Latest Columns

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.

Enterprise View

Striking the Right Balance
Walking a tightrope looks easy from the spectator seats, and learning the basics of smart sales tools can also appear simple at first. However, as with any powerful set of tools, improper implementation can lead to negative results.

Guest Room

Mobile Apps Turn IT Departments into Purveyors of Productivity
IT staffs were rocked in years past trying to play catch up with technology decisions being made directly by line of business. SaaS solutions and apps for smartphones and tablets were being adopted without their opinion or consent. For years, IT thought their influence and needs were steadily declining. Luckily, enterprise mobility and applications have changed their outlook.

Wireless Wonk

The Wireless Incentive Auction: What Will It Deliver?
On June 2, 2014, the FCC released the 3-2 vote, 484-page Incentive Auction Report and Order. Three weeks later the FCC released the estimated timeline for the auction.

Rethinking Communications

Will Messaging Displace Voice?
You already know that landline telephony has lost its primacy in the communications ecosphere and how voice has more competition than ever before. While the installed base of PBXs and IP PBXs remains ubiquitous, there are forces pushing inward from the edges to change this equation. First we saw the rise of e-mail, a zero-cost alternative for everyday needs. The economics are great, and in many cases, near real-time communication is good enough. Not only that, but along with the pervasiveness of e-mail comes an acceptance of a less personal mode of communicating.

Ask the Expert

WebRTC Will Drive SIP Trunking of PBXs, UC and Call Center Solutions
WebRTC is high quality multimedia real-time communication in the web browser. Although the IETF and W3C standards still have to be completed, Google and Mozilla already support WebRTC in their Chrome and Firefox web browsers.

What’s Next

WebRTC Disruption: Evaluating the 3GPP Study
WebRTC is starting to gain traction, and you can tell that for one reason.

Infrastructure Peering

The How To of FTTH
The need for voice, video and Internet access services, specifically high-speed Internet access, is nowhere more noticeable than within the local communities across the U.S. They know what they don't have and can very easily make the connection between the economic prosperity of the communities that have it and their own plight. The how to for these communities is always the biggest question.

Hosted VoIP

Hosted PBX: Up Time is King
VoIP Logic provides hosted PBX platform solutions to more than 30 service providers and, by and large, they all have the same leading concern - up time. Keep services to business customers running and you are very likely to keep business customers. Become associated with outages or other forms of poor service quality - whether these are your fault or not - and businesses rapidly go shopping for alternatives.

Top of Mind

Fog Builds Around M2M
We're all familiar with the rise of cloud computing. Now, a new layer of networking is developing in the form of fog computing.

Wireless Wonk

FCC Delivers Regulatory Certainty for Sub-700mHz Cloud-Directed Agile Radios
On May 14, 2014, the FCC finally provided some surety for the nascent cloud-directed, agile radio spectrum sharing industry (aka TV white spaces or TVWS) by committing new urban spectrum for unlicensed spectrum sharing use and giving assurance that rural sub-700mHz spectrum would be available into the future.

What’s Next

LTE and the Rise of Wi-Fi Roaming
We're spoiled. Soon, LTE won't be good enough for most of us. Yes, it's great, but it's not accessible everywhere. And even higher speed and higher capacity LTE networks are bound to get clogged soon enough.

WebRTC to WebComm

WebRTC Deliveries Really Start
I thought it would be good to talk about a couple of real WebRTC solution deliveries this time. Often I hear a question like, "If WebRTC is so great, show me who is using it in real products?" So, here are three examples of companies using WebRTC today in their products.

UC Unplugged

Customer Service Bracing for the Social Cyborgs
A new wave of complainers-for-hire could force brands to make radical changes in how they manage social customer service. The speed and spread of new online services that help amplify the lack of - or at least the lag in - customer service response is happening at a rapid pace. And while it's premature to panic, organizations that have a socially-active customer base should put these new complaint-assist services on their radar.

Rethinking Communications

Are You Communicating or Collaborating?
When it comes to the theme of my column - Rethinking Communications - this is a pretty central question, and one that keeps recurring in my ongoing research, both when talking to vendors and over the course of industry conferences I've been attending lately.

Tech Score

The Future of ATCA
The Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture specifications, denoted PICMG 3.X, include a series of specifications originally developed to set requirements for the next generation of carrier-grade communications equipment

Regulatory Watch

Revisiting the FCC's CVAA Disability Access Requirements
In 2011, the FCC released an order implementing provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 to ensure that people with disabilities have access to advanced communications services and equipment used to provide such services. The CVAA defines ACS to mean interconnected VoIP service; non-interconnected VoIP service (i.e., one-way VoIP services); electronic messaging service; and interoperable videoconferencing service. This definition arguably covers a wide range of equipment providers and service providers, including hosted service providers, offering ACS equipment or services.

Infrastructure Peering

Freedom Isn't Free, and Neither is the Internet
Freedom to live and choose as one wishes is a part of the American Dream. For freedom to exist, there must be laws, and those laws must be enforceable and enforced.

Enterprise Mobility

HD Voice - Still Coming Soon
HD Voice (aka wideband audio) on cellular networks has been coming soon for several years, but on May 15 AT&T finally announced it rollout. So it is almost a year behind T-Mobile and Sprint on this, though ahead of Verizon.

Disaster Preparedness

Time to Change How We Think
Albert Einstein once said: "The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking." And a man name David Shenk commented: "Information, once rare and cherished like caviar, is now plentiful and taken for granted like potatoes."

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.

Guest Room with Clarizen

Why Social Collaboration Technologies are Failing in the Enterprise
My mother recently opened a Facebook account, and I wasn't even shocked. That's how normal social media has become in our personal lives. Why can't we collaborate and share in our workplaces the way we do in our private lives? Despite their best efforts, most workplaces see their social business software tossed aside by users. Only when leaders realize that enterprise social operates on a different formula, one that requires delivery and execution as well as collaboration, will social finally take off in the enterprise.

Publishers Outlook

Will Vobi Make Enterprise Social a Reality?
One of the biggest disappointments in the world of tech predictions has to be the enterprise social space. For years, the common wisdom in the market was that this segment would be booming.

Top of Mind

The New Software Telco
If telcos were animals they'd be tortoises. And if the new breed of service providers - the over-the-top types - were, they'd be hares.

ASK THE SIP TRUNKING EXPERT

What is Necessary for SIP Trunking - The E-SBC
E-SBCs sit at the edge of the enterprise network to provide control over the SIP traffic. The enterprise edge component can either be a firewall with complete support for SIP or an edge device connected to the firewall, handling the management of the SIP traffic.

Convergence Corner

Network Forensics - The Forgotten Need for IT
With all the talk about cloud and virtualization taking center stage in networking, as enterprises seek to leverage the latest technologies to increase efficiency and reduce costs, many of them - 55 percent, according to WildPackets - are neglecting network forensics. With network technology and business applications evolving at such a torrid pace, it's easy to see how it can become lost in the mix, and for many, forensics seems too costly an investment.

WebRTC to WebComm

The Video Conundrum
You can't spend much time around WebRTC without hearing about the video issue. For most of us this is news, as we did not even know there were video issues. The issue of which codecs will dominate in the future is a question of the web world vs. the traditional telecom world.

Enterprise Mobility

The Dawn of the Web App Age
When Steve Jobs first announced the iPhone in 2007, he explained that it was designed to run web apps in the browser. There was no need to write programs directly to iOS, because the browser had a set of user interface elements callable from JavaScript that mimicked the look and feel of the native apps.

Enterprise View

The Only Constant Is Change
The above statement is attributed to Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher from around 500 BCE. Interestingly, that was a time when change was moving at a snail's pace as compared to today. People would even have had considerable time to actually reflect on the philosopher's message. In today's world the only reflection time most of us get is when looking in a mirror.

UC Unplugged

Customer Obsession - The Path to Gaining a Competitive Edge
Today's tech-savvy consumer is very skilled at juggling multiple communication modes. Whether it's the Internet, the phone, text or talking, people today are immersed in data and have grown to expect immediate, always-on access to these channels for gathering, sharing, and verifying information. For brands, this means communications consistency and experience alignment in all operations is crucial to building and sustaining exception customer relationships.

Rethinking Communications

Personal Video and UC, Part 2 - What are You Afraid Of?
As screens get bigger and keypads recede into the background, it's clear that mobile devices are data-centric, not voice-centric, and a big part of their appeal comes from enabling a quality video streaming experience. Today's younger workers are both mobile-savvy and video-savvy, and this is having a major impact on how they communicate, both at work and at play.

Infrastructure Peering

Dark Fiber's Long Tail - The Digital Deserts of America
A recent article written by Scott Amundson highlighted the New York City Economic Development Corp's. ConnectNYC Fiber Challenge to address the so-called digital deserts in New York City. These are the buildings, neighborhoods, and areas within the largest city in the United States that have no fiber-based network services at all. These are real places that exist today and are, unfortunately, vast. They are dry spots on the major metropolitan landscape where barely any forms of innovation, creativity, or economic life can grow, flourish, and thrive.

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.