Ronnie05's Blog

Apple to distrupt and set new standards in VoIP platforms now

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on March 27, 2012

If the signs are to be read and read in the right direction, Apple is looking to add voice-over-IP (VoIP) capabilities to the next generation iPhones and iPads. That is a very interesting add-on to the Apple portfolio- Did Apple just launch its own network carrier service – After all, owning the complete value delivery network is something that will not be an idea which Apple will be averse to. To its credit, Apple has carrier killers such as iMessage (SMS killer) and Facetime (Video chat killer) in its repository. The Apple owning up the dumb pipe may border on Apple becoming a 4G-MVNO or on a more extreme level, buy its own 4G network. However, Apple doesnot look to be in the game for raw connectivity. Delivering Apps, services and customer experiences through brilliantly connected devices is one thing, raw connectivity is quite another.

Ergo, it could be a better integration of the VoIP technicalities to serve its device integration better with the carriers. The more likely scenario is Apple launches a cross-device VoIP platform that allows customers to trade phone calls among iPhones, iPads and Macs. The beauty of VoIP is that it’s not just voice; it supports all kinds of features, from multimedia and video conferencing to instant messaging and presence that you simply can’t shove into legacy circuit networks. Apple could create an SIP-based communications platform that integrates FaceTime, iMessage and voice into a single multifaceted service, available exclusively to any member of the Apple club. One thing that could be expected from Apple is that it could re-do the wireless industry VoIP standards – that’s comething more Apple like. The possibilities from Apple’s perspectives are many and more.

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The TRAI road map for the troubled telecom sector

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on March 11, 2012

The telecommunications sector is the most significant and visible success story of economic liberalization in the country. However, its sustainability and continued growth path can only be ensured with firm but soft-touch regulatory measures. Any future foreign investment in the telecom sector will be largely determined by the manner in which the govt address the present upheaval.

To provide the background, The regulatory function in India is performed both by the government — that is, by the department of telecommunications — and by the regulator, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Given the present functional jurisdiction, the answers to most regulatory issues lie with the government. The industry’s paramount need, in order to provide for the functional efficiency and financial health of telecom service companies, is that the process of consolidation be catalyzed. The international experience says that five or six licenses are adequate both to ensure the quality of service provided, as well as to induce sufficient competition in the sector. Even if we account for India’s vast population, there is no viable case for having a dozen licenses in each service area.

While there were many license seekers in 2007-08 in the queue for unearned gains and some foreign companies invested in the hugely appreciated script value of the newly licensed companies. By 2012, there is already a clamor for incentivizing a merger and acquisition policy and a friendly exit policy. The issue was partly addressed by the recent judgment of the Supreme Court.

However, the government would be repeating its earlier mistake if the number of licenses is not rationalized. It is imperative that the need and timing for new licenses should be considered by the regulatory authority, TRAI, on a reference from the government. No one is making a case for pre-determined numbers or any form of capping of licenses. However, the process of granting licenses can be initiated in phases to assess the felt need. Meanwhile, a cloud of regulatory uncertainty has spread after a series of review petitions has been filed in the apex court.

The government has announced the draft National Telecom Policy, 2011. Its finalization and announcement deserve the highest priority, in order to dispel any misgivings about regulation that may linger. There are also important recommendations from TRAI which deserve to be accepted by the government for incorporation into the draft telecom policy. The most critical structural recommendation relates to the introduction of a Unified Service License, which will provide for the freedom to use any technology, as well as the separation of spectrum. The acceptance of this policy would also require a defined path for the migration of present UAS license holders. This should be addressed along with the license renewal policy, as many of the industry incumbents will complete 20 years, beginning in 2014. It also entails the determination of a renewal fee.

There is another pending issue that is worrying investors in the telecom sector. That concerns the determination of the price of spectrum beyond the 6.2 MHz that is presently with the major telecom service providers. TRAI has made certain recommendations on this subject. The government may auction 2G spectrum band as per the orders issued by the Supreme Court. Therefore, a balanced view needs to be taken so as to avoid any situation of litigation and irrational bid performance.

Another recommendation from TRAI concerns re-farming in the 900 MHZ band of spectrum. It may be desirable to consider the monetization of the spectrum value in the 900 MHz band, among the possible solutions to resolve this issue. The gains in terms of spectrum release from re-farming are far less, and, further, it would open up a Pandora’s box of litigation.

There are also technology and interconnect issues. TRAI has already recommended the permitting of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). In future, Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology will be a major challenge to the existing telecom service providers. The issue of interconnection within and outside the service area in different spectrum bands is already before the appellate court. There are official announcements of the introduction of one India circle, and the consequent abolition of roaming charges. These deserve serious consideration on grounds of technology, tariff and resolution of National Long Distance licences.

Lastly, the rationalization of tariff must remain with the telecom service providers under the watch of TRAI. The need of the hour is to seek the view of telecom service providers and evolve regulatory policies in the larger national interest, without any tag of “winners” and “losers”.


Reproduced from an article by Nripendra Misra

GMail’s new voice calling feature

Posted in Value added services and applications by Manas Ganguly on August 26, 2010

Google recently unveiled its VOIP (Voice over IP) service on Gmail which will now enable its users to make phone calls over the Internet. With this move, Google takes Skype head on in the VOIP space. Google already has a video chat facility for its gives users an audio and visual experience online. This new calling Feature, allows users to dial phone numbers directly through the mail interface. Thus Google now pushes the communication interface from Computer-Computer to Computer-Phone space. Users can click “Call phone” at the top of their chat list and enter a number or a contact name.

So, does Google have the muscle to make Gmail a Skype killer?
Skype, a 7-year-old company, is used by individuals and companies to make video and voice calls over the Internet. According to Skype, its users made 6.4 billion minutes of calls in the first half of 2010. While Google may be starting out behind in this competition, it has the benefit of its large Gmail user base.
Skype could get hurt by this. Skype has been offering the ability to call land lines and cell phones for years now. But having it integrated into Google’s Gmail and, assumedly, their other offerings down the road, is quite an extension for Google.

Google, has always been on the lookout for new streams of revenue, and is looking to expand its reach over their customers and to move into complementary markets that will draw more revenue.Adding voice calls to their existing product set enhances the user experience and keeps people using Google apps longer and more frequently. It also keeps people from using another service like Skype, and it certainly may prompt some defections from Skype. Google definitely has the scale and reach to put a big dent in Skype if Google can deliver on the service side.

The voice calling feature is expected to be rolled out to U.S.-based users over the next few days, according to Google. Users will need to install Google’s voice and video plug-in and watch for the “Call Phones” button to appear on their chat list.

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Enter Google Voice

Posted in Industry updates, Value added services and applications by Manas Ganguly on March 18, 2009

googvoice

You can often find me saying in exasperation… “there’s Internet and there is Google!”. It appears that the Mountain View based giant is not satisfied with its Search Stardom and wants to protract the internet technologies to disrupt other industries around the world. Google Voice, though in its infancy has the power to blow away the existing rules of the Telecom game and i daresay, that carriers and operators throughout the world are hawk eyeing Google’s moves.  

First there was Google Latitude that made its debut in January 2009 and now is the turn of Google Voice. Both services combined together would serve as a full scale solution to networking, voice and data needs of people around. (Imagine yourself beaming a picture of a new dress that you would like to buy for your daughter to your wife for her approval. You are in New York and she in London or any other part of the world). That scenario with Google can give cold sweat to many other companies around who have stakes in Telecom, Voice, Data and auxilliary services.
Google, signaled what would be the next telecom technology disruption on 13th March 2009 (Read here). Within 5 days, there are half a million blog posts dedicated to Google Voice. Check them here. As i had said, in one of my earlier posts, the art of maintaining Relevance comes very naturally to Google.
Bought in 2007, Grandcentral is reincarnated as Google Voice in 2009, with a few polishes and additions. Essentially a VoIP based network, a user is given an account and a 10 digit phone number, except that there is no phone at the end of this number. Instead the user has to log onto his account and “manage” his calls. He has to specify where the calls need to go i.e either his mobile or his residence number or his voice mail etc. One can also program it such that business calls are routed to office number till 5 O clock and then go to voice mail system directly. So this becomes a single portal of managing all communicational priorities. It can also be managed for customizable features, call screening and controls and solution et all. That is the core of the technology! Out side this, there are features such as 
  • Automated voicemail transcriptions — Users have the option to receive free transcriptions of all their voicemail messages.  These transcriptions are fully automated (i.e. no human listens to the voicemail), and are searchable within your Google Voice inbox.
  • SMS messaging — Receive SMS text messages sent to your Google Voice phone number on your mobile device and on the web.  Send and reply to text messages directly from your phone or your Google Voice inbox.
  • Conference calling — If you’re on the phone and receive an incoming call, you now have the option to merge your calls.  Have as many as six people join a single call.
  • International calling — Place international calls at reasonable rates from your phone or by using the QuickCall button in your Google Voice inbox.  Purchase credit using Google Checkout and pay by-the-minute for international calls.
Read the complete feature lists here
Google Voice is available in its Private Beta option to users of the Grandcentral. With this now, Google is subverting the rules of the game by offering free speech to text messages, Free conferencing, almost free VoIP calls, Reduced International calling rates, and a link up with Gmail. All this is in effect, game changing!
There are the usual and relevant concerns with issues of privacy and the individual exposing himself to a ubiquitous company to such a large degree.The huge increase in personal content handled by one company that excels in mining such data paves a dangerous and rocky road to serious privacy issues.
Google is clearly sending another message to the rest of the telco’s and wanna be telco’s that Google is not happy with merely being the top of the pile in search and all things on the internet, but that it really plans to take over the communications world as well. Based on previous successes I wouldn’t put it past them!
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Nokia – Skype: Jinxed as partners?

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates, Value added services and applications by Manas Ganguly on March 2, 2009

skype-mobile-300x204The MWC (Mobile world Congress) was a spectacle this year as well (as every year!). The Mobile world had a sneak peek into New Technologies, new devices, new services and new partnerships happening around.

One of the most promising partnerships annpounced was that of Nokia and Skype.According to this partnerships, Nokia would integrate the Skype VoIP software with its N Series flagship N 97 on the S 60 platform for its consumers in Q3,2009. This would enable consumers to sync their phone address book with their Skype contacts and make calls over VoIP to them. A computer call would be free and users will pay Skype for voice calls to Cell phones or landlines. Skype as an application is free for download to cell phones. However it would require a 3G service or a Wi Fi zone to allow this service better.

This is a classic case of convergence media being offered to consumers (who now have a choice of making a call through their cellular operator as well as VoIP). Skype is the biggest beneficiary of this partnership as it piggy backs Nokia’s reach in geographies where the lap top will take some more time to estanblish itself. Thus Skype, Internet and VoIP will leap frog emergence of lap tops to tap into the VoIP technology. However there is an unexpected backlash from UK operators, O2 and Orange who obviously view this partnership and the technology ofered being disruptive in nature. The sources cited state that the partnership of Nokia and Skype would wrest away control of their consumers by offering easy access to an application that could hurt their call revenues.

To quote verbatim: Mobiletoday.co.uk’s source said to them that this was yet “another example of [Nokia] trying to build an ecosystem that is all about Nokia and reduces the operator to a dumb pipe…But if you spend upwards of £40 million per year building your brand, you don’t want to be just a dumb pipe do you?” The source added, “Nokia have tried several ways to own the customer over the years and operators have had to say no.”

The adjectives to describe the operator outrage are “furious” and “venting their anger” amongst others. Operators have also stated that they wouldnot stock up Nokia devices if Nokia doesnot strip the application. Thus we have an interesting situation out here, since Nokia wouldnot want to walk back on its MWC partnership with Skype for fear of a loss of face. However inability to do so, may jinx the N 97, a device where Nokia is betting a lot to fight back on the smartphone platform. It doesnot have a US carrier for N 97. Not having a UK carrier could be worse for them. It needs the operators to subsidize the N 97 for the smartphone users. We may see Nokia walking back on the Skype partnership after all, at the end of it. PS: One would remember Nokia’s earlier attempts at trying to have a eco system of consumers all for itself without sharing it with its eco systems partners. An earlier example was the Comes with Music service which it started short circuiting the operators (who also saw this as a competition to their own music stores).

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