Portable Skype AND a PSP?

May 16, 2008 by Garrett Smith

Sony and Skype so happy together?

Well here it is people. Skype is working with Sony to make a portable game station, mini DVD player, Wi-Fi access and now Skype account. Wondering what this is? It is a new gadget for the PSP. That’s right, the PSP and Skype are working together to make you an all-in-one device. Take a look at this from Villu Arak over at the Skype blog. Want more screen shots? Then check out Andrew Brennan’s blog here. Or you can just read the official release info from Skype. So now that you are aware of this, and some of you have that craving to get the newest tech, then I suggest you still do your homework. Just remember that this is still a work in progress, and I do foresee some bugs…

One: Wi-Fi access. What if you are not around the strongest signal in the world? Will there be an echo or dropped calls? Can the device compensate for this? To go along with this trend, what about echo? Will the software have echo cancellation? Here is a scenario I see happening: You’re at a Starbucks, or hotel with an open AP. You have access and it’s a weak signal, then your call drops, or you can hear yourself on the phone. Who do you blame? The access provider, Skype or PSP? With this working on a public network like a hotspot, there is the endless possibility of devices using non-echo cancelling hardware. Just a thought…

Two: Headset for the PSP/ microphone for the system. You’re telling me that this thing cannot use the built in speakers and have a microphone in the attachment to make this a complete conference phone? Now that would be a great idea.

Three: PSP hardware. What if you’re one of those many people that bought the first PSP systems. Sure they work great. DVDs, games, every other function works great, but what about getting this Skype to work? Will you need to trade in your PSP for a newer model? Will the newer model be more? Can you even resell or eBay your old one in an attempt to get money back?

So with those issues in mind I ask you to please think about it. Read up on Skype, Sony, and blogs about when and how this will be deployed.

IPCS Word of the Day: Covert

Covert =  A covert application refers to a situation where you don’t want the person to know that they are being watched or recorded.  Also known as ‘hidden’ cameras or “nanny cams.” Covert cameras are typically legal in a residential setting.  Individual states have various laws concerning the videotaping of employees or business patrons.  In many states, it is necessary to post signage notifying employees and/or business patrons that they are under video surveillance.

Citel Acquired by Tortel USA, LLC

May 15, 2008 by Garrett Smith

Just had a surprise visit from the folks at Tortel USA, LLC, whom have a local office in the Buffalo, NY area. I was surprised to learn that they have recently acquired Citel.

If you are not familiar with Citel, they make some unique products that allow businesses with hefty investments in legacy telecommunications gear from Nortel, Avaya and other tier1 vendors to gain the benefits of IP communications without scrapping their digital handsets. Citel’s Portico TVA products facilitate the redeployment of existing digital handsets from 85% of manufacturers, Nortel, NEC and Avaya included. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater any longer, and your existing phones can enjoy a second life in service to a new IP PBX core or IP centrex hosted service such as Broadsoft.

The cost savings incurred by not having to purchase new IP phones when migrating to an IP PBX are huge. In my experience, handsets can often represent the majority portion of the overall expenditure when implementing VoIP.

Another benefit here is not having to retrain all of your employees on the functions of a new IP handset. They gain the UC benefits of a new IP communications platform, but the overall user experience is much more seamless and certainly less traumatic for users.

Tortel has deep roots in the traditional Nortel pbx channel, and this acquisition makes a ton of sense from a standpoint of being able to “hit the ground running”. I spoke with them at length, and came away with a sense that Citel was in the great hands, and likely has a bright future.

Linksys Visits IPCS

The folks at Linksys were nice enough to come visit our offices and teach us more about the features Linksys IP Camera systems have to offer. Ed Draper and Dave Hornstein (filling in for Andrew Lissitz) showed us the importance of IP Camera bundles, Power over Ethernet switches and Network Attached Storage (NAS). The guys displayed a PVC2300 camera and all of the free applications included with the camera.

These included:

  • a choice to disable LED lights
  • the ability to chose your stream type
  • detachable lenses
  • creating a recording schedule
  • image settings
  • stream speed
  • full audio
  • motion detection settings
  • mobile phone streaming

and many others.

Realtime Review of Nimbuzz

Nimbuzz: is it buzz worthy?

Nimbuzz

Taking a look at Informationweek.com for the latest releases, I came across this little article. The piece talks about a beta program, Nimbuzz!, in the works to include VoIP services, IMing, Texting (SMS) and Chat all on a mobile phone.

What are even better are the investors of the program: “The company has received several million dollars in backing from venture capitalists, including $10 million from Mangrove Capital Partners, which was the original backer of Skype.”

Want even better news about this? Well, “With this new release, we now also have a genuine free mobile VoIP solution that works on more than 90 handsets including Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Samsung, and LG.”

One more thing about it: And I’m sure you will love this….ITS FREE!

So at this very moment I am downloading it, going to test it and will reply soon with a post on my findings.

Update:

I have tested this program out on my Facebook, MySpace and cell phone, and I have to say I am completely impressed. It is very easy installing the software, just as easy to log into it on your cell phone, and I have not noticed any bugs or issues as of yet.

One thing I did notice is the wide range of programs it will integrate with. Here are some just to name a few: Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Xing, Blogger, LiveJournal, Flicker, Ebay, Outlook, and many many more.

So I urge you to take a look and let me know what you think. It took about 30 minutes of my time to plug the applet into my personal areas, and it’s not difficult to figure out. If you decide to test it out I would be very interested in your thoughts good or bad.

Later!

IPCS Word of the Day: Compression

Compression = Compacting signal or data to lower bandwidth utilization.  Video JPEG frames can take up a ton of bandwidth on a network, so typically a compression mechanism is used to “shrink” the frames down to an acceptable file size which is more easily transported without hogging bandwidth.

Dash releases developer API for Dash Express Internet Connected GPS Nav System…Voice Mashups Anyone?

Dash Logo

TechCruch has a story this morning covering the release of an API program by Dash, creators of Dash Express, a unique, Internet Connected GPS Naviagation system.

Dash is already showcasing some cool applications on their blog, including a home search application from Coldwell Banker, a live, local weather app and a cool widget with some social media elements, that allows users to bookmark speedtraps and red light cameras in conjunction with Trapster.com.

Voice 2.0 mashup guys, this should be “on your radar” so to speak…I can think of any number of voice enabled applications that could be developed using Dash’s API.

How about a voice app that calls you and let’s you know 15 minutes in advance of when your in-laws are arriving at your home based on their current Dash GPS locational data. (Hint: Pick them up a Dash Express GPS Nav unit for XMas!)

How about a button on my Dash GPS Nav unit that alerts road repair providers within a 10 mile radius when I press the button to indicate I have a flat tire or mechanical troubles, and initiates a call for service on my behalf.

GPS data and OSS telephony are two excellent ingredients for creating any number of useful applications and it is extremely cool to see companies like Dash opening up their GPS platform to 3rd partys. Have a cool idea for a GPS/VoIP Mashup? I’d love to hear about it.…If you are interested in more details on the Dash GPS API, there is not a ton of info on their website, but you can send an email to developer [at] dash [dot] net

Cisco / EDS Claim "Largest Enterprise VoIP Deployment Worldwide"

FierceVoIP recently covered a story concerning the deployment of Cisco’s Unified Communications platform and 10,000+ IP handsets by solution provider EDS for Bank of America.

EDS acquired by HP for $13.9 Billion

With EDS recently acquired by HP, this would seemingly make HP an instant player in the UC/VoIP space…and is an interesting development in a market where battle lines are being drawn between Cisco and Microsoft.

Cisco has been on a tear of late and is amassing a nice list of large customers, including Boise State University and University of Cambridge.

Many would argue that this is good news for the VoIP systems industry as a whole…but if you are a proponent of standards-based telephony, where SIP has emerged as the de facto protocol, you may have mixed emotions. Cisco has been somewhat reticent in opening up their proprietary SCCP platforms to allow for seamless interoperability with SIP.

Although Cisco does have a Third-party inter-op mechanism allowing the use of SIP endpoints with Cisco UC infrastructure, (i.e Callmanager) from a cost impact standpoint, Cisco’s “support” of third party SIP phones is somewhat misleading for the uninformed.

For most users, the appeal of using a Third-party SIP phone would likely be to escape the cost of license fees associated with Cisco’s IP phones. Cisco tacks on anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars, per phone, in licensing when you purchase a “CH1” licensed Cisco phone, which is the appropriate licensing to be in compliance when using Callmanager.

If you refer to this link, look at table C-2, step 5 –

“Note Third-party SIP Device (Basic) supports one line and consumes three license units, and Third-party SIP Device (Advanced) supports up to eight lines and video, and consumes six license units.”

Even using a Third-party phone, the user must purchase Third-party licensing keys in order to register their phone with Callmanager, and the licensing is required in order to complete the SIP registration for the Third- party handset.

When I last checked, the licensing cost to implement a Grandstream GXP-2000 (an $80 phone) with a Callmanager deployment was an additional $300, which would bring the total cost of the handset to roughly $380.

Cisco defines a “Basic” Third-party VoIP phone as a phone supporting one line, and user must purchase (three) license units at $50/ea ($150 total) to deploy a “basic” phone. Since the GXP-2000 supports multiple lines, it would be considered an “Advanced” Third-party SIP phone, and requires (six) license units be purchased, at a total cost of $300.

A detailed overview of Third-party SIP licensing fees is here.

It is actually less attractive in the majority of cases, from a cost standpoint, to implement 3rd party SIP phones on Callmanager than it is to simply use proprietary Cisco phones when you factor in their extremely expensive licensing fees. I am sure this is completely by design. Just wanted to clarify this for your readers who are running Callmanager and are looking at using Third-party SIP phones.