Latest Columns

New Report Offers Insight on Tech-Related Salaries, Minority Pay Inequity
Our annual IEEE-USA Salary and Benefits survey, the most comprehensive and accurate survey to date, provides insights into these trends, quantifies the value of advanced degrees, and identifies the best-compensated areas of technical competence.

Convergence Corner

Location, Location, Location
We're in an unprecedented era in the tech space that combines countless startups looking to leverage the emergence of things like cloud computing and the Internet of Things within a mobile, app-driven economy, with the natural consolidation that follows. In addition to the technological innovation being demonstrated, a natural side effect is a constant demand for real estate at a time when costs are escalating and viable site options are limited.

Wireless Wonk

The Problem with Mobile Device Cybersecurity Standards
As we all know, cybersecurity is being taken seriously by the U.S. government. Cyberhackers are costly and are retrieving the royal jewels.

WebRTC to WebComms

WebRTC and the Real-Time Web - Alive and Well in China
In early January, the first Real Time Web and WebRTC event in China premiered in Beijing. This event was the first in the change from the WebRTC focus of WebRTC Conference and Expo to the larger focus of Real Time Web Solutions. The change in focus is to reflect the changes we are seeing in the market. The rapid adoption of the web communications model is emerging in mobile applications, web apps, and customer care. In all of these cases, the new paradigm of communications is managed within the application environment directly and without relying on traditional telecommunications carriers.

Rethinking Communications

How Not to Make Unified Communications Strategic
As businesses consider plans for unified communications, the decisions have implications that go well beyond technology, so there needs to be an organization-wide rationale. IT will certainly gain some operational benefit, but there are bigger drivers that will ultimately support the business case.

Enterprise View

Start 2016 on Right Foot:Fight the Dark Side with Positive Positioning
Why can't TV channels ever broadcast good news? This is a familiar question and complaint, and it certainly applies to the coverage global communications and the Internet received in the past year. Frankly, the TV station reasoning is simple - good events are not entertaining. Billions of messages being sent and received securely and thousands of safe airplane flights are boring to report simply because those are the expected results. Someone hacking into government files or a plane crash killing 100 people is certainly distressing, but it does get people to watch the evening news.

Hosted VoIP

Unified Communication + Cloud Information Technology = Unified Collaboration
Thanks to VoIP, the cloud, WebRTC, and mobile technology, communications is everywhere. Many of us (at least in the Internet telephony community) feel that we have achieved, or are well on our way to achieving, ubiquitous accessibility. When I receive a call or an IM/SMS, my phone, computer, mobile app, and tablet all tell me. All these devices know where I am (presence) and are able to pass the call to me - media and signaling. Unified communications? Check!

What’s Next

What Would an IoT Service Provider Even Do?
The Internet of Things means everything is connected. All machines will have sensors and network connectivity that will allow them to communicate with each other and exchange data. It's the thing that will take the world from having just smartphones to smart everything.

Publisher’s Outlook

Cisco's Quad Experience Shows Why Spark Bypasses IT Department
The IT department has an unusual relationship with business. In some ways it's been emasculated, sent to its room without dinner and told not to come back until it learns to shut up about all of the devices and apps people want to use without permission. BYOD has become BYO Everything.

Top of Mind

Growing Threats and New Solutions on the Security Front
Security has long been a top-tier, if not the No. 1, concern of enterprise IT professionals. But given the growing sophistication of the world's hackers - which have gone from hobbyists to organizations - and the move of more of our vital infrastructure and intellectual property to the online realm - security has become even more important.

Application Networking - An Eagle Eye

Artificially Intelligent Networks: When do Virtualization and Orchestration Become Self-Evolving and Self-Aware?
The benefits of NFV include increased speed of time to market and services that can be rapidly scaled up/down as required. In the virtualized and cloud computing world, this means that mobile service providers want to achieve agility and elasticity. Agility is the ability to add, remove, or change services quickly and efficiently. Elasticity provides on-demand resourcing, making services scalable to meet the network demands based on capacity, location, and function.

Disaster Preparedness

Dreaming of A Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year?
This traditional year-end greeting, or a similar variation, has been used for centuries to wish others good fortune in the new year. In today's world, however, it may be a more appropriate wish for non-human systems that also need to remain healthy, alive, and profitable. Some of the better known pathogens for both machines and humans originate in Asia and provide an excellent basis for comparison. The Asian Flu is the most recognizable human malady, and leading the list for system pathogens and intrusions are attacks from China and North Korea.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

Stellar Growth of SIP Trunking
SIP trunking adoption has been on a meteoric rise in 2015. SIP trunking services now generate more than $3.5 billion in annual revenue, according to Frost & Sullivan. IHS expects enterprise adoption to hit 62 percent by 2017, up from a strong 45 percent today. Carrier-driven SIP trunking deployments will accelerate this growth substantially in 2016 and beyond.

WebRTC to WebComm

WebRTC - It's Everywhere, and Not Visible at All
The reality of WebRTC is that its success will, to a great degree, be totally hidden. Much as the browser hides HTML and the associated technology; while they are incredibly valuable, they are just part of the framework to most users. In the end, the webification of communications will result in the technology being hidden, resulting in an explosion of use.

Top of Mind

Focus on Enabling Business Transformation - Not Just Selling Your Stuff
We've had this discussion again and again over the years. But apparently it bears repeating. We as an industry need to stop putting the focus on selling specific boxes and software and pushing technology, and instead figure out how to apply our expertise and solutions to help companies transform their businesses for the better.

Regulatory Watch

FCC Addresses VoIP Symmetry Rule
On Feb. 11, 2015, the FCC issued a declaratory ruling clarifying the VoIP symmetry rule. That rule, adopted in the 2011 USF/ICC Order, concerns the right of local exchange carriers to assess access charges on other carriers for functions performed by it and/or by its retail VoIP partner, regardless of whether the functions performed or the technology used correspond precisely to those used under a traditional plain old telephone system architecture.

Hosted VoIP

Trends in Hosted PBX and Unified Communications
For the past several years VoIP Logic has been conducting a survey of VoIP service providers to improve our knowledge of the market we serve. Strategically, I see the broad trends of a shifting landscape - toward cloud services, toward mobility, and toward increased competition. But the survey really helps me to understand the decision process of our more precise target audience of smaller and medium-sized operators focused on hosted PBX, unified communications, and other business communications services.

Guest Room

The Trouble with Tech Mergers
Dell is doing a mega-deal to acquire EMC for $67 billion. Activist investors are talking up the glory of putting together Mitel and Polycom. To both I say, "Good luck with that." The dirty little secret of the past decade or so is large tech mergers are, at best, neutral. At worst, they are ongoing disasters.

Convergence Corner

The Time is Right for Samsung Business
For good reason, when people hear the brand, Samsung, they likely associate it with a variety of consumer product lines - specifically, mobile devices, home appliances, and televisions. After all, it seems that just about every home you go into these days, you have an above average probability of seeing the brand on any number of products. But the brand recognition and product experience Samsung has gained in the consumer market is allowing it to also make a real play in the business space with its Samsung Business organization, launched last year.

Wireless Wonk

The FCC's 2016 TV Incentive Auction and Unlicensed Spectrum
We have entered the Mobile Age, and it happened fast. Humankind's invention and rapid adoption of the cell phone service is an advance greater than the Iron Age, Industrial Age, or the Computer Age. By 2020 almost everyone on Earth will have a mobile phone. In other words, while it took 30 years to reach 3.7 billion mobile users, it will take just 5 years to reach another 5 billion. We have just begun to connect.

UC Unplugged

The Ultimate Guide to Avoiding the Call
Enterprises, right and left, struggle with a number of strategic imperatives around customer engagement. One among them is avoiding the call. Competitive pressure and an ongoing desire to cut costs drives organizations to look for ways to automate customer service and elevate the role of their contact center agents by leveraging them for more sophisticated inquiries and complex problems. Automation, however, cannot come at the price of customer alienation. And it doesn't have to, as it presents an opportunity to differentiate.

Publisher’s Outlook

Lemko EZ LTE Really Disrupts the Carrier Model
As I write this, I'm in disbelief, as it seems impossible to take the massive carrier equipment that makes up the multimillion dollar central office LTE network and repackage it into a plug-and-play module that fits on a coffee table. Yet, this is exactly what Norman Fekrat of Lemko shared with me.

Rethinking Communications

How to Make Unified Communications Strategic
As per the namesake of this column, unified communications is a big step up from VoIP, and requires a different way of thinking, not just to get buy-in from management, but also to drive adoption among employees. I have written about UC in previous columns, but not from this perspective, and in the course of my ongoing research, it's a key challenge facing whatever passes for IT in your company. This function increasingly struggles to get the right technology to keep up with end user expectations that are largely being shaped by their experiences as consumers.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

WebRTC: The Killer App for Call Centers
Call centers have become the proving ground for WebRTC. So far, what we've seen in real-world call center deployments is that WebRTC is delivering on ROI, efficiency, and customer service. It's becoming an indispensable killer app for the call center.

Convergence Corner

What's on Your Head?
TMC recently held the latest of its semi-annual editors days, this time in Santa Clara, Calif. The trip to the left coast left me with a number of impressions that warrant mentioning.

Wireless Wonk

Cloud-RAN: Is C-RAN in the Mobile Future?
Cloud-RAN was supposed to be in our present, not our mobile future. But carriers have been slow to adopt small cell HetNets and appear to be slow to adopt cloud-RAN even though it is clearly superior to the higher-cost and more fragile networks built by the carriers themselves. Carriers' radio access network designers have been toying with the C-RAN concept for the last couple of years. Also known as central-RAN, cloud-RAN has spawned multiple startups and drawn the strong interest of the venture community. Potentially, mobile carriers could be delivering most of their 4G and future 5G from cloud-RAN radios.

UC Unplugged

Connecting the Unconnected
True breakthroughs are rare in any industry. So is true innovation. But what does innovation even mean?

What’s Next

NFV Vendor Challenges
We've all likely seen the Gartner hype cycle for emerging technologies curve. I remember many, many years ago when I first saw that curve. I don't even remember the context, but I remember it had the Peak of Inflated Expectations, and then the dip down, and then the path to nirvana. That curve stays relevant over time because it is so true. NFV is currently in the Peak of Inflated Expectation area, or possibly just beyond, and starting its journey to the Trough of Disillusionment.

Rethinking Communications

Two Things to Know About Hosted Unified Communications
Unified communications as a market has never stood still, and the strongest trend lately has been the accelerating shift to hosted offerings. Everything seems to be heading to the cloud these days, and UC is hardly immune. For businesses, the appeal is strong, not just for making UC an opex play, but also to mitigate the deployment complexities and stresses this puts on IT. Vendors have their own reasons, and since anyone can offer cloud services, the range of UC providers has really opened up.

Hosted VoIP

Do You Need a BYOD Strategy?
Bring your own device, or BYOD, refers to a practice that is becoming increasingly appealing in which employees are allowed to use their own equipment - laptops, phones (mobile and desktop), tablets, and other technology - for work purposes. In some ways, this trend is an outgrowth of an increasingly dispersed and freelance workforce; in other ways, it is a result of trying to limit the many technology devices in our lives. A third justification can be made that this move is an enterprise cost-saving measure. In this article I will address BYOD as it applies specifically to voice over IP devices.

Publisher’s Outlook

Accuris Helps Stich Together Cellular and Wi-Fi Networks for Carriers and ISPs
Early September saw the launch of a plethora of new Apple devices - specifically two new phones which will shoot and edit 4K video as well as a new iPad Pro which sports a massive 5.6 million pixels. Moreover the phones have 12MP cameras that replace the previous models that had 8 MP. That's a 50 percent increase in potential pixels in photos. What this means is even more demands on wireless broadband networks as these phones hit the market.

WebRTC to WebComms

Apple-Cisco Partnership is a Response to Microsoft's Skype for Business/Lync
The recent announcement that Cisco and Apple are going to partner to make iDevices more business friendly with the Cisco collaboration products and Cisco-powered networks is a major new focus for both companies.

Enterprise View

Speak Slowly I Am in a Hurry
Usually people request others speak slowly or repeat a phrase when speaking to someone with a strong accent or limited skills in the language or dialect being used. The above adage, though, has a totally different meaning. Basically, it is a reminder to carefully formulate your wording prior to speaking and speak slowly to avoid confusion. This adage also has strong implications for written communications, which is the subject of this column.

Top of Mind

Small Cells and the Need for More Intelligent Site Selection
Small cells have been on a heck of a rollercoaster ride the past few years. For a while there, small cells were all that anybody in the wireless infrastructure space wanted to talk about. But then small cell adoption, which initially was expected to take off like a rocket, didn't happen as rapidly as some folks were hoping for. Chris Stark, head of strategy and business development at Nokia Networks, said small cell deployment has been a challenge in large part because it can be difficult and time consuming to do site selection and acquisition for these network elements.

Wireless Wonk

Spectrum Sharing in Space: SpaceX and OneWeb
Elon Musk's SpaceX and OneWeb Ltd., a lesser known company - but one with a very well-known board- have crossed the starting line and are racing toward creating a broadband network delivered from constellations of hundreds to thousands of satellites operating in Low Earth Orbit.

Rethinking Communications

Slack May be the Uber of the UC Space
I began exploring how the nature of collaboration is changing, and the challenges that presents for unified communications vendors. I touched on Slack's booming popularity, and in this post I'll take things a bit further. By looking at what has given rise to Slack and others like them, I hope it becomes clearer as to why collaboration needs a rethink.

WebRTC to WebComms

WebRTC - The Key to EASY Productivity...and Adoption
We all struggle with the productivity benefits of UC, and ease of use is a major inhibitor to adoption, especially when one of the parties is not using the defined tools in the defined way. Downloads and plug-ins are just part of the problem, It is exacerbated as the process is challenging and the usage drops, reducing the productivity values. Perhaps this is why GoToMeeting has quietly included WebRTC as part of the arsenal.

What's Next

How IPXs Can Enable Revenue Innovation for Voice Wholesalers
Telecom wholesalers are stressed out. Voice wholesale minutes are now intensely competitive - and even potentially declining - due to a slowdown in growth of voice usage. As a result, voice wholesalers are looking to expand their business and innovate to continue thriving. IPX is an enabler for the revenue innovation that these voice wholesalers are looking for. Why? There are a few reasons for this.

Hosted VoIP

Caller ID for Business
For many businesses an inbound phone call (still) carries a high value - it can represent an opportunity to identify a lead or to cement a customer relationship. Most large and high value transactions (finding a real estate agent, buying insurance, hiring a lawyer, buying a car, etc.) start with an interaction that involves the human voice.

Regulatory Watch

FCC Focuses on TCPA Issues
On July 10, 2015, the FCC released an omnibus order addressing 19 petitions for clarification of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The TCPA imposes liability for, among other things, using an automatic telephone dialing system when calling a cellular phone absent an emergency or prior express consent from the called party.

Guest Room

How to Spend Time on Work Activities with the Most Value
Many of today's most successful CIOs manage day-to-day technological complexities well but are still thwarted by resource management and capacity planning. Making the best use of limited people resources and focusing them on work that matters is crucial to any company's success. However, without an integrated outlook on the organization's real-time capacity and demand prioritization, CIOs and their management staff will never have a clear outlook on how to effectively tackle their projects.

Disaster Preparedness

Get Help - Now!
The plethora of data breaches in the past 24 months is startling and fear-provoking for many IT professionals. Financial institutions, federal markets, and even the security industry itself have been hacked.

Publisher’s Outlook

Why We Are Hearing, and Will Hear, More About UC Company BroadVoice
BroadVoice has been having a great deal of success lately. It's moving to a new headquarters, ranking at 316 on the fastest growing U.S. company list by Deloitte, and adding new features to its hosted communications platform. To find out more I recently interviewed company CEO Jim Murphy.

Top of Mind

ADTRAN Suggests New Revenue Generation Opportunity for Carriers
If you're not out there offering wireless to customers, you're opening the door to competitors. That was the word from Todd Lattanzi, director of the cloud services portfolio at ADTRAN, in his speech about ProCloud at the recent Connect press and analyst event in Huntsville, Ala.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

Understanding WebRTC and SIP Trunking
WebRTC is becoming an important complement to SIP trunking. Case studies of real WebRTC deployments illustrate the benefits of using both in tandem. For example, at the seminars we will talk about how WebRTC and SIP trunking for call centers brings in customers by meeting them where they are (primarily online). In this way, WebRTC is a sales and marketing tool, with "phone calls" completed over SIP trunks.

Convergence Corner

GENBAND Driving NFV with a Growing Ecosystem Model
The ecosystem approach has been key to GENAND's success not only in the NFV world, but has also been a key driver of the success of its KANDY platform, which just celebrated its one-year birthday and has experienced tremendous adoption through its first 365 days. While most do agree software is the future, those that embrace the ecosystem model are likely to enjoy greater success that those who prefer to trumpet an antiquated single-vendor approach.

Convergence Corner

Xura Emerges from Comverse and Acision Merger to Deliver Boundless Opportunity in Digital Services
What's in a name? In business, it's about power, growth and opportunity. As a result, mergers typically result in a one of the two original brands becoming a stronger and larger one. Comverse and Acision are bucking that trend, today launching as a brand new entity, Xura.

Wireless Wonk

Part II: The FCC, Amtrak, and Spectrum Sharing
Railroad safety and railroad viability are very important, not just for railroad companies but for the American economy and public. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, 140,000 miles of U.S. railroads deliver 40 percent of all national freight compared to trucks on U.S. highways delivering only 28 percent. The train network is just as vital to the U.S. daily economy as airports, electricity, post offices, roads, or the Internet.

WebRTC to WebComm

Will WebRTC Enable the Collaboration Television?
Videoconferencing seems to be moving from the boardroom to the desktop, with a resulting significant reduction in size and, to some extent usability. We seem to be in a state where almost every modern PC is capable of a relatively comprehensive video communications and collaboration session. With virtually every PC now including a camera and those cameras getting ever more powerful and the processors more than capable of doing video, users are getting really comfortable using videoconferencing.

Enterprise View

Too Clever By Half
I first noted this often-used expression during my travels in England. It, or its associated forms, can be traced back to the time of Shakespeare and earlier. Basically it infers that a person or persons outsmarted themselves. The most common mistake is implementing a clever action that is really unwise. Launching a new sales and marketing strategy without having a thorough and well thought out plan in place would be an excellent example.

Rethinking Communications

Rethinking Collaboration, Part 1
The namesake of this column - Rethinking Communications - is rooted in telephony, but with the evolution of unified communications. It has come to embrace a broader range of modes, all of which give rise to new value propositions for business decision-makers to consider. Nothing stands still any more, and increasingly, the worlds of communication and collaboration overlap, with the result being the ever-widening UC&C umbrella.

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.

Hosted VoIP

NFV, SDN, and Beyond: How Service Providers Should Respond to Virtualization
NFV allows an operator to take many of the components commonly found on an enterprise network - firewalls, routers, WAN accelerators, session border controllers, deep packet inspectors, quality of service monitors, and more - and to virtualize them onto commodity server hardware so they are less expensive to buy, quicker to deploy, and easier to manage. These network devices are now, using NFV, network functions on commodity server infrastructure.

Publisher's Outlook

How Tech is Disrupting China and India
The number of tech companies doing well and being launched is greater than at any time in history. Facebook recently crossed the $250 billion valuation mark only three years following its IPO - a record. Moreover, it's actually disrupting Google through its absolutely massive reach and the fact it's woven into all our lives. Most recently, it's launched an advertising network, has seen meteoric increases in video views, and now wants to get a piece of the music video business. Google - although still considered a search monopoly - has to fight the social media king in areas which were defensible just a few short years ago.

Top of Mind

CORD, G.fast Could Help Move Telcos to SDN, Open Networks Faster
There are several important trends and telco desires and imperatives that are converging at the same time. On the one hand, over the top types are eating the telcos' lunch, so the telcos want to transform their networks so they're more like those of their more agile competitors. On the other hand, the telcos want to have more power in their relationships with their equipment suppliers.

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.

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.