Latest Columns

Convergence Corner

Making the Connected Home Smart
Cees Links, founder and CEO of GreenPeak Technologies, would likely agree there is progress toward smart homes - a term he much prefers over connected home, noting that our homes have long been connected, but they have hardly become smarter as a result - despite the ZigBee chip in the Nest remaining dormant thus far. So, until the entire home becomes connected internally, that external capability has limited value.

Virtualization Reality

Delivering a Quality VoLTE Experience Depends on Policy
Service providers are working to roll out VoLTE services within the next couple of years. They are being cautious with their deployment as they transition from circuit-switch based voice services to voice over the LTE IP infrastructure. The voice call will be sharing the same infrastructure as other Internet data communications within the S/Gi interface. Service providers need to ensure that the voice calls receive the appropriate priorities and have policies applied to ensure that web browsing and video streaming services do not adversely affect the voice quality.

UC Unplugged

Consumers Ask for Omni-channel Customer Service: Are Companies Returning the Call?
The majority of American consumers say they should be able to pick up a customer service interaction about the same issue right where they last left off - 91 percent of them in fact. Unfortunately, less than 40 percent of them have actually been able to do so according to a survey we conducted with consumers who have contacted customer service.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

What is Necessary for SIP Trunking: The PBX
One of the problems for end users and SIP trunking service providers is interoperability between the service provider's telephony switches and the PBX at the customer premises. To be truly effective - and secure - every customer's IP PBX must work seamlessly with the SIP trunk service. Achieving certification with every vendor is a costly and time-consuming process, but very necessary.

Rethinking Communications

Is Voice Really Dead?
Before IP came along, voice only meant one thing - telephony. Of course, if you take technology entirely out of the picture, voice means face-to-face communication. For all kinds of reasons, this is the mode of choice, unless you're hearing impaired or don't speak the language.

Enterprise View

Timing is Everything
Timing is everything is a phrase commonly associated with new product launches or financial transactions. Were you too early, too late, or spot on? Cisco went public in 1990 at $18 a share. The stock jumped 24 percent on the first day, and some players cashed in their winning chips. By 2000 the stock was up more than 50,000 percent, so holding the Cisco hand was also a winning decision. However, the actual winning strategy was playing the Internet poker game in the first place and selecting Cisco as the best bet on the table.

Enterprise Mobility

Anonymity and Privacy??
Times have changed. Now on the Internet, Google knows more about you than you know about yourself. Amazon watches your behavior through your browser, logging which pages you visit, how long you stay on each page, even how long your mouse lingers over a button or link. It knows your buying history and selects ads designed to appeal to you.

Infrastructure Peering

Net - Net, Who's There?
The fact that the net in net neutrality actually refers to the term network and is not a reference to the Internet is lost. The difference between network and the Internet is profound, and the results of the confusion of the legal definitions and functions of each are then therefore profound as well.

Wireless Wonk

Spectrum Sharing Summit: Commercial Production is Here
From Jan, 29-31, 2014, the Super Wi-Fi & Shared Spectrum Summit gathered in sunny Miami Beach. Hosted by Crossfire Media in conjunction with the M2M Evolution conference, the summit will reconvene again on Aug. 29 in Las Vegas. Super Wi-FI, aka TV white spaces, TVWS and spectrum sharing are gaining strong momentum from regulators, engineers, and mobile carriers as the most effective solution for the feared spectrum crunch.

Guest Room

A Cloud Provider's Checklist for CALEA Compliance
Nearly a decade has passed since federal policymakers expanded the reach of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act to VoIP, cloud, and certain broadband service providers. Yet a surprising number remain in the dark over their responsibility to comply with the law and provide technical support to law enforcement for lawful intercept.

Publisher’s Outlook

Why I'm Neutral on the Comcast, Time Warner Cable Deal
There has been lots of controversy over the merging of two of the largest cable companies Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Concerns range from fear of a monopoly to worse customer service to higher fees and data caps.

Top of Mind

What's Now & What's Next
In case you're not already aware (and even if you weren't before the Facebook deal, you probably are now), WhatsApp offers an over-the-top mobile messaging app that people can use to avoid cellco SMS charges. Facebook has reportedly been interested in the company for some time, and finally was able to reel it in for the generous offer of $19 billion (yes, billion).

Guest Room

Fundamentals of Competition Must Be Preserved as Policy Debates Heat Up in 2014
Washington, D.C., is a hotbed of activity this year, as Congress and the Federal Communications Commission focus on a number of issues impacting the communications industry. New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has set an aggressive schedule to deal with issues such as the technology transition of the public switched telephone network and last mile access issues, including special access. At the same time a series of hearings has begun in the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill to examine the possibility of updating our nation's communications law, including a rewrite of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

Convergence Corner

Does Vitelity's vMobile Finally Make the Desk Phone Obsolete?
Android support is a great start, given its status as the most popular mobile OS globally. But, given the presence of Apple in the U.S. market, especially among corporate executives, Vitelity's key to success may lie with its ability to make inroads in Cupertino. Regardless, vMobile represents success where other vendors have fallen short and certainly gives increased merit to those who have been predicting the end of the desk phone.

Deep Dive

The Planet of the Small Apps
Home automation has been around for a while, but has been primarily pursued as an expensive hobby by well-heeled consumers supported by small home automation companies that provided the expertise to implement the technology integration and customization required for every installation. For early adopters of home automation solutions, the benefits were tangible, but so were the high costs needed to make it all work.

Virtualization Reality

RCS or WebRTC? Maybe Both?
Mobile data services are becoming robust and fast enough to reliably support real-time multimedia streaming due to the introduction of 4G LTE networks. VoIP through OTT providers and VoLTE are starting to become ubiquitous. Vendors such as Skype are delivering services with a high consistent quality and the communications service providers are delivering VoLTE voice services at an increasing rate of adoption.

Regulation Watch

DC Circuit Overturns FCC Network Neutrality Rules
On January 14, 2014, the D.C. Circuit issued its opinion in Verizon v. FCC, finding that the FCC's Open Internet (i.e., network neutrality) rules prohibiting broadband providers from discriminating against third-party content and prohibiting the blocking of third-party content, exceed the FCC's authority under the Communications Act because it aimed to impose typical common carriage requirements on broadband providers.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

Technical Considerations for SIP Trunking
Before implementing SIP trunking, it is critical to evaluate your local area network to determine what may be needed ahead of time to ensure a successful VoIP deployment. Ask yourself the following questions to ensure that the deployment goes smoothly, takes minimal time and, of utmost importance, maintains the security of your network.

Rethinking Communications

How Amazon Mayday Could Have Helped Weather the Toronto Ice Storm
Given the title of my column - Rethinking Communications - sometimes the best ideas come from either outside the communications space or from unexpected events. This time around, I'm drawing from both, out of which I think you'll come away thinking differently about your relationship with customers.

Enterprise View

Consultants and Resellers - It's Vital to BC Plan Audits
Most organizations have migrated all or some of their operations to the cloud to increase efficiencies, lower costs, and get a better business continuity architecture in the bargain. However, getting complacent and feeling safe can lead to disaster. A full BC plan audit is still necessary to guarantee that your organization's BC plan components are synchronized and in full compliance with the latest technologies available.

Enterprise Mobility

Mobile Trust
ARM processors have TrustZone; Samsung has Knox; Apple has Enclave; smart cards (credit cards with embedded chips) and UICC (SIM) cards have GlobalPlatform. So, how do they all relate to each other?

Tech Score

Top 3 Considerations when Transitioning to Haswell Servers in 2014
The Intel tick-tock model is upon us once again. The server industry will undergo another major shift in 2014. This year represents the tock cycle and the next big innovation in processor microarchitecture. The new Haswell microarchitecture featured in the 22 nm 4th generation Core Processor family will have multiple die flavors to address low core count and high mHz as well as high core count and lower mHz for servers. Here are three important factors when considering the Haswell server transition.

Infrastructure Peering

Wall Street Journal Cites Investment in New Dark Fiber Routes
Basically, the tech giants like the telecom companies want control over as much of their networks as they can get. To gain control they are building, buying and leasing as much dark fiber as they can where they need it as soon as they can get it and put it to use.

Wireless Wonk

TLPS: Newly Minted FCC Licensed Mobile Satellite Wi-Fi Spectrum
TLPS stands for terrestrial low power service. TLPS is not a regulatory term but is used by Globalstar to describe the FCC's proposed new change to Rule 25 for mobile-satellite service providers' use of low power ATC. Rule 25 defines the requirements for ATC equipment. ATC includes terrestrial wireless base stations and mobile devices licensed to a MSS provider that offers radio communication services together with MSS, allowing re-use of spectrum assigned for the satellite licensee's MSS operations.

Publisher’s Outlook

New Huawei Ascend Mate 2 is a Big Deal
Do you remember when the best phone was the smallest and slimmest? It's funny that at one time car keys were small and cell phones were big, and then around 10 years ago German car companies in particular started to make keys a bit shy of the size of some flip-phones. Then the market shifted directions when smartphones finally allowed decent web browsing.

Top of Mind

A Report on Two Reports
Two communications leaders, Metaswitch and Verizon, around press time released reports that I think are worthy of note.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

Technical Considerations for SIP Trunking
Before implementing SIP trunking, it is critical to evaluate your local area network to determine what may be needed ahead of time to ensure a successful VoIP deployment. Ask yourself the following questions to ensure that the deployment goes smoothly, takes minimal time and, of utmost importance, maintains the security of your network.

Publisher’s Outlook

The Ghosts of Tech Past and Future
Almost overnight the concept of wearable technology has wiped out potentially tens of billions of dollars of extra spending to touch-and-display-enable our world. Wow. Talk about a disruptive technology - smart glass getting disrupted by smart glasses.

Top of Mind

What's Driving Software Telco?
Definitions of SDN vary, but most agree that it involves the use of the OpenFlow protocol and features an architecture consisting of an application layer, a physical network layer, and an SDN controller, which removes the control plane from the network hardare and runs it as software.

Deep Dive

The Business Case for NFV-based Network Intelligence
Not only does this directly translate to significant network cost savings, it also accelerates time-to-market for new policy-based services. Intelligent policy enforcement capabilities that may be offered as part of a DPI/policy platform can be readily provisioned in markets where it is needed to either conduct trials or deploy region-specific services. The market for broadband network services is constantly changing and support for more flexible deployment of DPI and policy resources can be a huge benefit to service providers. It is not a question of whether or not virtualized DPI/policy functions will benefit service providers; it is a question of how quickly can the vendor community meet the demand.

Virtualization Reality

VoLTE - Delivering Reliable and Secure Mobile VoIP
As one can see with the discussed issues, it is easy to understand why the CSPs are taking their time to migrate to VoLTE. Eventually, all LTE networks will utilize VoLTE services because it makes sense. Circuit switching equipment can be eliminated. The entire mobile network will be packet-based IP. This means there will be a common unified architecture for CSPs to manage and maintain. The promise of LTE is an intelligent subscriber-aware and policy-aware network that delivers services in a consistent manner. VoLTE is the enablement of that vision for voice services.

Regulation Watch

Talk of Telecom Rewrite Could Mean Deja Vu All Over Again
On Dec. 2, the U.S. House of Representatives, under the leadership of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), the chairman of the subcommittee on Communications and Technology, announced their intent to begin re-writing the Communications Act.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

What is SIP Trunking?
The voice quality, even over an un-managed public Internet connection, can be excellent. Digital packetization of voice has proven to be better than analog. This is because digital packets do not suffer from audio distortions, loss levels, and other weaknesses. The quality of voice is directly related to the quality of the network, with the "weak link" of VoIP being latency in a slow network. A SIP-capable E-SBC with QoS solves this problem.

Rethinking Communications

Amazon Mayday - What it Means for Your Contact Center
While most businesses lack Amazon's scale and efficiencies for managing a gigantic customer base from the cloud, these underlying principles can still apply. You may not need to deliver service in 15 seconds, and with a little bit of research, you can easily determine the optimal waiting time that applies to your customers. Once you know that, the trick is figuring out how to deliver the right service once contact has been made.

Enterprise View

The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same
Another constant - profits still need to be made the old-fashioned way by earning them. Sales teams must be closely managed, and that takes time. A good cloud sales management or CRM solution makes the job much easier, but you need to implement it first. Meticulously review the leads and results to determine which of your marketing investments are generating the best ROI and re-allocate your resources accordingly.

Enterprise Mobility

Multified Communications?
There is, of course, one place where unified communications makes a lot of sense: in the call center, where all modes of communication should flow to the same pool of agents, and into the same customer timeline in the CRM database. But there seems to be no demand for this from call center operators, whose main motivation seems to be to discourage calls rather than to help the caller (cf, the 30-second exhortation to use the website that you must endure before you get routed to an agent).

UC Unplugged

Customer Service Isn't Such a Sleigh Ride during the Holiday Season
Many of the people we queried are planning on moving to different channels if they do contact brands during the season. While nearly half say phone is the best channel to contact customer service during the year, only 33 percent say the same of the holidays. This drop is due to more consumers saying chat, e-mail, text, social and in-person are the best channels during the holidays (67 percent) compared to year-round (52 percent).

Convergence Corner

Real Reality TV
The mobile revolution has created what can only be called an age of instant gratification. We have come to expect access to information and content instantly, whenever and wherever we want it. That evolution of mobility and communication has given rise to a entire new ecosystems of activity, in the process spawning new industries. Perhaps most notable is the mobile application market.

Disaster Preparedness

Looking Ahead to 2014
Generally the December and January DPCF columns focus on the need for having a good plan in place for the upcoming year. We deviated a little in 2011 with a column titled "Eating Your Own Dog Food" to illustrate how TMC managed to cope with Hurricane Irene. October and November of 2012 brought more devastation but, again, TMC remained in full operation. The reason was simple. TMC had a robust and up-to-date BC/DR plan in place. This is a major reason for listening to our advice. We adhered to it, and it worked.

Rethinking Communications

Video - Which Way Now?
I haven't written about video here for some time, and there is a lot to catch up on. To whatever extent you're currently using video in your business, I'm sure you've noticed an increasing number of options over the course of 2013.

Infrastructure Peering

Innovation's Infrastructure Investment
The "Innovation and the Economy" Financial Times Special Report from Clive Cookson published on Oct. 17 reads: "Policy makers need to embrace a broader vision of innovation, and shape infrastructure and regulation accordingly."

Wireless Wonk

Google and Microsoft: Delivering Global Unlicensed Super Wi-Fi
Google and Microsoft are priming the pump for using super Wi-Fi to deliver wireless broadband outside U.S., the birthplace white spaces. Africa is the key focus. Even Facebook through Internet.org is talking about creative ways to deliver Internet to the unconnected in Africa.

ZipWhip: What if Every Phone Number Could Text?
Back in 2005, yes, 2005 I wondered when Wi-Fi phones would allow text messaging - I suggested there was an opportunity for companies to take advantage of the merging of the VoIP and consumer electronics spaces.

Tech Score

Life Cycle Management Considerations for Enterprise IT (Part 1)
Today's IT organizations face aging infrastructure and shrinking budgets. This leaves little room to invest in new technologies that would otherwise help grow the business.

Regulation Watch

Opportunities Abroad - EU Considers Single Market Telecom Package
On Sept. 11, 2013, the European Commission released a proposed telecommunications framework aimed at further harmonizing the broadband market across the EU. If adopted, it would implement network neutrality rules and eliminate EU roaming costs. It must be approved by the European Parliament and by the EU Council before it becomes law.

Deep Dive

The Ultra HD Rush
Ultra-high definition TV is the next generation of high definition TVs. Just like the industry push for commercializing the current HDTV standard that began 15 years ago, consumer expectations are high. The one primary difference between then and now is that streaming video services are available and mainstreamed so to speak.

Top of Mind

Planes, Drones, Automobiles and The New Normal
When I think about the year in review a few things really stick out for me. On a personal level, I think about all the good times I've had with my wonderful husband and child, all the successes and great experiences said child has had, and how I myself made it to the finish line in my first organized bike event. From a professional standpoint, I think about all the mergers and acquisitions we've seen recently (see related story), some of the hot trends like SDN and WebRTC (see other related story), and as well as the Jetsons-type concepts that are actually becoming reality during my lifetime.

Enterprise Mobility

Traveling the Uncanny Valley
As robots become more and more humanlike, researchers have observed that there is a sudden dip in appeal, a feeling of revulsion, close to the most human-like end of the spectrum. They call this the uncanny valley, since a near perfect simulation can transition out the other side.

GUEST ROOM

From Business Protection to Business Growth
Getting urgent requests from internal users is nothing new for revenue assurance and fraud management teams in communications and digital service providers. But the nature of these requests is changing and in a fundamental way. These teams are now receiving many new requests related to growing the business, not just protecting revenue streams. For example, marketers might want to correlate margins and revenues for specific customer segments with demographic information derived from the customer relationship management system. Finance executives might want to make a similar correlation, but in reverse, so they can include segment information about customers when making decisions about margins and risk prioritization.

Mobile Musings

LTE: The Mobile Darling's Secret Sauce
Users are snapping up features via the mobile network du jour, LTE, quicker than hotcakes. Global deployments of commercial LTE networks are ramping up - there are more than 200 right now - and subscribers are signing on in huge numbers. Rapid growth always carries consequences, but some of the most significant repercussions are those that users barely notice, even though they are directly affected by them. Because of its speed, LTE delivers an attractive mobile on-ramp to the Internet, which is changing the way smartphone and tablet owners use their devices.

Deep Dive

Monetizing Content Intelligence
Another significant monetization opportunity for content intelligence is through the use of content analytics. By analyzing content usage of their network subscribers, service providers can identify usage trends at a macro level, helping them to determine how to spend on network enhancements and expansion. Content analytics also contributes to profiling content usage so that service providers can create and offer services that address emerging customer needs. When supported by a DPI platform, content intelligence can clearly be monetized as part of cost saving programs or brand-new, value-based subscriber services.

ENTERPRISE VIEW

The Dog and Pony Show Is Still Critical
The Internet and websites make step one a lot easier. A prospect can simply call and say: I looked at your site, and you have the solution I need, how much is it? This appears straightforward but only if the solution is quite simple. Many prospects do not fully understand the technologies involved, for example, in a converged messaging solution, nor should they. That is the job of the sales professional. Therefore, you cannot skip or rush through steps two and three. You must fully qualify the opportunity. You have to drill down on the questions and make sure the prospect really understands the solutions being offered. The alternative could result in a sale but with a very unhappy customer and a lot of support calls.

Virtualization Reality

Is Mobile Security in Your Control?
It is important to take measures to protect the components within the mobile network infrastructure that one has control over.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

SIP Trunking Benefits: Minimize Business Interruption
Disaster recovery, or more properly avoidance of business interruption, has become a key element of network planning. Enterprises require always on services - there's no room for downtime when you have customers, or employees, depending on the network. This is especially true with voice applications that are mission-critical to any business.

Rethinking Communications

What Millennials Can Teach Us about Collaboration
I realize this analysis will not hold up in the mainstream, but I do believe it reflects how the workforce is evolving. If you have a lot of millennials in your midst, there may well be a disconnect between your expectations of UC and the results from your end users. In that event, you probably have a thing or two to learn from millennials about what collaboration means to them, and once you have that, you'll probably want to have a chat with your UC vendor.

How Verizon’s Buyout of Vodafone Relates to FirstNet

How Verizon's Buyout of Vodafone Relates to FirstNet
So, what is the value of Verizon Wireless if the government is going to fund its capital expenditures on a nationwide network rollout? The exact answer is presently unknown, but certainly it is a much higher valuation than $289 billion if capital expenditures for new infrastructure were baked in to that number as being funded by the company.

Wireless Wonk

Why the FCC's 5gHz Rule Making is So Important
A neutral database can be used to coordinate power levels between the radios without requiring spectrum sensing in the devices. The databases can tell radios within tightly defined geographies to turn on or off, or to change channels based on the database information of other radios operating in the same geographies and same channels. The databases would operate to give priority to higher power (1W) radios over lower power (50mW) radios but at the same time allow lower power radios to occupy the bandwidth that is unused in a local geography by a higher power radio.

Publishers Outlook

GENBAND Buys Fring to Make Carriers Sexy
The idea may not work as well as intended, but there are a lot of reasons why this move could be very successful.

Top of Mind

Update from OpenWorld
I understand that concepts usually aren't as simple as they may at first seem. For example, we heard a lot about the public cloud and its many benefits. And all that's true. But recently we're starting to hear more about private and hybrid clouds as well, which just goes to show that not every solution meets every need, and that new technologies often morph and are redefined as they move forward.

Convergence Corner

Technology: The Modern Swimming Lesson
Modern technology - from consumer devices to enterprise software and cloud computing - it's changing our world, for the better, most would argue. Indeed, every business is constantly on the lookout for methods of improving workflows and processes to create more efficient operations. In many cases, automation plays a significant role in creating more efficient businesses.

Cover Story

Gaining Momentum in the Channel: Hosted VoIP Provider's Valued Partner Program Off to a Strong Start
Hosted VoIP is supposed to be easy to deliver, but the plug-and-pray method of installation doesn't always work so great for customers, or the agents that sell them such solutions. The true path to hosted VoIP success is to take the time to visit the customer location, do a site survey, handle the installation rather than just ship the customer phones, and offer ongoing support and quality monitoring throughout the life of the customer and channel partner relationship.

Eliminating Disconnects Through Omnichannel Communications
In the business world, we hear the word integration all the time - integration of processes, of technology, of people. But when thinking about the word integration, what does it really mean? Is it just a buzzword, or is there something behind it?

Disaster Preparedness

Listen Up Already
The October 2012 Disaster Preparedness column titled "How the Cow Ate the Cabbage" referenced a frequently used Texas folk saying included by former Texas Gov. Ann Richards in her speech at the 1988 Democratic convention. The generally accepted meaning is to tell someone a truth they do not want to hear. Hopefully TMC readers in the Northeast listened and acted quickly as disaster was just around the corner.

Deep Dive

It's Prime Time to Monetize OTT Video
For mobile operators, all of these factors combine to create challenges to overcome along with revenue opportunities to seize when looking to encourage OTT video usage. But this has to be achieved without operators breaking their networks, depleting the consumer's bank account, providing a poor quality experience, or worse yet modifying the consumer's behavior to only watch streamed video content on Wi-Fi access networks. The time for mobile operators to capitalize on mobile OTT video usage is now and so is the technology needed to make it happen.

Regulation Watch

FCC E-Rate Overhaul Could Affect VoIP Eligibility
As part of its planned overhaul of the program, the FCC has requested comment on whether to phase out support for certain "outdated" services (i.e., paging, directory assistance, custom calling features, inside wiring maintenance, call blocking, text messaging), as well as other types of services such as e-mail, web hosting, basic maintenance of internal connections (BMIC), cellular data plans and air cards, and possibly all basic phone service.

Tech Score

Kontron MS2900 No Ordinary Server
A new product recently released by Kontron called the SymKloud MS2900 is not just another ordinary server, but instead is targeted at solving the critical challenges of cloud-based applications. The product is certainly feature rich, but the four features that clearly distinguish the new MS2900 are its switching, load balancing, modularity, and reliability. This new platform takes the modularity and switching strengths from the ATCA standard and combines them with the lower profile and price of a standard 2U rack mount server.

Virtualization Reality

NFV: Virtualization Leads to Dynamic Services
NFV is a working group within the European Telecommunications Standards Institute to determine how the drive for software and virtualization can benefit CSPs. NFV is designed to virtualize services in the next-generation networks such as 4G LTE's evolved packet core. This means that services such as VoIP and rich communications services could migrate from proprietary platforms to COTS hardware as virtualized software running on industry standardized platforms. Services within the CSP network such as the SBC or SIP proxy are primary targets for virtualization and the NFV committee.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

Q&A: What is an E-SBC?
At Ingate's SIP Trunking Academy at ITEXPO we held several sessions on the role of E-SBCs and SIP trunking. We talked the nuts and bolts of session border controllers, security, interoperability, WebRTC…you name it. I wanted to share some of the Q&As.

Rethinking Communications

The Upside of Personalization
By its nature, collaboration requires interaction among parties, and for that reason I've been exploring what this means to different stakeholders. Some people collaborate more effectively than others, and that can mean many things. On one level, there are good team players, while others just want to be left alone to do their thing. Then you have group dynamics where certain functions or departments interact easily with peers doing similar types of work, but not so well will those who work in completely unrelated areas.

Guest Room

US Patent Law is Broken, Here's How to Fix It
In 2012, Apple successfully sued Samsung for creating a screen that can distinguish between one or two fingers touching it. Apple also sued Samsung for copying the iPhone shapes, white and black colors, and rounded icons, among other things. And today, Google Maps might get shut down in Germany for violating Microsoft's patent on a "computer system for identifying local resources and method therefor."

Infrastructure Peering

The US Fiber Gap
To be clear, not all fiber is, or was, created equal here in this country. Much of the fiber outside of a few major metros and fewer lower-tier cities is carrier-owned and therefore not readily available for lease, or IRU on any terms let alone reasonable ones. This is just a matter of course for carriers that do not wish to enable their competitors with the same benefit of control of fiber from their own inventory. Therein lies a conundrum.

Wireless Wonk

What the Het?
Hetnet has become the most commonly used word in mobile infrastructure world. It was created from a rarely used term in the computer world: heterogeneous networks. That was coined to describe connecting different computers using different protocols on different diverse networks. Heterogeneous networks was applied first in 2009 to describe the integration of various mobile RAN network assets including macrocells, microcells, picocells, femtocells, distributed antenna system, and Wi-Fi access points. Because heterogeneous was such a mouthful, it was shortened in 2010 to hetnet. IEEE made a call for papers on hetnet in 2010 and held the first IEEE HetNet workshop in 2011.

Publisher’s Outlook

Microsoft Buys Nokia Device and Services Business
Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will pay EUR 3.79 billion to purchase substantially all of Nokia's Devices & Services business, and EUR 1.65 billion to license Nokia's patents, for a total transaction price of EUR 5.44 billion in cash. Microsoft will draw upon its overseas cash resources to fund the transaction. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014, subject to approval by Nokia's shareholders, regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

Top of Mind

ITEXPO Panel Sees M2M, WebRTC, Wearable Tech as Game Changers
That was the gist of the opening panel on innovation at ITEXPO Vegas in August. The session featured James Brehm of Compass Intelligence; Phil Edholm of PKE Consulting; Carl Ford of Crossfire Media; Larry Lisser of Embrase Business Consulting; and

App Economy Means Software Telcos
There's no denying the pace of technology change has increased to a point where it has become a daily expectation. We don't always know what the next change will be, but we can be fairly certain the rising of the sun tomorrow will bring with it a new application, service, device, architecture, delivery method, or something else. That's the world in which we live - nothing is constant but change.

Convergence Corner

The Stars Are Aligning for WebRTC
WebRTC Conference & Expo this summer had its share of superstars, from "The Human Highlight Film" Dominique Wilkins to All-star third baseman Chipper Jones, and of course a global representation during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.

Mobile Musings

SDN vs. NFV: What's the difference?
Hype is rising around software defined networking and network functions virtualization. But along with hype, there is also a lot of confusion.

Deep Dive

Does Big Data Equal Big Answers?
The amount of data getting generated by businesses of all types has been exploding, and analyzing this information will be key to maintaining a competitive stance in the market.

Enterprise View

Leverage - Use It
The lever is a simple device using a bar (long stick) and a pivot. It is one of the first tools used by man due to its simplicity. A bar 10 feet long can move a 200 pound rock if the pivot point is set 2.5 feet from the rock. The mechanical advantage would be 4:1 so the person only encounters the equivalent of 50 pounds of peak resistance.

Enterprise Mobility

Appification
Mobile device platforms and form factors are proliferating like weeds. IT departments have conceded BYOD to their users, so now they are faced with supporting a rapidly evolving array of client devices.

Virtualization Reality

Content Routing - The Evolution and Virtualization of the Network
Technologies to move traffic back and forth on the Internet have evolved rapidly. How networks direct and steer traffic continues to change as technologies and solutions converge to manage content instead of packets.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

Call Center Dials-Up SIP Trunking
The high-volume, high-availability, fast pace of the large call center is ideal for SIP trunking. SIP trunks can be nimble enough for extremely fast deployments, so call centers can expand rapidly when needed.

Rethinking Communications

The Downside of Personalization
This month I'm continuing the theme from my last column where I explored how end users see collaboration. The virtues of collaboration have been taken as gospel lately by senior management, and since most UC vendors are banking their future on it, this is the current almost everyone is swimming with.

Guest Room with Peter Bernstein

The State of Voice Services
Don't look now but deregulation of voice services is coming to a state near you. Multiple states have passed, are considering, or plan to consider requests by VoIP service providers that their services be considered as information services and thus exempt from traditional common carrier regulation.

Infrastructure Peering

FirstNet - Where Are We Now?
It has been a while since the last update on FirstNet, the independent authority within the NTIA, to provide emergency responders with the first high-speed, nationwide network dedicated to public safety. So, what has happened in the past six months?

Wireless Wonk

What's Needed to Make FirstNet a Success
The 2012, U.S. Congress created the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet. It is the second time at the plate to try to create a dedicated nationwide, interoperable, highly reliable LTE network for the nation's 2.5 million public safety workers.

Publisher's Outlook

Americans Don't Know They Want Wearable Tech - Yet
Recently a headline stating that most Americans don't want wearable tech caught my eye and reminded me of many past of articles regarding consumer choices that were just plain wrong.

Top of Mind

E-Discovery & Chicago Revisited
When people use Google to search for something on the web, they're typically happy to get a few relevant results, which they check and then move on with their lives.

Covergence Corner

Inspecting the PRISM
It took less than a day for the imbroglio in the U.S. over the National Security Agency compelling Verizon (via until June 5 a secret court order) to turn over phone records to explode. As predicted, this became the top news item for days to come, which meant it was only a matter of time before there would be more information, either purposely leaked or uncovered by a now totally engaged investigative news community, about NSA best/worst practices.

Disaster Preparedness

Continuity Planning 101 - A Continuing Educational Series : Why Should You Listen to Our Advice?
The idea for this column began with a conversation between the two of us at ITEXPO West 2005 in Los Angeles. 2005 was the most active hurricane season in recorded history, and the devastation caused by Katrina was on everyone's mind. 2005 was also a turning point for IP telephony as, for the first time, more IP telephony systems were shipped than TDM phone systems.

Mobile Musings

The Benefits of Software-Based Session Border Controllers
In a typical scenario, SBC hardware sits on the border of two IP networks, with IP connections on both sides of the box and a physical connection to an IP network.

Deep Dive

Is All DPI Created Equal?
DPI platforms analyze network traffic in different ways, much like a fingerprint or DNA database where patterns of classification are pre-established. This information is referenced against a criminal suspect to determine if there's a match. If you think of a data traffic session as a lineup of suspects, a fingerprint-like mechanism called signatures is used to help identify and classify traffic in real time by examining Layer 7 packet information. Just as with fingerprint/DNA classification schemes, signatures need to be updated constantly to improve classification success rates. Just-in-time signature database updates improve accuracy, thereby increasing cost savings or revenue capture for subscriber-based network services.

Infrastructure Peering

SDN - Don't Believe The Hype
Wikipedia says software-defined networking "is an approach to building data networking equipment and software that separates and abstracts elements of these systems. SDN allows network administrators to have programmable central control of network traffic without requiring physical access to the network's hardware devices… SDN decouples the system that makes decisions about where traffic is sent (the control plane) from the underlying system that forwards traffic to the selected destination (the data plane)."

The Ivy Bridge Impact on New Server Appliances
The Ivy Bridge CPU micro-architecture is a die shrink of today's Sandy Bridge CPU. The faster Xeon E5 and E7 chips, which are based on Ivy Bridge, will be made using the 22-nanometer process. This new Xeon chipset will certainly bring performance, but will also showcase improved power efficiency and security.

Rethinking Communications

Now You Want Me to Collaborate? Leave Me Alone!
I have often noted that IT may be the economic buyer for UC, but employees are ultimately the end users and need to be co-opted along the way. The amorphous nature of UC makes the value proposition difficult to understand for IT, and the use case a bit tricky for end users to grasp. Nobody consulted end users about what an ideal UC solution should look like or even if they wanted it in the first place.

Virtualization Reality

Programmable Security
Applications, users, devices, and data are constantly in flux; even IP addresses, once solid points of light in an otherwise dark data center, are on the move. Security policies, whether focused on network or application access, user or application-generated data, must be dynamic and flexible enough to keep up to the constant myriad of changes. To not do so risks havoc and frustration when users can't access applications or check e-mail, or find their mobile device suddenly devoid of all data due to an unintentional policy violation.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

A Hype or Disruptive - Will WebRTC Have an Impact on the PBX and SIP Trunking?
WebRTC is Google's initiative to bring multimedia or real-time person-to-person communication - RTC - directly into the web browser. Although it may be a year before the IETF and W3C standards are in place, WebRTC is already available in Google's Chrome and Mozilla's Firefox browsers and applications are emerging.

UC Unplugged

Big Data, Big Opportunity for the Contact Center
According to an Aspect survey, 77 percent of Americans think companies that offer multiple channels as part of their customer service are easier to do business with, and 74 percent say they provide better service. Each time a customer interacts with a company, whether it's a Tweet, Facebook post, phone call or discussion board comment, valuable information is shared. Consumers have the expectation that the information from those exchanges are recorded and shared from channel to channel so they don't have to repeat to a live agent what they shared earlier in the week on an IM. Many companies trail the consumer when it comes to managing this information.

Guest Room

How Product Developers Can Improve Time to Market
These are the findings of a recent study of 280 globally-based product development executives who conveyed their top pain points, business risks, software impacts, and process improvements through the lens of resource management and capacity planning.

Wireless Wonk

Key Players Converge in Boston to Share Views on Spectrum Sharing
From April 23-24, 2013, the White House's Networking and Information Technology Research and Development WSRD (Wireless Spectrum Research & Development, or Wizard) group met at MIT to discuss spectrum utilization. Meeting days after the Boston Marathon Bombing and in the MIT Stata Center, the sight of the killing of MIT Officer Sean Collier, one of the panels included Brookline Police Department's Scott Wilder, director of technology and communications, and Don Denning, CIO for public safety for the City of Boston. Both police officers participated in the crisis.

Publisher’s Outlook

Deciphering Apple’s Success Involves a Simple Equation
A recent blog by Charlie Stross of Charlie’s Diary explains why he thinks Apple is blocking Flash from many of its newer devices. In a nutshell, Flash allows cross-platform development, and Apple of course doesn’t want to see this being done. There are other cross-platform tools available for the iPhone, but let’s not go there at this moment.

Guest Room

ARIN’s Guide to IPv6 Preparedness
Every device directly connected to the Internet needs an IP address. There are two versions: IP version 4, better known as IPv4, and IP version 6, aka IPv6. IPv4, the current version, holds 4,294,967,296 addresses, and about 92 percent of them have already been distributed. IPv6, the newer version, holds 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 addresses.

Next Wave Redux

Enterprise Social Networking, Beyond the Enterprise
There’s a classic study, “How Bell Labs Creates Star Performers” by Robert Kelley and Janet Caplan, that was published in the Harvard Business Review in 1993. In their studies, everyone they dealt with was smart. The first difference between star and middle performers was initiative, but No. 2 was work strategies for networking and self-management.

Regulation Watch

The FCC’s National Broadband Plan and Its Affect on VoIP
On March 16, 2010, after a 13-month study, the FCC released “Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan,” containing policy recommendations for achieving national goals identified by Congress. The plan recommends six long-term goals, many of which will undoubtedly affect VoIP providers, their markets, and the regulation of their services.

Disaster Preparedness

A Simple, Affordable Business Continuity Strategy
Today’s SMBs are faced with many challenges. Business continuity applications are crucial to a company’s survival. However, the start-up costs and the need for specialized IT staff sometimes prevent or delay a timely BC deployment until it is too late. Fortunately, today’s subscription-based service industry makes it easy and affordable to deploy a BC plan quickly. These solutions are generally referred to as SaaS or cloud computing. Some service providers support reseller channels to make it even easier for SMBs to acquire these technologies.

Tech Score

Developing a ‘Smart Appliance’ Strategy
As ISVs and OEMs rush to plan their cloud computing strategies, IT enterprises are looking to solve real business problems in the near term. Cloud computing is considered a disruptive technology as companies try to maximize their IT-related spending. Analysts report that more than 20 percent of enterprises are either piloting or implementing some cloud/utility computing solutions today and do not plan to own any IT assets after 2012.

Virtualization Reality

VMware: Watching Microsoft and Citrix Partner Up
In a previous virtualization column I discussed how the popularity of virtualization has a good bit to do with provisioning, orchestration, and management. Once a dynamic infrastructure supporting the virtual platform is in place it becomes much easier to provision and turn up new virtual machines and resources than it does to turn up physical resources because the infrastructure is still made up of physical resources: physical machines with real CPUs and RAM, physical networks with real cabling and ports, and physical appliances that are better suited to running on hardware. However, in the current data center model where virtualization is king, physical resources and virtual resources need to work together as one unit. Despite the explosive growth of virtualization over the past few years, this integrated management and provisioning component has been missing.

Top of Mind

Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want
The need for more wireless spectrum to support the boom in mobile devices and bandwidth has been discussed at great length and, I thought, was an idea on which most in the industry agreed. But recently this supposition, as well as how wireless spectrum is made available for this purpose, has been thrown into question.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

SIP Trunking with Microsoft OCS
SIP trunking with Microsoft Office Communications Server presents a unique challenge, one that’s being faced by many enterprises today. It’s a problem with a simple solution, but one that needs to be addressed in order for SIP trunking to be possible.

Thinking IT Through

Choosing Between UC ROI and TCO Tools
SMBs are approaching UC deployment in a deliberate manner befitting the financial struggles many are experiencing. They see UC as a pathway for addressing several key business pain points.

VoIPeering

CENX - Carrier Ethernet Interconnections with a Voice Exchange
A new entrant to the Ethernet exchange world has arrived – CENX. Carrier Ethernet Neutral Exchange is the proper name and what really defines this business model is the service of facilitating interconnections between Ethernet transport networks. This is done through a common Layer 2 Ethernet switch as VLANs between the carrier participants. Logically, each must be an operator of an Ethernet transport network, or at least have an Ethernet interface, in order to participate.

Viewpoint: Voice of the Customer

Five Things You Can Do to Improve Your Customer Experience
As a customer advocate, I’m happy to hear so many companies talk about the importance of customer experience. But how many are really taking steps to improve it across all channels?

E911 Watch

Building Support for E911 — It Takes a Village
Building support inside your organization to implement E911 is an important task. There are multiple stakeholders within your organization that will be affected in some way by the implementation of E911, and it is important to explain the project to them, identify how E911 will affect them and gain their support. Not only does this approach ensure success in the implementation phase of the project, but it is often the most important success factor in obtaining executive and financial approval to move forward with an E911 project.