VoIP Hits the Big Time
Officially arriving in the world of mobile technology is a lot like "making it" in Hollywood: you're sued, you're copied and legislation is passed to keep you under control. With the amount of commotion surrounding VoIP in recent weeks, we think it's safe to say that VoIP has firmly established itself as a major player in the communications arena.
In mid-June, Verizon released a newly enhanced VoIP Security Assessment Service geared toward SMBs. That same week, Verizon filed a lawsuit against Vonage, claiming infringement on seven Verizon VoIP patents that are all part of Vonage's current commercial service. Verizon had no comment on whether or not it was planning to sue other VoIP players.
"Vonage has proven itself as a leader in VoIP in spite of its poor IPO, and now Verizon is standing up and taking notice," said Brian Partridge, a senior analyst at Yankee Group. "[VoIP service providers] aren't being ignored by the large telephone providers."
The success of VoIP hasn't gone unnoticed by the U.S. government, either. While Verizon was filing lawsuit papers, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to increase the amount that cell phone users must pay to the Universal Service Fund (USF), requiring for the first time that VoIP providers chip in. This move, meant to keep the USF afloat once DSL providers become exempt from paying in August, will most likely mean higher monthly bills for cell phone and VoIP subscribers.
An MVNO, or Mobile Virtual Network Operator, is a mobile operator that doesn't own its own spectrum, and typically doesn't have its own network infrastructure, but instead purchases minutes from traditional providers and then resells those minutes to its customers. These operators also provide services such as text messaging and the capacity to produce unique content. MVNOs are most visibly utilized by companies looking to target very specific subscriber demographics--ESPN's service attracts the sports-centric with real-time stats and scores; Virgin Mobile targets the youth set with celebrity gossip, film reviews and comedy clips; and Amp'd Mobile draws the 18 to 35 crowd with lifestyle content channels. So how can an MVNO be an asset to an enterprise?
Jim Hunt general manager of bcgi, which offers a billing Services Suite for MVNOs, explained that by combining several services onto a wireless platform, a mobile worker can provision orders, complete an in-field service call and then move to the next customer location, all while having voice and text messaging to track field service personnel and services completion efforts in real time.
Consider the mobile field worker, effortlessly multitasking. "[After completing a service call] the mobile worker can call the next customer, confirm the next service appointment, text the completed work order with equipment used when the in-home service work is complete, confirm completion and move on to the next service call--all without any voice communication with the office or the business' dispatcher. Yet the dispatchers and business managers know where, when and how the service call is being completed successfully. Not only is this a savings in time and tracking but also the ability to more effectively broaden, geographically, the service effort."
While it's true that traditional wireless providers offer similar capabilities, Hunt maintains that, "For an enterprise, going to an MVNO may be as much or more about specifically enterprise-focused services, customer attention and focus of resources as it is about the voice and SMS services. The MVNO will have to partner with companies that provide unique add-on capabilities such as location-based services for service technicians, the real-time transmittal of pictures or claims for insurance companies and other services yet to be developed. The real key is the focus of resources that a particular MVNO could place on enterprise-only solutions that are currently only a portion of what is being expended by wireless carriers today."
The Doctor Is In
After helping to get countless companies up and running, Sprint Nextel realized it had some advice to give. And so last December it launched Sprint Enterprise Mobility, a professional services subsidiary of Sprint Nextel, to offer consultation; solution design, development and integration; operation service and support; and project and program management to Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies.
"We want to get companies working as they would ideally, instead of adjusting to a mobile environment," says Gareth Matthews, a VP at Sprint Enterprise Mobility. "What we're offering isn't necessarily about technology but business expertise. Businesses need a more coordinated effort."
The missing component could be a custom solution or a packaged, off-the-shelf software. "You don't need to recreate the wheel every time," Matthews says simply.
Enterprises will spend more this year on wireless than wireline services, says Matthews. "They also need to centralize control of their devices and start to do more buying in bulk. We want to help them develop their strategy roadmap."
Sprint Enterprise Mobility's services vary from the advice services offered by organizations such as IBM or Accenture in that it exclusively focuses on mobile solutions and very big businesses. It can also offer customers the benefits of Sprint Nextel's numerous relationships. Matthews is quick to point out, however, there's no pressure for customers to operate on the Sprint Nextel network.
"We say, 'We know you're multi-carrier, and that's cool.' Everybody is."
Why Reinvent the Web?
For most of us, surfing the Web on a smartphone is a little more wonderful in concept than in execution, and so fewer of us have been doing this than the carriers would like. Consequently, a consortium of carriers came up with dotMobi, a "dot com" equivalent of sites designed specifically for easy mobile device access. So far only trademark holders have been allowed to register for dotMobi domain names, but on August 28 registration will open to everyone. Not everyone, however, is embracing the concept.
Internet content adaptor InfoGin acknowledges dotMobi's benefits to mobile users but criticizes that it leaves the content provider community with no choice but to rewrite all of its work. Besides, what users want, says InfoGin CEO and founder Eran Wyler, is the good old World Wide Web.
InfoGin's flagship product is the Intelligent Mobile Platform (IMP), a server-based middleware platform with the ability to alter a browsing experience depending on the limitations of individual devices; it can also be used on any wireless device.
"Our unique approach originates from recognizing that in order to view a Web page that was originally designed for a large screen display, the 'visual aspect' of the Web page must be analyzed, and only with such technology [as IMP] can a Web site be automatically adapted and optimized for small displays and easy navigation," explained Wyler in company literature.
InfoGin reports that users of the IMP have experienced immediate growth in average monthly customer usage, which is attributed to increased content variety, improved quality and enhanced user experience. IMP has already been deployed by operators and content aggregators such as AOL and KPN Mobile and is available now for purchase. //
In The News >>
Nokia and iPass have agreed to develop iPass connectivity software for the Nokia 9500, 9300 and Eseries smartphones. The agreement will extend the availability of the global iPass network to users of Nokia Business devices and will build on iPass' recent agreement with T-Mobile to deliver Wi-Fi connectivity throughout Europe.
Supply chain player RedPrairie has acquired BlueCube Software from Cedar Holdings. The combined companies will operate under the name RedPrairie and will support all products and services from both organizations within RedPrairie's end-to-end E2eTM suite, expanding customer access to capabilities.
NetMotion Wireless and Padcom have joined forces to offer mobile VPN technology to the enterprise. The new merged company will be led by Bob Hunsberger, former CEO of NetMotion, and will support customers using current versions of NetMotion's Mobility XE and Padcom's TotalRoam.
Caribbean-based mobile telecom company Digicel has partnered with KONKA Group, a television and mobile phone manufacturer in China, to sell KONKA's GSM mobile handsets across Digicel's 20 Caribbean markets.
Iusacell has partnered with Novarra to offer Iusacell's new i-Web service, a visually rich Internet browser optimized for mobile use, onto Iusacell's 1xEV-DO handsets. Using Novarra's nWeb micro-browser, the i-Web service will be embedded in the handsets for a free trial period.
Juniper Networks has partnered with Microsoft to provide security technology for Microsoft's Internet-based TV platform. Juniper will provide firewall and intrusion-detection services to customers of Microsoft TV IPTV Edition, an end-to-end platform designed to allow telcos and other TV distribution providers to provide Internet broadcast services.
Tenrox, a provider of workflow-driven timesheet solutions, has been deployed by Heritage Auctions for its Tenrox Timesheet for Time & Labor to track work and non-work hours of the Heritage Auctions' 300 employees. Tenrox Timesheet will replace Heritage Auctions' current timesheet solution.
Symbol and PayLock, a parking enforcement and collection solutions provider, announced that the city of Hoboken, N.J., will utilize an RFID solution to manage its on-street residential parking program. Symbol's RFID tags will help parking officers locate illegally parked vehicles and those with fraudulent permits.
ZTE, a Chinese telecom supplier, was chosen by Tata Teleservices, a CDMA telecom service provider based in India, to create an all-IP CDMA network throughout rural India over the next three years.
Konica Minolta has deployed an AirClic solution for its field service business processes to help track service worker resources and inventory. Consequently, Konica will be able to shorten service times, decrease inventory shrinkage and increase the accuracy and speed of captured data.
Alltel has selected OZ, a mobile messaging solution provider, to power its new Axcess IM service. Powered by OZ, the Brew-based solution will provide Alltel's wireless customers with graphics-rich instant messaging using AOL's AIM service and Yahoo! Messenger in a mobile format closely mirroring the PC experience.
Wayport and McDonald's USA have been named recipients of the 2006 Best Wireless Deployment (Commercial Sector) Award from Wireless Broadband Innovation Awards, for the deployment of Wayport's Wi-Fi services to more than 7,000 McDonald's restaurants across the country.
V-ENABLE has launched the first partner program allowing companies to partake in voice-enabled mobile search applications from carriers, application developers and publishers using BREW, Java, Symbian, WAP and xHTML platforms. All participants will share revenue generated by V-ENABLE's mobile search technology.
Sybase has launched the Sybase Information Anywhere Suite, a mobile software platform with an always available architecture allowing frontline workers to access email and other enterprise systems and applications from any device, even without a "live" connection to the corporate network. The Suite will be available in Q3 of 2006.
Warren Buffet has contributed $10 million class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway--approximately $31 billion--to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates announced on June 15 that he would be cutting back on his day-to-day duties at Microsoft to dedicate more time to the fund.
Nortel has launched IPT 1-2-3, an initiative to increase the adoption of IP telephony (IPT) throughout North American
enterprises. The plan will provide easy-to-implement options to help enterprises switch or upgrade to IPT.
Good Technology has released Good Mobile Messaging for IBM Lotus Domino, which will offer Lotus Notes users secure wireless access and continuous two-way, push-based wireless synchronization of all Lotus Domino functions on the Motorola Q, the Palm Treo and other Windows Mobile devices.
Red Bend Software, a provider of firmware over-the-air (FOTA) update technology for mobile phones, has released the vCurrent Mobile Version 4 FOTA solution, which offers support for Linux and other open operating systems and a 40 percent faster update time for manufacturers and operators.
Citrix Systems has announced the release of Citrix GoToWebinar, a next-generation collaboration solution for conducting professional online events. Users of GoToWebinar are charged a flat monthly rate for full-service registration, customized branding, free integrated voice conferencing and more, and can include up to 1,000 attendees per event.