September 30th, 2005

Peer to Peer TV


It is finally here – Peer to Peer TV known as PPLive.

One of the biggest challenges in traditional IPTV is how to distribute to hundreds of thousand or millions of viewer at the same time (imaging “broadcasting” HDTV to 500,000 people @ 400-600kbps unicast stream and you’ll understand the bandwidth challenge). Multicast works but few ISPs support multicast streams not to mention lack of QoS.

Using P2P technology will overcome this – as you are watching live TV streams downloaded via your peers, you are also streaming to others on the network. Sure, there is a bit of time delay in getting your TV and sure, the QoS is not certain but (1) a few seconds delay is more than acceptable in broadcast TV and (2) experience using PPLive so far give very high quality TV as long as you have sufficient bandwidth. This would be the good time to upgrade to the 10mbps broadband you wanted but have no idea what’s do with extra bandwidth :-)

Back to PPLive, it is a software from China and currently, it supports 80-90 channels mostly broadcast from China. And for those who can’t read Chinese, here is the direct download link. Don’t worry, the software supports English :-)

Have fun. Just make sure upgrade your broadband :-)

September 23rd, 2005

Do not what you not wish on yourself


Many people have complaint about the FCC lately. Jeff Pulver during the blogger panel said he rather see FTC incharge instead. This is a big contrast compared to just barely a year ago where Michael Powell was a keynote speaker. In fact, there wasn’t even a town hall session this VON. Where is the love from FCC?

We all know that FCC is a highly political. Given the Republican is in charge, it is not unexpected that FCC would favor big incumbents. The series of decisions made by FCC over the last year has been so.

But I believe what FCC is doing to VoIP industry is going to hurt America business interest in the long run.

FCC policy decisions not only affects United States. It has implications to all who has business interest (whether buying from or selling to) with United States. More importantly, regulators around the world often compare notes and FCC is always one of few regulators look up to. Lobbyists often quote FCC especially when it echo what they are asking for.

At this moment, when everyone around the world is struggling with VoIP regulations, the recent FCC policy decisions on VoIP like 911, emergency calls, lack of interconnection settlement framework, etc etc, is going to tickled down to the rest of the world. Very bad news for all those who is trying create a positive environment for VoIP to flourish.

But how is this going to hurt American interest in the long run? Remember United State is a trading nation – any thing that favors free trade, opening up market (especially other country markets) is good. What FCC is doing right now is going to come back and haunt American companies later when they expand overseas.

And what could be worst? We going to have 3 more years of this. *sigh*

September 22nd, 2005

VON Day 2

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The Blogger Panel was a smash – they schedule it as a main session rather than a breakout session which means we have much more audience than last year. Andy was a great moderator and my fellow panelists didn’t hesitate the take any questions, even the tough ones like why are we qualified to be up there :-)

I didn’t have the chance to take a shot at the “China story” but we have many other interesting discussion like what will shape the VoIP industry in the next two years – more start-ups, more mega buyouts, more innovative applications and more regulations. The last is mine and Jeff jump at it the moment I said the word “regulation”.

After then panel, we got together for dinner and debate never stop :-)


Oh yes, David Isenberg joined us for dinner. I was sitting at the other corner with David, Tom, Aswath.

September 21st, 2005

Google launch Secure Wifi Access


Google is preparing to launch a Secure Wifi Access.

LONDON (Reuters) – Online search leader Google is preparing to launch a wireless Internet service, Google WiFi, according to several pages found on the company’s Web site on Tuesday.

Looking at Google’s Wifi FAQ, the Yahoo! report may be a bit misleading. I don’t think Google is offering Wifi access but rather providing an application which allows you to use any public wifi securely.

September 20th, 2005

VON Day 1

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I spent most of my time at the Communication Policy Summit.

The most exciting session got to be Lawful Intercept session, with speakers from Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation explaining why they need CALEA and they did a great job. Unfortunately for them, their opponents John Morris and Brad Templeton did an even better job. In short, no one deny the law enforcement agencies the right to do legal intercept but the objection is how it is implemented. As it is current proposed, it is trying to retro fit a new technology into an old model, making technical requirements like 0.2s timestamp that increases the cost of implementation without any explaination why it is needed, and most importantly, why the industry should spend millions/billions of dollars to implement which is incomplete and easy to circumvent (it does not deal with IP-to-IP so all the terroist needs to know is

The other session I enjoy is session on policy reformation. The two hour session is extremely informative covering topics like (1) inter-state/carrier settlement (2) universal access fund (3) VoIP jurisdiction. For (1), it looks like US Congress don’t really know what they want but they want FCC to solve it. Conclusion is that it is not going to be resolved anytime soon. For (2), the issues seem simpler, or at least California Commissioner Susan Kennedy thinks it can be resolve easily by associating the contributions with phone numbers. The debate is more of a re-definition of what is “universal access” as no one wants to use the money to build an old copper infrastructure especially if you can get broadband IP infrastructure for cheaper cost. (As it stands, the universal services is bias towards copper network). For (3), Susan surprised me by saying she supported FCC to have jurisdiction over VoIP instead of the PUCs. In her words, “take it away from us before we hurt ourselves”.

Well, I disagreed so we had a little discussion. Her final statement surprised me but it also explained a question I had for a while: after FCC waive the “right-of-way” for new fiber laid, how are they going to balance the market? Where is the wedges they can use on the fiber operators?

The discussion goes this way:

Me: I agreed with everything you said. I believe in free market and I prefer competition over regulation. But as you said, you have 80% DSL and 92% cable pentration so there are still some small pocket people who has no choice in their carrier and …

Susan: For them, we have universal access funds.

In other words, the universal access funds are being used to create competitions (she confirmed this after the session).

Everything makes senses now: Using universal access funds to create competitions at the same time deregulating the “right of way” (The government should avoid regulating a monopoly in the hopes of making it “The Good Monopoly”. Instead, devote resources to promote competition and abundance. see Lessons learnt from history).

But shouldn’t it be called “Universal Competition Funds” then?

September 19th, 2005

VON 05 Boston

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September 19th, 2005

VoN Bloggers Roundtable

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boston-airport.jpgJust arrived Boston to participate in the VoIP Bloggers Roundtable at VON. This is my 3rd time in Boston and I really like Boston; No, really … of all the places I being to, Boston is one of the few cities I dont mind to settle down.

Back to VON, the panel on Tuesday evening includes Andy Ambramson, Mark Evans, Tom Evslin, Martin Geddes, Stuart Henshall, Om Malik, Jeff Pulver, Aswath Rao. I thought we missing the European bloggers like James Enck but I am sure the audience will fill in the gap.

So what do I want to talk about on the panel?

China Telecom blocking Skype

This is particularly important to those with a “China-play” ie, almost everyone. We don’t know how they will be doing the blocking but that’s not important. Remember what I said about the next ten years? That we will be “additional billion ordinary Internet users who consider Internet just as a tool, and the uses of it is far more important then the technology driving it”. We already seeing it in Japan, where broadband pentration is higher than PC pentration, ie, people subscribing to broadband for just the VoIP.

What’s this means is despite the geeks calling for “end-to-end”, “net freedom”, or whatever, the users don’t really care. And they will continue to buy whatever the operators offer them, even from China Telecom who banned Skype.

What about regulators? Well, effective regulators requires 3 criterias (a) strong regulator with broad legistrative foundation (b) sound market or consumer interest principles (c) in a highly regulated market. Without (a), any decisions made by the regulator can be overturned by the higher power-to-be. Without (b), any decisions are likely to be a step backwards. Without (c), regulators have no basis to intervent.

In other words, don’t hold your breath for MII to intervent in China Telecom vs Skype. Yes, I am aware of (aka Li family) influence in China but that’s from very top-down, if they ever make it happen.

China already have over 100M (see cnnic july report) internet users which is ~10% of the Internet population today. And 100M is less than 0.1% 10% of the China population. So when China catch up with the rest (60-80% pentration), wanna guess who will matters more in future?

Btw, the story don’t just stop in China – I expect to see similar stories from other countries with monopoly carriers.

ps: Hmm, maybe there is a business in selling carrier-grade Skype blocking tools (via Kevin Werbach) ^_^;;;

1 thanks to Antoin who corrected the math; my excuse is that 22hrs flight do that to people sometimes.

September 14th, 2005

Scott McNealy in Singapore


Just come back from the speech by Scott McNealy and I couldn’t help comparing him to Bill Gates in July. Bill’s session was very sale orientated, lack of grand visions which was very disappointed as I expected more from the Chief Software Architect of Microsoft.

But back to Scott’s presentation…

First, how can you not like a presentation title “The Participation Age”. Scott summarised it as the time where people participates, engages in communities in variety of activities; blogging, ebaying, skyping etc etc. :-)

Second, I don’t remember the last time I saw the phrase “Digital Divide” and “Global Warming” in any CEO speech. And they are serious about it – building cheap computing devices so poorer nations can get online too and building lower power consumption chips. *clap clap clap*

I also learn something new today – Everyone who is looking at TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) especially wrt to Open Source is missing out one very important factor: the cost of technology exit. All software and hardware become obsoleted in 18-36 months so having an exit strategy makes a lot of sense. And the cost of the exit should be factor into the TCO upfront. Now, wouldn’t that change a lot of equations?

Despite being SUN orientated, Scott gave his speech with humor, cracking jokes and jabbing at Microsoft, Intel and IBM. Overall, I enjoyed it a lot :-)

ps: btw, many of the stuff mentioned (e.g. Display-GRID, x4100 etc) by Scott can also be found on Jonathon’s blog.

September 12th, 2005

Proposed Spam Control Bill for Singapore

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IDA & AGC Seek Second Round Views on Proposed Spam Control Bill for Singapore

The proposed Spam Control Bill includes, in addition to email spam, legal measures to manage mobile spam in Singapore. The Bill also proposes that anyone who suffers damages or loss arising from spam be given the right to initiate legal action against non-compliant spammers. The draft Bill also proposes that if found guilty, non-compliant spammers can be directed by the court to stop their spamming activities or pay damages to the affected parties.

September 12th, 2005

SPAM against SPAM


Microsoft-bashing has always being a favourite pastime for many geeks so I wasn’t surprised when I got anti-Microsoft spam in my inbox. Whats was surprising was that it was send by a group called SPAMIS – Strategic Partnership Against Microsoft Illegal Spam.

Sorry, when you fight spam with spam, you lost all your creditability – especially when SPAMIS is founded by Robert Soloway, one of the biggest spammers around who has an axe to grind with Microsoft.