Shooting from the hIP
I've covered technology one way or another for over 20 years,
and despite some contrary evidence, I have actually learned
a few things. One of them is that if there's a technology
bandwagon to jump on, jump on it.
It doesn't matter if that wagon has a cracked axle, or if
what you really need is a canoe. If you attract enough smart
people to hop on board, they'll figure out a way to shore
up the wheels and jerry-rig some pontoons. You'll make it
to land's end, and you probably won't need that canoe after
IP is one of the biggest bandwagons rolling around, with
much of the electronics industry already in the process of
converging on it. The technology has so revolutionized voice
communications that incumbent telephone companies are preparing
to scrap their old circuit-switched networks.
But like most bandwagons, IP most definitely isn't the best
vehicle to fulfill every need for which it is being used.
IP, and its companion technology, Ethernet, were built for
best-effort services, and many applications (e.g., video,
business services) require guaranteed minimum levels of service
quality. Ethernet does not differentiate among packets, a
bit of a drawback when service prioritization is a priority.
But if IP is not the best technology available for all the
services now converging, it is shaping up as the best single
option for the price. And even as we speak, smart people are
figuring out ways to get around that best-effort drawback,
and address other technological concerns. By the time you
have to have IP for everything, it'll be able to do just about
everything well enough.
That's the other thing about bandwagons; as vehicles go,
they tend to lumber. Take HDTV as a case in point. Even though
HDTV was, and is, a great idea, it took well over a decade
before anybody other than attendees of industry conferences
ever saw it. Since the Grand Alliance established the HDTV
spec, two members were swallowed whole (General Instrument
and Sarnoff Labs), one is a radically different organization
(AT&T), and another is a shade of its former self (Zenith).
[Pop quiz: who were the other members? Answer (*) at bottom
of this week's edition.]
The transition to IP is a process in progress, and progress
will be rapid, though still measured in years. And of course
there will be impediments. For example, I submit for your
consideration the story below on the legal rocks that VoIP
pioneer Vonage has to navigate.
Meanwhile, make room on the IP bandwagon; I'm jumping on.
What with IP being the common element in convergence and competition
and communications and computing and consumer electronics
I expect there'll be plenty to keep track of and write about.
And I invite you to send me information that, should it be
published in my new column, IPso Facto, it might be of interest
to the industry. Or contact me if you've got a question a
disinterested third party might best be able to find an answer
to. Or if, in being a little too ambitious, I write something
that suggests I may have my head up my aspirations, feel free
to let me know. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
China Telecom gives Cisco the
lead on building IP network
Telecom decided to base its 2006 ChinaNet network
expansion on Cisco
Systems' Internet Protocol Next-Generation Network
(IP NGN) architecture, and has designated Cisco as the primary
equipment provider for the project.
ChinaNet has 25 million broadband subscribers, and is expecting
continued explosive growth with increasing bandwidth demands
associated with applications such as video phones, online
games and video on demand. China Telecom is already one of
Cisco's biggest IP equipment customers. Its 2006 expansion
of its ChinaNet network will involve the migration to an all-IP
The expansion will keep Cisco's CRS-1 Carrier Routing System
at the core, and will involve significant upgrades to its
existing Cisco 12000 Series Routers. The upgrades will expand
the ChinaNet core network's capabilities, reliability and
Entone, Minerva take a trip
FTTx/IPTV network integrator CEOS
has selected Entone's
StreamLiner network video recorders (NVRs) and Minerva
Network's iTVManager for IPTV deployments it is contracted
to build in Victoria and Tasmania, Australia, and throughout
The deployments will support more than 100,000 subscribers,
and will be built under the auspices of the Collaborative
Optical Leading Testbed (COLT) organization, which provides
broadband services to universities, homes, student dormitories
and business and is fully supported by local government entities.
Minerva's iTVManager middleware platform will help network
operators manage their systems. Entone's StreamLiner NVR is
based on standard server hardware from vendors such as HP
Siemens supplies turnkey IPTV
solution to KPN
the largest carrier in the Netherlands, has launched an IPTV
service based on Surpass equipment supplied by Siemens
The service features video on demand and the ability to record
up to 100 hours on network storage (a la Cablevision in the
U.S.). In addition to physical equipment, Siemens has provided
KPN with management systems for all applications, digital
rights management, and uniform subscriber management. The
middleware providing the communication between the network
and the set-top box comes from Siemens subsidiary Myrio
VoIP patent storm swirling around
acquired ownership of three patents that automatically make
it the plaintiff in patent infringement lawsuits against Sprint
Communications and Verizon
At the exact same time, Vonage was hit with yet another charge
of infringing someone else's patents.
Vonage recently purchased three patents from Digital Packet
Licensing Inc. (DLP) that concern the compression of packetized
digital signals commonly used in voice over Internet Protocol
technology (VoIP) technology. Several companies, including
Warner, and Qwest
Communications, have licensed DLP's technology, essentially
validating them. Among the companies who did not cut a deal
with DLP were Verizon and Sprint.
That made the acquisition of the DLP patents incredibly convenient
for Vonage. It just so happens that Sprint filed a VoIP patent
suit against Vonage last year, and Verizon filed a separate
VoIP patent suit against Vonage in June.
So to avoid mutually assured litigation hell, Sprint and
Verizon have entered cross-licensing negotiations with Vonage,
which were ongoing before Vonage's deal with DLP was closed.
So everyone is making nice, except for Klausner Technologies
Inc., which last week filed suit against Vonage for infringing
its patent that concerns the retrieval of VoIP voicemail on
a cell phone or handheld device. Klausner is claiming damages
and royalties estimated at $180 million.
Just as Motorola, Time Warner and Qwest strengthened DLP's
negotiating position by licensing DLP's patents, Time Warner
recently encouraged Klausner by settling with Klausner after
Klausner sued AOL for $200 million for infringing the VoIP
According to Klausner, Vonage failed to respond to a request
that it too license the VoIP voicemail patent. Filing a lawsuit
can of course be an effective means of catching someone's
Vonage appears to have little leverage against Klausner.
Klausner is unlikely to be interested in a cross-licensing
deal—it seems motivated purely to protect its intellectual
property (IP). Time Warner can afford to pay to make a nuisance
like Klausner go away, but only Vonage knows if it can afford
the amount Klausner might settle for—certainly far less
than $180 million.
ITC jumps into Qualcomm-Nokia
Then again, Vonage, Sprint and Verizon could end up like Qualcomm
and scratching over patents. Qualcomm said the U.S. International
Trade Commission (ITC) has opened an investigation into Qualcomm's
complaint, filed with the ITC in June, that Nokia is engaging
in unfair trading practices by importing and selling mobile
phones that infringe on Qualcomm's CDMA patents.
Qualcomm said it expects a judgment in the first half of
next year. A Nokia spokesman was quoted saying the company
will cooperate with the ITC and believes Qualcomm's claims
are without merit.
Qualcomm and Nokia have a history of friction, including
patent infringement claims against each other and squabbles
about what is actually covered by cross-licensing agreements
they have between them. The two are negotiating an extension
of their technology license agreements, due to expire next
Nokia has already announced it would stop making CDMA (code
division multiple access) phones, a technology for which Qualcomm
holds most patents. Nonetheless, Qualcomm insists Nokia is
infringing patents it owns that are applicable to CDMA alternative
GSM, a standard popular in Europe.
i2Telecom adds Hewitt to Advisory
Communications industry vet Mark Hewitt has joined the advisory
board of i2Telecom
International, a provider of VoIP products and services.
Hewitt was at Motorola Communications, where he first worked
on the design of the trunk radio system, the Ardis Network
(which supports the Blackberry), and the space-based Iridium
He later joined Frontier Communications as senior director,
engineering and product development, where he was responsible
for IP technology (Frontier was acquired by Global Crossing).
At I-Link, as SVP of business development and product marketing,
Hewitt launched the softswitch/IAD subsequently licensed to
Net2Phone and Brooktrout.
i2Telecom's VoiceStick Internet appliance is a device that
can be plugged into a USB port to enable a device for VoIP.
The company has applied for a patent.
Since we're on the subject of patents and infringement and
Vonage…Vonage introduced a similar device which it claimed
to be unique. Skype also announced a similar product.
BandTel finding multiple ways
to enterprise customers' hearts
have entered a partnership in which they will market and sell
a combination of the former's voice over IP to PSTN (public
switched telephone network) termination services with the
BandTel will offer AudioCodes' voice infrastructure equipment
at no cost to qualified customers who are under contract for
a minimum of 100,000 usage minutes per month or who qualify
based on other contractual terms.
There is a dual aim for the arrangement. The first is to
provide a solution attractive to business users based on the
ability of Audiocodes' equipment to perform the functions
of a PBX or an enterprise gateway. That should create a commission
opportunity for BandTel resellers. Ideally, that will result
in greater sales of minutes in increments of 100,000.
BandTel last week announced a similar partnership with Zultys,
a provider of enterprise VoIP equipment, including an IP PBX.
As with AudioCodes, Zultys resellers will be able to sell
packages of minutes on BandTel's network infrastructure. >>http://www.zultys.comd
to build in Victoria a½
ntl:Telewest chooses Ericsson
to help transition to IPx
signed a 5-year contract with Ericsson
for VoIP technology and services.
The initial phase of the agreement is to help build a residential
voice-over-broadband service based on Ericsson's IMS platform,
which has already been installed and is undergoing testing
ahead of launch.
Ericsson will also help ntl:Telewest transition from a circuit-switched
voice network to IP using Ericsson's IP-based Telephony Softswitch
solution. The company's IP softswitch and IMS architecture
products will allow NTL to create new IP-based services for
its wide range of business and residential customers.
VISIT CED MAGAZINE'S NEW PRODUCT SHOWCASE
Study: Mexican SMB market primed
for IP solutions
Sullivan said the Mexican data communications services
market earned revenues of $1.20 billion in 2005 and estimates
that will expand to $1.82 billion by 2010.
The large enterprise and multinational segment is saturated,
F&S determined, making small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
the next target segment for the data communications services
market in Mexico. The introduction of IP-based services, which
are more affordable, is increasing the penetration in this
Currently, market participants are offering various services
such as X.25, Internet protocol virtual private network (IP
VPNs), frame relay, VPN and dedicated lines. Larger companies
are increasingly shifting to IP-based services that provide
vast bandwidth capacity for a variety of services including
Internet access and Web-based services.
* Pop Quiz answer: The other members of the Grand
Alliance were Philips, Thomson, and MIT.