The VoIP Service Blog

Compare and review IP Telephony & VoIP providers. News on the latest technology, from mobile Internet to IPTV.

What has eBay done to Skype?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

First came the news that Skype's senior executives were fleeing the company as fast as they could. What did they anticipate? Now thanks to Phil Wolff and Om Malik, we have some details on the latest drama, a new round of Skype firings:
About 40 of the 516 people working at Skype worldwide are affected, 26 of those shifting roles or locations and 14 who are leaving or who have yet to find another job at Skype or another eBay company.
What's the rationale behind this decision? It must be part of eBay's strategy to make Skype profitable. The "out with the old, in with the new" purge continues with Skype doubling its staff as the pre-eBay executives go.

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NY Times says challenges await WiFi phones

Monday, November 27, 2006

Dropped calls, unreliable call quality, weak signals, battery draining, legal issues. To sum it up, the New York Times' Matt Richtel says that WiFi phones just aren't ready yet for primetime.

I find myself agreeing with him. Though I strongly support attempts to converge voice, data, video and other signals onto the same network, WiFi needs more development before it will be acceptable for the masses and not just early enthusiasts. A good metropolitan mesh WiFi network will have to solve all the problems mentioned in Richtel's article before mobile VoIP can have its day.

He brings up some good points too. Buildings or basements with low wireless coverage will benefit from VoIP over an internal WLAN, and what's more is that network administrators can control and track phone usage.

The controversy starts with the use of open access points to make your calls. I agree with the line of thinking that says, "if you don't want people using your open bandwidth, then just secure it." Still, there are valid points to be made for both sides of the argument. But with WiFi phones, it will definitely be less suspicious to be talking into a small device that resembles a cellphone than to be using a laptop to check your e-mails.

Verizon expands 3G services with BroadbandAccess

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Verizon's press release department must have been working overtime this past weekend in order to pump out all this news:

Tyler, Texas: Tyler Residents Can Now Enjoy High-Speed Wireless Internet, E-mail, Mobile Music and Gaming
Longview, Texas: Customers Can Now Get High-Speed Wireless Internet and E-mail Services, Download Video Clips and Songs to Handsets
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Surrounding Area: Customers Can Now Get High-Speed Wireless Internet and E-mail Services, and Download Video Clips and Songs to Handsets
Iraq: Verizon Business to Offer Free Calling During Holiday Season to U.S. Troops in Iraq

The first three articles all refer to Verizon's expansion of its EV-DO network to new markets, all seemingly launched on the same day. BroadbandAccess is the name of their high-speed wireless network, which boasts speeds of 400-700 kbps. Each press release mentions music, videos, games, Internet, and e-mail, but what is conspicuously absent is any mention of VoIP. After 3 Group partnered with Skype for 3G VoIP services, I had hoped that North American carriers would wise up and offer similar options. That doesn't seem to be the case just yet. Verizon continues to tie its subscribers to its own voice network, and although its voice quality may beat that offered by VoIP providers, it can't match the savings on international calls, which I will posit is what the mobile business user wants. It's about options. Let the users decide.

Verizon is also connecting families with their loved ones in Iraq for free over the holidays:
Verizon Business will provide the calls from Nov. 22 through 28 and
from Dec. 22 through Jan. 2. This is the fourth consecutive year that the
company is offering free holiday calls for military personnel in Iraq.
As a leading communications provider to the federal government, Verizon
Business has deployed to Iraq a state-of-the-art mobile communications
facility outfitted with phones to allow military personnel to make calls.
Verizon Business throughout the year makes technology, resources and
employee support available to military personnel and their families around
the world.
I hope Verizon's PR team can take a break today after all of yesterday's launches.

VoIP News Roundup for Nov. 19, 2006

Sunday, November 19, 2006

1. PhoneGnome Goes VoIP 2.0
Tons of upgrades since the last version. Now it has free membership and is free-to-call within the PhoneGnome member community. The hardware now becomes optional, and is being offered cheaper. There's no software required either, as all calls are initiated to your phone from your personal PG webpage, pretty much like how Jajah bridges two phones with VoIP. This could be something worth checking out. If PhoneGnome doesn't require a minimum amount of use to remain an active member, Jajah will lose its raison d'être unless it continues to innovate.

2. Google Maps gets Click-to-call
The much hyped click-to-call feature is here, and Google's footing the bill:
Here's how it works: Search for a business, like a hardware store, on Google Maps, and click the 'call' link next to its phone number. Then, enter your phone number and click 'Connect For free.' Google calls your phone number and automatically connects you to the hardware store.
Looks pretty neat, at least for all those non-Skype users. They can already get click-to-call installed with Skype 3.0.

3. X-Series Symbian Phones will use iSkoot
I mentioned the 3 Group and Skype announcement of the X-Series mobile broadband initiative, but the required Symbian phones aren't running Skype after all. Instead, Om Malik says they will run iSkoot, a 3rd pary application that is compatible with Skype:
You see what happened was that iSkoot, a Cambridge, MA.-based company cut a deal with 3g wireless service provider, 3, part of the Hutchison empire. As part of that deal, 3 would install iSkoot in some of its handsets including two Symbian based phones, the Nokia N73 and Sony Ericsson W950. iSkoot is not an official Skype product, and despite a tepid endorsement by Skype, and its capabilities, cannot be qualified as Skype for Symbian.
But since Skype is endorsing this with their logo, most users will never know the difference.

4. Canada deregulates VoIP services
Mark Evans has the Canadian perspective on this move that reverses a decision made by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC):
So what does this decision mean? For one, incumbent carriers will be able to offer VoIP service at any price they want without having to seek approval regulatory approval. As a result, you can expect Bell Canada to become much more aggressive on pricing while ILECs such as Telus, Manitoba Tel and SaskTel will get into the VoIP market after sitting on the sideline until the regulatory uncertainty was resolved.
With lower prices though, the barrier to entry gets higher and startups with new ideas might not get off the ground. Pros and cons for both sides, but a decision has been made and we'll soon start seeing the effects.

VoIP Service Blog on Blue Box Podcast

Friday, November 17, 2006

Thanks to both Dan and Jonathan over at The VoIP Security Podcast for the warm welcome. This is the first time The VoIP Service Blog has been mentioned in their podcast, with a reference to my article on the FTC and SPIT.

It was actually pointed out that the article's humorous title, "New FTC rule to put an end to SPIT" was misleading, and I do agree that regulations alone are insufficient to "put an end to" anything. Getting into the article, I wrote that the FTC was "introducing a new ruling that will make it illegal to make unsolicited prerecorded telemarketing calls" which was also inaccurate, seeing as there would still be certain cases where it would be okay to use automatic prerecordings:
the Commission proposes a new TSR amendment that would make explicit that the TSR prevents sellers and telemarketers from delivering a prerecorded message when a person answers a telemarketing call, except in the very limited circumstances permitted in the call abandonment safe harbor, and when a consumer has consented, in writing, to receive such calls.
Again, thanks to Dan and Jonathan for pointing out these details. They also discussed the inclusion of VoIP for the first time in the SANS Top-20 Internet Security Attack Targets, plus an old VoIP security report that's suddenly making news, and other VoIP security news updates.

Skype's new mobile VoIP service with 3G

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Skype and 3 Group have announced the launch of X-Series, a collaborative effort to provide mobile broadband at flat rates, a key requirement for mobile VoIP and other services.

3 Group will reveal new pricing plans for data usage on their mobile networks. It seems that X-Series will only work with the Nokia N73 and Sony Ericsson W950i, and if you buy the phone directly from 3 Group you'll get Skype, Slingbox, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Orb and web browsing software preinstalled.

3 Group's 3G network is available across Europe, plus Australia and Hong Kong. The idea of reasonably priced unlimited mobile broadband is certain to be well received, and hopefully North American carriers will follow suit by improving their data networks and promoting VoIP services and other applications.

Gotalk unleashes "world's smallest VoIP phone"

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Gotalk deserves minimal praise for this piece of news. It's nice that they're trying to think of innovative products, but $50 for a 128MB flash drive doesn't exactly get me excited, even if it does launch a softphone application when you stick it in a PC. I don't think it'll be on my Christmas list this year.

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TalkPlus lets you call Skype users from mobile phones

Monday, November 13, 2006

TalkPlus isn't a VoIP service per se, but it does let you do some pretty cool things. Phil Wolff and Jeff Black show how in mere seconds, you can assign a virtual phone number to one of your Skype contacts and call them from your mobile phone. Yeah, it's not the most practical thing VoIP lets you do right now, but it's a neat party trick... well, at a LAN party anyway.

VoIP News Roundup for Nov. 12, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

After a short hiatus, I'm just catching up on the news around the VoIP blogosphere. Here are some articles I found particularly interesting:

1. Skype 3.0 beta goes "Live"
The new version will have click-to-call, where any text phone number in your website browser will allow you to click it to make a SkypeOut call, and plug-in support which lists popular third party plug-ins as a new tab within Skype. The new Live tab also lists Skypecasts. All these new additions were previously available only on the Skype website, but are now integrated into the program interface itself.

2. Fierce 15 - Top VoIP Companies of 2006
Top VoIP services as compiled by FierceVoIP, in alphabetical order:
3. Linux "Hacker-Phone" in the works
The idea is to distribute a barebones device capable of making calls and text messages, but with expandable memory and an open API to encourage the development of a myriad of applications. Then, new users will be able to customize their phones any way they wish. Hackers who create new applications could be eligible for discounts. Oh, and did I mention the stylish design?

4. Linksys CIT310 Yahoo Messenger Phone reviewed

Linksys has followed up their CIT200 Skype phone with a new phone for Yahoo Messenger users. Great if you're tied to only one VoIP service, but what if you need more than one? I guess you could just wait for that Linux phone instead.

Samsung reveals WiBro SPH-P9000 at Mobile WiMAX Summit

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

If you can't stand typing on those teeny-weeny QWERTY keyboards (thumbpads?) on your mobile phone, Samsung hears you. They just showed off this monster of a "mobile convergence device" (don't you dare call it a phone) at the Mobile WiMAX Summit 2006 in South Korea. Featuring a full fold-out keyboard and 30 GB hard drive, it runs Windows XP and weighs just 1.28 pounds.

The device uses CDMA EV-DO and Mobile WiMAX (or WiBro) for connectivity (sorry no WiFi, but with Internet speeds of 2-3 Mbps while travelling at up to 75 MPH/120 KPH, it's more than enough for mobile VoIP!) and looks like it will only be available in Korea. Still, it's a neat concept. Looks almost like my ultimate handheld gadget, but would probably be too big to fit in my pocket (unless I wear some really baggy jeans, maybe).

Engadget has more photos from the summit, and here are the specs from the press release.
SPH-P9000 Specifications

Mobile WiMAX / CDMA 1x EV-DO

1.3 Megapixel Camera


1GHz (Transmeta) CPU

QWERTY Keyboard

Bluetooth® (Class1) with BT Messenger

Mini USB / 24 pin Connector

Extended I/O Pack

2980mAh / 7200mAh Battery
Other Functions

30GB Embedded

143 x 92 x 29.7 mm

* Product specifications are subject to change without notice

Raketu review

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I’ve been using Raketu for a few weeks prior to this review. This newcomer to the VoIP arena made its debut on September 12, 2006, and it shows definite promise. Their goal is to do no less than to overtake Skype as the leader in Internet voice communications, with the following strategy:

1. Offer more features than anyone else.
Never have I seen this many features wrapped up into an IM client:
  • SIP compatible
  • Voicemail
  • Conference calling
  • Subscribe to news, stocks, weather, podcasts and other RSS feeds
  • Integrated media player with karaoke mode
  • Picture viewer
  • Integrated travel planner, using Yahoo's Farechase for cheap flight results
  • Send free SMS text messages to mobile phones
  • Download game plug-ins to play with others online
2. Offer free calls to landlines in 42 countries until the end of 2006. I've been told that Raketu may add more countries to this list as we approach December, and they are also considering an extension of the promotion into 2007. However, I have found that in order to make free calls, you must have at least $0.01 of credit on your Raketu account. You can sign up for the free trial, which will put $0.01 into your account for 1 hour, but it will revert back to $0.00 after 1 hour whether or not you have been using the service for the entire time.

3. Offer interoperability with other IM clients. The Multi-Messenger lets you exchange text messages with your contacts from any of the following accounts into a single interface:
  • AOL Instant Messenger
  • ICQ
  • MSN Messenger
  • Google Talk
  • Yahoo Messenger
  • Skype (*Skype is not integrated into Raketu the way the other clients are. In order to communicate with Skype contacts from Raketu, a Skype client must be installed and running on your PC.)
4. Offer a less controversial VoIP service by not creating Supernodes. With this approach, Raketu avoids a security issue that plagues Skype while still claiming to have high completion rates and excellent voice quality.

Raketu is banking on these four offers to propel them to internet telephony fame. They also want to launch RakIn and RadioShow services in the near future. Everything (except the battleships game plug-in) comes in an installer package of only 3.4 MB. So far, everything looks good. We'll have to wait and find out if Raketu will be successful in becoming a Skype-killer.

If Raketu wants to attract more users, they'll have to make some major changes to the usability and appearance of both the website and the application. I navigated through all the pages in the website and all the windows in the application, but the process just wasn't intuitive. However, once you know where everything is, you'll find that nothing is more than one or two clicks away. And in an e-mail exchange, their tech support team mentioned that the website will be re-developed with user friendliness in mind. With that aside, the Help menu offers informative guides and movie tutorials that every beginner should be sure to check out.

Voice quality
Now we arrive at the make-or-break issue. Does it sound alright? Can I understand the person I'm talking to? And you'll be glad to know that the clarity is fine. Though it's not like a local call on a standard phone, the quality is on par with Skype and cell phones, with little to no noticeable echo or static.

Raketu advertises that it only needs a connection speed of 36 kbps to make calls, as long as the user isn't downloading any files at the same time. For those of you on WiFi connections, they also claim that Raketu works even when your signal strength is as low as 15%. I haven't tested Raketu on dial-up, but when I was making calls at a WiFi hotspot (with a good signal), I found that the voice "stuttered" a little bit. This would happen for a few minutes then clear up. Of course this depends on your WiFi connection, but for best results stick with wired broadband.

Bug Report
Nowhere on Raketu's website or in the program does it mention that this program is in BETA testing. The current version is 1.0 but they still have a built-in mechanism for reporting bugs. Rather than using that form, I'm going to just list my finds here. I'm sure the Raketu team will be fixing them in an upcoming release.
  • Stocks often say [Quote not available]
  • Weather feeds work only on occasion
  • Newsreader doesn't format combined Blogger/Feedburner feeds well, though this problem may be caused by either Blogger or Feedburner because most feeds are fine
  • The media player has unhelpful error messages when required codecs are missing
  • The multi-messenger occasionally crashes upon closing
To wrap-up, Raketu is a product you'll want to look out for in the future. Once they've dealt with their usability issues and fixed some bugs, their rich feature set may give them the advantage over Skype and other competitors. The functionality is all there, now it just needs to be optimized for the masses.

Pros: Good voice quality, free calling promotion, no supernodes, compatibility with SIP and IM clients, free SMS, many features, guides, tips, and tricks

Cons: User friendliness, appearance, must buy credits to make free calls, lingering bugs

Overall: 4 stars (out of 5)

Have you had an experience with Raketu that you'd like to share? Leave a comment or e-mail me at voip_telephony [at] yahoo [dot] com and I'll publish your review or directly link to the review on your website.

Net Neutrality unaffected by today's elections

Russell Shaw doubts that the outcome of today's midterm elections will make much difference in the Net Neutrality debate:
The House will likely go marginally Democrat- and committee chairs will change as a result. So the pro net-neutrality forces will make some noise, but not enough. Not every Democrat fully supports net neutrality, and not every Republican is adamantly opposed.
Unbelievably, there are shades of gray in Congress for this issue. Not everyone is black and white about it, and I'm encouraged by that.

It means neither of the extremes will have enough political clout to push their view over the other. If there's to be any progress, each side will have to soften their voice and get closer to the middle in order to pick up the votes of these gray-leaning Congressmen. Perhaps the moderate voices will win out after all.

Snom's Linux phones support MS Exchange Server

Monday, November 06, 2006

Snom unveils Linux phones that support Exchange Server 2007 at VON Europe and Steve Ballmer chooses today to announce Microsoft's big VoIP play. Coincidence? You make the call.
Snom says that its phones offer one-button access to Exchange Server 2007's unified communications services such as voice mail, speech recognition, and voice synthesis of emails, journal entries, contact data, and calendar entries.
Decisions, decisions. If you're running Exchange 2007 in your company, will you pick up the Snom phones or wait for Microsoft to release their solution?

VoIP entry a smart move for Microsoft

When big news hits the VoIP scene, Andy Abramson usually has it covered. Today he alerts us to Steve Ballmer's announcement that Microsoft will introduce new VoIP and video conferencing solutions beginning in 2007.

Having a major player enter the market can have its upsides and downsides. Nevertheless, when a great product comes out, it raises quality standards for its competitors, and that's good for consumers. Let's hope Microsoft's new products are as impressive as their announcement.

Online Dating Service uses Skype

This discovery was just too great to pass up without blogging about it. I've already mentioned TalkPlus and its plans to become an integral part of online dating. Well look at what someone has built around Skype: SingleSkypers. It's just what it sounds like -- a place for singles to get together using Skype.

A few clicks and we see that they offer free membership, they have 125 members (103 male, 22 female) in many different countries, and.... oops, looks like the site is getting busted for trademark infringement. Advice to arpecop: you'll probably want to take down this link from your main page.


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Mobile Video: not a Big Thing yet

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Last week I wrote Mobile Video: the next Big Thing? to reflect on some of the positive things that we'll be able to do with video enabled mobile phones. I began that article with a bit of a disclaimer:
Opinions differ on the usefulness of having the ability to see a high-quality live video of the person you're talking to on your mobile phone. While I doubt that everyone in the future will always opt to make video calls, I am convinced that it will be used in certain situations, and that it will be a Big Thing.
The thing is, not everyone is so anxious to have video calling ability all the time. The VoIP Girl and PhoneBoy have both weighed in with some things that people have to consider when they fire up their webcams. The people I talk to have similar concerns.

When PhoneBoy mentions camera shyness, I'm reminded of all those who aren't comfortable with their image unless they've just shaven, or done their hair, or put on makeup, or gotten dressed. A phone call is an unexpected event and not many people want to be seen unprepared.

The VoIP Girl says that people want to multi-task while they're on the phone, and being on camera would stop them from doing other things. This also corresponds to feedback I've heard. They're not interested in chatting online. Their phone calls are usually to arrange meetings where they'll see each other anyway.

Going back to the disclaimer at the beginning, "not everyone will always opt to make video calls" and "it will be used in certain situations". That still holds true, and even my skeptical friends admit that there are times when this ability will come in handy, many of which are described in last week's post. Maybe this will change once availability increases. I still have a feeling that when the barriers have been lowered, it will be a Big Thing.

La Fonera has been hacked

La Fonera is the name of a wireless router that's practically being given away by FON in order to promote their worldwide WiFi sharing community. If spread widely enough and used in combination with WiFi phones, it could speed up the adoption of Mobile VoIP.

And now La Fonera has been hacked. It turns out that FON has severely locked down the router, limiting its administration, but also ensuring that each Fonera can connect to FON to get updates and authenticate users. The hack can be used to prevent the router from communicating with FON while opening some of its functionality.

While La Fonera is being sold for $5 in the US, its price will increase to $29.95 starting Wednesday November 8.

Source: Slashdot

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New FTC rule to put an end to SPIT

The FTC is trying to stop SPIT (Spam over Internet Telephony) by introducing a new ruling that will make it illegal to make unsolicited prerecorded telemarketing calls. While this may be a step in the right direction, it won't do anything to prevent unsolicited live telemarketing calls. Moshe Yudkowsky has other problems with the new ruling too, stating that it could kill many promising Voice 2.0 features.

I tend to agree with Moshe. The only way to opt-in for legal prerecorded calls is to give written permission to do so. In this day and age, who is going to collect handwritten signatures from every subscriber? This permission should logically extend to e-mail as well.

The FTC will only be taking comments on this proposal until November 6.

Playing a little catch-up

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Breaking news! Google throws its weight behind VOiP on Friday!

This is a must read. Now let me just scroll down to the next paragraph:
So what makes Google Talk any different than the veritable VOiP provider feast that is on offer? The cost. Free. Gratis. No charge.
Oh wait. They're just talking about Google Talk. Yes, we know it's free. Many VoIM clients are. It still doesn't call PSTN. What else you got?


Alright everyone, move along. Nothing more to see here.

Exclusive Asterisk P2P network allows free long-distance VoIP calls

Friday, November 03, 2006

The goal: Free long-distance calls by joining an exclusive P2P network of Asterisk boxes using DUNDi. Once you're set up, you'll be able to use your standard telephone to make local calls in any area code represented by a member of the network.

What you'll need:
  • Free copy of Asterisk
  • Sipura SPA-3000 PSTN / VoIP Gateway
  • Broadband Internet connection
  • Second phone line (optional but recommended)
  • Degree in Geek-ology, or the ability to follow instructions
How to join: Details for installing Asterisk, configuring DUNDi to become a peer, and hooking everything together can be found at VoIP Syndicate.

Warning: Be mindful of local laws when you set this up, or you too may end up on the crime page of your country's newspaper.

Conclusion: It's admittedly not the most practical system ever, but this DIY project is guaranteed to satisfy your inner geek. Have fun!

Cable VoIP service may save Ohioans $4 billion

An economic study commissioned by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association has found that in Ohio, customers who subscribe to cable digital phone service will save an average of $135 per year compared to the standard phone service. That amounts to a possible $4 billion of savings for Ohio consumers over the next 5 years!
These projected savings are based on two primary factors:

- the amount that existing cable customers currently save by using lower-priced cable telephone service vs. the increased cost they would pay for service from the incumbent telephone providers (direct savings);
- the competitive response by the incumbent telephone providers to reduce their prices to compete with cable's new telephone service (indirect savings).
Well, it's a nice little publicity stunt for the cable companies, but there's some truth to that study. You really can save a bunch when you switch, especially if you make international calls.

Satellite VoIP is in the air

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Voice over satellite has always been a problem due to the latency, or delay, inherent in satellite data transmission. But rural residents of Australia can now use MyNetFone's VoIP service through their broadband satellite connections, thanks to URSYS, who was able to deliver reliable service for remote Australian communities, according to VoIP News:
"This has opened up a huge and yet untapped market for MyNetFone to deliver its service to mining towns, remote and rural settlements. The market potential for our VoIP service is huge, especially overseas with satellite coverage around the globe."
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UAE to change VoIP ruling

In the ongoing saga of Middle Eastern countries that block access to VoIP services, the UAE has decided it will lift its ban on Internet telephony applications:
Reuters Arabic and Albayan this week quoted officials from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority as saying that the ban would be lifted to allow the two licensed telecom operators, du and etisalat, to use the technology.
Great news! The ban is going to be lif--wait, what was that? Only the telecoms will have access?
The reports say the TRA will publish VoIP rates during the GITEX expo running from November 18 to 22.
VoIP rates? People will have to pay to use softphones like Skype? It sounds like they may not have access to softphones at all. There will be two flavors of VoIP in UAE -- "VoIP etisalat" and "duVoIP" for example -- and the people will be back to the two choices they originally had. However, they should be able to save money compared to the standard long-distance rates, so will citizens consider this a victory?

Mobile users want broadband and VoIP

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hot off the PR Newswire:
Lucent gauged interest in five applications – VoIP, video conferencing, communicate and collaborate, multicasting and business continuity. VoIP, consisting of basic VoIP and IP PBX features, generated the greatest willingness to buy amongst enterprise communications technology decision makers and was the top driver for switching carriers.
Company decision makers were responsive to the option of high-speed data on their mobile phones:
-- 76 percent of companies currently using EV-DO Rev. 0 are willing to pay a premium over current spending for premium mobile broadband.
-- 34 percent of the companies that are not currently using EV-DO Rev. 0 are willing to pay $60 or more per user per month for premium mobile broadband.
Consumers also expressed interest in broadband for the purposes of video and other features:
Among the topics covered with consumers, Lucent evaluated interest in video calling, video sharing, multimedia ring-back, content sharing, and "share and discuss." Video calling and video sharing were the two most popular applications.
-- More than 60 percent of respondents who currently spend money for such services are willing to pay extra for premium mobile broadband.
-- 40 percent of respondents who currently do not spend any money on such services are willing to pay extra.
When will the mobile carriers get with it and give consumers and business users the services they want AND are willing to pay extra for?

Chicago Schools convert to VoIP

The Chicago Tribune reports the largest conversion to VoIP of any U.S. school system. Chicago Public Schools will pay $28 million for the job to be done by Mitel Networks, which will include nearly 700 sites, 17,000 Centrex lines and 24,000 phones, and will take over 4 years to complete. Redundancy will be built-in for added reliability, and some standard telephone lines will be kept as a backup for emergency situations.

VoIP technology is expected to significantly reduce the school system's telephone bills. Plus, teachers will each receive a unique voicemail box with CallerID. The new system will also allow authorities to pinpoint the exact room from which a 911 call is made, another improvement over standard telephone lines.

VoIP is upon us, and it's here to stay, says Don Smith, Mitel chief executive:
"It's really a confirmation that large enterprises have embraced the technology," Smith said. "Today, about 95 percent of all the systems we install are VoIP. The tipping point came perhaps 18 months ago when VoIP overtook traditional technology for us."
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