Monday, November 29, 2004
uk telecom solutions provider bon.net recently launched its broadband voip telephony service babble. the service is very similar to skype, chargeable destinations are paid with prepaid calling cards that can be topped up with a credit card. babble will introduce a flat fee plan in 2005.
Of course I tried this out immediately and after some hazzles with the registration it worked. The real funny thing is that different to Skype all calls to fixed numbers on the PSTN to US Mainland, Australia and New Zealand, Europe and UK (which is obviously different from Europe) are FREE. Only calls to mobile phones are charged. How do they do this?
If you subscribe (minimum 5 Pounds/month), you may forward your calls to answering machines and any PSTN number. You also may get a phone number for incoming calls from the PSTN.
Friday, November 26, 2004
Thursday, December 9th, 2004 enum.at starts the operation of the ENUM production Tier 1 Registry for the 3.4..e164.arpa domain.
Existing ENUM delagations will NOT be transferred automatically from the ENUM Tier 1 Trial Registry to the ENUM Tier 1 Production Registry. End-Users wanting to keep their entries MUST register with an ENUM Registrar. To allow for uninterrupted service, registrations will be possible from December 6th on. A list of available ENUM Registrars can be retrieved from www.enum.at starting next week.
In my function as chair of the Austrian ENUM Trial Platform I thank all participants for their efforts during the last two years to achieve this outstanding success.
Note: +87810 ENUM Trial delegations are not concerned and will continue to work until further notice
Having all of them in my VoIP Channelgroup, Jeff is again - as usual- right on the spot.
And of course I feel like Leo "very honored to be included in this list of nice people" ;-)
Leo also states: Jeff is definitely the most influential individual in the VoIP industry right now. The nice thing is that he is able to bring people together and oome out with great ideas.
I fully agree.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
The whole issue started when some VoIP providers (e.g. sipgate.de) started to offer Vonage-type services offering geographic numbers in some German Cities (e.g Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, ...). This was killed very soon by RegTP by ordering that such numbers may only be assigned to residents of the city in question. After serious complaints from the VoIP providers RegTP promised to open up a non-geographic number range and to annonce the rules today.
I do not think the VoIP providers are very happy now.
Since the rules are in German only, I will give you the highlights:
1. Numbers SHALL only be assigned to residents in Germany.
2. Also the provider requesting number ranges MUST be resident in Germany.
3. The minimum range of numbers is 1000.
4. Numbers are portable, using the same procedure as geo-graphic numbers!
5. There is no specific charge defined yet, but I assume it will be minimum Euro 500 per 1000 number block.
6. The application required to specify exactly for what services the numbers will be used, a concept how these services will be realized, interconnection agreements, estimated demand, proof of partizipation and concept of realisation of number portability, family name of your grandmother (sorry, the last one was required to get the ADATLAP - the Hungarian Visa back in the cold war times ;-)
7. etc, etc.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
They also seem to have a weird understanding of of the meaning of weeks and days. In my simple understanding a week is a week and a day is a day. Not so with Peerio, GNUP, PT or whatchumacallit.
Since May 2004 they annonced on their Peerio444 webpage that new betatesters will be accepted within two weeks. In the meantime the webpage was replaced with "looking forward" into the void.
At the Fall VON 2004 they annonced at the both, the service will start November 1st, 2004 and will be called GNUP.
Ok, on November 3rd one could download the so-called PT Inspector (6MB) , which did basically nothing but check if something is available at the PT web-site and tells you the service will start in three (3) days. After one week it stopped working (did not find the PT web-page, so I downloaded the new version (only 4MB now), containing a patch to find the web-page again - and obviously a optimized software saving 2 MB to do this.
Then the next teaser was announced on the blogs: you now can get a number!
So I retrieved my GNUP number: (8844) 4294967265
Since Tom Keating got (8844) 4294967281 registering a bit earlier, they seem to count down
from 4294967299 ;-).Who came up with this number? A random generator? Or has this some secret numerologic meaning? Freemasonry?
The PT Inspector still tells me the service will be available in three (3) days, so somewhere in 2006, maybe.
Anyway, I wonder what (8844) means. From talking to the PT guy at the VON and reading the flyer they distributed, they are planning to make a petition? to ITU-T to get country code 884 (which is currently reserved) assigned for their use.
Although I told them that you do not get CCs from ITU-T assigned by petition, but by request and that there is no way to get a CC assigned to a carrier (here you may request one out of 882 xx - which is easy and does not take much time - assuming a proper request), but only for a service., and here you need first a service description. This path is more time consuming (as I know from personal experience ;-). On the other hand, they could either use 878 10 or they could even request 878 20 or so. But they seem to know better and just start to use 884, because it is unused. ITU-T will really like this.
I wonder which measures will be taken eventually by national regulating authority if carriers within their reach start to route numbers on the PSTN to non-existing Country Codes, considering Resolution 20 of the WTSA 2004, which instructs:
4 the Director of TSB, in close collaboration with Study Group 2, and any other relevant study groups, to follow up on the misuse of any numbering, naming, addressing and identification resources and inform the Council accordingly;
5 Study Group 2 to study, urgently, necessary action to ensure that the sovereignty of ITU Member States with regard to country code numbering, naming, addressing and identification plans is fully maintained, as enshrined in Recommendation E.164 and other relevant Recommendations; this shall cover ways and means to address and counter any misuse of any numbering, naming, addressing and identification resources, and of call progress tones and signals, through proper development of a proposed resolution and/or the development and adoption of a Recommendation towards this aim.
Jeff is offering A Little Free Advice for the World's Incumbent Telephone Companies
It is worth to copy the whole entry here:
Now that Verizon, BellSouth and SBC have all formally announced their VoIP ambitions, look for each of these companies to begin offering their own variation of what I am calling Softline Service in 2005. In effect, Softline Service is an optional new service that will support the use of a softphone with an associated primary residential phone line service. This service would offer a level of mobility to what used to be known as fixed, wireline service.
This in turn means that a consumer would have the ability to receive their incoming residential phone service whenever they were on the road. As long as they could connect to the broadband internet, including inside of Wi-Fi hotspots, their home phone number would be within reach, for both receiving and placing outbound phone calls. This service could support the use of both software based phones and hardware IP phones -- in the end it really shouldn't matter.
As "Voice is an Application", it is inevitable that the legacy phone companies will connect.the.dots and present Softline Service as a broadband parasite.
My suggested Softline Service strategy is something that any telephone company can execute and is available to virtually all incumbent operators operating in countries with decent-to-better broadband penetration. And given the relative limited amount of capex necessary to execute this vision, Softline Service could quickly become an even more profitable ILEC offering than their existing second line telephone business.
Of course, for the right price pulver.com will happily provide essential help in the development, production, and deployment of Softline Services. ;-)
Monday, November 22, 2004
...Joi has a related entry on NTT Docomo isn't using Microsoft for their phones. Could it be due to this? It certainly does not inspire confidence regardless the accusation is true or false. But hey, I have my fair share of such experience ...
NTT DoCoMo made a splash by announcing a new common platform for its 3G FOMA offering that only works on Symbian and Linux phones. The lack of Microsoft isn't just a timing issue -- DoCoMo purposely shunned the software giant. Will they be able to keep it up?
Sendo accuses Microsoft of dirty tricks
In a lawsuit filed late last week, U.K. mobile phone maker Sendo is accusing Microsoft of using the smaller company as a stepping-stone into the lucrative mobile phone market.
Sendo found itself sidelined, the filing alleges:
"Microsoft's secret plan was to plunder the small company of its proprietary information, technical expertise, market knowledge, customers and prospective customers," the filing said. "Microsoft gained Sendo's trust and confidence through false promises that Sendo would be its 'go-to-market-partner'."
The outcome of this lawsuit will be interesting.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Japan's number one Carrier offers 3G/VoIP Linux phone
NTT DoCoMo and its regional subsidiaries are now offering business subscribers a dual-network 3G/VoIP handset that works as a 3G mobile phone, VoIP (voice-over-IP) terminal, or both simultaneously. The N900iL is based on a Linux-based 3G mobile phone software platform developed jointly by NEC and Panasonic.
NTT DoCoMo was always good in marketing and branding, so they already have a 4letter word for it: NTT DoCoMo markets its 3G wireless network services under the brandname "FOMA," or "Freedom of Mobile-multimedia Access." 3G network services provide Internet access at broadband speeds.
The functionality and additional features provided are to be seen, but:
When used in wireless LAN mode, the N900iL supports call hold, call transfer, and other standard phone functions, the company says. N900iL users on the same LAN can send instant text messages to one another, and check one another's status with a "callee status function." Status information includes whether the callee is on- or off-line, in a meeting, out of the office, on a business trip, etc. Users can also browse lists of other local users.
When used in FOMA mode, the phone can tunnel through firewalls to access enterprise applications, using VPN (virtual private network) technology.
Impressive (for WiFI phones) the announced battery life:
- 3G operation --
- 350 hours (when phone is stationary)
- 270 hours (when phone is moving)
- 350 hours (when phone is stationary)
- Wireless LAN operation -- 230 hours
- Dual mode operation -- 150 hours
- 3G operation --
- Continuous talk time:
- 3G operation -- 140 minutes
- VoIP operation -- 160 minutes
- 3G operation -- 140 minutes
- Continuous video calling: 140 minutes
NTT DoCoMo has also looked at using Linux on the other end of its FOMA network. It evaluated a Carrier Grade Linux switch developed by NEC in September.
The entries got broad attention and also comments anf finally got slashdotted:
Chris Holland writes "Right on the heels of a positive FCC regulation preventing individual U.S. States from levying taxes on VoIP communications, SBC, according to Om Malik, appears to have brought to a quick end the 'lets not pay any termination fees' party that had VoIP upstarts drunk. Jeff Pulver is also sharing his take."
The whole discussion is very interesting and raises a lot of issues, I just wonder if fixed line replacement is really the future battleground. IMHO the real issue is the fight between the "Incumbents" and the cable operators on Triple Play and also the fixed-mobile convergence, taking also the wireless operators in the battle opening another frontier.
Regarding the latter, the recent announcements on real 3G/WiFi mobile phones in Japan should be mentioned, e.g. the one from NTT DoCoMo and (not to forget) Skype's 2-in-1 phone.
I seems only obvious and natural that the little VoIP upstarts are sqashed in this battle between dinosaurs. On the other hand, historically speaking, also here finally the mice survived ;-)
Thursday, November 18, 2004
So the long rumored deal within Neustar is finally done.
Telcordia Technologies has been sold by SAIC for $1.3 billion to Providence Equity Partners and Warburg Pincus. SAIC acquired Telcordia, formerly known as Bellcore, in 1997 for about $700 million, Light Reading says. The deal values the company at about 1.5 times its 2004 revenues, estimated to be around $880 million.
Providence Equity Partners Inc. is one of the world's leading private investment firms specializing in equity investments in media and communications companies. Significant investments include VoiceStream Wireless, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner Music Group, PanAmSat, AT&T Canada, eircom, Casema, Kabel Deutschland, Language Line, F&W Publications, ProSiebenSat.1, and Bresnan Broadband Holdings..
Warburg Pincus has a long history as a leading investor in the information and communication technology sectors, including investments in Avaya, BEA Systems, Bharti Tele-Ventures, Harbour Networks, NeuStar and VERITAS Software. The firm is an experienced partner to entrepreneurs seeking to create and build durable companies with sustainable value and has an active portfolio of about 115 companies spanning the entire spectrum of scale and maturity.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
www.washingtonpost.com features VoIP: A Shot in Telecom's Arm today (registration req), a very interesting article about the race between cable operators and baby bells, triggered by SBC Communications as the latest Baby Bell to jump headlong into the world of Internet telephony, a move aimed at boosting its offerings in an increasingly competitive broadband marketplace and at catching up with upstart 'Net phone players like Vonage that have seen a surge in business as consumers look for cheaper calling plans.
But SBC's move also amounts to "the latest salvo in what's fast becoming a high-stakes race between phone and cable-TV companies. Both are hoping to woo customers with a full menu of phone, data and video services," USA Today reported.
Related to Comcast see also VoIP Watch and Telepocalypse
USA Today noted, however, that SBC still relies on traditional phone service for its bottom line. .... But SBC, Verizon and the other big carriers really don't have a choice. Cable companies are rapidly rolling out Internet phone service. ... At the same time, cell phones are gaining favor as a substitute for traditional 'wired' phones. The two developments, driven by advances in technology, are forcing SBC and the others to respond. Verizon, based in New York, already offers VoIP for consumers."
The Ann Arbor News of Michigan on Sunday reported that consumers are set to be the big winners in the VoIP wars: "Comcast Corp. and SBC Communications Inc. have already revved up their broadband engines to attract the coveted high-speed Internet customer. But the next two years could bring nothing short of an broadband arms race, as cable TV and Baby Bell phone companies joust to furnish your home's every communication and entertainment need. Phone companies say they're committed to spending billions to build fiber-optic networks capable of bringing high-definition TV, Internet services and phone systems directly to homes. Meanwhile, cable firms hope to cut into the phone market by rolling out Internet-based calling, possibly next year," the paper said. "For consumers, the rivalry could yield a cornucopia of new features -- and possibly lower prices - as the nation's seemingly insatiable thirst for a flash-like Web pace persists. But some observers wonder whether broadband proliferation will result in real competition -- or merely create cable-only or fiber-only territories. One thing is certain: The lines traditionally separating cable and telephone companies are blurring."
Saturday, November 13, 2004
citing Keith Cambron, president and CEO, SBC Laboratories:
"ENUM technology will play a vital role in the continued growth and development of VoIP. It is critically important that ENUM technology is developed in a consistent, standards-based manner"
The article is triggered by VeriSign's announcement last month of a new IP Connect services suite that's designed to help carriers interlink enterprise VoIP networks and also by AT&T, MCI, SBC Laboratories, Sprint, Verizon and Internet domain registrar Go Daddy joining together to form ENUM LCC targeting the consumer end of the interoperability market. ENUM LLC aims to promote Electronic Numbering (ENUM) protocol technology in North America, including the U.S., Canada and Caribbean nations. ENUM LLC hopes to build a commercial implementation that will provide a single, public system for nations within the North American Numbering Plan (NANP) that choose to participate.
"Because ENUM technology translates telephone numbers into domain names, it will make a wide range of Internet and information services like VoIP, email, and fax services, available to anyone with a telephone or any number of hand-held devices," says Bob Parsons, president of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Go Daddy
The new technology also promises to enhance the usability of VoIP networks. Today, most VoIP users can utilize fully IP-based communications only in situations where the call recipient is a customer of the same VoIP provider or platform. That's because all other calls must transition back and forth from the public switched telephone network, with its inherent technology limitations. ENUM technology could potentially enable VoIP users from multiple platforms to communicate over IP connections from end to end.
"ENUM LLC's chances for success hinge on how many carriers, domain registrars, hardware and software vendors and other relevant organizations ultimately decide to participate in its plan. At this stage, only one thing is certain: ENUM LLC's complex, ambitious plan will take years to unfold", TelecomDirect News closes.
Not necessarily, if the US does not start from scratch, but bites the bullet and takes into consideration what has already achieved regarding ENUM in other parts of the world ;-)
Friday, November 12, 2004
The future is Purple.
In my opinion the resumee given is remarkable and I can only fully agree:
End to end IP voice is happening, but: Innovate or perish
... Nevertheless, Pulver warned that the current VoIP environment may be too easy.
"VoIP must be more than a fashion statement! If that's all it is, there's a real risk of going out of fashion."
The problem, he said, is that there's a real lack of VoIP innovation. Most people see VoIP today as nothing more than cheap voice. That limits the opportunities for it, and is particularly harmful in discussion with state and federal regulators, who see VoIP as similar to voice and therefore want to regulate it.
As long as VoIP remains nothing more than cheap POTS in the eyes of customers and regulators, he warned, it will be a zero sum game that will be won by those with the deepest pockets, the RBOCs. At its best, Pulver said, it could be a "parasite within he ILECs, where the bellhead DNA still exists."
He called for more "purple apps" which he defined as anything that you can do on IP that you cannot do on TDM. For example, he suggested that Canadian telcos offer a local phone number to all expats.
He said his sons are always in touch, using voice or IM. Partly inspired by them, he has built the pulver.communicator which combines free voice and free IM multiuser chat as well as presence. In the long run, he hopes to end the phone numbering system completely. "The future is not about dialing.
We should call people, not locations."
Thursday, November 11, 2004
First he cites an article from News.com:
News.com has a longish story on why Vonage decision could be a problem for the Baby Bells.
“The ones with the most to lose from the spread of Internet telephony are the four regional Bell operating companies, which had a near-monopoly lock on local phone services until the Internet phone providers came into existence. In a statement issued Tuesday, BellSouth Vice President Jonathan Banks urged the FCC to “create a similar regime for all IP-enabled networks and services.” He describes the FCC’s decision as a “critical step towards encouraging the deployment” of such services nationwide. ”
Actually the Bells are pretty thrilled about this ruling, because even they get to enjoy the “regulation-less” benefits of the Vonage decision. Susanne Guyer, senior vice president – federal regulatory affairs for Verizon says that “The FCC’s decision today to establish that VoIP services such as those offered by Verizon are to be regulated on a uniform basis at the federal level – rather than being encumbered by a patchwork of potentially inconsistent state rules – is a positive first step toward allowing VoIP to flourish in an environment of robust competition.”
Just like with DSL, I am of firm belief that the Bells would be amongst the ultimate winners in the VoIP sweepstakes. (Cable MSOs and IXCs like Sprint and AT&T are other likely winners!) The current generation of upstarts would vanish like bubbles on the surface of a quiet pond.
I fully agree, provided the incumbents are able to realize the opportunity at hand. I have some slight doubts. It is up to the incumbents to prove that my doubts are wrong.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
In an announcement (PDF) from the US Federal Communications Commission, they have ruled that they, not [US] state commissions, have the responsibility and obligation to decide whether certain regulations apply to IP-enabled services. The announcement notes that the FCC plans to "also address whether VoIP providers must provide access to the disabled, pay intercarrier compensation and contribute to the universal service fund, in the Commission’s IP Enabled Services Proceeding (PDF), which commenced in February of this year." The more detailed separate statements of Commissioners Powell (PDF), Abernathy (PDF), Copps (PDF) and Adelstein (PDF) provide insights into some of the policy and regulatory challenges they see vis-à-vis VoIP as well as IP-enabled services in general.
Announced on the same day is the briefing (PDF with accompanying text in Word) that the FCC's International Bureau made for the Commission on the recent ITU World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly results.
- "One of the major objectives of the United States, as well as the majority of the ITU membership, was to re-enforce the ITU as a leading global forum for developing standards for interoperability between today’s networks and those of the next generation."
- "Going forward, the FCC team will work to make certain that the ITU and its membership stay focused on the benefits of new technologies and that any actions being considered will create an environment where innovative technologies can flourish. Specifically, we will focus on the following four activities:
- first, engaging developing countries on achieving low-cost broadband and Internet connectivity;
- second, capturing the momentum generated by the WTSA for developing standards for next generation networks by supporting the ITU as a place where industry-led network standards are produced;
- third, focusing on the importance of making networks secure; and, finally,
- ensuring that the Internet is not subject to inappropriate regulation."
The FCC's ruling on Vonage yesterday was covered around the world. I enjoyed watching the coverage yesterday afternoon on CNBC.
The Associated Press picked up the story and it ran in many of their worldwide outlets.
Some of the stories on the ruling include:
Washington Post: FCC Asserts Role as Internet Phone Regulator
Converge Network Digest: FCC Rules Vonage is Not Subject to State Jurisdiction
PC World: FCC Takes VoIP Regulation Out of State's Hands
Bloomberg: U.S. FCC Frees Internet Phone Calls From State Rules
Wired: Vonage Dodges State Regulations
Australian IT: US makes VoIP rules federal
Globe and Mail: U.S. to control VoIP
New York Times: F.C.C. Rules on Internet-Based Phone Services
Om Malik also adds some statements and promised to continue to do so.
Karen Mulberry from MCI gave a short status report and the planned activities on ENUM in CC1 and the ENUM LLC. According to this one can hope that North America will catch up with the ENUM activities in the rest of the world until End of 2005. An ENUM delegation will be requested soon from RIPE NCC.
I presented the ENUM dip indicator (enumdi) http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-stastny-iptel-tel-enumdi-00.txt, co-authored by Rich Shockey and Lawrence Conroy. Although the draft was primarily targeted for the IPTEL WG, it was also presented of course because of the topic to the ENUM WG. The only issue raised on the mailing list by Cullen Jennings: "if the network element receiving a E.164 number with the enumdi set MUST NOT or SHOULD NOT make an ENUM query" was discussed and the ENUM WG decided unanimously for SHOULD NOT. This decision was forwarded to IPTEL.
A. Newton (Verisign) presented I-D http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-newton-iris-ereg-02.txt, which extends the necessary query and result operations of IRIS to provide the functional information service needs for syntaxes and results used by ENUM registries.
Regarding validation Bernd Hoeneisen (Switch.ch) presented http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-hoeneisen-enum-validation-epp-00.txt and Michael Haberler (IPA) presented http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-mayrhofer-enum-validation-00.txt. Since the second variant is a superset of the first, the two authors proposed to combine the two documents. US delegates considered both proposals very country specific and too far advanced and requested a requirements document first (maybe aslo to gain some time until CC1 catches up). The authers promised to provide such a document.
Note: for German speaking folks see also IETF: Standards für Validierung von Telefondomains
Related to on-going work I-D http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-ietf-enum-void-00.txt was not presented, because there where no open issues raised on the mailing-list. The authors will provide within some weeks a new version for WGLC.
Same for I-D http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-ietf-enum-experiences-01.txt. The authors requested last inputs, if any within the next weeks and then this document should also go to WGLC.
The ENUM dip indicator was also presented to the IPTEL WG on Tuesday (agenda). The decision on SHOULD NOT was accepted by the WG, but another issue was dicussed: should the enumdi parameter only be valid for ENUM in e164.arpa and defined in RFC3761, or should it be extended with a context e.g. enumdi=e164.info, e164.arpa being the default. The arguments of the authors where that ENUM is only defined for e164.arpa, to keep it simple and to progress this document as fast a possible. Since the audience was split 50:50 on this, the chairs finally decided to progress as is.
It was also decided to make this draft a WG item. A new draft will be submitted by the authors immediately, covering all issues raised.
The remainder of the IPTEL was not directly related to ENUM, but for completeness I give the summary of decisions as distributed by Jonathan Rosenberg (co-chair) via the IPTEL mailing list:
At the iptel meeting today, there was consensus in the room on plans formoving forward with various drafts. I'd like to verify that consensus by asking the list if folks are OK proceeding with the following:
* Proceed to wglc on draft-ietf-iptel-tel-np once a revision appears inthe archives* Proceed to wglc on http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-ietf-iptel-trunk-group-02.txt immediately following the ietf
* adopt http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-stastny-iptel-tel-enumdi-00.txtas a work item of iptel
* do not adopthttp://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-rosen-iptel-dialstring-00.txt as a work item. The author will take it directly to IESG as anindividual draft.
* do not adopt the expired tel cpc draft(http://www.watersprings.org/pub/id/draft-mahy-iptel-cpc-01.txt) as awork item. If folks have a problem that they believe is addressed bythis work, please bring that forward in the next few weeks.
* tgrep will go to IESG after a revision incorporating comments fromCullen and the pending comments from Jonathan
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Andy's blog brought to my attention that the Skype API is out (in beta) VoIP Watch: Skype API Now Out
Here's the news from Skype's website:Skype, the Global Internet Telephony Company, today announced the beta of its Skype API (Application Program Interface) included in the latest version of Skype for Windows, enabling hardware devices and software applications to seamlessly integrate with Skype's award-winning Internet telephony software. Skype currently has more than 14.5 million users from every country in the world, and is adding approximately 100,000 new users per day.
"We offer the Skype API to expand quality voice and messaging communications around the globe," said Niklas Zennström, Skype CEO and co-founder. "With this API, Skype is now an open platform and we are keen to watch the world's innovative developer community integrate the Skype application to extend the potential of global communications."
Non-commercial developers worldwide may freely integrate the Skype API in compliance with the Skype software End User License Agreement (EULA). A software development kit which includes documentation, sample code, and other information is available at http://www.skype.com/community/devzone
Commercial, affiliate and other Skype partnership opportunities are handled on an individual basis. Companies and individuals with business proposals are encouraged to contact email@example.com.
The Skype API is freely available with the latest version of Skype for Windows at www.skype.com/go/getskype.
The first step has happend today (in a very close 3-2 ruling):
The Federal Communications Commission ruled 3-2 that states are now barred from imposing telecommunications regulations on Internet phone providers, which treat calls no differently than any other application on the Internet. That class of operators includes Vonage Holdings, which asked the FCC for just such a designation in May, plus Verizon Communications, AT&T and dozens of other commercial Internet providers, according to those familiar with the FCC's thinking.
"This landmark order recognizes a revolution has occurred," FCC Chairman Michael Powell said at the meeting in Washington, D.C.
Response from states was muted. A representative for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners said the states are focusing now on a court hearing in mid-November in which Minnesota utility regulators will argue they have a right to oversee Vonage and other Net phone service providers. The state is seeking to overturn a ruling that states cannot subject VoIP providers to their rules.
Powell and two of the four FCC commissioners suggested Tuesday that states still have a role to play--namely to protect consumer interests.
More on CNET News and also on internetnews.com
Of course the VoIP and IP communicatiions community headed by Jeff Pulver reacted immediately and positively on the decision. Jeff commented extensivley on this, so did Tom Keating (who included all 5 statements of the commissioners) and Om Malik, who was supremely impressed by FCC Chairman Michael Powell’s remarks on this decision.
"Just as consumers personalize their cell phones with ring tones, pictures and applications, the same is possible with internet voice. Consumers have come to expect technology to be tailored to their preferences—“My Amazon,” “My Tivo,” “My Ipod.” Internet voice, ushers in the era of “My Telephone.” Adding enhancements to voice is no longer a highly complex and expensive modification to the network – now it is just a matter of adding to the next software release."
Powell went on to say, “The genius of the Internet is that it knows no boundaries. In cyberspace, distance is dead. The Order recognizes that several technical factors demonstrate that VoIP services are unquestionably interstate in nature. VoIP services are nomadic and presence-oriented, making identification of the end points of any given communications session completely impractical and, frankly, unwise.”
States would be barred from imposing telecommunications regulations on Net phone providers, which treat calls no differently than any other application on the Internet, according to those familiar with the Federal Communications Commission.
see: Feds expected to ease Net phone rules
Om Malik provides a reason: Why we need a federal oversight of VoIP? - but he also points to:
San Jose Mercury News reports that FCC is likely to take a strong stand for federal regulation of VoIP, but will likely face equally robust opposition from the states. States face loss of revenues if not allowed to regulate and tax VoIP as heavily as they tax old PSTN services. They are also saying that VoIP could mean fewer funds for Universal Service Fund. They are saying quality will suffer, and poor will be denied the basic service. The VoIP companies will have an unfair advantage over old line phone systems. In most cases, its all about the tax dollars. Telecom taxes help hide the inaptitude of most state governments whose grasp of basic math is less than that of a NBA star.
And if one considers that only two things are certain in life - death and taxes - the outcome of this struggle will be interesting.
Monday, November 08, 2004
The mistake of Internet business people -- the same ones I satirized in Exit Strategy -- was to think that “content is king.” It never was. Contact is king in an interactive environment.
Tom Kershaw, vice-president for communications services at Verisign, pointed this already out in his two presentations at the Fall VON in Boston, one on peering issues and the other at the ENUM Update panel and now also in an interview in BusinessWeek Online.
The name Verisign is usually associated with Internet domain-name registrations and e-commerce. Less well known is the tech-services company's telecom-services unit, which supplied roughly one-third of Verisign's third-quarter revenues of $325 million. Cell-phone companies and other telecom providers pay Verisign to act as a neutral switchboard for calls going across different networks and to calculate the wholesale billing for the calls. See also Versign announces VoIP access to Global SS7-network
And that is also the essence of Verisign's latest venture, an effort to create a neutral switchboard for voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) telecom services. The idea is that Verisign will let disparate VoIP networks communicate easily and cheaply. The company launched the service in October, 2004.
BusinessWeek Online Technology Editor Alex Salkever recently interviewed Tom Kershaw. The very interesting Q&A session can be found in VoIP Is Verisign's Latest Domain
Subtitle: Exec Tom Kershaw talks about Internet phone service, which he says his outfit will make safer, easier, and more innovative.
Networks in Action: Overview of ENUM (PDF) and ENUM: Country Experiences (PDF) was presented by Robert Shaw, ITU Strategy and Policy Unit, at the recent Forum on Telecommunication Regulation in Africa in Kampala, Uganda.
The agenda of the first presentation includes:
-Networks in Action: Waves of Convergence
-Network Technology Paradigm Shift
-Next Generation Networks
-Emerging Regulatory Imperatives
-Case Study: VoIP
-Case Study: ENUM
-What problem is it trying to solve?
-Why is ENUM important for regulators?
As we all (including the EU) know, this did not work out. The gap to the US and especially Asia even widened.
So what is Europe doing? They obviously got infected by the usual Austrian way: establish a committee, and if this does not help, one may still establish sub-committees:
Former Dutch Prime Minister Wim Kok was mandated by the March 2004 European Council to lead a group of experts (I will come to this later) with the objective of reviewing the Lisbon strategy.
The outcome? EurActiv unambiguously nails the point: 'the long-awaited mid-term review of the Lisbon strategy brings very few new ideas to the table to revitalise the stalled process of essential economic and social reforms.' How true (click here for a summary).
Wim Kok’s report takes a gloomy view on the progress made in the last four years just as Romano Prodi did recently (see EurActiv 3 November 2004 ). The report, which is to be adopted by the Commission on 3 November, states that the “disappointing delivery” is due to “an overloaded agenda, poor co-ordination and conflicting priorities” but it blames mainly the lack of political will by the member states.
EurActiv graciously left out that the report first blames the others for this (e.g. the burst of the bubble, 9/11, etc.)
External events since 2000 have not helped achieving the objectives but the European Union and its Members States have clearly themselves contributed to slow progress by failing to act on much of the Lisbon strategy with sufficient urgency. This disappointing delivery is due to an overloaded agenda, poor coordination and conflicting priorities. Still, a key issue has been the lack of determined political action.
But what are now the recommendations? Of course I first checked the ICT issues, to see if one could make use of the rest:
Regarding Information society the Lisbon strategy calls for:
defining a regulatory framework for electronic communications; encouraging the spread of ICTs; creating conditions for e-commerce; supporting European leadership in mobile communications technologies;
which is very diffuse anyway. Now one could expect that they look at least what other countries did in the meantime to widen the gap, e.g. Korea's IT 8-3-9 IT-Strategy. No, what they recommend is:
Member States should give more and better follow-up to the eEurope 2005 action plan, in order to reap the full benefits of ICTs. In particular, more progress is required in the area of e-government. Member States must also boost the accessibility of broadband to reach at least 50% by 2010.
To get this deep insight, the expert team (called High Level Group) met 6 times from May 2004 to October 2004.
One now may ask who these high-level experts are?
• Mr Wim Kok (Chairman), former Prime Minister of the Netherlands
• Mr Romain Bausch, President and CEO, SES Global (Luxembourg)
• Mr Niall FitzGerald, Chairman of Reuters, Chairman of the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue
• Mr Antonio Gutiérrez Vegara, Member of the Spanish Parliament
• Mr Will Hutton (rapporteur), Chief Executive of the Work Foundation
• Ms Anne-Marie Idrac, Chairwoman of the Régie autonome des transports parisiens (RATP)
• Ms Wanja Lundby-Wedin, President of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LÖ)
• Mr Thomas Mirow, former Hamburg State Minister, Senior Business Advisor
• Mr Bedrich Moldan, Chairman of the Environment Centre (Charles University, Prague)
• Mr Luigi Paganetto, Professor of international economics (Rome-Tor Vergata University)
• Mr Dariusz Rosati, Professor of economics, Member of the European Parliament
• Mr Veli Sundbäck, Senior Vice-President of Nokia, Finland
• Mr Friedrich Verzetnitsch, President of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB), MP
Ok, there is a SVP of Nokia, and I do only know the Austrian representatitive: Friedrich Verzetnitsch, President of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) . Regarding his understandig in economics Mahalanobis (one of my sons) said:
This guy has as much economic insight as Elfriede Jelinek .
I can only add regarding ICT: this statement is unfair - concerning Elfriede Jelinek.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
In a recent post I complained about WLAN hotspot prices and connectivity in general. As a business traveller and road warrior I expect nowadays to have connectivity everywhere.
Basically to check my e-mails and look up information on web-sites, but of course also to make VoIP calls and eventually to watch my home TV.
The prices of Internet connectivity seem to be completely random and absolutely not related to the QoS or bandwidth you may expect (I think they have basically learned from the air-lines).
This may be somewhat ok if you want to check your e-mails or lookup the weather in your destination, but it is absolutely not acceptable if you want to make phone calls or watch TV, it is always a surprise after you have already paid.
Two weeks ago I was in in a hotel in Brussels, featuring two ways of Internet access:
One fast, but expensive (20 Euro/day) wired in the room, the other very slow, but even more expensive (26 Euro/day) wireless. The week after I was in Sophia Antipolis with ETSI, which has free and fast wireless access all over the place, so I did not even bother with the 16 Euro wireless accces for 2 hours in the hotel. I was also in a hotel in Austria which has also wireless access by a mobile operator, but I could not even test it because all prepaid cards I tried where not accepted, so I returned them. Of course the WLAN at home and also the free access at Vienna airport worked fine, and I expected this to continue at the IETF in Washington.
The wired access in the room works (10$/day, but complementary for the time of IETF by rumor), but it is very slow, although they call it high-speed access. So no TV and bad voice quality. One excuse may be that the access is not dimensioned for a hotel full of hackers.
So I went down to the lobby to make a VoIP call, got connected to the IETF hotspot, but got no Internet connectivity. Two floors lower at the registration it finally worked, but the WiFi connectivity was dropped and re-established approx. every 30 seconds, so my phone calls where dropped every 30 seconds.
Now back to Skype, SIMPLE SIP and ISDN:
Considering this unacceptable, I went back to my room and tried VoIP (SIP) again to call a friend. I do not know exactly why but it did not work out. Both of us being some kind of experts, we could have tried to find out the reason, but we had no time, so I told my partner to download Skype and and after 5 Minutes we talked for an hour or so. Is this possible with SIP?
I talked about this afterwards with Henry Sinnreich and Richard Shockey and the three of us agreed that something has to be done: launch SIMPLE SIP
I still can remember the problems ISDN had at the beginning with too many options. I just remember Dilbert's (Scott Adams) experiences at Pacific Bell - and my own. Austrian PTT produced a form to subscribe ISDN where I could not fill out all parameters requested and tick all boxes - and I was involved in the specs. This was finally solved at least in Europe with the EuroISDN profile done by ETSI.
Something similar is required for SIP. SIP will only be successful if you can download a client and make a call immediatly of you just know your user@host, your password to register and the user@host of the called party to make a call (e.g. as in MS Messenger).
This BTW precludes also all 'peering' agreements: if you cannot reach ALL user@hosts, but only the one's your proxy has peering agreements with, making VoIP calls will be more like a lottery than a service.
Yahoo News cites Analysys:
"Making cheap telephone calls over the Internet could be much more popular among consumers than previously estimated, leaving incumbent telecom service providers highly vulnerable, a survey revealed on Thursday.
Over 50 million western European consumers with a broadband Internet connection at home may use telephony software and special phones by 2008, British research group Analysys found.
"The impact on traditional telephony providers' revenues could reach 6.4 billion euros in 2008, representing 13 percent of the residential fixed-line voice market," said analyst Stephen Sale, adding this was a worst case scenario drawn up for operators who want to know how badly they can be hit.
Two weeks ago, Luxemburg-based Skype said it had reached the milestone of one million simultaneous callers. Calls are usually made from computer to computer, although Skype sells a service where PC users can call normal phones at low per minute charges.
Skype and rivals like Popular Telephony are working with hardware manufacturers like Siemens, Cisco and Plantronics to develop VoIP-enabled home phones that plug into broadband modems.
Operators are divided over what they should do.
The chief executives of Deutsche Telekom and British Telecom , two of Europe's top phone carriers, differed in their views on how to counter the decline of their traditional fixed-line sales.
British Telecom's Ben Verwaayen said the telecoms industry has to prepare for next-generation Internet networks. Kai-Uwe Ricke, meanwhile, saw his voice telephony business threatened mainly by mobile phones.
vnunet.com summes this up in the headline of their article:
VoIP rings death knell for traditional telephony
In a worst-case scenario, incumbents could potentially lose over €3.3bn of subscription revenues in 2008, and cumulatively about €6.4bn over the period 2004-08.
Overall, the total revenues (subscriptions and calls) lost by incumbent PSTN providers could reach as much as 13 per cent of the voice market in western Europe in 2008, the study estimates.
"Private VoIP applications will contribute to an acceleration of existing trends, including a stronger horizontal industry realignment around communities, segments and brands, with lower prices and increased service convergence," explained Sale.
"In the short to medium term, the voice market could even expand as innovative applications provide opportunities for increased usage, slowing the current decline in revenues.
"In the longer term, however, private VoIP applications are likely to further decrease voice revenues. But they will also help tie those voice revenues to other communications services, thus offering voice players routes to potential new revenue streams."
Last week both documents currently drafted by ETSI TISPAN WG4 where updated:
ETSI TS 102 172 V2 "Minimum Requirements for Interoperability of ENUM Implementations" may now be considered stable. It is planned to approve the document at ETSI TISPAN#5 in January 2005. It may serve in conjunction with the relevant (and referenced) IETF RFCs (and drafts) as basis for ENUM implementations in e164.arpa worldwide. The document may be updated in one year or so depending on experiences and feedback from first implementations and also if IETF finally catches up with the RFCs for IANA registered "enumservices".
ETSI TR 102 055 "Infrastructure ENUM" now also reaches stability, after some parts have been moved to be covered in a subsequent document. So it may be considered as a framework document covering potential Infrastructure ENUM scenarios. The subsequent document will cover some specific scenarios, e.g. for TISPAN IMS NGN. It is also planned to have this document at least ready for WG approval at ETSI TISPAN#5 in January.
Both documents may be retrieved at
ETSI TS 102 172 markup (doc)
ETSI TS 102 172 clean (pdf)
ETSI TR 102 055 markup (doc)
ETSI TR 102 055 clean (pdf)