September 9th, 2005

Its all about Numbers

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Two news from IDA regarding numbers and numbers :-)

1. Public consultation on Number Portability (pdf)

IDA intends to review the implementation for number portability for fixed line and mobile telecommunications services in Singapore. The review is in with IDA’s policy objectives of promoting competition in the infocommunications sector to benefit of consumers and businesses in Singapore

What we have in Singapore now is “Call Forwarding” and we are trying to move to “Onward Routing” or “All Call Query”. Both will give us true number portability (ie, the Caller ID will match your number) but the difference is the efficiency of the system. If a small percentage of users do number port, then Onward Routing is more efficient and if a large percentage of users do number port, then ACQ will be more efficient.

2. IDA Announces Results for Numbers Auction & Launches ENUM Pilot Trial

The IP Telephony numbers auction and ENUM pilot trial is a follow-up from IDA’s launch of the IP Telephony and ENUM policy framework in June this year. The framework is designed to facilitate the entry of companies interested in offering IP Telephony services in Singapore and is expected to bring about reduced costs and more choices in providing telephone services.

On the auction, 4 operators got “3” level number (ie. +65 3xxx xxxx). Personally, I am fairly excited about this because this means we may likely to see at least 3 new VoIP operators (China Motion, I2U and SuperInternet Access) in Singapore hopefully soon :-)

March 8th, 2005

Outlook of Telecom Industry

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There are a lot of discussion about termination charges at VON. Particularly, the recent Madison River blocking Vonage incident bring out more horror stories about Rural LECs (e.g. high termination charges).

Well, what do you expect? RLEC used to be a mini-monoploy and the gateway to their communtiy. In the past, there are no way you can get to them without going through them but now all that is changing due to VoIP.

If RLECs are bad, wait till you deal with developing country incumbents who used to get a lot of termination revenue. In fact, AT&T is a largest contributor to their GDP at one stage. Some already starting to voicing that VoIP is hurting their revenue stream at ITU and WSIS.

All these are are signs of a painful transition of a US$1T industry to, say US$100b one. For every dollar they used to made on voice, they going to get only 10cent in future – this means for every 10 jobs we have today, 9 has to go.

Now, this does not mean VoIP is destroying value. Instead, think of it as freeing up value. Now, I am paying 100-200$ on phone bills per month compared to 500-800$ few years ago. But this also means I have 300-500$ spare cash which I now pays for other new services – bigger broadband, dedicated server (for this blog :-) etc.

It is important to free up such value for consumer because then consumer have more free cash to buy new services. This will encourage companies to start offering new services, new jobs will be created to replace those lost and all of us will have better quality of life.

February 25th, 2005

WTF is Popular Telephony?


Andy, I like your blog but sorry, I have no idea whats up with Popular Telephony and its Peerio or GNUP.

Help me out here – what exactly is the “patent-pending invention, Peerioâ„¢, defines the framework and principles for a state-of-the-art, next generation server-free IP telephony system.” (see Peerio) or where is the software agent described as “A lightweight software agent used with any VoIP application (Peerio, Skype, Liphone, SIP or H.323 client software, etc), GNUP allows you, your computer, PDA or other device to be called from any another VoIP, PSTN, mobile or satellite device.” (see GNUP).

Or maybe I am just clueless and perhaps so is David and Richard. But please show us a working product – and not those PRs and diagrams which don’t make sense. Maybe then, maybe we can talk a bit more about it.

Or are these all just a joke?

February 24th, 2005

Yahoo! BB Phone

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yahoo-backbone-small.jpgSadahiro Sato, GM of BB Phone Service Division of Softbank, gave a very informative presentation. You can find the backbone of Yahoo! BB in Japan and they have acquired Japan Telecom last year really for their backbone network across Japan.

And since Yahoo! BB has 22% of the telephony market share in Japan, nearly 33% of their revenue comes from voice termination from the other telco. (so they want to do well but not too much to kill off all their competitors :-)

The network protocol is a mixature of MGCP, H.323 and SIP but he talks about moving all to SIP eventually (yeah!). And watch out for Yahoo! BB offering WiFi phone services, particularly, he mentioned about a WiFi+CDMA phones. He also asked the audience to talk to their government to give Yahoo! a mobile license :-)

Some other interesting note: Yahoo! BB has 4.4M subscribers now and 95% of the Yahoo! BB subscribers took up BB Phone services. And yes, it is finally confirmed: Yahoo! BB TA (terminal adaptor) redirect all the emergency calls, toll-free calls, etc etc (ie, all the money losing calls) and fall back to the NTT. Haha, no wonder NTT is pissed!

ps: I am blogging this on stage.

February 15th, 2005

Blocking VOIP

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The expected has happened: LECs (Local Exchange Carriers) started to block Vonage (or SIP in general) to protect their telephony services. (via Slashdot).

What was surprisingly is how stupidly they did this – they could just do a bit of trottling, limited the bandwidth, drop a few packets now and then, and it would take a long time before someone figure it out while in the meantime, people will think how bad the Vonage and SIP services sux and will just stay-put. But no, they go ahead and block the port totally.

And thank God for that. Now that Vonage has filed a complaint with FCC and hopefully this will set a precedence to all those who wish to try this block or trottling trick.

This is also one of the reasons why I am anti-port-25-blocking as a solution for antispam. Blocking port 25 is a quickfix but would destory the end-to-end connectivity – it is similar to blacklisting except you are blacklisting ports. Most importantly of all, the same equipments that does port 25 port blocking (and the fact they have confidence now that it will work properly) will allow them to do port 5060.

February 3rd, 2005

Warning about VoIP?

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US warns on risk of net-based telephony reports FT

Internet-based telephony known as voice over internet protocol, or VoIP promises lower costs and greater flexibility by using existing data networks. But a report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which develops technology guidelines for US government agencies, warns of the “inherent vulnerabilities” of VoIP.

Huh? NIST, the group that looking after Internet warns about VoIP?

And I am surprised at some of the statement like “VoIP systems can be expected to be more vulnerable than conventional telephone systems, in part because they are tied in to the data network, resulting in additional security weaknesses and avenues of attack” which is trying to imply Internet is not good enough. Oh wait, I think I have heard similar statements before at ITU (and also OECD).

Furthermore, it goes on to say “VoIP adds a number of complications to existing network technology and these problems are magnified by security considerations” and recommends “using separate voice and data networks when feasible“.

Now now now. I seem to hear these before too…Yep, Cisco! That’s exactly the same marketing message Cisco has been using selling their telephony solution – “Security is big problem- We are the expert and all our product has security build in; Provision more subnets – buy more routers”

It is hard to argue against a report that warns about security (nothing is 100% secured) but I think there is something going on here… but I am just guessing based on what I have seen at various forums…

January 30th, 2005

IP Telephony in Asia

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Once in a while, I would get call or email from friends who wanted to do a ‘Vonage for Asia’ and ask me what I think. By “Vonage of Asia”, the general idea revolves around an ITSP (IP Telephony Service Provider) providing flat-rate unlimited calls across Asia (or a variant of that).

Well, the first and foremost problem is the lack of harmonization of regulatory framework across Asia. This means licensing, getting phone numbers, negiotate interconnections, implementing emergency services, wiretapping, universal service obligation would be very different across each economy where unlike US or EU. And this does not include the lack of understanding of such new services (many still trying to understand Internet) among the regulators and also the lack of open market1.

So other then requesting for a licensing, you need to educate the regulators and fight the incumbent rejecting you at the same time (and repeat that for each economy). The latter could also call up and have coffee with the IT/Communication Minister anytime whereas you likely not to enjoy similar privilege.
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January 24th, 2005

Google providing VoIP


This is fresh on Slashdot: Google Plan Free VoIP in UK

The company behind the US-based internet search engine looks set to launch a free telephone service that links users via a broadband internet connection using a headset and home computer.

Actually Tom Keating discover some hints of this a few days ago…seem like he is right on the spot!

Update: Google denies they moving into VoIP. On the other hand, Pulver noted quite a few Google executive signed up for VON…so go draw your own conclusion.

January 8th, 2005

Skype insecurity

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Okay, let me be join the echo chamber regarding the problem with Skype voicemail.

I called a colleague using skype, not knowing he was in another skype session. His Skype Answering Machine picked up and I left a message. First the parties on the call with him heard me. Secondly, I heard them. Both calls were clear as a bell to the others.

No doubt it will be fixed soon :-)

November 22nd, 2004

3G/Wifi Phone

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Okay, after the Skype DualPhone, we have 3G/WiFi phone (via Richard Stansty):

NTT DoCoMo and its regional subsidiaries are now offering business subscribers a dual-network 3G/VoIP handset that works as a 3G mobile phone, VoIP (voice-over-IP) terminal, or both simultaneously. The N900iL is based on a Linux-based 3G mobile phone software platform developed jointly by NEC and Panasonic…When used in wireless LAN mode, the N900iL supports call hold, call transfer, and other standard phone functions, the company says.

This isn’t funny anymore. I can’t keep up buying all these stuff…wait, I cant even buy them here in Singapore :-( And yes, for our dear friends who is in Japan (yes, Adam, you!), you can laugh all you want while I drool on.

And also, Joi has a related entry on NTT Docomo isn’t using Microsoft for their phones. Could it be due to this? It certainly does not inspire confidence regardless the accusation is true or false. But hey, I have my fair share of such experience …