Latest Columns

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.

Wireless Wonk

The Shared Experience
The 2012 President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology report strongly encouraged more sharing of federal spectrum as a way to solve our insatiable demand for using wireless to connect. Now, the FCC in the 5gHz rulemaking is starting to take steps toward efficiently sharing more federal (used by radar) and non-federal (used for satellite communication) spectrum. On March 31, 2014, the FCC made 100mHz more spectrum available for utilization. The 5gHz spectrum includes 5.15-35gHz and 5.47-85gHz.

Guest Room

USAC Turns up the Heat on E-Rate Price Requirement
The Universal Service Administrative Company has begun issuing Payment Quality Assurance assessments to E-Rate service providers in the Schools and Libraries Program. E-Rate is a federal program that provides eligible K-12 public schools and libraries discounts on approved telecommunications services, broadband Internet access, and internal network connections.

Publisher’s Outlook

Carriers Need to Get in the Game
Carriers are losing control over core network services such as voice and text. This is in-turn making them dumb-pipe providers. While wireless is still a profitable business, the presence of companies like T-Mobile and Sprint in the U.S. makes it more difficult than ever for carriers like AT&T and Verizon to keep their higher than industry-average margins.

Top of Mind

Too Much and Never Enough
My husband and I have spent the last few evenings sifting through our cabinets, closets, and garage to clean out broken, too tight, unused, and unwanted camping gear, clothing, sporting goods, and tchotchkes. It's the community-wide garage sale in our neighborhood, so it's a great opportunity to do some purging.

Convergence Corner

Become the Next Google or Facebook with SDN
So you want to be the next Google or Facebook? Who doesn't? You'll need the right team to get there from an operational perspective, but building an SDN-enabled network can put you on the path technologically.

WebRTC to WebComm

The Webification of Communications
This is a new column that will track developments in WebRTC, but more importantly the webification of communications. WebRTC is a new communications standard and implementation, started by Google, that is picking up huge momentum in the industry.

Enterprise Mobility

Security and Usability
Why can't I see my password when I type it in on my phone? My phone is a few inches from my face and nobody is looking over my shoulder. It is extremely easy to hit a wrong letter (or miss a letter, or tap twice by mistake) on a tiny touch screen. The gain in security from hiding the typed password is far outweighed by the loss in usability.

Tech Score

Life Cycle Management Considerations for Enterprise IT (Part 2)
In part 1 of Life Cycle Management considerations, we discussed the challenges of managing aging IT applications and hardware in the enterprise. In part 2 we look at ways to avoid common lifecycle management nightmares from the very start. Three common mistakes that enterprise IT managers make when it comes to lifecycle planning are gaps in design, content, and end-of-life management.

Virtualization Reality

Multi-Layered Security in the Mobile Network
The issue of security in the network is one of the most important aspects to address in the new mobile environment. Service providers are delivering VoLTE services to replace the legacy circuit-switched voice calls. They need to ensure that all of the IP network-based services required for VoLTE calls are protected.

Regulation Watch

NIST Releases Cybersecurity Framework
On Feb. 10, 2014, the National Institute of Standards and Technology issued the "Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity." The framework follows President Obama's Executive Order 13636, issued in February 2013, directing NIST to create a set of voluntary industry standards and best practices to help organizations manage cybersecurity risks.

Disaster Preparedness

All the World's a Stage
The above headline is one of the Bard of Avon's most famous quotes and follows on a prior phase in the play Merchant of Venice, "a stage where every man must play his part". Certainly today's cloud technologies with people and organizations interacting constantly make these analogies even more relevant today than 400 years ago.

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

What is Necessary for SIP Trunking: The Service Provider
A traditional voice telephony service provider typically offers one or more T1/E1 trunks to the enterprise for fulfilling its needs for voice communication outside its own premises. The service provider is then connected to what is sometimes referred to as the world's biggest machine: the worldwide PSTN, or public switched telephone network. Connectivity between the networks of the different service providers that constitute this machine is achieved by bilateral interconnect agreements between the various service providers. There are also wholesale service providers that aggregate the traffic from several local service providers and make the interconnect agreements for all of them collectively.

Rethinking Communications

Personal Video and UC, Part 1 - What are You Afraid Of?
I recently had a state-of-the-nation chat with Simon Dudley, video evangelist at LifeSize. We covered a lot of ground, with a key theme being the difficulty of businesses in seeing the value of video. With room-based systems, there is often a business case built around travel savings. Fair enough, but the appetite for six-figure immersive systems that create the as-if-you-were-there feeling is fading. The investment is just too high, and the quality of lower cost alternatives is proving to be good enough for most needs.

Infrastructure Peering

Internet Consumers are Hostages to the Carriers
On March 5, I participated on a panel at the Telecom Exchange West in Denver to debate the topic of net neutrality. Joining me on the panel were Steve Davis, executive vice president or public policy and government relations at CenturyLink, and Dr. David Reed, interdisciplinary telecommunications faculty director at the University of Colorado. The panel was moderated by Jaymie Scotto Cutaia of JS&A. And it was, if I may say so, a lively and interesting discussion.

Wireless Wonk

Flexible Spectrum Solutions
Broadband microwave radio technology is evolving to spectrum selection using big data and SDN-like architectures. What is lacking is a name that describes the power and scope of the new spectrum sharing technology. Just as the term software-defined network moved to the top of the Gartner Hype Cycle for networks, so too are new radio technology names, created for spectrum sharing of licensed and unlicensed spectrum, making their way up and down Hype Cycle curves. These names include Dynamic Management Access, Shared Access System, White Spaces, Cognitive Radios, Spectrum Sensing, and LSA/ASA.

Guest Room

Hybrid DNS Technology: A Way to Protect Against Crippling Cyber Attacks
Traditional security approaches aren't sufficient to mitigate attacks on DNS servers, which are at an all-time high. With distributed denial of service, DoS and cache poisoning attacks becoming more frequent and disruptive, many companies, along with early adopters such as telcos, ISPs and managed services providers, are turning to a new approach - hybrid DNS technology - to help them outmaneuver cyber attackers. Hybrid DNS eliminates the code vulnerabilities of standard DNS engines, making it virtually impossible to compromise DNS servers.

Publisher’s Outlook

Bitcoin & Beyond: The Dawn of Currency 2.0
Whether you watch financial networks or mainstream networks, you can't help but see stories about Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency founded by what was thought to be secretive a Japanese resident Satoshi Nakamoto. It turns out that reporters now believe he is living in Los Angeles but he vehemently denies this claim.

Top of Mind

What's Next for WebRTC
WebRTC has become such an important new area of communications that INTERNET TELEPHONY this issue added a new standing column on this topic.

Convergence Corner

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

Virtualization Reality

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

UC Unplugged

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

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

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

Rethinking Communications

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

Enterprise View

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

Enterprise Mobility

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

Infrastructure Peering

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

Wireless Wonk

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

Guest Room

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

Publisher’s Outlook

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

Top of Mind

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

Guest Room

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

Convergence Corner

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

Deep Dive

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

Virtualization Reality

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

Regulation Watch

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

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

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

Rethinking Communications

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

Enterprise View

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

Enterprise Mobility

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

Tech Score

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

Infrastructure Peering

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

Wireless Wonk

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

Publisher’s Outlook

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

Top of Mind

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

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

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

Publisher’s Outlook

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

Top of Mind

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

Deep Dive

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

Virtualization Reality

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

Regulation Watch

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

Ask the SIP Trunk Expert

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

Rethinking Communications

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

Enterprise View

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

Enterprise Mobility

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

UC Unplugged

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

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.