Friday, August 17, 2007

ECR Voice offering special for SunRocket refugees

In the wake of SunRocket going out of buisness, and the need for more good prices options for VoIP for the rest of the world, ECR Voice is offering a limited time offer. $19.95 a month or $199 a year and the first month is free. I believe they do have a $29.99 set up fee though. But still, what a deal!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

SunRocket leaves customers behind

By MATTHEW BARAKAT Associated Press

VIENNA, VA. — The abrupt shutdown of Internet phone carrier SunRocket left more than 200,000 customers scrambling for alternate service Tuesday and raised questions about the viability of other stand-alone Internet phone providers.


SunRocket, like other companies that only provide phone service over broadband, attracted customers with cheap plans and innovative features. But traditional phone and cable companies also lowered prices and started bundling their services.


The competition proved too much for the No. 2 standalone Internet phone company after Vonage Holdings Corp.


SunRocket ceased operations without warning on Monday.


Nobody at SunRocket was available to explain its quick exit. SunRocket Chief Executive Lisa Hook did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.


At the company's Tysons Corner, Va., headquarters, the phones went unanswered, the doors were locked and a cardboard sign with "Out of Business" scribbled on it hung inside the glass front door. The lights were on, and computers and fax machines remained in place, but all the artwork was gone from the walls.


Customers are out of luck. Many paid for their service well in advance, drawn by aggressively marketed service plans that cost $199 a year. It was not clear whether SunRocket customers have any recourse with government regulators.


Meanwhile, a California company that is overseeing SunRocket's liquidation, Sherwood Partners, said it is in talks with other service providers to take over portions of SunRocket's customer base. Sherwood spokesman Martin Pichison said he hoped to have such deals in place by today. He acknowledged that SunRocket customers are cutting their own deals with other companies.
Many of SunRocket's customers will opt for Vonage or another VoIP provider, some of which are posting "Welcome SunRocket" offers on their Web sites, said Stephan Beckert, research director at TeleGeography, a Washington-based research firm.


"It will give them second thoughts about prepaying a year in advance," Beckert said. The leading standalone provider, Vonage, has more than 2 million customers but it also has faced slowing growth rates and financial losses. It suffered a legal setback earlier this year when it lost a patent infringement case to Verizon Communications and a judge issued an injunction barring it from signing up new customers.


The case is on appeal and the injunction has been stayed, but Vonage has warned in court papers that its viability is precarious if the initial verdict and sanctions are allowed to stand.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Northwestern University eases into VoIP

By Tim Greene, Network World, 06/08/07

Northwestern University is getting rid of its old TDM phone switches not in response to a groundswell of demand for communications options unique to its new VoIP system, but to be ready for the day when that groundswell hits.

“In some sense we are buying potential," says David Carr, director of telecommunications and networking for Northwestern, about the move to Nortel VoIP switches.

Most of the university’s 18,000 phone users on two campuses say they’d be happy with phone service just as it is, according to a poll by Carr. Others are ready to embrace VoIP, but for a limited set of features that can help them do their jobs better right away.
The new capabilities include mobility and presence integrated with applications, but Carr says users weren't looking for a specific application.

Time for upgrades
As part and parcel of the VoIP project, which started in 2003 with a review of ways to upgrade two Nortel SL 100 phone switches, the university discovered it needed to upgrade its wiring closets, stress-test its network, address QoS and consider network admission control. “They all get wrapped together," Carr says.

The two carrier-grade SL-100 phone switches, one at the university’s Chicago campus and one at its campus in Evanston, Ill., were about 20 years old.

The goal was to collapse the two separate switches into a single logical switch to reduce management complexity, he says. The school also didn’t want to replace all its digital phones at once.

It decided to upgrade to the Nortel CS 2100 VoIP switch, which supports both VoIP and TDM, so users would not be forced to switch their handsets for VoIP phones. “Those who wanted to take advantage of the VoIP value proposition could do so, and those that were happy continuing to use their current telephony features and services could do so. It allowed the community to migrate at its own pace," Carr says.

The university has installed a CS 100 at the Chicago campus and expects to have one installed at the Evanston campus next month. Until then the school has 250 IP phones working on a trial basis. “Beyond that we’re waiting until we finish these upgrades," he says.

Rest of the story here

Friday, June 01, 2007

US soldiers face tough VOIP call

John Blau IDG News Service

American soldiers in South Korea face a tough call on using Internet telephony in the country.

Thursday was the last day the U.S. military community in South Korea could make VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) calls through companies based in the U.S., such as Vonage Holdings Corp. and Lingo Inc., according to a report Thursday in Stars & Stripes, a U.S. Department of Defense authorized newspaper. Beginning Friday, all new contracts must be made with South Korean VOIP providers, the report said.

For service members used to making and receiving calls to and from the U.S. for as low as US$15 a month, the move to a South Korean provider -- and a local phone number -- could ring up a pricey phone bill.

Because U.S. VOIP providers assign service members a U.S. phone number, these users can be reached from the U.S. without callers being billed for international calling charges. Prices for VOIP services in the U.S. vary from around US$15 to $25 a month for unlimited local and long-distance calls.

South Korea's major Internet service providers, including LG Dacom Corp., said in June 2006 they would block Internet calls through companies not registered under the Korean Telecommunications Business Act. But after U.S. Forces Korea Commander General Burwell Baxter Bell said the move would impact service members' quality of life, the companies agreed to delay enforcing the act until June 1, 2007.

Demand for VOIP services have surged as service members -- and many others -- seek cheap ways to communicate with their families, friends and business partners around the globe.

Vonage offers a VOIP service that replaces the traditional telephone. Customers connect their phones to an IP-transformation device, which connects to the home or small-business DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) or cable modem. Vonage doesn't offer PC-to-PC VOIP service provided by companies such as Skype Ltd.

Brooke Schulz, a Vonage spokeswoman, was unable to confirm whether the company's service is no longer available in South Korea and, if so, whether Vonage plans to apply for a VOIP license with the South Korean government.

Companies registered to provide VOIP service in Korea include Korea Telecom Corp., Hanaro Telecom Inc. as well as LG Dacom Corp.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Concerns put campus VoIP deployment on hold

New survey suggests that schools are experimenting with voice-over-IP service--but security, cost are barriers to more widespread deployment

By Justin Appel, Assistant Editor, eSchool

More than three-fourths of college administrators who took part in a recent survey said they feel better about the idea of voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service today than they did three years ago. But security and cost are still significant hurdles to the more widespread deployment of VoIP service in college campuses across the United States and Canada, the survey suggests.


—The study, which was conducted by the Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education (ACUTA), surveyed 279 schools. The web-based survey found that while 65 percent of respondents have had some experience with VoIP, 55 percent have only limited experience, with one-fourth or fewer of their phones employing VoIP service. This, in addition to the 35 percent of respondents who said they have no VoIP phones on their campus, suggests that while the trend is gaining steam among consumers, higher-education institutions have yet to truly embrace the use of VoIP.

"Our members have been seriously considering the benefits of VoIP for some time," says Jeri Semer, executive director of ACUTA. "I'd say they're doing their due diligence in learning about the technology and what applications of it might benefit their campus. It's not about acquiring the technology for its own sake, but about determining how it can best meet their particular needs on campus."

The survey reveals that of the schools that have begun using VoIP (which is the method of transmitting voice conversations through broadband internet networks, rather than traditional telephone lines), the majority have tried it in IT departments, as pilot projects, and on remote campus sites--suggesting there has been no widespread migration toward replacing traditional phone lines in administrative settings or dormitory rooms.

"Fewer and fewer students are using the campus-provided phones in their room," says Semer. "They are tending to use their cell phones more, as well as eMail and instant messaging. The actual phone usage in dorms is shrinking, to the extent that a lot of colleges have or are considering removing the phones from their dorms."

Security issues have always been a concern for some when switching to VoIP. Of the administrators who responded to ACUTA's survey, 43 percent believe the possibility of viruses and denial-of-service attacks is a major concern. A majority of respondents also feel that security concerns cannot be overcome easily.

"Security is a big issue," says Semer. "The traditional phone system has been very secure and has had a long track record of reliability. When a virus attacks your eMail program, it's a major inconvenience. But if it attacks and brings down your ability to communicate by voice, that's a major safety and security concern."

This concern is often raised when considering a switch to VoIP, says Kevin Flynn, senior manager of security technology marketing for unified communications at Cisco Systems Inc.

"In the past, people have had two separate kind of systems--voice on one wire, and data on another," Flynn said. "Now, we're talking about having both on the same wire. That doesn't mean the two data types will necessarily impact each other. The problems of having issues on the data stream affecting voice are easily fixed, and that's just part of any good unified design system."
Flynn says there is, in essence, an automatic separation between data and voice traffic in any well-designed system. This creates two separate virtual LANs, so that a virus attack on the data end will not affect the bandwidth or the quality of the voice traffic.

The ACUTA survey also shows that a majority of campus administrators believe VoIP vendors need to better disclose the full costs of service and installation, Semer says. More than half of those surveyed say vendors provide unrealistic assessments of the costs of VoIP implementation. In addition, only 19 percent felt that VoIP deployment will save their colleges and universities money over the next five years.

Rest of the story here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Advances in VoIP and Feature-Rich Options Drive the Growth of Global Audio Conferencing Bridge Systems Markets

PALO ALTO, Calif., April 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Global audio conferencing bridge systems market has made significant strides in the last year, driven primarily by the increasing prevalence of audio conferencing, uptake of advanced collaboration features and additional growth in the emerging markets and the enterprise arena. There is a renewed focus on enhancing audio conference bridges to better meet the needs of both service providers and enterprise vendors. This focus has led to innovative and exciting new offerings of audio conference bridge systems.


New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.conferencingandcollaboration.frost.com/ ), World Audio Conferencing Bridge Systems Markets, reveals that revenues in this market totaled $144.2 million in 2006, and are likely to reach $233.2 million in 2012.
If you are interested in a virtual brochure, which provides manufacturers, end users, and other industry participants with an overview of the latest analysis of the World Audio Conferencing Bridge Systems Markets, then send an e-mail to Tracy Henderson, Corporate Communications, at tracy.henderson@frost.com with your full name, company name, title, telephone number, fax number, and e-mail address. Upon receipt of the above information, an overview will be sent to you by e-mail.


"One of the key trends driving the audio conferencing bridge systems markets is the move towards Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), driven by the promise of cost savings and the ability to integrate it into other applications," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Doreen Natukunda. "The enterprise market is increasingly embracing VoIP, and as a result, there is growing demand from new clients looking to purchase audio conferencing bridge products and services."


With VoIP gaining traction, more and more organizations continue to replace their voice conferencing infrastructure with VoIP to utilize the additional bandwidth to carry audio conferencing bridge systems. The move toward VoIP is expected to continue throughout the business market and reach a mature market cycle in the next 5-7 years.


However, competition continues from other market participants vying to pocket a slice of the audio conferencing bridge customer base. The convergence of collaboration tools means that there exist many more options that employ voice as part of the applications offered to customers. For the business community, this provides more choice, but for the audio conferencing bridge systems manufacturers, this means lower price per port options.
"As competition continues to increase among the different segments of voice conferencing markets, it is imperative that vendors for both service providers and enterprise vendors continue to expand their features and services in their respective markets," says Natukunda. "For this reason, superior features, services, and partnerships to go along with the audio conferencing bridge applications will strengthen vendors in this market."


Going forward, audio conferencing bridge systems makers must continuously strive to make the use of bridges as effortless as possible with maximum efficiency, ease-of-use and intuitive features. This will enable the promotion of additional call usage, ultimately translating to time and cost savings for information technology managers.


World Audio Conferencing Bridge Systems Markets is part of the Conferencing and Collaboration Subscription, which also includes research in the following markets: video conferencing, web conferencing, unified communications, and audio conferencing. All research included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants. Interviews with the press are available.


Frost & Sullivan, a global growth consulting company, has been partnering with clients to support the development of innovative strategies for more than 40 years. The company's industry expertise integrates growth consulting, growth partnership services, and corporate management training to identify and develop opportunities. Frost & Sullivan serves an extensive clientele that includes Global 1000 companies, emerging companies, and the investment community by providing comprehensive industry coverage that reflects a unique global perspective, and combines ongoing analysis of markets, technologies, econometrics, and demographics.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Telecom veteran questions Verizon VOIP patents

Grant Gross, IDG News Service, Washington Bureau
Two patents owned by Verizon Communications Inc. in its infringement lawsuit against Vonage Holdings Corp. are invalid, and if allowed to stand, could threaten all competing VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) services, a telecommunications industry veteran said Tuesday.

Two of the three Verizon patents a jury upheld in a March decision were described in a standards group called the VOIP Forum before Verizon filed for the patents, said Daniel Berninger, who had a hand in launching Vonage but now works as a telecom analyst for Tier1Research.com. The VOIP Forum described the name translation call-processing step in an open standard developed in 1996, and Verizon applied for the two patents in March 1997 and February 2000, he said in an interview about the case.


Verizon's patents focus on using name translation to connect VOIP calls to traditional telephone networks. But without name translation, no VOIP calls could be completed, and all Verizon VOIP competitors are in danger of getting sued, Berninger said. "If you translate these patents so ridiculously broadly, then there's nothing left," he said. "Everybody infringes."


Two Verizon spokesmen didn't immediately respond to a request for comments on Berninger's information.


Berninger, an advocate of open standards and cofounder of the VON Coalition, said members of the VOIP Forum talked extensively about name translation during call set-up during discussions about the voice portion of the H.323 standard during 1996, and in the parallel development of the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) at the Internet Engineering Task Force. Several major tech vendors participated in the standards-setting process, and two papers on H.323 published in January 1997, one by coworkers at his former employer VocalTec Communications Ltd., describe the technologies later patented by Verizon, he said.


Other telecom experts have disagreed about whether Verizon's patents could affect other VOIP providers.


But Berninger compared name translation to the Internet's domain name system (DNS), which translates Internet domain names into IP addresses. "Essentially every VOIP provider on planet Earth" uses the name translation processing step, he said.


Vonage pointed to other technology it believed preceded Verizon's patents at a trial that ended with a March verdict that the company had infringed three Verizon patents. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia interpreted the Verizon claims too broadly to be valid, said Brooke Schulz, Vonage's vice president for communications.


"The patents as filed and awarded ... were very narrow," she said. "We continue to believe, for this and many other reasons, we don't infringe on their technology."


Berninger began looking into the patents recently because of the Vonage case. In the March verdict, Vonage was ordered to pay Verizon US$58 million. Last Friday, a U.S. district court judge barred Vonage from signing up new customers, but an appeals court gave the company a temporary stay the same day.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ottawa's VoIP decision good news: SaskTel

People at SaskTel are happy about the federal government's decision not to regulate certain kinds of internet phone service.

Originally, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ordered that SaskTel and the other big telephone companies would be regulated when they rolled out their voice over internet protocol services.

In other words, whenever they introduced new services or changed prices, they'd have to get permission from the CRTC.

However, upstart companies offering VoIP service wouldn't be regulated the same way. SaskTel and the other phone companies complained that wasn't fair.

Now, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet has overruled the CRTC and said phone company VoIP services over the public internet won't be subject to price regulation. VoIP over a phone company's own network will continue to be regulated, however.

SaskTel vice-president John Meldrum said Ottawa's decision Wednesday should help his company sell its planned "web call" service.

"We'll be free to price our VoIP products as we see fit, as the market determines, without having to go to the commission, without having to be told that the price is too low," he said.

Meldrum said SaskTel wants less regulation from Ottawa and hopes the same approach applied to the VoIP case will apply to other phone services.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Enterprises Take Center Stage at VoiceCon Fall 2006

Executives from Coca-Cola, NASA, Barclays Bank, Southern Company and XM Radio to Share Experiences With IP Telephony Deployment

SAN FRANCISCO/PRNewswire/ -- VoiceCon(R), produced by CMP Technology, will once again feature an impressive lineup of enterprise executives who will be sharing experiences from their migration to IP Telephony and converged networks at VoiceCon Fall 2006 (http://www.voiceconfall.com/), taking place August 21-24 at the Moscone North Convention Center in San Francisco.

"We're far enough along on the migration to IP Telephony and converged networks where there are real-life case studies of how these new technologies are changing the way enterprises communicate with their customers and suppliers," said Fred Knight, VoiceCon General Manager. "I'm proud of VoiceCon's track record in presenting many senior IS/telecom enterprise executives who share their migration strategies, decision criteria, the lessons learned and their plans for the future with IP Telephony and converged networking systems."

At VoiceCon Fall 2006, the list of keynotes, summits and forums that will feature IT executives includes:

-- Opening Keynote (Tuesday, Aug 22): The conference kicks off with an address from Ray Repic, Chief Technical Architect, Technology Planning at Coca-Cola Enterprises. Ray will describe how Coca-Cola Enterprises' global network is being redesigned and built to leverage IP Telephony and an MPLS network. More than 50 locations were cut over in 2005, and many more will be implemented in 2006.

-- VoiceCon Enterprise Executive Summit (Wednesday, Aug 23): A spontaneous round-table discussion in which four IT decision-makers share their perspectives and experiences with IP Telephony and converged networks. The panel features John Irizarry, VoIP Project Manager, NASA Dryden Flight Research Center; Kevin McPhee, Telecom Director, First Health Coventry; Patricia A. Green, Principal Telecommunications Manager, Barclays Bank; Joseph Schuldhaus, VP IT, West Edmonton Mall.

-- VoiceCon User Forum (Thursday, Aug 24): Structured presentations based on real-world IP Telephony roll-outs. The panelists will explain what they've done, their decision-making process, offer advice and field your questions. The speakers are: Tanya Callaway, Director, Technical Operations, XM Radio; Arnold Solomon, Senior IT Architect, Southern Company; Christopher Lappi, Executive Vice President, ResMAE Mortgage Corporation.

In addition to the enterprise executives, industry leaders like Anoop Gupta, Corporate Vice President, Unified Communications Group, Microsoft, will present at VoiceCon Fall 2006, along with senior executives from Avaya, Cisco, Nortel, Siemens, NEC Unified Solutions, Nokia, 3Com, Aastra Intecom, AT&T, Ericsson, RIM, ShoreTel and Motorola.

VoiceCon is also proud to continue its status as the only venue to feature all of the leading vendors and suppliers in enterprise IP Telephony and converged communications, providing attendees with an unmatched opportunity to see and experience a wide range of IP Telephony solutions. Among the companies exhibiting at VoiceCon Fall 2006 include: 3Com, Aastra Intecom, Adomo, AT&T, Avaya, Cisco, Citrix, Ericsson, Extreme Networks, Foundry Networks, IBM, Inter-Tel, Microsoft, Motorola, NEC Unified Solutions, Nortel, SecureLogix, ShoreTel Siemens, Sprint and Toshiba.

About VoiceCon(R)

VoiceCon(R), now in its 16th year, is the leading conference and exhibition for enterprise voice, IP Telephony and convergence in North America. VoiceCon(R) brings decision makers together with the industry's pioneering end users, vendors, and consultants to focus on the issues central to enterprise voice networks and the migration to IP telephony and convergence. As the momentum toward IP telephony and convergence has grown, VoiceCon has expanded to include two yearly shows: VoiceCon Fall 2006, taking place August 21-24 at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, and VoiceCon Spring 2007, taking place March 5-8 in Orlando. The VoiceCon portfolio also includes the VoiceCon Implementation Tour, which take place in Fall 2006. VoiceCon also serves the community with a weekly email newsletter that is circulated to approximately 28,000 subscribers -- VoiceCon eNews (http://www.voicecon.com/enews/); VoIP Loop (http://www.voiploop.com/), a news, information and opinion site that features thought leaders in VoIP and enterprise IP Telephony and convergence; and the VoiceCon Webinar Series. For more information, visit http://www.voicecon.com/.

About CMP Technology (http://www.cmp.com/)

CMP Technology is a marketing solutions company serving the technology industry. Through its market-leading portfolio of trusted information brands, CMP has earned the confidence of more technology professionals than any other media company. As a result, CMP is the premier provider of access, insight and actionable programs designed to connect sellers and buyers in ways that yield superior return on investment. CMP Technology is a subsidiary of United Business Media (http://www.unitedbusinessmedia.com/), a global provider of news distribution and specialist information services with a market capitalization of more than $3 billion.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

VoIP takes root in home offices

The number of US households with income-generating or corporate home offices are more than twice as likely to implement VoIP in the next 12 months compared with households in general, a newly published study has revealed.

Currently, almost 40 per cent of corporate home offices and 23.7 per cent of home-based businesses are interested in or using VoIP. In contrast, only 10.8 per cent of households without home offices are VoIP aware, IDC reported.

"Home offices will adopt VoIP communications at a faster rate than US households overall," said Chris Hazelton, senior analyst, SMB research at IDC.

"Although cost savings are important, features such as convergence with mobile phones will be increasingly important to home offices in the long run."

The report, Home Office Households Set the Stage for Consumer VoIP Adoption, also noted that, although VoIP has moved beyond the very earliest adoption stage, many home office households are reluctant to use VoIP as their only telephone service, and would rather add it as a second method of communication.

Savings on long distance calls continue to be the key driver of initial interest in VoIP by home offices, according to the study.