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August 19, 2010

ITEXPO 2010 Speaker: The Future of IP Fax in the All-IP Environment

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

The area of communications is nothing if not dynamic; flush with trends that create opportunities and challenges alike. According to Mike Coffee, CEO of Commetrex, the most significant trend in communications is the carrier’s move to an all-IP global transport. The one product or service the market is most in need of is reliable IP fax service and the only way Unified Communications (News - Alert) will go mainstream is when everyone is connected on the cloud. 

Coffee shared such insights in an interview with TMC’s Rich Tehrani (News - Alert). Their interaction is provided in full below. Coffee was also asked to weigh in on who might win the smartphone/tablet wars, but he maintained there would be no winner. He did touch on social media and how it has changed the way in which Commetrex communications with customers, highlighting the company’s use of Twitter. He did warn that HD voice will not be widespread in 2011 and bad news for Apple, Coffee believes Android will see the greatest success over the next three years. He does not anticipate wireless replacing wired networks on the whole and has seen the growth of cloud-based services firming demand for hosted fax solutions. 

As for the net neutrality debate, he believes it is an important one. He also feels that the most overhyped technology is all of them and none of them. (See below for his explanation as it is worth the scroll.) Coffee does plan to speak at ITEXPO (News - Alert) and will focus on the importance of FoIP in the IP migration. He believes attendees will take away an understanding of the problems FoIP helps to overcome. As for his prediction for 2011, the SIP Forum (News - Alert) and i3 Forum will join forces. Their conversation is provided in full below:

1.      What is the most significant trend in communications today? Why?

We tend to get caught up in the hot, sexy trend of the moment, but if you are serious about the adjective “significant”, the answer has to be the incumbent carrier’s coming move to an all-IP global transport. I know…I know…this isn’t UC, or presence, or video, or social media. All important, and all sexy, but their significance is dwarfed by that of the coming move to an all-IP global transport.

2.      What is the one product or service the market is most in need of?

Reliable FoIP. If one buys into the answer to question #1, this answer is a given since the global move to an all-IP transport must include fax, and right now fax over multiple tandem IP networks is problematic, to say the least. It’s something Commetrex is aggressively pursuing.

3.      When will unified communications go mainstream?

When everyone is connected to the cloud.

4.      Who will win the smartphone wars? Tablet wars?

Not to dodge the question, but there will be no one winner. The market will be too big and, ultimately, too diverse. Even if there is ultimately a ‘winner’, don’t count on it being a player you can name today.

5.      Has social media changed how you communicate with customers?

Well, it’s changed the way we try to communicate. You can’t ignore it, but is it effective in communicating with engineering managers, CTOs, and CEOs? We utilize Twitter for timely corporate updates, and our blog, “Mike’s Musings”, for industry and company commentary. In addition, we have launched corporate Linkedin and Facebook pages.

6.      Nearly every phone manufacturer is now incorporating support for wideband codecs. Will we finally see widespread HD voice deployments in 2011?

Widespread in 2011? No. Nothing moves that fast in telecom. 

7.      What are your thoughts on the viability of mobile video chat or conferencing?

Inexorable!!! But it will require a continuing move to 4G and beyond.

8.      Which wireless operating system (Android, iOS4, Microsoft, etc) will see the greatest success over the next three years?  Why?

Android…Google has the Mo.

9.      Some have suggested wireless networking will soon replace wired networks in the enterprise. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Replace? Soon? (What’s that?) I don’t see wired networks being replaced, but wireless will be a frequently exercised option.

10. What impact has the growth of cloud-based services had on your business?

It’s firming demand for hosted fax solutions.

11. What do you think of the net neutrality debate?

It’s an important debate. Remember when the ILECs said they could not support dial-up Internet due to the long connection times. Déjà vu all over again. The carriers will learn to cope, and then they’ll learn to profit from all that bandwidth demand.

12. What is the most overhyped technology in your opinion?

All of them and none of them: All of them because we tend to hype the next new thing; none of them because there’s nothing wrong with getting a little pumped up now and then. And we need to stay abreast of technology movements in telecom least we miss an important development. 

13. You are speaking at ITEXPO West 2010.  What is your session about?

Track: Business Solutions

“The IP Migration Isn't Done Until You FoIP Yourself” (B-13)

“What about our fax?” It's a question that invariably comes up when discussing or implementing a new IP-based communication system, whether it's an IP PBX (News - Alert), SIP Trunking service, Unified Messaging service, or a full-blown Unified Communications solution - or any combination of them. Too often an afterthought, fax can easily become a sticky wicket for businesses trying to embrace the IP-based future of communications. Problems need solutions, solutions generate revenue, yet, it has become all too common to forget fax when designing solutions for communications problems. This session will provide advice from some of the foremost experts on integrating fax into IP Communications solutions, so that you don't forget to FoIP yourself as you move towards a next generation communications environment.

14. What will attendees take away from your session?

Attendees will leave with an understanding of the problems that have been overcome with FoIP in the enterprise over the last 10 years and what problems must and will be solved by the carriers in the next 10 years.

15. Please make a bold technology prediction for 2011.

The SIP Forum and the i3 Forum will join forces and solve the FoIP tandem-network problem.

To find out more about Mike Coffee and Commetrex, visit the company at ITEXPO West 2010. To be held Oct. 4 to 6 in Los Angeles, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Coffee is speaking during “The IP Migration Isn't Done Until You FoIP Yourself.” Don’t wait. Register now.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison

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