Wednesday, June 29, 2005

SpeedGuide.net....Helpful Broadband Community

Want to know how to tweak your internet connection? Have some questions about routers? Wondering about the best way to configure your network? Curious about WiFi, Bluetooth, or any other wireless networking standard? Frustrated with security issues and need pointers on firewalls and port filtering? Looking for updates on anti-virus, anti-spyware & ad-ware software? Have any issues on hardware, software, programming, or digital media? Boy do I have the place for you!

Drop in to the discussion community at SpeedGuide.net and you're bound to find whatever you need related to the Broadband world. Ask questions, share tips, make friends and business contacts. This is definitely one of the most informative and helpful sites on the net.....period!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Finally A 911 Solution For VoIP??

Ahhhh....maybe. Level 3 communications announced software to add position related information to 911 VOIP calls, before they are forwarded to the appropriate 911 response center. This is a potential solution to the difficulties VOIP carriers seem to be having in assuring local governments that 911 service over a VOIP phone will be reliable. E-911 delivers address-specific and call-back information to public safety agencies whenever someone makes an emergency call, enabling first responders to be dispatched to the scene even if the caller is unable to speak or if the call is suddenly disconnected. Read more about it at Light Reading.

Skype Has A New Buddy

Seems Skype has some competition from a new kid on the block called Jajah....a Skype-like wannabe that appears to have more features than Skype (see Jajah.com). In particular, it claims an ability to seamlessly handle SMS, bridge to Skype and SIP phones, and send video (as well as the usual low priced direct-to-phone calling rates).

You can learn more about this newest entry into the VoIP war in The News. Pay particular attention to some of the comments in the review section. They're pretty funny.

Review Of Road Runner Cable

I've heard quite a few comments recently....both good and bad... about a fairly new broadband vendor called Road Runner. RR offers residential and business cable service with a growing clientele I'm told. Features look attractive although the "promises" I've read in their company info use that dreaded phrase "restrictions may apply". Seems kind of pricey to me too. If you have any interest in Road Runner I'd suggest you look over the reviews and breakdown provided at BroadbandReports.com before doing anything. Remember too....when reading the reviews "your experience may vary". If it looks good to you....go for it. If not....keep looking. ;)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

How VoIP Works

You know...all this VoIP stuff can get quite confusing to the average Joe. Somebody needs to just explain things in simple language everyone can understand. Leave out all the hype and marketing horse pucky. Well....Jeff Tyson and Robert Valdez have done just that. They've put together a simple resource at the "How Stuff Works" website covering VoIP basics, features, and use. Nice little resource and very helpful without all the comercial hype.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Skype kiosks in malls? SkypeOut coupons at U-bookstores? U-bet!

This from one of my favorite VoIP prophets Russell Shaw of ZDNet.com......

"Skype and mobile phone distributor Brightpoint have just announced a preliminary agreement that, which if finalized,will really alter the consumer and SOHO VoIP landscape.

If and when all the t's are crossed, Brightpoint will promote Skype products and premium services through its retail and dealer channels. These include big box retailers, hot spots, copy and shipping retailers, mall kiosks and university bookstores.

I can see it now- Skype coupons for services such as SkypeOut and SkypeIn distributed at the campus book barn, or from shopping mall carts. And, maybe even CDs with pre-loaded Skype and a specific ID that when you use the CD to go online and register, you get a specific amount of SkypeOut credits.

Broadband expert Om Malik sees more market-driven forces at work. On his blog, he says he believes that Skype's viral marketing program "is running out of gas, and the company realizes that it needs to step-up the marketing if it needs to trump other VoIP rivals."

Om adds another key reason for this initiative: (Skype) "should and must be worried about cellular companies' VoIP plans."

He's right. Cell companies already market to college students and mall shoppers, and have both the subscriber base and the in-person channels to do this for VoIP."

Friday, June 17, 2005

Is Skype Taking Over VoIP In North America??

If the news from broadband management company Sandvine is any indication...the answer is yes. At least for residential anyway. Calls using Skype account for nearly half of the VOIP minutes used (46.2%) and about 40% of the VOIP bandwidth used in North America, according to an analysis done by Sandvine. That puts Skype usage ahead of Vonage, Cablevision, and other popular branded residential VOIP offerings. In fact, Sandvine says Skype users account for 35.8% of individual VOIP callers on North American networks.

Now again....look deeper. That's residential users......not business. Skype can't deliver the capability, capacity, and reliability businesses require. Plus residential Skype users are tied to a PC and headset arrangement. Businesses balk at that restriction. So Skype is still a nice alternative for the regular Joe....for now.

Skype is all about getting users hooked on the free part and then charging for additional services like SkypeOut and video conferencing. Also....Skype says it themselves, they are not a replacement for your home telephone -- they are an ancillary communication service.

Skype's master plan is to eventually begin licensing the Skype software to handset manufacturers around the world. So while Skype may be a threat to VOIP companies and wireline carriers now, it could evolve into a threat for mobile service providers. Hmmmmm......the future looks to be very interesting.

VoIP News And Gadgets

Tom Keating has a very nice little blog chock full of VoIP news, opinions, and industry analysis. Pretty entertaing usually wich isn't always easy with techie stuff. Tom has a thing for "gadgets" so you can likely find a comment or 2 on some latest gizmo too. Drop in and visit Tom at tmcnet.com.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

VoIP Training Center

I found a nice little VoIP training center courtesy of VoIP News. Actually it's a comprehensive listing and review of training and certification programs offered around the world, online, and in CDs, videos and books. Perfect resource for every business considering deploying VoIP technology is some form or other.

To quote VoIP News......"Voice over IP is rapidly gaining importance in the future of telecommunications. Education in this vital technology is becoming an imperative to maintaining a competitive edge. Corporations, manufacturers, providers, consultants, engineers, product managers; even marketing and sales personnel are challenged to stay abreast of this emerging technology and marketplace."

Ahhhhh yep...what he said.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

An Interview with Michael Jackson (no, not him)

Geez....what a way to grab readers. Guilty...nice headline huh? Anyway....the Michael Jackson I'm talking about is Skype's Director of Operations. You know Skype....that "free" VoIP business model supposedly spreading around the world like a virus? (Sorry....I'm not a Skyper if you can't tell. I'm not fond of being tied to my PC when I'm talking).

The in-house Share Skype blog features an interview with Jackson 13 June. Much of the interview is too cotton candy for me, but this Michael Jackson does have some interesting things to say about keeping regulators across the globe up to speed about what Skype is and does. If you're a Skyper you'll be in love. If you're looking at Skype it's some more info to add to your due diligence.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Cheaper DSL Coming????

Don't hold your breath kiddies.

Although it looks like DSL providers are firing initial salvos for the begining of a price war....they still hold all the cards while consumers have an empty hand. Read the small print and you'll see what I mean.

SBC's one year introductory $15 DSL deal is attracting ooh's and ahhh's.....and Verizon is coming out with a $20 price point though only for 3 months, as part of packages. Therein lies the kicker. You may see some lower prices here and there....but ONLY as part of a package of calling services or in an Annual Plan. That doesn't look like any big savings deal to me. Pay a lot for a lot just to save a liitle for a little. Geeez.

Verizon chief Ivan Seidenberg said during the SuperComm trade show last week that he failed to see the need for price-reductions (since they're already cheaper than cable). Wow.....thanks Ivan ol' buddy.

Nat'l Muni-Ban Advocate Holds $500K in SBC Stock Options

Pete Sessions: "Eliminating your choice is good for you, really...."

Texas Representative Pete Sessions is trying to pass the "Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005" (HR2726), which would ban towns and cities from wiring themselves for broadband (e.g. WiFi, WiMax). However Sessions is not only a 16 year ex-SBC employee, his wife works for Cingular, and he holds half a million dollars in SBC stock options, according to an e-mail being circulated today by media reform outfit Free Press.

Hmmmmm....our elected representatives at work. Ain't government great?

Friday, June 10, 2005

A Little Help To Find You A VoIP Phone

Here's a collection of resources to help you learn what you REALLY need to know before you get yourself a VoIP Phone. Might help you make the best educated choice for YOU.

CNet has an excellent extensive comparison and review of a number of different VOIP carriers. It's from a May 2004 article so it's obviously a bit outdated (e.g. Packet8 has E911 now.....Broadvox has implemented the "to come" features).....but still provides some good info and resources about BroadBand Phones.

CNet Internet Phones

DSLreports.com has a fact filled table updated every week from reviews shared by that Forums members (Telcom industry pros/experts/users/management/sales):

DSLreports.com

The folks at DSLreports.com are pretty picky & opinionated sometimes but it will give you some interesting insights. Note that providers are only listed if a review has been submitted. So a vendor you may be looking for may not be on the list.

They also have a pretty active VoIP discussion board where you can get unedited non-PC opinions, breaking news good and bad, and the opportunity to ask about use and installation at:

VoIP Forum

You should also look over the info at the FCC website (Federal Communications Commission). Besides the expected legal stuff you can see what the Feds think consumers should receive from VoIP vendors as well as some info on set-up and use:

FCC

I have a bunch of resources which will help you choose and understand VoIP phones at my blog BroadBand Nation. Be sure to click all the links and look over the article archive too.

BroadBand Nation

Personally I'm partial to Packet8.....especially for business use (VoIP video phone, Virtual Office). But that's just me.

Packet8

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Microsoft Getting Into VoIP???

Make a VoIP call from within PowerPoint or Excel?

Yes, it will happen - as part of some new alliances Microsoft will be using to get into the VoIP space. Essentially it will be a "click-to-dial" capability within Microsoft Office applications. At least that's what they say. Me....I'll believe it when I see it. But....I wouldn't underestimate Bill Gates either. Hmmmm.....what a quandry.

If you want more techno babble from Bill head over to PRNewswire and read up on the whole idea.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

WiFi Planet...Great Resource

Wifi Planet bills it self as "The Source For Wifi Business and Technology". Pretty bold statement right? Well, maybe so. But these guys can back it up. Take a look at their sections for tutorials, reviews, glossary, research, events, news, VoIP, WiMax, and hotspots and you'll get the idea this is definitely more fact than boast. While you're there drop in to their Forum and soak up some of the banter shared there. Good place to ask that burning question....or brand your expertise among your peers by helping others.

Bragging? Nah....just a great resource.

Monday, June 06, 2005

VoIP In Every Room Of The House??

Ahhhh....maybe. If Packet8 and Vonnage have their way that could be reality sooner than we think. Engadget reports that Uniden is working with Vonage to eliminate the Telephone Adapter. Packet8 is working on the same near term goal. If that happens we could see VoIP really going mass market. You could even find the new handsets just about everywhere phones are sold. Stop in at Radio Shack or Best Buy or...you get the idea.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Broadband Tools To Measure System Performance And More

You can pretty much measure or analyze anything broadband related with the tools provided at SpeedGuide.net. Here's a list of what is available to you:

* SG TCP/IP Analyzer

The SpeedGuide TCP/IP Analyzer is a program designed to display your Internet connection parameters, extracted directly from TCP packets sent by your browser to their server. The Analyzer program then displays recommendations based on the settings extracted from the headers of those packets.

* SG TCP Optimizer

The TCP Optimizer is a free Windows program designed to help optimize your Internet connection. The program makes it easy to find the best MaxMTU value, test latency and tweak the important Registry Parameters. The Optimizer can be helpful with tuning any Internet connection type, from dialup to Gigabit+ :) If you need help with the program, check the TCP Optimizer Documentation, read their broadband tweaking articles and the related FAQs, and/or visit their Forums.

* SG Security Scanner

The SpeedGuide.net Security Scanner audits certain ports on your computer detecting potential vulnerabilities.

Note: Some firewalls might log a potential attack from their server if you choose to test the security of your system since they are testing for vulnerabilities.

* SG Speed Test

A quick download speed test to estimate your connection speed at the time.

* SG Network Tools

The SG Network tools section includes many common network tools such as PING, TRACEROUTE, WHOIS, etc.

* SG Bits/Bytes Conversion Calculator

The Bits/Bytes calculator is a useful tool for quickly converting bits/bytes, etc. It takes into consideration the different conventons while calculating data communication rates and storage space.

* SG RWIN/BDP Calculator

The RWIN/BDP calculator can be used to estimate TCP Window values, based on the Bandwidth*Delay Product (BDP for short). It can also calculate maximum bandwidth based on RWIN and latency values, and perform a number of different conversions as well.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Heck With Vonnage....Get Your Broadband Phone Free

Amazing .... but true.

It just makes good sense to pay as little as possible for something you use and need every day. One of your biggest expenses....if not THE biggest....is your phone bill. Whether it's personal or business use....you have to talk to people. So why pay more than you have to?

Well...you now have a solution for that high cost from Packet8.

Free Unlimited Calling For A Year....Or More!

With just a little effort sharing this service with others you could get unlimited calling to all of the US and Canada for a year....or more. How much is up to you.

Simply sign-up for Packet8 yourself and start sharing.

(note: you get a $25 credit for every referal....and the service only costs $19.95. Think of the possibilities here.)

* $25 Service Credit For Referrals

Effective immediately, Packet8’s Share-and-Score referral program now awards a $25 credit for service to subscribers who refer their family and friends to Packet8. For every individual you recommend who maintains a Packet8 account for at least 60 days, you will receive $25* of free service in return. In addition to residential subscribers, Packet8 Virtual Office users can now benefit from the Share-and-Score program as well. We appreciate our subscribers and know word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising, so encourage all the special people in your life to become Packet8 subscribers, so they can start enjoying all the toll free calling and benefits that you do.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Death of Dial-Up Internet?

Weeelllll...let's not get too worked up. Yet.

A recent report from Goldman Sachs suggests that 35% of dial-up users are waiting for broadband (on average) to hit the $35 price point before they jump in. Drop broadband prices below the magic $29 point, and even larger dial-up conversions will occur.

A nice little article at Clickz summarizes the main points of the GS report....and makes some interesting observations. For example....almost sixty percent of all web-users will be using broadband connections by the end of this year, they predict. Check it out...pretty thought provoking.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

DS3 Price Trends

Like most telecommunications services DS3 prices (commonly known as T3) have been falling for the last few years. This is due to several factors. Competition has been heating up since deregulation in 1996. The number of companies offering DS3 service has exploded. With more competition in the marketplace service providers have to reduce their DS3 prices to attract customers and keep them from going to competitors. DS3 service providers are desperate to keep margins but even more desperate to keep adding customers. This competetive arena has created a buyers market for DS3 lines and pricing is as favorable as it has ever been!

The soft economy and crash of the stock market has also contributed to the reduction in DS3 prices. Since the peak of the market in 1999 many companies have gone out of business and no longer require service. This means there's a smaller pie available and there are plenty of telecom providers trying to get their share. Once again, the buyer is in control and can shop until he or she finds the price that is right for them.

A final reason for the reduction in DS3 pricing is the fact that equipement costs and the cost of supplying the bandwidth have decreased. This means that companies can supply the bandwidth at a lower cost. As bandwidth usage continues to increase as a result of bandwidth hungry applications like video on demand and graphic heavy applications the price of bandwidth will continue to drop. The only factor that seems likely to inhibit prices from falling much further is the "last mile" or the connection from the users premise to the service providers' POP (Point of Presence). But that's best saved for another discussion. For now, enjoy those affordable DS3's and good luck finding a price that's right for you!