I get questions on telecom, mobile and Internet topics from students in different parts of the world and I try to reply to them all as best I can. One kind of question that comes up repeatedly has to do with "Next Generation Networks" or NGNs - what are they? why are they based on packet technology? how do they support multi-services? etc.
Recently I answered a whole string of such questions for a Masters student in the UK. Here are my answers:
Hi ... ,
For most kinds of communication, packet networks are more flexible and more efficient. And, as a practical matter, the Internet (a packet network) has become a globally pervasive platform, which indeed can be used to support almost any kind of communication. Most everything is migrating to the Internet because the Internet is pervasive and Internet technology is by far the highest volume and lowest cost of any communications technology. So it's natural that any envisioned NGN would be built on packet technology.
The term NGN is a bit loaded, as it normally refers to a telco-centric view of how the Internet should evolve. My views on that are here:
For the latest on how many AS numbers have been assigned see:
For the latest on how many AS numbers are currently advertising routes on the Internet backbone, see:
The only issue with carrying a variety of services over a common platform is whether you need different relative levels of service (QoS) to support different higher level services like telephony, video, web browsing, etc. The telco view is that a sophisticated range of priorities are essential (and that the telco should be able to differentially bill based on the higher level service that is being carried). However, no one has figured out a commercially viable way to deliver QoS over the public Internet. Also, if there is any requirement for QoS at all, it is for very simple differentiation at just those few points where there are bandwidth shortages.
The richest set of details on what an NGN is envisioned to be is presented in the standards of the 3GPP (the body that provides standards for GSM, HSPA, LTE and other wireless networks). See:
and if you want to read the actual 3GPP specs, you might start here:
You'll have to dig through documentation on the 3GPP's IMS and SAE if you want to understand their plans for their NGN. I don't expect any NGN to gain much traction compared to the open Internet and I personally have moved from a business where I supplied products to telco equipment vendors into a new business, netBlazr, where we are revolutionizing the delivery of fixed Internet connectivity in urban areas. So I'm not so interested in NGN any more. :)
MPLS is an IP-centric protocol layer just below the IP layer which allows Internet Service Providers with multiple routes to define "virtual circuits" between points in the core network. It's a way to hide (i.e. simplify) an otherwise complex network of IP routers and to channel certain kinds of traffic over specific virtual circuits. This can be used to guarantee enough headroom for certain kinds of traffic and for other network management purposes. For example, if you want to give priority to voice traffic, you could route all voice-related IP sessions over a different path (different at the MPLS level) and you could guarantee enough bandwidth on that path so voice traffic was never over-subscribed (i.e. never ran out of bandwidth). When there was little or no voice traffic, other MPLS virtual circuits running over the same links could use the idle bandwidth, but when voice traffic increases, the voice circuit would get it's predetermined bandwidth.
Indeed, MPLS works by assigning labels (which are inserted between the link layer protocol header and the IP header). Here's a view of how MPLS & QoS are envisioned to work:
I hope this helps,
With my attention focused on netBlazr, I wasn't in a position to do justice to Internet telephony topics. I thought of abandonning the column entirely, but the folks at TMCnet urged me to move to a different magazine, more in line with my current focus. Of course, the term NGN carries a lot of baggage which I address in my first article, NGN: ITU Misses the Boat, written last fall for the November 2010 issue.
If you followed by columns in Internet Telephony, you may want to sign up for electronic delivery of NGN magazine (i.e. via email), as the issues typically don't appear on the TMC website until a couple of months later.
I’m in the midst of multiple co-located conferences, Super Wi-Fi Summit, 4G Wireless Evolution, IT Expo, all conveniently located in Miami, although I barely got here on Tuesday just ahead of a major storm in Boston.
At the Super Wi-Fi Summit, I gave a presentation about netBlazr. This conference is focused on technologies for use in the newly available TV White Spaces spectrum, particularly Wi-Fi (802.11af). I told Carl Ford (the conference organizer) that netBlazr was using 5 GHz 802.11n, not TVWS, but he still wanted me to present the netBlazr story.
Then, in the 4G Wireless Evolution Conference, Carl had asked me to give some perspective on when Over-the-Top applications will conquer all. With all my attention focused on netBlazr, that was a little off topic, but I have views and opinions which I put together in this presentation.
Aside from my two presentations, I’ve met a lot of old friends and met several useful contacts for the future. I’ve also met a number of wireless ISPs, both through the Super Wi-Fi Summit and through the WISPA booth on the show floor. All in all, well worth the trip!
xG Technology was exhibiting at the WISPA conference in St. Louis July 21-22, as they also did at the 4G Wireless Evolution conference in Miami in January. In January, I visited their facilities in Fort Lauderdale and talked at length with their founder, Joe Bobier. This is a company that, back in 2006, made some outrageous claims for a new kind of radio modulation. At the time, some friends asked me to look into their claims. I read their literature and their patent filings and concluded it couldn’t work as claimed without violating either the laws of physics or FCC regulations or both, and I wrote a blog post to that effect. Indeed my original conclusions appear to have been true. In 2006, they naively thought they could get the FCC to change specs for out-of-band signal levels.
What’s interesting is how they have completely reinvented their company. They have dropped the magic modulation ideas of 2006. Today, they are in alpha test with a mobile voice telephony system that uses conventional first order modulation. I don’t know whether they will succeed in the market, but today’s product is at least built on credible technology, they are going after plausible customer sets, and what they’ve done is cute enough (from a techie point of view) to be worth some discussion.
Their system allows a service provider to delivery a cellular mobile voice service much like any other mobile voice service plus it can support optional data services at GPRS-like data rates. The key difference is their system uses license-exempt spectrum in the 900 MHz band, thus avoiding big bucks for spectrum licenses. They deal with interference from other users of the 900 MHz band by monitoring in both frequency and time and rapidly switching channels (up to 33 times/second) to avoid interfering signals.
Of course there are no standards for such a system so, while the RF technology is now very conventional, the base stations and handsets are proprietary. They have adapted VoIP and SIP standards where possible, so their MSC is just a conventional 3rd party softswitch. However, some of how they handle channel hopping, roaming and handoffs is inconsistent with IETF standards, so they have a SIP proxy and a DHCP proxy that together isolate their proprietary protocols (used over the air) from the rest of the system which use standard IP components and standard SIP.
I don’t know whether their business will work or not. Their current system delivers mobile voice telephony plus data at 2G speeds, but it doesn’t roam. It might be a good fixed line replacement providing city-wide cordless telephony, not unlike the PAS systems deployed in China, but with no need for spectrum licenses. I wish them luck.
Also, one 50% off ticket...
I'll be at the Emerging Communications Conference, eComm Americas, beginning Monday April 19th at the San Francisco Airport Marriott. If you're not familiar with eComm, I highly recommend it. Interesting people, fascinating presentations, none of those trade show pitches... Check it out.
And, as organizer and moderator of Tuesday's panel discussion on the US Broadband Plan, I get one free ticket and one 50% off ticket that I can give to a friend or colleague. If you're reading my blog, you clearly qualify. If you are interested, send me an email - send it to my initials "rbt" at my personal domain, i.e. broughturner.com.
I just had a call from Alex Harrowell (of Telco 2.0). Alex was on the floor of the Mobile World Congress so there was a lot of background noise and he was calling from a mobile device, specifically a Nokia N900. What's more, he was using Wi-Fi, something that's been highly marginal at previous MWCs. But this call sounded much better than the typical mobile phone call ! It was excellent.
The difference: Alex was using the Skype client for the N900, so our call was Skype-to-Skype, Barcelona to Boston, and thus it used wideband audio, a.k.a. HD Voice. Yes, there was background noise from the conference floor, but Alex's voice was completely clear and stood out from the background noise. Also, the background was distinct enough that I felt like I was on the floor with Alex.
Mobile HD voice is significantly better than most traditional phone calls and much better than any other mobile call.
Mobile HD: Operator-provided or via Skype?
As I've commented in the past, mobile operators in the EU (starting with Orange in the UK, Belgium and France) are promising to roll out mobile HD voice on their networks in 2010. But so far, only Orange Moldova has actually launched (in September 2009).
With the announcement that Apple is no longer blocking VoIP applications on the iPhone over 3G, it's likely we'll see Skype and others show up an ever increasing range of mobile devices.
Mobile operator provided HD Voice might eventually reach a wider range of mobile devices than Skype over Wi-Fi or 3G, but mobile operators better get cracking. Otherwise, they might just be left in the dust.
There's a fascinating agenda building for eComm in Amsterdam in October. Here's the latest list of talks, but what's best is the set of speakers who are giving these talks. I personally know quite a few and know of many more (who I look forward to meeting). The group includes a preponderance of innovators -- new views on what's happening, new ideas for how to drive change. If you don't read through this list of talks, look at the speakers list here. Then come to Amsterdam and meet these people.
21st Century Economics: Lessons for Telcos - Umair Haque (Havas Media Lab)
Advances In Spectrum Transparency, Software Defined Radio/Cognitive Radio - Darrin M Mylet (Spectru-Station)
Almost all Marketing & Product Management of Telco Services is Wrong - Rudolf van der Berg (Logica)
Current Trends in Community Wireless Networks and Beyond - Aaron Kaplan (FunkFeuer)
Death of the Handset: Evolving from Mobile Devices to the Mobile Digital Life - Mark Rolston (frog Design)
Edge As Value - Value As Edge - Graham Brierton (Voicesage)
Enslaving Humans using Communications Technology for Fun and Profit - Thomas McCarthy-Howe (Jaduka)
Entrepreneurial Advantages with New Open-Source Technologies - Jay Phillips (Voxeo)
European Telecoms 2015: Silent Death or Generative Bazaar? - Julien Salanave (IDATE Telecoms)
Finding Disruption - Michael Jackson (Mangrove Capital)
Goodbye Minutes, Hello Moments - Martin Geddes (BT)
Google Wave - David Wang (Google)
How the "Internet of Things" will Change the Way we Connect - Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino (Tinker.it)
How to get More Value out of Customer Interactions by Blending Online with Voice - Stefan Hopmann (Swisscom)
Humans as a Service: Abstracting Communications to Reach New Applications - Todd Landry (NEC Sphere)
Is LTE being Held Hostage by Ordinary Voice Telephony? - Dean Bubley (Disruptive Analysis)
Lifestyle Segmentation from Carrier Location and Call Data - Greg Skibiski (Sense Networks)
Lifestyle Segmentation from Carrier Location and Call Data - Tony Jebara (Sense Networks)
LTE - Long Term Employment or Less Than Expected? - Moray Rumney (Agilent)
Open Access Makes Economic Sense - Benoît Felten (Yankee Group)
Open Screen Project: Next Generation Contextual Applications - Andrew Shorten (Adobe)
Opening of the Terahertz Region - Robert Horvitz (Open Spectrum Foundation)
Opportunities in Post-Telecom Connectivity - Bob Frankston (Frankston Innovating)
Post Financial Trauma - How is the Telecom Value Chain Now Positioned? - James Enck (mCapital)
Redefining Gifts in the Digital Space - Katie Lips (Little World Gifts)
Slowing Down Communication: Designs Inspired by Quality, Intimacy, and Humanity - Stefan Agamanolis (Distance Lab)
Spectrum 2.0 – What's Really Happening? - Brough Turner (Ashtonbrooke)
Stealth Approaches to Legislating Open Spectrum - Brough Turner (Ashtonbrooke)
Technology and Biological Evolution: What This Means for Media and Communications Technologies - Tomas Rawlings (University of the West of England)
Telemedia Futures - Gerd Leonhard (MediaFuturist.com)
The Emerging Telecology of Social Networks and the Status Update - Stuart Henshall (Phweet)
The Future of Interconnection - Rudolf van der Berg (Logica)
The Global Battle for Communications Justice: An Open Spectrum Manifesto - Sascha Meinrath (New America Foundation)
The Next Wave of Communications Applications - Cullen Jennings (Cisco)
The Practical Edge of Speech Technology - Moshe Yudkowsky (Disaggregate)
Ubiquitous Voice over Broadband - is There a Future Role for the Smart Pipe? - Martin Taylor (MetaSwitch)
Unlicensed Spectrum: Future Regulation - Prof. William Webb (Ofcom)
Video Killed the Telephone Czar? - Jan Linden (Global IP Solutions)
When Will HD Voice Become a Reality? - Martyn Davies (Dialogic)
What Would Telephony be Like if we Designed it Today? - Matt Ranney (RebelVox)
If you've read this far, there's a 10% discount via this registration link
Here are my notes from last week's HD communications Summit, i.e. my twitter stream condensed. I've followed that with a copy of the day's schedule just in case the original on-line version disappears. :)
Brough’s Twitter stream from the HD Communications
Summit in NYC
September 15, 2009 – See http://tinyurl.com/nu843b
— Dan Berninger kicks off with a picture of Europe where Moldova is highlighted. See http://tinyurl.com/n3jst9 for Orange's PR.
— Jeff Pulver is talking about two friends in Paris who have HD voice on their triple play VoIP service and love it.
— Jeff passes a rumor that a US incumbent may launch HD on triple play in San Antonio. I wonder what he's heard. Nothing via GOOG.
—" Jeff promoting "HD Connect Now" a trade group that I know Dialogic has joined. http://hdconnectnow.org/
— Aside - Dialogic has published a white paper based on stuff I wrote last spring. http://tinyurl.com/qjsfda - needs Moldova update..
— Alan Percy of Audiocodes focuses on the problem of HD peering. It doesn't happen today! Is he volunteering to drive an effort?
— Alan Percy says VoIP peering at 2% of VoIP-to-VoIP traffic. I don't know where he got that data but it sounds plausible (or high).
—" Jan Linden of GIPS has the first audio samples of the day. Nothing new for me, but it's got me thinking about the audience today."
—" Jan Linden points out good HD also needs acoustic echo control, packet loss concealment & noise suppression - & device tweaks!"
— Mike Eastman of WYDEvoice announcing an all-software wideband audio conference bridge. http://bit.ly/1B8Y7
—" Robert Graves of ATSC Forum speaking. Are there lessons to learn from the HD TV industry? No surprise, he's a fan of Forums."
—" Robert Graves - indeed as ATSC Forum wraps up, he's available for hirer. :)"
— Robert Graves boasting about the efficiencies of HDTV spectrum usage. But no mention of the industry resisting TV white spaces!
—" Robert Graves makes it very clear the broadcasters want to hold onto their spectrum to add new services - mobile, handheld, etc."
— Brough's HDTV summary - very political because it required FCC approval. At least we don't have that to deal with.
— Robert Graves summary - increased quality essential; all-format decode (old & new) from day one; consistent government policies.
—" Nxt up: HD Innovation Panel. Robert Messer, ABP Tech; Tobias Kemper Nimbuzz; Alan Percy, Audiocodes; Ryan Heidari, Qualcomm."
—" Robert Graves says HDTV tipping point was getting critical mass of programming, but this due to satellite, then cable! Not ATSC!"
— Tobias Kemper - turning point will be when mobile subscriber can just press the green button and get HD w/o knowing it.
—" HD Innovation Panel is thrashing around transcoding; too many coders; extra latency - Good business for Dialogic, Audiocodes, etc."
—" Ryan Heidari, Qualcomm.comments that Bluetooth has adopted HD stds but low power, low computational capacity."
— Ryan Heidari also lists five codecs approved by Bluetooth community. Sounds like too many to me!
—" 2nd HD innovators panel: Ben Lillenthal Citrix; Jim Toga, Vivox; Tim Panton, PhoneFromHere; Richard Romagnino, Voiceage"
—" Tim Panton is focused on zero install PC-based HD voice interfaces for web, facebook, etc."
—" Jim Toga focused on applications, currently at Vivox which does HD voice for gamers and in Second Life."
—" Richard Romagnino takes us back down into the mud. Codec licensing patent pools. Maybe necessary, but ugh!"
— Tim Panton says opportunity for innovation is in 3D sound - but need speakers and other consumer I/O devices
— Jim Toga - the microphone is in the iPhone is digitized at 32 KHz sampling rate. It could support really excellent telephony.
— Jeff Rodman co-founder & CTO Polycomm also starts with audio demos but promises 10 reasons people want HD voice.
— Jeff Rodman #1 Understand yr overseas team. #2 understand yr young kids. #3 it's easier - don't have to ask for repeats.
— Jeff Rodman #4 save yr energy for dancing. #5 like being there.
—" Jeff Rodman #6 enhance emergency abilities. #7 It's ""cool"" (if your old) or ""sick"" (if your young)."
— Jeff Rodman #8 no incremental cost. #9 everybody's making it. #10 Yr competitor sounds good when speaking to yr customers.
—" Jeff Rodman - responding to Q:. ""Polycom HD Voice"" is copyright, but no copyright on ""HD Voice"""
—" Rick Krupka of Uniden is focused on cordless phones. Claims, despite mobiles, cordless phones are still a hot seller."
— Rick Krupka was head of DECT Forum and is also promoting DECT 6 phones.
—" Rick Krupka gives Uniden pitch, nothing about HD yet... turns out they are ""backing into"" HD - still pitching non-HD stuff."
—" Rick Krupka - ""Conversational gain"" compares the end-to-end volume of a phone call with two people speaking live at 1 meter apart."
—" Rick Krupka - his only tie to HD is the idea that HD needs something like ""conversational gain."" Why was he invited to speak?"
—"#hdcomm Dan Petrie, SipEz; Jeff Rodman, Polycom; Dave Beckemeyer Televolution; Joyce Kim, GIPS are now on a panel ""HD in Action"""
—#hdcomm Dan Petrie was at Pingtel years ago when they tried to push wideband audio. It was way too early. No traction until 2 yrs ago.
—#hdcomm Jeff Rodman on early Picturetel experience where they needed wideband audio to make video ok - back in the mid-1980s!
—"#hdcomm Joyce Kim suggests people don't understand HD voice well enough to pay extra for it. My point: not revenue, but mkt share!"
—"#hdcomm Jeff Rodman - Polycom biz is coming from enterprise. Also large businesses understand HD now, e.g. multisite HD conferences."
—"#hdcomm Dave Beckemeyer says Svc Providers 1st Q is ""how much will people pay"" and that won't work. People won't pay extra for HD voice."
— Q: in what namespace will we make our HD calls? The panel is stumped. My answer - mobile. Tim Panton says DNS .tel.
— Chris Fine VP Goldman Sachs shows graphs that suggest IT spending has past the trough.
— Chris Fine ranks CIO priorities: Risk Reduction; Revenue Increase; Cost Reduction; Productivity Increase; everything else...
—" Chris Fine lists 7 possible scenarios for HD voice adoption, but this is just an exhaustive list. What does he believe?"
—" Chris Fine - at Goldman Sach, HD voice is being delayed while two ""large"" vendors fight over standards and interfaces."
— Chris Fine is not hearing anything about HD voice from the large carriers.
— Chris Fine gets others at Goldman to notice HD by putting MS Communicator on their desktop and then calling them.
— Josh Bottum of Cisco talking HD voice ecosystems - expects upstart svc providers to start and become thorn in side of big guy.
—" Josh Bottum admits HD voice is low on Cisco's radar, but he expects it to be a check box and to be on >50% of their desksets soon."
— Josh Bottum says high end users are demanding HD so smaller businesses are getting HD by default. But EU different than US.
—" Mike Rude of DSPGroup makes cordless phone technology, e.g. they are in the Gigaset phones (and Uniden?)."
—" Mike Rude pushes DSPGroup. They have DECT+VoIP+Wi-Fi+ and app processor in 1 chip, for DECT phones etc. Have 70% of 4M HD devices."
—" Michael Stanford, WireEvolution; Mike Jablon, Time Warner; Tony Storella, snom; are on a panel entitled ""The HD value chain."""
—" Mike Storella of snom expects there is a lot of money to be made in HD voice - but in products and conf svcs, but not for operators"
— Tony Stankus of Gigaset gets a round of applause as they have given cordless phones to everyone at the conference.
— Mike Storella of snom complains his VARs need more education as they still don't sell HD.
—" Correction: Michael Stanford, WireEvolution; Mike Jablon, Time Warner; Tony Stankus, Gigaset; Mike Storella, snom;"
— Mike Jablon answers question about Skype - Time Warner doesn't see them as competition.
—" Mike Jablon (TimeWarner) sees reciprocal comp as an issue today, but one that will eventually go away. I sure hope he's right."
— Mike Jablon points out the cable MSOs have enough of a customer base but he estimates 3-5 yrs to make them all HD capable.
—" Candice Malmstrom, FreedomVoice; Kevin Groth, XConnect; Rodrigue Ullens, Voxbone; Dave Frankel, ZipDX; on a panel HD Interconnect."
—" Rod Ullens provides e.164 numbers in various countries, also in inum (a new non-geographic country code) registered with the ITU."
— David Frankel need to program every IP-PBX with routing for IP-accessible e.164 numbers. Big hassle - guarantees islands of VoIP.
—" David Frankel: Have to solve the directory lookup issue, for originating phone or phone system. The rest is simple."
—" David Frankel: who runs the directory? Some contenders: Intelepeer, XConnect, NetNumber, Neustar, e164.org, VPF, Verisign, others"
—" Kevin Groth, XConnect: One source of resistance is carriers unwilling to reuce their reciprocal compensation revenue. Wow!"
— Rod Ullens talks about inum (new international phone #s) and HD support. He's still in the very early stages...
— Alla Reznik of Verizon discusses a global HD deployment by a biz customer but only in their corporate HQ island. It's Verizon NJ!
— Alla Reznik claims HD needs FCC to drive adoption. VoIP regulation is mixed or regulated as PSTN voice. Should be treated as IP.
— Alla Reznik answers Q about enterprise wide HD - problems in some countries about access links; otherwise waiting for PBX upgrades.
— Alla Reznik sees early adoptor HD beginning to happen. Today and in 2010 it's still early adoptors (who are large enterprises).
—" Alla Reznik simplified mkt study says joint wire-wireless offer would be attractive, but she can't comment on any plans. (far off?)"
— Alla Reznik comes back to pushing FCC to treat VoIP as IP (not voice telephony) - presumably this gets them free of term. fees.
—" Thomas Lemaire, FT-Orange, different telco, different accent (French). But his slide deck doesn't work."
—" Thomas Lemaire has 7M VoIP subs, >680K with HD, on triple play. Note: BT also has > 500K HD subscribers. Mobile HD just launched."
— Thomas Lemaire also notes that T-Mobile Germany has announced they are launching HD service.
— Thomas Lemaire - pitch is emotional - be closer to the people you love. HD provides a better sense of intimacy.
—" Thomas Lemaire - Sagen, Thomson & Siemens are providers of CPE for HD VoIP services in France & Spain."
—" Lemaire - HD telephones have better acoustic performance, so even when calling a non-HD phone, the quality is a bit better."
—" Lemaire - fixed: France, Poland, Spain,; mobile UK, Belgium, France in 2010 plus of course its already in Moldova mobile."
— Lemaire - why not faster? Time and money - and it's a complex endeavor - much coordination...
— Lemaire frustrated that they don't have MAR-WB to G.722 adaptation (so mobiles can't talk to HD VoIP).
—" Lemaire - HD mobile initially only on 3G networks, partly for use of 3G core network, partly to induce adoption of 3G."
— Lemaire hopes AMR-WB becomes the norm. They are working on transcoding but won't be able to do it when service launches in 2010.
—" Lemaire says pressure in France is coming from CLECs, i.e. there HD program is driven by competitive threats."
— Up next: Julian Spitka of Skype (with a potential 480M registers users who might use HD)
— Julian Spitka is pushing Skype SILK coder as a royalty free codec that everyone should be using...- proposed to IETF.
— Missed reporting on my panel...
—" Next panel Doug Mohoney HDConnectNow; Rich Buchanan, Ooma; Anatoli Levine, RADVison & IMTC; Ben Arnold, Consumer Electronics Assoc."
— Ooma announces they will be launching HD voice.
— Ben Arnold makes analogy to HDTV adoption; need critical mass of device in hands of consumers (as HDTV needed content).
— Anatoli (& IMTC) is focused on HD voice and video and on pitching the IMTC. No $ in HD voice - it enables other applications.
— Rich Buchanan sees chip and product companies as benefiting from HD voice.
— Doug Mahney promotes Digium & Asterisk as beneficiaries of HD Voice either directly or indirectly.
— ooma has already provided G.722 but they use ILBC on constricted access links.
— Robert Graves from audience - HDTV: satellite went first; Cable noticed (in 2002) and broadcasters came last.
—" From audience: quality of DECT HD phones in France is so good, that even non-HD calls sound much better than normal."
—" Jake MacLeod, VP/CTO, Bechtel Comms. 31 yrs; built 110k cell sites; Jake is summarizing the conference - spkr by spkr?"
—" Jake MacLeod - I'd like to get his slides (the summary of the conference) but I don't need to hear it now, at least not this detail"
—" Jeff is planning to do an event in California next spring. He's also investigating a possible event in Europe, sooner."
|Registration / Networking|
|Welcome - Daniel Berninger, CEO, FWD and Executive Director, HDConnect|
|Jeff Pulver - CEO, pulver.com - "Accelerating the Conversion to HD"|
||Step 1 - The HD Technology Roadmap|
|Alan Percy, Director Market Development, AudioCodes|
|Jan Linden, VP Engineering, Global IP Solutions|
|Mike Eastman, VP Sales, WYDEVoice|
Case Study: Lessons Learned from SD to HDTV|
Robert Graves, Chairman, ATSC Forum
HD Innovations Panel - Part I:|
Moderator - Robert Messer, President, ABP Tech
- Tobias Kemper, VP, Nimbuzz
- Alan Percy, Director Business Development, AudioCodes
- A. Ryan Heidari, Director Technical and Product Marketing, Qualcomm
HD Innovations Panel - Part II:|
Moderator - Ben Lillenthal, founder and CEO, VAPPS
- Jim Toga, co-founder and VP Engineering, Vivox
- Tim Panton, CEO, PhoneFromHere
- Richard Romagnino, VP Business Development, VoiceAge
|Step 2 - Triggering End User Demand|
|Jeff Rodman, co-founder, CTO Voice Division, Polycom|
|Rick Krupka, VP Business Communication Services, Uniden|
HD in Action Panel:|
Moderator - Daniel Petrie, CEO, SIPEz
- Joyce Kim, VP Marketing, Global IP Solutions
- Jeff Rodman, co-founder, CTO Voice Division, Polycom
- David Beckemeyer, CEO, Televolution
Field Report: HD Voice in the Enterprise|
Chris Fine, VP, Goldman Sachs
|Step 3 - Toward a Fully Functioning HD Ecosystem|
|Josh Bottum, Director Business Development, Cisco|
|Mike Rude, VP Business Development, DSPGroup|
The HD Value Chain Panel|
Moderator - Michael Stanford, WireEvolution
- Michael Jablon, VP Digital Phone Strategy, Time Warner
- Tony Stankus, PM Emerging Technologies,Gigaset Communications USA
- Mike Storella, Director Business Development, snom
HD Carrier Interconnection Panel:|
Moderator - Candice Malmstrom, Dir of Marketing, FreedomVoice
- Kevin Groth, VP North America, XConnect
- Rodrigue Ullens, CEO, Voxbone
- David Frankel, CEO, ZipDX
|Step 4 - The Path to HD Mass Market Adoption|
|Alla Reznick, Dir Product Management, Global Advanced Services, Verizon|
|Thomas Lemaire, Director Business Development, FT-Orange|
|Julian Spittka, Product Manager and Sr. Engineer, Skype|
Mobile HD VoIP Panel:|
Moderator - David Bluenstein, co-founder, The Hatchery
- Brough Turner, Chief Strategy Officer, Dialogic
- Diego Besprosvan, CTO, MailVision
- Mahesh Makhijani, Director Technical Marketing, Qualcomm
Perspectives on HD Tipping Points Panel|
Moderator - Doug Mohney, Editor in Chief, HDConnectNow
- Anatoli Levine, Dir Product Management, RADVISION and President, IMTC
- Richard Buchanan, Chief Marketing Officer, Ooma
- Ben Arnold, Sr Research Analyst, Consumer Electronics Association
|Wrap-up - Jake MacLeod, VP and CTO, Bechtel Communications|
I'll be speaking near the end of the day, on a panel called Mobile VoIP. My point is not that VoIP matters - VoIP is just a technology - but mobile is significant and will drive the tipping point for HD voice.
So far, high definition voice, i.e. wideband audio telecom, has been enabled by most IP-PBX vendors and some VoIP service providers. There are also wideband audio telephone sets available from many providers. But mostly these systems operate as standalone islands. When you call someone outside your island, the audio reverts to PSTN quality.
The problem is IT directors are making the adoption decisions and their budgets have just been cut. Even if the incremental cost of HD voice was zero, why would they sign up for more support hassles?
Once HD voice becomes possible on mobile, the adoption decision flips to individual consumers. They make the choice when they buy their next mobile phone. True, only one mobile operator has announced support for HD voice, and they are in Moldova. But Orange is promising to extend this to their networks in the UK and Belgium and then to all of Europe.
Five years from now, most 3G handsets in Europe will be HD voice enabled and there will be consensus that mobile HD was the tipping point for HD voice.
Note: The tag on Twitter and Technorati is: hdcomms
I've just wrapped up a focused effort that delayed blogging and many other things. As a result, I finally submitted the detailed description for my plenary slot at eComm Fall 2009 which will be happening in Amsterdam October 28th-30th. My abstract is not up on the website yet, but hopefully the next few weeks will bring details on my talk and many others. For now, let me just say my title is
in which I propose what I hope is a novel approach to dramatically expanding the capabilities and commercial success of license-exempt consumer devices.
This will be the first time eComm has been held in Europe but, based on the first two eComm conferences (2008 and Spring 2009), this is the meeting for the future of communications. It's not a trade show and it's not a mass event. Instead, it's three days of rapid paced information ― high level, insightful and non-commercial. Even more important, the people are very, very interesting. It's not cheap, but it costs less if you sign up now (especially if you sign up before July 21st). What's more, because I'm such an enthusiast, and I'm on the conference's advisory board, I've been given a discount code. For an additional 20% off type in "BroughTurner" as the eComm discount code, i.e. where the registration form says "Click here to enter a promotional code."
I hope to see you in Amsterdam in October.
The mammoth telecom industry ― fixed and cellular ― is in the process of being re-written. You can stand on the side and be written into history or join with the growing community that's writing the future. Opportunities have never been so great ― to influence how humanity connects, communicates and collaborates and to profit from radical restructuring.
At eComm 2009 this afternoon,Jonathan Christensen, Skype General Manager for Audio and Video announced that Skype will open their wideband audio algorithms for public use. The blogsphere was pre-briefed under embargo, so multiple people have already written this up. But it's a pleasure to see Jonathan presenting things live.
Skype was the first significant company to deploy wideband audio telephony. As a result, with Skype it feels like you are in the same room as the person you are talking to. The algorithm they are releasing is called Silk. It reproduces 50 Hz to 12,500 Hz audio signals versus traditional telephony at 300 Hz to 3000 Hz.
Skype is making this codec available to third parties royalty free. That's important as many (most) audio codecs are encumbered with all sorts of patent royalties. The Silk codec is what's currently used in Skype v4 and it appears there will be a string of related announcements from partners, today and tomorrow.
In response to a question from the audience, Jonathan makes it clear that Skype's direction is to open up as much as they can, in order to seed the market and accelerate the spread of Skype.
Note: this is binary distribution, not source code or a description of the algorithm. On the other hand, Skype is hoping to get this algorithm on as many processors and chip sets as possible. As a result, they are open to working with anyone that has a business case for a port.
One thing (of many) that struck me during this morning's session at eComm 2009 was multiple companies going after cloud-based communications platform services. Three which had their public launch announcements today were Grid.com, Tropo.com from Voxeo and Mobivox. They're not the first to tackle this area and they each have a somewhat different focus, but there's a clear interest in producing Web 2.0 service platforms that developers can use to access communications services without hassle.
Grid.com is from a couple of developers who were frustrated that they could mash up an application quickly but then had to spend months getting SMS short codes and other communications services.
Tropo.com is an offshoot of Voxeo and makes the underlying Voxeo platform services available to Web 2.0 developers.
Similarly, Mobivox has launched a cloud services platform based on the platform they build for the Mobivox service.
There is certainly room for someone to get this right. On the other hand, there must be a dozen companies going after portions of this space. The first round were telephony calling platforms like CallFire, Angel.com and five9.com focused on allowing developers to access traditional calling, switching and IVR platforms - call centers and business process automation were early targets. It will be interesting to watch the evolving focus of this new round of entrants.
Sorry, no magic answer. But I look forward to eComm 2009 to provide a lot of ideas in the first week of March. The speaker lineup is posted and the list is both impressive and diverse. Like last year, the format is a single track with a veritable firehose of information, mostly in 15 minute and 5 minute talks.
Based on last year and what I know of the speakers on this year's list, it fair to say Lee Dryburgh has done an excellent job of picking interesting and bleeding edge speakers. I'm also on the speakes' list and I have to say I'm working hard to make sure my 15 minutes lives up to expectations.
Even though this is a terrible time for conferences, eComm has signed up an impressive list of sponsors. The facility (The San Francisco Airport Marriott Hotel) is larger this year and so there is still room for additional attendees, but early bird prices end this week. Also the extra 20% off you can get my mentioning my name ends this Friday, so if you are thinking of attending sign up this week.
So here's the deal, if you mention my name you get 20% off. More specifically, if you enter the promo code "BroughTurner" (case-sensitive) at the appropriate point during registration, you'll get 20% off the registration fee.
I attended a number of conferences in 2008, both interesting and not so interesting. One conference stands out, for the range of interesting speakers and the variety of interesting people I met. That was the first Emerging Communications Conference, eComm 2008, organized by Lee Dryburgh. Many of talks from this conference are available on Slideshare and as podcasts on IT Conversations.
eComm 2009 is scheduled to take place at the San Fransico Airport Marriott, March 3-5, 2009. I highly recommend you check it out.
This is not a trade show with vendors hawking today's products and multiple tracks full of vendor product pitches.
Presenters have been chosen for the quality of their proposals: is it new? is it disruptive? what will the audience learn? (As an adviser, I've been in on those discussions). Like last year, the format is one track spread over three days, with 15 minute presentations, 5 minute lightning presentations, panel discussions and social time. It all adds up to a veritable fire hose of information.
There's a list of speakers here. Major topics for 2009 (so far) include:
* Mobile Social Networking (MoSoSo)
* Open Handsets & the Open Ecosystem
* Both Voice and Video Evolution
* Convergence of Media with Personal Communications
* Open Spectrum
* Open Communication Platforms
* Leveraging Cloud Computing
* Social Computing
* Towards 4G Wireless
* P2P and Decentralization of Telecoms
* Communications enabling business processes, especially B2C
* New Forms of Contactability and Connectability
* Emerging Markets
And last, but by no means least, if you mention my name you get 20% off. More specifically, if you enter the promo code "BroughTurner" (case-sensitive) at the appropriate point during registration, you'll get 20% off the registration fee. This works now, while early bird rates are in effect, and I'm told it will also work right up to the last minute ("late", not on-site registration), although then it's 20% off the full conference rate, and only if the event is not sold out!
I hope to see you there.
One of the major complaints about Skype is it’s a closed system. Skype provides PSTN connectivity (SkypeOut and SkypeIn) but no way to connect to other VoIP services. Of course 3rd parties have been providing work arounds, but until now there’s been nothing from Skype provoking major complaints from some in the community (see this letter from Gizmo Project founder Michael Robertson).
The Skype-Asterisk deal announced this morning means Skype is officially supporting multi-channel connectivity to an open source SIP platform. That in turn means an Asterisk box can function as a gateway between Skype and any other SIP-based system, inlcuding Gizmo. If the Asterisk box is used as a gateway, the Asterisk dial plan adapts between Skype names, SIP URIs and PSTN numbers. It’s early days, but this looks like a significant win for every VoIP community. It’s also likely to provide a boost to Skype’s efforts to attract business users.
They announced an early beta program starting today, to be followed by a public beta and, presumably, a stable release at some point. The additions to Asterisk will be licensed code available from Digium at a price and the Skype-specific code will not be open, but Mark Spencer, CEO of Digium and founder of Asterisk, suggested the connectivity code would be licensed much as G.729 code is today. (G.729 code requires a license, not for the software, but for to cover royalties to patent holders).
We’ll await further details, but this looks to be very significant. Stay tuned.
The eComm 2009 website is live.
As some of you already know, the date was picked through a feedback process conducted on Facebook. It's March 3-5, 2009 in California.
I attend a lot of conferences and trade shows and, as I look back at the past year, the most interesting conference I attended was eComm 2008. Typically conference organizers start with a list of sponsors and/or exhibitors and then do their best to build an interesting conference, given their primary objective of facilitating sponsors' and exhibitors' promotional efforts.
For eComm, Lee Dryburgh (the principal organizer behind eComm), started with an idea ― emerging communications ― then went after speakers who had something relevant to say and were known to be good at saying it, finally he sought sponsors and attendees interested in discussing emerging communications. The result was a really interesting set of talks and a fascinating set of people in attendence.
If you are at all interested in where communications is going, subscribe to the eComm 2009 blog and think about attending eComm 2009.
I’ve just arrived in Phoenix to attend AstriCon, the Asterisk open-source PBX convention. While I’ve roughly followed various open-source telephony movements (Asterisk, sipX/SIPFoundry, Freeswitch, YATE, OpenSIPS), my focus has been on mobile networks and mobile applications for several years now. So I need a quick catch up and AstriCon looks to be a great way to start.
If you are attending AstriCon and want to meet, send me an email (the handle is “rbt” and the domain is nmss.com) or call my mobile 617 285 0433.
I'll be at Internet Telephony Expo West in Los Angeles beginning late morning tomorrow. I have a few meetings scheduled tomorrow afternoon and two presentations later in the show. NMS also has a booth on the show floor where I should be when I'm not otherwise engaged.
At 9am on Wednesday, I'm giving a Wireless Tutorial (3G, 4G and beyond). Caution: it's nearly two hours and goes into mobile communications in some depth!
Then on Thursday at 1pm, I'm on a panel, Exploring Next-Generation Video Standards, with Jeff Van Dyke (of Dialogic, and formerly of Snowshore).
So far those are my only commitments, but there many people I hope to catch up with. If you want to meet, send me an email (rbt at NMSS dot com) or call my mobile (617-285-0433).
PS: Next week I'll be at AstriCon in Phoenix (actually Glendale, AZ), Tuesday-Thursday, if by chance you'll be in Phoenix.
Quality of Service is a contentious subject. Every now and again, I look at Wikipedia's QoS page. (Here are my comments 18 months ago). While the Wikipedia content continues to evolve, it always downplays anything that questions the value of sophisticated QoS. As of today, the section titled "QoS Problems" has been cut back to a single sentence (which does reference a classic anti-QoS paper): "Internet2's QoS Working Group concluded that increasing bandwidth is probably more practical than implementing QoS."
Rather than directly debunk QoS yet again, let me investigate where QoS is actually useful by looking real life situations and the deployed solutions that allow for robust services despite congestion. Identifying common elements in successful deployed solutions is much more realistic than theorizing about NGNs that still await deployment.
The first thing to notice: the only problem is on access links. As I've written before:
Net, net: you never need QoS priority schemes in the core, all traffic gets excellent service.
Access links are another story for two reasons. First it can be very expensive to add more bandwidth. This may be a byproduct of political/ regulatory issues, but we won't go there, at least in this post. :-) Second, an access link may saturate due to an outgoing email with large Powerpoint attachment (the home case) or an equivalent event in the corporate environment, for example, transfer of a large CAD file.
But these are solved problems with multiple commercial products on the market for residential and corporate use. It's worth looking at what these products do in order to understand exactly what kind of QoS is really required, when you can't just provision more bandwidth.
In the corporate market, there are two approaches. The brute force approach splits voice and video telephony traffic from data traffic using two separate Internet connections with the VoIP connection sized to preclude any potential congestions. When a single access link is shared, the typical solution employs a QoS router at the customer’s end. The QoS router gives absolute priority to outbound VoIP packets and protects inbound VoIP packets by active traffic shaping; i.e., by signaling remote TCP hosts to throttle inbound TCP data flows so there’s enough capacity for inbound VoIP packets.
Elsewhere within corporate LANs, there is either no QoS or simple priorities. Since VoIP traffic is a tiny percentage of all traffic, it can be given absolute priority without noticeably impacting other applications. Thus some enterprise VoIP installations use QoS based on DiffServ or Ethernet 802.11p/q. Typically there are just two classes assigned, with absolute priority for VoIP and video telephony.
I've written about equivalent solutions for residential situations that support VoIP and interactive gaming. The solution? Consumer VoIP phone adapters incorporate simple priority and have the ability to fragment large packets (so as to reduce serialization delays). Because it's so useful for VoIP and also for interactive gaming, this functionality is showing up in popular residential routers from Linksys, Netgear, etc.
Two classes and simple priority is what it takes ― Gold bits for voice (and video and interactive gaming); Brown bits for everything else.
And that's only when you can't get more bandwidth. On your own premises, it's likely cheaper and easier to upgrade to Fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet.
Lee Dryburgh initiated a great thread in the Emerging Communications public group entitled What would your perfect phone be? There are 14 messages there at this moment with a lot of good ideas, but my first thought was the term "phone" is too limiting. Indeed, some of the correspondents' ideas also go far beyond the idea of a telephone. Here's what I want and fully expect to see, eventually.
It's a mobile computing device that, as a platform, is at least as open as today's computers.
It has unconstrained or "open" mobile connectivity to what today is called the Internet, i.e. it's able to exchange arbitrary information with any other device that's willing to participate.
I like Phil Wolfe's description of the included sensors:
Sensor overload. Movement, location, biometric, barometric, full radio frequency detection including notice when I'm being RFID scanned, Affymetrix-style food safety tests. The more my phone is aware of my condition and my environment, the smarter the apps that follow.
Wearable. Fashion, baby! I should have more phones than shoes, all doing the same things but with looks and form factors that fit my mood, my social set, my wardrobe, my activity. Form factors I want: pocket watch with fob, lapel pin, ear ring, tattoo, shoe lace, scarf, tie clasp, cuff links, mood ring, brass knuckles.
Identity and Security
This device will be my wallet and keys, so I need an easy way to guarantee it's only available to me.
It's a computer so it can run my communications applications. But the most important application is not telephony as we've understood it over the past 120 years. Top priority is managing information about availability and current circumstances -- mine and that of people I want to interact with. I want more than what's commonly called "rich presence." I want location, current activities, health, and anything and everything that can be determined from a plethora of available sensors.
Then I want total control over who can follow my circumstances, who they think I am (multiple identities!) and what they see as my current circumstances. Like Phil Wolfe, I may want to be able to lie about my current circumstances, at least to some people. As Phil puts it:
When I'm out picking up porn instead of groceries, attending a dissident political meeting, climbing a wall during a combat mission, investigating a crime family, or meeting with my divorce lawyer, very very few people need to know. In fact, I want my phone to have selective memory and occasional amnesia.
Availability and current circumstances are critical to coordinating communications. This is an issue that traditional telephony has never addressed, but with the advent of instant messaging, texting and Skype, most of my voice calls are preceded by a quick text exchange. In many cases the text exchange obviates the need for a voice call.
Is there an overlap with social networking? Absolutely. Has anyone cracked the code yet? Hardly. However we are beginning to see attempts to aggregate and filter our profiles, friends and communications across multiple social networking services. There's a big need, a lot of activity and thus strong reason to expect big progress.
Of course I want all options; text, voice, video, 3D holographic virtual presence. More importantly, I want the ability to select live two-way communications, broadcasting and asynchronous messaging, some of which may be near real time. For example, there are occasions when voice is best but a live call is not needed or not practical. That's why Voice SMS service is so popular (where it's available).
I also want to be able to archive (or not) all communication. Think "life streaming."
The Digital Life
Finally, I expect my device to facilitate life logging and a digital life as proposed by Gordon Bell and Jim Gremmel.
Obviously we're talking decades for some of this, but most people will have portable webcam capabilities within a few years and hard drive storage has pulled ahead of most people's ability to create or copy content. Gordon Bell's full vision may be a few years off, but lifeblogging is real today.
What's the monthly cost?
Today we pay for telephone service. In the future, I'm likely to pay for open mobile Internet connectivity, i.e. a mobile dumb pipe, but only as a fall back to open shared wireless connectivity built from the bottom up via user-to-user wireless connectivity.
I may also choose to pay people to provide other parts of this functionality as services, but everything I've described is based on devices and software which I will be able to own.
I'll in California quite a bit in March and April, but the highlight is my first week, when I'll be speaking at a new conference, eComm 2008, March 12-14. While the conference in new, the community is established and fascinating. eComm 2008 being put together by Lee Dryburgh, who was on the program committee for O'Reilly's eTel conferences. When O'Reilly cancelled eTel 2008, Lee took the initiative to keep that incredible community alive. He was soon joined by many others.
The first thing I look for in a conference is interesting people, then new ideas. eComm promises an abundance of each. The focus is next generation personal communications and the schedule is set up for rapid fire delivery inlcuding many 5 minute and 15 minute sessions. As far as new ideas goes, this will be a fire hose!
*** Correction: 12/21 ***
The conference is being held in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. This easily beats the typical conference facility, but it means there are only 300 paid admissions available. Registration has opened, here. If you register before the end of 2007, the $1495 registration fee is marked down to $1195.
I look forward to seeing you there.
2 email accts/ 7 email aliases/ 4 IM accts/ SMS/ this blog/ Bloglines (238 feeds)/ BlogRovR (480 feeds)/ LinkedIn/ Facebook/ Myspace/ Twitter/ 23 other "social" networks/ 3 PSTN accts/ 2 mobile accts/ Skype/ FWD/ ...
...accessed via 3 different PCs and 2 different mobile handsets, at least on most days.
These are not just information flows — most have associated directories of friends, business associates and other acquaintances.
One year ago I wrote:
... I already run four instant messaging clients on my laptop. A single client would be nice, but it's not that important. Once we finally learn how availability should work from an existing player like Skype or from an entirely new overlay network (as Skype was a few years ago), then we can worry about consolidation.
Now I'm not so sure.
Who will aggregate this flood for me, in some convenient and semantically meaningful way?
Where is the tool that lets me organize my diverse connections?
There's an opportunity here for a new class of solutions...
The second session at Connect 2007 in Madrid is Application Innovation with John Orlando, NMS CMO moderating and panelists:
This panel is slide presentations and covers material that's interesting, but mostly already familiar to me. So my comments will be brief... (sorry).
Gianluca's focused on video infotainment which appears to be taking off in Italy. While he's active in some really cool stuff, today's talk covered market statistics and more conventional applications.
Yospace has their "SeeMeTV" service running on 12 operators now, but David comments that it's been a struggle compared to launching a service on the Internet. If you're not familiar with SeeMeTV, it's a service that allows subscribers to upload cameraphone videos via MMS. Others can browse content that people have uploaded. It costs 30 pence or more to download a clip. The original contributor gets money everytime someone watches their clip. The revenue share is 10%. The SeeMeTV service bridges 12 operators, so contributors get cash back from users across multiple operators. Paybacks to contributors are via PayPal, not the operator. All-in-all, it's a mobile service which could be run over-the-top but, based on David's comments, they only work through operators because operator endorsed (on-deck) is the only viable approach today. Even so, they don't get customer demographics from the operators, just billing and an on deck position.
Colm from Xiam is focused on mobile advertising. Xiam's edge is in automated analysis of subscriber demographics so it's possible to target content to users when the price points is 30 cents or 1-2 Euros. On the Internet, Amazon can show dozens of potential offers, but on the mobile phone there is only space and time to make a very few offers. Currently they get 3X click through by targeted offers on mobile phones at Orange UK.
Anssi is founder and CEO at Aito is focused on providing customer analytics to mobile operators. Their software mines the operator's data to figure out the services individual customers use and the constraints and problems they encounter. The goal is to figure out specific problems that need to be fixed, both technical issues and communication issues.
Interesting, but running over slightly which killed the Q&A which would have been the best part.
The session was entirely Q&A (no slides) which resulted in a great discussion – broad ranging and much better than talking heads reading slides! Luca has already written up his reactions.
I'm writing this after the fact as, at the last minute, I was tagged to participate, filling in for Vincenz Wagner of Jamba who's arrival has been delayed. The opening session at Connect 2007 in Madrid was entitled "Industry Overview" with Joel Hughes, VP & GM of our Mobile Applications business moderating. In the end the panelists were:
Since I was participating, I have only a few interesting items (at least interesting to me) that I noted during this discussion:
Philip commented that the predominate use of 3G is to connect PCs to the Internet, i.e. dumb pipe mobile Internet access. Philip also mentioned Triple Play, which seems old hat to me, as innovative in (parts of) Europe. I argued that this was marketing innovation (bundling), not really a new service. We agreed the innovation was in cost and convenience of the services.
Several panelists seem to think that innovation would come by porting Internet applications to the mobile space. I argued that was currently true, but only because the Internet was open and mobile was still closed. There are many characteristics of mobile (like mobility and intimacy) that will foster new applications but we don't yet have the open environment that allows zillions of developers to experiment.
At one point, I made a derogatory comment about most VoIP being just digital POTS. The ensuing discussion brought out the parallel between Skype (which combines voice and IM) with what's happened in mobile telephony, i.e. the combination of voice and SMS to achieve the same objectives. Either way, people want to determine the actual availability of the person they are about to call and people need a way to communicate when they can't talk.
The third and final Connect conference of 2007 is taking place in Madrid on Wednesday and Thursday, November 7th and 8th and I'll be there. My blog comments on earlier conferences are here (& 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).
Day One has a heavy focus on mobile industry issues and mobile applications. And, it's conducted as panel discussions with few or no slides. Perhaps this only works because there are good speakers, chosen to promote controversy and discussion, but it really works! In both 2006 and so far in 2007, the nature of the discussion has been much, much better than at a typical industry show. The session descriptions for November 7th are here and the speaker bios are here. If you can be in Madrid on Wednesday, you should attend.
Day Two is a more traditional developers conference focusing on NMS technology and products that are used to create many of the applications discussed by the Day One executives. Check out the Day Two program.
I'm an articles guy not a news blogger, so I didn't even try to compete with the numerous people blogging last week's VON conference. In any event, I was double booked much of the time. The best part of VON is the people I meet and the one-on-one discussions but let me mention a few impressions of note:
One interesting tidbit: I finally got to hear from ooma and get the answers to two questions that had plagued me about their distributed termination approach. Distributed termination means calls, carried long distances by VoIP, can terminate in a remote city using another subscriber's local line. My issues:
The conference itself felt a little smaller than last year in Boston or last spring in San Jose, but booth traffic appeared to be good. Also, there were more sessions and more tracks and more experimentation, as PulverMedia is obviously trying to reinvent itself and the show. I have some specific suggestions which I will offer to Carl Ford, but it may be another week or two before I get a free moment to write them out.
Here's a photo of the show floor on Tuesday at lunch time.
About 12 hours ago I had a long IM chat with Carl Ford about the Innovator's track at the VON conference. The Innovator's track is already very interesting, but Carl is going one better and running an unconference based on the ideas of FooCamp and Barcamp. Carl's is the VONCamp Unconference.
FooCamp is an invitation only event. BarCamp is open to anyone. VONCamp is open to anyone who is attending VON. Otherwise, the formats are similar.
The first order of the day is to determine the order of the day. Tom Howe will lead this, but it's a free form way for the attendees to develop the agenda. As Carl puts it:
The Innovators Forum is a series of sessions that show case companies in our more traditional format. However dialogue in these sessions is encouraged. The VONCamp Unconference is harder to describe, because it gives people a chance to self identify as a speaker. At the present time there are 12 speaking slots. If you've got something you want to discuss that's outside the formal program, VONCamp Unconference is the place to do it. We also have a SpeedDating session.
Here are the rules:
- There are no rules.
- Everyone is equal. Everyone is a rockstar.
- Give back to the conference by participating actively. "Active participation" might mean giving a presentation, helping with a presentation, blogging or podcasting the event, or whatever other creative ways. While everyone is encouraged to lead a session, there are only twelve slots available.
- All sessions must obey the Law of 2 Feet - if you're not getting what you want out of the session, you can and should walk out and do something else. Hopefully you will walk the show floor!
This should be very interesting! Thank you Carl. Hope to see you there.
OK, that title is designed to grab your attention, but it's also the reasonable takeaway of people in the audience at the last session yesterday, i.e. day one at Connect 2007 in Boston.
The session was entitled "Increasing Service Velocity" and the session description focused on IMS and service delivery platforms. I wasn't involved in setting up the session or signing up the speakers, but a few weeks ago I was recruited to moderate the session. The panelists from left to right were:
So there's a slight problem. Everyone here is smart and knowledgeable, but everyone (with the possible exception of Susan) is involved in creating or selling IMS or IMS products. Panel discussions are always better if you have divergent points of view, i.e. controversy on stage! Since I was moderating, I obviously couldn't blog it live or even take notes. Luckily, George Kontopidis did take notes (and the picture above), so that helps me reconstruct events. George's complete notes are here: Brough1.jpg, Brough2.jpg and Brough3.jpg.
Some of the specific comments on service deployment platforms (SDPs), their relationship to the rest of IMS and to deployment of actual applications included:
Kjell - SDPs are essential to the development of actual services, but the problem here is too many standards in what's exposed to the developer. Kjell alluded to pressures from operators that may result in the major equipment vendors converging their service creation environments, but he couldn't give specifics or a date (beyond soon, within the next year).
Susan said operators think of IMS as the solution for new services. They are generally very conservative (particularly on the operations side) and wouldn't dream of opening up their networks for something like web services.
Doug offered that IMS and higher level development environments, including web services, are not conflicting. IMS is the platform, but it's standardization stopped below the application layer. IMS needs web services and/or other development layers to actually realize new services.
And it was Jouni who offered "IMS is not about killer apps, it's about a killer environment" i.e. IMS is the platform but it needs (the non-standard) SDP layer above to support service creation.
On the subject of what is actually real, there was some consistency. Kjell and Jouni both said there were a few commercial deployments for specific applications like video sharing. Susan said she couldn't identify any IMS deployments with full service, but knew of several with partial services, i.e. IMS lite. And Doug commented that he knew of pieces of IMS deployed in many operators, but nothing that's pretty or matches the IMS vision as yet. On the other hand, everyone on the panel was confident that things would continue to improve. There were joking remarks that 2008 would be the year of IMS. In response to the question of when I would be able to hand off a video sharing session across operators, there was some agreement that the GSMA was working on this, so it might be solved in the next 1-2 years (although it could take longer to propagate to AT&T !).
There's a lot more in George's notes...
Dean Bubley did the best job shaking up the panelists (via questions from the audience).
And the sense I was left with (as were several members of the audience with whom I talked later) is roughly as summarized in my title above. IMS is plumbing that helps operators manage their networks and is a great platform to support a variety of new services, but it will take higher layers (not part of the standards) to actually facilitate new applications, In addition, there are many, many other issues to resolve, both technical (like integration with billing systems and other operator IT infrastructure, simplification of handset diversity issues, and so on) and business model related, i.e the extent to which will operators open up to new applications.
In any event, an interesting session!
Fundamental design decisions have a big impact on how a network behaves under stress. I just noticed two otherwise unrelated posts both touching on network design issues that result in (or protect against) network collapse under stress.
Yesterday, I wrote about August's Skype outage where the system took over 36 hours to recover from a collapse. The issue was too many clients attempting to reconnect at once. Instead of clients “backing off” when supernodes weren’t immediately available, they kept hammering away, trying to log in.
Last week I wrote about the ways the Internet and the Telecoms networks respond to congestion in the backbone. In December 2006 an earthquake off the coast of Taiwan broke multiple fiber cables causing a congestion collapse on the Internet backbone in significant parts of Asia. The issue was too many computers attempting to reestablish TCP sessions with the result there was no capacity left for any session to actually send data.
In both cases, there were externally induced problems but, rather than recovering, there was the equivalent of a denial of service attack, self inflicted!
Both of these failures have a fairly simple solution, at least architecturally. Under conditions of severe overload, the system must be able to restrict new attempts (new TCP sessions, new Skype logins, etc.) to some small percentage of the available capacity. This allows the rest of the capacity to serve the logins, sessions or calls that do get through, with the result that what capacity remains is put to good use.
As I commented last week, this is one place where the telecoms industry has the correct architecture. When disaster strikes subjecting some part of the network to overload, it's easy to restrict new call attempts on trunks into the congested area, for example by call gapping. This limits the amount of new traffic to that which the network can handle. Thus, if only 30% capacity is available, at least the network handles 30% of the calls, not 3% or zero.
Here's one place where network architects can learn from established telecoms practice.
Since my last summary, some new information has emerged. Gerry Blackwell interviewed Skype's Director of Operations, Michael Jackson, got some comment from Martin Geddes, and wrote an interesting article.
I've also had an email exchange with Julian Cain, which I reprint below, and a brief exchange with Philippe Biondi of SecDev.org who referred my to an interesting blog post (in French) by his colleague Cédric Blancher at EADS France, Innovation Works (Suresnes).
New information from Michael Jackson (in Gerry Blackwell's article) includes the idea of five supernodes per cell (of 300 users):
Each supernode handles about 300 nearby users. Skype configures five in each cell for redundancy. So with upwards of nine million users online, it takes something like 150,000 supernodes to make Skype work.
The triggering event is still attributed to massive computer reboots after Microsoft's Patch Tuesday. Everything else in the article is consistent with the best earlier explanations, including Julian's which I summarized here, i.e. as Blackwell puts it:
... the real culprit, Skype now says—was a resource allocation algorithm in the client software that could not adapt to such a set of circumstances. Instead of clients “backing off” on their attempts to validate on the network when supernodes weren’t immediately available and waiting for the ship to right itself, they kept hammering away, trying to log in.
And the solution, having clients back off when supernodes aren't immediately responsive, is obvious. What's left to understand?
1. I still haven't seen a plausible explanation of why Microsoft's "Patch Tuesday" resulted in problems on Thursday morning, only a lot of questions. If the problem was induced by massive reboots, why didn't it happen on Wednesday morning?
2. I still haven't seen a reasonable discussion of scaling. As I wrote back in August,
I wonder, apart from the login server cluster as a single point of failure, is there also a scaling issue? FastTrack's breakthrough was the use of supernodes to make the system more scalable. But was that just one layer of scalability? If so, what happens when there are 300 million on-line users and one million supernodes? Perhaps Julian (or another P2P expert) could comment...
Indeed I emailed Julian about scaling and also about Joost. This was his reply.
On 09/05/2007 05:06 PM, Julian Cain wrote:
Skype and Joost are utterly different however Skype is more like Fasttrack(Kazaa). Joosts' Network architecture is mainly "Centralized", they have their own server farm of Supernodes as well as Authentication and Jabber servers. The nature of Joost is less dependent on peer to peer routing as it's basis is tuned towards QoS. Joost peers route traffic and relay UDP based payload as media data streams as well as keep a small cache of what they have recently viewed, however currently every Joost peer is directly connected back to the Joost home servers unlike Skype and Kazaa where once authentication occurs it's "out of our hands".
I agree on the extent of Skype scalability being very limited because of the nature of the Supernodes. At any one time the Supernodes hold ~300-500 child nodes and maintain an "Overlay" network which consists of another several hundred Supernode to Supernode connections. Ie* The Supernode network is very dense in order to provide for best means routing of least cost, however the flaw in this architecture is where the "Overlay" network reaches a capacity and is unable to reliably route traffic. I do not currently have any statistics on how the "Overlay" layer is not scalable but as more Supernodes arise the management of the "Decentralized Data Store" becomes a very hard task as well as keeping this "Overlay" in one single "in sync" network. This was proven with the Skype outage as the network was "trying to heal" it had to start from many 10s of thousands of "Overlay" networks which very slowly were able to sync again as a "single" network however is still an issue today with presence.
For the current Skype "Overlay" network to scale indefinitely while maintaining a "Single" network infrastructure it needs in place an organizational hierarchy of Supernodes and a level of Service for each of these Supernodes. *Ie. If Skype Supernodes worked in a way such as in Fasttrack then when the network reached 100 million users it would began to crawl. This is due to the dense nature of the upper "Overlay". I can only assume that Skype has thought of this and that when the Supernode ratio is beginning to "bottle neck" then there would be some ordered Hierarchy as to what role each Supernode was playing, otherwise the more Supernodes the more dense the "Overlay" the more the data is relayed back and forth before considering the "Supernode Overlay" into it's own Denial of Service attack.
I hope this helps to some degree, let me know if you have any other questions.
So to the extent I have time to look into P2P technology further, I plan to explore what's been written about hierarchy in P2P networks. Here are some references (which I've found but have not read as yet):
RFC 4981 on Survey of Research towards Robust Peer-to-Peer Networks: Search Methods
Hierarchical Peer-to-peer Systems by L. Garces-Erice, E.W. Biersack, P.A. Felber, K.W. Ross, and G. Urvoy-Keller.
An efficient peer-to-peer file sharing exploiting hierarchy and asymmetry, by G. Kwon and K. D. Ryu in the Proceedings of the 2003 Symposium on Applications and the Internet, 27-31 Jan. 2003 Page(s): 226 - 233.
< unfortunately only available on an IEEE pay-for site >
It's been more than ten days since the global Skype outage – time to reconsider what actually happened. The most credible analysis is not from Skype, but from Julian Cain in a series of comments (here, here and here) that he made to a Gigom article about the outage (or see the single file in "References" below). Julian is lead architect at Pando and, earlier, was head of Mac development for Kazaa at Sharmen Networks. So he knows a lot about peer-to-peer networks and his work at Sharmen put him in a position to know quite a bit about the P2P technology that's also used by Skype (and likely by Joost).
Skype's P2P technology was evolved from FastTrack, originally developed for Kazaa. Their P2P network consists of clients and supernodes. Skype distributes client software which includes all necessary supernode software, so any client that has appropriate capacity and connectivity can be promoted to become a supernode. Supernodes dynamically link to other supernodes to support a distributed database and distributed index (called the distributed hash table or DHT). For Skype, the DHT layer is responsible for maintaining client presence info, contacts and icons/avatars, and handling call routing.
But as I pointed out in several posts during the outage, there's also a centralized component to the Skype network. That's the login servers. Julian refers to them at the "authentication servers" and/or "login/connectivity servers." They are implemented as one cluster of about 50 machines. As for the root cause of the outage, he asserts:
Skype employees introduced code into the "login/connectivity" server farm that was not compatible with current Skype clients.
While that was the root cause, it was helped along by other network characteristics, notably that each client connects to only one supernode at a time. According to Julian, there are 300+ clients per supernode and if a supernode goes off line, the 300 or so clients connected to it must reenter their "connecting" sequence, i.e., find and connect to another supernode.
A network with 8 million on-line users implies ~27K supernodes, a figure that's consistent with the ~20K supernodes estimated by Desclaux and Kortchinsky in 2005-2006 (see their June 2006 Recon presentation, PDF here). The other point from measurements by Desclaux and Kortchinsky is that each supernode attempts to maintain a list of all other supernodes which means there is a substantial amount of traffic between supernodes. This clearly contributed to the slow recovery, during which Julian commented:
Right now there are approximately 10,000 Skype networks instead of one single "in sync" network.
So I wonder, apart from the login server cluster as a single point of failure, is there also a scaling issue? FastTrack's breakthrough was the use of supernodes to make the system more scalable. But was that just one layer of scalability? If so, what happens when there are 300 million on-line users and one million supernodes? Perhaps Julian (or another P2P expert) could comment...
I've extracted and assembled a complete copy of Julian's relevant comments.
Skype traffic during the week of the outage, captured by Phil Wolff of Skype Journal.
The blogsphere is abuzz with reaction to Skype's second attempt to explain what caused the recent crash of their entire "peer-to-peer" network, but I haven't seen any comment on the one thing that struck me (in their 4th paragraph):
Once we found the algorithmic fix to ensure continued operation in the face of high numbers of client reboots, the efforts focused squarely on stabilising the P2P core. The fix means that we’ve tuned Skype’s P2P core so that it can cope with simultaneous P2P network load and core size changes similar to those that occurred on August 16.
As I commented earlier, we know from presentations by Desclaux & Kortchinsky at Blackhat Europe (PDF) in March 2006 and at Recon in June 2006 (PDF in 2 files: one and two), that there is substantial traffic between the (3rd-party-owned, distributed, P2P) supernodes that form the core of the Skype P2P network and Skype's (centralized) login servers.
If Skype's explanation is correct, it's clear Skype also has a way of distributing parameters to supernodes that tune their behavior. I'm not surprised. It's a logical to design in both measurement and tuning capabilities.
But such centralized capabilities also represent a potential venerability. What would happen if a black hat got access to those tuning capabilities...
1. As the Register points out, last Tuesday was Microsoft’s monthly patch day and those patches required a re-boot. If we believe Skype that their problem started with excessive login attempts, this is the only plausible explanation on the table.
2. There was no patch for the Skype client (i.e. this was routine and hasn't been widely adopted) so either:
I suggest the latter. As I pointed out during the outage, Skype generates a lot of traffic between the login servers and supernodes (see slide 16 in DESCLAUX and KORTCHINSKY's presentation. I suggest Skype has patched something on the login servers. It's well known (e.g. Desclaux & Kortchinsky) that Skype login is a centralized function.
Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if any additional comments or new client releases appear from Skype in the coming days. I suspect not, as their approach to security has always in included both encryption and obfuscation.
Skype says it's a software issue that they are working on. For me, it's six hours now and I haven't had more than a few minutes of "connectivity" in the past hour. And, when connected, the on-line count was at a new low:
Another glance through DESCLAUX and KORTCHINSKY part 2 suggests, in addition to traffic from clients to login servers, Skype generates a lot of traffic between the login servers and supernodes (see slide 16 for example). This makes the login servers a doubly critical piece of Skype infrastructure. Of course, if they merely introduced a bug in their login servers, it shouldn't take 12-24 hours to do a roll back.
As others are reporting, Skype clients have been disconnecting and reconnecting around the world. Here is Boston, I've been off line and back again at least four times in the past hour. And when I've reconnect, an amazing small number of others are seen as on-line:
In recent weeks, I've been seeing over 9 million users on line at this time of day, so 615K suggests very little of the global Skype network is accessibile to me, if they are on-line at all. A few minutes ago, Jan was seeing 773K other users from his site in Malaysia, so this really is global.
We've known, at least since 2004, that Skype's peer-to-peer network wasn't strictly P2P. The vast majority of traffic (control and media) is P2P, but everytime a client comes on line (well at least at startup and each login), it interrogates the Skype Login Server at skype.com. We also know that a Skype client must establish a connection to a super node to successfully login. But I don't know if there is anything about supernodes that cause them to crash if they can't reach a centralized or semi-centralized Skype server.
It will be interesting to see how this develops. Hopefully Skype will be forthcoming, but if not, I'm sure third parties will piece together an answer.
The programs and panelists for this year's Connect conferences are pretty well developed, and session descriptions and participants' names are rapidly being filled in on the Connect conference web site. You might want to check it out.
Day one of each conference is devoted to industry issues and innovative applications. For industry issues, panelists have been selected to represent differing points of view, which typically results in edgy discussions and real controversy, both on stage and between panelists and members of the audience. Some of the innovative applications have been a bit edgy as well, like this Virtual Girlfriend video telephony application exhibited at Connect 2006 in Europe.
Day two is a more traditional vendor-sponsored developer conference that targets NMS customers and prospects and delivers deep dives into NMS products and development tools.
Whether you are interested in day two or not, day one should be interesting for anyone in telecom. Also, if you subscribe to this blog's RSS or email feeds, I'm incredibly flattered, and would like to meet you. :-)
I've been involved with VoIP technology since 1996. I've been a public advocate for wideband audio at least since 1997. And I've admired and supported a variety of companies using VoIP to provide innovative services and new user interfaces. But reflecting on the past decade, the only globally significant impact of VoIP has been on prices (by fostering arbitrage). Most VoIP telephony services are just digital POTS.
Indeed, the most significant change in telephony in the past decade has been the global spread of mobile phones.
But we may be on the cusp of a real change due to the merger of VoIP and mobile as I discussed in my monthly column, entitled Beyond Digital POTS, in the April issue of Internet Telephony magazine. Check the article for further info, but I concluded with:
The remaining impediments are walled gardens or expensive data plans, and handset diversity that means most applications won’t run on most handsets. Mobile competition, WiFi hotspots and ever increasing 3G capabilities should put an end to walled gardens within two to five years. Handset diversity will be with us, perhaps indefinitely, but a few powerful frameworks are gaining ground at different levels of abstraction, e.g.Symbian and Windows Mobile at a base level, J2ME as middleware and Flash Lite and Opera & Safari browsers with AJAX. There won’t be a single API to write to (like Windows for the PC), but it should be possible to produce slick user interfaces across a wide variety of phones with a proxy server and five or six downloadable modules.
VoIP and mobile — now there’s an opportunity for innovation!
I arrived at the Communications Developer Conference this afternoon in time to attend a talk by Dr. Huan-Yu Su of Mindspeed Technologies. His talk had the curious title of Semiconductor Design Solutions for IMS and indeed it touched on multiple subjects and many layers, from IMS service objectives down to the evolution of semi-conductor processes. But the interesting stuff was DSP related. Mindspeed makes DSP chips and DSP software, which today might best be characterized as signal processing systems on silicon (SoC).
But, despite Powerpoint bullets about packet-based systems, when Dr. Su showed a timing diagram of how individual DSP cores were able to process multiple algorithms on many channels, he showed a TDM system. Each media stream got a time slice in a 20 ms scheduling cycle. This means each incoming flow has to hit a jitter buffer and be queued up for it's slice of the TDM cycle. When I questioned this, Dr. Su replied that it was a hard problem and so far they had addressed it by shortening the 20 ms scheduling cycle to 5 ms.
None of this is to discredit Dr. Su who is a smart guy and gave an interesting presentation. I have seen equivalent approaches from Texas Instruments and Freescale Semiconductor. All of the DSP vendors are driven by the TDM-to-VoIP gateway application where 8 KHz (and 20 ms) operation is the norm and completely acceptable. No one has addressed low latency packet processing.
It's not that hard — here is the answer!
Scheduling a DSP to handle packets, whose arrival is statistical in nature, with minimum latency while guaranteeing that all work gets done, is a lot like scheduling packet transmission over a fixed capacity link with QoS guarantees. There was a ton of academic and practical work done on this subject as part of ATM switch development in the 90s. Much of it is directly applicable to scheduling DSP processing.
Those who are really interested might read Leap Forward Virtual Clock: A New Fair Queuing Scheme with Guaranteed Delay and Throughput Fairness by Suri, Varghese and Chandranmenon in the proceedings of INFOCOM '97. Sixteenth Annual Joint Conference of the IEEE Computer and Communications Societies. This is not the only relevant paper but it is one I am familiar with in some detail. Quoting from the abstract:
We describe an efficient fair queuing scheme, Leap Forward Virtual Clock, that provides end-to-end delay bounds similar to WFQ, along with throughput fairness. Our scheme can be implemented with a worst-case time O(log log N) per packet (inclusive of sorting costs), which improves upon all previously known schemes that guarantee delay and throughput fairness similar to WFQ.
At light load, packets are scheduled immediately and experience minimum latency. Under heavy load, packets are queued but get processed in a time that matches their allocated average arrival rate. So at heavy processor load, individual flows experience some additional delay but they also have their jitter smoothed out (thus minimizing the required depth of the jitter buffer at the ultimate destination).
I'm leaving for the Communications Developer Conference (formerly VoIP Developers conference) early tomorrow morning and will be at the conference Tuesday afternoon and all day Wednesday. It's a smaller show but very focused and thus a good venue for our developer platforms business.
On Wednesday morning, 8:30am - 9:15 am, I'll be giving a talk, Voice SMS - Merging VoIP & Mobile to Create A Compelling Service in the Wireless/Mobility track. It's a subject I've written about before as, among other things, the two largest Voice SMS applications companies, Bubble Motion and Kirusa are both customers of NMS.
Then, on Wednesday afternoon, 4:00pm - 4:45pm, I'll be presenting Connecting Your SIP-Based Hosted Contact Center to the Rest of the World in the SIP Development track. This is a bit more techie — Connecting IP-based three-tier IT architectures with the relatively monolithic PSTN in diverse parts of the world — SIP & ISUP, SIP & ISDN, high availability issues for SIP proxies and PSTN call routing, and so on...
NMS has Booth 119 (to the left as you enter the exhibit hall), where we'll be featuring our Vision VoiceXML Server and the MG 7000A AdvancedTCA media blade. We'll also be promoting our ever popular AdvancedTCA Ecosystem poster, but you could get one by mail by registering here. Tim Cook and Marcello Frederico will be manning the booth.
If you will be at Communications Developer 2007 and want to meet, drop me a line.
I first mentioned telephony web services in a post I wrote after last fall's Connect 2006 conferences. That post generated some comments and private email discussions that lead to an article in my monthly column in the March issue of Internet Telephony magazine.
As planning for Connect 2007 is well underway, I'm looking at telephony web services again and I realize I forgot to point to my article. So, for those of you who don't read the hard copy magazine and don't scan the TMC website (they don't provide RSS) searching for my monthly column :-), it's here and still very relevant. Some excerpts:
This is a nascent field. Traditional fixed and mobile operators still run highly constrained voice networks. Yes, you can have your computer place and receive calls, but if you want to overlay a private numbering scheme for use between phones in your far-flung offices (a voice VPN) — such services are only available from your operator. Likewise, if you want to integrate your customer care software with call center functionality, you start with PBX technology, as public networks are not open. Even access to your own call history requires scraping data from itemized bills.
Does the new world of VoIP do any better? Not much. Major VoIP operators, like Vonage, use VoIP to reproduce traditional fixed-line services — basically “digital POTS” — no open APIs there. Skype offers PC-based APIs for the Skype client and you could argue that’s all that makes sense for a peer-to-peer service. There are no central services to expose through web service APIs. But the test is what can you do with their APIs and the answer is client extensions. Since Skype clients run as a single instance per PC, you can’t easily implement a multi-channel back-to-back user agent (B2BUA) and a VPN.
There's a lot more in the article including mention of specific companies, LignUp Corporation, Abbeynet S.p.A., Ubiquity Software and Angel.com.
We should have meaningful updates at this fall's Connect 2007 conferences in a session tentatively titled "Mashups: Web Meets Telco."
Connect 2007, hosted by NMS, is a series of global conferences that target key business and technical decision makers who are interested in learning about the vital drivers shaping the communications ecosystem — the business issues, the market drivers, the technology challenges, the compelling applications, and the end user demands. This year events take place in Boston, Madrid and Guilin, China.
Boston, MA, USA
Click here to sign up for future information updates on our 2007 Connect Conferences.
Yesterday I posted a gut reaction to Siroos Afshar's talk on AT&T's new network plans. Looking at the rest of my notes and surfing the (real) Internet today, I find there are zero hits for 'Common Architecture for Real-Time
Services' or 'AT&T CARTS' i.e. the name and acronym he used for their planned network. So public presentation of CARTS must be relatively new!
Indeed, inquiry among some friends suggests there is a 180-page specification being circulated to major equipment providers under NDA. I haven't seen it, so I can't give first party confirmation. Also, while many VON presentations are available to registered conference attendees here, Afshar's is not. Perhaps the little additional information in this post will be of use to someone.
CARTS seeks to decouple services from the various access networks and position their middleware to handle service logic, for all their services, using network databases of user preferences (including complete description of user devices) and user availability (presence). His point about IMS was that it handled part of their requirements (centered on connection control) but was incomplete for AT&T's purposes. He had a slide with a list of all the extra capabilities they needed, beyond IMS. I wish I had transcribed that one (or photographed it), but no such luck. I'll keep checking the PulverMedia site in case his presentation appears, but since it was on a Pulver server at the show yesterday and it's not already available to attendees, I'm not hopeful.
Listening to Siroos Afshar talk this morning makes me think of yesterday’s talk by Tony Bates. I took some notes at that time, which I’ll include below. While much more broadly focused than Siroos, Tony also promotes intelligence in the network — makes sense given much of Cisco’s revenue comes from the likes of AT&T.
When pressed by Brad Templeton during Q&A, about the focus on intelligence into the network, Tony agrees the more distributed you are, the better you can scale. But then he goes on to discuss his personal experiences at MCI(?) where it appears he needed MPLS to manage his IP core network. [Note to self: should write a post on using MPLS to manage IP networks, why it’s needed and how it differs from DiffServ or IMS approaches to QoS. ]
Notes on Tony Bates’s talk at Spring VON
Projects household requirements by 2010 — 1x HDTV + 1x SDTV + 2x PVRs + 1x VoIP phone + 1 HS Data (20–50 Mbps)
Assumes switched video (unicast) not broadcast…, assumes triple-play drives ARPU and thus drives investment (some cable companies are getting $200+ per month because of additional services PPV etc.), expects most people’s usage to still be asymmetric…
Tony’s view of the evolution of TV (beyond analog broadcast): 1. 800 channels and nothing on. 2. DVDs let you get what you want at better quality. 3) HD & DVRs fix quality and convenience. 4. Internet-based delivery (more of what I want when I want it; UGC; users sync there watching experiences so they can IM about it)
Path to NGN is clear, driven by HDTV and IPTV — affects complete architecture.
1 Mbps to 10GE access in 2010 time frame. Wants IT class services for managing child access. Wants differential services.
Contrasts Google with AT&T, BT, NTT but claims they have the same issues.
Note, he doesn’t mention the dramatically lower costs that Google has for acquisition and for opex per user…
Service providers should charge for QoS and compete on performance. After all, Google positions advertisers on the search page (sponsored links and their position) and competes on performance.
For Internet access, QoS is needed to provide high bandwidth, high priority access to 20–30 apps including advanced security and policy.
Implies we need service enablement (service control) going well beyond IMS — need Identity, Policy & Billing in the service layer and an intelligent edge with a multiservice core in the network layer. Calls this the IP NGN Architecture which starts with policy management and security management. DPI, SBC, NAT, Security, Video acceleration, subscriber management… Claims this is required to delver consumer services…
Pushes network convergence on IP-MPLS over Ethernet; with QoS everywhere, virtualization, …
Also comments about many different edges. CableCo’s view set top boxes as part of their network.
This talk is the best example I’ve seen yet of the total disconnect between the “Internet” crowd and today’s communications operators!
The opening session at Spring VON this morning was “Communications Networks of the Future and the Role of IMS” by Siroos Afshar, Network Architect, AT&T. Siroos provided a view completely at odds with any of the Internet folk I know. Indeed, he started by warning that by ‘network’ he does not mean the ‘Internet’ but rather the network of an operator who is offering services.
He said his first diagram was so high level there should be no controversy, and indeed, it has users, user devices, access technology, service middleware and service. And yet it doesn’t mention “Internet Access” as a service I might want!!! He does have a circle labeled “Your App.” Later he says the Internet is just another access technology to reach his Network.
In fact, it appears in later diagrams that his 'Internet access' means Cable or DSL networks that reach his middleware, not the ability to send IP packets to any other public IP address in the world. His functional units diagram includes “Peering with other networks” but only talks about IMS and VoIP peering, not IP transit. This is incredible! The words that go with this diagram are focused on services delivered by AT&T, not including access to what I know as the Internet.
IMS facts of interest (at least to me):
The second question in the Q&A asked, “what if I want a service from somewhere else on the Internet?” His answer, “If you want to access other services elsewhere on the Internet, that’s fine. I was only talking about how AT&T plans to deliver AT&T services.”
Fair enough, but it was a surreal experience to hear this particular talk at VON.
Next week I'll be attending and speaking at Spring VON 2007 in San Jose. If you'd like to connect, send me an email (email@example.com) or IM me on Skype (brough). I'm arriving Monday afternoon and leaving Thursday mid-day.
I'm speaking on Tuesday afternoon (3:15pm) on the panel, Lessons Learned in Implementing IMS. While our implementation is not complete, I'll be talking about what we've learned so far as we adapt our MyCaller Ringback Tone service to fit an IMS environment.
NMS is also exhibiting at VON (Booth 1019) focusing on our developer products including:
In addition, we have a pod devoted to video development platforms as video is a big part of this show and NMS has a significant presence in mobile video. Among other things, I'm hoping we'll be able to approximate the Mobile TV demo we routinely run in Europe and Asia based on the live service on the Hong Kong CSL network. In Barcelona last month we were directly calling a backdoor number in Hong Kong (I still haven't seen the roaming bills for that week!). Unfortunately in the US, the only 3GSM, i.e. UMTS, network is Cingular's and, so far, Cingular is the first and only 3GSM network in the world to roll out 3G without support for 3G-324M mobile video telephony. So if we get the demo running in time, it will be running on mobile handsets using WiFi.
It's sad that the US is so far behind the rest of the world in mobile features, especially as we lead in minutes of use (i.e. talking)!
See you in San Jose next week.
On Tuesday I'm flying to Mexico City for some customer calls and to speak at VON Mexico. I'm in the session entitled Architecting Networks for Entertainment Services on Wednesday, February 28, 2007 from 12:30 to 2:00pm. The session description is
The impact of convergence on the media, data communications and telecommunications industries is obvious. Triple play scenarios envision a simultaneous mix of multimedia content and communication, but the traffic patterns of the different media can be costly to the other. How do network operators support a world of broadcast, gaming and communication and where are the critical elements that have to be considered in the delivery of new services in the future? Is QoS the answer to the problem? How can a carrier be involved and still enable end to end solutions?
For this session, I have some specific comments on IMS as a possibly useful architecture, while the walled garden lasts. But long term trends are against everything this session is about and I plan to point this out. Among trends of relevance:
which suggests VoIP and P2P TV over open Internet access will subsume telephony & IPTV, eventually. The only question is how long the current situation will last. That said, there is the issue of how operators maximize their near term returns while, hopefully, thinking about their long term strategy. IMS is part of that story.
If you are in Mexico City and/or attending the show, I'll be there all day Wednesday and most of Thursday. Send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you'd like to meet.
Based on questions during the webinar, and by email afterward, I've hit on some of the practical issues developers are running into as they migrate existing applications to run in an IMS network.
I'm presenting a webinar tomorrow at 11am Boston time (1600 hrs GMT) entitled IMS - What Does an Application Developer Need to Know?
Today there are some push-to-talk services based on IMS, but mobile voice telephony continues to be based on circuit switching, because operators are interested in new services, not in changing things that already work. As it's early days for IMS, there are only a few actual IMS services in use or proposed today, but that number will grow. At a minimum, every application provider needs a clear roadmap of how their application(s) will migrate to, and leverage, IMS infrastructure.
Surprisingly, despite all the IMS standards gobbledygook, only a few parts of the typical application platform have to change in order to convert an Intelligent Network application into an IMS application.
If this sounds interesting or relevant, listen in tomorrow. Alternately, a few days after the webinar we will post the slide deck by itself and with a recording of my "insights," such as they are, in the NMS webinar archives.