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October 1998

Rich Tehrani Asking For Directions On The Road To Financial Reward


Go Right To: Internet Telephony & CTI EXPO: Education for the Masses

New England roads have personality. Many people come to Connecticut in the fall to drive through our heavily wooded back roads and to watch the leaves as they turn from green to autumn's vibrant reds, golds, and yellows.

New England is home to some of the quirkiest roads in the country. Many visitors to this area comment about how charming and quaint our roads are. I can hardly disagree. Driving near my house requires a firm grasp of the various rotaries, frequent stop signs, and numerous forks that characterize Connecticut's back roads.

It is because of this unique geography that native drivers can spot out-of-towners in an instant. The constant cycle of braking and jerky acceleration signals the fact that driver in the car just ahead holds an out of state license.

And, when large numbers of visitors come through all at once, these wayfarers become more than just a passing curiosity. Such was the case with the recent PowerBall frenzy that swept our nation. Connecticut happens to be the closest state to New York and New Jersey that permits PowerBall drawings. As the recent Jackpot topped 250 million dollars, hundreds and thousands of people queued up at convenience stores and supermarkets and gas stations in Connecticut. The lines started forming before 8:00 A.M. and lasted well past midnight.

Of course, the main highway, which is already overtaxed with traffic, resembled a parking lot. A trip that should take 20 minutes or so in average traffic now took nearly 2 hours. New York and New Jersey license plates far outnumbered Connecticut plates. Connecticut natives had become the minority in their own state!

It was while fighting my way home through one particular traffic jam (and subsequently - with patience fading - trailing misguided interlopers on back roads) that I realized how easily everyone is lured by the potential for financial reward. The amount of energy and time that it took to travel (in some cases over 100 miles) and then stand in line for hours to buy a lottery ticket amazed me. The patience and time devoted to acquiring a lottery ticket was truly astonishing.

It is this very same ambition to make or save money that drives industry. The Internet, and its lucrative outgrowth - Internet telephony -- are no exception. A recent review of the circulation records for Internet Telephony™ shows that in just over 5 months, more than 33,000 subscribers have requested personal subscriptions to the magazine. And this is after only our second issue! In the trade-publishing world, this is absolutely unheard of. The amount of interest generated by this field is staggering.

Still, this should come as no surprise. The potential to make money and save money by embracing Internet telephony technology is astounding. Comparisons can be drawn that telephony traveling over IP networks is akin to what the PC did for paper documents or even mail. If you think telephony is fine the way it is, then I invite you to stop using e-mail. Mail may have been fine the way it once was, but it was not until we began using e-mail that regular mail became derisively known as snail mail. We are on the verge of totally changing our telecommunications infrastructure. It won't happen overnight, but then, nothing ever does. The fact remains, however, that tomorrow's market leaders will be determined today.

Transmission time is only a small part of what makes e-mail useful. It is the power to CC, forward, and broadcast e-mail quickly and inexpensively that makes it so attractive. It's not just the technology, but rather the applications that spur advances in efficiency. The possibilities are truly amazing to contemplate. For example, a company of IP telephony enabled users could conduct an instant video conference regardless of the participants' locations. This is just a single forward-looking application that we will soon take for granted. Today it may be a dream, but in the world of IP telephony, such applications become but a trivial programming job.

The market capitalization of publicly traded companies in this field and the amount of venture capital available to entrepreneurs in Internet telephony are also beyond belief. Companies like Microsoft, Nortel, Lucent, Dialogic, Natural MicroSystems, Cisco, Cabletron, Ascend, and just about every other networking or PBX vendor are all releasing (or about to release) products in this space: Proof that there is tremendous momentum here. We have stacks of press releases that we can't even fit in an issue of our magazine and Internet Telephony™ is only four issues old! The opportunities are out there, and it is up to each individual to figure out which portion of this booming market they want to play in.

There are so many different ways that almost everyone can get involved in this profitable market. Our readership spans many different specialties, so I will attempt to cover all of the readers of Internet Telephony™ and help them decide what is the best way for them to take advantage of this field.

For the Reseller…
I suggest that you examine the various Internet telephony gateways that are now available and explore reselling these products. By acquiring a few large corporate customers or even service provider customers you can make a great deal of money. The reasoning is simple - If you can prove that you will save a corporation $75,000 in long-distance charges per year and the equipment cost is not too high with respect to the dollars saved, you can easily justify the purchase of your product. There are several different types of equipment you can resell, so I advise that you read Round Table (see page xx) in this issue where we ask vendors their opinions on various implementations of Internet telephony. The three options discussed are PC-based gateways, PBXs with IP telephony trunks, and routers with IP telephony interfaces. While I have (as of this writing) yet to see an IP telephony capable PBX, this market changes daily. I suggest you attend the roundtable discussion at CTI EXPO in San Jose, CA, on Thursday December 3rd, from 11:30-1:00, for the latest information. 

For the ISP…
You are a prime candidate to become a telephone company. Why, you might ask, would you want to become a telephone company? Very simply, because traditional telephone companies -- the ILECS (Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers) -- are large, monopolistic organizations that have many opportunities to make money on new ventures but simply don't or apparently can't. If ISDN were priced halfway decently in my state, I would be the first person to order it. What type of business model do telephone companies have? I am absolutely dying to part with my money and receive inexpensive Internet access in my home. I have been for years. And still my local telephone company refuses to give it to me! Mr. or Mrs. ISP owner, ILECs are easier competitors than you can imagine. You just have to navigate all the regulatory stumbling blocks they will throw up in your path (this seems to be their only competitive advantage besides owning the wires in our homes) and you will be able to compete with them very nicely.

CLECs and Cable Companies…
You know how important convergence is. Running cable or purchasing cable from an ILEC is expensive. What sense does it make to sell one service when you can sell 3 or more simultaneously? Compressed voice is almost negligible when it comes to bandwidth - and your newfound wires can easily piggyback this traffic on video or data services. If you are in this category, you should be living and breathing IP - this is your future.

You have a wonderful opportunity ahead of you. The industry needs the equivalent of voice word processors, spreadsheets, and other killer apps. Remote access is all the rage, and yet no solution does everything you need it to do. A converged IP/CTI software solution will do the trick. You can figure out the details. Just get to work on it!

Before you start coding though, keep in mind that Microsoft has introduced TAPI 3.0, and IP telephony (including conferencing and streaming technology) will now be embedded in the OS. Add to that the fact that TAPI 3.0 is DCOM-compliant and you realize that you'd better learn about TAPI 3.0 before it is too late. And don't forget Parity Software who have recently produced an Internet telephony application generator - the first I am aware of.

End users…
Telecom, Datacom, MIS personnel - start reviewing your phone bills. Do you often call other corporate or branch locations resulting in large phone bills? Do you already have an intranet set up between these branches? Are your long-distance charges simply too large? If any of the above apply to you, then you are a prime candidate for Internet telephony gateways. These devices can pay for themselves in a matter of months. Do the research, come to CTI EXPO, and you will save your company lots of money.

The momentum is building. The market is growing. And there's no end in sight. Whenever you explore a new territory for untold riches, you must remember to take your guidebook. For those countless thousands of visitors to Connecticut during the recent PowerBall frenzy, I would like to point out (albeit belatedly) that a simple map might have helped you in your travels into our area. Had you only been following me (instead of the other way around), I could have shown you where the lines were shorter, and saved you much in the way of heartache.

Fortunately, for those of you journeying into the uncharted, yet potentially highly lucrative, waters of Internet telephony, you have a guidebook in the magazine you hold in your hands. As a regular reader, you will enjoy learning about the latest trends, technologies, and products, and reading the most in-depth reviews from our own in-house laboratory, TMC Labs. There is no substitute for doing your homework. And next time you come to Connecticut, lured by the potential for financial reward, give me a ring. I'll gladly give you directions.

Internet Telephony & CTI EXPO:Education for the Masses

With all the activity in Internet telephony, we have made sure to jam pack our CTI EXPO Conference Program full of information that will enable anyone - from the novice to the expert -- to broaden their knowledge of this field in a variety of ways.

First of all, we have keynote speakers from Natural MicroSystems and Dialogic who will cover Internet telephony in-depth. Beyond that, we have representatives from Lucent, VocalTec, Cisco, and Ascend speaking at a free roundtable session on the best way to implement Internet telephony, be it through a PBX interface, a router plug-in, or a traditional gateway. We are also proud to reprise our free Internet Telephony Learning Center, which will consist of 6 vendors who will objectively educate attendees on the underlying technology of Internet telephony. This learning center was a major attraction and a huge success at our last EXPO, in Baltimore.

We have assembled the most comprehensive Conference Program available at any show, bar none. The editors of CTI and Internet Telephony™ magazines, together with the engineers of TMC Labs pored over hundreds of topics and speakers to offer our conference attendees only the best possible speakers available anywhere. TMC conference programs adhere to the same stringent requirements and editorial standards as our publications. No other conference offers that.

  • Here is a sampling of the leading-edge Internet telephony courses that will be held at CTI EXPO Fall 1998, December 1-4, in San Jose, California:
  • IP Telephony: The Future of Telecommunications
  • IP-Based PBXs and ACDs: The More Things Change…
  • Testing IP Telephony Gateways
  • How IP Telephony Saves Money for the Enterprise
  • Voice Traffic's Special Challenges: Latency, Jitter, QoS
  • Hardware Options: Routers, PBX, and Gateways
  • IP Telephony's Leading Edge: IP Fax
  • Voice Enabled Intranets
  • IP Telephony: Wouldn't You Like To Be A Telco Too?
  • How IP Networks Support Multimedia Collaboration Services
  • What an Internet Telephony Phone Bill Would Look Like
  • Harnessing the Power of SS7 for IP Telephony
  • Deploy IP Fax and Eliminate Per Fax Charges
  • IP Security Issues: Wiretapping, Encryption, and more…
  • Voice Traffic Over Data Networks
  • IP Telephony Quality Issues: Reserving Bandwidth and Private Networks
  • Developing Internet Telephony Applications Using Tools

We look forward to seeing you at CTI EXPO Fall 1998, December 1-4, in San Jose, California. Please see the brochure in this issue for more information or check out our Web site at www.ctiexpo.com.

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