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December 2006, Volume 9/ Number 12

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VoIP Goes Viral

By Greg Galitzine


As I mentioned in a recent entry on my blog, I�m a huge fan of mainstream televised commercials for VoIP services and triple play bundles, and so on. The reasons are fairly obvious, in that it�s an industry that I�ve been following for close to a decade now, and there�s a certain sense of satisfaction knowing that a product category that was derided as a hobbyist�s plaything is now regarded as a major industry-changing force.

I should admit that I�m sort of a �commercial junkie� who watches the Super Bowl as much for the ads as the game, and used to relish those Dick Clark specials featuring international commercials. One of my all-time favorites � and one of the most popular commercials � featured a group of small children sitting together in a tub, until a stream of bubbles percolates to the top, resulting in a group of small children sitting in a tub as far apart as possible from a single child who, well, you know the commercial I�m talking about.

These days, if you want to see an international commercial, or perhaps even an international VoIP commercial, you need simply surf on over to YouTube, where a search yields some interesting results. For example, I was not aware that Australian companies had cornered the market on VoIP commercials, as evidenced by creative content from Koala Broadband and a company called Engin. Brazil returned a huge number of results too, although apparently VoIP in Sao Paolo can cost as much as $49.95 U.S. . . . kind of defeats the purpose, no? Then again, I do hear that the lucky Brazilians have access to up to 8 MB/s of broadband, so maybe the price reflects that as well. Or maybe it�s to offset the cost of hiring all those beautiful people to star in their commercials?

The purpose of this article however, is not to espouse my affection for the advertising industry�s efforts, but rather to point to the fact that VoIP service providers are beginning to ply their trade within the booming online viral video market, best represented by YouTube.

So, it seems that even the world�s best marketers, armed with a service built upon a major cost advantage, are reaching out for tools such as YouTube and other online viral marketing techniques. And there�s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

One company that might be on the verge of engaging in a little viral marketing is CommuniGate Systems. The company is about to release a version of its CommuniGate Pro product that has been scaled down to serve up to five users. The CGP Community Edition is designed for small companies and home users, however it will offer all the benefits that larger enterprises have come to expect: a full email server, SIP and Presence Server, IM Server, voice mail, PBX (News - Alert), and conferencing server. . . do you see where this is going?

Any person can install this on their home computer, with a domain of their choosing, and become SIP enabled with access to their IP Communications anywhere in the world. That means a small company, or home user can flip open their laptop and connect to a WiFi (News - Alert) network at the airport, read email, IM, and receive phone calls, all with their one SIP-based email address.

Small business users will have a wide choice of clients (SIP phones, soft clients, IM clients, browsers, etc.) and they will be able to send and receive all IP Communications via a single account, which is identified by their email address. Communications will be open to every other SIP-based application, and will remain vendor agnostic.

The Community Edition will ship with a Flash-based user interface that can do email, IM, and audio calls, a softphone, and will offer out-of-the-package compatibility with many SIP phones, like Polycom, Linksys (News - Alert), and others.

CommuniGate Pro might eventually be deployed via the home entertainment environment on devices such as cable and DSL modems as these devices begin to empower the home or family domain for all IP Communications.

I�m not usually that gung-ho over individual products, but every once in a while I see something that looks like it might be a winner out of the gate. This might be one of those times. I�d still like to download the product and put it to the test in my home environment, so I will reserve final judgment, but I have to admit, I came away from a recent meeting � indeed several conversations spread across six months � with CommuniGate execs with a very positive feeling.

Getting back to the whole viral marketing point, CommuniGate is offering this software as a free download for a limit of five users. The free download is available now, but starting at the end of November, CommuniGate will begin a major effort promoting this solution. So surf on over to CommuniGate�s site ( and check out CGP Community Edition. IT

Greg Galitzine is Group Editorial Director for TMC�s IP Communications Group.

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