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 Tom.com (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 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 :-)

August 25th, 2005

More about Google Talk

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I did some packet sniffing and look at how Google Talk works.

1. Google Talk is Jabber (XMPP) compliant. Here is what it send for authentication

<stream:stream to="gmail.com" version="1.0" 
      <starttls xmlns="urn:ietf:params:xml:ns:xmpp-tls"/>
      <mechanisms xmlns="urn:ietf:params:xml:ns:xmpp-sasl">
    <auth xmlns="urn:ietf:params:xml:ns:xmpp-sasl" 
      mechanism="X-GOOGLE-TOKEN"<(Some hash, presume Google Token)</auth>

Then followed by the standard presence information etc. Interestingly, the precense exchange indicated that Google Talk assume everyone in your Gmail addressbook is your friend…Hmm.

IMs are also standard compliant :-)

<message to="xxxx@gmail.com" type="chat">
  <body>testing now..pls accept then we hang up =)</body>
  <active xmlns="http://jabber.org/protocol/chatstates"/>

Note: talk.google.com does not seem to support s2s. This means you cant use gmail jabber server to talk to other friends who is on other jabber system :P
Read the rest of this entry »

August 24th, 2005

Google Talk

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Google just launched their Google Talk!

First, I have to eat my own words – I predicted that Google will enter VoIP space focusing on their search capability but instead, they revolve it around their Gmail expanding the communication capability instead.

Now, on to the good news, Google embraced Open Standard! Not only the IM capability is based on Jabber, their VoIP apparently is also based on SIP, at least according to ZDNet. Two birds in one stone wohoo!

ps: My Jabber account is james.seng.sg (or james.seng@gmail.com) so add me :-)

Update: Tom said Google isn’t using SIP…

June 14th, 2005

Singapore policy framework for IP Telephony

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After working on it for almost two years, we finally got our IP Telephony policy framework.

In the bid for lower costs, consumers are increasingly using the Internet and other Internet Protocol (IP)-based networks to make local and international voice calls, together with, or as alternatives to traditional fixed-line telephony. To advance Singapore’s development in this market segment, Dr Lee Boon Yang announced today that the Singapore Government will introduce a new policy framework for Internet Protocol (IP) Telephony.”

I wish I could say more of the two years journey but I rather be careful in this particular case in anycase anyone took my words as been official.

In anycase, I am very proud of this framework: we allows pure service provider to be allocated numbering resources yet “not required to provide number portability, emergency service connection, directory enquiry and printed directory services, or conform to QoS levels“.

Now, contrast that with FCC.

May 12th, 2005

Skype call


Remember I said I don’t hang my Skype call?


nearly 10hours of just background noise and snorings. I can’t imaging doing this on POTS. Oh, did I mention I did this from a hotel in the mountain of China? The voice quality is incredible, much better then I get from my mobile phone.

I am sure I am not the only one doing this – now imaging what kind of social change will this brings? Extending this to video is obvious to all but how about able to project it on the hotel wall, that I would be far away from home yet just virtually “in the next room”?

May 9th, 2005

Henry Sinnreich joins Pulver


Henry finally announced this, to put the rumours to rest :-) (via Richard Stantsy)

I have started last week my new job at Pulver.com in the hope to contribute to SIP not being replaced by Skype and maybe we can also do something to interconnect all the SIP islands using URIs for IP-IP instead of phone numbers and the PSTN.

For those who don’t know, Henry is also known as ‘Grandfather of SIP’ having been involved in all-things-SIP in IETF from the very beginning. Good luck Henry.

ps: I notice quite a few people have jumpship from MCI. I won’t be surprised more …

April 24th, 2005

SIP is Dead…Huh?


Okay I admit I have been slow in the catching up with my blog last week. Tomorrow.sg is taking quite a bit of time (which btw, is coming along pretty well). But in my semi-absent last week, SIP was declared dead. Huh?

Now, Martin made a lot of good points and I agree with him mostly. And I also agree you cannot argue against numbers – Skype numbers and growth rate are just incredible. We, proponent of Open Standard, can only kick ourselves in the feet that no one build such a user friendly application like Skype on SIP instead. But to claim SIP is dead is pretty far fetching – considering SIP is just starting to take off.

Sure, the numbers aren’t as large as Skype but it is afterall the only Open Standard we have today. And I could not see any other alternatives yet (still watching IAX) at this moment. The bottomline is that even if Skype conquered the market, there is always a place in an Open Standard protocol; There will always be those who want an open platform where you can innovate without a commercial gatekeeper.

Skype could jolly well be the Microsoft for VoIP tomorrow but declaring SIP as dead now is like declaring Open Source is dead. IMHO, the fun haven’t started yet.

April 24th, 2005

VoIP Podcast


Stuart and myself did a podcast interview on VoIP two weeks ago. Man, I sound pretty bad in the beginning but if you hear beyond my first 15sec, I think I did okay.