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January 2000

Extending The Web Even Further
I enjoyed reading your article, "Extending The Web With Phone-Based Voice Browsing" (Internet Telephony´┐Ż, September 1999). Moreso because I am part of the team at Lucent Technologies working on TelePortal (Lucent's VXML/VoiceXML platform solution). Towards the end in your article, you mentioned that it will be great if one could initiate a call to a live representative from a VXML dialog. Actually, per the 0.9 specification of the VoiceXML draft, there is a TRANSFER tag which lets you do exactly what you described. In fact, the VoiceXML specification defines two ways of transferring a call: A blind transfer, and, a bridging transfer where the VoiceXML platform will bridge the call to another telephone number while being still connected. The 0.9 release for the specification can be found at www.voicexmlforum.org/specs_1.html.

Another set of capabilities that we are currently working on are enabling location-based services with our Teleportal platform. For example, if one is driving down the highway and wants to know the nearest gas station, McDonald's, etc., one can dial something like *FIND which connects to a Teleportal-based service which uses a caller's current location to provide location sensitive information. We had demoed a prototype version of this application at the PCS99 trade show held in New Orleans.
Internet/Intelligent Network Services Architecture/Prototype
Lucent Technologies, Bell Labs Innovations

Router Price Wars — Continued
Your magazine lost credibility with me based on your article in the September 1999 issue entitled “Those Crazy Routers And Switches. Their Prices are Insane.”
I agree with your premise that router prices are higher than they ought to be, but you unwittingly explained the reason for this phenomenon with your purchase of a Cisco 2501 router. Like sheep going to Microsoft, you described how many people blindly purchase four- or five-year-old technology at today’s prices. Many uninformed networkers blindly buy by brand without considering cost, performance, and value. Sure, Cisco traditional routers comprise most of the Internet edge — now they’re called bottlenecks. Heard about L3 switching or high-performance modular routers? It’s amazing to me that people still purchase these low-performance fixed-configuration 25xx boxes simply because they bought one several years ago and it did the job.

Did you shop this with Nortel, 3Com, or Ascend? Did you consider using Linux? Did you even consider other manufacturers or less-traditional technologies? If you wanted to save money, there is a huge market for used traditional routers on eBay. You could have picked up the same router for a quarter of the cost (because many savvy techies are getting rid of them). I realize your comments may have been driven by advertising revenue, but I sure hope not. I prefer to think you simply haven’t researched other products on the market.

One final thing to be aware of — while Cisco captured 75% of the traditional router market, guess what? The world is quickly replacing <100,000 pps traditional routers with >1,000,000 pps L2 and L3 switches. Guess what else, Cisco isn’t the market leader in these next-generation networks (See Dell’Oro Group Q299 Switching Market Research) — they’re capturing only brand buyers who don’t examine architecture or performance and have money to burn. It’s the old “No one has ever gotten fired for buying Cisco” <yet>.
Steve Brandt
Castroville, Texas

Robert Vahid Hashemian responds:

It is perfectly fine to disagree with my opinions. I respect you for your candor. But I feel compelled to mention that the opinions expressed in my column do not necessarily represent the opinions of the magazine or its staff. My column mainly refelects my real world experiences dealing with different vendors and products without regard to their advertising status with TMC. The only bias here is my personal opinion.

The Power Of The Palm
As a Palm Pilot user, I had to respond to your Reality Check column in the Nov ’99 Internet Telephony. With an installed user base in the millions, the Palm OS is something like the #2 OS in use in American business (I think this is based on a Dataquest poll from several months ago — you can easily confirm). What makes the Palm so successful and WinCE so unsuccessful is the KISS concept.

If I wanted to make the Windows desktop function in a palm-sized format, I would have to use WinCE. However, I do not. What sold me on the Palm platform is the ability to chuck my paper Daytimer and replace it with a Pilot. The decision process to go from paper to PalmP took roughly 30 minutes; and yes, learning graffiti is difficult at first, but now after several months, I sometimes find myself writing the same characters when creating a paper note (how analog.....).

WinCE users I know struggle with incredibly low battery life, buggy synchronization with the desktop, and scores of other issues. I carry around a 2000+ Goldmine contact database, my Outlook calendar, to-do and e-mail inbox, keep track of my business expenses, my Quicken finance data, and all the other things that used to take hours transferring from the paper daytimer to the desktop. In addition, I have a very useful outliner (BrainForest) the ability to use a keyboard (GoType) if necessary and a cool Solitaire game (keeps you awake in very boring staff meetings).
Robert Grenader
Vector-Resources, Inc.

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