Latest Columns

WebRTC to WebComm

What Was Hot at WebRTC Expo in Miami
The WebRTC Conference & Expo recently took place in Miami. Overall it was an exciting conference and a great view of where WebRTC is today and where it is going. While the conference did not start formally until Tuesday morning, a group of developers took part in the WebRTC University starting on Monday afternoon with Dan Burnett and Alan Johnston, getting hands-on learning and certification in WebRTC technologies and development.

Top of Mind

A New Angle on Network Function Abstraction
I must admit, I'd never heard of UBIqube Solutions or even ETRI before my conversation in late May with Nabil Souli, CEO and chairman of UBIqube. But it was an interesting conversation, and one I'd like to share with you, at least in part and from my perspective, here.

Publisher's Outlook

Aerohive Continues Its Drive to Reach World Domination
Aerohive told me in 2010 it was positioned for world domination in the Wi-Fi space. I thought that was very cool - certainly not your typical tech interview. Sure, it's not break-the-Internet worthy, but it is still an awesome approach in my opinion.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

How to Realize Huge Cost Savings by Replacing 1-800 Numbers
WebRTC - real-time communications directly in Web browsers - is coming. The standardization in IETF and W3C is being finalized, and telecom companies, other service providers, and product vendors are accelerating their development and offerings.

UC Unplugged

Why Visual IVR is a Bad Idea
By today's industry definition, visual IVR is an IVR application augmented with a visual interface. Smartphones and most carrier networks let us open a native mobile app or browse to a mobile web app (e.g. pushed to the phone via an SMS text message) during a call. This app visualizes the options that the caller is hearing through the IVR, and lets them take control through this touch interface. So rather than pushing keys on the numerical dial pad (DTMF input) or using speech recognition, the user can now navigate through the IVR options using touch. This can speed up navigation, reduce call duration, and enhance the customer experience.

Wireless Wonk

Amtrak's PTC 220mHz Spectrum Strategy
Riding Amtrak from Boston to NYC is far safer than driving on U.S. roads where, tragically, almost 33,804 people were killed in the U.S. in 2013, almost 93 unnecessary deaths per day. The Amtrak accident on May 13, 2015, while awful and tragic, resulted in just six deaths, a miniscule fraction of the 33,000 U.S. automobile deaths.

Regulation Watch

FCC Releases the Text of the 2015 Network Neutrality Order
After years of proceedings and millions of comment submissions, the FCC released the text of its network neutrality order in mid-March. As widely expected, the order established bright-line open Internet rules covering broadband Internet access providers, both fixed and mobile.

Rethinking Communications

Should SMBs Buy from Incumbents?
This is one of those elephant-in-the-room questions that make people uncomfortable. You may think it's a one-sided issue, but upon further analysis, there's more to the story. So much of this depends on what your experiences have been, along with what your expectations are for communications technologies going forward.

Disaster Preparedness

The Common Sense Approach to Magic and Invisibility
Invisibility has long been a favorite topic for science fiction writers. However, today in real life, physicists are studying invisibility to solve practical problems like allowing surgeons to see through their hands during delicate operations. When it comes to computers, invisibility is a strong deterrent to spear phishing, botnets, spyware, malvertising, and other hacker techniques. Magic screens of invisibility do not exist yet, but there are tools and techniques available including a common sense approach to information visibility.

What’s Next

The Rise of NFV: Telecom Will Never Be the Same
The rise of network functions virtualization - an initiative in which service providers are virtualizing traditional network functions now running on dedicated legacy hardware - is a growing factor in telecommunications. If you have been closely watching the telecom space, then you have witnessed this trend gaining momentum. The last few years have proven to be some of the most exciting on the NFV front, and the years ahead will be characterized by continued growth and innovation.

Guest Room

Don't Count on Karma to Retain Top Talent
While Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently suggested "karma" to close the gender gap, smart money says that new technology in the hands of adept managers is better equipped to do the job.

Hosted VoIP

How Will Voice over Mobile Broadband Impact Business Communications?
Smartphone apps were introduced to the world in the summer of 2008; 3G bandwidth became available around the same time. Both of these developments led in a straight line to the creation of over-the-top services provided by operators that do not pay for your mobile data plan or your mobile device but leverage both to generate revenue by providing voice, collaboration and, with reliable bandwidth capacity, even video.

Convergence Corner

Businesses Have to Get Serious About Security
It should be a simple prioritization. In light of the increasing number of security breaches across industries, security should find itself at the top of the list of IT priorities today. From Target to Anthem, from AshleyMadison.com to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and countless others, the number of breaches, and consequently, those impacted, continues to rise at an alarming rate.

Wireless Wonk

New FCC Auction Complexity: 3.5gHz Delivers 150mHz of Shared Spectrum
On April 17, 2015, the FCC was expected to adopt rules for new, innovative, spectrum sharing using the 3.5gHz Band. FCC Chairman Wheeler calls it the Innovation Band. The FCC order will open up 150mHz for sharing that is now occupied in part and at various times by Navy radar, fixed satellite services, and fixed broadband.

Hosted VoIP

Where Does Microsoft's Lync (Skype for Business) Fit?
As a service provider there are large-scale transformations in the business communications industry that both threaten your business and provide an amazing opportunity for growth. The success of Microsoft Lync provides a shining example of why all service providers have to think strategically now about the services they are offering and about their own next steps. Now is the time to add UC and provide a more hands-on, consultative package of services for your business customers.

Rethinking Communications

VoIP Security - It's Real, But So Are the Solutions
I write about VoIP security from time to time, and it's a prime topic for this column in a few different ways. While VoIP security is of particular relevance to TMC's audience, it's really a small branch of the data security tree, which encompasses many strands of traffic that IT must manage over their network. Stepping back even further, you have the very public - and very scary - NSA-style privacy breaches that make you wonder if anything is safe these days on the web. The short answer is no.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

The PBX Has Evolved
Investing in SIP solutions gives businesses the comfort of knowing that their UC network and applications are future-proof, fully scalable, and affordable. IP PBX solutions can also vary in size and price, including upfront purchase price as well as whether or not licensing fees and recurring costs apply.

The Trouble with Being Stuck in Neutral
The FCC's recent ruling on net neutrality would seem to strike a blow for the common video-streaming person by stating that all content as it relates to Internet service providers is created equal. At its most basic level, this means that the Amazons, Hulus, and Netflixes of the world are free to continue clogging the networks of the companies they compete against - Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, etc. - while effectively leaving them with the bill.

Publisher’s Outlook

HP Can't Compete in Public Cloud as Amazon Machine Learning Launches
Anyone who tracks Amazon's stock already knows the company is one of the few that gets away with not making much if any profit - yet its share price continues to grow. The argument goes, according to many, that the company can reduce investment at any point and profits will swell. In reality, the company hasn't done this on a consistent basis for many years. Instead, it continues to drive prices in the cloud computing and other markets downward.

Top of Mind

AT&T, Industry Organizations Challenge FCC Open Internet Order
Tim Berners-Lee, who is said to have invented the World Wide Web in 1989, in a video shown at the FCC meeting at which the order was passed, commented "I applaud the chairman's decision" on the Title II decision. Other supporters of the decision at the meeting included Chad Dickerson, CEO of crafty online marketplace Etsy, who said his organization and its sellers rely on the open Internet to do business and earn a living.

Convergence Corner

Enterprise Markets Will Prove a 'LifeBooster' for Wearable Tech
Samsung, Apple, Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Disney … the list of visible and popular brands that have made a run at the wearables space is long.

Convergence Corner

Sprinting Toward Productivity with WPaaS
The workplace is changing before our eyes. It is no longer about a physical environment. Getting up and going to work in the morning no longer means performing the same tasks using the same devices the same technology each day, let alone doing it in the same physical location. In any number of roles, in a growing number of industries and markets, the workplace can be as varied as New England weather.

Wireless Wonk

Network Neutrality: Mobile Broadband is Now a Commercial Mobile Radio Service
My friends ask me: "We always knew mobile was regulated by the FCC. We have all these FCC fees on our bill. What's the big deal with network neutrality as it relates to my phone?"

WebRTC to WebComm

WebRTC Gateways Enabling WebRTC to SIP/PSTN Integration
One of the key factors that is often discussed that is required for WebRTC is integration into existing enterprise and service provider networks. This is often a requirement to enable enterprises to use WebRTC as either a contact center integration or for BYOD portals or external representation portals. For service providers, integrating with their SIP and IMS infrastructure is critical to leveraging WebRTC. In fact, while there are a number of gateway options, using existing platforms in place is particularly attractive.

Regulation Watch

Analyzing the 2015 Network Neutrality Order
On Feb. 26, 2015, the FCC voted, by a 3-2 margin, to adopt network neutrality rules, relying on its statutory authority under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that governs common carriers. The rules would reinstate, with some changes, the open Internet rules vacated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2014, which found that the FCC's 2010 Open Internet order failed to show that the commission had the statutory authority to treat broadband Internet access providers as common/telecommunications carriers.

What's Next

Media Servers Will Play an Increasingly Important Role for Telco Apps
Media servers play an important role in enabling many of the real-time communications applications many of us use every day. When you retrieve a voicemail, have an email read back to you while in the car or getting on a conference call, a media server is involved. Media servers provide the back-end voice and/or video transcoding to/from different networks or to/from different endpoints, play/record, mixing of voice and/or video into mashups or conferences, echo cancellation, text to speech and speech to text, text/picture overlay, and simple digit detection to name some of the functions of a media server.

Hosted VoIP

Hosted PBX: The Future of (Business) Communication
Every year I like to stop and think about the future of business communications. There are so many innovations happening so quickly it is important to take stock of which changes have the potential to make an impact and, using this information, to make strategic decisions. There are a number of angles from which it is possible to assess the future - human behavior patterns, emergence of new technology, an overview of mergers and acquisitions activities (for insight into where businesses are investing), whatever Apple is doing, and what the think-tank academics are predicting.

Disaster Preparedness

Keeping the Enemy Outside the Walls
The Beatles song "With a Little Help from My Friends", written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, was specifically penned as Ringo Starr's track for the album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". In other words, Lennon and McCartney were giving a little help to their friend Ringo. The song became what some consider one of the greatest songs of all time, proving that helping your friends is an excellent strategy for success.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

Large-Scale SIP Trunk Deployments on the Rise
SIP trunking deployments have evolved to meet the needs of a changing telecommunications industry. Larger deployments with higher numbers of sessions are on the rise. Today, typical deployments handle between 50 and 1,000 concurrent sessions or calls, addressing the needs of medium- to large-sized business looking to adopt secure VoIP over SIP trunks.

Publisher's Outlook

Acision Fights Creative Destruction with Innovation
Mark Zuckerberg gave a keynote speech for the second year in a row at Mobile World Congress, and to me it really seemed like keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. After all, WhatsApp andFacebook are responsible for billions of lost dollars in messaging revenue for global wireless carriers.

Top of Mind

Getting Up to Speed with Residential Broadband
Who wants and can deliver broadband services to people in the U.S. remain two areas of hot debate in this country.

Wireless Wonk

Will Google's MVNO Roll Out Unlicensed-LTE in 3.5gHz?
Google likes to do things its own way, using unique disruptive methods. It built its own web servers from scratch, built its own scraping software, built its own data centers, and built its own self-driving car. Delivering a mobile service using unlicensed LTE in the 3.5gHz band with existing TD-LTE equipment could be Google's answer for a new mobile competitor that is not an MVNO.

Convergence Corner

Simple and SMART for Better Meetings
The workplace is changing. You hear it all the time - and likely experience it even more than you realize. In many cases, we're seeing a lot more collaboration taking place, which, on its surface is great. But when you think about how it's being implemented, often the collaboration ends up causing more frustration and confusion than anything.

WebRTC to WebComm

How to Solve the Real-Time Traffic QoS Issue
Net neutrality has been in the news recently as FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler unveiled a new strategy to drive it. In a Wired opinion piece published recently, he set out a plan to define unconstrained and open Internet access, eliminating last-mile tariffs and unbundling, and eliminating any throttling or charging for class of service. This time, the proposal is to use the FCC's Title II authority to recast Internet service providers as common carriers and avoid having the courts throw out the ruling.

Enterprise View

Go for the Gold
The BMW i3 car commercial with Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel during Super Bowl XLIX fused an example of 1994 Internet bafflement with 2015 bewilderment regarding high-tech automobiles. Aside from the comedic value, it illustrated an ongoing challenge for sales professionals: Does your prospective customer really understand the technology behind the products you are selling or are they confused like Bryant with the BMW i3?

Hosted VoIP

WebRTC: What Does It Mean for You?
For the past two years the WebRTC revolution has been imminent. WebRTC, or web real-time communication, is defined as an API that supports browser-based applications for voice, video, chat/IM and file sharing without the need for plugins or separate software clients.

Guest Room

Google Needs to Cure Its ADD Before It's Too Late
At risk of offending, Google has a cultural attention deficit disorder problem. It needs to start working to fix it and put more effort into strategic areas, rather than simply doing a bunch of half-baked projects and leaving them on cruise control while others respond more rapidly. Microsoft and others are going to start pulling customers back in if Google doesn't get serious.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

The Race to Zero for Analog Voice: How SBCs Spur Innovation
The race to zero for analog voice is one factor driving the growth of SIP trunking, a market that is expected to top $8 billion by 2018 according to Infonetics. In common with many other users, I only keep my analog phone line with my cable provider because my bill will increase for video and Internet service if I removed it. Smart service providers have anticipated this commoditization of analog voice and, in response, migrated their entire infrastructure to an all-softswitch SIP core.

Publisher’s Outlook

ITEXPO Future and Past
If you missed ITEXPO Miami in January, I'm sorry to say that it was your loss. It was one of the best events I've been to in a long time. Then again, I am a bit biased given I am the conference chairman.

Top of Mind

Carriers Explore Linux Containers for NFV
The rise of virtual machines in the data center was one of the key developments that eventually led to the telcos' exploration and implementation of network functions virtualization. But now some are talking about using Linux containers as an alternative or additive to VMs in service provider NFV architectures. And a company called Docker is playing a leading role in this movement.

Hosted VoIP

Hosted PBX: The (Ever-) Growing Threat of Fraud
Telecom fraud is always on my mind. As our partners have had success using VoIP Logic's Hosted PBX platform to expand their businesses, fraud incidents continue to occur on their networks. Invariably, with growth comes more points of exposure which, because of very efficient hackers and fraudsters, are more likely to be exposed.

Convergence Corner

Voice is Still the Critical App for Operators
It may not be the revenue stream it used to be, but voice remains a critical communications medium. A recent survey conducted by Voxox of OTT communications app users showed that, with a sample size of more than 2,000 respondents, 82 percent indicated voice is the feature they use most. In an age where texting has become pervasive, this is a telling statistic, and it's why Voxox is pushing its own communications app to operators globally, who have finally started to understand they can't compete with OTT apps, but must embrace them to avoid becoming the dumb pipes which will erode any growth opportunities.

Wireless Wonk

TV Incentive Auction: Triple the Complexity and Triple the Price?
The TV Incentive Auction took all the limelight until a surprise this winter when the little known FCC spectrum Auction 97 AWS-3, for 65mHz, suddenly generated $44.8 billion in bids. The AWS-3 auction sets the stage for predicting strong demand for the TV Incentive Auction spectrum's possibly delivering as much as $60 billion in bidding, three times the earlier estimated amount of $20 billion.

What’s Next

VoLTE Comes of Age
As most readers of this magazine know, LTE network speeds are comparable to wired connections. The resulting insatiable desire to be connected at all times, everywhere has been a huge growth driver for the wireless industry. The GSA estimates that there was more than 130 percent growth in subscriptions in 2014 compared to 2013, and Statistica estimates that the number of subscribers will grow from more than 300 million in December 2014 to more than 1.3 billion in December 2018. Data and video usage, and smartphones that support the mobile on-ramp to the Internet, is what LTE has been justifiably all about to date.

WebRTC to WebComm

The WebRTC Ecosystem Report
WebRTC is a rapidly expanding category of companies and solutions. The WebRTC Ecosystem shown in figure 1 is a view of all of the categories of products and services in the WebRTC space. The WebRTC Ecosystem Report is the most comprehensive description of companies and offerings based on WebRTC technology that has ever been produced.

UC Unplugged

Apple Watch: The Ultimate Communication (and Customer Care) Device
You might not think of it that way, but Apple Watch, judging from the specs unveiled back in September, is probably the ultimate communication device. And as such, it should be on any customer care technologist's radar. Let me explain by starting with a brief history of human language.

Rethinking Communications

BYOE and the Rise of End user Driven UC
You know about BYOB and BYOD - bring your own broadband and device. These trends have been shaping communications recently, and create big challenges for IT. BYOB actually works on two levels for the business, first as a buyer and then as a provider. As a buyer, the business is free to choose its broadband partner independent of the decision to partner with a VoIP or UC provider. This is very different from the legacy model where the incumbent provided both the connectivity and the services/applications.

Regulation Watch

The EU's Network Neutrality Debate
As the FCC moves toward the expected release of a network neutrality order in early 2015, a similar debate has been taking place in the European Union over the past several months. In April 2014, EU lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a resolution aimed at restricting Internet service providers from charging third parties for faster network access. However, the resolution requires the consent of the EU's Council of Ministers before it is formally passed into law.

Disaster Preparedness

A Common Sense Approach to Cyber Security
2014 could be called the year of data breaches. Large companies like Home Depot were hacked and, as we transitioned to 2015, the Sony breach garnered headlines. Then the January Twitter hack of CENTCOM fanned the flames even higher. These events triggered fear and paranoia in many IT departments regarding Internet security and data integrity. Before we panic, however, let's take a step back and view these events pragmatically.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

SIP Security and the Role of the SBC
2014 was certainly the year of the security breach. Notable companies like eBay, AOL, Holiday Inn, Marriott, Target, Neiman Marcus, and P.F. Chang, to name a few, were compromised by hackers looking to do harm by acquiring private and sensitive data.

Publisher’s Outlook

Five Tech Companies to Watch in 2015
There are so many companies I meet with that have interesting stories to tell. So I spent some time putting together a list of a sampling of those worthy of recognition.

Top of Mind

FCC Vote Endorses Title II Approach to Net Neutrality
After months of debate and the collection of comments from 4 million Americans, the Federal Communications Commission late last month voted on - and approved - Open Internet rules that implement what's known as Title II reclassification of broadband Internet access. Title II, part of the Communications Act of 1934, gives the FCC authority to regulate telecommunications providers as utilities or common carriers.

Convergence Corner

BYOD Anywhere in the World - International Connectivity Made Easy
Mobility - meaning mobile connectivity - has changed the way we behave, both personally and professionally. Digital interactions are the norm; interpersonal communications are becoming a challenge for many who would prefer to text or IM. On the flip side, digital communication can be much less disruptive to others and can take place at nearly any time, despite not requiring real-time response.

Wireless Wonk

Mobile Cybersecurity: A New Oxymoron?
Mobile is the new cybersecurity focus. CIOs are delivering iPads and tablets to all the employees. Bring your own device, or BYOD, smartphones and tablets are used for company and for personal use. No longer are managers carrying around two devices like a company BlackBerry and a personal iPhone. Because mobile BYODs are connecting to the corporate network, where all the corporate jewels are stored, the way in for cyber theft is now the mobile device.

WebRTC to WebComm

WebRTCv Conference & Expo Update
In case you missed it, the WebRTCv Conference & Expo was held Nov. 18 through 20 in San Jose. This is the event that brings together the movers and shakers of WebRTC and the webification of communications movement. I thought this would be a good time to comment on some of the highlights of the event and the state of the industry.

What’s Next

Media Servers Are Here to Stay: Obtaining Scalability When Moving from Hardware- to Software-based Infrastructure
Media servers play an important role in telecommunications networks, and will only grow in importance as media traffic volume and variety increase in the future. This role includes the processing of real-time transport protocol media such as voice and video; the routing of media service requests in the network; quality of service enforcement; media transcoding, transizing, and transrating to reduce network bandwidth; recording, playback, and archiving of media; and the delivery of real-time media streaming.

UC Unplugged

Does Your Self-Service Have an Exit Strategy?
Self-service is on the rise. And with the mobility revolution started by Apple's introduction of the iPhone, consumers around the world have realized the potential of finding answers to customer service questions themselves, by asking peers, on the go, or whenever they want, instead of relying on call center staff operating during business hours only. While self-help has the advantage of quick and convenient access to information when needed for the customer, it also shows quick ROI for businesses that can have their contact center staff focus on more elaborate inquiries or for customer retention efforts. This is a win-win for both company and customer, but not a be-all and end-all.

Infrastructure Peering

Defining 'Unique' Dark Fiber Routes
In a recent report titled "Bandwidth Infrastructure: A New Investment Opportunity" published by Colby Synesael of Cowen and Company the subject of dark fiber is discussed extensively. This report is probably one of the best, current and most accurate depictions of the reality of this segment of the communications network landscape. For too many years dark fiber has been stigmatized and misunderstood. It is refreshing to see such intelligent reporting on what is one of the most critical dimensions of any nation's economy.

Hosted VoIP

Hosted PBX: The Transition to Unified Communications
Communications technology has been in a constant state of transition since the appearance of the Internet and, soon after, the appearance of VoIP. Briefly, the office phone system became the IP PBX, then became the hosted PBX, and now we are seeing a large effort to move from something that looks and acts like a phone or a phone system to the next thing - usually called unified communications.

Enterprise View

Education Can Assuage Fears
Today's rapidly changing markets and shorter product life cycles are raising concerns in some quarters that the pace is too rapid and security is being compromised. However, delaying a decision to move forward can weaken an organization's competitive position. Some managers have even used the term Catch 22 to describe their situation.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

Creating Opportunities for Improved Communication
Communication between people is the foundation of the successful development of all sorts of human systems: corporations, organizations, as well as society, and even mankind if we put it in a really big context. Today, our efforts in this arena make voice-based communication accessible, affordable, and secure. SIP trunking is a good example of this. When SIP trunking first came onto the scene, it was an opportunity to make SIP-based voice communications (VoIP) available to a wider range of businesses at a competitive price point. SIP trunking has now been embraced by the industry as a whole, becoming a must have for SMBs, large enterprises, carriers, MSOs, you name it.

Guest Room (with attorney Jeff Belkin)

FCC Tightens E-Rate Oversight
In its continued efforts to "modernize" the federal E-rate program, the Federal Communications Commission recently adopted a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (the "Modernization Order"), which made certain changes to the E-rate program, including the "lowest corresponding price" requirement and price transparency.

Publisher’s Outlook

10 Reasons Why Microsoft is Winning
With new CEO Satya Nadella at the helm, Microsoft is changing into something it needs to be: a company embracing a changing tech landscape.

Top of Mind

Harnessing Change
Changing expectations, imperatives, technologies, and timelines are altering how we should be thinking about and managing our businesses.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

Demand for SIP Trunking is at an All-Time High
SIP trunking has crossed the chasm, becoming a mainstream application that's now in high demand. We're seeing this at Ingate where inquiries about SIP trunking translate to sales, quickly, and existing customers are reordering SIP trunking solutions in higher volume. The opportunity for cost reduction is far too compelling to ignore.

What’s Next

Practicality Has Unexpectedly Breathed Life into IMS
IMS network architecture has been around for a long time. While it was originally conceived for mobile IP networks, it first gained acceptance in wireline IP networks, such as cable networks. To date it has had spotty acceptance in the mobile arena. All this is changing. But why now? Dialogic has a unique perspective on that since it provides both next-generation network and IMS network infrastructure.

Disaster Preparedness

Time for Your 2015 BC Plan Update
A recent article in USA Today quoted an Ad Council survey showing nearly two-thirds of small businesses do not have an emergency plan in place. Also referenced was an Insurance Information Institute study showing that 40 percent of businesses affected by natural or manmade disasters never reopen. Frankly, these statistics are totally unacceptable in today's world.

Regulation Watch

FCC Sets Rules on Text-to-911 Service Requirements
In August the FCC released an order regarding text-to-911 services. The order requires "covered text providers" to be capable of supporting text-to-911 by Dec. 31, 2014. They will then have until June 30, 2015, or six months from the date of a request by a public safety answering point, to implement such capability for 911 text messages to that particular PSAP. "Covered text providers" include all CMRS providers, as well as all providers of "interconnected text messaging services" that enable consumers to send text messages to and receive text messages from all or substantially all text-capable U.S. telephone numbers, including through the use of applications downloaded or otherwise installed on mobile phones.

Guest Room

Mobile Customer Service Is A Two-way Street
If you read the many articles by industry pundits about mobile communications, you will see an emphasis on the flexibility offered to end users with multimodal (or omnichannel) smartphones and tablets. They can initiate any form of contact, ranging from messages to voice/video connections, and can receive any form of communication contact as well.

Convergence Corner

Smartwatches Aren't Smartphones, But They Aren't Smart Enough to Know It
It comes as no surprise that the so-called smartwatch market is following its predecessor, with the number of smartwatches increasing regularly. Without question, the highest profile market entry was the long-awaited iWatch, I mean, Apple Watch. And Samsung's position in the mobile space gives it something of an edge over many of the independent vendors.

Infrastructure Peering

The Infrastructure of the Internet of Things
In a recent Financial Times article Daniel Thomas proclaimed that devices being connected to a network, also known as the Internet of Things, is already a requirement in many places today. The main drivers for the need are cost reductions, increased efficiency, and improved security, but the real prize is access to all of the data that can be collected, analyzed, and utilized by the entity that captures it. There is little doubt that the long and much hyped IoT is finally taking shape because of the desire for this data, but there is some question as to what entity, or entities, will succeed, how, and why. Will it be the telecom carriers, the content providers, or something else?

Publisher’s Outlook

How to Make Email Smarter
Many of us live in email. I get hundreds per day, and I need almost every message.

Wireless Wonk

Will 802.11af Wi-Fi Replace 802.11ac in the Home?
What do 802.22, WRAN, Wi-FAR, 802.11af, White-Fi, 802.19.1, and Super-Wi-Fi all have in common? They all are part of the newest IEEE standards ecosystem supporting spectrum sharing for cloud-directed agile radios.

Hosted VoIP

Hosted PBX: How to Beat the Total Cost of Ownership Argument
The consumer as-a-service revolution - cloud, platform-aaS, software-aaS, desktop-aaS, unified Communications-aas, or whatever - is moving toward a cost-structure problem.

Top of Mind

Calling It Splits
Comedian Louis C.K. says divorce is always good news because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce. That may also be the case with diversified companies that are now heading for splitsville because their portfolios and growth profiles have become completely out of sync.

Convergence Corner

Top 10 Technology Trends for 2015
Gartner recently came out with its list of the top 10 technology trends that will be strategic for most organizations in 2015. They cover three themes: the merging of the real and virtual worlds, the advent of intelligence everywhere, and the technology impact of the digital business shift.

What’s Next

Is WebRTC a Threat to VoLTE?
A question that has been coming up more and more in the telco space is how WebRTC compares to voice over LTE, and which technology will win. Embedded into this question is an assumption about phone calls, similar to how Skype is eating away at regular landline minutes. Since you can make point-to-point phone calls with WebRTC, and since browsers are part of smartphones, then the assumption is that people will make WebRTC phone calls instead of LTE phone calls. In other words, over-the-top will win out again.

UC Unplugged

Keeping a Reactive Customer Service Strategy; A Great Way to Say Goodbye to your Customers
The connected dependence of consumers and their always-on, always connected mentality has dramatically altered customer experience expectations. A recent study done by International Data Corp. found that 25 percent of smartphone users couldn't remember the last time their phone wasn't within arm's length. And nearly 80 percent of them admitted to having their phones with them for all but two hours of their working day.

Rethinking Communications

Your Boss Just Heard from Your Tablet - You're Fired
My last column focused on the Internet of Things and why it could be good for your business. As per the namesake of this column, I'm also here to challenge you and rethink what's possible with today's communications technologies. This also means thinking about the potential implications - for you, your employees, your business, your customers, etc.

Infrastructure Peering

The Internet of Things (and Stuff)
The phrase Internet of Things is as popular as it is vague. Things is not a very descriptive word, and as if it was not vague enough, the phrase is commonly referred to as IoT.

Hosted VoIP

Hosted PBX: Market Research Report
To better understand the hosted/cloud PBX and unified communications market, VoIP Logic conducts an annual market research survey focused on VoIP service providers and related organizations like telephony hardware/software manufacturers, resellers/agents of hosted PBX, consultants, and companies considering launching VoIP services like IT services, ISPs, data centers, ILECs, MVNOs, etc. It is hard work to get enough opinions from enough thoughtful professionals on enough issues to draw some conclusions, but with a free give-away of our previous report in exchange for a completed survey we have consistently managed to collect compelling information.

Enterprise View

Old Dogs - New Tricks
Historically, the medical industry was a technology foot-dragger, but mobile and wearable technologies have now made it the hot game in town.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

Interoperability Is Still An Issue
The key to any successful SIP deployment is, and has always been, interoperability. It was a key issue driving the development of SIP: when the Internet Engineering Task Force first introduced SIP, one goal was to create a streamlined protocol that would pave the way to seamless interoperability.

Guest Room

How Operators are Evolving by Investing in their Core Business
The wireless landscape is rapidly changing. Operators no longer have to worry only about their own traffic; now over-the-top players and technology giants are inundating operator networks as well. Unfortunately, operators are struggling to monetize the increased data demand effectively enough. As a result, they'll likely have to change business models, create new, innovative offerings and enhance network connections as a means to preserve consumer relevancy, grow revenues, and reduce costs. Rather than enter entirely new markets, most carriers are focusing on bolstering their core competencies, which is primarily taking place in the form of heavy network investments.

Publisher’s Outlook

Oljemark Takes the Reins at Ingate
Ingate Systems, in its quest to continue to be an innovator and leader in the SIP communications space, recently brought on Michael Oljemark from its board to become the company's newest CEO.

Top of Mind

You Make the Call
When it is ok to call and/or record conversations with people has recently become a heightened area of debate in communications and legal circles.

WebRTC to WebComm

Conferencing vs. Representation, Individual vs. Organization in Communications & Collaboration
As we move forward with new technologies, media types, and services, the array of communication and collaboration services that are coming into the market is both wonderful and potentially bewildering. We used to just have a phone line, then we expanded to mobile, audio conferencing, web conferencing, videoconferencing, IM, presence, web apps, WebRTC, and much more. The new challenge is not getting what you want or need, it is choosing wisely from the myriad of offers in the market.

Convergence Corner

Enterprise SBCs - The Race is On
With the continued growth of both SIP trunking and unified communications, it's hardly surprising to have seen the enterprise SBC market grow in parallel. In fact, the market has grown steadily not only in terms of customers, but also vendors, with well more than a dozen players in a space that not long ago held only a small handful. On its way to a projected $1.6 billion by 2018, the market reached $65 million in the second quarter of this year, according to Infonetics Research. Not surprisingly, the top tier of players, according to Infonetics, includes Cisco, AudioCodes, Sonus, and Oracle, with Ingate and Edgewater following closely in the second tier.

Wireless Wonk

Groundbreaking FCC Action: Fallow Spectrum Is Available for Use
At long last, the FCC has seen the light of spectrum efficiency and approved the use of fallow spectrum. On June 2, 2014, the FCC issued the TV Incentive Auction Report and Order. One of the highly controversial issues the FCC addressed was providing regulatory certainty for the ecosystem of database providers and innovative radio equipment vendors using unlicensed 600mHz spectrum allocated by the FCC in an earlier 2010 order. The technology employed by this ecosystem is enabling spectrum efficiencies in other bands like 3.5gHz and is now authorized to be utilized for licensed but fallow spectrum.

Rethinking Communications

Is the Internet of Things Good for Your Business?
Given that the theme of this column is rethinking communications, it should come as no surprise to see me writing about things that are - seemingly - far-removed from the telephony world we know so well. Of course, that's the point, and if you've been following me here, you'll know that rethinking telephony is really just the first step forward.

Infrastructure Peering

Network Infrastructure Investment - It's a Jungle Out There
Amazon.com Inc. has continued to innovate, inspire, and invest in the future of not only retail commerce, but also the entire outsourced cloud computing universe. It is not without risk though.

Hosted VoIP

Hosted PBX: Network Monitoring
In my last article I made some suggestions for you, the service provider, to assure uptime on your hosted PBX services - clearly one of the most crucial elements for reducing churn of your enterprise users. If uptime is essential, then putting in place proper network monitoring systems allows service providers to both get ahead of emerging technical issues and to communicate with confidence to their customers. With this valuable information, service providers can create transparency in their complex networks which, in turn, de-mystifies the technology. My goal below is to highlight the areas of concern and to suggest monitoring tools that will lead to more robust management of your hosted PBX services.

Regulation Watch

FCC Takes Steps to Modernize E-Rate Program
On July 23, 2014, the FCC released an order modernizing the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, commonly called the E-Rate program.

Disaster Preparedness

Bank Robbers, Cattle Thieves and Dangerous Gunmen - Time to Call the Pinkerton's
Sheriff White-Hat (alias) of Golden Gulch learned that a dangerous gang of thieves was planning to rob his town. The possible targets were the bank, a gambling emporium, and a gold processor with a vault full of ingots resulting from a secret new purification technology. Lastly, a cattle ranch was about to auction $5 million of prized breeding stock. The sheriff only had himself and his deputy to protect these five diverse targets and decided he needed backup. Was the year 1887, 1910, or 2014?

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

SIP Trunking and UC with Lync: The Role of the E-SBC
Enterprise session border controllers play an important role in enabling SIP trunking and all unified communications applications with Lync. Ingate Systems' E-SBC, the SIParator, is fully certified for use in Lync environments and meets or exceeds both the required and optional test parameters, making it one of the few ESBCs that can support TLS and other security features offered by Microsoft.

Publisher’s Outlook

The Acer Aspire Switch 10 Changes the Tech Landscape
The Acer Aspire Switch 10 two-in-one touchscreen tablet/laptop may be the ultimate device for students and consumers. In short, it offers all the good of a PC, meaning you can run full Microsoft Office applications like Word and Excel, and at the same time it is a touchscreen tablet, which can be used for media consumption. This device also is cheaper than a high-end desktop phone, yet could easily double as a phone.

Top of Mind

A Taxing Situation: Are Inversions, Windstream Tax Avoidance Efforts the REIT Move?
There's been some interesting news of late about recent moves by U.S. companies to avoid paying taxes in this great nation of ours.

Publisher’s Outlook

The PBX Squeeze and How You'll Benefit
The following diagram is borrowed from the substantial cranial database of TMC partner in WebRTC Expo and UC University, Phil Edholm, who was a major tech driver at Nortel and Avaya for decades. It was modified a bit by me.

Convergence Corner

Sonus Creates UC Growth Opportunity with SBC Upgrades
As unified communications adoption continues to grow - often more rapidly within enterprises than IT teams can anticipate - the need to accommodate future growth without sacrificing service quality or reliability is paramount to success. With the 3.2 release of its SBC 1000 and SBC 2000 enterprise session border controllers, Sonus has effectively delivered future-proofed hardware for its customers by combining its hardware appliance with software-upgradeable licenses.

WebRTC to WebComm

WebRTC and Webification: Driving Feedback in the Contact Center
I have written a bit about how WebRTC enables a new paradigm in customer interaction, Interaction Experience 2.0. One major point of this discussion is that more than 70 percent of calls into a contact center are preceded by a website visit and, increasingly, customers are looking to resolve these issues on the website as self-service customers.

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.