measures which should apply to new voice services. Traditional fixed-line telephony services comply with regulatory conditions stipulating near-guaranteed access to essential services such as 999. The consultation asks to what extent these requirements would be proportionate and appropriate in the case of internet-based voice services and how consumers should be informed of the new services’ capabilities. The consultation will close on Monday 15 November 2004.

Ofcom Chief Executive, Stephen Carter said: "Broadband voice services are a new and emerging market. Our first task as regulator is to keep out of the way.”

He added: “As the market develops, we will ensure that consumers are appropriately informed and protected.”

See also:

The Register: Ofcom sets out stall on VoIP UK regulator announces approach to VoIP services

Scott Bradner on Michael Powell (FCC) in Aspen

The Internet is not a new telephone

The Internet is not a new telephone

By Scott Bradner
Network World, 09/06/04


Powell was interviewed on the first day of the summit. (See a conference agenda with links to streaming video of the talks). He said a bunch of things that a market-oriented crowd would applaud and that sounded a bit out of place coming from the chair of the FCC, with its three-quarters of a century of assuming that regulations will cure all ills.

Powell said that the FCC was changing. He said he took over "an agency that principally looks backward and tried to inculcate it with a culture that looks forward." My observation is that the FCC still feels rather more comfortable in looking at past regulatory glory than permitting the future.

Powell said that a "real question facing the country is: 'Is the Internet going to common carriage or not?'" He defined common carriage as "government intervention in the prices, terms and conditions under which service is offered." Later he said that the "seminal question is: 'Do we convert the Internet into a big black telephone only because we are too lazy or not intellectually creative enough to do something other than just export what we are used to?'"

Powell said he would like the basic regulatory assumption to be reversed - instead of someone convincing the regulators not to regulate (because that almost never sticks). He asked: "Why shouldn't the government be the one with the burden of proof [to regulate]?" Why shouldn't a clear need for regulation be shown before any regulation can be imposed?

This sounds, at least to me, like good stuff, and it seems like Powell was not just playing to the crowd. He talks this way and acts this way quite often, but he has some trouble translating this philosophy into action. Far too often he seems to act on principle rather than on the real world. This is especially true when it comes to regulations about people trying to compete with incumbent phone companies. His proposals ignore the last century of government-enforced rules requiring citizens to pay many times over to build a ubiquitous telecom infrastructure. He seems to think that it would be easy for other companies to overcome that head start. Sometimes by looking back you can figure out the present is not simple.

Powell said that "the Internet is something different - it's not a new telephone." True enough, but we cannot pretend that there are no phones or any phone legacy as we set the stage for the future.


Thursday, September 02, 2004

Philadelphia wants to go wireless

Philadelphia Inquirer | 09/02/2004 | Another first for city? Street seeks wireless Web access for everyone

By Murray Dubin
Inquirer Staff Writer

If the plan works, a tourist could access movie listings on a laptop in Rittenhouse Square, a Penn student could e-mail her parents from the White Dog Cafe, and a cabbie could Web-surf on a break at the Melrose Diner.

The plan would also eliminate a digital divide between rich and poor and enhance the city's image as a technological leader.

To that end, the Street administration announced yesterday that it wants Philadelphia to be the nation's first major city with wireless access to the Internet everywhere within its borders.

Mayor Street has named a 17-member Wireless Committee to investigate the feasibility of the plan and report back to him by November.

If the committee reports that the wireless plan makes financial sense and can be sustained annually, installation of the necessary hardware on city light poles will begin in February, said Dianah Neff, the city's chief information officer. She said the work would take a year and cost about $10 million.

Neff likened the possible effect of wireless communication across the city's 135 square miles to the impact of "the Internet in the '90s."

She said the committee would look at businesses, schools, residents and tourists and how this new outdoor wireless technology would affect them. She said that Street wanted some aspect of the technology to remain free to residents, but that the committee would also look at possible fees for use, funding sources, and partnerships with businesses.

She added: "We will create a wireless-communications infrastructure that will offer solutions and benefits to students who don't live on campus, as well as to parents and small businesses who otherwise would not be able to access the World Wide Web."

The technology that she described would permit anyone with a laptop computer or a handheld device such as a BlackBerry to have high-speed access to the Internet from any outdoor location in the city, from Citizens Bank Park to a back deck in Andorra. The technology, which would require 1,000 to 2,000 shoe-box-size hardware boxes on light poles, would be designed for outdoor use but "might bleed" indoors, she said, meaning that a laptop-computer user in the kitchen as well as one on the front porch could use it.

Remark: and of course iFI Phones ;-)

Asked how profit-making wireless providers such as Comcast and Verizon might feel about that, she said the committee was studying the issue. "We're not doing this behind closed doors," she added.

She said she would meet with both companies.

"Philadelphia hasn't had a first in technology since the Univac," Street said in a statement, referring to the first computer designed for commercial use, built in a city factory in 1951.

"Just like roads and transportation were keys to our past, a digital infrastructure and wireless technology are keys to our future," Street said.

Neff said the mayor insisted that the project be "cost-neutral" to the city - which means that the committee will also explore funding sources from foundations, private businesses, and the federal government. She added that the money needed to sustain the technology was expected to be $1.5 million a year.

Edward Schwartz, president of the nonprofit Institute for the Study of Civic Values and a member of the Wireless Committee, said he believed "it will be more than possible to raise" $10 million.

He said Philadelphia would be the only city "able to extend the wireless capability of college students and teachers."

"Wireless is the next big thing. What this initiative does is telegraph to everybody that technology matters here, that the future matters."

Neff said there were both risks and opportunities in becoming the first big city to be entirely wireless-accessible.

"We need this digital infrastructure," she said. "The time is right."

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Philadelphia planning citywide WLAN - German

The city hall of Philadelphia is planning to cover 350 squarekilometers of the city with gratis or cheap WLAN hotspots, spending 10 Mio USD. This would be the biggest city after Chaska in Minnesote (16 USD/month) coverin 34 squarekilometers andCorpus Christi in Texas covering 52 squarekilometers. Cleveland has already 4000 hotspots installed.

New York is planning to rent 18000 lampposts to WLAN providers. Part of the deal is to offer cheap WLAN-phones in poorer areas. This will of course be VoIP.

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