Previous month:
June 2012
Next month:
August 2012

Posts from July 2012

Video: An Excellent Tour Of Voxeo's Awesome New Office!

Voxeo logoMy friends and former colleagues at Voxeo have produced a truly outstanding video giving a tour of the incredible space they have created in Orlando, Florida:

Kudos to the Voxeo marketing team for creating this video! And congrats to Jonathan Taylor and the rest of the team for realizing his vision of creating a truly unique working space and corporate culture in Orlando.

I'd note that Voxeo is quite often hiring and truly is a great company to work for. If you're looking for a job in the communications space with an excellent team of people, you should definitely check them out!

(Full disclosure: I worked for Voxeo from 2007-2011 and remain a shareholder.)

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:

Hiring! Looking For An IETFer To Join ISOC's Deploy360 Programme

Deploy360logo 300Do you want to help get open standards like IPv6 and DNSSEC more widely deployed? Would you like to see other technologies developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) more rapidly adopted by network operators?

Are you passionate about the need to preserve the open nature of the Internet? Do you like to write, speak and create other forms of content? Would you like to be part of the Internet Society, the global nonprofit that serves as the organizational home of the IETF?

If so, the team I'm part of that is behind the Internet Society Deploy360 Programme is looking for YOU!

As we noted on the Deploy360 blog, we're currently hiring a new position into the team specifically to interact with network operators and help accelerate the deployment of open Internet standards.

You can read read the job description for what is called the "Operational Engagement Programme Manager". As noted in the document:

The Operational Engagement Programme Manager is a newly created position within the Internet Society. This position will report to the Director, Deployment and Operationalization. The primary focus areas of this position will be to: 1) develop and coordinate increased industry collaboration and conversations about the operationalization of Internet technologies; 2) work with targeted audiences around the globe to develop operational documentation on technology topics covered by the Internet Society Deploy360 Programme including, but not limited to, IPv6 and DNSSEC.

The job description goes on to list out the responsibilities and desired qualifications... the key point is that we're looking for someone who can help us expand the work we're doing in creating content that helps people deploy technologies such as IPv6 and DNSSEC. We're a small, fast-moving team that is highly focused on finding and creating the best possible content and promoting that through many different channels.

If you join our team, you'll be writing for the Deploy360 site and probably working with video, too. You'll be interacting with network operators through various online channels, including social media. You'll be speaking at events scattered all around the world.

And you'll be having fun while doing it! And serving the incredibly important mission of promoting the value of the open Internet!

Additionally, THIS IS A "TELEWORKING"/VIRTUAL POSITION! You do NOT have to be located in our Geneva, Switzerland, or Reston, Virginia, offices, but can be located anywhere. You can, just like me, work out of a home office. (There's this wee little thing called the Internet that makes this possible!)

One note - you MUST have experience with the IETF, so if you have never interacted with the IETF... well... don't bother applying! Experience with other operator groups is also very important.

If you're interested, the job description has contact information and instructions. We're also going to be out at IETF 84 in Vancouver next week speaking to people about this new role and would be glad to meet with you there. We have already received applications, so if you are interested, please contact us soon!

We've got a lot of great plans ahead of us... and we're looking for the right person to join our team. Please do check it out and consider applying!

P.S. The Internet Society is also hiring a Senior Director of IT Development and several other roles. It's a great organization with great benefits, great people and a great mission!

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either:

What is an Over-The-Top (OTT) Application or Service? - A Brief Explanation

OttWhat is an "over-the-top" or "OTT" application or service? How does an OTT telecommunications or media app/service differ from a "regular" application?

The answer depends upon your perspective.

For a regular user of the Internet, an "OTT app or service" is something like:

  • YouTube, Hulu, Netflix or Apple TV for streaming video
  • Skype or Facetime for voice/video calls
  • WhatsApp or iMessage for messages on a mobile device
  • Xbox 360 or World of Warcraft for gaming

Basically, any service you are receiving over the Internet that is NOT provided directly by your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Of course, for an ISP / telecommunication provider, the critical point about an OTT app/service is the part I emphasized - it is NOT a service you are paying them for.

And they are not happy about this.

It's not clear to me when precisely we in the industry started talking about "over-the-top" applications and services, but I first saw OTT mentioned back in 2008 or 2009 when the term was primarily applied to video services such as those coming from Netflix or Hulu. At the time, major US service providers such as Comcast and AT&T were rolling out their video-on-demand services and were being challenged by these "OTT" providers. Netflix and Hulu provided their service "over-the-top" of your Internet connection, without any interaction whatsoever with your Internet service provider (nor any revenue to that service provider).

Since that time, I've seen "OTT" applied to the zillions of messaging apps that have now sprouted up in the mobile environment to provide an alternative to the costly SMS provided by the traditional telcos. WhatsApp, Apple's iMessage, Blackberry Messenger (BBM), TU Me... and a hundred others that keep popping up on a weekly basis. Some would even lump Twitter and Facebook into this category. (And SMS revenue by telcos are facing a serious decline from the use of these apps. Ovum estimated the decline at $13.9 billon for 2011.)

I've also seen "OTT" applied to VoIP apps such as Skype (whose network overlay architecture I wrote about previously). And now we have Apple's Facetime and a hundred startups like Viber, Voxer, Tango, etc.

Recently I saw a document that painted "OTT" even more broadly as a term applying to any "content provider" on the Internet, i.e. basically everyone publishing content in any form.

The key point of all of this is that the OTT apps/services do not come from the traditional telcos or Internet service providers.

The telcos and ISPs are merely providers of the IP connectivity. The OTT apps ride on top of that Internet connection.

The telcos and ISPs are simply big, fat, dumb pipes.

Some of the telcos and ISPs out there are smart enough to see what's going on and are trying to become the biggest, fattest pipe out there and provide the best possible service. Some are launching their own apps/service that are NOT limited to their own customer base.

And some of the telcos are so desperate to hold on to their legacy business models that they are trying to get the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to regulate OTT apps and service providers through the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT). They are hoping to use WCIT as a vehicle to re-inject themselves into the revenue stream and somehow start charging "OTT" providers. (But that's a topic for another blog post...)

So when you hear people talking about "OTT apps" or "OTT services," they are typically referring to applications or services that ride on top of your Internet connection - but have no relationship with the provider of your Internet connection.

OTT apps and services are a major component of the ongoing war between "content providers" and "access providers"... a fundamental tension within the Internet that shows no sign of being resolved anytime soon. But more on that another time... :-)

In the meantime, what we all can do is reject the use of the term "OTT" from the telcos and instead focus on referring to these apps instead as:

  • "IP communications apps"
  • "IP-based communications apps"
  • "communications apps"
  • "messaging apps"

because they are just apps that work on IP networks... whether those are from the legacy telcos or any other service provider.

Deutsche Telekom Partners With Tropo To Expose Developer APIs for Voice and SMS

Telekom tropo apiIntriguing news out of the folks at Tropo today... Deutsche Telekom has made the Tropo APIs available as part of DT's "Developer Garden" at:

This is part of a broad range of APIs offered by Deutsche Telekom and basically gives developers using the DT network access to the full range of capabilities. As they note on the page, you can:

  • Make & receive phone calls from within any web browser or application
  • Run Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) applications with speech recognition (ASR) and Text-to-Speech (TTS)
  • Send SMS out of CRM applications
  • Create conference calls with up to 50 participants

Basically create any kind of "voice mashup" you can think of. I would also note that Tropo supports multiple languages for speech recognition and text-to-speech, a fact that may appeal to European developers.

Now why would a developer want to use "Telekom Tropo" versus just "regular" Tropo? The answer seems to be that DT takes care of all the billing integration and makes it easy for developers to charge for their services. From what I can see, all that billing integration is handled directly by Deutsche Telekom.

Now, obviously, this only works on the DT network, but that network is quite large throughout Europe at around 93 million subscribers.

In reading the Telekom Tropo API Q & A, too, I found an interesting note:

Telekom Tropo is hosted in Telekom data centes in Germany and therefore fulfills the highest European security and privacy standards..

Which means to me that the Voxeo Labs team made it possible for the Tropo server-side software to run directly within a mobile operator's network. This could lead to very interesting business models more where mobile operators could easily deploy Tropo capabilities to their developers as the Deutsche Telekom team has done.

Congrats to the Tropo and Deutsche Telekom teams on this news and I look forward to learning about what developers build now that this capability has been brought into DT's "developer garden"!

UPDATE: BusinessWeek is reporting today that Deutsche Telekom announced a partnership with MasterCard and is in talks with Google - both about adding partners to its mobile payment system.

[Full Disclosure: I was employed by Voxeo from October 2007 to September 2011 and participated in the launch of several years ago. However, I wouldn't write about it if I didn't think what they are doing is cool!]

If you found this post interesting or useful, please consider either: