Friday, March 18, 2005

No business in POTS replacement 

I already tried many times to explain why the POTS replacement business for VoIP providers does not work.

Aswath and Om Malik in his post "Maybe the VoIP Provider Model is broke" come to the same conclusion, also because of the Level3 ruling from FCC.

He ends with a very interesting statement, citing Aswath:

That my friends will be the end of Skype’s business as well, since this will take the money out of their money making business “SkypeOut.” Indeed dark clouds were gathering over the independent VoIP business.

Aswath Weblog: There continues the ‘bellheaded’ thinking that there is gold in POTS. With IP Communications there is no additional money in voice communications. If we reconcile to this, then as a group we will not be distracted by the gold rush and would be developing features that truly revolutionizes end-to-end communication.

That is what I and many others always said: do not simply do POTS replacement, develop features using the full potential of the Internet

I am not so sure about the "dark clouds" also over Skype, because the are the first ones to be on this new way. SkypeOut is only a leftover and Skype will move on.

Skype is permanantly shifting their business, from SkypeOut to selling numbers and getting termination charges via SkypeIn to selling phones or getting some royalties (they already started this business).

Just listen to Niklas:

"How exactly are you benefiting, assuming that you want to make money?
Look at Google. When did you last pay to use Google? Similar to Google, we offer a free service but charge for value-added services, such as SkypeOut and down the road for the Skype phone."

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Norway +47 delegated in 

The request for delegation of by UNINETT norid was confirmed by ITU-T to be approved by the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority (NPT). Welcome to the club.

Kevin Martin new FCC Chair 

Commissioner Kevin Martin is named the new FCC Chair by the President and is welcomed by Jeff, Om and Tom, as already predicted in January by Paul Kapustka.

The future of Skype by Niklas Z. 

IDG News interviewed Niklas Zennstroem at the CeBit.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Xten vs. Skype 

I never liked the Xten. I sometimes tried it, but it gave me always the impression that I am to stupid to operate and configure it. On the other side I am sure I am not stupid ;-) Xten has the second worst user interface after the MS Messenger, but the Messenger is at least easy to configure. Xten has also a very bad audio, as has been demonstrated in the call between the IETF and VON.

So I was really happy to see the recent entry from Martin, he clearly explained the problem, giving another reason why Skype is so sucesselful. Now I am really sure I am not stupid ;-)

BTW, I also have now a SkypeIn number in Washington, DC.

Where is the Campari? - A NorthWest Airlines Disaster 

Definition of air travel: Hurry up and Wait (Nomes Encyclopedia)

Back from the IETF in Minneapolis I needed two days to recover from the KLM/NWA disaster. Normally I am flying Star Alliance, which is basically Austrian, Lufthansa and United. This time for retrospectively stupid reasons I decided to fly KLM/NorthWest Airlines, e.g. I considered it nice to fly direct from Amsterdam to MSP, having only a short 1 hour stop-over in Amsterdam.

This was where the trouble started. The KLM flight from Vienna was already delayed because of late arrival of the incoming plane caused by bad weather in Amsterdam. The KLM plane must be used in summer for charter to Mallorca, because the spacing between the seats did not allowyou to sit straight. The advantage was only that the guy sitting in front of me could not lean back, my kneecaps where stronger. The flight-attendants announced already: All connections before 1400 are gone, all after 1400 are confirmed. Ok, is excactly 1400 before or after? Answer: check at the transfer counters. So we finally touched down in Amsterdam at 1325, but behold: the runway seemed to be on the other side of Holland, so we drove 20 minutes through the landscape, crossing some Autobahns, until we finally found the gate. It was already 1350 when we finally dicovered a display showing departure time 1350, gate closing. The transfer counters where so crowded that we could as well try to reach the gate. So another 3 km walk, passing security checks and passport control, always gate closing on display, we finally reached the gate, and: it was still open.

So we answered the usual questions such as if we always had our luggage under eyesight (Dave Barry once answered "No, not in the cab" and missed his plane) and finally entered the plane. Basically there would have been no need to hurry anyway, because the plane was sitting there for another 30 min before doors closed. Maybe KLM/NWA have some argument with the Amsterdam Duty-free shops (see later).

Entering the NWA plane was pure nostalgia of the 80ies. A DC-10 in original design with only one Video screen in front of cabin, no audio channels and packed 2-5-2 seating. It got really amusing when I ordered a Campari-Soda. When she brought the soda, I asked: And where is the Campari? She said: what? - Campari! - Cranberry? - No, Campari! - Cranberry-juice? - No Campari! - What is is this, a likker? - Good question, what IS a Campari? - I said, yes, some kind of red likker! - We do not have any red likker. - Ok, pleas bring me a Gin/Tonic!

Since there was no way to buy duty-free in Amsterdam, I looked int the on-board catalogue and asked for duty-free. - No duty-free on this flight. - And the catalogue? - That's standard on all flights. - Hmm.

Internet connection on board? - You are kidding

Needless to say that my lugagge was lost. Luckily I got it overnight, so I had it in the morning. Willi, also flying with KLM/NWA did not get it during the whole week, Hans after some two days. So from 4 colleagues I knnow flying KLM/NWA 3 lost the luggage, the 4th was clever enough to travel with hand-luggage only.

So after one week of recovery, back to Lindbergh to the check-in of NWA. NWA has converted all check-in counters to electronic check-in to save personnel. With the check-in counters the staff left is taking care of the luggage only, except two or three supervisers in case something goes wrong, and Murphy has an eye on this. Since 6 out of 10 electonic check-ins go wrong, they are completely exhausted and over-stressed, causing the check-in taking twice as long as normal. And if finally two idiots from oversea show up with paper-tickets, the whole system comes to a grinding halt.

At the gate it was made clear that the plane was over-booked (I wonder why so many idiots are still flying NWA). Why I got a seat immediately in the first-place, where as my two colleagues only got stand-by (report to gate), one of them checking-in one hour earlier, remains a mystery. On every gate within earshot they started selling vouchers ($750 if you have flexible travel-plans), but who wants a voucher from NWA? Since I will never fly NWA again, cash only. But we finally all made the plane.

The plane was of course late and drove again like mad across major parts of Holland, so we had the usual hurry-up across Amsterdam airport and the usual wait for half-an-hour un-docked, because Vienna had bad weather and they got no slot. Butwe finally made this trip, damaging my kneecaps again in KLM. Never ever NWA.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Martin about the VON 

Martin just had an entry about the future of the VON conference making some interesting statements:

"It occurs to me that now that the technology for VoIP more-or-less works, the raison d’etre for VON is going away."
"But can you imagine attending a conference called “Web Pages Expo 2005”? “HTTP World 2005”? I suspect not."

No, but there is a very successfull Salon de l' Auto just now in Geneva, the 75th ;-)
And he proposes the answer to this a bit later:

"Instead of a supplier-centric conference, it becomes a user-centric one. I’m sure Pulver will manage the inflection point just fine."

The next statement is:

"But Skype has since provided an existence proof of the usability, quality, scalability and mass adoption of VoIP."

I must admit I have it not seen that way, but this is absolutely correct. Of course one question remains: was Skype only the proof-of-concept, and now the serious business and commercialisation may start, or is SkypeInandOut already the new business model and all others are only me-too's?

and finally:

"Notably absent from VON are mobile carriers."

This was also my impression already at the last VONs and I asked my-self aready why?

My impression in talking to mobile operators is that they are still spoilt by their past (and present) success, in do not see yet in their arrogance the upcoming signs of doom an the wall of their garden. They consider all IP Telephony, WiFi and Skype as toys, the real business will of course be IP, but in 3GPP/UMTS and IMS. They do not recognise that the device manufactures are undermining their business silently with more and more dual-mode and general purpose devices, and if, their first idea is how to prevent and block this. The fixed network operators are fazinated staring at the seemingly success and try to mimic it with also adopting the IMS model in a Me-Too approach.

I think they all need a wake-up call and I think Skype is doing a good job here too.

Martin finally points to the F2C event from Isenberg taking place March 30-31 in Washington, DC. Since I will be in Washington exactly at this date to partizipate in the 3GPP/TISPAN/ATIS Workshop on IMS, I may reconsider where to go.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Nominum, ENUM and VoIP 

Nominum is bragging in their website about their ANS. Since I cannot confirm or deny this, I just copy in the content of the page for the esteemed audience:

Nominum delivers groundbreaking ENUM benchmarks for VOIP.

ENUM is a combination of Internet-based technologies designed to map the global Public Switched Telecommunications Network (PSTN) telephone numbers, known as E.164 identifiers, into domain names. ENUM facilitates the convergence of the Internet with traditional telecommunications services.

Whereas the DNS architecture is highly scalable across the Internet, ENUM changes the rules of the game by requiring individual DNS servers to store several orders of magnitude more records, respond with reduced latency, and guarantee 99.999% availability.

To test scalability and performance at ENUM levels, Nominum loaded 200M records into its Authoritative Name Server (ANS) and several other DNS servers. Only ANS loaded the 200M records. All other servers failed at loading even 50M records.

200M RecordsPassFailFailFail
50M RecordsPassFailFailFail

With 200M records loaded, Nominum’s Foundation Authoritative Name Server (ANS) answered to 45,000 queries per second with an average latency of 2 milliseconds.

Click here for the full benchmark results.

Click here for the press release.

Click here to download high performance version of queryperf.

SkypeIn soon to come? 

SkypeIn seems to be launched soon. As Andy pointed out, if one searches Skype help for SkypeIn, a lot of information is popping up, such as prices for numbers, which countries will be supported, etc. e.g.:

How much does a SkypeIn number cost?
The prices for one SkypeIn number is 10 Euro for a 3 month subscription or 30 Euro for a 12 month subscription. If your billing address is in the EU, you will be charged 15% VAT when you purchase a SkypeIn number. Therefore total price with VAT is 11.1
What types of SkypeIn numbers can I get?
For now, you can get numbers in a selection of top US cities and states, 0870 numbers in France, 0207 numbers for the City of London in the UK and 819 numbers in Hong Kong. We will be adding more locations in the future.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Answer is Microsoft - What was the Question? 

There was some discussions recently who will finally get the business in enterprise communications. The answers ranged from Skype, the PBX-vendors, the ISPs, the telcos, ...?

All of these entities are basically scared:

The telcos are scared by the mobile operators and by VoIP.
You cannot sell something you are scared of, and if, they sell it in a walled garden.

The mobile operators, up to now very over-confident by their success, and behind their walled gardens from the beginning, start to get scared by the device manufacturers selling general purpose devices allowing their customers to break out of the walled garden.

Equipment manufacturers for telcos are scared because their customers do not know what to do and stopped buying until they get an idea. They also scare their customers whith horror security stories requring expensive session border controllers.

Equipment manufacturers for enterprise PBX are scared that their customers may detect that they do not need this expensive equipment anymore, just a piece of SW and an old PC or a Dell pizza box in the worst case, so they start also to to scare their customers by telling them about the risks on the bad and ugly internet, supported also by the telcos telling them about QoS only they can provide.

ISP are scared to get into competition with the big telcos and in addition they have no direct contacts to the enterprises.

So many enterprises are really scared from all sides if the want to go for VoIP. In addition, most VoIP manufacturers just sell VoIP, only some of themwith presence and nobody has really a solution for identity.

Only one company is not scared, they are just minding their business as usual.

I wondered that nobody ever mentioned the obvious choice:

Microsoft, the only company IMHO who really seems to get the idea what future communication is about.

Microsoft is in an ideal position: they already have tons of products within most companies: Windows, Active Directory, Office and Exchange, and equally important they have contact.

So what is easier for them to just add a bit to these existing applications, by fully integrating Real Time Communications (RTC) into this environment.

Not much of a deal for Microsoft and not much of a deal for the enterprises.

The products have been araound for some time, but now Mircosoft means business and launched today three (not compeletely) products:
  • Live communication server 2005 update
  • Communicator 2005 (Istanbul - sucessor of MS Messenger)
  • Live Meeting 2005
Go to and watch the show from SFO. (1 hour webcast)

Bill Gates said: it is all IDENTITY and PRESENCE.

So providing standalone VoIP service IS NOT the business.

Many people will use in future in the same way the use the office e-mail also the office phone system.
I am now using Outlook Web Access. A similar product was announced to get your voice communication from everywhere via https. One cannot block this.

The rest of the pack: Siemens (Openscape) and Alcatel (Nextstep) already have cooperations, others will follow.

And the ISPs, the Mobile Operators and the Telcos: they are reduced in the horizontal layers to be access and transport providers (the water companies) as I always said (not a bad business if done properly).

The application layer will belong basically to Microsoft.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

ENUM Summit 2005 - June 28 - 29, Miami, FL 

The ENUM Summit 2005 will take place June 28 -29, 2005, Hotel Intercontinental Miami, Miami, FL organized by IQPC. For more information and registration see here. There will also be one day of preconference tutorials dealing with SIP, DNS and ENUM on the 27th.

This event will bring together all of the key players in the ENUM space – regulators; standards bodies; international governments; telecom, wireless and cable operators; ISPs; VoIP service providers; ENUM and DNS solutions providers; enterprises; financial analysts and venture capitalists from around the world, discussing business models, regulation, ENUM trial results, numbering administration, security, privacy and more.

Confirmed speakers to date include:

  • Rich Shockey, Senior Manager, Strategic Technology Initiatives, NeuStar and Co-Chair, IETF ENUM Working Group
  • Jason Livingood, Director, Forward Looking Communications Services, Comcast Cable Communications
  • Penn Pfautz, Technical Consultant, AT&T
  • Richard Stastny, Chair, ENUM Forum, Austria
  • Sanford Williams, Attorney, Wireline Competition Bureau, FCC
  • James Seng, ENUM Asia Pacific Task Force
  • Tom Kershaw, Vice President, VoIP Services, VeriSign
  • Doug Ranalli, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Netnumber
  • Timothy Jasionowski, CTO, Streamdoor
  • Adrian Georgescu, Founder and CEO, AG Projects
  • Paul Mockapetris, Chief Scientist and Chairman, Nominum, Inc.
  • This is the only event to host members of the entire global value chain as they develop critical solutions to the regulatory, political and technical challenges surrounding implementation of public, private and carrier ENUM. Expert-led analysis of the latest business models, technical developments, and worldwide lessons learned will be translated into effective market strategies for operators, service providers and enterprises.

    VoIP Number range in the US (to be exact: NANP) 

    Jeff Pulver and Libretel (one of his companies) had a long and tedious way to go, but finally they achieved it: the got assigned a block of numbers from the ideal NPA for this purpose: 1-500-VON-xxxx. This assignement is also a break-through, because it is the first assigment in the NANP for a unlicenced carrier. So Jeff is again breaking ground for others, because followers will will have a much easier job. He also did it the correct, but hard way to apply for a proper number assignment and did not, like some others, just hi-jack an unused number range. For more information on the details, the background and also the history of 1-500 see Jeff's blog and also the CNET story "Dialing without a licence".

    But Jeff also recognized that he is only half-way through, the hardest part is still ahead, namely to talk the carriers into routing the calls to the gateways. This is especially in the US a nightmare, as others already have found out and this may take, with bad luck, some years.

    An ideal solution would be to put these numbers into ENUM, then the numbers could be reached at least from some countries outside the US. But also this way is blocked as long as CC1 is not partizipating in ENUM. It is realy interesting so watch how long it takes for a country claiming to be a technology leader to solve such a simple technical problem - or is it not a technical problem?

    Friday, March 04, 2005

    Port blocking by ISPs considered illegal in the US 

    This is IMHO a very important decision for the future of the open Internet access.

    As Jeff pointed out in his blog,

    the FCC issued a consent decree yesterday with Madison Rivers Communications, LLC

    with the following background:

    On February 11, 2005, the Bureau issued a Letter of Inquiry (“LOI”) to Madison River, initiating an investigation. Specifically, the Bureau inquired about allegations that Madison River was blocking ports used for VoIP applications, thereby affecting customers’ ability to use VoIP through one or more VoIP service providers..

    stating basically:

    5. In order to resolve and terminate the Investigation, the Bureau requires,
    and Madison Riveragrees, that Madison River shall not block ports used for
    VoIP applications or otherwise prevent customers from using VoIP applications.

    See alse the related statement of Mike Powell, still FCC chair.:
    According to the terms of the consent decree, Madison River commits that it will refrain
    from blocking VOIP traffic and ensure that such blocking will not recur. The company
    will pay a contribution of $15,000 to the United States Treasury to settle this matter.

    I hope that as similar attitude is adopted in Europe especially against mobile and cable operators. There are some already considering blocking of certain types of traffic and I know them all.

    Wednesday, March 02, 2005

    Germany: Launch of Commercial ENUM Service planned this year 

    DENIC announced today in a press release after the 4th ENUM-day yesterday that the launch of a commercial ENUM service is planned within this year. ENUM is ready for regular commercial service, said Sabine Dolderer from DENIC.

    The Austrian example and the presentation by Robert Schischka about the experiences sofar may have helped to speed up the decision process in Germany.

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