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August 2004

Rich Tehrani A SUPER Time in Chicago


The recent SUPERCOMM in Chicago was overflowing with VoIP announcements. I had dozens of meetings at the show and in fact throughout the suburbs surrounding Chicago in addition to a speaking slot on a VoIP panel that kicked off the event. Without getting too deep into it, I can sum up the show by simply saying that VoIP is back and better than ever. In fact there wasn�t much else beyond VoIP that generated any substantive level of buzz. Here are a few of the interesting things I saw at the show.


Get Your Free IP PBX
For almost a decade now, I have been writing about the integration of computers and telephony and more recently, the paradigm shifts we will see as a result of VoIP. Well I have finally seen a product that melds the best of telecom and datacom together, while changing the whole way we look at telecom.

A company named Voiceglo (www.voiceglo.com) has introduced a Linux-based solution that turns a WiFi router into a PBX. Voiceglo is a VoIP service provider so they naturally use this software as a way to generate more traffic on their network. The service starts at only $39.99 per year. Contrast that to what it would cost you to purchase a typical small PBX system. In this model, the PBX is free and includes a number of features you would expect from an expensive name brand PBX. The Voiceglo solution even includes features you wouldn�t expect, such as the ability to support 254 lines. Of course you might want to make sure you have adequate bandwidth if you plan to utilize that many simultaneous lines! Service providers ask me all the time how they can make money in an age of VoIP. This is exactly the type of service they will have to provide to stay competitive today.

Lucent Makes Major Announcements
I had a chance to visit with Lucent in their Lisle, IL office, home of their LIVE Net facility where they told me what they were up to, showed some new products, and announced a number of customer wins such as Alltel, China Telecom, and Tata Teleservices.

New products include the CBX 3500 Multiservice Edge Switch, which allows service providers to maximize the profitability of data services such as ATM and Frame Relay. They also announced a new IP/MPLS Router Module for the CBX 500 Multiservice switch. The module was developed for Lucent by Juniper Networks and allows service providers to easily introduce IP VPN services on a CBX 500 switch. There was a triple-play demo, which aside from VoIP, was another emerging theme at SUPERCOMM.

Lucent also announced their intention to integrate Microsoft Internet Protocol TV software with Lucent�s ADSL2+ technology using Lucent�s Stinger IP-enabled DSLAM and their ADSL2+ modem.

Microsoft Coming to a Living Room Near You
Speaking of Microsoft (www.microsoft.com/tv), they are making a serious push into the triple-play market by virtue of their integration of Microsoft IPTV and CE-based set top boxes which natively support TCP/IP Media Player 9 Series with 7.1 surround sound support, Built-in DVR, IE 6, and support for digital rights management and a host of codecs for hyper-efficient video compression as well as VoIP. (I first wrote about this in May of 1999: http://www.tmcnet.com/14.1.)
CE has been around for years and supports technology such as Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), which allows a device that has limited processing power to run virtual applications that are hosted on more powerful computers by sending bit-map screen images to the remote computer. Similar to solutions from Citrix, CE-based set-top boxes are capable of running any application that can be run on XP Professional. For about ten thousand dollars in hardware cost you could support a few hundred RDP connections.

As these devices natively support MSN Messenger, they have access to one hundred million other users using this service (including Windows Messenger). Presence information can now be delivered when you are watching TV, allowing you to communicate with a spouse that you will be home late for work. This also paves the way for a new breed of television show with integrated chat allowing communities to watch content and comment on what they have seen.

3Com Comes Out Swinging
Keep your eye on 3Com (www.3com.com),  they have a new team in place and have some great ideas on how to improve your telephony. By leveraging the strengths of a softswitch with an IP PBX and by thinking of how to make IP telephony an enterprise application, they are able to do things you can�t do with an ordinary IP PBX. By using3Com VCX V7000 IP telephony applications suite you are able to centralize applications on any number of PBXs or IP PBXs.
They have call agents that can follow you around your business to allow certain callers to reach you and not your desk. 3Com is creating call agent extensions to deliver presence management and business-class Instant Messaging built on a common framework. Stay tuned. We will see a number of new applications from 3Com by Q4 of this year.

Covaro Puts The Profits Into Ethernet Services
Covaro Networks (www.covaro.com) is a relatively new company whose mission is to help carriers develop Ethernet services over copper, fiber, TDM, DS3, DS1, etc. They further allow these service providers to sell �service intelligence� with features such as monitoring, monthly reports, Web portals, and VLAN services. They want to help carriers eliminate price wars by offering a differentiated service that customers will pay for. Etherjack is the name of their product line and you can think of it as having similar functionality to CSU/DSU.

Ethernet transmission has typically been limited to 328 feet but by using the CC-101 at the customer premise you are able to deliver intelligent Ethernet services up to 18,000 feet away with a 10/100BT interface. The CC-16000 does the same thing for fiber and leased DS1/DS3, allowing GbE, 100FX, etc.

As you might expect, there is support for VoIP through optimized transport, which reduces latency and thus guarantees QoS. The product line lends itself to installation in campuses as well as Multi-Tenant Units (MTUs).

I had a chance to demo some of the network management features of the product that the company calls nVision. In one case it was able to determine that a cable was cut at a few hundred feet from the cabinet by using technology analogous to radar over cable. This is a great way to reduce the number of truck rolls There is another product called cVision that allows customers to manage their network via a Web portal. In addition, customers can see the real-time performance of their Ethernet services as well as notification of outages which can be sent via pager or e-mail.

The VoIP market is really more exciting than any time ever before in history. There are so many companies announcing new products and services that I could have filled this whole issue with exciting announcements if I had space and time. In the mean time, please check out the sidebar featuring a summary of some of the SUPERCOMM 2004 articles online and where you can find them.

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