VoIP

Commodity Battle: AOL vs. Skype

Its not uncommon for technology companies to choose a complement to their core technology and try to make it a commodity. This can be a very successful approach: Microsoft’s OS market share has doubtless been aided by cheap, commodity-class PCs. Sometimes when you’re developing two complementary bits of technology, it makes sense to commoditize one of them to aid the other — this is the traditional “give away the razor, sell the razor blades” model. Printer manufacturers have embraced this model with such gusto that some have even started using crytpographic handshakes between the printer and toner cartridges in an
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Categories: VoIP.

T-Mobile bans VoIP and IM from new UK 3G Data Service

(Apologies for violating my policy of not repeating stuff on slashdot. Also for basing a US-centric rant on a UK story.) It seems that T-Mobile has released a new 3G data service in the UK. Sounds pretty neat, except their terms of service explicitly ban the use of VoIP or IM applications. The referenced article speculates that they plan to offer their own VoIP service. If they are banning such applications because they think their network can’t deal with it, that is bad enough. But if they are banning them because they don’t want competition with their own service, then
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Categories: General, IM, and VoIP.

Open Source SigComp Project Launched

SigComp, an IETF-developed technology for compression of signalling messages, is considered important for certain wireless SIP applications (notably push-to-talk, although its application to other applications is getting some attention as well). The Open SigComp project web site launched last week. The purpose of this project is to produce and maintain an open source SigComp stack. Not only will this assist in research and prototyping work around the SigComp protocol, but it should also help in the continued development of the SigComp protocol within the IETF.
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Categories: IETF, Open Source, and VoIP.

Vonage: Customer Service Reponds

You may recall my Vonage rant a while back. I sent them mail to clarify the situation at that time, but didn’t hear back. (In the interim, I’ve settled on Delta Three’s iconnecthere service). Almost two months after I sent my query to Vonage Customer Service asking about the activation, shipping, and termination charges, I finally got two responses. Taken together, they fall into the “heart is in the right place, but head is up their ass” category. Compare: Dear Adam, Thank you for contacting customer care. Please forgive the delay in responding. As regards your email, no in the
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Categories: Rants and Rambling and VoIP.

Texas v. Vonage

Following an incident in Houston in which a Vonage subscriber was unable to reach 911 in an emergency, the Texas Attorney General has filed suit against Vonage. The suit seeks suitable notice to subscribers about the (rather crippling) deficiencies in Vonage’s 911 service. There are a few problems with the way that Vonage currently handles 911, and I’ve been warning people about them for a couple of years. The first is that, by default, dialing 911 simply plays a recording saying “you don’t have 911.” You have to activate 911 service before you can use it, and apparently Vonage doesn’t
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Categories: VoIP.

QoS Considered Harmful

Cringlely has an interesting take on QoS. What happens when the ISP tags the traffic for its own services to have a higher class of service than that of all those third party services? I’ve heard lots of arguments that best effort is good enough for VoIP if you have sufficient bandwidth. But that will fall apart pretty quickly if it has to compete with lots of higher priority traffic. This could be the big ISP’s best shot ever at breaking that annoying end-to-end internet. Now, Cringely did not present any evidence the ISP’s were actually doing this–but I keep
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Categories: VoIP.

Random Trademark Fact: “Push to Talk” now free

I have, until now, been under the impression that the term “Push to Talk” is a trademark of either Motorola or of Nextel, and that using it in a more general sense was generally asking for trouble. Then, today, I spotted a Verizon ad advertizing their “Push to Talk phone.” The capitalization is theirs, which gives it almost a trademarked feel. However, there isn’t any indication of trademark ownership anywhere in the ad (aside from the places you’d expect it — next to the Verizon logo, for example). So, I checked with the USPTO (which doesn’t let you bookmark into
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Categories: VoIP.

Followup: The Guilty Party

So, it turns out the ISP — or at least one of them — who had started blocking port 5060 so as to disrupt VoIP services is a little company called “Madison River Communications.” The problem appears to be cleared up now. And the fine is big enough that it would definitely deter… umm… most people who had to pay it out of their own pocket?
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Categories: VoIP.