April 14th, 2005

Skype Kiosk


skype-kiosk.jpgThere are a lot of kiosk around in Japan – you know, the kind where you can pay bills, buy tickets. Most of this kiosk already have Internet connection and usually comes with a handset beside it (so you can pick up the phone and get help).

I suppose it does not take a genius to see how they can turn this setup into a Skype Kiosk. (via James Enck) They are putting this around Hiroshima JR Stations. Cool – got to check it out the next time I am in Japan.

I am curious why they didn’t use Yahoo! BB or something like that instead since it probably make more sense in Japan. My only guess is these Kiosk are not the typical kiosk Japanese used in the convienent store but one targetted at Tourists instead.

Update: Thanks to M.H Blog for pointing out I should not have use the word ‘kiosk’ … it is more really just a terminal. And yes, I am not sure who go to Hiroshima either.

April 3rd, 2005

Perspective change

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Believe it or not, I once argued on a mailing list (back in 96/97) that “Why do I want to run my voice over IP over modem over voice line?” and “if VoIP is good enough to the entreprise, why haven’t CIOs drop their phone network”.

Now, it is not as if I don’t have experience with VoIP before then. As early as 93/94, I was already on multicast radio channel and sometimes talking to random people I find online (with werid looks from others lab). My boss then had a crazy idea to broadcast the 1994 National Day Parade over the Internet – and we set it up in 2 weeks time – using multicast network and also a network of CUSeeMe relays.

Now, those are the days when the national bandwidth is 64kbps which runs on satellite (500ms!) so we have to ask our members not to do any ftp download during the run. With the TV reporters around, I hide myself while they interview my boss with a jerky 5-10fps video/audio stream on National TV. Gosh, I don’t know how he survived that but that haunted me.

But sometime around 98/99, my perspective changed. I remember a rich friend asked me for some business idea and I told the concept of IP-PABX (actually, there wasn’t such term then yet). I got a ‘you are crazy’ look from him and never hear from him again.

Anyway, the point of the story is that for those who are saying “I never going to use VoIP”, never say never. Afterall, don’t you know someone who said “I never going to buy a mobile phone” but end up having one now anyway?

March 30th, 2005

Juniper bought Kagoor

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The latest news is Juniper snaped Kagoor up for 64.5M. See articles on Red Herring and Forbes. Actually 64.5M might be considered cheap considering the potential of Kagoor of its session border controller.

But what could this means?

Is it because Juniper starting to see Kagoor making headways with the Tier-1 carriers (ie, their customers) => Tier-1 carriers entering VoIP space? Or is it because Juniper taking a bet with Kagoor to enter this space?

OTOH, it is hard to believe Juniper taking a “bet” so I’m more incline to think it is the first.

March 26th, 2005

Naked DSL dilemma

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I have been thinking about Naked DSL ever since the story about FCC is about to grant Bellsouth naked DSL petition broke a few days ago. And of course, the subsequent suspension of various states decision by FCC.

Most propongates of IP Telephony considered Naked DSL as absolutely neccessary to get VoIP adoption. Afterall, why bother with VoIP if you are forced to take up POTS before you can have your DSL to get IP Telephony. From that perspective, the decision to have Naked DSL is fairly simple one – no way we should grant Bellsouth petition.

But that’s coming from an evangelism point of view, one that may not convience many people who do not share the vision of IP Telephony. I shall give an alternative perspective why Bellsouth petition is dangerous. My argument is based on two assumptions:

1) First assumption is we believe in Free Market (and I absolutely do believe in Free Market). Free Market means we allow a competitive market to sort out the winners and losers. In this argument, we should allow Bellsouth to makes it own business decision to offer Naked DSL or not, excuses or not. They may choose to offer naked DSL like Qwest or they may not. If they didn’t then competitions like cable who does not bundled with POTS may be more attractive to consumers, and Bellsouth will lose market share.

2) Second assumption is we believe that monopoly (regardless natural or coercive) have to be regulated (or deal with by other means, e.g. antitrust) to ensure general public interests are not been abused by the monopoly. In this regard, Bellsouth petition should not be granted in areas where Bellsouth is a monopoly without alternative competitions. It wouldn’t be a competitive market if there is no competitions, would it?

Following these two assumptions, Bellsouth petition to pre-empt PUCs from mandating it to provide Naked DSL should not be granted by FCC. Instead, PUCs are in a better position to judge if Bellsouth odd to be regulated or to be allowed compete freely because siutations are different in different part of US.

While I like the concept of naked DSL, I think the decision to mandate Naked DSL or not would differ from places to places – ie, it is not a uniform yes or no. (Regardless how much I like IP Telephony, I believe in Free Market even more.)

But it is even harder in the context of Singapore, where only 1 in 5 broadband users are on cable, a market with choices but not quite competitive. Should we mandate Singtel Magix1 to provide Naked DSL because they are a market monopoly or should we let the market forces works itself out. For that, I am still thinking…

ps: Please note the disclaimer below : I do not speak for IDA here in this blog.

1 Singtel Magix is the sole DSL provider in Singapore. Everyone who provides DSL like Singnet or Pacnet is a reseller of Singtel Magix.

March 22nd, 2005

VoIP Job Posting

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I been using feedster to montior keyword voip and I notice a there are more and more job postings on voip like this.

I am very happy to see jobs created by voip (hey “voip engineer” could be the new job position in your company) and I am equally impressed that people are using blog to do recuritment ;-)

March 22nd, 2005

Doomdays for VoIP


Advanced IP Pipeline said “Cinderella Story Is Over For VoIP“.

For starters, there’s the revelation from AT&T (reported here by the Newark Star-Ledger) that its massive Olympic promotion of its promotion of its CallVantage VoIP service netted just 53,000 customers — a flop off the balance beam.

Woosh, hold on – CallAdvantage actually targets business, not home consumers. 53k isn’t a lot but not too bad consider their target market segment. Beside, I don’t think they aren’t too far behind their internal projections.

[Incidently, I heard a “story” that most of the users on Vonage are really small businesses rather then home consumers and they are now facing difficulties adding a second line. Anyone knows if this is true?]

Vonage, as our readers well know, seems to find foes in every nook and cranny of the networksphere these days. And the looming decision on Level 3’s forbearance petition (a great explanation of the topic can be found here) may mean more lawsuits, charges and fees sneaking into those all-you-can dial VoIP plans.

Wait, hold on. Vonage has 300k users and you don’t mention it? Instead, you pull the Level 3 forberance petition and the pull out of it on the last minute as a story to tell? Level3 petition is important but perhaps only really within US due to the access charges issues looming within US. The VoIP movements goes on pretty happily in the rest of the world.

Beside, pulling the petition is a smart move: Live to fight another day.

March 18th, 2005

VoIP QoS Bullshit


I don’t believe in Quality-of-Service (QoS). I don’t buy all the vendors FUDs about “oh..you need QoS or else the world is going to end so buy my this special QoS-enabled box! now!”.

It is not that I don’t believe in quality for voice – I do – but I don’t think we need special QoS technology – 802.11e or whatever – to get there.

So when I pointed this out in the Wifi SIP Summit, someone from the audience quickly debunk me – and later pointed out the “QoS study” by ClearVoice. Nevermind I actually did it at APRICOT with roaring reviews – “no no no, you need QoS!” Ha!
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March 12th, 2005


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Blink : The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell (the author of The Tipping Point)

Absolutely love the book. And I can relate to the many stories cited by Malcolm especially about intuition – sometimes people asked me how I know what technology to focus – I don’t know how but I just know it.

There is also another important lesson to learn : When you asked someone what they want, they often give you the wrong answer. For example, when Herman Miller rolled out the Aeron chairs, everyone they survey pre-market love the feeling but hated the look. It was rated 2-3 out of 10, where 1 is really bad aesthetic. Yet, after Aeron hits the market and won several industry design awards, the score jumped to 8 out of 10!

The lesson here is that when you present someone with some so radical different from what they used to, they are going to reject it just because it is different. (at least initially)

Now, this has some relevancy to VoIP: Many entreprise cited QoS and Security as two main issues why they didnt deploy VoIP. But is that really true? Could it be because the CIOs are unfamilar with VoIP, and therefore not comfortable with it, and hence, QoS and Security problem is the mind trying to give a logical reason to that uncomfort?

Back in the early 90s, I heard similar arguments about why Email cannot be used as entreprise communication – poor QoS and Security. 10 years forward, sure, we have secure email now but are people using that? Nope, most are using unsecured email no different from the early 90s except for a handful, e.g. government, who really need secure email. What has really changed is that CIOs are no longer uncomfortable with Email.

So good luck to all those who believed the survey and invested to solve the so-called “QoS and Security” problem for VoIP. It is, indeed, blind leading the blind.

March 11th, 2005

Reflections on VON

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Finally, today is the last day of VON. So many things happened here that I can hardly catch my breath. It is time to sit down and reflect what I learn about VON.

1. This is the largest VON ever – 6,000+ people! (congz to pulver.com). This huge turn out means VoIP is no longer a fringe technology. I remember during one session, Carl asked the audience who they work for: 1/3 are vendors, 1/3 are VoIP service providers and 1/3 are investors/venture capitalists. Yes, 1/3 are investors; I been asked several times what would I recommend to invest during the week. That’s a very good sign!

2. I didn’t finish seeing all the exhibits but I am mildly excited about the things on display. Mostly duplicate of other successful products, I strongly believe we should continue to innovate and create new products/services. VoIP is really only in its infancy and there are a lot of things waiting to be built! Go fore and innovate!

Note to Taiwanese manufacturers: I think you can do better then just copying others ideas. You have the electronic skill, the manufacturing know-how, and also the factories. Go create something new and impressed us!
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March 10th, 2005

VON Blogger Panel

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von-blog-panel.jpgI have a lot of fun at the VoIP Blogger session with Andy Abramson, Dan Brekke, Jeff Pulver, Om Malik, Aswath Rao and Tom Keating. I am also pretty amazed at the numbers of people in the audience who read blogs and also blog themselves. Particularly, it is quite clear that most people read our blogs because they find they get faster news then technology media.

The only regret I have is that we have not enough (voip) bloggers in Asia. While I travel often around Asia for my work and able to give some insight of whats happening over here, things are moving so fast here that I think we need more Asia VoIP bloggers.

Incidently, I started reading some Chinese blogs site regularly. And yes, they support RSS and they have some pretty good RSS reader in China like 摹捚通. Much better then any of the English RSS Reader on Windows so give it a try.