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Accelerating Growth of Skype Marks New
Approach to Voice Communication
Meanwhile Enterprise VoIP Grows but Requirements Very Different
from Single User, Small Business World of Skype Adoption
Is Skype Still VoIP?
The first generation VoIP that has generated so much buzz in the last several
years has been based on wrapping voice
in IP packets and sending it through IP
networks. Its advocates claimed that as
it’s just a bucket of bits it had the potential to hollow out the PSTN and pull the
phone companies over the edge of solvency. The early movers generated lots
of buzz and spawned a sizable industry
including companies that exist to enable
their customers to use their present day
phones to convert to VoIP in order to
connect to the PSTN almost anywhere
in North America and even in Europe
for one low monthly rate. The process,
although it uses protocols like H.323,
Megaco and SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) to establish and route calls and
to connect myriads of different devices
within enterprise and carrier networks
is still tied more closely than some
would like to people’s expectations of
the behavior of century old POTS service. The vision, enabled mainly by
SIP, was to allow users to do many new
and interesting things including to show
presence but for reasons debated in our
Symposium discussions, this vision has
not yet been well realized. In any case,
despite all the “buzz” related to VoIP,
so large are phone company revenues
and so small has been the potential
uptake on these services that the phone
companies’ bottom lines are still largely
unaffected.
In the late summer of 2003 a very different approach to VoIP arrived as Niklas
Zennstrom, the young geek who in the
preceding few years had built Kazaa into
an extremely successful peer-to-peer
file sharing program launched Skype.
Skype was a free peer-to-peer, voice
over Internet protocol, soft phone with
the Global IP Sound codec that offered
users voice quality far superior to POTS
and would work effectively over bandwidth that was significantly lower than
other VoIP devices demanded. Skype
gave its product away - seeking to establish value in other ways. It worked
computer-to-computer utilizing the resources of always-on broadband Internet to take some of the resources of its
user’s machines and turn the borrowed
resources into the end-to-end internet
equivalent of telco central offices. This
enabled free voice communication from
any Internet-connected machine of even
Wi-Fi or cell phone to any other Skype
running platform elsewhere in the globe.
Voice here was not only a bucket of bits,
it also never touched the PSTN - unless
a user bought the SkypeOut service.
Starting not surprisingly on Windows,
Skype moved over the next year to releases on Linux, Mac OS X and Pocket
PC. It is also looking at possible releases
for Windows SmartPhone, Symbian and
Palm. In early November 2004 it was
seeing 80,000 new downloads a day
and hit its first million simultaneous
users on line. By February 2005 it had
reached 150,000 downloads per day and
Volume XIV, No. 2-3 May - June 2005
ISSN 1071 - 6327
for the first time two million simultaneous users. As this is written on March 1,
Skype shows 78,750,000 down loads.
Skype Voice mail exists in Beta test.
Skype video cannot be far behind. Skype’s architecture, interesting as it is, is
not the last word. Still, I maintain that
you cannot easily see what is significantly different about Skype unless you
use it. I have been using it and talking
to others who do the same. Skype is
changing the nature of what it means
to be online. In doing so, it is changing
my assessment of the importance of
broadband and what it makes possible.
Broadband now is not just faster email
and Web, it can also be used as an enabler of new ways of real-time remote
collaboration.
In early December on the COOK Report Symposium on Network Economics mail list, in the midst of a casual
discussion of Skype, David Reed put
his finger on some of the differences
between the two different approaches
On the Inside
Skype and VoIP
Contents
p. 2
Please READ Explanatory Note
page 6
With Arcobat reader click on blue text
Contents
Accelerating Growth of Skype Marks New Approach to Voice
Communication - Meanwhile Enterprise VoIP Grows but
Requirements Very Different from Single User, Small Business
World of Skype Adoption
p. 1
Is VoIP No Longer an Appropriate Term for Thinking About the Kind of
Communication Represented by Skype? Some Further Points of View
on the Meaning and Role of Skype
p. 9
Interview
An Introduction to the World of Skype
Skype Specialist Stuart Henshall Evaluates Skype’s Strategy
of Moving Voice and Real Time Collaboration to Wherever
Broadband is Present
p. 13
Symposium Discussion December 1 - January 4, 2005
Sype versus SIP: a Debate Between the “It Just Works”
Point of View and the Standards Based, Interoperability World View
p. 23
Dave Hughes Discovers Skype
p. 23
Why SIP Has Failed
p. 24
Is Skype a Proprietary System Creating a Wintel-like Platform?
p. 27
Some SIP Issues
p. 29
Platforms: Skype and SIP - Islands versus Standards-Based
p. 30
SIP Must Interoperate While Skype Need not Do So
p. 32
What to Do About NATs and Protocol Problems?
p. 33
The Value of Interconnected Networks
p. 34
What the Technology Must Do in Order to Please the User
p. 35
Changing Expectations of What People Want from Telephony
p. 37
A Changing Role for Operators
p. 39
Symposium Discussion January 4 -15, 2005
Some Broader Issues Involving the Bluring of Boundaries of
VoIP in the Telephony Wireless and Enterprise Worlds
A Balkanization of Personal and Enterprise Communication Trends
p. 40
Multiple VoIP Markets
p. 41
Skype Interconnectivity
p. 42
Meshed Up Neighborhoods
p. 43
Skype Marches On
p. 45
2
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
Access to Broadband
p. 45
Viral Communications
p. 46
“Harmonizing” Discordant Systems
p. 47
Intel Backs Municipal Broadband
p. 48
The Window of Opportunity for ENUM is Closing Fast
p. 49
Two Parts of VoIP
p. 51
Competition and Wireless Paths - WiMAX Troubles
p. 51
Impact of Smart Design on Wireless Cost
p. 53
How to Think about the Strategy of Power in Terms of Part 15
p. 53
An Almost Hopeless Complexity of Variables Involved in Service Pricing
p. 55
Interview
Skype Seen as “Instant Voice-Integration” of Multiple Forms of
Communication into Broadband Based Collaboration -- Improved Audio Codecs,
P2P Architecture, & Other Features May Push Skype like “Instant Voice”
Softphones into New Areas --James Enck Explores Possible Impact on Wireline
and Mobile Carriers
Symposium Discussion Jan 15 to Feb 6
How VoIP Mixes with Wireless, the
Enterprise and other Markets
p. 57
VoIP Peering Architectures - Hard Installations or More Flexible Software Glue?
p. 66
Strange Concepts of Free Markets in the Muni Network World
p. 69
Google Wants Dark Fiber
p. 71
Google as an Example of When to Route Versus When to Switch
p. 73
Google VoIP
p. 74
AT&T Looks Beyond “Number, Please”
p. 77
Issues of Security
p. 79
Commercial VoIP Pricing Power
p. 79
Wireless Business Models
p. 80
VoIP Pricing Power Encore
p. 82
VoIP and Security in Government and the
Enterprise
p. 84
Symposium Discussion Feb 6 - 22
Skype, SIP, the Enterprise and
Security
3
Skype is Like Apple II in the Enterprise
p. 88
Is the Enterprise is in Gridlock?
p. 89
Stuart Henshall and Skype Voice Mail
p. 91
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
Successful Video Accommodation by Microsoft’s
p. 126
IPT Platform
Cisco’s CMX Platform Promotes Mobility
Across Wireless Access Networks
p. 93
But What is the VoIP Market?,
p. 94
The Importance of Directory Services,
p. 96
Skype and Motorola Marketing Partnership,
p. 97
Some VoIP Regulatory Issues
Goroshevsky, Popular Telephony and Peerio
p. 98
Vonage Whining its Way to Open Access,
p. 129
How to Explain Why Skype Works Better?
p. 133
Cringly Asks Have Best Days of VoIP Come
and Gone?
p. 133
Voice, Caspian, Broadband and Korea,
p. 127
IMS in the Mobile World
p. 128
Symposium Discussion March 3 - 7
Enterprise Voice Issues Yield Many UnKnowns p. 99
Skype Not Tied to Specific Hardware Can Act
as a Virally Infectious Communications Agent
p. 101
Skype from an Enterprise Point of View
p. 102
But Are P2P Voice Applications Blockable in the
p. 136
Same Way as Vonage or Lingo?
Skype and Enterprise Security Issues
p. 103
What the Regulator Will and Will Not Do,
Skype, Firewalls and Security
p. 105
Vonage Suffers Widespread Outage on March 4, p. 139
Skype in the “Civilian World”
p. 107
Skype in Hotspots,
But Skype May Show up in Some
Enterprises Sooner Rather Than Later
p. 108
Symposium Conclusion March 11-17
Skype, Web Services and Mission Criticality,
p. 109
Sip Based Enum Wi-fi Phones
p. 110
On Walled Gardens and Getting to the Other
Side of Geoffrey Moore’s Chasm
p. 111
Skype and Grid Computing
p. 112
The Google Telephone Network and a World
of Abundance in Communication,
Skype’s Impact on Voice Traffic and Open
Source VoIP PBXs,
p. 113
p. 114
p. 117
With Regard to Architecture and Economics all
p. 118
VoIP is not Alike,
p. 119
QoS OpEx Economics - Flows or UCLP?
p. 122
Technical Aspects of VoIP Traffic Shaping on
Wi-fi Network
p. 124
Rethinking Skype Mega Chats,
p. 144
Choosing How to Connect with Each
Other Becomes Critical,
p. 146
Skype In Looks to Be an Important
Intersection Between Skype and SIP,
p. 147
Highlights
p. 151
Executive Summary
p. 180
Side Bars
VoIP Economic, Quality and Network
Traffic Issues
More on Muni Networks (Texas and Colorado)
p. 142
Instant Voice, Chat and Messaging
Motivate Early Adaptors to Rethink
What it Means to Be Connected p. 143
Symposium Discussion Feb 25 - March 3
VoIP Adoption Curves,
p. 137
New York's Broadband Gap
p. 68
Millimeter wireless Links
p. 75
Peer to Peer SIP
p. 75
New Push for Wireless
p. 76
CODECs and Perceptions of Voice Quality
p. 131
A refutation of Metcalfe’s Law and a better
estimate for the value of networks and network
p. 141
interconnections, by Andrew Odlyzko
4
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
Symposium & Interview Contributors to this Issue
Affilation given for purposes of identification - views expressed are those of the contributors alone
Nigel Ballard, Wireless Director, Matrix
Networks, proprietor of joejava.com
Malcolm Matson,British entrepreneur and
Director of OPLAN Foundation
Jim Baller, Partner in Baller Herbst law firm &
Expert on Municiple Networks
Franscois Menard, Canadian policy
expert and municipal fiber network architect
Sebastian Buettrich is a technology
strategist who founded wire.less.dk in 2002
Andrew Odlyzko, Director Digital
Technology Center, University of Minnesota
Mike Cheponis, wireless consultant, antenna
design specialist
Dave OʼLeary, Juniper Networks
Frank Coluccio, President DTI Consulting,
NYC, high-capacity optical netwʼk consultant
David Reed, Internet pioneer, spectrum
policy expert, currently with Media Lab & HP
Peter Cohen, consultant and peering
specialist for Telia
Jere Retzer, Sr Mgr, Next Generation
Networks, Oregon Health & Science University
Melissa Davis, optical network architect
with RS Information Systems
Larry Roberts, Arpanet Pioneer, CEO Anagran
Bill St Arnaud,Director Ca*Net4 , Canarie,
Canada
Peter Ecclesine, Market Analyst for Wireless,
Cisco
David Sandel, CTO, NetLabs LLC, St Louis
James Enck, Securities Analyst &
proprietor of Eurotelcoblog
Chris Savage, elecom attorney and partner
at Cole, Raywid & Braverman in Wash. DC
Jim Forster, Distinguished Engineer, Cisco
Martin Geddes, consultant and author
Telepocalypse
Henning Schulzrinne, Professor and Chair in
the Dept. of Computer Science, Columbia
University
Vijay Gill, Director Peering, America on Line
Ron Sege, CEO Tropos
Alex Goldman, Editor ISP Planet Jupiter Media
Raj Sharma, President of Nextone a VoIP
systems integrator
Steve Heap, CTO of Arbinet a bandwidth
broker and VoIP Traffic terminator
Richard Stastny, Austrian Telecom author
VOIP and ENUM Blog
Sebastian Hassenger WebSphere Market
Strategy and Planning IBM Software Group
Richard Shockey, Senior Manager,
Strategic Technology Initiatives, NeuStar Inc.
Stuart Henshall, consultant and author of
Unbound Spiral and Skype Journal
Jim Southworh, former chair DSL forum,
VP Concentric. Now Secure Pathways CEO
Tom Hertz, CTO, Opportunity Iowa
Jeff Sterling, Interconnected Associates,
Bellevue, Washington
Dave Hughes, owner Old Colorado City
Communications and wireless advocate
Matt Wenger, Product Manager North
America, PacketFront
Cullen Jennings, SIP & VoIP Security Expert
Cisco
Damien Wetzel, Network Consultant Paris,
Formerly with Akamai and Internap
Patrick Leary, Wireless Evangelist, Alvarion
Ron Yokubaitis, CEO Giganews
Tony Li, Router Architect at Cisco, Juniper
and Procket, recently returned to Cisco
5
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
to VoIP when he stated: “The way to
succeed in business is to pick the best
customers, and delight them. And the
crucial caveat - the best customers are not
the ones who always buy anything you
sell - those are your best customers, not
the best customers. The best customers
are the ones who will teach you what you
should be selling.”
“The following is how it applies here:
“SIP’s vendors have defined their customers to be phone companies.
“Skype has defined its customers to be
people who live a communications-centered life.
“It’s impossible to delight a phone company with voice over the Internet. The
people who live a communications-centered life will teach you what really
matters. Those people are *not* happy
customers of the phone company.”
David’s statement is a rather sweeping
generalization and one that is not entirely
fair to players involved who were constrained in what they could do by virtue
of the fact that any approach to complex
enterprise phone systems would face
restrictions that an unconstrained greenfield approach like Skype would not. Still
a sweeping generalization may be useful
if it captures the stark contrast between
the two worlds where user expectations
are very different.
Something very interesting is going on
here. This two month issue of the COOK
Report explores that by looking at the
early success of Skype in the larger context of more traditional VoIP services.
While Skype is not the be-all and endall of approaches to VoIP, it does open
many new possibilities, even though, for
reasons that we will explore later, it will
not easily find its way into large-scale
corporate use.
Getting VoIP Adoption
that Scales
In mid-December on our Symposium list
Reed exclaimed: “Sending voice over IP
is trivial. That’s not the technical problem. Getting scaled adoption is hard, and
a common standard that works simply
was required. SIP could have been a contender. It isn’t going be. And I think its
own ‘proponents’ killed it.
“SIP should have won, because it is an
open standard, but the desire to create a
business model that captures the old unsustainable voice revenues of the RBOCs
has seduced Cisco and its customers
into waiting and making the standard
more complex. Unlike the old days of
the Internet, where interoperability was
the centerpiece, the likelihood that a SIP
phone will work with one from another
vendor is near zero. There was a reason
that the major IP trade show in the early
days was called ‘Interop’!”
David’s assertions here are certainly inflammatory to some. Can one know for
certain that Cisco allegedly ruined SIP by
selling out to the RBOCs desire for selfpreservation? Very unlikely. I claim no
inside information, but these companies
have been huge customers of Cisco, Lucent, Nortel, and a whole range of other
equipment suppliers. That they would
listen to their RBOC customers would
not be surprising. Nevertheless, there is
also evidence that they are improving
and that lack of interoperability is no
longer nearly as bad as David states. The
point is that we are in the midst of major
disruptive change to the voice service
that has sustained the phone company’s
bottom lines. While struggles should not
be surprising, we should also recall that
the process of making a kaleidoscopic
array of enterprise telephony equipment
interoperate with new protocols designed
to get them to do new things is a demand-
ing task as well.
Meanwhile Adobe, in the mid 1990s,
wanted to create a standard document
format exchange program. The goal was
to dump a document in and have it come
out in a universally readable format. It
created Acrobat and then gave away the
program necessary to read Acrobat documents. It succeeded and today the page
definition or PDF file has become the
nearly universally accepted standard.
Riding on its early success, will Skype do
the same? With nearly 80 million downloads in its first 18 months, the question
is whether Skype has so well-seeded its
user base that a better program cannot
overcome it? Perhaps. Perhaps not. However, there is one thing that it is likely to
prove: telephony now really has become
software. And in becoming software it
can be separated from the physical infrastructure of the old phone system far
more easily as it rides in its new form on
broadband IP inter-networks. Of course
there are still many hundreds of million
phones in use connected by twisted pair
and other means and making up what
we call the global switched telephone
network, or locally the PSTN. As broadband IP networks grow they represent a
fertile field onto which the traffic from
the PSTN will switch. Of course, how
rapidly this will happen is still a matter
of conjecture. Many, many problems
remain to be solved.
Viral Communications
and Skype
The communications industry is facing
disruption. The technology giants - in
this case the local phone companies- a
decade after the internet went commercial, are running outmoded centralized
infrastructures with revenues of hundred
of billions of dollars per-year . While
they are changing their infrastructure,
whether they are doing it rapidly enough
An Important Note to Our Subscribers - Blue URLs are hotlinked with Acrobat -click them
This is a two part May - June 2005 issue. Please start with the Exec Summary on page 180. Then read the two introductory articles beginning one page one and nine. Next please read the two interviews (pp. 13 and 55). After that either plunge
into the Symposium Dissussion or go to the highlights section beginning page 150 and use the blue page links to dip into the
Symposium on an as needed basis. The next issue WILL be shorter. The first 54 pages were originally published on March 6.
6
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
is often debated. I will posit here that
continuing advances in hardware and
software design are creating for the first
decade of the 21st century what Reed
and Lippman call “A Viral Communications Architecture.” [See the May 19
2003 paper at http://dl.media.mit.edu/
viral/viral.pdf.] While this paper focuses
on wireless and software defined radio,
I contend that its most central premises
also fit Skype. The Reed -Lippman argument defines a viral communications architecture as follows. A viral architecture
“is one where elements are independent,
scalable and where each new element
adds capacity to the system, so that it
can be adopted incrementally from a
small base and gains accelerating value
with scale.” (p. 2) “The key idea is [the
emergence of] communications devices
that work with no central backbone and
scale almost without bound.” (p. 2)
Looking a recent technology history, the
authors point out that in this environment change is enabled by “the vastly
reduced cost (or risk) of innovation. Barriers such as high integration costs, centralized support and a brittle architecture
don’t exist in the PC. The cost of change
is borne incrementally, as each user
purchases a new package. Software can
become a garage industry and a growth
potential can be detected earlier.” (p. 3)
The user can purchase the assets and
tools needed for his own production and
put them to work in a business venture
that he initiates and in which he invests.
I contend that as went the PC, so goes
the new tools of viral voice communication. However, in fitting viral voice
communications into the Reed-Lippman
viral wireless bed, there is one critical
change and that is that the Skype voice
software is dependent on the broadband
infrastructure laid down by the telcos
and cable cos in the first decade of the
commercial Internet. While depending
on this physical infrastructure that the
old industry laid down, the new voice
software is spreading parasitically and
virally. Although Reed and Lippman
focus primarily on viral software-defined radio that is largely free of the need
to use physical infrastructure, the viral
VoIP software that we explore absolutely
depends on the broadband infrastructure
laid down by the companies that it potentially obsoletes. This will create tension but, as that infrastructure is used by
virtually the entire spectrum of so-called
normal communications and since its
peer-to-peer architecture makes it very
difficult to discriminate against. It is hard
to see a scenario in which this viral VoIP
could be denied its carrier.
I further contend that with Skype we have
a phenomenon that matches the requirements laid out by Reed and Lippman
when they state that:
“Each new element of a viral architecture must not deplete the capabilities of
those that were there before -- to gain
momentum, each new element must create more value from connecting into the
system than from operating alone. That
is, each adoption is a “win-win” decision
- the existing elements gain a little more
benefit from the new element, and each
new element has a stronger value proposition for joining the system. Momentum results from this process, because
a reluctant adopter will eventually be
attracted to adopt when the scale reaches
his cost/benefit tradeoff even when the
architecture still has small reach. In the
case of fax machines, this happened
when enough of your contacts had or
used fax machines that the case for owning one became compelling. A virtuous
cycle results from a growing market cutting manufacturing costs, and increasing
benefits to each new purchaser.” (p.5)
And since Skype is free, the only investment needed to begin use it is some time
to install and someone with whom we
wish to communicate where the resulting
change in communication modality will
become cost effective.
“There are two primary design principles
that lead to a viral architecture: scalability and independence. The first states that
a viral system ought to be able to grow
almost without bound, and the second
requires that its elements operate autonomously, without connection to a central
authority. In essence, one should be able
to freely add elements and they should
work without connection to a backbone.”
(p. 5) The peer-to-peer nature of Skype,
as software that is largely platform independent, enables it to nicely meet these
7
requirements.
“In the end, viral communications transforms communication from something
you buy to something you do. Independence of operation allows communications services to be separated from traditional service providers. At one [very
fundamental] level, this is a pure threat
to the extent that the economics of the
telecommunications industry business
model depends on exclusivity of service
provisioning.” (p. 10)
These paragraphs I believe are a good
illustration of what Skype represents. It
is a form of VoIP vastly different from
what has come before. It is not the be-all
and end-all of this form of development
and indeed, as our discussion will show,
its nature as a viral carrier will leave it
profoundly unwelcome in many areas
where security and control of communications is paramount. In the pages of this
issue we will also explore in depth what
is being done with the more standard
VoIP applications that come in forms
that the phone companies and the large
enterprises are more used to and can
much more easily control since they are
mapped much more closely to the standard telephone networks.
Even with Skype, the PSTN won’t vanish over night. There are hundreds of
millions of people without the necessary computers and hundreds of millions
more without access to the necessary
broadband. The change of mindset required to look at your computer as also
a telephone will take some time. But I
now believe that the flow of change is
faster than I assumed only four months
ago when I first used Skype. Before the
first generation of VoIP had fully settled
in we are being swept by a second generation. A lot of people, including quite
a few on our symposium list, are raising
doubts about Skype. Many are justified.
As eloquent as the Reed-Lippman viral
point of view of the universe is, the business model still isn’t clear. For, if communication becomes what you do rather
than a service you buy, we must still buy
the needed hardware and find a way to
enable maintenance of the basic infrastructure on which the Internet depends.
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
Still in the Early
Stages?
On March 1, Reed wrote: “I’m . . . optimistic that dominoes are falling. Cellular
is destroying wireline, LD ‘carriers’ are
pretty much dead on their feet and surviving by providing commodity pipes for
data and voice-over-data. IP is already in
use in the telephony infrastructure (PTT
except on Nextel’s legacy network is
IP-based). Presence and IM are growing
markets. File sharing is being monetized
by Apple and its friends, and being experimented with by BBC and others.”
Frank Coluccio added: “Also Ethernet
in the metro and WAN, particularly when
the Enterprise owns its own fiber, is neutralizing, where it is not also a tenant of,
the SONET that came before it, allowing
enterprises to self-provision their own
network topologies and configurations
in situations where previously they were
fully dependent on carriers.”
Reed continued: “I love what Skype is
doing, but it’s currently the Apple ][ of
the new end-to-end personal communications experience. With luck they’ll
make it to the Macintosh level. No one
has legitimized personal communications as IBM legitimized the PC, yet ...
But Motorola’s deal with Skype indicates
what I see in my conversations with the
*non*-marketing people at many communications companies - they see the
future and are willing to take risks, albeit
tiny ones, that may not be enough to become players in the next wave. . .”
“[Meanwhile] the marketroids are playing their usual anti-novelty role, spinning fear, uncertainty and doubt at their
consumer and enterprise customers. (No
one really wants a GUI. It’s inefficient.
Why would anyone who does word processing want a PC with a color screen?)
But in the home offices, away from the
Wall St. analysts, they know that isn’t
going to fly for long. That said, it’s not
time to fall in love with Skype, or the
iPod, or any short-term vestige of a possible future. They are merely indicators,
and, if they are to benefit from what they
started, it will take hard work,” Reed
concludes.
This is a two month issue that looks at
both Skype and at more traditional use of
VoIP in carrier and enterprise networks.
It will show that what most enterprises
want may well not be Skype. But while
doing that it will explore the potential
for the viral growth of Skype. In some
cases Skype may become an infectious
carrier that enables PSTN or cellular
usage or even dial-out to PSTN usage to
be avoided. GSN and 3G smartphones
are predicated on getting users to pay
for convenient access to Internet, email
and SMS messages. A major question is
whether Skype will free its users as WiFi spreads from needing to pay the cell
phone companies?
Skype changes fundamentally what it
means to use a phone by becoming the
central voice application around which
a layer of written search and information
exchange tools are built. It enables realtime remote collaboration better than
anything else so far developed. With
voice mail, it greatly facilitates the exchange of audio messages. With FTP file
exchange services, it enables groups of
conference callers to share and comment
on documents charts and pictures. Talking faces is the only thing missing from
real time video conferencing benefits.
I must point out that dividing what is
happening into two generations of VoIP
may not be entirely fair. The enterprise
user base and requirements for the first
generation of VoIP are so vastly different
from the base being served by Skype as
to make it difficult to talk about both in
the same breath.
VoIP in the enterprise faces vast levels
of complexity that Skype riding peer-topeer on the public IP internet does not.
In the enterprise, VoIP must deal with
the need to do many things that Skype’s
architecture enables it to avoid. Enterprise VoIP must cross system boundaries
at levels that include many different protocols, addressing mechanisms, requirements of travel off and on the PSTN
- transition through public IP networks
and private VPNs - travel through firewalls with a myriad of attendant security
issues and the need for inter-operability
of equipment - some of which may be
made more for carriers than enterprises.
H.323 to SIP conversions and different
implementations of SIP proxies in corpo8
rate DMZ boundaries further complicate
matters.
The result is spaghetti mess that one
need not blame on SIP or really on
anyone thing besides corporate need for
security and the fact that enterprises
are bound to operate in the real world
of equipment much of which was put
in place in a time of rapid technological change and therefore can hardly be
expected to inter-operate smoothly or be
replaced over night.
We find that Skype’s proprietary architecture could be dangerous if it were
hacked to enable worms and other kinds
of malware. One should remember that
security with Skype goes well beyond
encryption of the conversation to the
Enterprise IT systems level where security means something more than just
encrypted conversation. Cautionary
flags are called for. However one should
also remember that enterprises are also
infiltrated top to bottom with other proprietary software (especially that from
Microsoft) that enables serious harm
when security is breached.
Some of our experts express profound
misgivings about Skype. We give them
ample opportunity to express their doubts
in the long discussion that, apart from the
interviews, makes up the body of this
issue. Nevertheless, as we watch what
Google is doing in its local service and
other new features at the same time as
Skype spreads, we wonder if we are not
looking at a wave of approaching change
as important as that of the maturation of
the World Wide Web a decade ago.
A final note - this issue is focused much
more on Skype and its disruptive impact
on voice communications outside the
large enterprise where it is migrating
from fixed to wireless and portable connections. For reasons that we will make
clear, the innovation and opportunities
look to be here rather than in standard
enterprise-based VoIP, about which we,
nevertheless, will have a lot to say
Editor's Note: We offer our thanks to Ed Ciesla
- [email protected] - who in addition to an
outstanding knowledge of telecom is a very
very good editor and has again worked long
hours on this issue.
Is VoIP No Longer an Appropriate Term for Thinking About
the Kind of Communication Represented by Skype?
Some Further Points of View on the Meaning and Role of Skype
Editor’s Note: The article that begins
this issue went though some considerable revision as the result of comments
on the Symposium mail list. Feedback
was that I had too uncritcally adopted
David Reed’s skewering of SIP. Consequently I tried putting the general drift of
Davids critique into my own words.
COOK Report: David pointed out that
his critique was business and not technical - but still he is using technical terms
like SIP as a protocol to make his point.
– As a result some you all are still displeased.
It seems to me the key difference that we
are talking about is that you “engineers,”
nearly a decade ago (I have been hearing
this since I interviewed Rich Shockey on
his fax protocol I think in 1996), began
developing IP technology to replace various parts of the traditional telephone
networks. Lord knows I am not a historian of SIP but I think I was interviewing on it back in 1999 - maybe even 98
with Henry Sinnreich explaining why it
would knock brain-dead H323 out of the
water, I know in the 1998-99 time frame
I interviewed the developers of Megaco,
and Henning in September of 2000. So
these various protocols have been around
a good long while and I would submit
that when they first came to pass, they
were folks working on ways to replace
the more traditional telco networks, or
shall we say bring them into the IP age?
The battle cry I heard from the beginning
was that this would hollow out and suck
dry the PSTN.
Now had anyone done a peer-to-peer
application before 2001? Let alone a
voice peer-to-peer application? I don’t
think so.
Could it be said that when Henning and
colleagues began their work the customers were mainly telcos? I think that it’s
reasonable. But could it also be said that
they had ideas about how to do really
cool things that never would have occurred to a telco? You bet.
Could it be that David’s point is that what
we have here is a collision between a
huge group of very talented people whose
early customers were phone companies.
[Frank Coluccio points out below that
the early customer were reallt would be
competitors to phonecompanies.] While
their customers now are new companies
that they helped to design and build so
that as the market evolved they could
continue to sell VoIP boxes and services
to enterprises and phone companies?
I think those are reasonable assumptions.
Frank Coluccio: Well Gordon - Not
quite. As someone who was eyeball-deep
in the creation of an Internet Telephony
Service Provider venture during the late
Nineties, I’d say that, with a few rare
exceptions, VoIP developers of all types,
including SIP developers at that time,
were not targeting Telcos, per se. That’s
where they wound up, but that was not
paramount in the original game plan.
Instead, they were targeting ITSPs, ISPs,
international settlement houses and operators like iBasis and ITXC, greefield
DLECs/CLECs, and of course, enterprises, for use over intranets in order to
replace first and second generation IP to
TDM and PSTN TDM to IP gateways,
all of whom were targeting early-stage
arbitrage opportunities.
The telcos came along begrudgingly,
later on by a couple of years, but not
before SS7 interworking was finally
worked into the framework, first.
Melissa Davis: Engineers build to requirements, build for function, rarely assume that there is only one way to solve a
problem, and work assuming “successive
approximations” with the expectation of
surprise. Smart Engineers know that the
9
success of a project at a developmental
stage changes the requirements as adoption takes place and novelty follows, requiring redesign. SIP was an engineering
project, not different from most of the
IETF projects in this way.
I can validate what Frank is reporting,
not because I was a SIP developer, but
as a reviewer and tester and quality
reference, having built packet voice as
VoATM and H.323 (software). The target, at least at Cisco, was not the telcos,
but the Enterprises, toll-bypass, and selling where Cisco had the branding and
adoption advantage (Lucent and Nortel
had a lock on the telco voice switches,
and Lucent’s demise was its “buyingtime” continued investment and revenue
projections on its Class 5 switches and its
“Broadband Manager”).
COOK Report (continuing last night's
summation): So what happened? Some
uppity young geeks who built a very
successful file sharing network for pop
music (Kazaa ) said Hey let's do a peer to
peer program to share voice. The result
was Skype. It was a greenfield approach
that was unencumbered by anything and
everything having to do with 100 years
of telco history and infrastructure. Being
unencumbered allowed them to put all
manner of stuff into their voice sharing that those of us who had not tried it
would never have associated with making telephone calls.
Now to be fair, the SIP community saw
that they could design voice communication systems that would use presence
and instant messenging and those kinds
of tools in very innovative ways. They
were well aware, I suspect, of the possibility for delivering all the other kinds
of benefits brought by Skype. Freed from
all outside constrains, they could have
delivered better than Skype.
If they had been able to behave in the
really greenfield way as could and did
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
the developers of Skype, then we would
be seeing more Skype like products out
there.
Instead they got tied up, tied down,
emeshed - or whatever you wish to call
it. David’s characterization is quite blunt
but I think in a broadbrush way its accurate. He who has the gold makes the
rules -- and the folks with the gold had
tons of teleco networks and equipment
that they simply could not throw out over
night. The result was an accomodation of
that situation.
It's no one's fault - but given the players
and conditions, it was also not surprising.
Skype was unencumbered and therefor
advantaged. Skype has have taken advantage of its lack of encumbrance. The
H.323, SIP, Megaco folk have performed
magnificently given what they had to
contend with, and the reason we are talking all these protocols rather than just
simple VoIP is that - given the complex
network contexts in which they had to
work - it was only be means of these protocols that they could make voice packet
instead of circuit switched.
That is how I see in my own words the
points that David was making.
Meanwhile, Stuart Henshall chimed in
on March 4: Gordon, It may be late to try
and be provocative and take a contrarians
view. Still I’ll try here. I’m obviously a
Skype proponent, I’ve used it longer than
most of the employees in Skype, and it
matters little to me whether it is SIP or
not. Oh I’ve keep digging to learn what
SIP will do for me, and yet it still isn’t
explained in terms that create desire and
add new meaning to my life (see my intimacy example below). Still I wish Skype
were open source etc etc. But that is just
not the case.
A few items, a contrarian’s points that
may be worth exploring.
1. Skype spent the last year moving
closer to the PSTN. With SkypeOut etc
they created an interconnect that is satisfactory at best. Be careful not to accept
too easily that Skype’s opportunity is to
act like a revolutionary phone company.
Rather it may be using this strategy to
suck the lifeblood out of them. It stimulated a cost battle amongst the traditional
incumbents. It destroyed international
call rates, and is making the investment
community “scared” of these same incumbents. Perhaps it forced the beginnings of a massive consolidation. All in
all that helps Skype. For the new PoIP
players they think they are still in the
game. They are not, they are just cutting
costs. The real caution is in the idea that
“You can’t play a CD on a record player.
Skype has been trying to - perhaps even
encouraged to do this by investors. It’s
short-term.
But the direction for the product is well
away from the PSTN. Look at the adoption of DVD’s. Look at global uptake of
mobile phones. Skype is going fast after
cheaper Wi-Fi enabled handset devices.
By Xmas the Broadreach type exercise
will only involve a $100 - $150 handset and it will be small! The biggest
flaw may actually be Skype is based on
GIPS. Unless GIPS provides a dynamic
3D audio codec Skype is vulnerable on
sound quality. I hope for their sake they
keep it in mind. Every Skyper who tries
a 3D conference call will switch if it is
offered for free. Similarly there are some
“always” on features that will make a
difference. Conclusion, connecting to the
PSTN is temporary.
2. I’m concerned when I see the “enterprise” discussion. I realize there is
a whole industry that is set up to deal
with the Fortune 500 or 1000. You list is
supported by them. But the fact remains
that the majority of business is not actually done that way. The complexity that
ties the mega’s up and the “security”
approaches implied and referenced is
not relevant to the way SME’s operate.
Skype is already capturing independent
global workgroups. I’m one, running
elements of my business that would have
broken my bank account two years ago.
For the same reason that blogs and wikis
are beating mega buck content management systems, Skype, and potentially
other alternates are going to smash the
traditional barriers.
I’d really spend more time thinking about
it in the perspective of SME’s. You can
bet that Skype will use a blog like ap10
proach to get adoption in enterprises.
You start with a project team. You don’t
need approval for that. You just do it.
Groups with a high element of travel will
drive this faster and faster. I know Fortune 500’s that are already in this situation and similarly groups within “major”
players in China.
3. The argument here is premised on
the American/European/Japan? world of
business. I’d look a lot deeper at China,
India and ask yourself if you were organizing, creating a new mesh: what
would be adopted and where and what
infrastructure would you use? I have a
suspicion that Wi-Fi handset could be
very big. I’m afraid that the security
issues above are predicated on a profile and understanding of desktops and
laptops not cheap micro mobile devices.
The global telecom replacement is likely
to come out of China. We may be the
late adopters. Users will also determine
this standard.
4. I mentioned audio quality in passing
above. This discussion should not be had
without thinking about “presence” and
“intimacy”. When you have listened to
a Skyper (like I did this afternoon) tell
me about how he was in his hotel room
laptop on his bed talking to his partner
(same setup) and telling me he could
have left it on all night just so they could
share breathing you are beginning to get
to the reality. The phone can’t deliver
this.
An Economic Power
Shift?
5. The real end game is in economics.
When consumers have always-on connections and unlimited personal storage,
then economic power shifts into their
hands. Visa and eBay both model elements of what could emerge. Identity is
moving to the fringe. It’s a powerful
aspect. Skype’s long term role may be
that of info market facilitator. Telecoms
weren’t designed with user reputations
systems in mind, swarms, smart mobs or
cooperative behavior. Are we moving a
step closer?
I did say I needed a rant tonight. Thank
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
you for allowing me the opportunity. I’ll
continue to the merry end. The discussion is framed as VoIP. In fact it should
be framed on the quality of how we
converse, how well we are enabled to
talk and listen. Think next “gen” / net
“work”.
It’s also late at night, I think VoIP sucks
as a term. It’s no wonder Skype is becoming a verb.
On Skype numbers there a couple that
are a little off, not materially. I think the
downloads number is not helpful. Current Skype accounts number some 24
million and they currently claim 785000
SkypeOut users. It still peaks at about
two million concurrent users online per
day.(Is that 3x Vonage? On what investment?). Skype also claims the marginal
cost of obtaining a new user is 1 cent.
There’s some fiction there but the point
is effective. Vonage's new user cost is in
the hundreds of dollars.
SkypeMe, Stuart
Melissa Davis: Stuart is correct above to
reference that the enterprise arguments I
have advanced are based on the Japan/
North American/European models. India
and China do not have SEC, banking,
privacy laws and compliance regulations. Labor rates are far lower and the
proportion of manual labor much higher,
thus the cost of outages due to cyber-vermin at least less of a risk.
At this moment, among my customers,
Skype is unacceptable, not because it is
“Skype”, not for political reasons, not
because some group wants to “carve
out the guts of the telcos” (political
speech inciting to pejorative emotional
elicitation), but because of the way it
works to the extent we can tell, and the
interactions it must have to known other
exploits (i.e., some applications on the
host machine have to play the sounds).
If David Reed and Gordon Cook wish to
tear down the protective walls of the enterprises, and the enterprises do not want
those walls torn down, then that is a war
path. A Skype proxy may well solve that
problem with no loss of life.
For reasons Jim Forster and I brought
up earlier, Henning’s statement below
that enterprises will be late adopters
is in all probability true. The cost of
change is huge with any large footprint.
The MBA’s require justifications and
reviews. The Security organization requires risk assessment and mitigation. IT
simply lacks the senior staff depth to do
the lab tests. Vendor’s put off by our customers for this reason have come to us:
“we will bring the hardware, and set up
the systems.” I don’t have time either to
write test plans, methodologies, etc. for
all the applications of promised utility.
What would be the reason to change for
the enterprise? Certainly not expense.
Voice is already close to free for these
large purchasers.
The worldviews of the enterprises are
unlikely to be persuaded by your cheerleading for Skype, nor threatened by it.
They build private nets for internal communications, and do customer contact in
DMZ like safe zones. They don’t care
about “meaning of your life”, or about
“intimacy”. The Skype model is always
on interconnectedness to everyone else,
total interdependency. Such requires
an enormous amount of trust, which is
anathema to the competitive and regulated capitalistic economic system in which
these large enterprises play.
This isn’t to say that things won’t change,
just that cultures change far more slowly than individuals, and individuals far
more slowly than technologies.
David Reed: Melissa’s quite right. For
those in the Enterprise who buy the
“enterprise religion” (the way of the
technocrat) change will be slow, and if
Gordon wants the “enterprise” people to
pay for his newsletter, he might want to
tell them what they want to hear. In my
experience in business (nearly 20 years
of my professional life, the rest being
in research), every company contains
an “enterprise” and a “business” side by
side, and those people in the “enterprise”
have a bad habit of never understanding
that they are nearly invisible ghosts in a
living business.
These are the people who could see no
value in the personal computer over
11
Wang word processors and IBM 3270’s
accessing COBOL apps, no problem
with the “application backlog” because
an app wasn’t real unless written to
specs by a systems analyst, no reason to
switch from plastic slides on overhead
projectors to PCs and projectors, and no
reason to pay for employees to connect
in from home. These are the people who
say that we must keep our secrets locked
in central repositories, and require manager’s signatures for every nickel spent,
because empowering employees to make
decisions is too risky. They are the legal
dept., the CIO (if the company is unlucky) and the HR dept. - the people who
think they make the business run, but
really mostly contribute at the level of
corporate hygeine at best.
In fact, they make a fetish of saying no to
change, and in the security area a fetish
of confusing top-down control and the
prerogatives of management with protecting the interests of the company.
So this won’t happen. And it’s not just
Skype, but ALL technology change that
they resist. SIP, too.
So it must feel really good to make small
inroads into the “enterprise”, rather than
selling to all the businesses on the planet.
Doesn’t it seem like a paradox that
Skype is more secure than ANY phone
system out there, because it is end-toend encrypted, but that security is being
turned against it by the very guardians of
security who have deployed completely
hackable systems in their companies? (I
do fault Skype on not making their security architecture more transparent, but
compared to SIP’s bolt-on-hodgepodge
theory of security, I’ll take Skype’s until
someone builds a the next great voice
product by assembling a plug-and-playsecure-SIP-based product).
That people who probably know that
viruses spread like wildfire once they
get inside their enterprise firewalls - due
to basing their corporate architecture on
boundary-based security - still object
to deploying a new product that is inherently more protected from hacking,
because it has to live in the dangerous
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
world outside the firewall?
That p2p techniques that reduce the need
for centrally managed servers are resisted by the group in enterprises whose
budget directly depends on the number of
servers they manage?
I’ve watched in my career how disruptive technologies (email, spreadsheets,
PCs, LANs, the Internet itself ..) invade
the enterprise. They never come through
the enterprise sales force, and they never
come in the IT doorway. Their expo-
12
nential growth starts insignificantly and
away from the center. But they transform
the enterprise anyway.
So Melissa’s right. “The enterprise” will
never adopt this technology. But the real,
pragmatic businesses will.
An Introduction to the World of Skype
Skype Specialist Stuart Henshall Evaluates Skype's Strategy
of Moving Voice and Real Time Collaboration to Wherever
Broadband is Present
Highlights
Editor’s Introduction: Stuart Henshall
has been a management and marketing
consultant and was affiliated with the
Global Business Forum in the 1990s.
He downloaded Skype on Day 3 of its
release in the summer of 2003.
His blog, Unbound Sprial, http://www.
henshall.com/blog/ is devoted primarily to Skype. A November 8, 2004
interview with Niklas Zennström is
found at http://www.engadget.com/
entry/2635319328796286/
I interviewed Stuart on February 18,
2005.
COOK Report: What do you see then
as the context and big picture of what is
going on with Skype?
Henshall: Let's start by considering the
OS. When Skype originally launched it
was as a Windows platform and there
was a lot of discussion that said: “Oh
Skype is just another windows application”. Folk concluded that they would
never develop for other platforms because with Windows they had the whole
world and therefore they didn’t have to.
Consequently their first interesting strategic move was in going multiplatform
- something that for a small software
company was enormous an cost. But
they went on to support Mac OSX and
Linux. Concurrently with this they built
a PDA version for Windows compatible
PDAs. Consequently we are sitting here
today with Skype being available on all
major platforms with the exception of
Palm - if you consider Palm to be major.
You also have some evidence that says
they are either looking at or doing work
in the Symbian area.
Multi Platform and
Peer to Peer - A Force
to Change the Basic
Essence of Telephony
COOK Report: Would you give me some
context for Symbian?
Henshall: Symbian came out of Psion.
Psion was the operating system for one
off the earliest PDAs that came out of
Britain. But I guess originally it might
even trace its life back to Sinclair. Symbian has managed to become an open
source developer platform that supports
3GSM mobile phones. It is owned I
think about 51% by Nokia and 49% by
Motorola and some other parties.
[Editor’s Note: http://www.symbian.
com/ notes that shipments of Symbian
OS phones doubled in 2004 to 14.4
million phones - the third consecutive
year in which Symbian OS phone shipments grew more than 100%. Forty-one
Symbian OS phones are currently shipping from eight Symbian OS licensees
to more than 200 network operators
worldwide.]
The major cell phone manufacturers outside of China and Korean are now part
of this little group devoted to Symbian
as their OS. Smartphones are referred to
as the category of cell phones that handle
all the PDA kinds of things (email, web
browsing and so on) as well as delivering voice. There are really only two OS
platforms for smartphones like the Nokia
9500 Communicator which is currently
the premier example of this technology. The other OS smartphone platform
is what Treo and Windows compatible
smartphones run on. Nokia still has at
the moment the largest market share for
smartphones at about 75%.
13
There are several things in the Symbian
operating system at the moment that
seem to leave it pretty well prepared for
the future. One of the areas is audio and
sound. It already has all the necessary
capabilities in it for playing MP-3s, stereo music, or streaming music through it
while the comparable Windows platform
still has problems with that. I just saw
an announcement from Japan for stereo
audio and 3-D audio headsets for cell
phones. The result is a dynamic soundstage much like you have in gaming
environments or in your home theater.
There is a lot of work being done in
the sound and audio area, because quite
clearly the iPods of the world are getting very close to converging with these
things. When you have a PDA or one of
these I-mates that is really just a Windows PDA, you insert a memory stick
and all of a sudden you have a megabyte
of music in your smartphone for an extra
$50.
COOK Report: It sounds to me that you
are saying if they are going to be multiplatform, it is only logical for them to
move onto to cell phone platforms including what they announced a day ago
with Motorola?
Henshall: Yes. I think what Skype announced with Motorola is representative
of the fact that Motorola has Symbian
interests as well as Windows interests.
If the smartphone world is predominantly Symbian-based at the moment,
one of the advantage of these things is
that if you want to infect the system, you
either have to get the mobile operator to
say: “Oh - OK we will put that in.” Or
you actually have to have an operating
system where the user can decide to add
Skype to the device.
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
COOK Report: So if Skype runs on Symbian, then I as an owner of a Symbian
OS smartphone, can put Skype on my
smartphone regardless of when the cell
phone manufacturer does or not?
Henshall: That’s correct. I have software
on Symbian-based Nokia smartphone
that didn’t come with the product to
begin with and just the other day downloaded the Opera web browser. I also
downloaded a program called Agile Messenger. You are an Apple user so you
won’t use this but there are some Apple
equivalents for the use of multiple IM
systems within one application. Trillium
allows me to combine my AIM buddies,
Yahoo buddies and MSN buddies on my
PC. Agile Messenger on my cell phone,
because I have an Internet connection
on it, allows me to run ICQ, AIM, MSN
and so on and to run them all at the same
time. I keep wondering when they will
add Skype to this mix. Here is their URL
- delivered to you as we speak via Skype
IM. http://www.agilemobile.com/agile_
messenger.html
COOK Report: What I think I hear you
saying is that with Skype being potentially Symbian compatible is that no
matter whether Nokia or Motorola or
Samsung, or any of a bunch of others,
preloads Skype or not, the end user with
a Symbian OS using smartphone just
grabs Skype and sticks it on his device.
By making Skype Symbian compatible,
any user with a Sympbian OS smartphone who wants to do so can add Skype
to his cell phone or PDA?
Henshall: Yes, but I see two issues here.
Anyone with a Windows compatible PDA
can put Skype on that with the result that
if you have a Wi-Fi-enabled PDA then
for certain areas and certain sorts of
events your PDA has become a potential
mobile phone replacement. It depends on
whether I have access to Wi-Fi enabled
hotspot or not. The I-Mates that Skype is
now coming preloaded on are PDAs that
also have a GSM card in them as well as
being able to have 3G/UMTS.
[Editor’s Note: According to http://www.
umts-forum.org/servlet/dycon/ztumts/
umts/Live/en/umts/What+is+UMTS_
index “Universal Mobile Telecommu-
nications System”, UMTS represents
an evolution in terms of capacity, data
speeds and new service capabilities from
second generation mobile networks.
Today, more than 60 3G/UMTS networks using WCDMA technology are
operating commercially in 25 countries,
supported by a choice of over 100 terminal designs from Asian, European and
US manufacturers. [snip] 3G/UMTS [is
seen] as a key enabler for true “mobile
broadband.”]
Henshall: What Skype has done here is
to open the door for the PDA to become
a cellular replacement at very very low
cost. Anyone who can offer you a Wi-Fi
enabled smartphone can offer you very
cheap VoIP dial out rates as part of a
mobile device. Such a device is certainly
a cellular replacement potentially for
use in the home and certainly for use in
hotels and airports. Now aside from such
hotspot-enabled action, the place where
mobile has the biggest benefit is when I
jump in a car. Mobile works when I am
driving around while I have to be stationary for Wi-Fi.
Consequently there is a sort of tension
that is emerging and symbolized by the
Motorola deal announced this week and
the I-mate deal of the week before. Motorola is going to provide a variety of
hardware to a variety of companies but
the consumer is going to sit there and
say what do I really want in my handset?
Really what they want is just one handset
and one number. They want one place of
focus or identifier. They may want to use
it in multiple places as in I’ll take this
call on my lap top now. But later on I
might want to shift it to my mobile. I may
even want my camera to ring.
Changing the Way
People Work
Henshall: Skype, as you are beginning to
see, changes the way people work. Way
back in 2003, I was beginning to compare
Skype to Microsoft Office where the office platform was all about text and email
and things like that. Now I have begun
to run off of two screens. A work screen
directly in front and one with Skype as
14
an application off to one side. At the
moment I have Agile Messenger on my
work screen. On my left I have my Skype
and email applications. This is basically
a communications screen. This modifies
the way one begins to work and helped
me to see Skype early on as something
that was creating a new communications
platform in a way similar to that in which
Windows created a work platform.
But the things that Skype is doing all
have the potential to pull users away
from the old world of text and email to a
newer world or real time chat, IM, voice
calls - in other words integrated applications that are ultimately tied around your
phone and hand set.
COOK Report: Indeed, and tossing
around URLs in the midst of an interview
is an interesting experience. I note the
other one you sent where Peter Cochrane
the former CTO of British Telecom say
that full adoption of Skype on a mobile
smartphone sent his mobile bill down
from $500 in one month to $10! http://
comment.silicon.com/0,39024711,39127
916,00.htm Now that as a signpost for
the future would seem ominous for the
phone company.
Henshall: It will certainly change the
phone company’s future. Ultimately it
may change the way that things are
charged. What Peter Cochrane’s report
says to me is that he actually uses the
phone more than ever. His call costs went
hugely down but I bet you he is talking
twice as much. What I want to ask is how
do the hours in his day change? I play
around with numbers a lot and remember watching last week as Skype went
through 2,000,000 active users on line at
one time for the first time and cranked
out 3.5 million minutes an hour of talk
time. We are looking at calling patterns
here that are radically different from the
traditional phone call.
COOK Report: From my own experience
part of the difference is that you are in
front of your machine with all its tools
and data and using a softphone program
that is keyed to sending text and files to
the person you are talking with during
your conversation. It encourages you to
browse the web as you speak and grab
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
data, URLs or whatever and send it to
the person on the other end whereas the
Skype software captures the traffic for
his review at the end of the conversation.
It begins to take on aspects of a face-toface meeting especially since the sound
is so good that nuances of voice traverse
the connection very well.
or not in terms of presence. Therefore I
really don’t care whether there is a number behind that or not. Perhaps Skype
should know that, if you are not on line,
it should dial your mobile number. What
does matter to me is that, when I want to
use a VoIP line that costs less than cellular, some entity must provide number or
name for the connection device.
Henshall: Quite true.
COOK Report: I note also you’re sending me http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/
wlg/6491 where the author is comparing
Skype to a baby Microsoft; something
that David Reed was hypothesizing
about in early December.
Henshall: Consider baby Microsoft as
a hypothesis to weigh against what we
are now observing. And then consider
that in five years time this discussion
about mobile may be completely different because the mobile may be able
to project a keyboard on to your desk
when you need it and it may be able to
shine a 12 inch screen onto your wall in
a projection TV mode of operation when
that is convenient. Furthermore you may
almost never put it to your ear because a
tiny Bluetooth headset in your ear will
handle the audio. Things keep on getting
smaller - that much seems predictable
even if form factors are not.
COOK Report: If a Motorola wants to
sell its cell phones, it seems that having
Skype aboard them might be an inducement for the consumer to look for and
choose a Motorola phone - although the
mobile service providers can’t be too
happy about that. True?
Henshall: Yes. I think so. But the problem that I see as the greatest challenge at
the moment is the issue surrounding my
phone number. Ultimately I think phone
numbers will be irrelevant. When I want
to talk to you, I want to be able to click
on your name. This actually already reflects what I do with my cell phone. I hit
my contact list and scroll for the person
I want and key in the first digit of their
name and push call.
Skype makes this even easier because
it tells me whether you are even online
Whether it’s in the SIP world, like Telio
or Lingo, or whether it is in the Skypebound world, an important question is
what number is it going to be? Skype can
give me inbound numbers that are just
like Liebertell. Or SkypeIn could actually be my mobile number. If I could have
a working SkypeIn number that was my
mobile number, I would pay my mobile
operator an extra ten dollars a month for
that privilege.
It is a done deal because that is a VoIP
access line charge. What happens is
the same thing that happens when I
put Skype on multiple machines at that
point. My computer rings if it is on and
if my cell phone is on, that also rings. If
I have a choice, I answer the computer
and take the call on VoIP. If I am actually home in my house and I have one
of these combined I-mate GSM cell
phones, my cell phone will know to take
that call on the Wi-Fi connection and
treat it as a VoIP call.
COOK Report: Therefore the flexibility,
independence and power of the platforms that are in the consumer’s hands
are setting up a series of relationships
where the patterns of connectivity are
going to happen in ways that work economically and physically for the convenience of the consumer and not the cell
phone company?
Henshall: Let’s take the following as
a thought experiment. Let’s say I need
a new cell phone right now. I go down
to Verizon or T-Mobile to have a look
around and they say to me: “Stuart you
can have this cell phone. If you want
to buy it outright it will cost you $200
or $250. But it’s a nice top of the line
version. But it doesn’t have all the bells
and whistles - yet. But if you sign a one
or two year contract with us we will sell
15
you that cell phone for $150.” And I say:
“OK, fine,” and take a contract. But now
we are two years down the road and I go
out on the same mission. Only now I see
all these fancy new Wi-Fi combo dual
phones - wha ever you want to call them
- out there. But they are all rather expensive. Like $500. That’s really expensive.
I’d like the new features but I go back to
T-mobile where I find out that I can get
a contract for another two years and that
the equivalent of the $250 phone only
costs me $50. But if I get that new phone
I can drop my land lane and that land
line is costing me $300 a year.
So I say: “OK, I’ll drop the land line
and buy the more expensive phone.” But
then I notice that I can get the same nice
expensive phone from Amazon for $30 a
month but more than that they will give
you your old mobile number on the new
phone and help you get everything transferred to a phone that can also do VoIP
under the right conditions.
With Phones Turning
into Software User
Convenience May Have
Far Reaching Impact
COOK Report: So some of the new
business models out there are for those
people who understand the complexity
and can engineer flexible programs that
will deliver value out of that complexity
for the poor befuddled consumer?
Henshall: I could say that I think there
are two sorts of issues. One is the need
for people to move to multiple phone
numbers that was the by product of
the creation of mobile phone networks
reached by their own separate phone
numbers. We now have Skype doing the
same kind of thing. But we are now at
the point with the technology where we
could say - could we wrap this all into
one again?
If we wrap it all into one, we may get
to the point where what is spent on the
one roughly matches the sum total of
what we spent on the parts before. For
example I am happy to pay my mobile
operator a little bit more if I can get rid
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
of my land line, fine.
One of the things that Zennstrom said
early on was that we used to think that
the ability to have a conversation was
tied to a piece of hardware involving
wires. This is no longer true. Phones are
turning into software.
COOK Report: As Rich Shockey said:
“Voice is just a bucket of bits.”
Henshall: Right. And the question becomes where does the bit bucket or software reside? In what type of device? This
type of software is just going to infect
every device in some way. The key gift
this next Christmas potentially is a Wi-Fi
capable phone handset that looks juts
like your normal phone handset except
that it is Wi-Fi capable and you have a
VoIP client on the other end of it and
when you want down to a local hotspot
or go next door to the neighbor’s, you
just take your phone with you.
This is really just a low cost version of
the HP PDA. It says how do I take an
HP Wi-Fi enabled PDA and engineer the
cost down so that it costs me $120 and
how do I connect that to some VoIP provider? Do that and you have a very low
cost handset that you can take anywhere
there is Wi-Fi.
COOK Report: Well in this context,
can we review the basic mobile phone
protocols?
Henshall: ATT, Cingular and T-Mobile
are all GSM. Sprint is PCS, and Verizon
is CDMA. Verizon has also introduced
into certain high density markets EVDO
which is their version of 3G. They are
charging $80 a month for EVDO - a rate
that I certainly don’t find attractive. If I
have to make a choice that when I need
a bit of bandwidth, I can get Wi-Fi for
nothing or do I want to pay $80 a month
for always-on connectivity? For certain
people that may be a good deal, but for
the majority, I find it hard to justify.
COOK Report: But all these protocols
are good enough to get the basic tasks for
which people use smart phones, voice,
email, web and so on done?
Henshall: Yes. There is not much difference. Certainly we have seen that
minutes have been migrating to mobile
for quite a long while. As rates come
down, people are using their mobile
phones more and more to talk. Of course,
use varies by area and calling scheme.
In America I think we are relatively
unusual in that that when someone calls
our mobile phone that in-bound call costs
nothing extra. In Europe however ringing someone on their mobile is a very
expensive long distance call. The same
thing in New Zealand. You can get an
800 number on your mobile and make it
cheap and easy for someone to call you,
but doing so is a big barrier for moving
from one system to the other. Typically
within those markets your monthly plan
gives you ‘x’ minutes of calling time
within the network. They operate under
a very different charging structure and
this is why SMS and text messaging are
so big in Europe. There it costs only a
few cents to send a text message as opposed to a considerably more expensive
voice call.
COOK Report: This reminds me of the
note on your blog of about ten days ago
wondering if Skype would enable free
SMS messaging? Anything new going
on there?
Henshall: Let’s just say that I think that
the interesting thing is that, once you can
go SMS to mobile or from Skype to SMS
and go from Skype to mobile with a text
message to find out if someone is available to talk and can receive a response,
it means that you can call that mobile
effectively at Skype-Out rates which in
some cases may be very cheap.
COOK Report: Because Skype is so good
as a bridging technology, do we have
something going on here where Skype
can go up to a manufacturer and say let’s
do a deal where we preload Skype on to
your mobile phone, as long as doing so
costs the device maker virtually nothing.
The device maker is motivated to comply
because having Skype there will make
the device more desirable to its customers. But, on the other the mobile phone
company that has to offer the Skype
loaded handset to its customer must be
not nearly so happy? Yes?
16
Henshall: I think the traditional answer
is yes. But I think that logic needs to
be overturned along with the belief that
products like Skype are bad for the mobile operator. The mobile operator after
all is about mobility. The question here
is always-on. Always ready to talk. 3G
is about always-on and so is Skype . You
could say that Skype is just accelerating
that style of working. I can sit here in
my office and connect with five other
people in a conference call. We can all
put ourselves on mute and leave that
call running the whole day if we want.
Anytime we want someone’s attention
we can just un-mute our headset and call
out to them.
They call it “push-to-talk.” I can have
that up right now on my computer namely a “push-to-talk” network for up
to five people and continue to run another iteration of Skype, side-by-side
with it, and continue to take and make
calls there whenever I want.
Skype as a Digital
Convergence Tool
Box Dependent on
Broadband
COOK Report: Skype, in the sense you
describe it, is beginning to look like a
Garden of Eden for someone who likes
to play with a kaleidoscopic range of possibilities of the technology tools enabled
by so called digital convergence. I think
what you are saying is that for a seriously
new piece of software like Skype, once
you follow its emergence and apparent
strategy, assuming you know business
use of communications very well, the
number of possible ways that these tools
can be combined with other tools to open
up new ways of doing business becomes
really impressive. True?
Henshall: Yes. Definitely. I am looking
for two other links as we are talking. One
explains a Nokia launch of a voice messaging type product. The article explains
how Nokia is enabling the capturing of a
voice message that could be edited and
sent to a podcast or an audio blog. http://
digital-lifestyles.info/display_page.asp?s
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
ection=platforms&search=1&id=1916
[Editor’s Note: The article at the above
URL explains: “When we initially learnt
about this, there was a degree of ‘Oh,
fancy voice mail, OK,’ but looking a bit
deeper, we see this could be a significant
development for podcasters and audio
bloggers. Rather than just phoning in
your comments directly on a phone line,
the ability to trim and edit the pieces
before postings them means they can be
polished before sending.
“It’s well known that Nokia is to include their LifeBlog software with their
new 7710 handset. Xpress audio messaging could become another tool in the
podcaster’s arsenal, enabling podcasting
on the move, without a PC. It will all be
down to the power of the audio editing
software. We’re keen to get our hands on
it to see if our hunch is confirmed.
“For the straight messaging, Nokia clearly hopes that this will give them some
leverage in the highly competitive - and
lucrative - youth mobile phone market:
‘Nokia Xpress audio messaging enables
operators to differentiate their service
offering from competitors, by utilizing
existing infrastructure,’ explains Juha Pinomaa, Vice President, Mobile Phones,
Nokia.
‘For consumers, Nokia Xpress audio
messaging combines ease of use, affordability, and adds a personal touch
to greetings, congratulations, or allows
to share a special moment like a grandchild’s first words.’
“Recorded audio messages can be sent
to all MMS-enabled GSM handsets and
stored and replayed as easily as any other
multimedia file, and Nokia will be introducing support for legacy phones within
its MMS solution.”]
COOK Report: I am seeing that this
really is something that you have to do
before you can appreciate it fully. When
I went to broadband two years ago, it
was to get Vonage and save money on
my phone bill. But I am now beginning
to see that a new application like Skype
is making broadband into something of
a platform that can serve as a foundation
and a communications hub for many
new applications that enable collaboration of one sort or another. If I were
selling broadband, I would look at this
information and find that it would warm
my heart because it certainly broadens
the market for my product. If you have
a decent phone line, you can do a lot of
things including most of the web with
dial-up. But for these sorts of things you
need broadband. Yes?
Henshall: Broadband is the foundation
technology for all this and you are right
in that it certainly is the underpinning
that makes all this possible.
Proprietary Skype, Open
SIP and the Enterprise
COOK Report: We have done a pretty
good tour of the consumer small business
world for these tools, but it seems to me
that there is likely another huge world
inside the enterprise. However this is
one where security concerns will indeed
run paramount. The question in my mind
is whether this enterprise universe has
to be thought of in a very different way.
Is what we have occurring two separate
streams of development? One stream
inside the enterprise and one for the rest
of the world - until Skype begins to infiltrate the enterprise?
Another interesting aspect is that with
Layer One and Two user-controlled optical networks, you need a fair sized
corporation to implement this technology
with this. It’s you and I, on the outside
edges who are way ahead of many of the
enterprises.
ones, and think OK how many of your
employees are already allowed to bring
a mobile phone to work? How many are
using AIM on the corporate network?
How many are allowed to carry a USB
stick into and out of the business?
I think that for enterprises there are two
separate questions. One is how do they
establish operational procedures governing trust of their employees in general?
The other is that we know that the majority of companies are tracking emails
and who sent what to whom and are able
to look in on almost everything the employees do while Skype at the moment
makes it more difficult for a company to
see who is on an employee’s buddy list.
The information is available.
COOK Report: This is because the Skype
API is now available?
Henshall; Yes. You can use the API to
generate a list of calls made, the time of
the call, the person who was called - all
that. You could use the API to add a plugin to Skype that said as long as these two
things are registered on our corporate
network and working together, the Skype
client will be reporting to us at all times
what this person does with it. Whether or
not they are sharing files, or whom they
are chatting with. That is one way to get a
view and I think that Skype will probably
generate some enterprise systems that are
capable of doing that. If not, it is now a
simple programming exercise.
It seems that Skype could be quite advantageous inside the enterprise, but there
are some security issues that will make
Skype’s entrance there into a difficult
proposition. What can we look forward
to here?
There are some things in Skype that have
never been done before. I registered my
name as Stuart_Henshall but if I had
wanted to register [email protected],
I could not do that. At the moment, the
@ is a disallowed character. So are some
others. Now as far as I know with every
one using SIP, they capture your name
but also your email address. Presumably
a premium Skype product in the future
could allow you to use your email address as your Skype name.
Henshall: There are some security angles
from the enterprise point of view that I
am sure I don’t adequately understand.
Skype is obviously creating a debate on
those issues. I also look at enterprises,
especially the untold number of smaller
COOK Report: Let me go back to what
David Reed said early in December and
that was that Skype was doing all the
right moves in comparison to SIP which
just wasn’t getting much of anything
done. Nevertheless Skype being propri-
17
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
etary made him a bit nervous. At the
same time he said that he felt their business strategy moves were impeccable.
He predicted that this combination could
turn Skype into the WinTel monopoly
platform of voice communications. I am
wondering two and a half months later
as things continue to unfold in a quickening pace how you view that tentative
surmise?
Henshall: I think all of us, if we had a
choice, would like to see a completely
open source Skype competitor. But let’s
just flip the question around and say that
they have indeed made the right moves.
They have launched an open API that
relates to text and all other sort of messaging capabilities. Why don’t we ask
and request from the phone companies
that they share their APIs and open up
their networks in the same way so that
what we see is an innovation market - an
ideas pool that is created at the juxtaposition between the convergence of mobile,
landline and Skype and let the real innovators get in that field and really create
the products that we actually want?
COOK Report: That is a very provocative chain of reasoning and I think the
netheads would hear it and snort “impossible because after all they are phone
companies and phone companies will
never do that.” But on the other hand you
have to wonder whether Siedenberg, if
he has any sense, may realize 6 months
from now or a year from now that if his
ILEC is going to survive, he will have
to start thinking like this. Is that part of
what I am hearing?
Henshall: Yes. I think so. I don’t know
all the depths of the technology that exists within a mobile operator. But let’s
use one example. The mobile operator has great location information. Fine.
Give me that information on the API
and let me now dock that with Skype
profiles. Let me work with advertisers
or other things and people that start to
make sense.
COOK Report: It sounds like Google has
been doing some of this?
Henshall: Google has been very smart.
But in fact I think Amazon has been even
smarter with their API. In a world where
telecom more and more is just software
and where you are an older telecom
company trying to compete, all I can say
is where are your APIs? And seeing that
you can’t think through the solutions
yourself, why don’t you turn them over
to the open market?
COOK Report: As we think every now
and then about where all the jobs are
going, I am beginning to form an opinion
that the place where a good deal of business opportunities are to be found is in
putting the pieces of this kaleidoscopic
puzzle together in new and unexpected
ways. Right?
Henshall: Well, if your were SBC and
you had just bought AT&T and you
were sitting there saying now we have
acquired all these engineers and we will
now have to get rid of them. Why not
give them something useful to do and
turn them loose on the APIs?
Skype versus Peerio
- Architecture
Implications
COOK Report: Thinking about P2P IP
telephony and its possible evolution, let
me ask about Dmitri Goroshevsky, Peerio, and a possible federated architecture
for Skype or a Skype clone.
What Goroshevsky was telling Martin
Geddes in his recent Telepocalypse blog
was pretty fascinating, but, on the other
hand, if Richard Stastney’s violent reaction to it on my mail list is accurate,
Goroshevsky is full of hot air. What do
you think is going on?
Henshall: It’s a good story. I have heard
it, just like Richard Stastney, making
the rounds for months. So far they have
shown NOTHING. (Note they did announce at Internet Telephony. However,
I still can’t download their app. Nevertheless, these comments could become
very old very fast.)
COOK Report: The architecture that he
describes could be done but until someone does it, forget about it?
18
Henshall: Right. I don’t know whether
it is smoke and mirrors to try to enable
them to make money or if it is the real
deal and they actually have the chip.
When I was at VON in November 2004,
they claimed they had the chip and were
taking it into production and their device
would be available by now. But they
have said this too many times and then
failed to deliver to have much credibility
left.
However let me also say that I think that
it is quite plausible that the structure for
IP telephony that Gorsohevsky is talking
about could become the real future for
communications.
COOK Report: So one might well say
that the message here is that while Skype
so far is very successful, it certainly has
some weaknesses. That from the work
of Henning Schulzrinne’s students and
others we certainly have a good idea
of how it operates. [See http://www.
cs.columbia.edu/~library/TR-repository/
reports/reports-2004/cucs-039-04.pdf for
an early attempt at a Skype protocol
analysis.] Therefore, folk should not sit
back and assume that Skype in its current
instantiation is the be-all and end-all for
peer-to-peer IP telephony? Right?
Henshall: Let me answer by asking
a question about what Goroshevsky is
talking about. It seems that he is saying
that he will give anyone who wants one
an exchange and that with an exchange
those people are free to go and connect
up to an emerging mesh.
Now here’s my question: What happens
if Skype says that the only way to solve
the enterprise’s problem is to give the
enterprise that same capability and that
you as an individual can also buy the
same capability - so that rather than having one log on (authentication) server
in Denmark, anyone can have a log on
server. In this arrangement the authentication servers mesh with each other and
then you make your decision as an individual as to whether you want to join all
servers or whether you want to join just
a few subnets.
COOK Report: What you are also saying
is that if the Skype people are as intel-
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
ligent as we would assume them to be,
they have to have resources and brain
power devoted to work on these kinds of
enhancements.
Henshall: Sure. Every enterprise has to
want to be able to share their presence
information internally. They don’t want
to expose everyone in the company to
the world-wide network. They do want
to expose people to their value network
and sharing presence within that value
network makes a lot of sense.
They must confront an assumption that
says: “Hey Skype’s got this wonderful
peer-to-peer network, and everyone has
to go through this authentication server
in Denmark when they first log in just
to make sure they get hooked up to a
supernode.”
One might well ask: “Who says that
this has to be the long-term strategy?”
Who says that the enterprise or even you
and me cannot actually run one of those
things (a Skype system) and do we really
understand what happens when we do
that? Because all Skype has been doing
is to sit there in this new, so far imaginary situation, saying to an enterprise:
OK you can now run your own Skype
system and select the network of people
who will be permitted to attach to it. We
will also give you the ability to select
from your network the people whom you
want to expose to our network or to any
other network. At the same time you can
make your own decision about how your
network will handle inbound calls from
our other Skype networks and all those
sorts of things.
COOK Report: While Skype’s peer-topeer architecture gives network security
engineers fits, it is this same architecture
that would for the most part make it immune to network failures and would also
make it difficult if not impossible for any
centralized telco to shut it down. While
the authentication server is a single point
of failure, what these technologies have
done nevertheless is close to the state-ofthe-art in being reasonably failure proof.
Would you agree?
Henshall: Yes. And the other component
that follows for the enterprise then, at
least ones that operate at multiple global
locations, effectively looks a bit like a
SIP server for a SIP system - if I have a
laptop and want to log on to my home
office. Here are my buddies I can see on
line - all of which is fine, but I am connected through to them not via a log on
to the global Skype, but rather via a log
on to my company’s Skype.
COOK Report: So are you saying that if
I am Ford Motor Company and I want to
set a Ford Enterprise Skype System that
is absolutely independent of the public
global Skype system, this is possible?
That you could set it up on the enterprise
net so that it ran its own authentication
server and its own supernodes which
were absolutely independent of the global Skype server and its nodes?
Henshall: Well, why not? Really? You
could also tune it to select whatever outsider parties you want to share presence
with. Or you could say: “Stuart, we trust
these particular sets of people with every
thing, and so we want them to be able to
log onto us but also be able to log on to
the public Skype because they needs to
share their presence globally.”
COOK Report: And in a situation like
this gateways, become really important.
Henshall: Yes. Although potentially I assume that because I am in the enterprise I
automatically assume that my call would
be routed out through the authentication
server.
COOK Report: But someone in the enterprise will decide what the policy will
be for that server and how it will be
implemented?
Henshall: Why not? And for large-scale
enterprises you could set up an enterprise
SkypeIn such a way that the administrator may turn certain features on and off.
You don’t want file sharing to run on
your Skype? OK, we will turn it off.
COOK Report: But probably somewhere
some person in the enterprise is going
to say: “Doing this looks attractive but
until we see the source code for all of
this software we can’t afford to take the
chance of using it because how can we be
19
absolutely sure there isn’t a Trojan buried
somewhere inside the code?” Now is this
something that a nuclear laboratory has
to do? Is it something that Morgan Stanley has to do? Does Dunkin Donuts have
to do it? Probably not?
Henshall: They never did it for their Microsoft software.
COOK Report: Right! <laughs> But
maybe they have learned their lesson?
You see in a general sense what I am
saying. But you don’t seem to see it as a
showstopper.
Henshall: There are an awful lot of organizations yet to be VoIP-enabled in any
way. They are smaller businesses with
all these PCs that they constantly have to
upgrade. In such a business Cisco comes
along and tells it that it needs to spend
$100,000 on an IP PBX and related Cisco
VoIP phones. It is going to be met with
incredulity. The voices will say, like for
what?
For example, are you telling me that
my small import business that communicates with Asia all the time or my
small travel business that needs to book
bed and breakfasts around the world, are
you telling me that with the PC’s I have
and a high speed Internet link I can do
all that voice communication cost for
zero? Thank you very much. You’ve got
a deal.
Skype Marketing and
Performance Research
COOK Report: Focused on the issue of
business opportunities created by Skype
what are you able to share with me about
your interest in creating a Skype user’s
community - an interest that you mentioned in our first conversation a while
back?
Henshall: I am close to starting an online
blog designed to focus the interest of the
Skype user’ community but also to try
to retain the independence and input of
developers, counterpoints and things like
that. At the moment I am still experimenting with it behind the scenes trying
to understand what sources for different
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
sorts of information are out there. I think Skype really understands is one of the Skype strategy. That could introduce
there are potentially many spin-offs that most valuable: It is all about presence. strategic foresight with stretch views of
could be gained from bringing that com- While Skype offers free person-to-person where it may go and where you might
munity of people together.
calling, the larger question is what can go. Ultimately the value is in creating
you do when you have presence? For new options.
COOK Report: It sounded to me like example, the match making, the dating
you were saying that if you could bring industry at the moment is worth well COOK Report: So the dialogue would go
enough people together you could cre- over a half billion dollars a year.
something like: if this is your business,
ate an effective counterweight against
and this is what you are doing, then these
anyone who wanted to take Skype in a COOK Report: I remember doing an are the tools that we have now that can be
direction that would be bad for its users interview with Henning Schulzrinne in worked with. Right? Do you agree? Yes
September 2000 about SIP and presence or no? And if this is tool set, then what
as a whole?
and Instant Messaging and their impor- are the variables in the things that you
Henshall: It’s a nice idea! What I have tance and here we are almost 4 and a half need to be thinking about so that you can
in mind is a bit like Consumer Reports years later and we still don’t have those get underway?
or JD Powers.
problems solved - or so it would seem.
Henshall: As a part of this, I have been
Unfortunately Skype is really not a mar- Henshall: On the issue of SIP, while I working in the background trying to figketing organization at all. I encouraged am not a SIP expert, my understanding ure out how to set up research programs.
them to start their forums early on. Be- is that if you want to use SIP and add an I certainly believe that whether you are
cause of those forums they have a strong Instant Messaging chat system to SIP- Motorola or Nokia or whomever they
core group of beta testers out there. These based VoIP software you have to use all need to buy more research on Skype
people have become absolute maniacs in something called Simple. Simple is the users. They all need to know more about
helping Skype develop its product. Some standard for building chat into SIP. I am Skype and the cheapest way to do this is
of them are retired, some are young kids. not certain how well this works. Howev- to buy part of a global research package.
The testers are a crosssection of people er I had a very interesting experience the Questions like how many Skype users
who have a passionate interest in what it other day with this new company Teleo. last month dropped landlines are of obvious interest. However it is deeper prefercom that just launched.
is enabling.
ence information that really matters.
COOK Report: Do they have a commu- It looks like a Skype clone, but it is built
nity of 3rd party developers like the iPod on SIP. The first interesting thing that COOK Report: Do you envision using
has acquired? Would part of your idea be I observed is that when you search for your blog to generate tools that could
to identify, coordinate and interconnect someone on the network and add him as help collect data and that you would
some of these entities where your role a buddy, it doesn’t ask you for authoriza- tabulate and report on, in the manner
becomes one of helping the developers tion. Therefore on this system, if you are of a Gartner group, for Skype reporting
create viable business models for use of on the Telio network and I search for agency?
the Skype technology? You are the guru you, find you and add you to my call list,
who knows how to build what will work I automatically now know at any time Henshall: The blog won’t generate the
tools. This is a discussion that needs to
in that world? Or I would come to some- whether you are online or offline.
one like yourself if I am trying to figure
be had with potential customers.
out how to best apply this technology in Imagine if this system became popular
a way that supports my on-going current and you were a telemarketer, you would COOK Report: But, until they fully unbusiness?
just add the whole system to your direc- derstand what is going on, they may not
tory and boom you have all the users at even realize that such research is imporHenshall: Yep. All this would be key your mercy.
tant to them?
elements of what can be done. I believe
that we are still in the very early days of COOK Report: Is part of what you have Henshall: Even formulating the queswhat the Skype API is and where people in mind a role where in the future a com- tions to ask may be useful. For example
actually are. But I think things could ac- pany like this might pay you to advise once someone becomes a Skype user
celerate very quickly - especially once them why making their software respond (colloquially we call them “Skypers”)
the first real application that solves pres- in this way is not a good idea?
how long before that person begins to
ence comes out. This will provide a wake
think about dropping a landline? But
Henshall: I am committed to being more there are other issues as well, clustered
up call to more than a few people.
targeted in providing seminars or events around the question of what sort of prodCOOK Report: How do we know what in this area. I’ve run both Scenario and uct would you like? Is a landline USB
to look for?
Innovation programs for the largest com- handset that is semi Skype-enabled but
panies. One way would be for a company otherwise looks like an old phone what
Henshall: The part that I don’t think to test their strategy against my perceived you really want? Such a product certainly
20
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
lacks imagination.
COOK Report: With Apple’s interest in
good design I have to wonder where the
Apple I-Phone is?
Imagine if this system became popular
and you were a telemarketer, you would
just add the whole system to your directory and boom you have all the users at
your mercy.
Henshall: Indeed, and if Apple doesn’t
do it, you would think that someone
would make a little GSM phone-type
gizmo to plug into the top of your iPod
and lo, it’s a phone. It has the power pack
in there. It has the data. Why not?
Schulzrinne: If true, this seems like a
really bad implementation, which other
implementations have fortunately not
followed.
Henshall: Thanks for you comments.
Symposium List
Exchange Between
Stuart Henshall and
Henning Schulzrinne
Editor's Note: On March 1, 2005 Henning Sculzinne commented of the interview with Stuart Hensall. The exchange
follows.
Henshall: On the issue of SIP, while I
am not a SIP expert, my understanding is
that if you want to use SIP and add an Instant messaging chat system to SIP based
VoIP software you have to use something
called Simple. Simple is the standard for
building chat into SIP. I am not certain
how well this works.
Schulzrinne: Well, he could start by
downloading Microsoft Messenger,
which has supported (pre-standard) versions of SIMPLE for about two years and
is pretty reasonably standards-compliant
now. There are open-source clients as
well (GAIM), not to mention that HotSIP
had a client at least three years ago.
Henshall: However I had a very interesting experience the other day with
this new company Teleo.com that just
launched. It looks like a Skype clone,
but it is built on SIP. The first interesting thing that I observed is that when
you search for someone on the network
and add him as a buddy, it doesn’t ask
you for authorization. Therefore on this
system, if you are on the Telio network
and I search for you, find you and add
you to my call list, I automatically now
know at any time whether you are on line
or offline.
I’m aware that MSN is “close” to using
the SIP SIMPLE standard. In the MSN
environment which looks as closed to me
as a consumer as Skype it sort of works.
Sort of because it fails to connect as well
as Skype in my experience.
Schulzrinne: There is a common confusion between MSN and Microsoft Messenger. The latter works in any SIMPLE
(and SIP) environment, not just MSN.
(MSN had a proprietary protocol, with a
transition to SIP/SIMPLE scheduled.)
Henshall: From a user perspective it’s
IM and voice and video etc. For the
most part IM works, voice even if it
connects remains “poor” quality. I can’t
rave about it as a product, and I don’t
have any buddies left that want to use it
in preference to Skype.
Schulzrinne: We find it quite useful for
application sharing and for integration
into a bigger environment that we can
control (in terms of reachability and features). That may not matter to you.
Henshall: I’ve tried to use Gaim on three
different occasions with each upgrade
and it has failed in each case. I’d add
the user interface and ease to sign up /
on are additional failings. Frankly it’s
just clumsy and ugly. Is this a result of
SIP needs?
Schulzrinne: No, this is a result of an
open source project done by volunteers
that tries to integrate multiple presence
systems into one client.
Henshall: This again is not necessarily
a reflection on SIP. However it never
worked for me. We also have executions
21
of SIP clients like X-Ten; I think they are
also clumsy and failing to step forward.
I’m happy to put the best SIP client to
the test in a consumer environment. We
should also look 24-36 months out.
The Teleo information quoted below was
correct when I blogged it. Since then I’ve
removed Teleo and have ended up with a
couple system restores in the last week.
Today I embraced and tested another
SIP client. Just launched. http://www.
damaka.com/ Damaka.
Schulzrinne: It claims to be a SIP client,
but our protocol analysis makes that appear dubious.
Henshall: This ostensibly is another
SkypeClone. At the moment in my view
it is another failure. Currently it doesn’t
offer any inbound or outbound number
options it is merely a SIP client that uses
GIPS voice engine again.
Schulzrinne: It is interesting that all
your preferences are for a vertically integrated service provider, i.e., somebody
that provides software (and maybe hardware) and termination srvices. Have we
come full circle, back to the AT&T days
where you could choose any provider as
long as it had a blue globe logo?
Henshall: Unlike Teleo it does require
authorization however that activity required rebooting after adding my buddy
(his system crashed twice before we
connected). Then the voice quality was
Skype quality. It failed to offer more than
a two line option, the interface is clumsy
(compared to Skype).
Both the last two items look to be at
least a year behind Skype in development, no matter how much money is
thrown at them. How can Damaka hope
to even compete, Skype is gaining 150K
downloads per day. I may be fusing the
elements of design and user experience
with SIP in my comments. However
these recent releases suggest to me:
That GIPS and SIP solutions must be
closing on commodity ease to bolt them
together for PoIP like solutions. That
anyone not designing for best in class is
simply kidding themselves and best in
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
class for the next round is not what we
have today. It has to include 3D audio
solutions. Want a neat sound experience?
Try SmartMeeting out of Sweden. Next
is Video, which I’m sure Skype is close
to rolling out.
Schulzrinne: Microsoft Messenger
(among others, such as our own SIP client or eyebeam or the SIPquest client or
Hotsip) already has video.
Henshall: Then it also requires new
thinking on Presence. We need more that
online, away etc. Many neat experiments
have been done.
Schulzrinne: Indeed; and standardsdriven rich presence is likely to roll
out shortly; see http://www.cs.columbia.
edu/sip/draft/rpid/draft-ietf-simple-rpid05.html for one part of this.
Henshall: SIP’s innovation time line appears to be tied to “hardware” platform
thinking while the new / emerging solu-
22
tions are focused on “software”. IS there
a development cycles gap?
Schulzrinne: Since SIP hardware and
software vendors are not vertically integrated, they go for the money - this is
currently mostly enterprise systems, as
adjuncts to IP phone systems. For reasons that I don’t understand, the guiding
design principle seems to be skinning to
make it look like a 1950s space-age-impression phone.
Symposium Discussion December 1, 2004 to January 4 2005
Sype versus SIP: a Debate Between the "It Just
Works" Point of View and the Standards Based,
Interoperability World View Highlights
Editor’s Introduction: I knew that I
should get back into VoIP sooner or later
but for quite a while I didn’t see anything
to peg the story on. However, thanks
to the Skype thread that Dave Hughes
started on December 1, 2004 and to
David Reed’s comparative analysis of
Skype and SIP, I think we have the elements that will help to bring some clarity
to a wider audience.
Dave Hughes Discovers
Skype
On December 1 Dave Hughes: I don’t
whether anyone is interested on this high
tech COOK Report mail list in a humble
VoIP test that works better than it should
be expected to, given its zero cost.
Two days ago I shook down my (10Mb)
Skype software on a Windows 2000
laptop with a very good quality voice
conversation with Gordon Cook and his
Mac based Skype. Tweaking my sound,
with and without built in microphone and
speaker to get the right combination for
me. I knew the sound with broadband at
both ends here in the US should be good,
as advertised. It was. But so is Vonage
(Lingo less so), and other IP point-topoint VoIP phones.
But I wanted to give it a real test from
here in Colorado to far off Namche,
Nepal where it would have to transit,
not only US broadband, but one satellite
IP hop from Hawaii to Kathmandu, and
then a second satellite hop from Worldlink, Kathmandu, to Tsering Sherpa’s
Namche, Nepal “Cybercafe” - with a
minimum latency of 1,200ms. With the
added problem that during the off-climbing (Mt. Everest) season, he can only
afford 64kbps (about $800 a month) feed
to Kathmandu. So typical VoIP breaks
down with any load at all, all the way to
Namche.
I am here to report Skype, with its rated
33kbps (which they also brag will work
over a PPP dial up connection at least
with 36kbps speed) worked very, very
well. Much better than I expected. Very
good voice quality and volume, (at least
as good as a PSTN US call!) maybe two
transient 2-3 second burps in over a one
hour talk. He was on a laptop with plugin mike and speaker - me with mine.
Full hour plus talk, PLUS a concurrent
Instant Message exchange while we were
talking (no effect on the voice). I didn’t
even really notice the second and a half
latency though it was there. Super!
And NOW we will extend the link 5 more
miles through the Linux server at the base
of the Satellite Namche Cybercafe) location (11,500 feet), with three outdoor WiFi relays hops (one via a 13,000 foot high
Buddhist Monastery) to Thame, Nepal, a
D’Link switch, feeding two PCs where
9 Sherpa kids are trying to learn English
from Mingma Sherpa in Pittsburgh via
his DSL connection, BOTH email and
Voice (he of course handles Sherpa, Nepalese, and English well, being 9 years a
programmer in the US and grew up there
in Namche). Because the bandwidth was
constrained off-season, a standard VoIP
IP Phone instrument connection broke
down. Just takes too many bits with
G7291, or G711ulaw or G711alaw codecs - purportedly from 30kbps to about
60 for higher quality voice. (Only Lingo
will, under special circumstances install
a G723 type codec that is supposed to go
down to 20kbps - but given the questionable quality of voice even across the US
with broadband, I’ll pass, thank you).
I think Skype beats them all in voice
quality/low bandwidth. And also with
its ability for you to make a Euro credit
card deposit from 10 ($12) for 10 hours
of Skype to PSTN calls anywhere in the
US, Canada, Western Europe or Australia for 1.7 euro or $.02 flat rate - only
23
charged per call. Gordon reports excellent quality at that charge rate to a call he
made to Europe last week.
I gave Tsering Sherpa who is hardly
a high techie on the slopes of Everest
simple email instruction to download and
install the Skype. Says he got it done in
one hour - most of that being download
time.
I am as impressed with the easy to understand software interfaces as with the
voice capability. My Skype icon (on right
now) reports 1,317,028 users online right
now (meaning the program on their computer is awake, ready for a call) Reaches
over 2 million during the day, drops to
800,000 or so at night. About 40 million
free downloads have been made of the
software. [Editor: on February 11, 2005
Skype reports 1,782,617 users on line at
2pm Eastern Standard Time. It is claiming 140,000 downloads per day.]
So when he said: “”I knew it was over
when I downloaded Skype,” Michael
Powell, chairman, Federal Communications Commission, explained. “When the
inventors of KaZaA are distributing for
free a little program that you can use
to talk to anybody else, and the quality
is fantastic, and it’s free - it’s over. The
world will change now inevitably.”
This confirms my view that probably the
greatest Internet Killer App for the other
5.9 billion people on this planet, ALL
of whom can talk voice over a phone,
even if they are illiterate for email or
otherwise, is going to be free, cheap,
very simple $5 SIP voice devices (not a
complete computer required), connected
unlicensed wirelessly. Eat your heart
out Verizon/Cingular. And even Vonage
or Lingo, much less Qwest offerings of
VoIP - a billion dollars short and a decade late.
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
Ron Yokubaitis: One of my sons is an
Exchange Student finishing his last year
in Electrical Engineering in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
We talk weekly via Skype with very
good quality. At least equals my AT&T
cell phone for quality. Same $.02/minute.
Jack has a low speed ( > 384 Kbps) DSL
circuit in Belo Horizonte. Jack will text
message me via cell to see if I am online
or to schedule a chat. Text message is
$.10/ message
How can I get my T-Mobile “SideKick”
(HipHop) to do VoIP? It does mail and
web well. Instant messenger feature has
be scripted by our software development
group to run on IRC chat networks.
Also our guys have a secure shell up so
I can login to our Unix servers. Skype’s
$.02/min. would sure beat T-Mobile’s
$.30/min. voice rates.
December 2 Damien Wetzel: Hi, Dave,
I totally agree with you. I remember
having downloaded Skype first, just one
year ago, they were at 1 million downloads then. I thought what is Cisco-like
VoIP worth, when you have this kind
of software? Now if Wi-Fi networks
develop quickly in a near future + Wi-Fi
enabled smartphone. I think that mobile
operators should be very worried.
December 12 Dave Hughes: Hurrah! I
just KNEW that Skype would work if
nothing else would!
I just got a Skype call, from Tsering
who was all the way over at 13,000 foot
in Thame, Nepal, (12 hours difference
- Sunday night here, Monday morning
there) in the classroom with 9 Sherpa
kids. Five miles and three Smartbridge
Wi-Fi radio relay hops from his Cyber
Café base in Namche (on the Everest
trekking trail) then over TWO satellite
jumps to the US, (one with only 64kbps
bandwidth) then over the net in the US to
me! VERY clear!
Then he called Mingma Sherpa in Pittsburgh from Thame, had a good clear talk.
Mingma will now be able to teach those
kids English, ORALLY, and not just by
email, as well as use the link to instruct
them in spoken Nepalese, how to better
operate their classroom computer which
Jim Forster of Cisco donated last year!
Hey those kids are gonna get educated in
spite of their remoteness!
Because Tsering was using the built in
microphone in Thame, I could just hear
feedback from what I was saying. It
seemed a long delay from the time I said
something until I heard it back. You bet.
It takes SEVEN seconds from the time
I speak until it goes there, comes back
(over 88,000 sat miles) and I hear my
own voice back here!
Why SIP Has Failed
David Reed: Well, I have gone on record (at the MIT CFP working group)
as saying that SIP may have missed its
window, because of Skype. (And I was a
big fan of SIP’s potential).
SIP could have been what Skype is becoming, but the SIP community has been
trying to replicate the walled garden before deploying. They are destroying the
value of open interoperability that was in
SIP, just as Skype is opening its APIs to
get the boost of third party developers.
SIP should have won, because it is an
open standard, but the desire to create a
business model that captures the old unsustainable voice revenues of the RBOCs
has seduced Cisco and its customers into
waiting and making the standard more
complex. Unlike the old days of the
Internet, where interoperability was the
centerpiece, the likelihood that a SIP
phone will work with one from another
vendor is near zero. There was a reason
that the major IP trade show in the early
days was called “Interop”!
So now instead of innovating to make
SIP work as simply as Skype does out
of the box, the business strategy of the
access providers is: attack their best
customers by finding reasons to block
Skype traffic.
This reminds me of the IT departments
who tried to keep department managers
from buying Apple II’s because they
24
were afraid that their budgets and power
were at risk. Also reminds me the suicidal behavior of the Bluetooth consortium
- (in contrast with the 802.11 vendors).
Sending voice over IP is trivial. That’s
not the technical problem. Getting scaled
adoption is hard, and a common standard that works simply was required.
SIP could have been a contender. It isn’t
going be. And I think its own “proponents” killed it.
This is completely analogous to what
happened with Unix vs. Windows. (It is
balkanization vs. a common platform).
Open platforms can win, but a group’s
self-interest in cooperation and coordination is often poorly understood by
the members of the group itself. Linux,
on the other hand, seems to be growing
(Linux is now much larger than Macintosh, in terms of desktop market share.
In server market share it’s been dominant
for longer). What makes Linux win is
that the group’s interest in interoperability is identified and managed, as
opposed to ignored and frustrated by its
own members.
Steve Heap: Aren’t we comparing two
different beasts here? Skype is an excellent system for making voice calls and
IM relationships from one computer to
another. Nothing wrong with that. The
rest of telephony is about making voice
calls from telephones to telephones/computers, and has a massive numbering
structure in place to allow that to work
domestically and globally. Skype have
nicely bypassed all those issues of numbering by making up a scheme of their
own, but that pretty much means that
you cannot call a Skype customer from
your home phone, payphone, cell phone,
etc. It is hard to see how you will ever be
able to do that unless they can persuade
the world to introduce a new Skype international code.
SIP is a solid protocol addressing the
telephony (and other media things) issues. It is being introduced in large-scale
installations. It carries VoIP calls within
carrier networks, and increasingly between carrier/service provider networks.
I don’t understand how you then can say
that it has missed the boat as a protocol?
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
people to that on the other end.
Reed: SIP is “Session Initiation Protocol” - it’s not the protocol that carries
the voice. It’s the call setup protocol,
focused on user-user negotiation. And
that’s what Skype does, at its core. As
far as SIP dealing with legacy numbering
plans, etc. since when does telephony
correspond to 10-digit numbers assigned
to instruments with microphones and
speakers? That’s like saying driving a car
is fundamentally dependent on driver’s
license numbers.
Numbering is an epiphenomenon to telephony, and in any case, SIP itself doesn’t
define numbering plans at all. There’s
confusion of SIP with the business model
of (say) Vonage, which focuses on selling
numbers and directories and gateways,
since they don’t sell bit transport (you
buy that from Comcast or RCN or Verizon DSL), and they don’t sell codec
capacity (that comes with your PC or
the ATA-186). 99.9% of Vonage calls do
not involve two SIP endpoints. Vonage
doesn’t even optimize for SIP-SIP calls,
nor does it offer SIPs capability for additional services (like IM, presence, etc.)
Will it ever?
So it may well be that SIP is used internal
to traditional phone networks in a transparent, trivial, or degenerate way. But
that’s like saying ISDN was deployed in
the US, when the only use it was put to
was 128 kb/sec. raw bit pipes for Internet access. None of the AIN (intelligent
network services) were ever successful
in the US. Yeah, ISDN got used. But it
failed.
What also comes to mind is the call
center business. I remember a company
that hired people that were agoraphobic, handicapped, etc. for Avis/United
Airlines call center work. If there were
a gateway to Skype to reach voice end
lines, it could save those call center company people a lot of money. It is a real
solution if available for an industry that
could use that.
Heap (to David Reed): I agree with everything you say below - but then I don’t
understand what you mean when you
said that Skype has pretty much killed
SIP? Do you mean in an end-to-end SIP
model – i. e. my SIP-enabled “telephone”
being able to directly address your SIPenabled “telephone”? I do agree that
there is not a lot of that going on. The
key question is whether most consumers
will go for a bundled telephone service
that covers VoIP termination as well as
TDM termination for some monthly fee,
or try to “go-it alone” with either SIP or
Skype-based direct arrangements.
Maybe I misunderstood the point you
were trying to make?
My basic point is that Skype is great
for point-to-point communication with
people you know, but SIP-based VoIP
will “probably” be the winner because
most people will just go for a bundled
service that does everything and uses SIP
internally within the Service Provider
and between the SPs.
system that seems the dinosaur. I always
contended that ”identity” - of persons
being connected, not just devices like
phones - could (and should) be based
simply on using virtually unique DNA of
every persons as the numeric identity!
3. I can’t believe gate-waying Skype into
SIP for interoperability is all that challenging. Why would it be?
4. What would/will be so hard to design
and manufacture devices, which have
hand held microphone and speaker or ear
piece, which integrates Skype technology into it, connected either by IP line,
or wireless to the line. Why need the PC
or handheld? Siemens already has a USB
port Skype device.
Heap: I understand. I’m not trying to
come across as an apologist for the
telephone companies, but to a very large
extent, you have the ability to talk to anyone in the world now - via a telephone.
Matson: That’s not true and I keep having to remind people of this. With current
day telephony, the ONLY person in the
world you can talk to today is the phone
company at their local central office. And
only on their terms, will they then let you
talk to anyone else.
The power of VoIP (“my content” over
dumb pipes) is that for the first time in
the history of the universe, I CAN talk to
anyone in the world!
We ought to make sure we don’t perpetuate myths!
Hughes (to Steve Heap): Steve,
Peter Cohen: I’m no SIP wiz. Having
used Skype, I can report that it worked
like a charm across good networks. I
didn’t know anyone connected in any
other way. Given that a certain percentage of the population on the Internet
is well connected (I’ve no clue what
amount), I could certainly see offices
switching to Skype type numbers and
services immediately to solve their office
needs and cut voice costs. What comes
to mind is a country like the Netherlands
that has high density of 10 million people
and fiber all over the place. Offices and
IP reaches ubiquity there and they could
easily switch to Skype, gradually moving
1. I am not interested in voice communications to/from ONLY PSTN-provided
voice telephones in the world. I AM interested in anything that provides voice
communications to anyone on the face of
the globe. Which, with wireless, linked
into satellite, or terrestrial fiber, whether
or not provided by telcos, and the Internet, bypassing totally all telephone
companies. Skype seems to offer that
possibility.
2. Integrating Skype into the PSTN hardly seems a big problem to me. In fact,
it is the telephone numbering and code
25
Heap: Malcolm, that is a bit of a stretch
- a customer has a contract with their
telephone company - either a traditional
wire company or a VoIP service provider
- that describes the service being offered.
The service being offered is an ability to
make and receive telephone calls.
Your argument is a bit like saying that
I have a cable TV to my home but the
cable TV provider doesn’t have to provide me with any channels - they simply
are leasing a bit of wire to me.
Matson: Steve ... You are absolutely
right my argument is just like that!! I
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
know plenty of homes which have cable
installed (at the homeowners expense)
and it lies idle because it can ONLY be
used to get stuff from the cable company
and on their terms. Imagine if we had let
General Motors build the roads!
Sure when you say “...a customer has a
contract with their telephone company
- either a traditional wire company or a
VoIP service provider” ...but he had no
choice. We HAD to suffer that exclusive
relationship with the phone company
if we wanted to communicate beyond
shouting distance.
We have now discovered that in a digital
world, making “phone calls” is NOT a
service at all and relies on nothing more
than the two parties having access to
the necessary hardware components!!
All the content is mine (and always has
been) and today all I need is a piece of
free software to enable me to speak with
whomever I want without let or hindrance or more to the point - additional
cost! The phone company grew up with
a technology that dictated their presence
as being essential (to allocate the scarce
resource of network infrastructure) and
being a state-maintained monopoly,
charged the earth for doing so. At the
moment, this new peer-to-peer communication (with NO phone company
present) may only be possible with my
neighbors across my little Wi-Fi network
- but the model is scaleable to the world
and as more and more user-controlled infrastructure (OPLANs) gets built, more
and more people will wake up to the
fact that the notion of a middle-man
“operator” or “voice service provider” as
we know it, is utterly obsolete .. an intermediary necessary in one technology but
made extinct by the next.
So I maintain as a “useful truth” the fact
that in the analogue world of telephony,
the ONLY person you can communicate
with is the phone company. And the
phone company’s only way of knowing
that we have found a way of communicating directly with each other, bypassing them, will be the diminishing number
of $$s on their P&L.
Hughes: I don’t think it’s a ”stretch” by
Malcolm, for another reason. In spite of
the 1934 Telecommunications Act and
its 1996 follow on, which declare voice
telephony is required as a ”universal service’ and in spite of the Universal Service
Fund which you pay into to ”subsidize”
the phone company’s extension into rural
areas - a regulatory requirement in return
for their guarantee of rate of return on
their investment - the cold hard fact is
that ALL the RBOCs have found ways to
avoid, limit, drag their feet in extending
even voice telephone service across this
country.
Because I have worked with rural folk
from the scattered towns of huge Montana (114 one-room school houses) to the
poorest Hispanic counties of southern
Colorado, I am fully aware of the US
West saying “Sure we will extend voice
service to you - the up front cost for extending the line to your premises will be
$10,000 thanks...” Not data, just circuit
switched and crappy voice.
I wouldn’t mind if the largest telephone
companies were, in fact, private businesses competing in the marketplace.
But in the US they are not, and never
have been. At least in some countries,
including Nepal, they don’t hide the fact
- the phone company IS government - a
PTT. And which objects to VoIP in all its
forms, for it cuts into their money stream
destined for government coffers. And
that government uses its police powers to
prevent the competition. The only reason
the Sherpas of Nepal can use VoIP is because the lowland Nepalese government
gumshoes aren’t conditioned enough to
climb the Himalayas and chase wirelessly connected computers any more
than they can catch the Maoists.
We ”pretend” Verizon is a private company, when in fact it is subsidized monopoly, where the iron fist of government is inside the velvet ”marketplace”
contractual glove.
Heap: All you can’t do is to reach some
very remote places - although if Internet
is present you can usually be assured that
there is some telephony somewhere. So
the issue perhaps isn’t connectivity, it is
cost or quality? Costs are definitely on
the way down - VoIP is seeing to that.
And the prevalence of “unlimited” plans
26
that cover US/Europe and some with
Asian countries is making the cost issue
a little less of a major problem. Quality
is probably a bit of a wash between the
two systems.
Interconnecting Skype to the PSTN is
actually a bigger issue than it may seem
- introducing a new international country
code and getting every PTT in the world
to program that country code into their
switches and work out a way to get those
calls to Skype is not a trivial problem,
and if you do that for Skype, then why
not Free World dial-up and anyone else
who wants a private network connected?
Skype could organize a big bank of US
numbers and then have a second stage
of dialing for the actual Skype customer,
but that is pretty expensive and who pays
for that?
So - apart from being really neat technology that will have a big following
within closed groups of people - how
does it fit into the big picture of global
connectivity?
Coluccio: Steve, you may have touched
on something more profound in one of
your statements than you intended to, by
prefacing with:
“... although if Internet is present you
can usually be assured that there is some
telephony somewhere ..”
Whereas, it wasn’t very long ago when
that statement would have found itself
standing on its own head, as in:
“... although telephony is present you
can usually be assured that there is some
Internet somewhere.”
Hughes (to Heap): I think the number
of people - in the billions - who cannot
be reached by affordable voice phone, is
larger than you think. I deal with them,
and care little for those in the urban
areas of the world - for they have scads
of choices.
Twenty-five per-cent of the US population lives on 97% of the land area. The
other 75% lives on only 3%. It took
scores of years before the most basic
AND expensive AND subsidized (by
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
your phone bill, the Universal Service
Charge) service arrived in all the small
towns. You don’t have to apologize for
the telcos. They were fine in their day.
Lets honor them as we lower them into
their graves - via free wireless, and a
Skype sermon. <grin>
moving all their (internal) voice to Skype
or some other system are asking us
today:
Hughes: David, I am not sure what
the implications are of Skype, with its
proprietary protocol, ”opening up its
APIs’“to 3rd party developers, as distinct
from the open source code of SIP. Who
owns what with Skype? And just how
open will be the API access. Will Skype
have “control” (royalties or restrictions)
of any devices or applications using its
code?
The parallel to Unix vs. Windows has
been drawn - now we know that security
at least has become an issue in the next
round of that fight - not that it s exactly
been decisive, but ... how far can that
parallel be drawn?
Is Skype a Proprietary
System Creating a
Wintel-like Platform?
Reed: Skype is a completely proprietary
system. I have studied the behavior of
Skype as I use it, so I think I know more
or less how it works in gross detail. Perhaps I can even find out more. But they
don’t follow any published standards
above the TCP/IP layer. Their protocol
for “just working” when behind a NAT
box or firewall is elegant and simple,
but it isn’t based on standards-based
NAT traversal (such as STUN or UPnP).
They don’t support SIP interoperability, though there should be no problem
interconnecting to SIP if they feel they
need to at a gateway. They use nonstandard presence protocols. And they
exploit end-user machines, even when
you aren’t making phone calls. How do
you know if they are doing bad things
to your machine behind your back? Just
look at the active connections on your
machine using netstat or whatever your
OS provides. What are those connections to Japan or India doing? Are there
security risks? You don’t know. Do you
care? Maybe not. I tend to trust them, but
all of their programmers are in Estonia,
so what do you really know about what
the code you downloaded does? They
encrypt all the traffic, but what kind of
key management is involved?
Buettrich: Exactly. This is the kind of
question that organizations considering
What about its security? (And you may
read security here in all possible ways,
probably mostly as ”privacy’”).
forming options that grow faster than the
user base grows).
Well, Skype is doing what Microsoft and
Intel did in the early days of personal
computers. It has created a platform that
is *very* attractive to third-party developers, because of its size and ubiquity.
It has invested in market share, and it is
now opening interfaces and architectures
that allow for others to help build value
around Skype, while maintaining control
of a core, and acting benevolently to
those who choose to enhance the Skype
platform.
I guess my question is two-fold:
1. about the actual security status of
Skype (Yes, it looks interesting if you
capture it ...);
and
2. about the value of that issue in the
global marketplace.
What are people’s predictions?
Reed: They just recently defined and
published some APIs by which third parties can use their protocols. These APIs
let you do some rather nice things, and
build things that go well beyond telephony. They are a lot easier to use than developing a whole SIP client, even if you
have the open source code. Library APIs
are much more productive than source
code, even though not transparent. And
remember, if you build on the APIs, you
get a huge and growing installed base,
for free. The base will support those
APIs. This is pretty nice for someone
who likes to build stuff for a market.
Skype can control what it chooses to
control. Of course they own their code
- that’s how copyright works. They can
license it on ANY terms they choose, and
charge what the market will bear. They
choose to let users use the binary for free,
and sell Skype-Out accounts. Will they
sell the later versions, or merely charge
companies for the right to interconnect?
They can do what they want, and will
probably choose to grow their user base
to create value (by Metcalfe’s Law and
Reed’s Law valuations arising from the
value of connectivity options and group27
This is not at all like true “open source”
behavior. But it is *very* attractive to
both customers and partners.
Remember, in the early days, it was
Apple who made the mistake of not
supporting its developers. They screwed
their own partners, by competing with
them, or making sudden changes that
disrupted its partners. They deliberately
harmed both peripheral developers and
software developers who got too close to
Apple’s customers.
On the other hand, the Unix companies
(Sun, DEC, HP, IBM, ...) deliberately
developed incompatible “features” that
made it impossible as a third party hardware or software developer to be a Unix
vendor. One had to choose which company one supported. They acted as if
Microsoft was insignificant, and as if the
other Unix suppliers were total enemies.
I.e. they destroyed their own advantage
of maturity and compatibility among
themselves in the areas where compatibility and capability were advantages
they “owned.”
As a result, Microsoft/Intel was the truly
open, binary compatible platform, and
until about 1988-89, they focused on
building shared value with their 3rd party
hardware and software partners. IBM
was the first casualty, followed by Lotus,
Wordperfect, Novell,...
Skype can (and probably will) play this
game. They need not be truly open - they
are open enough, and compatible enough.
And from the user’s point of view, they
are easy to use (remember the Unix guys
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
who used to say that the Unix shell script
language was what users really needed?
In a world of the blind, even one-eyed
men seem visionary... it wasn’t hard to
see that the Unix guys were clueless).
And meanwhile, the SIP guys are playing
the game played by the Unix players. You
could never convince Sun or DEC or HP
that they were in a losing game by missing the value of what Ray Noorda called
“coopetition” (competition by making
sure that you give enough away to partners to build the larger coalition). But
they were losing, and they have lost.
Now if the SIP guys realized that timing is everything, and banded together
to capture users with ease-of-use and
adoption, rather than trying to screw the
other SIP guys in the theory that SIP is
the only game, perhaps they still have
a chance. This is what the Linux open
source guys have figured out, as they try
to re-take share back from Microsoft. If
they don’t all hang together they will all
hang separately.
I am a total fan of open source, open
standards. In a fair and clear-thinking
world, open source telephony should
dominate because it maximizes interoperability. But I have huge respect for
smart business strategy, too. And Skype
is playing its cards right, and the logical “open source” world (around SIP) of
telephony is being sucked into playing
its cards all wrong. Disastrously. This
won’t kill Cisco, because they will get
the large share of a small SIP market, and
be happy. But Skype might be the Microsoft/Intel of VoIP. Join them or compete
with them by changing the game. As a
business decision, which would you do?
I’d figure out how to buy Skype, myself.
You may never be able to buy it for less
than you can buy it now.
Reed to Heap: I know some people at
Skype, and at the moment they have no
plan to allow Skype users to have phone
numbers that can be reached from legacy
phones.
To me, that’s a plausible strategy. Remember IBM’s XT/370, which was an
OS/370-compatible PC? It really did run
VM/370, and VM binaries! However,
in practice it was useless, because the
licensing model for all of those software
packages were tied to the idea of a computer that cost 100 times as much and
was a corporate asset, not a personal or
managerial asset. (Not to mention that
all of those programs were hardly interactive.)
So why take on the burden of being just
a cheaper phone? Cell phones are capturing that niche more and more, as young
people realize they don’t really need a
home phone, and even as they become
families they realize that their identity is
their cell phone, not the “home phone”
they don’t have.
If you think about it, you can interop
with cell phones more flexibly, because
cell phones can call numbers that start
with “*” or “#,” and if they do, they don’t
have to pay access charges or use interconnect or pay all those pesky universal
service obligations.
Anyway, that’s enough of my free strategy consulting services for the day.
point is a “service” from a service provider better than doing it yourself - $15
per month, $5 per month?
Matson: David - Thanks for that very
insightful piece ... it put into place lots
of my own disjointed thoughts ... I am
so impressed with the “user experience”
of Skype compared with any of the three
SIP (virtual phone) services I have tried.
However, it offended my natural predilection for “openness”.
Dave Hughes and I had a near faultless 30 min Skype natter yesterday between Colorado and London and we both
agreed there was little to fault. But we
both remarked on a slight background
“swishing” noise. I have since ascertained that this was due entirely to the
sound of the cash hitting the flood-gates
as it was diverted away from the telcoscoffers back into Dave and my own bank
accounts. We can live with that!
So I guess it all hangs on the integrity,
goals and degree of greed of Niklas Zennström?
The problem with phone companies is
that they think that telephones are essential to people, when actually they really
like to connect to other people in lots of
ways, and the wireline phone is merely
the way that *used* to be the most convenient. For kids up to 25 or 30, IM and
email now supplant almost all uses of
phones, and they have never known a
world without voice messaging (answering machines and voice mail exist on
every phone they call).
Editor’s Note: This URL posted by
Matson, is an interview with Zennström
on the history and current state of Skype
as of early November 2004 http://www.
engadget.com/entry/2635319328796286/
There will still be phones 25 years from
now, but then again, there are still Western Union offices. Received a telegram
or Telex lately?
The reason that Skype sound is so great
is that Zennstrom paid for a license to
the ILDC codec. This is a Swedish
codec (Zennstrom is Swedish) known
also as Global IP Sound (GIPS). It allegedly cost a bundle of money. And all the
other dorky VoIP services said nah. We
are going to use free codecs. This is a
commodity business after all. According
to Richard, the ILDC codec can suffer
25% packet loss and still sound like FM
radio.
Heap to Reed: Don’t get me wrong - I
have used Skype and like the quality.
We used to use it to chat with friends in
the UK, but once I moved to Lingo (and
dropped my Verizon service) we find that
it is so much easier picking up a wireless phone in the house and calling them
under the “unlimited usage” plan than
setting up a Skype connection. Maybe
I am looking at this too much from a
US perspective, but at what commercial
28
COOK Report: I have added Richard
Shockey of Neustar to the list. Richard
was co-chair of ENUM and is very SIP,
Skype, VoIP knowledgeable. I had a
voice conversation with Richard where I
learned a couple of important things.
Richard mentioned a "simple SIP" as
having profiles - first a basic functionality profile, then several more advanced
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
profiles, products could be compatible
or interoperable according to profiles.
SIP apparently is now embedded in a
jillion IP PBXs in the enterprise and all
over in carriers. But not surprisingly
there are issues of control all over the
place. SIP session border controllers in
telco networks driving SIP folk crazy for
example.
one of the best European Blogs on VoIP
http://eurotelcoblog.blogspot.com
I will send two more posts on all this.
Will SIP Win? Brad Templeton, Chairman of the Board Electronic Frontier
Foundation http://www.templetons.
com/brad/
Some SIP Issues
Richard Stastny: Hi Gordon, good
morning. Herny Sinnreich, Jon Peterson,
Richard Shockey and I already had a discussion at the last IETF in Washington,
DC about these issues and agreed that
some action has to be taken immediately
to create something like "simple SIP".
Basically the current SIP standards are
way too complicated for the normal user,
They also they suffer from Dilbert’s
ISDN syndrome.
Another mayor drawback is the NAT
problem, and finally the mentioned
“walled garden” approach used by most
carriers (fixed, mobile, cable and even
Vonage-type providers) implementing
SIP. As Henry always says, if you do not
get a (public) URI, you do not have true
VoIP. And I have to add: if you do not get
a URI, you cannot use ENUM in e164.
arpa. The success of ENUM is linked,
one on one with open, public, standardsbased VoIP solutions. You cannot use
Skype in ENUM. Since Austria is going
commercial with ENUM on December
9, 2004, this is an issue for us.
I agree with most statements made below
and I may comment later on specific
items. I finally want to add a presentation given by Brad Templeton from the
EFF given at the Fall VON in the IAX2
breakout session about SIP and Skype
and summarizing the rant below quite
nicely.
May I add another entry and name to the
list: http://broadbanddaily.gigaom.com/
archives/2004/12/03/Skype-fasttrack-towhere/
This entry is from James Enck, featuring
By the way, my own Blog is http://VoIPandenum.blogspot.com
COOK Report: Here from Richard Stastny is the just mentioned and very good
PowerPoint deck from Brad Templeton.
Why the PSTN over IP (PoIP?) Toll
bypass was never the answer. PoIP pleases grandpa, but is grandpa looking for
a cheaper version of his phone service
with quality problems? Or is it just a
temporary plan for Vonage and the rest?
Emulating Class 5 “IN” services not
enough
Think beyond the phone call Teens using
phone call, even E-mail less and less.
Busy signals, voice mail? “I’m going
to transfer you, give me your number in
case I lose you.” - Arno Penzias. Presence should stop a call from happening
before it can fail
What matters is the user interface, not
the infrastructure. Billions spent on
infrastructure, billions lost. Users don’t
care how voice gets from A to B Users
care about the experience. Users hate
the telephone. It’s a leash. It interrupts
you. They don’t know how to use fancy
features. They don’t want to be more
reachable
PoIP is vulnerable to spam. A program
can ring a million SIP phones. No way
to screen based on content. Will we give
up the open phone network? Will we
have to screen all our calls. Not if voice
is part of other applications that don’t
even understand the concept of the robot
caller. The robot caller is part of the old
metaphor.
Can Skype kill SIP? A PC application
from the get-go. Did all the major things
right. Easy install. NAT penetration. High
bandwidth codecs. Encryption, Conferencing, P2P, scalable architecture. “Just
29
works.” Ignored open standards!
Why didn’t SIP do these things? Almost all were already in specs, except
P2P. People were slow to deploy, and
may never deploy. Skype claims 600,000
online. How many people can you call
directly with SIP? 5000 on FWD, some
companies. 150K on Vonage, Packet8
almost. [Editor: these figures are sixmonths old and already quite dated.]
Henning Schulzrinne: Please see
http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~hgs/papers/2004/NGN.ppt for some thoughts
on related topics.
Interoperability is always easier if you
only have to interoperate with yourself
and only have a single provider, as
Skype does, rather than interoperate with
dozens of other companies (You typically find 60+ companies at SIPit) and
work with dozens of service providers.
That said, there is no excuse for how
long it is taking the IETF community
to come to some agreement on a simple
configuration mechanism (the “Petri
drafts”) that makes devices and software
work out of the box. It is not hard, technically, to build a system where you only
have to know your email address to get a
working SIP connection. Unfortunately,
most systems (that are not pre-packaged
for one provider) require the user to deal
with outbound proxies, several different passwords, NAT configurations and
other low-level details.
Doing peer-to-peer in SIP isn’t all that
hard: see http://www.cs.columbia.edu/
~library/TR-repository/reports/reports2004/cucs-044-04.pdf
There’s apparently another project (SOSIMPLE) that has been pursuing similar
ideas.
Also, life is a lot easier if you can simply
do things that would get you thrown you
out of the room at the IETF - for good
reasons. Skype does:
- rely on a single, global authorization
service
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
- transmits media and signaling on a
single connection under some conditions
- puts audio on port 80 (HTTP) if all
else fails, thus bypassing local security
policies
See
http://www.cs.columbia.edu/
~library/TR-repository/reports/reports2004/cucs-039-04.pdf for an early attempt at a Skype protocol analysis. [Editor: an important paper that is really
worth reading.]
As identified in the VON slides Richard
sent around, not being encumbered with
replacing PSTN features helps. As does
having a marketing mechanism (Kazaa)
and not having been burnt by the first,
pre-residential-broadband round of PCto-PC phones and their lack of business
success.
Platforms: SKYPE and
SIP - Islands versus
Standards-Based
Cullen Jennings (Dec 27): The recent
list discussion highlights why sometimes
you just need to pick a phone to sort
something out. I find it interesting that
some times, email, particularly lists,
tends to escalate in the most antagonistic
of ways, phones calls are somewhat less
so, and face-to-face meetings are much
better. I work with development teams
in many different time zones and have
to deal with all the pros and cons of
these various communication mediums
- I think a lot about which one is not just
convenient for me, but is going to result
in me getting my point across to the other
person in a way that I believe will be in
the minimal time.
I think that one of the things about SIP, is
that it helps brings a bunch of disparate
devices that I might use for communicating into one system. Or at least it might
if we get it right. For example, I might
know that I want to IM Dave Hughes
because I need to send him an exact configuration string that he needs to enter in
some phone in Nepal and I don’t want it
messed up. On the other hand we might
need a voice call so we can explain some
complex issue or I might want to have
a video call so I can look at the back of
some IP phone he has and tell him if the
poorly labeled Ethernet jack on the right
or left is the one that goes to the network
side.
I may want to use very different devices
for these communications - but I want
one system. And I want one address
where I can reach Dave and get to the
device he wants to use. I want to know
what types off communication he is willing to receive at this point of time. I don’t
know if he is sleeping in Nepal or wide
awake in Colorado. Should I ring his
cell phone and wake him up? Or should
I check his presence, IM him, then escalate to a voice or video call. Now Dave
might have a bunch of different devices
that get connectivity in a wide variety
of ways. And when we are talking about
Dave I should probably expand that to
a *very wide* variety of ways. Dave is
going to get those devices from a wide
variety of vendors, he is going to get
the connectivity from more sources, and
then he is going to expect services like
messages storage for IM, voice, video,
and conferencing and collaboration tools
from another set of providers.
So, I’m sitting here on my Mac staring at
two applications that are basically softphones. One is called xten and the other
Skype. What’s the difference between
them? Also note I have advanced Beta of
both of these so the features I am seeing
might be slightly ahead. Let me list some
things that I think are critical to both of
their successes:
- They are free to end-users.
- They work on a wide variety of platforms and computers with a high install
success rate.
They sound good - the audio quality, particularly with packet loss, is good. This
is not surprising - they both basically use
audio technology from GIPS.
- They work behind a wide variety of
NAT and Firewall scenarios. They both
basically use a NAT detection technology
that follows a model called STUN plus
fallback to TCP tunneling.
30
- They both do IM and presence related
things.
- They both do audio and xten does
video but I cannot imagine any reason
that I will not end up with video in both
of them in a fairly short time.
When I ask others, I often get told some
of the things above - I also get told about
one is a P2P system and other is not - I’ll
save this for a different thread but I’ll
give you a hint that I believe that both of
them are P2P systems - in all meanings
of the term P2P. So, I’m left with what is
the difference - one of the differences is
that one of them has a name that rhymes
with hype.
So let me go back to the scenario of talking to Dave. It was about multiple devices that acted like one system. I want to
send him a message at one address - and
he wants to have many devices that act
like one system. Now one easy way to do
this would be to have many devices, that
all came from one manufacture, and were
all part of one system and I could only
talk to people in that one system.
A long time ago, I used to have an email
system that worked this way - I think it
was called CompuServe. It was a major
player - which was just proved by the
fact that my spell checker has the word
CompuServe in it’s dictionary. Now, this
was no doubt good for CompuServe, but
it was not good for Dave. (I don’t know
but I’d bet a beer that Dave once had
a CompuServe account and no longer
does). Why was it not good - well basically new players could not connect and
provide new services - particularly ones
that competed with the heart of how
CompuServe made money. Which of
course leads to the interesting questions
of how Skype makes money because
this will determine what can and cannot
be done with it by third parties. People
asked for a standards-based way to do
email.
Now when I send this email, I have no
idea how it will goes from Gordon’s
email server to his email reader. It might
be IMAP, It might be POP. It might be
some proprietary protocol from an exchange server. I don’t know and I don’t
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
care. But I do care that my system is
going to send his system an email and we
are going to agree on one address to use
and one protocol called SMTP.
So what will the Skype island use to
connect off the island? Or will it? I notice that the PSTN connectivity seems to
come from translating Skype to SIP and
terminating on a SIP gateway. I find the
islands game silly. Right now we have a
few major islands of IM Presence - AOL,
MSN, Yahoo. But I predict these will
move to standards-based interoperability or slowly slide into oblivion. Think
about the PSTN and the common carrier concept - can you imagine having a
MCI, ATT and SBC phone on your desk
and you need to use the right one to call
someone else because you can only call
on the same network. People will do this
if there is no alternative - but there is an
alternative.
So let’s drop down a level of things that
concern me and things that I don’t know
what Skype does.
Security: SIP has potential for encrypted
communications between people who
have never spoken before with a deployment model that does not require any
extra effort or cost on the end-user’s part.
We have an Identity scheme that can be
deployed and is a major part of dealing
with SPAM. Ask me some other time if
I think that stored IM could someday
replace email. Skype has security but
won’t tell me how it works so I can’t
really comment on it other than the comment I just made which is about the most
damning statement I could make about
any security system.
Multi-device, multimedia support. If I
have several Skype devices all with different capabilities and some on and some
off, what happens when Dave calls me.
Does one device ring, all of them, just
the right ones? What happens if I answer
two of them? Some of the key capabilities of SIP are wrapped up in this area.
What is Skype’s business model? Not
surprisingly, they don’t seem real keen
to tell me about this. If the business
model is to have traffic on their network
that provably has nothing to do with file
share as a tactic to stop certain sort of
court orders - well rock on, I get it. If
it is they are going to make money selling PSTN termination, well I note there
are a lot of people doing this and I’m
unclear what Skype’s sustainable competitive advantage is. A few years back
Microsoft released a voice.net system
that allowed MSN messenger to PSTN
calls. Most the TSP that provided that
used Cisco equipment but there is not
exactly a horde braking down the gates
to get more people on this voice.net system. There are a ton of people breaking
down the gates to provide VoIP services
but they mostly seem to involve many
services and systems that interconnect in
complex ways.
Some things I would like to understand:
1) What are the differences between
Skype and SIP Softphones?
2) What is Skype’s business model?
3) Will Skype work with many devices
over many access mediums and get the
right device, at the right time, with the
right media?
So where do I stand on all this? Skype
has got my attention - it’s a nice application of VoIP with a good adoption curve.
I want to understand why - is it a fad and
hype, or are there some key differentiators here that really make it different? As
people who know me will note I often
do, I’m going to show up and watch
Skype and SIP, pay attention, tell the
truth, and not be married to the results.
This is some pretty unstructured rambling to send to a group of people like
this list. Part of why I joined this group
was to help listen to what others are saying and refine my views on Skype.
Reed: I have spent my career arguing for
open systems like SIP was supposed to
be, not open systems like “Unix” turned
out to be.
I was going to write a long comment, but
instead let me use a comment that I think
is due to Peter Drucker (at least it reflects
his way of thinking).
The way to succeed in business is to pick
31
the best customers, and delight them.
And the crucial caveat - the best customers are not the ones who always buy
anything you sell - those are *your* best
customers, not *the* best customers. The
best customers are the ones who will
teach you what you should be selling.
The following is how it applies here:
SIP’s vendors have defined their customers to be phone companies.
Skype has defined its customers to be
people who live a communications-centered life.
It’s impossible to delight a phone company with voice over the Internet. The
people who live a communications-centered life will teach you what really
matters. Those people are *not* happy
customers of the phone company.
It’s still possible to beat Skype with SIP,
but the current SIP vendors (such as
XTen) have no clue whatsoever! To win,
you have to delight some customers, not
participate in an illusory “market” for
“technology”.
Here’s why Dave Hughes matters. He’s
delighted! I’m sure he’d be even more
delighted with a truly open system. But
he can’t get an open system, with full
interoperability, today. And he can’t because the SIP people think the game is
about making the incumbent phone companies happy. So openness (as defined by
market-enhancing and market-delighting
interoperability and ease of use in many
conditions) plays second to controlling
the users.
That’s what happens when you have
MBAs run your company instead of true
entrepreneurs.
Open standards need both entrepreneurs
and innovative technology. I’m not sure
which is more important. Microsoft got
where it is by entrepreneurship, and a
slight bit of open APIs (partly contributed by IBM’s PC architecture choice).
X.500 was “open” but controlled by
phone companies (well the OSI, which is
a consortium of phone-thinking people).
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
Internet mail headers were “open” and
entrepreneur-led.
It all starts with the endpoints, and delighted users trump slow-moving phone
companies.
When Pulver started FWD, I thought
there was a chance for SIP. But when the
SIP vendors didn’t embrace it enthusiastically, that revealed FAR MORE about
how the vendors think.
I remember sitting in a room in the early
1980’s with very senior IBM executives
explaining to me patiently how “real personal computing” was what you did on a
VM/370 machine with a 3278 terminal,
and that once we ported 1-2-3 to run
on VM over 3270 terminals, we would
see enormous revenue growth. They
believed this so much that they were
willing to, and did, fund the complete
development of 1-2-3 for Mainframes.
I cannot tell you what the sales of that
product were. But I never met an actual
customer - much less a delighted one.
We at Lotus made a reasonable return on
our development $. But it would be hard
today for me to argue that it wasn’t a
complete strategic waste of time for both
companies.
If SIP is a good technology, then I would
ask why Skype found it necessary to use
something else? And if I were a SIP vendor, I’d be going hell-bent-for-leather to
sell my solutions to Skype. And if I were
a SIP standards person, I would get off
my fat a**, stop enjoying the free travel
that seems to be the perk of going to all
those IETF meetings, and start figuring
out why my standard sucks.
SIP Must Interoperate
While Skype Need not
Do So
Schulzrinne: Not being an open standard has a few advantages:
- You can limit yourself to working
with only one Internet-to-PSTN “carrier”
(Skype) and one, global authentication
server; many of the problems experienced by SIP users are configuration
problems that are much harder to solve
if there are multiple service providers. I
readily admit that the IETF community
has not nearly paid enough attention to
configuration and diagnostics issues.
- You can do things that would get you in
trouble with corporate security folks or
any network engineering group, such as
running voice and call control over port
80 (HTTP) to evade firewall restrictions
or running both call control and voice on
a single transport association.
- You don’t have to worry about interoperability as you control all the software.
- You can do security by obscurity.
The success of non-open applications in
general, probably has little to do with
technical superiority, but it does point
out the real costs of open systems in
terms of testing, brittleness in the field,
customer configuration and the like. The
Web had it a bit easier, with essentially
one or two dominant pieces of software,
on both the browser side (Netscape and
IE) and the server side (Apache and IIS),
but even there, the experience has often
been frustrating.
Continued dominance of proprietary applications, as shown by IE (ActiveX),
also often has little to do with technical
superiority but rather, with bundling advantages. Skype and Microsoft certainly
enjoyed that advantage. Neither FWD
nor iptel.org nor all the other providers of
similar PC-to-PC services had anywhere
near the name recognition and the ability
to cross-market. (I also suspect that VCs,
having “learned” the lesson of earlier
PC-to-PC VoIP failures, ignored the fact
that the deployment of broadband made
this much more viable than attempting to
do voice-over-modem.)
I’d be curious what you would cite as
evidence in SIP of the sinister influence
of PSTN types. Yes, there are things
like “early media” that are influenced
by the need to interoperate with legacy
systems, but they are very much at the
margins and don’t really shape the overall system.
32
Reed: Sinister is your word not mine.
I don’t think it is sinister. It’s just sad
to waste time pursuing those customers. I can tell you that many of the SIP
vendors are spending lots of time with
those customers. And they build their
business plans based on numbers from
those customers.
One piece of evidence is the battle over
ENUM, as if it matters.
Another piece of evidence is the lack of
urgency in finding a way to tunnel SIP
over NATs. (I’ve watched the STUN
process and I can tell you it’s been a
travesty - why does Skype work over
NATs today? Why does STUN screw
up?). Of course you could blame it on
stupid engineers compared to those at
Skype. But I think the bias has been that
no one feels that working over NATs is
important to SIP’s success *in the near
term.* Where’s the urgency? This standards committee views itself as having
years, because they can’t imagine any
users other than phone companies, and
they know the phone companies feel no
urgency.
Jennings: Hmm, Cisco has been shipping SIP VoIP stuff that works over
NATs for several years now. AT&T,
Vonage, and others have a fair number
of customers with Cisco/Linksys VoIP
devices behind NATs. SBC companies
such as Jasomi make it easy to use stuff
not designed to work behind a NAT work
behind a NAT and they do not deploy
any equipment on the customer premise
but only a central relay server in the
network. Is there a lack of urgency or is
it a solved problem? I’d actually say that
there is a fair amount of urgency and it is
a partially solved problem.
Reed: I’ve used ATA-186’s. When they
work out of the box, they’re fine. But
when they don’t “just work” (which is
much of the time), the user either returns
them to Vonage, or spends Vonage’s customer support time beyond any reasonable profit for the next 5 years.
My point is that the service needs to “just
work.” I commend the Cisco product
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
designer to look at this UI for setting up
and diagnosing your typical SIP interface
hardware: [Editor: David Reed includes
a screenshot of a complex, cluttered and
arcane looking table.]
Jennings: Completely agreement that
we need to get to where things just work
out of the box with no messing around
with configuration. The ATA was pretty
much our first generation attempt device
and is around 4 years old now. I was
referring more to the Linksys stuff that
came out almost a year ago now - like the
Linksys PAP5. TSP can order this preconfigured to their servers and I believe
the just-work-out-the-box success rate
has been very high. No doubt additional
improvements are possible.
Reed: Cullen, thanks for the info - I’ll
look at the PAP5, but I suspect it’s very
likely that it won’t work out of the box
(for any TSP) at my MIT or HP offices,
to pick two very different but highly
structured environments with very different firewall policies. Whether it would
work at a Hotel or my home behind a
Netgear RP614 NAT box, that’s more
likely, but still not a lock. If it just works
in all places, that’s very cool - which
VoIP provider ships it?
Skype, of course, works without my
needing to think or intervene in all the
above, including over my HP laptop
when it is connected to the HP VPN,
which bars split tunneling, so Skype is
going through the VPN.
And this comment only refers to the tunneling/STUN aspect.
A number of the SIP vendors seem to
be waiting for, and expecting to require,
QoS solutions in the network before
entering the market and learning what really delights customers. Perhaps they believe that QoS is required to get acceptable performance. (After all, if you don’t
actually use the network, but instead
spend your time on airplanes and in executive suites like many of the decision
makers in major networking companies,
including my own part-time employer
HP*, you might believe your own gas
that QoS is needed, as opposed to being
a nice to have. Remember call-waiting
required ISDN... until it didn’t).
*HP Labs employs people like me (former CTO’s who still spend 50% of their
time writing code and operating spectrum analyzers rather than turning into
pundits, which is much more lucrative
but less fun) to remind them that technology reality is not discoverable at Industry schmoozefests full of powerpoint,
market strategists, and “glad to be here”
commentators. Needless to say, I do not
speak *for* HP in any way here, though
I sometimes speak *in* HP in exactly
this way.
What to Do About NATs
and Protocol Problems?
Earlier Jennings: Lots of people have
played with tunneling audio and video
over TCP. At first they are thrilled that
it worked though a firewall that blocked
UDP. But somewhat later, they start
complaining about voice quality problem - The complaint sounds like” ”It’s
fine most of the time but sometimes it
just drops out for a few seconds.” The
issue is TCP slow start can cause a 50
packet per second stream to back up
significantly when two packets are lost.
Then people move to a stage of thinking:
“Ah, let’s replace the TCP stack so that
the stack ACKs stuff if never received.”
Ignoring what this bad idea would do to
the Internet in the large, my experience
in trying to deploy software to replace
the windows TCP stack is that it would
not be fun. It’s very difficult to diagnose,
replicate, or fix, the voice quality issues
that happen over TCP tunnels.
Reed: I think you are confused if you
think this is the problem with sending
voice through firewalls when the capacity of the firewall is sufficient for voice in
the first place. In such a case, you merely
need to keep the flow of bits going at a
moderate rate, and slow start never kicks
in. But that’s being a pragmatic engineer,
and looking at the problem as a simple
one, rather than trying to optimize an
objective function (a few wasted bits)
that means nothing in practice in a world
of fiber, coax, and capacity that is much
cheaper than Verizon attempts to extort
33
for POTS bits. Of course the firewall
guys basically are sticking a major barrier into the pipes, and you can’t do anything about a constriction in the pipe that
makes it so the load exceeds the capacity.
That’s why I describe the people who
build firewalls as people who believe
you can improve highways by standing
police in the middle of the highway to
direct traffic.
Jennings: I think a better path is to take a
balanced approach of fixing the network
such that real time P2P applications can
work well on it while at the same time
being realistic about the deployment of
IPv6 and NATs. Some guy called D.P.
Reed has this great paper about the “End
to End” principle that I strongly believe
in :-) To do this, I have been working
with the NAT and Firewall vendors. For
all intensive purposes there are 3 vendors
of home NATs and threee vendors of
non-home NATs so it’s not that hard to
reach them all. The goal is to make endto end-possible but still allow administrators of firewalls to impose the policy
they wish. If they want to stop a certain
type of traffic, they always can do it so
the goal is to make it easy for them to do
and make it so that they don’t accidentally kill other things in the process.
Reed: Most of the network works fine
already, on a performance basis. It’s
not clear we need to add stuff to create
QoS. Perhaps we should delete some
stuff (like firewalls). I run real-time collaborative p2p applications (Croquet)
between my home in Boston and Cary,
NC; Magdeburg, Germany (former east
germany); and Palo Alto. Often I use
hotel networks, too. The latency and jitter is quite acceptable.
But getting the firewall and NAT vendors
to realize that the *illusion* of safety and
control they produce for their customers
is killing the value, and creating none in
return.
Spend half the energy and investment
on deploying security at the endpoints,
and enabling rapid fault and intrusion
isolation at the network layer, rather than
trying to prevent faults and attacks.
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
The Value of
Interconnected
Networks
COOK Report: Here is what I have heard
so far from Skype.
Kelley Larabee: Hello, Gordon -Thanks for contacting us.
Skype already interoperates with PSTN,
and we have announced that we’ll offer
SkypeIN as a premium services in 2005,
so that Skype users can be contacted
from the PSTN network.
We expect that as Internet Telephony
grows, so will cross platform communication demand and potential. Our considerations for evaluating other systems
will include:
Quality of service (call set up, audio)
Privacy (encryption or not)
Ease of use
Cost (server based or P2P)
Enhanced services (IM, presence, video,
file transfer, etc)
Coluccio: I found Skype’s comments
about their already being interoperable
with the PSTN interesting on several levels. Some of the VoIP box vendors I’ve
spoken with, whose primary businesses
are in session border control and gatewaying functions, appear to be almost
entirely oblivious of those powers (some
are entirely), almost straining themselves
to recognize the name Skype, itself.
Much less see the need to regard them as
a real threat, or the need to interoperate
with them among the various flavors of
H.323 and SIP that prevail, which they
now support. Then again, I really need to
get my head out of the trappings of carrier-enterprise quarters more often.
Vijay Gill: Skype has SkypeOut, which
works somewhat and unfortunately, isn’t
the cheapest thing around.
I have been using Skype with great suc-
cess over my Verizon EVDO connection,
allowing me essentially unlimited calling for a flat rate, that is also mobile.
I use SkypeOut to call the PSTN for
rates cheaper than my average anytime
cellphone minutes, and obviously other
people on Skype work just fine.
SkypeOut rates to India for example, are
0.15EUR/min, which is more expensive
than the rates from Gorillamobile at
0.14USD/min.
The Skype codecs and user experience
are very good for a person who just
wants stuff to work. Hell, Skype even
manages to work decently over a GPRS
connection via Bluetooth to my GSM
phone, and GPRS latency is about three
to four times that of EVDO.
Jennings: If anyone is going to be at
CES next week, might want to check out
what Jeff Pulver is up to with his FWD
stuff and Skype.
h t t p : / / p u l v e r b l o g . p u l v e r. c o m / a r chives/001484.html
In my conversations with AOL, MSN,
Yahoo about services that allow messages on one system to reach users in
another system - they have all been fairly
clear that, other than very special conditions, this violates the End User Licensing Agreement.
Reed: This ranks up there with suing
your best customers.
Shockey: Where did you hear this Cullen? MS is bridging all three now using
Microsoft’s LCS 2005
http://www.internetweek.com/allStories/
showArticle.jhtml?articleID=23901035
Jennings: Microsoft’s bridge allows a
Microsoft endpoint that is paying money
to Yahoo and AOL talk to a user in AOL
*or* talk to a user in Yahoo. This makes
sense. AOL can generate revenue off
this.
Microsoft’s bridge does not allow a Yahoo
user to send a message to the bridge that
gets translated and delivered to an AOL
user. If this happened, there would be no
34
stickiness to existing AOL users to stay
with AOL because they could switch to
jabber and bridge to their previous AOL
buddies. A model like this has no revenue
in it for AOL and lets AOL loose all their
customers - phone any of the public IM
vendors and say you want to deploy a
bridge that lets any user talk to any user
and see how they react.
Reed: Not that it matters, but both Hal
Varian and I have pointed out that the
economic option value created by interconnecting separate networks far outweighs the value retained by balkanizing
communications against the user’s interests. The only case where this doesn’t
work that way is if one of the parties
believes they can capture a monopoly
position, and then use that monopoly
position’s uniqueness to extract “monopoly premiums”. Once upon a time, AOL
might have had a shot at monopoly construction in the IM space. Now that we
have P2P-implemented IM (e.g. Skype,
among many others) the rationale for an
IM operator to exist declines rapidly.
The same transition from conceiving a
service as centrally provided to decentralized, user-constructed, is why email
(and before it telephony) saw no economic benefit to retaining balkanization.
Or for that matter, why zero-cost peering
grew. The mutual gains to both sides of
a gateway are greater than the losses due
to loss of control.
There’s a lot more theory and subtlety
here, but IMHO, AOL’s knee-jerk policy
has outlived its usefulness to AOL. If it
wants to survive, it should figure out how
to ride the commoditization curve of IM
while maximizing its profits, rather than
sticking to a strategy that will kill its own
golden goose.
Jennings: I would like to build a conference bridge that allows Alice to connect
to it with MSN and Bob to connect to it
with Yahoo. This violates both of their
EULA.
Reed: The idea that a EULA can prevent
all functional substitutes from competing
is silly. If you don’t realize that IM is
a trivial app, and AOL users do have a
choice to switch, you deserve to lose.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
Jennings: One of the best people to
explain the complex legalities of this is
Jonathan Christensen who was at Microsoft but is now is CTO at Facetime
that specializes in conversion from one
IM protocol to another.
Shockey: Nothing like the ILBC codec
that is the best in the business. Now
Skype did have to license that code for
real money and you can’t get it in other
products like XTEN unless you pay for
the licensed version of the product.
Reed: Complex “legalities” are why
lawyers shouldn’t pretend to understand business. The more complex the
deal, the more likely it’s just “security
by obscurity,” making the parties to it
incredibly vulnerable. The best deals
codify the interests of ALL parties in
a joint win. Writing a EULA to screw
your customers is VERY bad business,
and only works if you have a monopoly
position.
http://www.globalipsound.com/
Jennings: You - David P. Reed wrote
“And if I were a SIP standards person, I
would get off my fat a**, stop enjoying
the free travel that seems to be the perk
of going to all those IETF meetings,
and start figuring out why my standard
sucks.”
What the Technology
Must Do in Order to
Please the User
Jennings: I’m all ears on this - I’m very
interested in what to improve. If standards don’t matter, then we need to get
the meetings moved from Minneapolis
to somewhere nice and warm :-) You
mention that people really like Skype
and that it delights real users. Can
you dig into that a bit and get specific
- What is it about Skype that people
really like?
Reed: I’l let other users like Dave
Hughes chime in. No particular order,
except #1 is by far the first among
equals.
1. It just works out of the box in minutes, no matter where you are (zero
configuration setup).
Shockey: Yep. It just works. Even a
certifiable SIP bigot such as myself uses
it all the time.
Reed: 2. The voice quality is excellent.
Reed: 3. Conferencing is trivial to do,
and free.
Shockey: Yes, but Skype had the luxury
of vertically integrating all the various
elements of a coherent VoIP system without having to interoperate with other
implementations as SIP must.
Reed: 4. No phone numbers just names,
you start with “presence”, and typically
use the IM feature to ask politely, with a
topic in mind, if the other person wants to
talk now or later.
Shockey: Ditto but that is a User Interface issue that now everyone is going to
mimic.
Reed: 5. No “call waiting” - you can
blend multiple IMs, voice calls, conferences, ... with a nice User Interface that
exploits it.
6. You don’t have to hold a telephone in
your hand when you want to use a mouse
and keyboard to do other stuff.
Shockey: But you can do that with any
decent softphone such as XTEN
Reed: 7. And of course, it’s free (or
rather, since you are already paying the
cost for Internet access, and Skype uses
such a trivial amount of extra resources
after that, it’s a rounding error).
8. Finally (this was a bit late), Skype just
works across OS X and Windows, and a
few less popular platforms.
In contrast, every SIP user experience
design I have seen (such as XTen) is
modeled after the POTS User Iinterface
that evolved based on the restrictions of a
central, legacy switch, with dedicated circuits, 10 key pad, special case conferenc35
ing. And every SIP install is a nightmare
of “settings” and failures to operate over
various firewalls, tunnels, etc.
Admittedly, you could do everything
that Skype does based on SIP. But to do
so, you’d have to admit that telephony
as we know it sucks and is worth redoing all over again to make it fun and
productive. Heck, maybe the generality
of SIP might even be exploited so that
you can get a voice bandwidth of 1616KHz, and a dynamic range of 96 dB,
rather than the typical 3 kHz/8 bit audio
that is the best one can get from “toll
quality” sound. I could play my flute for
my daughter when I’m on the road.
My point is that the *potential* for
delight *is* hiding there in SIP. But
the folks who do SIP have invested no
time thinking about it, much less time
making it happen. Stop hiring engineers
and people who think writing standards
is their idea of a great way to spend a
weekend, and start hiring creative types
who have strong views of how cool
things could be. XTen, for example,
isn’t cool - it’s just a picture of a phone
on my screen.
Menard: To be fair here, you have to
bring in Robert Sparks, CTO of Xten
into the picture. http://sipthat.com/archives/000143.html
I think that their Eyebeam product with
support for H.264 video and Speex
(Editor: a free voice codec used in
Windows)Wideband audio (http://www.
speex.org/comparison.html) is setting
the standard for the implementation of
such functionality in IP Phones:
http://www.xten.com/index.php?menu=
products&smenu=eyebeam&ssmenu=e
yebeam-sdk
If I want to call a PSTN number, I like
to have a keypad there, but with ENUM
support, I can easily as well punch in an
email address-SIP URI. I hope that IP
phone vendors will agree to standardize
on a PS2 connector for hooking up a full
QWERTY keyboard to the telephone.
I’ve been trying to convince Mediatrix
to implement Speex WB into their 2102
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
without success to date.
http://www.mediatrix.com/products_devices.php?prodid=14
Which I am told has a wideband capable
SLIC and a 12-bit A/D-D/A therefore
capable of sampling much wider bandwidth than 3.2 kHz at a much better sampling rate than 8kHz. What we need are
new wideband analog phones. Curiously
enough, the cheaper the phone, the more
wideband it is.
So David’s quest for a better audio quality than POTS is echoed by mine and
is quickly going to face the ugly battle
of inter-carrier interconnection using
something better than G.711, which I
have raised on the record of CRTC
Public Notice 2004-2 and is the subject
of the CRTC CISC NTWG TIF 14 on
VoIP (http://www.crtc.gc.ca/cisc/COMMITTE/N-docs/NTTF014.doc) which
was just reborn, but is not drawing contributions until the CRTC sets policy
directives as a result of PN 2004-2 on
VoIP.
Boy would I like to dump better than
POTS audio on Bell Canada’s network,
but I am certain that unless I battle it out
in front of the CRTC, Bell will insist on
transcoding this audio to G.711.
Now, to assume that there can be a public
Internet that replaces the PSTN using
Skype as a the user interface, doesn’t
imply interoperability with the PSTN,
which we can toss away; but is still
where 80% of the calls will be originating from and being placed to for a long
time to come.
Dave Hughes: Well I have only intermittently been able to follow this thread and
haven’t commented, Xmas, kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids ya know.
But I will answer this question by Cullen
“What is it about Skype that people really like?” And David Reed suggested I
comment. Ok, I will.
I have been using/evaluating Skype for
a while, getting other BUSY people to
use it, pushing it to and getting calls back
from the most arcane and difficult places.
And I have been using and trying a range
of other solutions, over broadband cable,
DSL, dedicated T-1, wireless, satellite.
Domestic and foreign. From high quality
Cisco 7960 phones with tweaked codecs,
Vonage with AT186, both here in Colorado, in hotels with IP room service, and by
carrying the SIP AT to Europe and connecting it to a local broadband DSL then
making calls to PSTN phones in 13 Third
World countries from Senegal to Bhutan,
MSN, Pulvers FWD, on Win2000, XP,
variation of FWD ported by a couple of
Russians to an HP Ipaq, itself connected
to Wi-Fi (would have exercised Lingo
on a trip to Denmark but their management sucks - even though their engineers
are ok).
So I have some basis for my comments.
1. Far and away the biggest appeal to
Skype is its incredible voice quality.
Commented on by everyone when they
first hear it. Under a range of conditions
of bandwidth. In fact it is much better
than PSTN phone calls, local or long distance. The only time I have heard PSTN
calls as good is in corporate board rooms
with the highest quality equipment, room
speaker or handsets over excellent circuits.
In fact at its best - between two PCs connected to cable/DSL level bandwidth, its
almost eerie. As if you are in the same
room talking across a table - without
background noise. In fact I would say it’s
better than a face-to-face conversation
with its sound distractions!
And I’m half deaf at 76 years old from
war battering of my eardrums. I would
use a set of ordinary earphones into the
audio port on my computers talking over
Skype before using my $4000 (each)
digital, tunable hearing aids.
International calls on SKYPE (Japan,
Europe) are just as good quality as PSTN
and better than Vonage.
That’s 75% of it. All the rest are of lesser
import. And there are some downsides.
2. Yes, trivially easy to download and
set up and make the first call. Smart
enough to get through most home/of36
fice user routers without configuration.
Only time I had a problem from a 2000
laptop was after I ran a multi-media CD
on the system and it “reset” the default
voice/mic setting in the Windows Sound
utility - so the mike outgoing didn’t work
after it had worked. Until I reset the card
to default.
3. Works at the amazing low bandwidth
- where even the lower speed codecs
for SIP fail. I have had successful calls
from Ghana, Africa over a pisspoor PPP
dialup connection at the other end calling me, across the capital city into a
local ISP service with hardly a high
bandwidth transatlantic connection. And
even though, in Thame, Nepal at the end
of four relay Wi-Fi radio hops 5 miles,
from/to a geo satellite link between
Namche and Kathmandu, operated by
marginally tech Sherpas, and a SECOND
geo satellite hop from KM to Hawaii and
THEN to the continental US into the
network where the Namche sat hop is
only 64kbps and the total latency is 1,200
ms (about 88,000 miles up/down) - or 7
full seconds turnaround Skype STILL
worked well enough to catch voice inflections and quality. Telling me I can
reach ANY spot on the globe, voice.
4. The easy “name handle’” + full name
in the scan/search is simple and better
than numbers, though because geeks like
to use cute names which are not memorable, that’s a downside too.
Now whether Skype works better than
SIP ought to work is, as Dave Reed says,
it got waylaid by the bell heads trying
to turn it into the old PSTN model, and
thus got so encrusted with features and
barnacles of code, or some other reason,
such as just one hell of a superior codec
in Skype, it sure is giving SIP a run for
its money.
I’ll stop there. But I want to repeat what
I said to a large (200) 32 nation conference in Denmark of wireless ISPs or
wanna bees half from very Third World
countries - even before I had Skype running - that I think the #1 killer AP for
the REST of the world can be VoIP over
Wireless the last 100 miles. BECAUSE
in nations like Senegal with only 7%
literacy, the ONE thing EVERYONE can
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
do is speak and listen over a “telephone.”
THAT should come BEFORE computers to the jungle. Because if you have
a small, cheap, Skype phone set with a
wireless link you can TALK THROUGH
anyone staring at a computer screen how
to operate it. While you can’t use email
to teach them if they are illiterate in the
first place.
That makes a market of about 6 billion
by my reckoning.
Jennings: Thanks to Dave and David for
the delightful lists - I heartily agree those
are very key features for a good system.
Hughes: Yeah, Cullen, I felt bad crowing about how Skype worked, while the
Cisco SIP 7960 phones stopped working
when the satcom bandwidth to which
they were connected dropped to 64kbps,
to the most nether places on Mt Everest
(Thame, Nepal) where voice - to teach
English to young Sherpas whose Nepalese teachers can’t even speak/write it - is
critical. After Cisco via Jim Forster and
you were so generous with your devices
and time setting them up, And troubleshooting a DSL firewall problem Mingma Sherpa in Pittsburgh was having.
Had another Skype “voice quality” demo
when Frank Coluccio called his first
time. His deep booming voice came
through splendidly.
He had a small hardware problem at the
end, which illustrates one of the problems any PC-mic-speaker VoIP runs into
sooner or later. Others including me,
have encountered it. Whether its Skype
or Pulvers FWD or whatever, the arcane
and very seldom accessed - by the average PC owner – “Sound and Multimedia”
Control Panel settings for microphone
or speaker/earphones have to be fiddled
with if a user - or software - has altered
the default settings that Skype expects.
Most often it is the microphone - at one
end or the other which has to be fiddled
with and reset before things work as
advertised.
The issue here is - how many “average PC owners” know or care how to
go down five levels to Start - Control
Panel- Sound & Multimedia -Audio -
Preferred Devices then see such terms
as “Microsoft GS Wavetable SW Synth”
or “ESS Maestro” to change settings that
their music software reset when they installed it? And then know how to test it?
Five of the 10 or so tech hot shots I first
communicated with with Skype, had to
fiddle before their microphones, or mine
worked right. Monitor screen interface
easy, installation and getting through
Cable or DSL modems easy. If mic and
speaker settings are not default right hard, or frustrating.
If Skype is to take over the world, its got
to be embedded in hand held telephone
type devices, where even setting time/
date, voice answering, call lists from an
instrument’s LCD and punch buttons is a
turnoff to many who just want to pick up
a familiar instrument - called a telephone
– “dial” a number (name?) and say: “Can
you hear me now?”
Not sure PC screen based VoIP will
subsume all SIP ”telephones” and/or AT
devices.
Forster: Yeah, I agree. This is one place
where the Skype experience is sometimes
not great -- the microphone/speaker end
of audio, where many phone appliances
do “just work”, and the complexity of interaction with other apps. We could pick
nits and say that’s not Skype’s issue, it’s
a PC platform issue, but that’s similar to
saying that the firewall/NAT issues aren’t
SIP issues.
So far we have VoIP phone appliances
with ”just works’”audio, and Skype with
“just works” setup. One of these days
we’ll get both in the same device. I think
I’d bet on “just works” ease of setup in
a phone appliance before “just works”
audio in a PC.
Changing Expectations
of What People Want
from Telephony
The question is why not do better than
PSTN from the get go.
Reed: Francois - I want to correct your
comment that 80% of all phone calls with
be originated on POTS for a very long
37
time. That’s not the way the market is
going if you look at the big picture demographics beyond just the IP world.
80% of voice will originate and terminate, not on POTS, but on portable
phones that people carry with them and
connect wirelessly. Don’t confuse them
with POTS - they are a different architecture altogether. (Consider the push-totalk feature as a bellwether of how nonPOTS services drive new markets).
Menard: In Canada, the market is now
controlled by three players, Bell Canada,
TELUS and Rogers, all incumbents, all
of which have no short term commercial
interest in simplifying the terms and
conditions of interconnection unless they
are forced to.
I fully draw a parallel between POTS
and PCS.
Reed: This is a documented market phenomenon that is growing along with the
age cohort who is comfortable living
with cell phones as their primary phone
gets older - at least one year per year,
probably 5 years per elapsed year. Probably even a higher percent share of calls
if you are referring to phone calls that
connect person to person (as opposed
to terminating in a recording device
to leave or retrieve a message), since
reaching a person is far more likely on a
phone that is with you rather than where
you live or sit at a desk. (I’ve been trying to get someone to measure recorder
termination for about 15 years now, because it fits Nicholas’s model that async
communications is one of the preferred
modes for users, but we don’t design our
telephony systems around async recording transport).
Breaking the culture limitation on VoIP
growth now becomes just a software
problem: because these telephone endpoints are smart, the network can be
application-ignorant, as it should be to
foment innovation. It would be easy for
Qualcomm and Nokia, for example, to
add Skype (or for that matter SIP) to their
phones - they already have IP in them,
and much better User Interface capabilities than do the stupid wired phones.
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
Menard: I do not agree. Breaking the
culture limitation on VoIP growth requires the telecommunications regulators
to do their job and implement unbundled
access to ILEC DSL and MSO Packetcable loops at competitors rates that are
cost-based and limited to a reasonable
mark-up and which do not systematically
price squeeze competitors.
Once this is in place, people will implement VoIP using alway-on, IP-to-IP user
interfaces, which will inteed, relegate
E.164 phone numbers to their grave. I
foresee the buddy list interface and use
of e-mail addresses as proxy to SIP URIs
for example.
However, fact remains that people on
PCS phones and on POTS phones will
have a limited user agent and user interfaces for a long time (3 years replacement cycle for PCS phones that are crosssubsidized by long term contracts is not
uncommon) and will be constrained to a
12 digit keypad focused on E.164 entry
and audio that is too thin for effective
voice recognition.
By contrast, VoIP users may take advantage of better user agent hardware with
wideband audio capable handset and a
QWERTY keyboard, which are problems
that can be cured, not by software, but by
open standards and terminals that are not
cross-subsidized by a network operator
oligopoly. For instance, VoIP providers
are not advertising BYO SIP UA (Bring
your own SIP UA). This is a sharp contrast with the PCS operator oligopoly.
The point here is that with VoIP, those
things that cannot be cured by software,
can be cured by improving the computer
that talks IP. With VoIP, there are no preconceived ideas of locking the user out
of its own user agent (such as disabling
third party call control on all Windows
CE-enabled CDMA phones), to the point
where you cannot even build yourself an
applet that tracks the time you spend on
the phone.
Reed: The idea of phone numbers is only
going to be relevant for a short time into
the future. So don’t bet on ENUM being
a “cash register” for very long at all.
Menard: ENUM will not be a cash register. It will be a means of forcing SS7
operators to DIP into the Internet rather
than the converse which is currently the
case. I alluded to ENUM as a mean of
hiding the complexity of PSTN call routing from a user interface that is backward
compatible with the POTS and PCS user
interfaces that are deployed today.
Reed: When I can beam my Skype ID
from my phone to yours when we meet
(instead of giving you a piece of cardstock with tiny printing, or in a bar having you write it on a napkin), when we
have online directory services with voice
recognition interfaces, why will we ever
need numbers again?
Many people are switching away from
the location-based notion of telephony
to the person-based notion of telephony.
Just like “answering machines” went
from being viewed as annoying to have,
to being annoying when someone didn’t
have one, not having a Skype name (or
something better) will soon become a social problem. “Oh, HE still uses a phone
number” will be the ultimate put down.
Menard: The opportunity that I see for
ISPs is to become CLECs so that they
can elevate themselves to a regulatory
stature that is that of a PEER OF EQUAL
standing with the ILECs in the eyes of
the regulator, despite being recognized
as financially incapable of reaching the
scale of the ILEC in any short amount
of time. Today, ISPs cannot peer with
ILECs at terms and conditions that are
non-discriminatory. Say I’m a small ISP
in Trois-Rivieres, I do not want to go
peer with Teleglobe at the NYC NAP to
send traffic back to Bell Canada. If I’m a
CLEC, I can interconnect locally at the
LIR Central Office (LIR = Larger Interconnection Region as defined in CRTC
Decision 2004-46).
I’m afraid ILECs will soon argue: Oh,
but wait, this is not a VoIP packet, its
an IP packet that doesn’t contain voice,
I cannot route this packet locally on my
network, you have to go to the NYC NAP
to terminate BGP peering ... this just
isn’t the way we route our IP network ...
38
I’m making an effort to make sure this
doesn’t happen. Anyone care to bet?
Coluccio: I’d like to clarify a point that I
made earlier when I agreed with David’s
assertion that the PSTN POTS services
and wireless/cellular network services
should not be lumped together. I initially
agreed, but for reasons that are probably
no longer valid, and very likely looking
at the problem from a different perspective.
Today cellular carriers, like their landline
telco cousins, share the SS7 architecture.
This is unlike the way in which they once
communicated their signaling requirements between resources in the past,
through IS-41 X.25 approaches, which
were not compatible with SS7.
The larger wireless operators, in fact, are,
and have been, deploying their own SS7
nets in order to remove their dependence
on traditional Bell Company signaling,
although today most of the dominant
wireless carriers are actually owned by
the larger Bells, anyway.
Reed: SS7 may be used by cellular carriers. But I was talking about handset services. Another example of confusing the
carriers with the end-user functionality.
COOK Report: Francois in a voice conversation at least three weeks ago mentioned to me his belief that ENUM implementation would somehow replace SS7.
(Doubtless I did not adequately understand what he was trying to convey.)
Shockey: This is the public ENUM
(AKA RFC3761 in the DNS) vs. private
infrastructure Telephone Number to URI
translations (the so called Carrier ENUM
using SIP or whatever).
All PSTN calls require some form of
number translation to route. The issue is
what is the database mechanism to perform those translations and what is the
query method if you need it in an IP endto-end world? Of course that assumes (a)
you believe phone numbers are useful
and (b) some form of interoperability
with the PSTN is necessary for some
indefinable amount of time.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
Reed: To the extent that your blinders
only lets you see the world from the
perspective of “carriers” (and now I’m
including wireless and fiber, to include
Francois’ blinders, which are typical of
the optics-heads) you miss the essence of
what is happening in the world. Despite
the enormous “narcissism of the operators” (who cannot see that the world of
communications is NOT about them),
the real world of communications is
about the messages, not the bits, and the
users, not those who would claim to own
them.
COOK Report: We had a similar argument about 6 weeks ago. Is there any
chance that we could agree that - like it
or not - for the foreseeable future (several years?) SOMEONE besides just the
end users will have to operate networks
and provide wide area service? Eventually mesh nets and viral networks may
combine with dynamic optical technology to push standard operators into the
so-called dustbin of history. But for some
number of years this is not likely. In my
opinion at least.
A Changing Role for
Operators
Reed: Of course operators will exist and
operate networks. That isn’t my point
about the “narcissism of the operators.”
The narcissism is the idea that they deserve to play the role of defining what the
services will be that are supported by the
meaning-free bits that traverse their networks, among interoperable endpoints.
Francois is committed to putting in pipes
to carry those bits. I suspect he would
like his pipes to be the preferred solution
for as many bits in as many circumstances as possible. More power to him,
but my point is that other than doing a
good job on those bits, he has no leverage to force certain kinds of bits to traverse his pipes. Bits that make up video
streams may travel over his pipes or over
wireless connections or via satellites or
over packets delivered using Bit Torrent
asynchronously. The users now have the
leverage created by interoperability, and
they are using it.
They do “route around” attempts to tie
services to particular sets of pipes.
There’s a fantasy out there that fiber is so
wonderful that the first fiber to a home
will “own” that home forever, and allow
lock in. I don’t buy that - it’s just another
way of saying that no one will ever need
more than 300 baud because a person
can’t read that fast.
Shockey: Well if you put 100 channels of
High Definition NFL football on it you
just might. :-)
Reed: If the operators get over their narcissism that the world depends on them,
so they should be given all kinds of rights
and privileges, they have perfectly fine
businesses to run. I’m sick and tired of
the wailing and crying and poor mouthing I hear from operators. The sky isn’t
falling.
Shockey: Well, the sky is falling if you
are a LEC and look at their gross revenues and margins on the landline sides of
their business. Its not a pretty sight when
you then factor into your business model
that you will lose 1/3 of your residential
business to Cable Operators within 3-4
years and perhaps 30% of your enterprise
business to SIP trunking at the edge and
IP Centrex from the IXC’s -- if they can
hold on long enough.
Reed: It’s not the operators that will
define the services, or “permit” them to
exist. They will get paid, to the extent
that a lack of capacity will find entrepreneurs willing to fill it. It’s just that the
current operators need to realize that they
haven’t got a lock on that new business,
and to get started on figuring out how to
remain competitive.
Shockey: David, it’s just that traditional
telephony carriers do not want to be
turned into gas, water, or electricity utilities where they have to live on reduced
but highly regulated rates of return much
lower than they are accustomed to though
I need to research this more. The ILECS
still think they are high tech businesses
when they are not... they are bit pushers. They are totally enamored of “new
39
services” or “content delivery” where we
both know that those services, as Anrew
Odlyzko has proven, are not all that profitable and you know can be delivered at
the edge by anyone.
Reed: Else they are going to be the next
Kodak or Polaroid - companies who
thought the film stock and patents they
held were the core of what photography
was going to mean to its users forever.
Now it’s about ink, image sensors, metadata, coding, and digital storage.
Shockey: Well, I still think there is a
good business being a bit pusher.
The ultimate economic question I have
is since we can now conclusively prove
that Voice is simply a edge application on
the network (the Skype demonstration),
which means its real marginal value is
zero (like email). What will happen to
the telecom industry when you yank over
200B in revenue right out from under it?
OK ..50 Billion. Have you looked at the
bond ratings on Qwest recently?
Coluccio: David, I’ve tried for decades
to remove what was admittedly a Bell
shaped helmet hairline from my head,
to the point where I’ve just about gotten
rid of it today. Just enough of it remains
- no matter if it’s a common carrier or a
COIN - for me to know its importance in
tying together communities of users and
their endpoints.
I don’t think that I am blinded nearly as
much by the carrier component of the
equation as you have stated.
Reed: Frank - I am assured by my Motorola colleague Phil Fleming that pushto-talk in the cellular world doesn’t use
SS7 - it uses IP. And of course the 3G
world is not terribly focused on SS7,
either, since it is moving to IPv6.
Shockey: Correct. Right now the classic
push to talk application used by Motorola with Nextel (their principal wireless customer) is somewhat proprietary
but is essentially an IP “presence based”
service... most of the carriers including
Nextel/Sprint, etc., are moving to SIPbased presence to enable click to talk
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
across carrier/domain boundaries.
happening is a direct reflection of the expression.
desire for first of all - carriers to deploy
Reed: I wouldn’t bet that cellular end- more profitable services. (By the way I think it’s interesting to mention in passpoint services will spend a lot of time Nextel has the highest ARPU of any ing another clashing set of principles,
trying to deal with upgrading of SS7 to wireless carrier based solely on the C2T since the FCC has identified PTT as a
encompass new services like SMS, pres- application.) There is also a carrier de- telecommunications service, and as such
ence, location-based services, etc.
sire to kill off SS7 due to its high cost subjects it to a class of scrutiny along the
both the equipment side and services lines of CALEA and other government
Shockey: You are correct again. No, side. Compare the prices a Tekelec SCP monitoring and “wiretapping” considthey won’t. They will convert their entire vs. a SUN box and you will know ex- erations. Do you or others have any
internal 3G signaling architecture to SIP actly what I mean.
thoughts about this?
itself. In fact most of the landline VoIP
carriers are looking at similar moves Coluccio: Granted, David, the migration Shockey: On this issue I’m pretty cereven for things like LNP CNAME and to IP for all forms of both wireless and tain the Government will have complete
1800 data. SIP itself is a perfectly good landline appears inevitable and on track, access to any form of communications
query response mechanism for this pur- but as long as there exists on any session steam they want from any type of service
pose and I actually believe SIP will re- a need for one handset or appliance to be provider provided they go through the
place SS7 in the core of the NGN.
connected to a public wireless realm and normal warrant process. The new trigger
the other to a class five on the PSTN, date I’m told by knowledgeable observReed: Yeah, SS7 will probably be around we’ll see SS7 somewhere in the middle ers is the sunset date for the Patriot
for a long time in vestigial form, just like doing look aheads and data base dips, Act which I’m told will let the LEA’s,
human vermiform appendices. But my probably through the support of dual through the Patriot renewal legislation,
point was that rapidly moving markets mode signaling, for some time to come correct the stupid mistake they made in
and innovative, high margin applications as you note. It’s my understanding that CALEA by not including information
don’t wait for legacy technology tied to most forms of PTT also currently use services authorization.
obsolescent business models to keep up. IP in the main here in the States, while
They deal with them pragmatically.
some are still dependent on SS7 in some And frankly I don’t have a problem with
international areas, but those too will this. CALEA was very very poorly writShockey: And cost-effectively. What is make the “switch,” if you’ll excuse the ten legislation.
40
Symposium Discussion January 5 to 15 2005
Some Broader Issues Involving the Blurring of
Boundaries of VoIP in the Telephony, Wireless,
and Enterprise Worlds Highlights
A Balkanization of
Personal and Enterprise
Communication Trends
Coluccio: The discussion that has been
about losing the telephone number in
favor of a Skype tag or other “personalized ID” I find to be somewhat of a
distraction, while also a bit amusing, because it once again demonstrates how the
discussion on this list has a tendency to
balkanize the telecom universe, and ultimately focusing primarily on “personal”
communications trends, as opposed to
how those trends will eventually meld
with the communications traits exhibited
by large commercial and government
service characteristics. Yet, wide-sweeping projections are made that appear to
encompass all of the above, when they
are, in fact true, but they are true most
likely for only the most personal level of
individual users’ communications needs
and provisioning, even if they find their
way into enterprises. Like a PC is personal to each user, e.g.
Skype-like applications, I firmly believe, will come to permeate every aspect of personal and office communications, but those applications will only
“displace” the traditional attributes of
earlier services in a limited percentage of total point solutions. Where the
newer Skype-likes will dominate most
demonstrably, in my opinion, will be as
incremental personal applications. Just
as email and IM have grown to become, today. That is a far cry, however,
from putting telephone numbers in their
graves. The world as we know it is not
made up of IP coders and IETF delegates, despite the size of this list becoming what it has, and despite our losing
focus of the larger flows that take place
each day that have absolutely nothing to
do with the open Internet, and never get
counted on anyone’s stats because they
take place behind closed optics.
There are folks of all persuasions out
there, in all walks of life and business
who will welcome Skype and its peers
with open arms, and they will do presence and IM until the cows come home,
but they will still have a number to call
their own at the end of the day,.Either
on a wireless unit in their pockets, or on
their kitchen walls. And if not at home,
then in their offices or places of business.
I’m reminded of other times of transition,
as when WU Teletypewriter Services
Called TWX were retired in the Seventies, and folks wanted to know if Fax
messaging would ever carry the same
weight as a TWX (pronounced like the
candy bar, for you youngsters out there).
Later, when email arrived in a commercial context, the same was asked about
it, comparing its legitimacy to that of a
fax, with the latter owing its credence to
a time stamp at the top of the page accompanied by an originating “telephone
number.”
Of course, my crystal ball only extends
out by about five to ten years in areas
such as these, so don’t hold me to what
I’ve stated above when Verizon is just
about finished wiring up Pennsylvania
for broadband in the year 2015 ;-)
Earlier Coluccio: Some great observations, David, and I obviously agree with
you to a certain distance. I’ve often made
comment here about how discussions
seem to unwittingly divide user populations with respect to the writer’s point of
reference, sometimes using generalities
to describe what appears to be so obvious, but at the same time often ignoring
other aspects of the discipline.
In your last message, to which I here
reply, you referred to “personal” applications as opposed to large business
uses of the PSTN and wireless services,
which you so correctly differentiated
at the semantic level. As such, many of
the things you stated are, or shortly will
41
be, true, where they aren’t already for
individuals.
But how do those same anachronismworking factors play to the commercial
world, I wonder, where NXX numbers
are held sacred to large institutions to
the point of threatening their providers
to change carriers if they were to be
changed? I see this as a further widening
of the worlds of personal and commercial
telecoms, over time, where what appear
to be generally applicable statements in
one sector simply don’t apply, or much
less so, in another sector.
Matson: David - Good comment! It has
always fascinated me how the world has
managed since the beginning of time
with individuals choosing their own “ID”
- i.e. their name... and yet the telecoms
operators and the regulators still cling to
a command-economy attitude to allocating identity numbers. One of the coolest
things about SKYPE for me is that it permits me to chose my own name/identity
in the virtual world just as I do in the real
world... no SIP service does it quite like
that does it?
Forster: Well, you get to choose your
own personal name, but the choices you
get for business, DNS, and email names
are significantly restricted, and these
days increasingly involve trademark assertions and lawyers. I imagine the same
thing will happen with most any widely
used ID, including Skype names.
Matson: I was ONLY commenting with
respect to individuals, for when you get
to corporations, there is the legal requirement (at least in the UK) for a wholly
unique legal name - to prevent “passing
off”. But coming back to the individual’s
self-chosen identity, there are thousands
of “John Smith”s in the world or “Mary
Brown” - and yet we cope very well in
being able to identify and communicate
with the one particular one we want - de-
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
spite them having chosen a non-unique
label. And I see the same happening
with SKYPE. Often by the addition of a
number (e.g. “Johnsmith445”). It is this
autonomy to be known as “I want” - with
no subservience in terms of identity to
the network, which is (at least to a mere
mortal like me) quite appealing about
SKYPE. It’s not a big issue - but I do believe it adds just a little to the “delightful
end-user experience.”
Forster: Also, many times by paying
extra you can choose your own phone
number? So maybe the two situations
aren’t completely different, after making
allowances for the 50+ years difference
when the systems were designed?
Menard: For all I care, my ISP is shipping G.711 audio over my cable modem
connection on my VoIP asterisk-based
trial. I for one believe that there is much
better audio quality than pesky POTS to
do with 64 kbps of information.
When I am saying that the real battle
is open access, I am being serious. You
will see innovation coming from those
who are not barred from innovating,
and that unfortunately excludes most
US ISPs under the current Powell FCC
administration.
I think that we are not putting the critics
at the right place.
The FCC is killing innovation, not driving it.
to this today would have both a technical
and business model component to it.
Coluccio: I can’t speak for Skype, but I
can tell you that during the time frame
96-97 I was a founder in a startup ITSP
and faced some similar considerations.
As relates to the matter of voice quality,
we, too, considered taking the route of a
stand-alone algorithm in order to achieve
some of the benefits of wider frequency
response, fidelity and robustness, such as
Skype has done, despite there not being
anything at the time that availed itself to
these ends. There are obvious tradeoffs
to be considered when deciding to use
more of the real estate in silicon on quality versus legacy compliance, because
once you decide that you’re no longer
going to meet the round peg in the round
hole requirement - which is tantamount
to meeting DS-0, or ADPCM-like form
factors and time periods - then you stand
to be viewed as an ogre and ostracized
as such, as it were, from the rest of the
connectivity- oriented universe. That is,
until the ‘Net catches up with you and
opens itself up by losing its dependency
on the PSTN’s form factors and other
nuances, which follows the path, apparently, of what Skype has done. And more
power to them, I say.
Multiple VoIP Markets
On December 30 Schulzrinne: Having
read some of the discussion, it seems
we’re simultaneously talking about three
different things:
Earlier Reed: If SIP is a good technology, then I would ask why Skype found
it necessary to use something else.
- product design
Jennings: I did ask. This was before
Skype had PSTN connectivity stuff. The
answer I got at the time was they just
needed something very simple and did
not need all the features of SIP. They
perceived much of the complexity of SIP
to exist because of the PSTN connectivity. This was not under NDA and came
from an engineer there - not one of their
executives.
- protocol design
I doubt their answer would be the same
today. I would guess that any real answer
- wideband codecs
Only the last one has anything to do
with SIP. It is pretty clear that many SIP
implementations have fallen short on the
configuration end, with lots of configuration options that shouldn’t be necessary
to be exposed at all to normal users and
inconsistent labeling of the two items
that are really necessary. A good SIP device should need exactly the user’s email
address/phone number (for corporate) or
carrier SIP URI (for FWD and the like)
42
and a password.
Making software look like cell phones
or office phones is part of the same User
Interface disease that makes certain vendors, even ones with a tradition of UI excellence, convert their media players into
jukeboxes and DVD playback software
into silvery boxes with 7-segment green
play time counters. The whole notion
of “skinning” is beyond me; strangely,
Microsoft’s Windows Messenger SIP
tool seems to have largely escaped it. As
far as I know, it predates Skype. I guess
early automobile designers couldn’t resist making their horseless carriages look
like, well, horseless carriages.
I should point out that the Pingtel phone,
a SIP phone device, was designed with
wideband codecs in mind, although I’m
not sure how widely they got out of beta
with that feature.
Jennings: Pingtel had all the same GIPS
codec’s as Skype - and the same voice
quality. Part of the voice quality is from
the codec but another part is from the
packet concealment, the gain control
around microphones and headsets, detecting if there is a noise canceling
microphone or not, and the echo cancellation.
Schulzrinne: We clearly have at least
two different VoIP markets: first-line
landline replacement (Vonage, AT&T
and the like) and the talk-cheap-internationally-by-PC market. User feature
requirements for the former seem rather different than for the latter.
Nigel Ballard: I’ve only been following
this thread with one eye so I apologize if
this has been covered already.
A lot of SIP solutions use the STUN protocol for NAT traversal. That is fine and
dandy in the home and SME (Small to
Medium Enterprise) environments where
at best, the firewall (if there is one) is
inbound only. My experience is that
STUN will not work through corporate
firewalls that are synchronous (inbound
and outbound).
What I learn from this is that STUN isn’t
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
a solution for corporate environments,
but in the home it is really clever at working through NAT, double NAT and funky
router situations on the fly.
Reed: Let me throw something into the
mix to clarify a crucial technical distinction between STUN and what Skype
does. STUN is an amazing kludge (read
the spec to look at the definitions of
“cone” and full-cone and half-cone and
all kinds of ex post, ad hoc classifications
of NAT weirdness). It even works, much
of the time (but when it doesn’t work,
try explaining why to my non-technical
friends who just want a simple service).
My Vonage phone works fine at the moment using STUN.
But the real problem with STUN is that
it requires a server. This leads to more
complex configuration, and worse, the
concept that one needs a SIP ““operator,” even if the operator only provides
rendezvous for clients behind NATs that
use STUN.
What’s neat about Skype is that it is
completely decentralized. It presumes
scale, and exploits it, rather than trying
to solve the problem of one lonely person behind a NAT. Instead of needing a
dedicated server, all clients are capable
of acting as servers. By distributing the
load to the clients, Skype eliminates an
unnecessary point of control, and at the
same time eliminates a cost of doing
business. They can offer a completely
scalable service which costs each client
no more than they were paying to their
ISP already (that’s what “free” means for
Skype). This is the same thing Bit Torrent
does to eliminate the need for centralized
server-farms that must be designed based
on accurate prediction of the user load.
Now this may sound “bad” to companies
used to extracting rents from captive customers by creating central bottlenecks.
Skype does make money, elsewhere. But
it gives basic end-to-end telephony back
to the users, since there is no way to preserve any margin there, now that IP addresses provide universal connectivity.
There’s no need to sell oxygen either
- the atmosphere is an “Internet” of oxy-
gen supply, when we cooperate symbiotically with plants.
Regarding Henning’s comments about
confusing issues: SIP doesn’t stand alone
- its success or failure depends on a technical and business context that define its
suitability to task. It’s just not sensible
to modularize the world by saying “my
part works just fine - it’s the fault of the
other guy that my genius doesn’t show
through.” Designers need to connect all
the dots - that’s what makes someone an
engineer rather than a mere technician.
Skype Interconnectivity
January 5, David Reed: Well, things
are moving fast, I just got this: NEWS
RELEASE
"pulver.Communicator" now Connecting
to Skype
pulver.Communicator combines instant
messaging, VoIP, video, presence, and
social networking, and also enables
multi-party IM chat across multiple IM
networks Consumer Electronics Show,
Las Vegas, NV, January 6, 2005 FWD
Communications announced today that
pulver.Communicator(TM) (www.pulver.com/communicator) an innovative
new software product that combines the
best elements of Internet-based Communications (instant messaging, voice,
video, presence, and social networking)
in one application now interoperates
with Skype(TM), the popular VoIP service provider. With pulver.Communicator beta version .94.3, users can import
Skype contacts into the application and
conduct voice calling and instant messaging with those contacts, as well as
engage in multi-party IM chats amongst
friends across multiple IM networks.
“I’ve been a big fan of Skype since its
launch and decided to create a link between the two applications”, said Jeff
Pulver, chairman of FWD Communications. “pulver.Communicator is the first
outside application to offer Skype functionality to users of the product, which
is quite significant as it opens the door to
a multitude of friendships and relation43
ships across the most widely-used Internet networks , (AOL, ICQ, MSN, Skype,
and Yahoo!).”
Communicator Features
Users of pulver.Communicator can communicate via voice, video, or text Instant
Messaging. Specifically, the application
enables users to: Make free calls to millions of VoIP users worldwide (not only
to other pulver.Communicator users, but
also to subscribers from the more than
80 VoIP service providers with whom
FWD Communications has established
peering partnering agreements), as well
as to a wide variety of Free-Call services
in the US, UK, Holland, Japan, France
and numerous other locations Initiate onthe-fly conference calls Establish personto-person IM sessions with other pulver.
Communicator contacts, as well as between contacts on the four most popular
IM networks (AOL, Yahoo!, MSN, and
ICQ!) Establish multi-party IM sessions
that cross IM service provider boundaries
Place video calls Enjoy and expand their
personal networking. Through the Shared
Buddy List feature users can view the
buddy lists of other subscribers, and they
can share their own (of course, pulver.
Communicator can be easily configured
to limit or completely restrict contact
information sharing at the user’s discretion).
Personnel from pulver.com will be conducting demonstrations of pulver.Communicator and its many features at CES,
including the new Skype interoperability
inside the pulver.com sponsored VoIP
Tech Zone on the CES show floor. Since
its official launch in October pulver.
Communicator has been downloaded
more than 50,000 times. Getting Started
pulver.Communicator is free, and it can
be easily installed on any PC running
Windows XP. To download the program,
please visit www.pulver.com/communicator. pulver.Communicator is also available in Spanish.
Coluccio: David, you brought up a few
points, probably inadvertently - but I’ll
take what I can get when an idea serves
me well - in the following segments of
one of your last messages:
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
"There’s a fantasy out there that fiber is
so wonderful that the first fiber to a home
will 'own' that home forever, and allow
lock in. I don’t buy that - it’s just another
way of saying that no one will ever need
more than 300 baud because a person
can’t read that fast. [...] "Now it’s about
ink, image sensors, metadata, coding,
and digital storage."
Meshed Up
Neighborhoods
Several times I’ve broached this point,
which seems never to gain any lasting
traction here, so I’ll try it again.
Imagine cell sites that don’t always talk
back to base stations, but, instead, overlap and pass traffic horizontally to one
another when the logical flow of traffic
dictates. Now imagine an identical scenario, only this time it’s fiber based, designed to achieve the same osmotic type
of flow between neighboring meshes
made of glass, or made to hybrid with
wireless, as well.
Through extension, such a model would
allow crawling to take place, albeit at light
speeds, in a space previously thought of
as the edge of service providers’ access
networks, thus creating and facilitating a new core for transport between
non-adjoining communities of any given
type, to include industrial parks, schools
and campuses, bedroom communities, or
wherever.
Such a model could never even be contemplated through the use of a first fiber
to the home scenario such as you’ve mentioned, because such a model dictates its
own limited set of provider-intended
services, as you’ve noted. Hence, never
supporting the group communications
modes you’ve articulated, either, without
first going back to head ends and central
offices, or base stations, first, to “check
in” and “check out.”
I submit that a passive form of media
extension is possible allowing for a conjoining of meshes, within limitations imposed by distances at first (and then even
where distances are excessive in future
generations, through gang amplification
techniques), but will never see the light
of day unless brought to a public forum
for examination and trialing. While I’m
not about to carry the torch for such an
undertaking at this time. I do spend some
time wondering, however, how you and
other list members here would view the
prospects of an architecture such as the
one I’ve outlined, above. Noting that
what I’ve suggested here doesn’t fall
very far, in principle, from where the adhoc wireless topologies that have been
proposed and are now trialing at this
time are headed, under the umbrellas of
Wi-Fi-lookalikes and later iterations of
WiMAX.
In considering such a radical shift in architecture for the more traditional forms
of transmissions, such as xMDS and
fiber-based access nets, keep in mind
of course, that all first- and last- mile
vendors, several of whom are even represented here, have based their entire
design strategies to support the service
providers’ current modus operandi, and
that endeavoring in the open fields with
either cell-based wireless sites or fiber
optic builds is no trivial feat to attempt
without doing ample levels of due diligence, first, and a firm resolve to see it
completed.
Reed: Cool - perhaps some of these
ideas might be worth checking out! I’d
only add that in some cases, at least, an
entrepreneur can do this sort of thing incrementally, not having to deploy it universally. And the mindset of risk capital
lets it place bets where the payoff need
not have 100% certainty.
The Achilles Heel of a Verizon is that
it can’t catch all of the termites tearing
up its foundation (especially when there
are a wide diversity of termites, each
trying something different). As long as
its brains are concentrated in an out-oftouch management that travels in private
jets, rather than pulling cable or using a
spectrum analyzer, it will have the same
view of its demise that AT&T Bell Labs
management had of the Internet and its
architects (a cute, irrelevant toy built by
people with bad grooming habits who
wouldn’t be allowed to play golf in Short
44
Hills, NJ).
Coluccio: I should have prefaced my
earlier “meshed up neighborhoods” message, lest it otherwise appear to be a
harebrained notion, by stating that I am
fully conversant with conventional, tried
and true, link level techniques used in
loop access systems in DOCSIS, FSAN,
802.3ah, and some of the free form
variants, thereof. I use this disclamier
in order to discourage those unfamiliar
with me from chalking my hypopthesis
up as mere noise coming out of left field,
which it is not. Whether anyone would
ever mobilize and attempt such an undertaking is another question, due to the
perceived risks involved as David noted,
and the as yet unarticulated parameters
required to make it work.
David, we’re in agreement in that any
attempt at achieving the goals that I’ve
suggested should be done only after
extensive modeling, and even then, only
incrementally, as you’ve suggested. I’ll
continue to give this model of interlocking, honeycombed nets comprised
of tiled polygons some further thought,
perhaps putting it into a more coherent
workup and revisit it here at some future
time. In the meantime, if anyone has any
thoughts they’d like to share on this subject, please feel free to post to them here,
or contact me off list. TIA.
Ballard: I recently consulted on a project that involves deploying commercial
Mesh today as a stop gap technology for
FTTD in two years.
On the surface it would seem that fiber
into the premises is enough of a deterrent
and has enough available bandwidth to
ward off all other technologies. The practice I think is somewhat different. Said
fiber is typically controlled by someone,
so any services that ride on it are subject
to fees and possibly other non-competing
restrictions.
Other delivery methods, typically a wireless CPE (WiMAX or otherwise) on the
premises gives a competing path into
the property albeit with hugely reduced
bandwidth options. But the infrastructure
required is minimal in comparison.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
I guess it all boils down to how good the
fiber company is at providing enough
compelling and competitive services to
keep everyone else out of the picture.
Coluccio: Nigel, you wrote:
“I recently consulted on a project that
involves deploying commercial Mesh
today as a stop gap technology for FTTD
in two years.”
I assume that the D in FTTD doesn’t
stand for “desk.” What does it stand for?
It’s a bit uncanny that you should mention “in two years.” Do you mean by
this that you ‘pre-wired a mesh network
today in advance for its expected use two
years out? Please explain.
I say it’s uncanny that you mentioned
two years out for this reason:
Since the state of the art of optical component technology is not yet at the stage
where it would need to be in order to
fully support the price performance criteria making my hypothesized topology
feasible, I too have thought of a planning stratagem whereby a trajectory of
convergence between the physical media
installation and networking capabilities
at field nodes would coalesce in about
two years, or thereabouts.
You stated:
“I guess it all boils down to how good
the fiber company is at providing enough
compelling and competitive services to
keep everyone else out of the picture.”
Interesting point, because it brings to the
fore one of the considerations that we’ve
discussed here numerous times on this
list, most recently with the help of Tom
Hertz of Fiber Utilities of Iowa (FUoI).
(I’ve copied Tom’s introductory message
to this list at the very bottom of this page,
following Nigel’s script.)
And the basic problem that raises its head
immediately, of course, and this isn’t
new news to anyone here, is: Who should
decide what the physical L1 through the
routing L3 attributes should be for any
given locale or region. Left to incumbents, we already see what we get: Lots
of hub offices supporting star topologies
working off tree and branch topographies, all of which - whether through
design or through happenstance - assuring that the toll booths keep ca’chinging.
Interestingly, in large part many of the
dollars “earned,” not to mention the
latency that is introduced, at those toll
booths go to paying for the trips that
packets take to get there, and then very
often back to other users on the same
network or to users in adjoining communities. And I’m not anti-head end or
CO when I say this, but rather treating
the need for going to those places with
a more prudent eye. COs and colos are
indeed required for backhauling to the
core, for storage and server purposes, but
not to the extent that everything that I
send out to my neighbors need necessarily traverse them, much less be governed
by what the service providers manning
them want to allow me to do.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big believer
in physical layer bit pushers getting paid.
I just happen to also believe that those
who are in the drivers’ seats today could
be doing a much better job, or should be
planning to do one down the road, than
they appear satisfied to be doing today,
which, in the main, are practices and designs that are predicated on network attributes that inherit from copper wire network characteristics of a hundred years
ago. I’m referring to the distance limitations, phase shift characteristic properties
tied to delay (which necessitated loading
coils and repeater assemblies every six
thousand feet at one point), and the very
weight and girth of feeder vs. distribution
cables, right down to the neighborhood
cross-connect and drop wire.
To get a better handle on what I’m referring to here at the bulk physical level,
consider the support structures (Hi Francois!) or spaces and pathways required to
support a 3,600 copper pair cable that is
used to feed a section of a neighborhood,
and all of the splice points and punch
down cross-connects that they entail,
which, today can be replaced by a couple
pairs of fibers and some field mounted
nodes.
45
Did I hear someone say that there was
no room left on poles or in conduits to
support the rights of way for independent
fiber optic operators?
Can a new entrant do anything differently, e.g., laying down a quilt of interlocking meshes such as I’ve described,
while remaining solvent in the process
of advancing the state of the art in access
plant technology? What would that sort
of thing take, short of an I2 or NGI level
of funding from the feds and possibly a
few large, sympathetic industry players
looking to get in on such a venture at an
early stage?
Ballard: FTTD = Fiber To The Door.
I’ve noted some folk now use the acronym FTTP (Fiber to the Premises).
Yes, their plan, not mine, is to use Wi-Fi
Mesh as purely a stop gap solution till the
fiber goes live in 24 months.
As it stands today, Mesh falls way short
in its ability to provide much beyond
Internet access and VoIP if you are lucky.
But for most people, high-speed Internet
is what they crave and mesh can provide
it. The speed of provisioning such a
system, especially if the city is on board
(pole access) can be startlingly quick. It
gets city’s where they feel they need to
be and fast.
And whilst fiber has the technical ability
to pump all manner of rich audio visual
services into every home with ease, the
deployment costs and the related timeline to achieving anything approaching
blanket coverage, is high and slow.
Fibers high cost and many city’s desire
to be placed firmly on the technology
roadmap (look a us, we’ve got a killer
infrastructure) today has given the mesh
vendors a most welcome boost. Make
hay boys and girls!
Skype Marches On
Hughes: As if in confirmation of my
belief that VoIP can spread across the
Third World faster than e-mail, and help
make the “rest of the world” computer
literate I made an excellent Skype voice
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
connection with Shiva Kulung, a Rai
from eastern Nepal. The Rai are minorities among minorities of that part of
the world. Though the famed fighting
Ghurkas come from Rai stock. (While
the Sherpas appear not to be war-like. I
have to find SOME warriors to do in the
Maoists)
Shiva is a sweet young man I met in
Sherpa country Namche, Nepal. Shiva
had been hired by Sherpa Tsering as a
cook, handyman, and was told to look
out for old man (me) while I was there.
He brought me hot Milk Tea at 5AM
when I couldn’t sleep with the time
change, and I would sneak into the cold
Cybercafe computer room, off the lodge
kitchen, to check and send my email. He
could not speak English well at all when
I was there, much less read or write it, or
use computers.
Like many a Sherpa Lodge owner who
has made a little western money and has
to cook for and serve trekkers and climbers, they hire a lower class than they are
- principally Rai’s - whose homeland is
in the northwestern corner of Nepal, are
largely Hindu, not Buddhist.
But now a year later, and especially when
both Tsering, who owns the place, and
Santosh, his Nepalese Tech have been
gone in Kathmandu for almost a month,
the whole Cybercafe has had to be operated by young Shiva! Who has learned
progressively, was doing MSN Instant
Messaging with me every so often but no
voice because its sound would not work
there. But he now has figured out Skype!
And contacted me first by Skype’s IM
messaging utility then I found his Skype
“‘handle” (shivakulung) in the search
utility, with his ”name” as shivarai and
called him voice.
Worked perfectly, even through the two
satellite and wireless 64kbps hops from
Namche to Kathmandu and KT to the
US, with 1,200 ms latency. He was
thrilled to be able to talk with me, clear,
understandable voice. Giggling all the
while we talked. (The young man may
be lonely, he is a Hindu Rai in Buddhist
Sherpa country, at 11,500 feet, no family,
much less friends, or girl friends, near.)
So every evening about 10PM his time
(9AM MST here) he tries to chat with
somebody ”out there.” Now he can do it
with voice.
All of which confirms my view that, with
sitcom, unlicensed wireless out from
the base unit, and Skype, that the Third
World will be chattering by voice long
before they learn, or get into, “email”
which requires a degree of English literacy even more than voice.
Shockey: I don’t disagree but lets not
forget that Skype is a private vertically integrated application with its own
private naming and addressing scheme
unique to Skype. I’m sure there are more
Skype’s coming down the road which
means that we will have the same kind
of fragmentation that we saw in IM with
four big services unable to talk to each
other. SIP was designed as a global service using global naming and addressing
(the DNS) etc.
Hughes: Next time I chat with him I will
ask him WHICH sub tribe of Rai he is.
For my research shows me no less than
Bantawa Rai; Chamlinge Rai; Danuwar
Rai; Kalinge Rai; Kulunge Rai; Saam
Rai; Tamachhange Rai; Thulunge Rai!
Each with their own dialect of Rai, a
little Nepalese, and very little English or
other western languages.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Shiva is the
first Rai ever to chat VoIP over the Internet.
Access to Broadband
Baller: USA Today Endorses Lafayette
FTTH Project http://www.usatoday.com/
news/opinion/2005-01-10-broadbandbellsouth-our_ x.htm
Coluccio: Jim, USAToday is certainly
getting some mileage with this one. It’s
good to see topics like this covered in
depth.
Thanks for posting the article. I note
that the title’s use of the term squashed
appeared to be a bit incongruous with
the story. And the story even appeared
truncated, because I don’t necessarily
46
see anything being squashed. I should
also note that today’s edition of the
paper reveals a contrasting view by Bell
South’s William A. Oliver, president of
Louisiana operations, BellSouth Corp.,
New Orleans.
Mr. Oliver’s contention being? What
else? He says:
“Competition Should Be Fair” http://
makeashorterlink.com/?Z5F32463A
Baller: Thanks, Frank. We are including
Bill Oliver’s response to the USA Today
editorial in our daily email, but I wanted
the get the editorial out undiluted first.
Attached is Bill Oliver’s testimony to the
Louisiana Senate Commerce Committee
in support of the compromise legislation
that we negotiated last Spring. In particular, contrast Oliver’s whining in today’s
piece with his testimony that the legislation “insures that appropriate competitive safeguards are put in place to create
a level playing field in these competitive
industries.”
David Sandel: Thanks for the article too,
a good and simple discussion surrounding a complex topic.
Thinking about this in other economic
terms, airports had to be constructed to
support the airline industry, roads and
bridges had to be constructed to support
the automobile industry. Both of these
forms of municipal infrastructure (and
many others) had to be developed by
local and federal government to meet the
economic potential of a given technology.
With that being said, broad band infrastructure will also need to be constructed
by muni’s to meet the potential of the
technology and support the economic development and security of a community,
just like roads and airports were built.
Roads provided equal access to all auto
manufacturers, airports to all airlines.
For municipal broad band “infrastructure
“ to succeed it must provide for equal access to all service providers.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
Patrick Leary: This echoes what we
(Alvarion) have been advocating corporately and individually for a long time
now. Equitable broadband access is too
important to wait for the private sector
to ride to the rescue. The analogy I like
to use is that access to broadband today
is much like access to clean water about
a century ago.
Today, we are at the hand pump stage
of broadband. Chronologically, it was
a long time between when folks gathered their water by pail from the nearest fresh source to when folks used a
hand pump. During the extended “Pail
Period,” people used water only when
necessary and the definition of what was
necessary was very narrow -- drinking,
a little cooking, and maybe the once a
month bath (if they otherwise did not
bath directly in the rivers and streams or
had no access to bath houses). But once
that hand pump became available outside
the front door, well by goodness, water
was so conveniently available that usage
grew dramatically and what was deemed
necessary grew. And then, it was but a
small leap from that day to the perception that one had to have taps in the home
in the kitchen...then indoor bathrooms...
then hot and cold taps.
Today, not having clean, fresh water
available on demand anywhere people
congregate or live is, quite literally, unthinkable -- it has become as assumed as
flicking on a light switch.
With broadband being at this pump stage,
people are discovering everyday uses for
their high speed access and whole markets will be created leveraging its eventual ubiquity. It is only a small leap in
time from this point to broadband availability being the next assumed utility.
Accordingly, like provision of any utility
long beyond the pump and certainly the
pale period, that the private sector would
assert that it has the right to control
availability is a dead, or at least dying,
argument. The private sector can play a
pivotal and even fundamental role, but to
claim ownership is, well, over the ”pail.”
I hope it is only a matter of time before
some wise city or state’s attorney is able
to articulate a winning “promote the general welfare” constitutional argument.
January 11 COOK Report: I have added
Raj Sharma of NexTone to the list. Raj’s
principal interests lie in the harmonization of protocols for the IXCs, ITSPs,
ISPs and ILECs, such as SIP and H.323
along with a long list of proprietary ones
made by all of the VoIP field’s popular
vendors.
Reed: Cool. Welcome Raj to the debating society!
But to get down to brass tacks, and
semantics that show a broken mindset,
“harmonization” (in its typical telecom
meaning) is not going to be a winning
strategy. Harmonization is what a bunch
of technocrats, relying on a government
enforced oligopoly (i.e. the ITU) thinks
it has the power to do. I.e. shades of the
3GPP, or NANP.
VoIP is inherently happening at the edges
(whether they are PBXes, SIP phones,
etc. at the hardware level, and Skype,
FWD, AIM, PTT, Blackberry email as
the viral integrating technologies).
Viral Communications
Stastny: To which I fully agree. By
the way, David, congratulations to the
“Viral” paper. Since it is a draft and quite
old, does an updated version exist?
Reed: Richard - the viral paper was written for a special issue of the BT Technology Journal (October 2004). That journal
is now out, and I commend it to you...
http://dl.media.mit.edu/viral/viral.pdf
may be the same version you have - I
think we should probably replace it with
the prettier published version from the
BT Journal, now that you point it out and
assuming we can get a PDF of that.
Editor’s Note: The special issue of the
BT Technology Journal is on the Media
lab Web site and is well worth reading. However I steadfastly disagree with
David in that I find the general sweep of
the May 19 2003 draft much better than
the two early articles in the BT journal
47
that are intended to replace it.
Reed: You may also be interested in
our group website: http://dl.media.mit.
edu/viral/ and the cross-MIT sponsored
program Andy and I have launched with
Dave Clark and Charlie Fine called
the Communications Futures Program,
which focuses on the evolution of the
architecture of the communications industry (website under re-construction).
And the broader embedding of the viral
work in human networks, our bigger
vision called “Organic Networks” in
that special issue: http://dl.media.mit.
edu/BT-vco.pdf
Don’t want to be seen as hawking CFP or
the Media Lab here, though.
COOK Report: David, I’d like to do that
for you. :-)
Seriously I am amazed - People on this
list are gradually beginning to read it
and uniformly say WOW. I advertised
and endorsed it to a private list of David
Isenberg’s that some of you are on there
again not much reaction.
Last night I sent the PDF to Sebastian
Hassenger and pleaded with him to read
it. Talked with him today. He has read
it and remarked that he finds it really
wonderful and wondered how he ever
missed it. Sebastian is Senior strategist
for pervasive computing in one of IBMs
WestchesterCcounty, NY Labs. He was
on one of my lists in the August October
2003 time frame. To the extent that I
understand what he does it is to survey
where all this stuff is going and make
sure his colleagues at IBM understand.
I told him what we are doing and he
agreed it was right down his alleyway
and agreed to join.
David, there seems to me there is a theme
going here... many, many people who
know you and your ideas have turned
up absolutely unaware of this paper. The
ideas are certainly out there. But the May
2003 version of the paper wonderfully
ties them together in a FRAMEWORK
or a pair of lens through which to see the
world. We need frameworks I think. And
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
this is a REALLY REALY GOOD one.
Now you mentioned special issue of the
BT Technology Journal (October 2004).
With that as a lead, I found in Google
http://www.media.mit.edu/publications/
bttj/
This URL brings up the table of contents
for the October issue, It looks like well
over 300 pages and, yep, the whole shebang is downloadable. The first 6 of I
think 27 articles are listed thus
Organic networks: A Lippman and A
Pentland
Viral radio: A Lippman and D P Reed
Wirefree in Patmos: M Bletsas
Sensate media - multimodal electronic
skins as dense sensor networks J A Paradiso, J Lifton and M Broxton
Collaborative knowledge building by
smart sensors V M Bove Jr and J Mallett
SimPhony V Lakshmipathy and C
Schmandt
The listings don’t look like URLs but
they ARE. Click on organic Networks
and you get the article as a pdf. You can
get them all this way.
Now David I cannot find the specific
May 2003 publication in this BT Journal
issue.That looks to me because you seem
to have rewritten it. Taken the more
general ideas and put them in organic
networks paper and taken the radio parts
made them a lot more technical and put
them into viral radio? I have done only
a quick skim but are my conclusions
correct?In any case this October issue is
a gem so thanks for mentioning it. But in
my opinion the may 2003 for people who
aren’t REALLY technical might be the
better starting point.
“Harmonizing”
Discordant Systems
Reed (earlier): Harmonizing is what the
band did on the deck of the Titanic as it
sank.
The driver of coordination of standards
will be voluntary cooperation among
market-leading innovators, not backroom
deals. The value added by carrier-centered protocols is minimal, and the carriers who think they have the power to
“define” and “harmonize” will go the
way of ISDN and AIN.
At best, “harmonizing” will involve
building bridges between independently
developed networks. Merely middleware,
and as some of my smartest VC friends
have told me, middleware is not often a
high-return business plan, because there
are lots of middles, and “middles” rarely
have a sustainable technical or market
advantage.
So in a high-growth, rapidly changing
industry or a rapid train-wreck industry
(like voice), don’t plan for any middle
role to send your children to college (unless they are already there).
Coluccio: Thelonius Monk chord coming off a Charlie Parker solo, wrote:
But to get down to brass tacks, and
semantics that show a broken mindset,
“harmonization”
David, there were reports of loud bursts
of laughter in my immediate vicinity
just a few moments ago. I am guilty
as charged of sending those words in a
stream of (sub)consciousness to Gordon
when I introduced him to Raj. I request
that you do not… repeat, DO NOT hold
this against either Gordon or Raj, for it is
I solely who should be sent to trial for my
selection of words. This little exchange
has now caused me to seriously rethink
the time required to lose my bell-shaped
hairline. I thought it was gone, but I
guess not.
Having said that, it’s difficult sometimes
to have to go to work every day and
still agree with what you’ve had to say.
One of my clients, not so long ago, was
five banks and two brokerages covering 182 countries plus the Vatican, and
now today as a result of acquisitions and
48
mergers they are one.
They suddenly find themselves with
quite a few PBXs, routers, telephone
sets, core networking philosophies and
theological twists, not to mention probably every VoIP protocol and compression
algorithm ever written, to manage every
day. In a way, they resemble a paradigm
of yore that one can find painted in your
note, except that, from a networking
persepective, their network is now larger
than many of the telcos around the planet
that make up the ITU. I’ll send them a
snippet of your note telling them how
arcane their network strategy is, and then
I’ll pass along what they have say to me,
in return ;)
Finding myself feeling suddenly alone,
where before I was a tenor in a four-part
acapella group sitting between a rock and
a hard place,
Dave O’Leary: Sounds like the discord
is between the optimism of where (some
of us) want to be and the pragmatism of
where (many of us) actually are. (Using
“us” in a broad sense, including all stakeholders in the networking/ telecom community, not just the folks on this list).
Reed: Frank - I think the metaphor is
apt, even for your example. It took a
long time for the Titanic to sink ... long
enough for a lot of harmonization, and
maybe even a fair bit of comfort to those
who were confronted by the inevitable.
Of course the irony was that the wireless
operators were too focused on transmitting the ordinary traffic to serve what
could have been a role in preventing
the disaster. What does that mean to the
harmonizers?
Intel Backs Municipal
Broadband
Coluccio: Intel to back broadband role
for cities . By Richard Shim http://news.
com.com/Intel+to+back+broadband+rol
e+for+cities/2100-1034_3-5532714.html
. Jan 11 17:47:00 PST 2005 .
“Chip giant Intel on Wednesday plans
to provide a high-level perspective on
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
the ongoing debate over the role of the
public and private sectors in providing
broadband services. In a speech at the
Wireless Communications Association
in San Jose, Calif., Intel Executive Vice
President Sean Maloney is expected to
encourage commercial service providers and public agencies such as city
governments and municipalities to work
together in building out new broadband
infrastructure.
Intel has a keen interest in the proliferation of wireless broadband technology
and industries using it; by early next
year it plans to produce WiMAX chips
for networking equipment that carriers
can use to sell high-speed Internet access
to consumers. WiMAX is a promising
wireless broadband technology allowing
data to be wirelessly transmitted across
several miles at transfer rates of several
megabits per second.
“Sole responsibility, either from government or a single carrier, of a city’s
wireless network is not the best solution
for growing the market,” said a source
familiar with the chipmaker’s position
in wireless broadband policy. “A sharing
of responsibilities is what will encourage
broadband adoption, and that will be a
key point in Intel’s policy proposal.”
. Maloney will outline the company’s
high-level policy position and will speak
out against efforts to ban municipally
owned networks. In recent years, phone
companies and cable providers have actively lobbied local and state governments to ban public agencies and municipalities from building their own communications networks. The commercial
providers have been successful in some
regions of the country.
In some instances, commercial providers
will be able to build networks and offer
the best network choice to customers at
affordable prices. But in other instances,
such as low-income areas or rural locations, it might make more sense for a city
or some other municipality to build the
infrastructure.
“We welcome Intel’s position and
strongly support collaboration between
the public and private sectors,” said
Jim Baller, a principal attorney for the
Baller Herbst Law Group and a leading
expert on municipally owned networks.
Intel’s position is partly in response to
strong lobbying by Verizon Communications that helped lead to the passage of a
law in Pennsylvania that prohibits cities
from offering Internet access to their
residents for a fee. Verizon and other
incumbent phone companies had urged
legislators to ban municipally owned
networks to prevent other cities from
following the lead of Kutztown, a small
college town near Allentown [PA] that
set up its own telephone, Internet and TV
system in 2002.
Phone companies and cable providers
argue that municipalities that build and
own their communications networks
have an unfair advantage because they
are backed by public funds. They claim
that the municipalities will drive them
out of business by offering services at
greatly reduced prices. On the other
side, communities that want to build
their own networks argue that they want
broadband services now, and they are not
willing to wait until it becomes economically feasible for commercial providers
to build the infrastructure.
Sandel: Thanks for passing along the
Intel announcement. This is certainly a
strong ray of light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully more vendors (and other
entities) will begin to jump on board
with this message as it relates to the
growth of broadband networks.
There are several items in the press release that I would like to highlight:
1). “Sole responsibility, ----- is not the
best solution for growing the market.”
All I can say is AMEN to that! Many
service providers feel that muni infrastructure will cut them out of the market
when actually it is the opposite. When
muni infrastructure (open access) is in
place and local regional exchange is possible with other networks a QoS problem is solved that will allow for a very
significant growth in metropolitan bandwidth as higher bandwidth services now
are possible and desirable. I say open
access muni infrastructure will help to
drive bandwidth demand for all service
providers something they cannot do on
49
their own. This is not competition, it is
broad band economic development for
all comers.
2). “Communities are not willing to
wait.” We are now in an IT industrial
age, the communities that have the best
broadband infrastructure and services
will be the winners when it comes to economic development. 150 years during
the railroad age communities FOUGHT
to have railroad access.Tthis is no different. This requires municipal support and
private cooperation without which the
railroads would never have grown to the
extent that they were able to.
3). “…strongly support collaboration between the public and private sectors.”.
This model has been repeated over and
over. Look at the electrical utility industry, the port authority, the international
airport, the highway system ---did the
private sector pick this up. Did the development of these infrastructures ultimately HELP or HURT private industry?
I am excited about Intel announcement
(and others that may follow) because I
think the scales are on the verge of tipping in the right direction, something we
all need!
Ballard: We recently brought Intel Consulting in at some cost to assist us here
in Portland, Oregon with our municipal
wireless plans. While their support isn’t
a surprise, it is really nice to see Intel
say it publicly. They must have thought
long and hard before making such a
statement.
COOK Report: Indeed, Intel sells a LOT
to gear to the phone companies and informally people working there have told
me privately that they have had hell to
pay internally from Intel divisions that
rely on telco sales for advocating the
kinds of things that we talk about on this
list. This could be therefore an interesting signal.
The Window of
Opportunity for ENUM
is Closing Fast
Frode Greissen to Interesting People
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
on January 12 : Last March we got the
idea to set up the name server for the
Danish ENUM domain, i. e. using Danish phone numbers as domain names.
The phone number +45 12345678
would be transformed into the name
8.7.6.5.4.3.2.1.5.4.e164.arpa and then the
user could use DNS to direct communication to his IP phone, email or PDA.
We were not sure it would catch on since
there are so many other domain names,
but I work at a government agency
whose mission includes piloting new
technology, and running the top level
would be trivial as long as the volume
is small.
There is an agreement between the ITU
and the IESG that the RIPE NCC runs
the top level domain but requests to operate county domains must go to ITU-T
which forwards the request to the country
telecom regulator for decision.
Now, Denmark is a small country with
5 M inhabitants and a well-funded and
well-working public administration so
at first I called the regulator and we met
a few weeks later. They were interested
and had questions. As talks and correspondence grew and took time without
progress we sent the request to RIPE
NCC and a bit later the regulator got
the official request from ITU-T. Their
response to this difficult situation was to
hand over the case to their resort ministry
(for Science, Technology and Development).
Well, after an exchange of letters we
had a meeting with the ministry who
explained that they had to make a public
hearing. I provided paperwork for the
hearing which was sent to 160 organizations. The responses were mostly negative with good arguments that the Name
Service should be allocated based on
open tender (which would take another
year and perhaps attract no bidders) and
that issues with security, competition and
rights should be thoroughly discussed
and understood (which would require
some careful work that nobody may be
likely to invest on such a risky project).
Of course, the organizations who had the
time to respond to the hearing include the
incumbent telco and other large telcos
who have to argue against all change that
may threaten their existing business, plus
trade organizations who have learned
that the Internet got big and that there is
money in domain names. The small IP
telephony companies did not have time
to respond.
Right now, I’m trying to convince the
ministry that they should follow up with
a public verbal hearing and get a decision
before the anniversary of the case.
In the mean time Skype has been downloaded 50 million times. IP telephony
companies will be routed without ENUM,
and the ITU and governments should not
manage technology innovation.
COOK Report: Something though sure
seems to be holding ENUM back - opinions?
Shockey: Politics - pure and simple.
Once the decision was made that the
various zones of e164.arpa were to perfectly match the administrative policies
and procedures of the ITU E.164 plan the
decision to implement became a nation
state issue.
This should not surprise anyone. Phone
numbers have always been administered
by national regulators and regulators
have to do their job to make sure that
various national laws and interests are
protected.
Decisions of this magnitude take time
and careful consideration hence the need
for public consultations and hearings.
And of course there are some entities
who are not happy about VoIP.
Richard Stastny: First, I have to apologize for not participating actively in
the discussion here on Skype. I was on
vacation for three weeks and back on
January 10th. So I am still catching up
the tons of e-mails. So I was only listening randomly.
But with this new thread I am questioned
directly, so I have to answer ;-)
Frode is perfectly right with his analysis.
It takes (too much) time to get ENUM
implemented in e164.arpa nationally.
50
The story in Austria is not so much different, we only started quite early, the
main reason of this was my involvement
in IETF, ETSI and ITU-T SG2. So I
launched an internal ENUM Task Force
within Telekom Austria dealing with this
issue and also presented ENUM nationally. Therefore our regulator made the
first round of questionnaires in August
2001! and a workshop in February 2002.
There was only one major difference to
most other countries: all other approaches
first tried to solve all technical and especially all administrative problems before
they started a trial - which had the result
that they never finished this phase.
In Austria we did not forget these problems, but we started the trial in parallel.
One reason was that the investments are
ridiculously low - all you basically need
are some PCs (or some Dell servers, if
you want to be exquisite) running Linux
and DNS, and a handful of good developers. This is of course not true for the
commercial implementation, but it was
sufficient for two years of trial.
During the trial we found out the following things: -There is no technical problem in implementing ENUM, since it
works fine, and is fast and reliable. There
is mainly a commercial problem:
ENUM is primarily for interconnecting
companies, as Richard Shockey found
out already two years ago, secondly it is
for ENUM-enabled (ENUM-only) nomadic numbers (you need again the regulators coop here), and then eventually for
mobile numbers, For all these applications validation (which is used mainly
as an argument to block ENUM) is not
an issue: not a problem for companies,
a non-issue for ENUM-only numbers
and easily done with SMS with mobile
numbers. Residential customers on fixed
lines will come later, if ever.
The basic problems with ENUM in Austria are twofold:
One is Metcalfe’s Law, both nationally
and internationally: Austria is the only
country which has ENUM implemented,
so whom to call? So we basically wait
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
and wait for others (especially the US) to
join. The second is: you need a VoIP service giving you a public SIP-URI. There
are not many commercially available
VoIP services which give you a public
SIP-URI, Every Telco and most VoIP
providers are implementing in a walled
garden. Again the only ones which can
bypass this are again the companies.
SkypePlus - other VoIP providers do this
already (and not only in the US).
An Austrian company (Kapsch) has
implemented ENUM already. The
major feature is that they connected
their PBX via a VoIP gateway with
the Internet and you may reach any
extension with sip:[email protected] eg
sip:[email protected] So if you query
ENUM for +43508113184, you get
sip:[email protected] You may try it out
at http://193.80.173.26:8080/elookup/ If
somebody at Kapsch dials any phone
number on his office phone, first an
ENUM query is done to find an ENUM
entry, and only if no entry is found, the
call is placed to the PSTN.
Stastny: as I said above, many providers
offer numbers for VoIP - have a number
in Washington from Libretel. This is a
national matter and most countries allow
this (some with restrictions)
The bottom line is simple: the window of
opportunity for ENUM is closing (fast).
The other solution proposed to implement ENUM fast without dealing with
ITU, national regulators, etc. is to do
carrier ENUM in another tree. But this
would work globally only if ALL carriers and service providers would agree on
one common tree (and also connect to
the public Internet), and this seems not
possible either.
The argument against ENUM: Who
needs numbers at all, we use names, is ridiculous: What names: SIP-URI, Skype
names, AOL names, H323-URI?
The basic problem of ENUM as stated
above is that you need to translate the
number in a public available URI. If you
do not have such an URI, you simply
cannot reach the other party, with or
without ENUM. Period
Roberts: With number portability (at
least in the US) would Skype be able to
take the numbers? This would remove all
barriers to entry.
Stastny: This will come very soon with
Roberts: I doubt any country will allow
this easy a revenue source to shift to other
out-of-country companies. And since as
Richard Shockey correctly points out,
this is the responsibility of the ITU, and
they have passed it to the countries,
Roberts: Enum is doomed until the VoIP
conversion is near complete.
Stastny: One does not need ENUM for
providing these services
Roberts: Then it is too late, we will be
using real names.
Stastny: You need always an URI as I
pointed out in my other e-mail, both for
ENUM and direct addressing.
Reed: In my opinion, those who think
that numbering plans are either a barrier to innovation or an enhancement of
social welfare are doomed to live in the
dustbin of history.
Do you think any normal human being
wants to continue to have to manage a
list of numbers for telephone instruments
designed around the limitations of a rotary pulse generator or a Strowger switch?
Of course the idea that interfering in
speech communications among people is
a key governmental role is popular, even
in strongly democratic traditions like
the Danish and the Americans (CALEA
comes to mind). The more bollixed up in
politics that ENUM becomes, the better.
Two Parts of VoIP
COOK Report: Please welcome Raj
Sharma of NexTone. As Franl Coluccio
remarked above, Raj’s principal interests
lie in the harmonization of protocols for
the IXCs, ITSPs, ISPs and ILECs, such
as SIP and H.323 along with a long list of
51
proprietary ones made by all of the VoIP
field’s popular vendors. http://www.nextone.com/
Menard: To kick-off, perhaps Raj can
enlighten us on his contentions of using
a SIP-based border proxy server with
and without an RTP proxy and what this
means for settlements and accountability
for inter-carrier IP-based peering on a
bill-and-keep-basis on a per-exchange
basis.
Reed: Francois, with all due respect, this
is micro- (no, let’s say pico-) optimization of a system for which none of these
concepts may be applicable.
I’m sure somebody cares, but I’ll ignore
any future email that addresses any of
the above, little-picture obsessions that
represent the death rattle of a lot of obsolete ideas. (And good riddance, some
might say)
COOK Report: Hi David, Thank you
for emphasizing again that we are talking here about two different strains of
IP telephony. Like it or not there *IS* a
sizable market of telcos, and enterprises
with IP PBXs and so on that are running
VoIP systems of one kind or another over
the OLD legacy telco infrastructure.
At the same time you have SKYPE that
seems to represent a new way to do
telephony or better to say voice communication and has the characteristics
for which you are a brilliant advocate.
One reason that I have flogged your Viral
Communications paper so heavily is that
someone who reads it will understand
VERY clearly why you are as outspoken
on these issues as you are.
However - in MY opinion - if you look
at the marketplace for the next couple of
years, it is pretty clear that like it or not
the pico optimization of these issues is
happening and will continue to happen.
Rightly or wrongly the huge enterprises
will have to wrestle with the questions
that Francois was asking. He was asking
RAJ by the way and Raj is someone who
by virtue of what his company is doing
should be able to speak to these issues.
So Raj please don’t be shy.
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
MY intent is to publish a COOK Report
that tells BOTH parts of this story. I do
need to get paid to keep on doing what
I am doing and I think it is incumbent
on me to explore the current telephony
morass of this so that my actual and potential customers can better understand
the choices they face **NOW** while
being inspired by your message that the
next wave of change that sweeps all this
aside is not too far off.
Therefore, part one of the VoIP issue for
me is what Raj and Francois and Frank
and Henning and others are talking about
while part two is very definitely your insight as to where with Skype and similar
approaches this is inevitably heading.
You are of course free to focus specifically on part two. :-)
Menard: What I dislike about David’s
view of the world is that it is incompatible with regulatory objectives of justifying forbearance upon a competitive
supply of alternative access facilities. I
do not have any business case for deploying wireless if the ILEC decides, can, is
allowed or is not prevented, from giving
away its lousy DSL services. I contend
that VoIP will lead to more distributed,
faster, more reliable peering between
more carriers in a way that is not as centralized as with the current NAPs. For
instance, I do not have the facilities to
peer in Toronto if all I want to do is do
VoIP over local ILEC DSL loops.
Reed: Francois - in Canada the regulators may feel that they know what the
customers need and what technologies
should be granted forbearance.
Menard: This is certainly better than the
FCC for instance, who does not appear to
have a clue about how to achieve sustainability in telecommunications competition.
Reed: It’s not their job. Why should it
be? Don’t obsess about the FCC. They
are not God, cannot be, unless we make
them so. They are pretty pitiful, just like
the Wizard of Oz. In a democracy we
construct our own bad guys and give
them power by our fear and attention. I
suggest you spend 4 days per week NOT
thinking about the FCC, instead thinking
about what you can build and building it.
On the 5th day, you then have the credibility to tell them what really works for
real users.
Competition and
Wireless Paths
WiMAX Troubles
Only in Vonnegut’s world of “Harrison
Bergeron” does one measure or achieve
sustainability by focusing on big winners
and big losers, trying to manage everything into sameness. Any sufficiently
large and *productively evolving* system has winners and losers at all scales
(fractally scaled - lots of little losers,
fewer medium sized losers, a few big
losers).
Competition at its most productive is a
rough game, just like productive evolution. You can measure competition by the
rate of failure (which tends to equal the
rate of entry). When it’s competition for
the attention of customers, it’s the most
efficient filter we have of good ideas, because it seeks the optimum satisfaction of
the humans who are the ultimate customers (the telecom industry seems to think
that ILECs are customers for technology,
and that devices are customers for bits).
Ultimately what the entire information
economy feeds on is the attention of
humans to each other and their environment. The rest is hot air, self-justifying
feedback loops that are accidents of the
particular architecture we’ve evolved.
When it’s competition to win on the “regulatory playing field” (which is where
your arguments are always based, Francois), it’s one of the least efficient filters
of valuable ideas, because it seeks the
optimum satisfaction of the regulators
(who aren’t the FCC, but mostly a small
set of politicians, who largely groove on
power over others).
WiMAX’s fate (yet undecided, though I
think it will fall into a miniscule shadow
of what it could have been, just like
Bluetooth has) proves nothing - that’s
the mistake of synecdoche, i.e. the case
52
where a metaphor conflates an instance
with one of its categories.
Shockey: I’m increasingly interested in
this. I have heard anecdotal evidence that
WiMAX has some big problems with
fog and other extreme forms of weather
that is peculiar to the RF absorption
characteristics of the spectrum WiMAX
typically uses.
Has anyone heard anything more about
this?
Reed: WiMAX has bigger troubles. It’s
no different than cellular from the 50,000
foot perspective. It’s not opening a new
market, but merely using the same technology to try to start a service that competes with a universally present service.
The only advantage it might have is that
it is not being positioned as a mobile service with roaming, so it can be rolled out
incrementally. But cellular data services
are easy to add.
Somebody should study Christensen’s
book again, and notice that wireless
broadband need not enter the market in
the markets that have already been cherry
picked. 802.11 is a much better starting
point - every computer user already HAS
one endpoint of that system, and will buy
whatever feeds their itch. 802.11 reaches
the telephone poles in your neighborhood,
if you put a bridge in your window. And
if there are no telephone poles, it reaches
your neighbor’s apartment or your neighbor who has a fiber with lots of spare
capacity for now. That’s HFW (hybrid
fiber(cable)wireless). A lot cheaper and
more upgradeable than APON, EPON
and other PONzi schemes.
Cellular is already taking share from
some wireline services at a rate that
erodes the profit pool. There are lots of
other wireless paths beginning to unfold.
Cable competition (facilities based competition in HFC) is finally born in some
regions, despite the fundamental socialist
intuition that no economy can sustain 2
fibers to any home (a lot of hooey based
on the old Big Lie that demand is inelastic for communications).
Menard: I want to comment on David’s
last three paragraphs above.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
First, I fully subscribe to your assessment that consensus (i.e. balancing the
public interest against that of the interest
of competitors and of the incumbents) is
a pretty weak filter for new ideas. Still,
the IETF revolves around the notion of
rough consensus and running code.
But what I want to point out is that there
are cool new technologies like:
a) ENUM which is set to put a new interface to the old SS7 who will not be
implemented rapidly unless it is forced
down the throat of ILECs by the regulators.
b) wideband audio, which will be transcoded back to G.711 every time someone
will want to send wideband audio to the
customer of an incumbent, this again
unless it is forced down the throat of the
incumbents by the regulators.
Shockey: Or the ILEC’s take it over as
they have done in Poland and effectively
kill it.
Control of a communications service is
directly related to the control of the underlying naming and addressing mechanism. In the Internet people can acquire
their naming and addressing independently of the underlying transport or
service provider which is not the case for
either Skype or traditional PSTN service.
Which is another way of saying that ultimately SIP wins in the long run.
Reed: You are right if you mean that
the service forcibly links the two. But
remember that SIP isn’t a service, and its
users (like Vonage) are trying to forcelink the two as we speak. SIP doesn’t win
if its vendors wait for .e148 because they
think the business is about PSTN.
It’s in a new start-up’s interest (Skype) to
decouple naming so they can connect to
everything else over time.
Shockey: Looking at Skype, AOL IM,
MS-IM you will see that however viral
the system seems, it ultimately runs into
the wall that the control of the naming
and addressing scheme is directly controlled by the underlying service provid-
er. Separate those functions and you have
the preconditions for a global versus a
viral service.
Governments remember have always
controlled phone numbers though they
use licensed carriers as the distribution
mechanism. Why? Because control of
the service is directly related to control
of its naming and addressing.
Menard: Second, regarding your agreement that WiMAX is a figure of speech,
I do think that until such time as it is
deployed, that’s pretty much all it is. I
am deeply concerned with the (ahem,
forget regulatory now) market economics which will lead to WiMAX being deployed in a manner that is sustainable.
Third, regarding cellular, fact is that
ILECs are the biggest wireless phone
operations and that divestiture of their
wireline operations is certainly not far
away. But then again, wireless, at least
in Canada, is a game of 3 players - I find
no comfort in a vibrantly competitive
oligopoly of 3 players, two of which
are ILECs (Bell, TELUS) and the third
of which is an incumbent cable carrier
(Rogers).
Earlier Reed: I grew up in a world where
a business case involves the risk that
someone will compete with you, and
even price aggressively to get share. (I
was responsible for several billions of
dollars of product in that environment,
and there were NO guarantees that somebody might not price in a predatory manner (well, Robinson-Patman, but that’s
pretty weak protection). The ILECs are
completely uncompetitive, saddled with
ancient technology and inefficient business practices, without their regulatory
protectors to protect them from competition.
Menard: If they are incapable of competing, I wonder why WISPs are not
expanding in areas where ILECs offer
DSL services?
Gill: That is because the services provided by wireless offer no compelling
advantages in either cost or bandwidth/
latency that can overcome the inertia
caused by the transactional cost to switch
53
to them. There has been no business case
so far that I’ve seen. Caveat - I mean
wireless for data that can compete with
broadband cable/DSL plant.
Reed: The ILECs may or may not still
have some advantages, but don’t give
me any foolishness about a business case
having to have NO RISK from competitive response.
Menard: The risk has to be that ILECs
will not have price flexibility which allows to price their services on a promotional basis at a level that is below their
incremental costs, which is the price
floor used by competitors that can be
used to begin achieving sustainability.
Reed: Only in the crony socialist world
of telecom would anyone believe that
margins are a multiplier on costs. Margins are the difference between value
and cost of the cleverest provider of that
value. I happen to think that wireless
solutions can cost pretty damn little, if
you use smart technological designs. If
the frame of your dreams is that the only
answer is fiber through my rosebushes,
well, you are going to have to beg for
protection from the government so you
can hire the children of the politicians
into cushy jobs.
Menard: Another day, another round
being won.Ssee for instance this morning’s decision showing my regulatory
prose in action:
http://www.crtc.gc.ca/archive/ENG/Orders/2005/o2005-21.htm
Reed: They call equity investment RISK
CAPITAL. I prefer a world that rewards
people who figure out how to get funded
and deliver stuff end users want. Not a
world that rewards incumbent managers
and golf-playing heirs for sitting around
and ordering their staffs to service their
personal ego needs for status and importance.
Impact of Smart Design
on Wireless Cost
It’s not the regulators who will enable
connectivity. People want it, and will
buy it at a price that some technologies
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
can meet with handsome profits. Wireless solutions can cost pretty damn little,
if you use smart technological designs.
Menard: Such as? How do you beat 3
mbps DSL for C$19.50 a month with any
wireless technology?
Gill: I am very curious to hear this myself. The numbers are confidential but I
think given the right alignment, we can
come close to that number in USD given
current technology in the 900 mHz band
using for example, Waverider gear. Can
we beat three mbps for the same price?
Not to my knowledge. David may know
some vendors that can, I do not. David,
anything you can disclose here?
Reed: If the ILECs try to price DSL low,
the fact that they are being killed by cellular and cable competitors will synergize to hasten their demise.
Menard: Question? Fact? Fiction? I’m
seeing no evidence backing up your
statement.
Gill: I’m interested in the reasoning behind this as well.
Ballard: And who is picking up the cost
of the Waverider CPE and the truck roll
associated with this?
Gill: It is in the model, with some assumptions such as return CPE if it doesn’t
work for you, plus RF planning and prequalification, you can reduce truck roll.
Far more costly on the wireless end
though is interference. What most people
don’t realize is that if a customer support
call comes in from a user, you lose all
margin on that customer for a good while
and with high churn rates, it well may be
for the life of the customer.
The costing model is a fully loaded cost,
including equipment writedowns, MRC
for pole rental, power, and SG&A.
Ballard: Interested to hear how this very
low cost model provides payback.
Gill: We are not sure, hence the experiment. Models are only so good, at some
point the rubber meets the road and I’m
a very big fan of empirical verification
of Excel.
Menard: You cannot afford a truck roll
the stuff needs to go through leaves and it
must work from your basement too, like
Tim the Toolman Taylor says: WE NEED
MORE POWER. That’s why I’m waiting
to see what power Industry Canada will
allow in Cognitive radio in the TV band,
i. e. 802.22.
How to Think about the
Strategy of Power in
Terms of Part 15
Reed: Excuse me, Francois. That’s entirely the wrong understanding, though
if you are focusing on one link at the
expense of all in a reductionist way, you
can be forgiven. More power is almost
always the last thing we need - you
get faster computation by dropping the
energy in each transistor, even though
you get faster transistors if you raise the
energy in each; the same thing holds true
for radio communications. Radiated energy merely pollutes the electromagnetic
field with energy at all the places that
don’t want your signal. Not only does it
waste the energy input, killing your batteries and contributing to global warming, it also does not improve the system
performance as a whole for reasons that
perhaps I can hint at below.
Menard: OK, but do you consider that
its fair for the FCC to limit ISM to current power levels and then compare the
power levels that the cellular carriers are
allowed to radiate against the power level
that WISPs are being limited to?
Reed: It might even be smart! The key
thing about Part 15 (*not* ISM, which is
the primary licensee of the 2.4 GHz band
in the US, or Amateur Radio, which is
the secondary licensee of the same band
- “unlicensed” is at level 3 in the regulatory framework!) is that Part 15 must
accept ANY other signals, and must also
not interfere with primary or secondary
licensees (aforementioned).There is no
“right” that Part 15 devices have to transmit at *any* power level above zero.
The reason Part 15 has worked is that it
has encouraged innovation that provides
54
useful service despite such restrictions!
Including the right of Amateur Radio
Operators to shut down T-Mobile Hotspots anytime they can *prove* interference. But Part 15 has shifted the presumption of interference and burden of
proof. In those bands, ISM, NII, etc., unlike the AM/FM/TV/Cellular bands, the
real fairness arises because of a simple
legal shift, not power levels. In the TV
band, the regulations presume interference even when there is no television
present that can hear the signal, much
less have its picture degraded. Such “interference” is a fiction. Just as to prove
burglary, you must prove more than that
someone walked into the house.
Earlier Reed: Ultimately, we need more
network-scale coordination, cooperation,
and sharing, less balkanization and focus
on one greedy link at a time. The cellular
radio industry has demonstrated continuous increases in capacity while dropping
radiated power continuously over time
by architectures that follow exactly this
strategy. [Your brain and corneas thank
you because although the old cell phones
were barely safe, if we had increased
power to increase coverage and data rate,
rather than using better techniques, you
would have to hold your cellular radios
at arms length to be safe from cooking
key proteins.] Remember that capacity of
a link increases only as the logarithm of
power, which means that to double data
rate, you have to SQUARE the power!
To double distance at the same data rate,
you have to square the power, or if the
curvature of the earth is taken into account, you have to raise the energy to the
fourth power. And this ignores the other
effects of putting out more power:
First of all, putting out more power to
cover more is a “one way broadcast”
concept. Networks are interconnects, not
one-to-many. It does no good to have a
tower with more power, if the other end
transmitting back does not.
Second, the effectiveness of a network
is not measured in ergs or joules. It is
measured in the same units as entropy,
not energy - bits (information is precisely
negative entropy). The key to scaling
information capacity is to manage the
system’s distribution of entropy, which
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
is largely independent of energy. Shannon showed that it’s based in the ratio
between energy that has the relevant information and energy that does not. Once
you have sufficient wireless activity, true
natural noise is not the issue - multiplying every transmitter’s energy by an arbitrary constant does not change the information capacity one single iota, because
entropy is independent of the energy. Or
in other words, doubling every radio’s
power output also doubles every receiver’s interference input, which means
that the ratio of signal to interference
stays constant. Similarly, halving every
transmitter’s energy halves the interference at every receiver.
A system of N independent units distributes information (i.e. negative entropy)
as a result of decisions it makes in its
components that correlate and respond to
incident signals, routing the information
from source to destination. The function
of communications is only a redistribution of entropy, not a gain or loss in total
energy.
And computation only need cost energy
when it increases entropy (read Feynman
and others on “reversible computation”,
which is an area that we are beginning
to really exploit as we move closer to
understanding how to design processors
with more and more reversible logic)
- communication decisions within the
network do not necessarily increase entropy throughout the network - the key
is to design networks that get closer and
closer to changing entropy only at the
sources and sinks.
In optical fibers, we are getting closer
to such limits - we send signals down
incredibly long stretches of fiber without
amplification by designing with entropy
and not energy in mind. The key thing
about a fiber is that it doesn’t change
entropy except at the endpoints (solitons are nice entropy stabilization techniques). We have only started to have the
scale to do that in RF networks.
We are already able to translate microwave signals into optical domain without
losing energy remoting microwave signals over optical fiber (read about microwavephotonics.com’s technology).
was raised by Francois:
Regarding working in your basement, a
trivial example applies: just put a very
simple RF repeater or translator in your
house, and you have service in your
basement. This is no different than the
leaky-coax systems that distribute RF
throughout tunnels and buildings that
cannot be penetrated from outside. The
net improvement in efficiency, measured
in units of system entropy is huge. Why
pump up the volume so a few deaf people
can hear, when you can give them hearing aids or cochlear implants instead!
It’s natural, but UTTERLY wrong, to
think of power as “punching” through
stuff. Adding energy to waves in electromagnetic fields just dribbles more
energy and increase entropy (decreasing
information capacity) in almost every
case. This is true of RF, optical energy,
X rays, and gamma rays. Power is Marconi-era thinking.
Networking (especially *inter*-networking, where connectivity increases for
everyone with every radio you add, according to Metcalfe’s Law) wins over
raw power.
Last week I Skyped a fella in Melbourne,
AU who was using a WISP supplying pt2-pt 512 symmetric, and paying $49.95
Australian capped at 1GByte per month.
Which, he cautioned, would not buy
as many loaves of bread as $29USD.
That said, his alternatives were dial up
and sub-384k DSL undependable (his
words), at a cost of ~$30/mo., with no
two-way over cable coax seen on the
horizon, yet.
http://www.goldenit.net.au and http://
makeashorterlink.com/?L14A32D3A
This morning I posted the Intel story
(upstream) that included mention of a
wireless offering in Minnesota of 1Mb/s
unlimited coming off lamp posts and
adjacent rooftops for 15.99 per month.
And lest I forget, the muni in this case is
supporting the service.
If you want to tell regulators what to
do, tell them to declare radios that don’t
participate in networking enemies of the
people, and make producing them an offense that carries a life sentence for the
engineers who produce them.
From an architectural perspective, which
includes being able to accurately assess the feasibility of such platforms in
a wide variety of circumstances, one
needs to be able to predict what the shelf
life (sustainability) of such services are
before they are deemed obsolete, and
what point solutions they aim to satisfy.
At 1Mb/s, we’re getting close to, but not
quite there yet, where one would want
to be able to satisfy most residential so
called triple play needs.
Menard: If one day I become a politician, I will sponsor an amendment to the
criminal code that makes plotting against
innovation a criminal offense.
Drop the CableModem and telco voice
and keep the CableTV services, while
picking up voice and Internet access over
a Wi-Fi platform?
An Almost Hopeless
Complexity of Variables
Involved in Service
Pricing
Wait for a marginally higher speed wireless service to come along that will
include IPTV?
Coluccio: If we’re addressing these issues on a global scale, much will prove
to be local and terrain and nation specific. Allow me to post a couple of
examples that bring out the economic
realities being spoken of here, and at the
same time address the disparity of pricing issue between wireless and DSL that
55
How long will analog FDM NTSC/HD
services continue to dominate cable operator architectures and set top boxes?
Will voice continue to present the same
level of revenue down the road, as it appears to the operators to present now?
Just a few points while musing to tail
this topic off, but issues that I’ve been
wondering about recently, just the same,
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
so I thought I’d pass them along here in
response to Jere’s concerns over in-elasticity and see what sticks.
Coluccio: I guess there’s more than one
measure of separation occurring here,
With regard to the different universes
where VoIP falls into play.
Stastny: I agree. This was a simplified
approach. See below.
Coluccio: I commented to Gordon several days ago, partially in jest, that large
enterprises could do a great deal to mitigate their net-borne security concerns by
allowing employees, sometime in the not
too distant future, to use their own universal platforms, as you suggest, both for
their voice and data needs. This way you
take the risk off the employee’s desktop
and stick it in his pocket, where it can do
far less harm to the network.
Stastny: Yes and no, General purpose
devices are basically also endangered
like Laptops, and everybody travelling
with laptops knows the paranoia of LAN
administrators against “privately” managed laptops ;-). So you will get in future
your business mobile phone handed out
crippled from the admins.
Coluccio: Given the type of universal
PDA Richard Stastny speaks of (which
corresponds to what I was speaking of)
this is not a far-fetched idea.
But the point remains that the center of
gravity of VoIP decent- to higher- margin
revenues for service providers will not
be at the end points of consumer lines,
where many of those will be delivering
services that are virtually free at one
point, but the more lucrative services
will be embedded in enterprise and in
governmental phone works for some
time to come.
Stastny; I also agree: There will be basically three types of “Service Providers”
1. Enterprises 2. Service Providers or
better hosting providers (as now for email and web-hosting, etc) 3. DYI - you
may buy and run your VoIP Server at
home, like an e-mail server or web-server. This is now only for freaks, but more
and more people run networks at home
(more than one PC, media server, NAS
for videos and photos (also for backup),
control for networked appliances, so why
not run also your own communication
server. Normal people will buy them at
the supermarket (as now PCs). Freaks
will also buy them there, but reprogram
them, because they all will run on Linux
or MS.
I read today in a computer magazine a
story how to upgrade an out-of-the-box
NAS (network attached storage device)
by moving the Linux OS to the disk
to act as a media server. And like with
e-mail, many people will use both the
office communication server and private
communications server, either DYI or
outsourced
Reed: Even in the latter enterprise scenarios, however, I would not minimize
how quickly employees on their own will
move over to using their personal devices
56
instead of slogging over to their desk
to pick up a tethered, black telephone
set. All the evidence I need of this is to
observe how, in my own home, both I
and other members of my family automatically default to using our own cell
phones, when there is a land line sitting
in its cradle not more than a room or two
away, or when the land line-wireless unit
itself is sitting on the coffee table side by
side with the cell phone.
Stastny: I fully agree, it is the same with
me: In the office I use my (office) mobile
phone just for convenience, because I
have the numbers stored there (only for
longer calls e. g. conference calls I use
the office phone - mainly because of the
speaker and the mute button).
At home (I have four kids and all have a
mobile) I never pick up the fixed phone,
because it is not for me anyway. The kids
still use it for outgoing calls because I
have to pay. ;-)
My next gadget will be a dual-mode mobile phone (e. g. the already mentioned
Qtek 9090 to get also my Skype and
SIP call delivered on the same device, at
home and everywhere in the world.
So what will providers deliver: access
and hosted services - I still want to have
a voice box not dependant of my home
network if crashed by my kids. The rest
will be products you buy in a shop (on
the Internet).
Skype Seen as "Instant Voice-Integration" of
Multiple Forms of Communication into
Broadband Based Collaboration Highlights
Improved Audio Codecs, P2P Architecture, & Other Features May
Push Skype like "Instant Voice" Softphones into New Areas
James Enck Explores Possible Impact on Wireline and Mobile Carriers
Editor’s Introduction: James Enck is
the European Telecom Analyst and Global Telecom Strategist at Daiwa Securities
SMBC Europe Ltd. James is based in
London. On the welcome page of his
well-known EuroTelcoblog he states: “In
July 2003, I began publishing an email
blast called EuroTelcoblog as part of my
work as an analyst at Daiwa Securities
SMBC Europe.” He also explains that
his blog allowed him to give some real
expression to his desire to “observe how
disruptive technologies interact with and
ultimately subvert rigid legacy structures.” I interviewed James on Friday
March 4, 2005.
COOK Report: What are the most interesting aspects of Skype, or other P2P
voice communication programs that you
see at the moment?
Enck: Some of the implications of presence for Skype are going to turn out to
be very interesting. There are stories of
using it as a kind of open microphone between two physically separated but otherwise emotionally very involved people.
You may have also seen Martin Geddes'
blog description of how he and his Lithuanian wife may leave an open Skype connection to the grandparents in Lithuania
on all day long. It permits verbal communication between grand parents and
the grand children on an "as convenient"
basis. It’s a bit like having an intercom
open to the next room.
Future Possibilities:
Improvements in
Presence and in Audio
The audio aspect is open to improvements in interesting ways. I have seen
reports from Stuart Henshall that he has
heard that Skype is working on spatial
positioning of voices in a conference call.
There is always scope for something like
haptics where you can project some element of a person's physical presence such
as a heartbeat to come into play here. In
the grandparents’ scenario, the sense of
being there and being able to listen to
the kids play as opposed to having five
minutes on the phone with them is worth
thinking about. This of course becomes
possible if the technology works and as
long as the service is not metered.
Alan Duric is the CTO of Telio, not the
one that every one is talking about in the
States but a company that is basically a
Norwegian Vonage. Duric used to work
at Global IP Sound where he was one
of the authors of the Sype audio codec.
His description of some of the things
that are in the development pipeline with
broadband audio codecs is that he says
for the future it will be like the difference
between black and white TV and color.
This is where he sees services differentiating themselves once price is no longer
an issue. The thinking seems to be that
market share will be determined by whatever platform delivers the best sensory
experience. This is an area where Skype
already is quite far ahead.
COOK Report: Certainly visual presence
can’t be far behind? All manner of web
cam devices are becoming very cheap.
Therefore, it probably will not be long
at all until Skype or its competitors do
video as well as audio? As monitors get
bigger there will certainly be room for
a video window. As you move all kinds
of presence to the edge on an individual
basis, this should drive increased demand
for bandwidth and for filling up fiber.
57
Enck: Yes - all of what you suggest is
absolutely true. I think what Duric is
saying is indicative of a growing realization that use of peer-to-peer audio
communication softphones or software
like Sype is just fundamentally different
than products based on SIP that must use
ordinary hardware telephones and be able
to connect effortlessly to the PSTN. You
have on the one hand what he is saying
and on the other hand rather negative
responses coming from the SIP folk and
the SIP --using hardware community.
This is indicative of the Skype’s having
driven a wedge down not only the proprietary versus open standards issue but
about what the very nature of the service
is. Zennstrom has never made any bones
about the fact that Skype was originally
basing its interface and user experience
on instant messaging adding in effect
instant voice to instant messaging. They
were never trying to recreate the telephone experience.
COOK Report: This gets back to what
David Reed was saying last December
on the mail list about Skype not being
an IP replacement for the telephone but
being designed for strongest appeal to
those living a communications centered
life. One has to really re-orient one’s
mindset in approaching this.
This leads me to ask about their use of the
Global IP Sound codec. How closely are
they tied to that? They have to be thinking about how they would add features?
Enck: My understanding is that Skype
has simply licensed the codec. I am not
sure how the payments are structured namely whether it is based on number of
users. My understanding is that they have
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
to make regular payments. Either quarterly or semi-annual. I don’t think they
are in anyway locked in but they have so
many clients installed that, if they wanted
to do something dramatically different,
then everyone would have to download
a new Skype with a new codec. It might
take a bit of a while to roll over their entire user base, but it would not I think be
an impossible task.
COOK Report: Stuart Henshall mentioned a new 3D codec coming from
Japan. But other than Alan Duric in Norway what do you hear about new codecs?
Would 3D audio imply multiple speakers
or probably just a good head phone?
Enck: With headphones, the 3D would
imply that you could place people in
a 360 degree stereo spectrum as to the
positioning of their voice. With a conference call you would get the image of
people actually sitting around a table. I
would think in a conference setting this
would be very useful in a situation where
essentially what you have now is 10
mono channels over lapping.
It would make it much easier for people
to identify who is speaking and in that
sense I thing they could learn a lot from
some of the gaming enthusiasts. In this
area there are a couple of products - one
is called Teamspeak and the other is
Teamtalk. These products offer a way for
multi-player on-line gaming administrators - basically the people running the
server - to impose some moderation on
the process of running the game. I believe you can see who is talking as a part
of the gaming character on your screen.
It is a very advanced kind of presence
that they have built into this thing.
Within Skype, for conference purposes,
perhaps you could have something like
this built into a future version so that
you could see a representation of a meeting with a representation of the person
speaking his name and an indication of
whether that person’s audio channel was
active or not. In an even more simple
form, if Skype lit the icon of the speaker
and you could couple it with some sort
of stereo placement of voices, it might be
really interesting.
There are lots of variations there that are
possible. I sent a note the other day to
someone I know at Skype asking why
didn’t they put in a record function so
that people could easily record their
Skype conversations or conference calls?
If you think about it being used in an
enterprise where there are compliance
issues or where you want to archive your
discussions, having a record function
would be useful and it couldn’t be that
difficult to do.
within Accenture. The reading I was
given is that they are currently interested
enough in it and want to see where it
will take them such that there is no effort
made to stop it or restrict it in anyway.
The folks I have talked with stress that,
while they are not going in clandestinely
and using this behind a client’s firewall,
it is something they feel comfortable
enough to use within their own organization and that they are not discouraged in
anyway from doing this.
The response so far from Skype has been
that we haven’t seen that much value to
us so far in doing something like that
instead of other things that are higher on
our list because they appear more immediately attractive.
COOK Report: What do you hear about
the dangers and risks of a peer-to-peer
system like Skype?
Enterprise Concerns
about Skype Encourage
Competitive Products
COOK Report: Perhaps this is because
of the very negative reaction that Skype
gets from enterprise security people?
Would you describe what you hear from
enterprises as to their use or non use of
Skype?
Enck: I wrote a piece not long ago on
Accenture. It turns out that this piece
flushed out two other guys. They have
project teams working in Pakistan, and
other teams in Amsterdam, Madrid, Vienna and London. First of all within Accenture itself I have confirmation that top
managers and even board members are
aware that this is going on. While there
is no official policy pro or con, they have
never said to their employees that you
cannot use Skype. Apparently at least
one senior board member of Accenture is
a Skype user himself and does so within
the business.
Now when they are out at client sites
what they do apparently is set up their
own free-standing Internet access point.
They would work through the local telco
to construct a VPN that would enable
them to set up their own access node
independent of the client’s network. Or
perhaps they would just bring in an independent DSL line. Therefore, the client
network is never at risk. It is Accenture
58
Enck: While I am not a security expert,
I have certainly noted Melissa’s concerns
about an open Port 80. I have also noted
the opinion of Dimitry Goroshevsky at
Popular Telephony http://www.peerio.
com/ and the folks at Nimcat Networks
in Canada http://www.nimcatnetworks.
com/ that any IT manager who turns
loose an application that can punch a
hole in a corporate firewall needs his
head examined and that is why they have
built into their application an administrator role where central control is required
to switch functions on and off.
COOK Report: So isn’t this another way
of saying that what is going on here will
probably evolve into new software packages, new devices and new companies?
Right?
Enck: Absolutely and I think that there
may be future iterations of Skype that
embrace enterprise security concerns. It
can’t be something that is perceived ass
a renegade product. They will realize
that if their product is to find widespread
enterprise use, it has to be controllable
from the IT manager’s view point or it
will be seen as an unacceptable threat no
matter what the perception of benefits by
the other folk in the enterprise.
We are already seeing some activity
from another Norwegian company called
Paradial whose leaders are veterans of
the old Ericson Voice over IP research
labs. They have something called Real
Tunnel. Basically it’s a firewall traversal
product for MSN Messenger that I have
written about a couple of times. It pro-
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
vides a Skype like functionality for MSN
Messenger. It works like a treat and has
no trouble getting out. www.paradial.
com/documents/RealTunnelTM.pdf
It’s a SIP application where you are
log into a proxy server and where the
purpose is to deliver P2P like functionality to MSN users who find themselves
behind firewalls. You get pretty high
quality voice. You can do video. There
are some other companies with similar
application developments. One in the
UK called Ridgeway Networks was acquired last year by Tandberg the conferencing people in Norway. Alcatel and
Cisco have made similar acquisitions
in the past year that seem to have been
driven by the perceived need - namely to
bridge firewalls in such a way that desktop conferencing can be safely allowed.
http://www.ridgewaysystems.com/products_ipf_faqs.aspx
I think the notion of enterprise use is
being validated but that the central authorities also want more control than
Skype currently offers.
COOK Report: And with Skype’s success there will be other people stepping
up to the plate?
Enck: Yes.
Goroshevsky and
Popular Telephony
COOK Report: Let’s come back to Goroshevsky. I have seen from reaction on
my Network Economics mail list that he
has little credibility because he has been
announcing products for many months
and has not delivered. What is going on
here?
Enck: Over the past two or three months
their press releases have made it clear
that they have a working relationship
with Texas Instruments (TI).
COOK Report: And TI would have denied Goroshevsky’s assertion were it
false?
Enck: I think that indeed you can count
on that. It looks now that TI has ported
his software onto its DSP. Given that TI
is there I would be surprised if Broadcom
is not also involved. My surmise is based
on the fact that Broadcom is a financial
investor in Nimcat Networks which is
Goroshevsky’s principal competitor.
Also I know someone in the product and
development unit of a large European
electronics firm. These folk have actually done trials of the Peerio application
in their laboratory and had good things
to say about it.
COOK Report: The software resides as
firmware in a TI Digital Signal Processor
(DSP) chip then? Where would one find
this chipset?
Enck: It would be in the desktop VoIP
or hybrid kind of phones that are coming
out. The ones that they, in late February, announced from Grandi (a Chinese
firm) is a good example. That phone has
a PSTN connection, two Ethernet jacks
and also a SIM Card slot. Popular Telephony has signed agreements with about
6 different makers at this point. They
have Gateway people involved.
COOK Report: Their software loads into
the DSP as firmware?
Enck: Yes. It is firmware. Middleware
or whatever you want to call it. Theoretically at least it can sit on mobile handsets
or on virtually any other device you want
to think about.
COOK Report: How would it work?
Enck: I think it would be conceptually
similar to some of the clients developed
around Skype by third parties. For example there is a product called the DualPhone, a DECT phone for Skype <http://
fa86dd8e8eff5070c1256f1c0040dee5.
dualphone.net/>. It is a cordless phone
that is available in Europe. It is both a
wireless PSTN phone and one that affords you a connection to your PC and
to your Skype contacts. You can access
both and choose what kind of call you
want to make from this single handset.
Conceptually that is how it would function. What the mechanics at this point
are going to be I am not sure. Whether
there is to be a purple button with a “p”
59
on it to launch Peerio for example? Or
whether it is in the numbering or in how
your address book is structured?
COOK Report: But presumably it could
also be distributed as a software client?
I understand that like Skype it is peerto-peer in its structure but presumably it
is how the “peer-to-peerness” is implemented that is different?
Enck: Yes. I think that is a good example of the difference. Peerio is a bit
of a black box. I had a conversation
with Bram Cohen, the guy who wrote
Bit Torrent. Although he was not aware
of any of the P2P voice systems I gave
him a description of what Dmitry was
doing and said that I had asked Dmitry
whether Peerio was similar to any other
P2P application? Dmitry had replied
"Well, yes and no." Conceptually it was
similar to something called Chord. Later
I read some academic papers describing
Chord but did not understand them very
well. However when I mentioned Chord
to Bram Cohen, he immediately said that
he understood what Goroshevsky was
doing. For this I conclude that within
P2P coding circles, this is an architecture
that is actually understood.
The folk from Nimcat networks also
seem to understand this. They, by the
way, have given us an in house demonstration where they brought three handsets in. They set up a miniature LAN
in our offices. The person responsible
for the demo configured one phone and
assigned the other two identities that
were basically extension numbers. We
switched the phones on and watched as
they used the network to discover and
configure each other. We were up and
running within a couple of minutes on a
demonstration where they went through
all the standard PABX functionality.
We forced one phone to fail. The purpose
of this was to ascertain the fate of all the
address book information and other user
data that would normally reside in the
phone or on the central server, but in this
case is actually cached within the network. It worked. We plugged the phone
back in and it recovered all its data from
the network. There are reasons to believe
that this fully distributed architecture
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
does work. Unfortunately I would have
to say that all the proof I have to substantiate this comes from Nimcat Networks
rather than from Popular Telephony. At
least the things that Dmitry is saying
seem to be substantiated by his competition.
COOK Report: But you have talked to
some folk who tell you they have seen
working trials of Popular Telephony systems?
Enck: Yes. And if I look at their agreement for the French phone, I believe
those are due to ship before June. If they
are really playing with people it will
become apparent pretty quickly. I can
understand people’s impatience, but I
have a hard time believing there is nothing there because for there to be nothing there would be the ultimate suicide.
What would Dmitry have to gain from
releasing a bunch of press releases and
then producing nothing?
COOK Report: And someone from Texas
Instruments would, presumably, have sat
on him long ago for claiming TI’s involvement?
Enck: Definitely. My view has been that
TI is hedging its bets on an interesting
looking technology. But TI is not the only
one involved. Some European consumer
electronics firms involved in the hybrid
set top box arena are involved at least in
looking at the technology, although I am
not aware of any decisions at this point to
actually put them into equipment.
COOK Report: A lot of folk had better
pay attention because we see now that
broadband data networks are morphing
into telephone networks.
Enck: Indeed.
COOK Report: A question about Mike
Volpi at Cisco who as of last September
15 joined Skype’s Advisory Board. Volpi
has to have a pipeline now into Skype’s
development plans and one had better
believe he will be watching out for things
that impact Cisco’s interests. Are you
aware of any other firms whose executives have advisory type positions with
Skype?
Enck: You are asking good questions
and I am afraid I don’t know the answers. I know Zennstrom, having eaten
lunch with him a few times and I know
his principal backer - Draper Co. in
California. Now that you are asking, I
am surprised that this information is not
really public.
Skypeʼs Cellphone and
Wi-fi Direction
COOK Report: How would you describe
the wireless wi-fi direction in which
Skype appears to be headed? I think
Stuart in his conversation with me was
suggesting that Skype viewed its value
more in mobile technology than in convergence with the PSTN.
Enck: I think that is correct. Certainly in
Europe the mobile area is where a lot of
the arbitrage opportunity for subscribers
exists. The reason for this is that if you
are traveling around Europe, you pay
very heavy charges for roaming. This
is an area that costs businesses a lot of
money and where they would be very
keen to make savings. Based on anecdotal evidence I get people from the States
seem to be happy to go into a T-Mobile
or BT commercial hotspot and pay seven
pounds for an hour because in that hour
they can make forty dollars worth of international calls over Skype.
Very worthy of attention in this area is
the announcement yesterday (March 3)
regarding Broadreach. They are huge in
the UK. They cover all of the London
train terminals, as well as all the MoTo
roadside truck and car stops that are really somewhat like miniature shopping
centers. They claim that 500 million people is the annual total of the daily visitors
to all their locations, although obviously
people aren’t going to be carrying their
laptops on each and every visit.
Broadreach is basically a wi-fi managed
services company that is hired by the
railroads to wire up the train stations for
wi-fi and so on. They actually do give
services to a chain of coffee shops called
“EAT”. They manage and connect to
60
the Internet the networks of the various
enterprises that buy their white label services. They seem to specialize in white
label wi-fi networks for retail and travel
organizations.
One of the companies I talked to recently
that does work in this area was getting
about 350 to 400 pounds sterling per
month per site. They have a little Linksys
wi-fi node and DSL connection and come
by and check it out every few days.
COOK Report: But a London train station takes much more substantial equipment?
Enck: Oh yes. You can bet on that. Meanwhile some of the locations are quite desirable and this will expand enormously
the Skype friendly locations for people to
work from. The release was worded very
strangely and I am not precisely sure how
the use arrangement will work.
COOK Report: I understood it to be that
you would be able to connect into the
net in such a way that your Skype client
could function normally at no cost but
you would be unable to send and receive
email unless you paid the hot spot.
Enck: I agree that that it how it sounds.
I am not directly sure of the mechanics,
but I assume the network is set up from
a technical point of view to recognize
Skype. I don’t know if it would be done
through port scanning or if you would
have to make yourself known to management as a Skype user. The Skype
question aside, in many UK hotspots,
usage is geared to purchase. You make
a minimum two pound purchase and get
30 minutes free use. How it’s going to
work in the train stations is not entirely
clear. Whether in the lobby or in pubs or
in coffee shops? I don’t think it will be
train-station-wide because there are other
white lable wi-fi network management
firms besides Broadreach that deal with
train stations. BT has some points there,
and also at airports.
Editor: Thanks to Sebastian Hassinger
for this additional note: http://www.benhammersley.com/weblog/2005/03/03/
snow_and_skype.html
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
“Meanwhile, one terribly interesting
thing to arrive in the Press Release Inbox
this morning: Skype have signed a deal
with Broadreach to allow Skype to be
used free over the 300 or so ReadyToSurf wifi hotspots in the UK.
Broadreach’s ReadytoSurf(TM) network
of locations has a combined footfall of
over 1bn per year and includes major
brands like Virgin Megastores, Eurostar,
Travelodge, Moto, Little Chef, Virgin
Trains, EAT , Choice Hotels and Quality
Inn and major railway stations including
all the London terminals.” [end of press
release – Hammersly concludes: “You’ll
still have to pay to get web and email,
but the firewall is unlocked for Skype
traffic. You hear that? That’s the sound
of the future.”
COOK Report: Malcolm Matson claims
that people in the London office of
Skype have said that Skype will be
loaded into wi-fi phones before Christmas. Will these phones be dual use in the
sense that flip a switch and they operate
as cell phones as well?
Enck: I believe the Motorola agreement
was exactly that. It looks to be on a class
of phones that have a handoff capability
between GSM and wi-fi. I don’t know
whether it will be on a best effort basis
or whether it will be the user who flips a
switch. I think the carriers will obviously
have a problem with this should you be
able to do a wi-fi call rather than a Vodafone one. But I think many enterprise
customers would VERY much like to
have this control.
COOK Report: How far are we from
these dual use handsets being on the
market? Two or three months?
Enck: I think that is a about right for the
enterprise market. And perhaps another
two to four months beyond that for the
general consumer market. My reading
of the handset makers is that they are
scared. They have been the victim of
the carriers for too long. They have seen
the carriers hammering them down for
too long. They are begining to see that
the carriers have a limited shelf life so
they have to begin to ask whether they
want to continue to be a slave to this
dying industry? Or do they want to get
in bed with an application developer like
Skype. You can see it now not only with
Skype and Motorola, but you can also
see it with Microsoft Nokia announcement that shocker everyone so much a
few weeks back about allowing direct
connectivity between Windows XP and
Symbian based handset in order to share
music. This will immediately eliminate a
certain amount of carrier revenue. Who
is going to pay a dollar fifty for a song
download over the network when you
can simply down load to your I-tunes
and the upload it to your phone?
Nokia signed an agreement with Macromedia developers to allow more independent applications coming in. They have
also opened up a Python forum. Python
is apparently well tailored to writing
things like SIP applications. Bit torrent
is written in Python and the fact that
they are opening up the Nokia platform
to this kind of programming language
that is associated with wild disruptive
open source technology is a further sign
that the handset makers don’t want to be
enslaved to the carriers.
I think Motorola was really sticking up
its middle finger at its traditional customer base and saying "look we want to
carve out a sustainable stake in this sort
of value chain because we think your
traditional model may be in trouble and
we don’t want to be on the wrong end of
that." I think also that the Motorola guys
will have seen the Taiwanese makers
HTC, or High Tech Corporation trying
to court Skype. They will have also seen
the Skype I-Mate announcement and
find themselves getting very paranoid.
COOK Report: Are you seeing anything
from Skype about how soon they are
going to be out on Symbian? [Editor’s
Note - Global IP sound has announced a
version of their Voice Engine codec for
Symbian during the week of March 7.]
Enck: No and that is an important question. If they really want to cover the
mobile front, they do need to get it out
there.
61
Skypeʼs Business Model
Have you ever looked at the Skype job
listings page? That can give you some
ideas about where they are headed. http://
skype.com/company/jobs/ And then you
will see an interesting page for business
development manager listings for their
London office. http://skype.com/company/jobs/london/index.html#job-bdmm
Business Development Manager - Mobile Devices
The Skype Business Development Manager, Mobile Devices (BDM-Mob) shall
play a key role in establishing, developing, and managing commercial relationships with key Skype device partners
shaping the future of the mobile industry.
Business Development Manager, Retail
The Skype Business Development Manager, Retail (BDM-Ret) shall play a
key role in establishing, developing, and
managing commercial relationships with
key Skype consumer electronics retail
and distribution partners.
Business Development Manager Computing
The Skype Business Development Manager, Computing (BDM-Comp) shall
play a key role in establishing, developing, and managing commercial relationships with key Skype device partners,
shaping the future of the computing
hardware and peripherals industry.
Business Development Manager - Mobile Services & Technology
The Skype Business Development Manager, Computing (BDM-MST) will play
a key role in establishing, developing,
and managing commercial relationships
with key Skype mobile and technology
partners.
Business Development Manager - Internet
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
The Skype Business Development Manager, Internet (BDM-Int) will play a key
role in establishing, developing, closing
and managing commercial relationships
with Skype online partners around the
world.
to the sale of KaZaa to Sharman, That
story in my mind was not about free
speech or rebellion but was about selling the entertainment industry something
that could be used something that could
be used to distribute content.
Basically they are hiring in all the key
market verticals that you would expect
them to be approaching. This list used
to be a lot longer. They have obviously
filled a lot of positions. They used to
have one that was for embedded products
which is similar to what Peerio is trying
to do. So clearly there is stuff happening there. Mobile is clearly one of their
priorities and, according to these listings,
perhaps an area where they haven’t filled
in all the gaps.
COOK Report: Unfortunately the entertainment industry didn’t get the intended
message.
COOK Report: What else can be said
about the Skype business model at this
point? When Motorola puts the Skype
client in their handsets they presumably
have to pay Skype?
Enck: I would think so. I think a large
part of what they are up to is really licensing. From what I have heard them
saying, I think they have been shocked
and surprised by the uptake of Skype
Out. I don’t think that it was ever a part
of their business model to try to make
money from termination to the PSTN. I
spoke to them for the first time in the fall
of 2003 - a couple of months after their
launch. It was clear at that time that it
was never an integral part of their plan.
It was n ice to have but they didn’t need
to have it.
They are having a lot of painful customer
service issues with it and this may be
one reason - namely that it exploded in
uptake far beyond what they had envisioned. [Editor’s Note: On March 11 the
Skype web site reported a million Skype
Out customers for the first time.]
Income will come from licensing, from
Skype-out (and Skype-In beta tested on
March 10th for the first time) and given
where these guys came from, I certainly
imagine that content will play a role.
Given the KaZaa thing with what I would
call phase one of the peer to peer story
that runs from Sean Fanning and Napster
Enck: They didn’t. There is a book about
what happened to Sean Fanning when the
labels sued him and shut him down. He
just couldn’t believe it would happen.
He seemed to have thought he could sell
Napster to Universal music and retire as
a teenage millionaire. Instead he spent a
long time in court and Zennstrom is apparently worried about getting served so
he doesn’t come to the US.
A Content Distribution
Strategy?
My assumption was that there was always
some sort of content strategy built into
this once they can get big enough that
they have several million users on line
world-wide at one time. Especially if you
look at what is in place to try to incentivise people to become more responsible
file sharers. For example with someone
like people with Weedshare where they
set up a system designed to incent people
to share content and if it results in a sale
they get a cut. www.weedshare.com/ It
becomes a limited pyramid marketing
scheme. This was tried last summer by
Heart if you remember them. They used
it to sell their Comeback album and
using the Morpheus file sharing system
they apparently sold more copies than
I-Tunes did.
COOK Report: Now I am getting your
point. Skype already has a file transfer capability and, with Skype In and
Out, it is putting accounting capability
into place. Consequently Skype has the
basic infrastructure by which it could sell
music or take a percentage of other file
sharing revenue. And if you have some
kind of content that you want to make
available on Skype, you pay them a fee
for letting you distribute it?
62
Enck: Potentially yes. Depending on
how the mechanism works. Weedshare is
built around Microsoft DRM and I am
not sure that I believe in DRM. But if
it does work what they would be selling
is the social or viral nature of the Skype
network.
For example at the moment you are able
to transfer files of up to two gigabytes
- directly, person to person. I wrote about
this and Zennstrom was unhappy. He
thought I was insinuating that they were
putting together a file sharing network.
He rightly made the point that it was not
file sharing because there was no directory - that is to say no way to query for
desired content. There is certainly however the potential to directly transfer the
content from one user to the other.
Now when I threw this suggestion at
one of Skype’s development people, he
replied that there was no conscious intent
to do yet another file sharing platform.
Rather he said they wanted Skype to
have the same capability as other instant
messaging platforms in order to be competitive. But I think this is where they
are coming from and that they may have
a dormant element to their strategy that
they are not yet fully aware of at this
point.
But you have to ask yourself if they really have the 28 million users they claim
and 80 million downloads on March 4
at some point this is going to grow big
enough that someone is going to say
"Gee- how can we use this huge platform to sell our product? Or to get our
message across or whatever?" At that
point - Skype is the gatekeeper. I have
no proof of these assumptions - but they
seem logical.
COOK Report: What we are talking
about then is a really well entrenched
peer-to-peer system. The ability to stop
or root out such a system as long as access to the Internet is not licensed and
controlled along the lines described by
the author of the Digital Imprimatur is
generally nonexistent? To try to control
such networks would render so many
other things inoperable as to effectively
destroy the Internet?
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
Enck: Yes. I don’t think anyone can root
it out. It is here to stay. That is one of the
things I like about it. There is no reasonable way that you could gain control of
what it does. If you look at industry trying to create alternative products that will
do what peer-to-peer networks do and
create what people like about them, then
they have a really lousy track record. In
my view practically everything that has
happened in Internet/telecom product development has been an accident. Email.
SMS. These all found uses that were not
intended by the developers and they have
subsequently become massively transformative consumer technologies.
I think instant messaging has been another case in point. What has Yahoo,
MSN and AOL accomplished? What was
that all about? What was the master plan
behind it? It generates zero revenue for
the telcos. It has caused all sorts of problems in enterprises. But they have also
found ways to use it for their own ends
by putting it safely inside of sub-netted
playpens blocked off from undesirables.
COOK Report: What are your views on
Skype’s market place position? Do they
have such a head start that no one else
can overtake them?
Skypeʼs Market Place
Position and Prospects
for More Controllable
Competitors
Enck - Being bigger than all the other
VoIP implementations in the world combined it is looking pretty formidable.
Yahoo Japan would be the closest in size.
But what have they got? Five million?
And Yahoo is an access-based service so
you are stuck with an IP phone in your
house. It simply doesn’t have the same
feature set as Skype.
COOK Report: What you mean is that it
is rather like Vonage or Lingo?
Enck: Yes. Exactly. Then you get down
to the next level with firms like Vonage
and Iliad in France. Time Warner Cable
and so on. At this level we are still talking about only a few hundred thousand
users. You put all of these together and
you still get a number that is smaller than
the registered user base of Skype. We are
talking about over 2 million concurrent
users at any give time these days and that
is a helluva lot of people.
COOK Report: What I am beginning to
realize is that the feature set of things
that can be done with a P2P instant voice
program like Skype are by no means
exhausted. But still Skype seems so well
embedded that the competition’s feature
set would have to be really stunning to
get people to switch?
Enck: Quite true. Likely the only way
would be to take an entirely different
approach. There is a company called
Voipster in the Netherlands I have been
tracking that had gone rather quiet. But I
reestablished contact with them a couple
of days ago. www.voipster.com/
They have a similar background to Skype
in the sense that they are very small and
have developer in Estonia. They were
using the Global IP Sound codec but
they dropped that in favor of something
that uses less bandwidth because they
are trying to get a start in some emerging
markets. Their goal is to be an invisible
partner to carriers or ISPs. Or potentially
to people in the online world whether
that is retailing or services. They should
becoming out soon with exciting announcements. Their architecture is very
similar to Skype but they allow a level
of control at the administrator level with
the set up of their systems that will be a
relief to enterprise security people.
COOK Report: In this sense they might
be the software that gives Google working telephone icons for parts of its emerging local service activity? Services like
this that could be used and administered
by third parties rather than just out there
like Skype might be more interesting to
Google? And in the third world are if you
can get by on less bandwidth, you have a
lot of possibilities.
Enck: Yes to both assumptions. I was
talking today to a guy who works for
a European carrier who is a VoIP specialist and he was talking about a new
codec that has been developed by ECI
63
the Israeli concern which he claimed
functioned on something like two kilobits per second. They claim to compress
by a factor of 12. He says that the next
time someone claims that their codec
can function in 22 kbs, you just say that
is no longer relevant. This is definitely
something I have to check out because
if it is the case then we have Skype over
narrowband. Editor’s Note: On March
14 James added I think this URL may
be what he was referring to http://www.
veraznetworks.com/products/Digital_
Compression_Multi_product.asp
COOK Report: So where is this going?
It seems that bandwidth like electricity
allows you to do a lot of things. And
that bandwidth therefore is just a commodity.
Enck: You’ve got it.
COOK Report: But the LECs with their
ability to insist that you buy bandwidth
from them at their prices are an impediment to any progress. And they are
stronger in the US than anywhere else it
would seem. What does it look like here
from your perspective in the UK?
Enck: I agree you have a big problem
and I followed last year the ups and
downs of Utah’s UTOPIA project. They
had to suffer and enormous amount of
alarmist flak from Qwest and Comcast. I
think the US is an exception in this area.
If you look at Sweden, you will see how
Stockholm pioneered the idea of a municipal fiber utility with Stokab.
The Competitive
Broadband Situation in
Europe
Now turning to the Netherlands, you
really have the next generation of this
at work with the Amsterdam municipal
government trying to push through the
initial phase of a project where when
completed every home and business in
Amsterdam will be connected by fiber
on a carrier neutral platform that will be
housed in a network operating company
which is set up by the municipal government and is partially funded by the fees
it generates from service providers. In
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
this sense it is very similar to the Stokab
model.
COOK Report: Kees Neggers with Surfnet6 and Gigaport in the Netherlands has
certainly prepared the groundwork for
this expansion. But the ideology here
in the United States that says anything
done by a government is, by definition
incompetent, is doing us considerable
harm. The direction of the technology is
pushing broadband more and more in the
direction of becoming a central economic utility - as vital to business activity as
roads, water, sewers and electricity. Perhaps with more Skype like applications
and the new things underway at Google,
it will begin to dawn on people that
broadband is more than just faster down
load of email and web pages? I went to
broadband only because I wanted long
distance telephone arbitrage with Vonage
but now that I am there it makes me see
things in entirely new ways.
Enck: Agreed. I think what you see
now in Europe is that the carriers see
broadband as a new revenue opportunity
with the ability to charge for overage on
monthly usage caps. What they are doing
is putting a usage cap on their prices. The
minimum BT product at the moment is
capped at one gigabyte - but for heaven’s
sake that is a less than a single feature
length film. What is that in music terms?
Four hundred songs? It’s a joke.
What they want to do is sell you incremental bandwidth for a charge. Telenor
which is one of the most forward looking
companies in Europe tried this idea two
years ago and quickly scrapped it because
of overwhelmingly negative reaction.
But all the telcos in Europe are looking at
capped products. They sell you cheaply
a basic connection with a cap or you
can upgrade to the so-called unlimited
plan. Unfortunately people then find that
those have limits of 20 to 30 gigabytes.
(http://www.bt.com/broadband/bb_info.
jsp?targetSection=packages)
An aside: Martin Geddes made an interesting post the other day about how
people who are on bandwidth capped
packages may be putting themselves at
financial risk if their PCs happen to be
supernodes on the Skype network.
However in places where cable TV is
making inroads, the cable companies
are saying to consumers we will double
you band width speed or double the cap
for the same prices as the telco. This is
hardly satisfactory. I see it as a feeble
attempt to circle the wagons. You could
really smell the fear in the Netherlands
the other day when KPN announced job
cuts of 8,000 positions over the next five
years. This is 28% of their total work
force. Given that about a quarter of the
work force is in Germany where they
have a large mobile network it means
that about half of their domestic work
force is on the chopping block.
COOK Report: What will happen then?
As carriers shrivel away municipal networks will fill the gap?
Enck: In some areas I think this will be
the case. But in southern Europe the carriers seem to be quite strong. Companies
like Telefonica and Telecom Italia seem
to be quite strong. There is much less
competition there. In fact in Italy there
is zero cable.
France on the other hand has been a real
wake up call because in less than two
years it has gone from a point where the
incumbent controlled the entire broadband market to the point where unbundled lines total 25% of the ADSL in the
country. For 29 Euros a month you can
get 15 megabit per second ADSL bandwidth plus TV and free phone calls within the country. If you want to compete in
France you have to come in at under 29
euros per month which is really hard.
I think that the environment will continue
to vary from country to country. Germany is still a long way from being competitive while the UK is moving towards
being hyper competitive. France is there
already as is the Netherlands.
COOK Report: What is happening outside of Amsterdam with other municipal
networks?
Enck: There are other networks being
built and they are not all municipal.
Some of the drivers of this process in the
Netherlands are housing corporations.
64
The rates of home ownership are a lot
less in continental Europe than in the UK
and US. In Sweden and the Netherlands
a lot of residential property is in the
hands of private or quasi private and very
highly regulated housing companies.
What is happening is that they have an
aging population and a competitive housing market and they want to be able to
offer an extra amenity to their customers
that is not only broadband but can claim
telemedicine and security monitoring.
There is a property company in the UK
called Land Securities that is positioning
itself to string fiber to all new housing
developments in the greater London area
where the government has committed
itself to encourage hosing development.
They will control the last mile and offer
a fiber connection almost as the feature
of a home. I think we are going to see
more developments along these lines as
one more source of pressure against the
incumbents.
But in places like Ireland it is going to be
a long tome before you see that level of
competition unless it happens in wireless
which is the other wildcard - whether it
is mesh or Wi-MAX or something proprietary like Flarion.
COOK Report: How would you sum
things up at this point?
Enck: It is a ball of confusion! I think
Skype has been an inspiration to watch.
I was lucky enough to stumble on it
a week or so after they launched and
started to write about it. I think some
people here thought I was crazy but
some other clients clearly grasped the
meaning of this from Day One. We are
talking here about institutional investors who have people’s pension money
at stake.
I think that everything we see from them
and everything being thrown at Skype
by want-to-be competitors is evidence
that it is a genuine force with validity
and staying power. The validity is best
described along the grounds of saying
that users simply love the product. You
plug it in and it just works.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
It seems to be engendering a different
kind of behavior and usage from people
than does traditional telephony. I think
at this point if you are out there trying
to sell a VoIP product on the basis of
it being simply cheaper PSTN quality
voice that you are on the wrong track.
COOK Report: I had no idea how true
those statements are until I actually tired
it, motivated in large part by David
Reed’s post to my list. By the way what
do you think of the May 19 2003 Viral
Communications paper by Reed and
Lippman?
Enck: Fantastic paper.
COOK Report: Do you agree then with
the premises?
Traditional Service
Providers Blindly Want
to Move PSTN Voice
and TV to IP Networks
Enck: Oh yes. Absolutely. I am very
bearish about the prospects for the traditional service providers. I am a full
100% believer in the dumb pipe as their
destiny. Given what is going on, I don’t
see how they can avoid it. I think their
track record of trying to reinvent and reposition their businesses so far has been
absolutely dismal.
I don’t think they possess the skill set to
do the things they need to do. A lot of
them seem to think they have the VoIP
question already ironed out already. So
the next thing they are going to do in Europe is charge down the path of recreating the television experience over broadband which I am not at all convinced that
people necessarily want.
I think those who say that a lot of what
has gone on in the last couple of years
with VoIP gateway manufacturers and
border session controllers is an effort to
recreate the PSTN in an IP world, when
in fact Skype is saying: “your PSTN
world is irrelevant we are going to give
customers things they cannot get in the
PSTN world.” They telcos are saying we
are going to go out and bring you the old
world but do it on demand.
The only ones who may have it right
so far are telecom Italia who have announced they are going to roll out a set
top box with a DSL modem, a hard drive
and a digital terrestrial TV tuner inside.
They are making use of what is already
there in Italy. They are not trying to
reinvent the wheel which I think is very
smart and is they way I have expected
things to go. But I think a lot of these
other guys are simply going to get fried.
65
Cable TV is a tough business. Why any
telco operator wants to enter another
world of pain is hard to understand.
COOK Report: Agreed. I am coming to
realize now that broadband is like a wellfertilized field on which you can grow
and experiment and do an incredible
amount of things. As long as you have an
open field out there, the old closed loop
networks can’t go anywhere unless government artificially extends their life.
Enck: Exactly and what you can say in
the case of the United States is that they
have done so. I think Europe is turning
into a very different picture.
COOK Report: And Japan is certainly
different. China and India will see broadband as a national resource not something to help old technologies maximize
profits.
Enck: Yes. But meanwhile in the US we
will likely see a major collision between
the interests of the municipal governments and those of the incumbents. In
Amsterdam what the municipal government is trying to do is stimulate economic development and not give people
cheaper web down loads. But meantime
in the United States it seems like a great
occasion to be a regulatory lobbyist.
Symposium Discussion January 15 to February 8 2005
How VoIP Mixes with Wireless, the Enterprise
and Other Markets Highlights
VoIP Peering
Architectures - Hard
Installations or More
Flexible Software Glue?
Raj Sharma: It may be useful to think of
IP telephony in the context of peering:
(i) carrier to carrier peering,
(ii) carrier to enterprise peering,
(iii) carrier to consumer peering.
Even in case of Skype, there is VoIP
peering, specifically with its SkypeOut
service, where Skype hands off traffic to
another VoIP carrier to terminate the call
to a traditional “‘black” phone. But let’s
say that all 6 billion people on the planet
are using VoIP and they have all discarded their traditional “black” phones,
does the need for peering go away? I will
submit to you that peering is required no
matter what - it is required every time
two networks which have different ownerships connect with each other. Along
with peering come all the other peering
agreements and arrangements such as
topology hiding, security, admission and
denial, settlements etc., etc.
Forster: Can you expand on this? What
value do these things deliver to end
users? What percent of the calls must
such a device be in the data path for the
VoIP data packets? What’s the typical
CAPEX per subscriber for these functions? I can see the need in a few cases in
the data plane where there is dissimilar
technology (e.g. no common CODEC in
the end points), and a few more in the
control plane (translation between different names spaces (Skype <-> E.164,
etc.) such that there is no direct interoperation.
Stastny: Even for that, peering will be
necessary, it will also be done by the
end-devices If you miss a video-codec,
you just download it now already. I am
using now the new beta of the Pulver
communicator providing me with both
SIP and Skype capability and it interworks with all IM versions.
I am just waiting for a PDA version and
then I have all my communications e. g.
on a Qtek 9090.
Forster: I have trouble seeing these
peering functions as long-term important
functions because the technology differences tend to reduce over time due to the
network effect, rather than stay strongly
different, or worse, continual emergence
of new variants.
In the past national interest in protecting local manufacturers was one of the
forces that preserved silly differences,
such as T-1 vs. E-1 framing, but I don’t
see that happening now.
Sharma: Now, will we be worried about
the same agreements and arrangements
that people have worried about in the old
traditional TDM world - some may be,
some may be not. However, a lot of this
has nothing to do with technology necessarily. Peering agreements and arrangements are normal business constructs
that various entities put in place as the
normal course of doing business.
Forster: I think an implicit assumption
in what you are saying is that the business models can support the expense of
negotiating and executing these agreements and deploying equipment required
to support these agreements, whereas the
alternative is to design the infrastructure
and end points such that the need for
these is minimized. In the past the cost
of all this was small compared to the
rest of the business, but IP telephony can
drive down the costs of operation enormously and it’s especially noticeable as
the voice service has been largely separated from the access network service
-- a typical subscriber pays $X for broadband Internet access, and then $Y for a
voice service, and Y<X. In some cases
with certain restrictions Y=0, but in any
case the separation of access from voice
66
service highlights the competition for
the voice service. We’ve argued about
various aspects of Skype, but I think no
one will argue that what they’ve built
is incredibly efficient -- very, very few
people required per thousand customers.
It just operates, with basically no operations staff.
So the challenge for these peering functions is to justify their expense.
Schulzrinne: The question is whether
VoIP requires special application-specific peering, beyond the already-occurring
IP-level peering at BGP level. Nobody is
arguing with the need for the latter. I’m
certainly not enamored with VoIP-specific peering - we don’t do email peering
or web peering, either.
COOK Report: I think Nextone has a
window of opportunity - (space of time
before the iceberg closes in). The Question is whether the window is six months
or two to three years?
And another thought occurs - if enterprises are having trouble making their
VoIP systems talk to each, it would seem
there is a business opportunity for someone to develop devices to make what
would not otherwise interoperate do so.
So you form a company, develop product and services. For some number of
months you have a viable business and
then OOPS - you aren’t viable anymore
so you disband. Hopefully for a while
you kept some people employed and
performed an important service. And
who knows - something weird happens
and you may be viable far longer than
you thought.
You would argue better to do it right in
the first place - fair enough.
In this globalized economy can anyone
even begin to tell what the best course
is for the various segments of IT and
Telecom? We each have our values and
according to different values we come up
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
with different answers. What then do IT
and Telecom decision makers and investors need to know? I would guess they
need to appreciate the complexity and
understand how much they don’t know.
Coluccio: I’m having some issues, probably internal ones, mostly, that I’ll have
to work out myself at some point, but
some also boil over into the real world,
as well, that I’d like to air.
Email hasn’t always been free of requiring peering fixes. I view VoIP’s placement on the Internet continuum today
where email might have been during the
early Eighties, when indeed it did require
a host (no pun) of gateway functions in
order for it to hop from one domain to
another. And this preceded commercial
exploitation. This didn’t stop email from
becoming the most used of all Internet
applications, and it won’t stop VoIP,
either.
What are we saying about the need to
bridge between dissimilar voice protocols if we simply ignore the matter
because it is unworthy, by whatever
measure, of pursuit? What happened to
the notion once voiced here that if you
can get your message across to the party
with whom you hope to communicate by
slamming railroad Morse with a hammer and anvil, then it’s “good enough”
if that’s all you’ve got at the moment to
do the job?
Would citizen Josephine be better served
if she is forced to wait for the real thing,
like Internet users in depressed areas who
are waiting for the RBOCs to eventually “get to their neighborhoods” before
receiving it, they get their first taste of
broadband? Enduring the ugliness of
kludge over IP is undoubtedly a better
solution than no solution at all, as demonstrated by its ability to have already
wreaked the effects of cannibalization
on the carrier industry, even prior to its
achieving singularity of form.
Voice inter-working remains one of the
few money making applications on the
‘Net. Even when it is no longer such, I
think it is a topic that will deserve more
attention than I’ve read here today.
Reed: Frank - I agree with you that
there will always be connectivity gaps
to be filled in by whatever means will
work. And often there are nice businesses solving such problems at low cost.
When there’s a river in the way, getting
people and goods across the river affords
lots of opportunities for ferries, submarines, bridge builders, tunnel builders,
airplanes, missiles, and dirigibles.
But “peering” implies a single answer,
and often it comes with the idea that the
first solution will capture rents forever.
In particular, peering is associated in my
mind with interconnection of *exclusive*
franchises, whether they are “corporate”
or “municipal” or ILECs. With the idea
that the government or management will
see it your way and sign a long-term deal
that locks out other solutions.
In contrast, connectivity gaps can be
filled by “a few lines of code” (well,
maybe a few hundred thousand) running
in a commodity blade server or a commodity router. And that hardware, and
most of the software, can be picked up
and reused for something entirely different.
There’s a huge difference between such
general purpose gap filling, bridging
and protocol translation between legacy
or competing service architectures (designed to be temporary until the industry
sorts that particular problem out in a
more elegant way), and a sustainable
high-growth business.
I’m in agreement with you that there is
always need for a gasket or some filler
where things come together; just suggesting that it’s important not to confuse
terminology that sounds very architecturally “hard” like “peering point” with soft
concepts like translation and glue.
Making too much of the problem is just
another version of George Gilder’s fantasy concept that 48V DC power will always be the optimal way to power communications gear, so Emerson Electric
is a certain winner. (Ever wonder why
5.0000 V DC is the standard for TTL
logic? I can tell you that it has nothing
to do with physics or chemistry or maxi67
mum speed or minimum energy; neither
is 48V anything more than a way to slow
the introduction of commodity computer
industry gear into the racks of telcos).
Coluccio: Thanks, David.
By the way, my use of the term “peering”
was in deference to its prior use upstream
by someone else, and I fully appreciate
your clarification as to its more generally
accepted use. I would use the term gateway or shim, depending on the problem,
so your point is well taken.
Speaking of usage behind the term “peering,” I just received this release from
Converge Digest:
---snip:
InfiniRoute Launches VoIP Peering
Service for Wireless Carriers
InfiniRoute Networks began offering a
VoIP peering service for Wireless Carriers. The company, which has been
offering a carrier-neutral Managed VoIP
Peering (MVP) service since last year,
now provides mobile carriers with the
ability to terminate and receive international traffic using VoIP. http://www.
infiniroute.com
InfiniRoute Networks Inc. was established in 2004 as the result of the merger between two private companies, IP
Deliver and Proficient Networks. Established in 2001, Proficient Networks
provided a platform that measures endto-end IP network performance, responds
quickly to automatically fix problems
and prevents network congestion. Established in 2002, IP Deliver provided
comprehensive VoIP network management services. IP Deliver’s Global VoIP
connectivity product will continue to be
offered as part of the company’s overall
solution.
Sharma: Interestingly enough InfiniRoute uses NexTone to offer VoIP peering
service. But let’s say that “VoIP peering”
is not the right terminology because
it has been used in the context of IP
peering, so let’s just call it some sort of
“boundary function.” And even when
there is no need to do any kind of VoIP
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
believe there may have been a connection between the two
somewhere along the line.
New Yorkʼs Broadband Gap
Coluccio: All, I’ve often remarked about how unusual it was
that there’s nary a hint of fiber to the home or node activity taking place anywhere in NY State, except, possibly, for the nodes
that some ILECs feed for DSL services. Except, maybe, somewhere in state Verizon may have recently earmarked a location
for its FTTP deployment, but I’m not sure where that is.
After following this space since the beginning of time I don’t
ever recall seeing mention of a fiber or extensive wireless build
taking place in the state. In fact, if one looks at a plot of the two
hundred or so FTTx deployments across the country, most of
those are squarely placed in the middle of the country’s heartland. This point is driven home especially well in the December
2004 issue of Broadband Properties Magazine, which has done a
rather complete survey of incumbent operator- municipality- and
independent company- rollouts, to date.
Today I was sent the URL below by the principal of a startup
cable TV company, and from the looks of the report that it points
to (“New York’s Broadband Gap”), New York City, itself, could
use some additional silica and wireless coverage in quite a few
of its neighborhoods and industrial park locations. I’ve not read
the entire report yet, and probably won’t until tomorrow, but I
thought I’d pass it along to the list at this time, just the same.
Note that all of the neighborhood locations cited in this report
are the same as those that were mentioned in the Daily News
article that I posted here two or three days ago, where Ron
Sege’s Tropos company was mentioned, which leads me to
protocol conversion, a number of networks are getting deployed with a VoIPspecific Boundary Element. So even if
this Boundary Element is not performing
“VoIP Peering,” it is providing useful
functions such as call admission control
(the e-mail analogy is spam control), topology hiding, efficient call routing and
CALEA. As long as VoIP is not a ”free”
application like e-mail, there will be a
need to do Least Call Routing which is
one of the things that a Boundary Element does. If and when voice becomes
free like e-mail, the Boundary Element
is likely to participate in some form of
efficient call routing given the real-time
requirements of VoIP. Whether and how
long the Boundary Element functionality
stays stand-alone or becomes part of the
router is up for debate.
Matson: Think about the truck starting
out on 5th Avenue in NYC making its
way to Boylston Street in Boston - what
“New York’s Broadband Gap” Prepared by Center for an
Urban Future December 2004 http://www.nycfuture.org/images_pdfs/pdfs/telecom.final.pdf
Who is CUF? From the back page of the report:
snip:
The Center for an Urban Future is a New York City-based
think tank that fuses journalistic reporting techniques with
traditional policy analysis to produce in-depth reports and
workable policy solutions on the critical issues facing cities.
For more information, visit our website, www.nycfuture.org.
To sign up for our monthly e-update, contact [email protected]
org or 212-479-3341. This report was written by Jonathan
Bowles with Tara Colton, edited by David Jason Fischer and
designed by Julia Reich. Special research assistance by Nick
Johnson.We also acknowledge the helpful contributions be
received from many people.
This report was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Additional program support was provided by the Bernard F. and
Alva B. Gimbel Foundation, the New York Community Trust,
the Taconic Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.
The Center for an Urban Future is a project of City Futures
Inc. City Futures Board of Directors: Andrew Reicher Mark
Winston Griffith, Marc Jahr, David Lebenstein, Ira Rubenstein, John Siegal, Karen Trella and Peter Williams.
are the peering arrangements between
the two street locations? I have yet to see
how in the case of IP telephony, there is
any fundamental difference. Now networks (i.e. cities) don’t require peering
arrangements - all the peering (if that’s
the appropriate word) is in the hands/
head of the traffic itself. What am I missing? (Other than an ”operator”!)
you been able to demonstrate the concept
really scales?
How Real Are Viral
Radios?
At the Media Lab, we are inventing ways
to build systems that scale by cooperative adaptation to the propagation environment, that need no infrastructure.
Retzer: I read the paper and did a little
looking around on the viral network/
radios concept. Sounds great. How successful have your demonstrations been to
date? Have you proven that the concept
scales? We were working on CDMAtype concepts in the Pentagon in the 80s.
As you begin to think it through you
realize that bandwidth is theoretically
infinite, however the net is limited by
processing capacity of each node. Have
68
Reed: Jere - the truly simple and cheap
viral radio network is a research agenda,
not a business plan, so I’m very hesitant
to predict deliverables. It’s important
not to confuse a clear view with a short
distance.
So what have we invented? Well, I’ve
been involved in filing 3 patents so far
on the viral radio ideas, one on an invention done before I joined the Media
Lab, and two after, and a couple more
are being prepared. Not trying to be coy,
but I can’t disclose the details because of
the way the Media Lab sponsor contracts
work - sponsors get first looks and first
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
chance to negotiate rights. (It’s a good
deal to join a Media Lab consortium or
the Communications Futures Program!)
The work involves both techniques based
on advanced software-defined radios that
have highly adaptable front-ends and
fancy DSPs, and techniques that can be
applied with mass-produced cheap radios
of the kind that cost $10 per unit today the former could be just as cheap, but the
volumes haven’t been there to drive the
learning curves, though the new GnuRadio Universal Software Radio Peripheral
is the next step in cost reduction on that
paradigm (first radios were $20,000 per
unit, USRPs under $500 per unit, ...).
We also have a small NSF contract, exploring the use of networks of software
radios to measure and adapt repeaters to
indoor and dense urban propagation as it
changes.
A couple of students have written and
published papers describing different approaches for cooperative physical layer
repeating.
Another student has been developing
the concepts and techniques associated
with “viral broadband” - to demonstrate
his hypothesis that cross-connects within
towns and neighborhoods and distribution of content into cheap local storage
provided by the users provides a richer
set of services that includes all “broadband”, but in a much more incremental
and organic economic process than traditional command and control central
service providers.
But as I said, this is all early stuff.
We aren’t the only people exploring the
technologies that will lead to “viral” infrastructures. But I think our long-term
vision is more clear - most of the other
folks are trying to adapt ideas like multiantenna systems, MIMO, ... into existing
legacy networks. Nothing wrong with
that, in fact it’s hugely synergistic.
Menard: While I too have a great deal
of appreciation for what the MIT Media
Lab is placing on this planet, including
open sourceware and MIT Rooftop, the
prospect of TV-Band 802.22-based viral
radios does seem about 3-5 years out. By
then we’ll all be well used to 26 mbps
over copper... can you do 26 mbps over
the air?
Strange Concepts of
Free Markets in the
Muni Network World
Coluccio; A point for Ron Sege: I’d
imagine that the report referenced above
should serve as a made-for-the-purpose
road map to opportunities for your organization. What did you think about
it? Has anyone else taken the time to go
through it?
I’d be interested in hearing of comparable
circumstances in other large inner-cities,
where I suspect similar conditions exist.
Once again we see evidence of the principles we’ve discussed here in the past
with regard to a potential reverse digital
divide occurring in our day. It is typified
by large cities receiving early generation
implementations of low-speed ADSL,
only to see, finally, after years of neglect,
rural areas and smaller towns starting
to step up to light speed rates and reinforced wireless platforms on their own,
or through the late but better than never
build outs by incumbent providers.
I’ve been asked by someone off-list the
following question, and was hoping you
could fill the gap:
“Does anyone have [a collection of] links
to incumbent position papers outlining in
detail what they don’t like about municipal networks and why?”
It would seem obvious, but one never
knows what could shake out of such a
collection.
In a similar way someone else offered
me the following argument on the Gilder list about why governments should
not get involved with networking, even
after local elections and referenda by the
people have endorsed them. It was in
response to the article below concerning
North Kansas City’s struggle with Time
Warner:
69
Time Warner Sues NKC http://makeashorterlink.com/?J3DE1214A
The reply (which is hardly essential
reading, but interesting for the logic
that it offers. I’ve found this and similar
inclinations to be representative of the
kind of thinking that exists in many parts,
especially from those who have experienced the benefits derived by having a
broadband connection in the home, oddly
enough. Funny how that works, eh?):
---begin reply:
Hi Frank---The Law Of Unintended
Consequences has yet to rear its ugly
head. For example, the purchasing power
of groups of municipalities who may
choose to create buying consortia could
yield disproportionate influence on the
choices of standards and suppliers. Not
all of these choices will be identical
to those that would have been yielded
by a free market. Much capital might
be wasted along the way, and superior
technological solutions might be abandoned. Additionally, we run the risk
of turning our brightest CEOs, venture
capitalists, and visionaries into glorified lobbyists. The social cost of such a
transformation would be enormous and
might far outweigh any benefits we get
from “jump-starting” the buildout. Those
are the kinds of outcomes that keep laissez-faire ideologues awake at night (OK,
not literally).
Read “Empires Of Light” by Jill Jonnes
for the fascinating story of how even a
freewheeling capitalist like Edison was
motivated to use the political process
rather than the market in order to build
public support for direct current, his own
vastly inferior distribution technology.
George Westinghouse and AC ultimately
prevailed, but not before an expensive,
drawn-out political and PR battle involving the exploitation of the horrors of the
electric chair that played more upon the
public’s emotional response to capital
punishment than upon market considerations. You may choose to view this
cautionary tale with its happy ending as
proof that even politics won’t stand in the
way of progress; I read it as a narrowly
dodged bullet involving gobs of unnecessarily wasted time and capital. […]
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
---end reply.
have at least one example of a rural city however, the RBOCs’ fiber initiatives are
that wanted a fiber POP but the ILEC the only sane way for them to proceed
Baller: Actually, it’s really easy to jump would not hear of it so they managed if they want to stay in the wireline busiinto the industry position-paper loop. All to get a competitor to build one - which ness, because the total cost of ownership
you have to do is read the latest industry instantly encouraged the incumbent to (TCO) of building and maintaining an
“study,” and it will cite all the prior ones build one as well. Comments? Do we re- optically provisioned network pales in
as “authority.” It get’s really amusing ally have more than anecdotal evidence the face of its far more expensive, over
when you know when something flat-out of municipal builds discouraging private time, copper counterpart. And to do nothwrong was introduced and you then see it investment? What is “bad” versus “good ing at all is not an alternative for them,
competition”?
either, since the burdens and limitations
quoted as gospel ever afterward.
of a copper only infrastructure today just
For example, a prominent attorney for Coluccio: Jere, I find myself interested won’t cut it. Therefore, the only soluthe cable industry once said in a confer- by what you stated, although I am not tion left for them to take - if they want
ence handout that the municipal utility of entirely sure who the actors are that you to remain wireline players - is to install
Scottsboro, Alabama, had gone to court refer to in your first sentence. When I put fiber, anyway.
to stop its competitors from charging on my stereo viewer on, your comments
competitive prices. In our oral presenta- are doubly intriguing to me because, The game of chicken you described,
tions, I called the attorney’s hand on this, either way, whether one inserts “incum- where the incumbent wouldn’t budge
noting that Scottsboro had not gone to bent” or “green fielder” in your first sen- until a competing entity gave them a
court, but had filed papers with the FCC tence, it yields interesting and similarly good enough reason to, is now one of
documenting that the incumbent was influential, yet different, results.
legions. Were it not for Teleport’s move
charging predatory prices over an exin 1984 to bring fiber to the businesstended period of time, and that the FCC Certainly, by the RBOCs taking the posi- es surrounding Wall Street, brokerages
had confirmed in its annual report on the tion they have by beginning to expand there would probably still be using their
status of competition in the cable indus- their reach of fiber into neighborhoods labyrinths of inter building pneumatic
try that Scottsboro was right. Neverthe- and homes, competition on the part of systems to send their message missiles
less, the attorney’s written presentation the cable cos goes up, accordingly, as to one another in order to execute trades
took on a life of its own. The Scottsboro we’ve seen, along with everyone else’s. and settlements.
canard was presented as fact in a “report” At the same time it has served to finally
by the Beacon Hill Institute, and the legitimize in the industry’s, as well as Retzer: Why surprised? It seems to be
Heartland Institute has now jumped on the general public’s, eye the matter of a recurrent primary argument by some
the bandwagon.
efficacy resulting from the spending of ILECs that they couldn’t possibly jusmoney on fiber builds. Thus, this tacit tify fielding system upgrades if they
I’m puzzled by the arguments quoted form of endorsement has re-opened the had competition, especially from any
above from the Gilder list -- Why is it pages of business plans that have been “government” entity. Isn’t that the raOK for the Bells to have a joint RFP collecting dust for eons, while the stone tionale behind their argument in PA for
for FTTP but wrong for municipalities walling and sometimes hijinks over what example?
to join in buying consortia, particularly was best to do had been disputed on an
consortia such as NCTC that include almost universal level with fiber always It is interesting to flip the problem over
scores of small private sector entities? previously receiving the short end of the and view it from the green-fielder’s viewHow does Edison’s (i.e., the private pipe, being regarded as nice to have, but point. If I’m right and competition is the
sector’s) alleged abuse of the political still a blue sky future that was beyond the surest way to spur incumbents to action,
but this places greenfielders at risk then it
process prove that municipalities should short reach of copper. ;)
may be that the surest method to get the
be barred from providing communications services and infrastructure?
While I’m at it, I think it needs to be incumbents to upgrade is for the public to
said that the dollar numbers they’ve used compete with them.
Retzer: Contrary to the notion that historically to represent the costs of fiber
FTTH deployed equals competition that builds have been artificially inflated over Baller: [to answer Jere Retzer’s quesdiscourages providers, I contend that time to give them the breathing room tion] Here are two excerpts from the
deploying fiber may be the best way to they’ve needed until now, and now, pro- FCC’s decision in the Missouri case,
encourage the incumbents to step up to ceeding only due to the emergence of which we challenged on other grounds:
the plate. Seems like there is nothing alternative sources of services in their
like the prospect of losing a market to midst, as presented by cable operators From the unanimous Commission opinmove comfortable incumbents out of and wireless alternatives that heretofore ion (footnotes omitted):
their comfort zone. How else could we have only been threats, but are today now
“10. While the legal authorities that we
explain the innovation and investment materializing as we speak.
must look to in this case compel us to
that began with Carterphone and the ATT
breakup decisions? Within Oregon, we Viewed through a slightly different angle, deny the Missouri Municipals’ petition,
70
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
we reiterate the Commission’s urging in
the Texas Preemption Order that states
refrain from enacting absolute prohibitions on the ability of municipal entities
to provide telecommunications service.
The Commission has found that municipally owned utilities and other utilities have the potential to become major
competitors in the telecommunications
industry. In particular, we believe that
the entry of municipally owned utilities
can further the goal of the 1996 Act to
bring the benefits of competition to all
Americans, particularly those who live in
small or rural communities. We emphasized this fact in our August 2000 report
on the deployment of advanced services.
In that report, we presented a case study
detailing advanced services deployment
in Muscatine, Iowa where the municipal
utility competes with other carriers to
provide advanced services to residential
customers.
“We noted that the degree of advanced
services deployment in Muscatine, which
has three facilities based, high speed service providers for residential customers,
including the municipal utility, is due in
part to Iowa’s legal environment, which
has encouraged municipal involvement
in the deployment of advanced telecommunications services. Our case study
is consistent with APPA’s statements in
the record here that municipally owned
utilities are well positioned to compete
in rural areas, particularly for advanced
telecommunications services, because
they have facilities in place now that can
support the provision of voice, video,
and data services either by the utilities,
themselves, or by other providers that
can lease the facilities. We are also encouraged by the comments of Missouri
River, which states that it is comprised
of municipally owned utilities that serve
communities with populations of less
than five thousand people in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota,
and that its members have installed fiber
optic facilities that they could use to
provide telecommunications services in
markets where there are currently no
competitive alternatives.”
From the separate statement of Commissioner Ness (footnotes omitted):
“In the Telecommunications Act, Congress recognized the competitive potential of utilities and, in section 253,
sought to prevent complete prohibitions
on utility entry into telecommunications.
The courts have concluded, however,
that section 253 is not sufficiently clear
to permit interference with the relationship between a state and its political
subdivisions. “Nevertheless, municipal
utilities can serve as key players in the
effort to bring competition to communities across the country, especially those
in rural areas. In our recent report on the
deployment of advanced telecommunications services, we examined Muscatine,
Iowa, a town in which the municipal
utility was the first to deploy broadband facilities to residential consumers.
The telephone and cable companies in
Muscatine responded to this competition by deploying their own high speed
services, thereby offering consumers a
choice of three broadband providers. It
is unfortunate that consumers in Missouri will not benefit from the additional
competition that their neighbors to the
north enjoy. “I urge states to adopt less
restrictive measures, such as separation
or nondiscrimination requirements, to
protect utility ratepayers or address any
perceived unfair competitive advantages.
Allowing the competitive marketplace to
work will facilitate the type of innovation
and investment envisioned by Congress
when it enacted the Telecommunications
Act. I join with Chairman Kennard and
Commissioner Tristani in urging Congress to clarify its intention in section
253 with respect to prohibitions on entry
by municipal utilities.”
Coluccio: Jim, thanks for both replies to
my request on the matter of incumbent
position papers. The second one concerning the MO case was quite illuminating.
And your example of the Joint RFPs for
DSL and FTTP caused me to wonder why
I didn’t think of that. It fits superbly.
I suppose what I was in search of is the
stance that the incumbents are taking as
they approach their lawyers and lobbyists with instructions that include justifications behind their stated positions.
“Here’s what we see the issues being,
what our position is as to why we think
71
there is an unfair playing field being imposed upon us, the near term sacrifices
being worth the long time wait, why cutting back on staff is essential and therefore the time to repairs on weekends are
naturally going to be excessive.”
That sort of thing, if such exists. But in
retrospect, I suppose that is all held very
close to the vest or available only in oral
form, mouth to ear, but thanks for the
replies just the same.
Google Wants Dark
Fiber
On January 17 Coluccio: Take a look
at: http://news.com.com/Google+wan
ts+dark+fiber/2100-1034_3-5537392.
html?tag=sas.email
Job listing spotlights vague plan to develop global fiber backbone. But why?
”Google wants ‘dark fiber’” By Evan
Hansen
“Is Google planning to build a global
fiber-optic network from scratch? And,
if so, why? “
“The question has cropped up in light of
a recent job posting on the search engine
giant’s Web site seeking experts in the
field.”
“Google is looking for Strategic Negotiator candidates with experience
in...(i)dentification, selection, and negotiation of dark fiber contracts both in
metropolitan areas and over long distances as part of development of a global
backbone network,” the posting reads in
part.” [Snip]
Peter Cohen: Couple of thoughts here.
Google’s strategy and deployment is
such that they are interested in reaching
as many destinations, both corporate for
customer base and network for peering
as possible. There are looser networks
that will peer with Google despite ratios,
given their reach, or saving costs on their
upstream to reach Google (win-win situation). There are others that have stated
such policies as you need your own backbone, customer base, etc... in various
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
places and irrelevant of ratios, Google
may get some of those by expansion in
particular areas or countries.
The other option is that Google has
some grand scheme that this metro net is
needed for in deploying a new product or
service. Could be something like Akamai
for distribution of content that is cached,
cachable, Ca$hable!.
Schulzrinne: How about the simple, but
far less fun, motivation that they might
want to interconnect their various data
centers more cheaply?
Coluccio: That could be taken in a way
similar to how municipalities start out
by wiring their muni buildings, first,
and then gradually pursue, through a
series of phased network extensions,
enterprises and residences later on. Or it
could be nothing at all, as I remind myself that this “tip” came from a bulletin
board from a Light Reading subscriber.
Although it’s entirely logical that, like
other enterprises who can justify a critical mass, Googie should seek to optimize
on their backbone costs, as well.
Giving it further thought, though, after
witnessing their rolling out storage and
mail offerings over the past year, it’s
clear that this company is aspiring to
more than a librarian’s status on the ‘Net,
so the prospect that they’d be seeking
direct plumbing to NAPs and to larger
enterprise institutions, directly (if you
extrapolate) for whatever reasons, at
first, is not far fetched.
Stop and consider for a moment of the
negative growth impact - as measured by
shift and lost future opportunities - this
would have on a bean counter’s account
of the volume of traffic traversing the
‘Net versus those of private shunts at
a lower layer in the stack, once an application such as Google’s and its nowancillary but potentially future-dominant
services from, a bandwidth consumption
perspective, have shifted to a “customerowned” or a “private backbone” framework.
Retzer: I find that hard to swallow.
Google benefits as much or more than
any company from a full interconnected
network. Just because they are thinking
about acquiring their own high-speed
links in no way implies they would remove access to their content and services. Consider that Google is continuously
inventing new services and that their
popularity stems at least in part from the
high speed as well as quality of response
they give users and it is small wonder
they are interested in fiber. Google operates in several languages and countries
now - the Internet is far less US-centric
than it was. One service alone, offering
GB e-mail storage for GMail may be
sufficient to justify the links.
Coluccio: With respect to the prospect of
a company like Google’s building their
own infrastructure and taking a slice of
IP traffic off the open Internet along with
it, Jere Retzer wrote:
“I find that hard to swallow. Google benefits as much or more than any company
from a full interconnected network. Just
because they are thinking about acquiring their own high-speed links in no way
implies they would remove access to
their content and services.”
Gill: I agree.
Coluccio: True, but that is not what
I was getting at. Google itself or any
other like it would always have a desire
to extend their content and services to
users, whether those users are large enterprises or consumers, but such does not
*always* require what has now become
regarded as access through one-on-one
connections with them. Take for example
how large firms now access carrier hotels and collocation sites on their own,
by virtue of lambda directs they execute
through their own dark fibers, which
they rent from fibercos or build on their
own.
Can you envisage a Google cutting deals
with the Merrill Lynches and GMs of the
world, heck, with any enterprise for that
matter, whereby Layer 1/2 piping to their
data centers and communications center
avails to end users the same content
and services as those companies’ users
would otherwise have to search out over
the Web? Think of it as a drop shipment
in bulk capacity form (daily uploads to
72
client caches?), if you will. A collateral
benefit of this could even be seen in the
heightening of security, too, as well as
offloading of traffic from main access
router ports to the Web, where business
as usual is conducted.
Gill: The problem is that ports cost
money. For a few tens of critical suppliers, sure. However, it doesn’t scale
to several thousand such. Building and
maintaining a fiber infrastructure that
homeruns to the customer base costs
money. You want to get the benefit
of amortizing your OPEX and CAPEX
across as many connections as possible
over the same pipe.
Coluccio: Looking forward, I believe
we’ll see more of this type of WWW bypass situation unfolding where it makes
sense, which, if not done identically to
what I’ve just described above, then in
some similar form. Such capabilities will
be enabled cost effectively through the
inherent abilities and economics afforded by optical switching, when done for
the purpose of creating quasi-permanent
virtual links to SPs at Layer 1/2 from
colocated network elements owned by
end users in the same or colos, or even
between virtual colocation centers.
Gill: This looks good on paper. Places
where rubber meets the road, not so
much. With the rate of current trouble
tickets on our pipes, there will be a
full time department just managing and
troubleshooting the network. This is not
Google’s core functionality.
Coluccio: There is always the other way
out by using a gateway built for the purpose, as an alternative that would allow
the accessing of the WWW directly,
and then crawling over to the targeted
Google or cache site, as is normally
done. And while I view the eventualities
I cited above as inevitable, I’m only stating them as my interpretation of a trajectory that’s already in motion, and not
from an ideological slant. I hope that that
was a sufficient amount of CO2 to douse
any nascent flames that might have been
smoldering. ;)
And if Google currently operates using
several languages now for the purpose of
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
mass customization, and seeks through
further market targeting to entice additional business through a narrower
approach to customized products, then
think what having a captive usership on
the other end of a dedicated pipe might
portend for their marketing potential
down the line, sans the overhead of much
other peoples’ services and gunk.
Gill: Or license their software and run
it in the customer datacenter, instead of
providing pipe.
Cohen: Ooh. I forgot one thing. The guy
in charge of infrastructure to some extent
at Google was at Yahoo before that. He
had plans there to build Yahoo a global
network of some sort and probably took
that plan with him.
Gill: Precisely. There isn’t a quantum
jump between “100% transit in one location” to “global backbone.” At some
point, it makes more sense to gradually
build out the backbone like a large ISP
and run that between your major data
centers, and to peering locations. Its a
purely numbers play. AOL did something
very similar to this, gradually moving
from a few transit points to a global
backbone with no transit.
St. Arnaud: I suspect the reason that
Google may want dark fiber is the same
economic pressures that are driving
many media companies to reduce Internet transit fees by locating services at
major carrier hotels around the country.
Internet transit pricing seriously penalizes organizations that have large
asymmetric data flows such as film and
multimedia companies. Equinix specializes in the business of hosting these
companies servers at various major
nodes throughout the US, so that these
companies can directly connect to Tier 2
and Tier 3 ISPs and avoid transmit fees
from Tier 1 ISPs.
Bill Norton at Equinix has written several good papers showing the economic
cost savings of this type of business
model.
Of course, these organizations still have
to connect to these server hubs and this is
where dark fiber comes in.
Coluccio: Thanks, folks, for some great
replies to my hypothesis and troublesome predictions.
Google as an Example
of When to Route
Versus When to Switch
Coluccio: I would hope that we keep in
mind here that although the name Google
presents itself, as the article noted, because of its mention on a Light Reading
bulletin board, the same principle might
apply to others, and not necessarily even
to Google, itself. But it was interesting to
read some posts that suggested it might
actually be them. The Equinix model, if
inclusive of end user organizations on an
equal footing with SPs and content providers, would allow for much the same
effect as I outlined upstream.
Dumb Question: Does Equinix currently
treat user organizations on an equal footing with service providers, when the user
pipes itself to one of the Equinix centers?
I’ve lost track, but at one time, I believe,
that they did not, since they claimed it
would compromise their allegiance to
their best customers’ needs.
Now to look at it a little differently - and
with regard to a large content provider
doing what I suggested in my previous
post on this subject,
Vijay stated: “The problem is that ports
cost money. For a few tens of critical
suppliers, sure. However, it doesn’t scale
to several thousand such.”
Frank’s reply: Good point, except I qualified this by stating that handoffs and
peering would likely take place in colos
and carrier hotels, where large enterprises now make their presence known either
directly or by virtue of lambda hops made
possible over an AboveNet or L3, or others’ interconnected lambdas that are split
off at the customer site and beamed to
the colo in question over special arrangements, Which aren’t so special anymore,
and becoming commonplace for the very
largest users.
73
The fiber company, in turn, has fiber
routes going to where it needs to be to
satisfy the needs that I cited. Where this
was once the sole province of Fortune
50s in the past, it is easily attainable by
smaller companies who have dark fiber
access in their fabric, and will be commonplace for the 1000s, soon, who are
situated within reach, not to mention
those of educational and research entities.
It’s interesting to consider the tradeoffs.
Colo and carrier hotel distances today
are accommodated with short- and very
short reach, or VSR, optics, or even over
copper patches using Cat 6 for GigE and
soon even 10GigE speeds at reduced
distances, in some qualifying cases, Each
of these options costs far less than the
ports associated with the rigmarole of
provisioning additional physical access
plumbing at the customers’ snail locations and their attendant monthly recurring costs for rental.
And then there is always the Ethernet
peering potential via the electrical interface that can be had at the colo or meet
point, if optics become an issue either
due to distance-port-cost tradeoffs, or
availability. From a practical and imminent perspective, you’re probably right
for the larger number of even very big
enterprises, though, at least at the present time.
But I tend to look out 18 to 24 months
and in that case what I’ve stated is not
far fetched from a trending viewpoint. I
appreciate your input and those of others
on this topic very much, nonetheless.
Thanks.
Earlier Bill St. Arnaud stated: “Of
course, these organizations still have to
connect to these server hubs and this is
where dark fiber comes in.”
To expand on a related one of your
points, Bill, and to pick up where I left
off with Vijay about enterprises seeking
similar peering and transit capabilities although not exactly the same - as those
of the ISPs and BBs:
I may have mentioned this account here
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
before, or on some other list, not sure. If
it looks too familiar I won’t be offended
to hear “next” being clicked throughout
the ether.
A large client of mine signed onto a large
parcel of property that was out of state
about five years ago, and I was commissioned to do the outline for its macro
architectural statement for what amounts
to being a campus design. This included
the base buildings to the WAN and ISP
worlds, and most of the innards as they
related to a very large vendor’s then socalled “New World” architecture. From
there, others were assigned their appropriate pieces and life went on.
At an early stage brainstorming session
I suggested that, in addition to the other
five dominant facilities-based providers’
fiber routes, the client should attach to a
dominant colocation site in NY City for
the purpose of meeting service providers
at the colo’s “meet me” points to become
a part of its “bandwidth pool.” I made the
mistake at that time of calling it a bandwidth pooling point. Recall the expression, bandwidth pooling point?
Anyway, nary a single citizen in the
room knew what I was talking about,
and with fifty people sitting around the
horseshoe all looking you in the eye at
the same time, that can be a very lonely
feeling. After some discussion, which
took a couple of weeks in conveying the
concept adequately, the concept became
clear, but the defaults had already been
set in motion, which you can read as, no
one wanted to be confused with facts at
that point in time.
As the project was nearing completion
in 2003 I learned that MFN had just attached this client to the same colo I had
suggested three years earlier. They also
built out about 8,000 sq. ft. of cage area
for both production and development
server farms under the same roof.. This
has saved them over the past year or so
très beaucoup de dollars, due to the obvious improved methods of interconnect
allowed by close-proximity handoffs to
its service providers and to other locations within their own customer-owned
fiber optic based MAN.
Previously, the client was using six proprietary, interlocking OC-48 SONET
rings to achieve a fraction of what they
are capable of carrying today, at a much
higher cost, not to mention the added
aggravation of managing an increasingly
IP world through SONET orifices. To a
large extent the existence of ILEC central offices, for this customer, at least,
became a superfluous proposition for the
purpose of reaching their highest capacity needs, if not potentially detrimental to
their overall mission.
So, as you can see, even when this form
of solution was advised to the very largest of banks only three years ago, it was
shunned. The evolutionary path for them
to awaken to the reality of the approach
was 24 months. So, I guess I should have
waited the 18 to 24 months I spoke of
earlier, and then I wouldn’t have felt so
alone in that u-shaped conference room,
way back when.
Google VoIP
Stastny: Another idea why Google may
want dark fiber is on Tom Keatings
Blog
http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/VoIP/VoIP-blog/google-VoIP.asp
Schulzrinne: Calling this idle speculation would give it too much credibility.
Unless they plan to supply their yellow
page business customers with fiber or
run fiber to residences, none of these
VoIP calls would ever touch their network. They’d only make money if they
became another run-of-the-mill Tier-1
ISP, of which there is not exactly a shortage. Some of these have gone through
the Chapter 11 rinse cycle, so their
former stock holders (and now wallpaper holders) have paid for their capital
expenses.
Stastny: Of course Henning is correct
that VoIP calls from the end-user clicking on the link, but on one hand they may
want to connect the other side.
On the other hand the idea of Google as
ISP may not be too far-fetched: Think
about YahooBB in Japan and Fastweb
in Italy (providing FTTH in all bigger
Italian cities between 50 to 100 Euro/
month).
The 100 Euro provides you with at least
10MB and a set-top box containing a
video-cam for real-time video communications from home. Italians like to
participate in TV-shows interactively
Wetzel: That’s funny, instead of having
access providers that desperately want
to provide content with the hope of making money with it, to compensate the
loss they experience in selling low cost
accesses, we may see content providers
which will provide accesses to end users
and which will make money with both.
Coluccio: It sounds similar to, but not
exactly, the evolution of the cable TV
cartel. Oops... did I write ‘cartel’? Of
course, I meant to write “industry.”
Stastny: Tom Keating was right:
see: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1454225,00.html
Citation: Mr Hewitt said that a Google
telephone service could be made to link
with the Google search engine, which
already conducts half of all internet inquiries made around the world. A surfer
looking for a clothes retailer could simply find the web site and click on the
screen to speak to the shop.
See the following quote: Google gears
up for a free-phone challenge to BT by
Elizabeth Judge, Telecoms Correspondent http://images.thetimes.co.uk/images/trans.gif GOOGLE revolutionized the
internet. Now it is hoping to do the same
with our phones.
The company behind the US-based Internet search engine looks set to launch a
free telephone service that links users via
a broadband Internet connection using a
headset and home computer.
The technology that will enable Google
to move in on the market has been around
for some time. Software by the LondonContined p. 76
74
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
Millimeter Wireless Links
services to service providers, financial institutions, enterprises
and government agencies.
It appears that it’s getting easier with time to establish wireless links that possess fiber like speeds, as Gigabeam has
done with its 1Gbps millimeter radio system. The story
below about this firm and Stealth Communications, a VoIP
service provider, is a fairly impressive, if you think about
it.
GigaBeam anticipates installation of the first Wi-Fiber GigE
link for Stealth in the current quarter, providing high speed
connectivity of one Gigabit-per-second across the Hudson
River between a Stealth customer’s data center in Jersey City,
NJ and Stealth’s Manhattan access point at 60 Hudson St., New
York, NY. One Gigabit-per-second is the equivalent of 647 T1
The ability to drop ship an antenna and its associated 1 Gbps lines or 1,000 DSL connections.
millimeter-based radio system on a rooftop or window sill
anywhere there is line of sight from a hub location, and then Lou Slaughter, Chairman and CEO of GigaBeam Corporation
disrupt or otherwise supplant the local telephony operator, stated, “GigaBeam’s ultra high speed wireless fiber technology
is now upon us. Terabeam once portended to be able to this is an ideal solution enabling Stealth to provide a high speed
through the use of its free space optical systems at one time, connection between customer locations and Stealth network
but for reasons not germane to this post, they didn’t. Giga- access points.” Until now, Stealth has relied on traditional fiber
beam and others, however, appear ready to deploy in ways optic cables to connect its customers and Stealth locations
that give the sense of being more secure, and probably are, together.
during times of inclement weather, hence will likely succeed
where others did not. I believe we’ll see many variations of With GigaBeam’s solution, Stealth customers will be able to
the scenario painted below, both for providing dedicated ac- bypass local infrastructure and other right-of-way obstacles
cess, and in an ancillary way in which high capacity systems that prevent quick and cost-effective high speed connections
such as these, which will likely support more backhaul for using traditional physical fiber. “The initial link highlights
hot spots and meshed nets, thus fostering ad hoc alternatives, GigaBeam’s significant advantages over traditional fiber for
as well. The impact implied for data solutions should be- primary and redundant fiber speed connections,” Slaughter
come obvious as you read through the release. Do you sup- added.
pose that an ILEC might attempt to use the same approach
at some point, in order to thwart encroachment from such GigaBeam’s Wi-Fiber technology is not only expected to restartups as these in the future? Dare I ask about a municipal- duce costs and provide additional levels of access redundancy,
but it is also expected to improve network performance by reity, or a utility, the same?
ducing network access latency by as much as 30% or more. The
first link will be implemented in Stealth’s innovative Financial
GigaBeam, Stealth Expand VoIP 01.17.05
Extranet which will enhance performance and reduce latency
HERNDON, Va. -- GigaBeam Corporation (OTC Bulletin for the exchange of traffic among its members.
Board: GGBM - message board), announces an agreement
with Stealth Communications(R) for installation of its ultra Shrihari Pandit, CEO and founder of Stealth Communications
said, “Using GigaBeam’s Wi-Fiber wireless fiber solution, we
high speed Wi-Fiber(SM),(TM) wireless fiber solution.
can now address the demands of a much broader market. Now,
GigaBeam’s Wi-Fiber provides communications access with with a direct fiber-speed wireless Wi-Fiber Ethernet circuit,
the capacity of fiber but with significantly less latency than our customers can connect to our unique portfolio of services,
fiber to enhance Stealth’s unique communications services including Stealth’s Financial Extranet and The Voice Peering
offerings. Stealth is New York City’s largest Internet gate- Fabric(TM). The GigaBeam-Stealth solution provides high
way and offers Internet & Ethernet access, VoIP, and data performance, low cost access without the expense of running
physical fiber, and allows bypass of local infrastructure.”
SIP or Skype. Distributed has always been best.
Peer–to-Peer SIP
On January 21 Stastny: The following information was distributed via the sipping mailing list.
Jennings: David Bryan and I have submitted an draft of
some early ideas on P2P with SIP. Until it shows up in the
repository, you can find it at http://p2psip.org/
Roberts: This SIP approach is how it should work! Hopefully the world will convert. It is a better technique than today’s
75
David Reed: Larry captured my reaction perfectly!
This could be big if adoption becomes viral (but if it becomes yet
another “what’s the business model” debate among incumbents
saying “after you, no after you”, it will die). So the question is
what edge-based marketplace will use it and become the driver?
(Something cool and appealing, like Quake, could do it).
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
New Push for Wireless
Mayors see the perfect political package: They get to address
economic development, digital divide, public safety, and more
Retzer: New push for wireless access by Qwest and others. broadband access and lower prices. All with one low-cost investment in infrastructure that non-incumbents are increasingly
Front page of today’s WSJ.
willing to fund (see below). See Philly Mayor Street’s address
Alex Goldman: It proclaims “Dual Mode a Step Closer to this week to the National League of Cities.
Reality “
Unbundled local loops keep getting more expensive so the
“Companies are ironing out the final wrinkles in technology lesser-incumbents like Earthlink, AOL, Sprint, MCI are more
anxious than ever to promote alternatives.
that will allow cell phone subscribers to use IP networks.”
http://www.isp-planet.com/fixed_wireless/technology/2005/ Verizon made a big tactical blunder by going after Philadelphia
as they did. They simply called attention to the power of the new
kineto_uma.html
technology and galvanized more municipalities into action.
My understanding is that Kineto is a relatively small company that could win big time through the UMA relationships
it has with several major carriers. I’ll have a follow up article
on Monday, about a conversation with Monica Paolini of
http://www.senzafiliconsulting.com and her latest UMA
research.
Intel has been promoting WiMAX heavily as a fast, low cost,
simple alternative last mile. Non-incumbents like the messages
but since WiMAX is not available and metro Wi-Fi mesh is, they
are using it now.
I think this phenomenon has legs. Cable companies are looking
By which I meant to say that today and this week seem to be at this, as are large retailers, both to pick up more customers and
leverage large backbones they already have. Maybe Google,
quite the wireless IP week. A trend. Why now?
too??
Sege: Because: At least 125 cities in the US are doing it
today and the technology (metro Wi-Fi mesh, etc.) works and
benefits are becoming apparent. Chaska, MN now has 2,500
users out of 8,500 homes, paying $16/month for an average
1.5Mbps throughput. No net churn since billing began in the
fall.
based company, Skype, has been downloaded nearly 54 million times around
the world but no large telecommunication firms have properly exploited it.
BT, which connects seven out of ten British households, has developed its own
Internet-telephone service. However, the
telephone giant, which has the most to
lose if the new technology takes off, has
been reluctant to promote it heavily.
Julian Hewitt, senior partner at Ovum, a
telecoms consultancy, said: “From a telecoms perspective there is a big appeal in
the fact that Google is a search operation
- and of course the Google brand is a
huge draw.”
Mr Hewitt said that a Google telephone
service could be made to link with the
Google search engine, which already
conducts half of all internet inquiries
made around the world. A surfer looking
for a clothes retailer could simply find
Sandel: Hi Ron, Would you happen to have a pointer to Philly
Mayor Street’s address this week to the National League of Cities?
Sege: http://www.broadcasturban.net/webcast/uscm2005/mon_
session.html
the web site and click on the screen to
speak to the shop.
The basic cost of making calls across the
Internet is almost nil. The real cost is in
developing the software; after that, the
service exploits available Internet capacity. However, charging does become
necessary to link internet calls with the
traditional phone network.
In addition, the sound quality of calls
across the Internet can be poor and the
connections can be less reliable.
A recent job advert by Google’s on its
website calls for a “strategic negotiator”
to help the company to provide a “global
backbone network” - a high-capacity
international infrastructure.
By investing in capacity, Google could
circumvent the problems of quality and
reliability and guarantee better service.
76
Although Google is reluctant to talk
about its plans, the logical use of such
a network would be to help to support
a new telephone service. The company
would buy capacity cheaply, by taking
up slack capacity left behind when the
internet bubble collapsed in 2001.
Around the world, thousands of miles of
fibre-optic cable remain unused because
the amount of speculative development
vastly exceeded demand. Such capacity
would be available at rock-bottom prices
today.
Elsewhere in the world, using the internet to make phone calls has caught
on more quickly. In Japan 10 per cent
of households already use the so-called
“voice over internet protocol” and an
internet service offered by Softband has
4.4 million subscribers. Its growth has
depressed revenues of the local telecom
group, NTT.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
In the US, a company called Vonage
offers customers unlimited calls each
month for as little as $24 (less than
£13).
Big companies and multinationals that
make huge numbers of long-distance
calls are also increasingly switching to
internet calls to try to slash their bills.
Google, which was founded in 1996,
built its business from scratch by offering
a fast, reliable and free Internet search. It
gradually transformed into a highly profitable company by offering commercial
services, including sponsored web links.
Its most up-to-date figures show that, in
the first nine months of 2004, Google
made a profit of $195 million on revenues of $2.1 billion.
AT&T Looks Beyond
“Number, Please”
Coluccio: Interesting headline. I wonder
which “number” the company will be
referring to, by the time it transformed
itself into a new being ;)
AT&T Looks Beyond “Number, Please,”
Ken Belson January 22, 2005 “For a
century, AT&T was known as America’s premier phone company. If Hossein
Eslambolchi has his way, that label will
go the way of the dodo bird.
As chief technology and chief information officer, Mr. Eslambolchi is the
technological strategist behind AT&T’s
ambitious turnaround plan to become a
data transmission company selling an
array of software products like network
security systems - with phone calls being
just one of many digital services.
Indeed, for the first time, voice calls
generated less than half of the revenue
in AT&T’s corporate business group in
2004.
A few years ago, this approach was heresy at AT&T, where connecting calls was
the cornerstone of the former monopoly’s
business. But with falling prices, growing competition and cheap new Internet
phone services from start-up companies,
AT&T’s future depends more than ever
on vigorous cost-cutting and focusing on
its worldwide data network.
“There is a sense of urgency,” Mr. Eslambolchi said. “We have no other alternative. We have to do this to survive.”
The strategic shift was evident in the
company’s quarterly earnings. The company said Thursday that profits jumped
84 percent in the fourth quarter, to $625
million, beating Wall Street’s estimates,
thanks primarily to cost-cutting efforts.
AT&T eliminated 23 percent of its work
force last year and has automated large
parts of its operations.
The cost cuts, however, only slowed
the effects of a price war that drove the
company’s revenue down 10.2 percent,
to $7.3 billion, in the quarter. The worst
is far from over. The company expects
sales to decline another 15 percent this
year.
The way to stem the slide, Mr. Eslambolchi contends, is to merge the hundreds
of computer systems AT&T created over
the years. With phone calls and data now
transmitted increasingly via high-speed
data lines using Internet protocol, the
need for multiple systems is also diminishing.
By reducing the number of networks and
systems, Mr. Eslambolchi has been able
to reduce the size of AT&T’s once gargantuan work force and strip away layers
of management.
That is easier said than done in a company filled with internal fiefs and unaccustomed to responding quickly to market
demands. Mr. Eslambolchi compared the
company to the United Nations, where a
multitude of managers have veto power.
“The biggest challenge is not the technology,” he said, “but being able to change
the culture.” [Big Snip]
For all the turmoil that years of declining
sales have caused, AT&T’s workers are
just getting Mr. Eslambolchi’s message.
Since 2002, he has dismantled 381 of
the company’s 800 computer systems
designed for specific products and ser77
vices; he said he expected to have just
20 by 2007.
AT&T is also using more software to
route more of its phone and Internet
traffic. By getting rid of bulky circuit
switches, the company is significantly
reducing costs connected to operating
old-fashioned switching stations.
Mr. Eslambolchi is also pushing engineers in Bell Labs to develop software
for computer firewalls and security systems that detect viruses days before they
attack a corporate client’s servers.
These kinds of advanced services grew
13 percent last year and now make up
10 percent of sales in AT&T’s business
group.
[snip]
The Web site handles about 2.6 million
transactions a month. Billing problems
for business customers have fallen to 3
percent from 11 percent and the customer
support center now handles 80 percent
fewer calls.
By automating so many tasks, the number of customer service and network
jobs has plunged to 22,000, from 55,000
in 1999. In all, AT&T has reduced $2.5
billion in operating expenses since 2002.
[snip]
Verizon Communications and SBC Communications, in addition to aggressively
pursuing AT&T’s remaining residential
customers, are also aiming to lure AT&T’s
business customers with discounted services. The Bells’ efforts on this front
have quelled market speculation at least
for now that one of them might acquire
AT&T or another long-distance carrier.
[snip]
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/22/
business/22phone.html?ex=1107439672
&ei=1&en=8de63670cb94e4e8
Odlyzko: Well, Hossein Eslambolchi,
the chap featured in the article, is famous
(or notorious, depending on your point
of view) for his “concept of one and
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
concept of zero.” We’ll see where AT&T
ends up. The idea to get into services is
an obvious and overdue one, the main
question is whether there is enough time
for AT&T to accomplish this. My guess
was that this would work out only if
AT&T, MCI, and Sprint were combined,
to lessen some of the price-cutting that is
driving them into the ground, but I don’t
see anyone able to do it (and with the
recent Spring-Nextel deal, it would be
hard to arrange).
Coluccio: It’s odd that you should mention Sprint-Nextel here, because AT&T
is in the process, as we speak, of becoming a Mobile Virtual Network Operator
(MVNO) taking partitions off of Sprint’s
wireless platforms, effectively becoming
a reseller of Sprint’s wireless services.
When Seven-Eleven does this they are
called a MVNO. And in my book, that
is exactly what AT&T has committed to
doing, as well.
That sounds to me like they’re still trying
to garner revenues from voice minutes.
Doesn’t it sound that way to you? The
company has always been good for making a splash far in advance of perceived
threats. As when, Tom Evslin, then recently brought on by AT&T from Microsoft during the mid-nineties proclaimed
that if anyone was going to cannibalize
AT&T’s voice service revenues with IP
Telephony (what was then called variously IP Phone, or simply I-Phone), then
it would be AT&T itself that was going
to do it, and no one else. They’ve had ten
years to inflict said cannibalization on
themselves. Have they succeeded yet?
Odlyzko: Yes, AT&T is planning to become a MVNO, but this is largely in
order to be able to offer a complete bundle of services to its customers. There is
not much money in being a reseller of
somebody else’s service in general.
There is nothing wrong with trying to
garner revenues from voice minutes.
My argument has been for years that
the wireless industry has been negligent
in ignoring the opportunities in more
wireless voice and higher quality voice.
Once we get to real ubiquitous and inexpensive wireless broadband state, that
opportunity will be gone (as it is pretty
much gone in the wireline area), but right
now it can still be exploited, but these
guys are still mesmerized by content.
AT&T has done very little cannibalization through IP Telephony.
Coluccio: I can’t say I disagree with you
on any single point, although I maintain
a view that voice will be reduced along
with email at some point, taking it out
of the running as a means to enjoy appreciable revenue. At least as it applies
to the consumer markets, if not a great
swatch of enterprise, as well. It offers
constantly diminishing rewards, in other
words.
And even if AT&T has not cannibalized
“itself” in terms of IP telephony, yet,
it has, nonetheless, joined the fray that
points to the same end game by introducing and supporting its own flavor of
parasitic VoIP - CallVantage offering which uses best effort bandwidth side by
side with the MSO’s QoS-enabled VoIP
offerings under the heading of PacketCable. What we’re seeing here, in effect,
is a food chain that’s been turned on its
head, where fish that aspire to smaller
and smaller status continue to kill off (as
opposed to eating) their larger encroachers, if that makes any sense at all.
All of which leads me to ask: What is the
probability that PacketCable and other
forms of assured voice offerings will
become profitable enterprises for those
carriers and SPs offering them, while
continuing to maintain the low price
points they used when those services
were initially introduced? Since their
price point is at least in part based on a
perceived penetration rate, I guess my
question could have as easily read: Will
they meet their projected penetration
rates in the face of newer ‘Net-based
alternatives, with the latter often times
classified as “free”?
I and many others like me have already
taken to using Skype for a number of
purposes for which I’d have used a second or third line, recently. And where I
might have opted for a Lingo, or a Vonage or a CallVantage service a couple of
weeks ago to replace my aux line now in
the home <and now my cable operator’s
78
voice is becoming available> I’m now
holding off to see if it’s worth my time
to again negotiate the nuances of another
new voice services provider.
Retzer: On January 17 the Wall Street
Journal announced - Verizon, Yahoo
Plan Joint Broadband Service. Hoping
the subject line will get Andrew to jump
into the conversation. Interesting that
Verizon in this article still seems to think
content is king, along with Comcast.
Andrew’s studies lead to the opposite
conclusion.
Odlyzko: Responding to your prod, I
don’t see how this story necessarily
proves that Verizon regards content as
king. (They may very well do so, but this
story does not prove it.) There is nothing wrong with content, nor in telecom
service providers being interested in it.
The issue is how much attention and
resources should be devoted to it.
As an analogy, I doubt if anyone will
deny that cars are primarily for transportation (plus conspicuous consumption,
but let’s leave that aside), and not for
home theater replacements. Yet car manufacturers do put fancy sound systems in.
They cost only a small fraction of what
the car as a whole costs, but people do
expect to see them there.
Stastny: I think: Contact, not content, is
king (Douglas Rushkoff).
Odlyzko: A very nice way to put it. My
own preference is to say that connectivity is king.
Stastny: It is not only connectivity, it is
also identifiers.
If you consider P2P networks, also the
identification is basically peer to peer
(see Skype), at least the trusted identification
The only centralized part of Skype is the
Identification and Authentication. On a
global scale trusted 3rd parties and a
circle of trust will be needed
This is the reason why Verisign is involved in anything dealing with names,
addresses, ENUM and numbers (and
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
RFIDs)
Issues of Security
Coluccio: Richard Stastny stated: “If
you consider P2P networks, also the
identification is basically peer to peer
(see Skype), at least the trusted identification”
As Internet security experts go, I’m but
a step above a total neophyte, I’ll admit,
so please bear with me on this one for a
moment.
It’s good to see you inject the trust component in your statement above, since
it seems to have been a principle that’s
been absent in many of the previous
discussions and sidebars, as I look upstream. How likely do you think it is that
renegade applications with large followings will even care about compliance to
such criteria, if the communities they
serve are okay with the idea of carrying
on without it? I ask because I’m not so
sure that such an eventuality is all that far
fetched, and indeed may even serve the
purposes of some by obfuscating their
identities that would be obvious in an
erstwhile controlled manner.
Stastny: Not at all - as long as they do
not want money from you. ;-)
Most people also do not care who is calling in the PSTN phone, and it is easily
possible to make anonymous phone calls
(e.g. from any coin box) but in most
cases it is possible to identify the calling
party (but not the called party).
The basis of this is that the telcos can be
trusted and also that the telcos trust each
other. In every phone call a networkprovided identity is transmitted from
the originating office to the terminating
office, even if the user has ordered to
restrict his identity (CLIR). The destination network (and attached emergency
services) can trust that this information is
correct, and the originating network can
trust that the destination network will not
deliver the information to a normal user.
One problem remains in fixed networks,
the identity is linked to the line (or enddevice), but not to the person.
In mobile phones (GSM), the trust has
been extended with the SIM-card the network can authenticate the SIM-holder in
a quite secure way and therefore can trust
that the user is really the account holder.
This allows for making payments by
using the mobile phone. The called user
may also trust the CLI displayed somehow, but not perfectly (more than 50%
of mobile users use anonymous prepaid
cards - so the network knows which user
to trust, but not the end-user)
A similar situation is necessary on IP. A
way to authenticate and identify yourself
to others is needed. Ideally the SIM-card
approach is extended. (side remark: SIM
cards (to be precise IMSIs) may also be
used -since last year - by any provider,
not only by mobile operators.
ETSI is standardizing for the past year
the so-called Universal Communications
Idenifier (UCI). The UCI consists of a
numeric part to provide a unique identity
(e. g. an E.164 number), a alphanumeric
part (e. g. your name or role) and additional information - a certificate telling
you something about the trust.
You may use anonymous UCIs (e. g.
aliases) but the recipient knows that this
is an alias.
The next idea is that the UCI are exchanged between called and calling party,
so you also know who is answering the
call, which may in some cases interesting
if you are calling your bank.
And basically UCI is not only for voice
calls, where you may identify known
person via their voice, but also for all
others types of communications.
The basic problem here is that you need a
global trust network to provide you with
UCIs certificates, etc. -which simply
does not exist - and some say will never
exist.
Commercial VoIP
Pricing Power
Coluccio: Interesting Washington Post
article. http://www.washingtonpost.com/
79
wp-dyn/articles/A31113-2005Jan23.html
?referrer=emailarticle
NexTones’ and Neustar’s roles are mentioned, among a cast of others, with the
main theme being the daunting challenges that exist for the smaller startup
service providers who are first getting
into the business of VoIP, both of the
enterprise and residential all you-can-eat
types.
Scrambling For a Slice Of Internet
Phone Pie
By Yuki Noguchi
Investors showed little interest when
Richard M. Tworek started setting up Internet-based phone systems for businesses two years ago. Now the company that
Tworek founded, Qovia Inc., has $16.1
million in venture capital and 120 businesses use its software to make sure their
Internet connections stay robust enough
for calls to go through glitch-free. But
last week the Frederick company laid off
16 of its 59 employees and retooled its
business plan.
Like Qovia, most Washington area companies in the Internet phone business
are relatively small and still searching
for a secure and profitable niche in a
fast-changing sector. They range from
start-ups that provide behind-the-scenes
support for the technology to alternative
phone providers, such as Primus Telecommunications Group, that sell Internet
calling plans directly to consumers.
[Snip]
The number of consumers using VoIP is
expected to grow to about 4 million by
year-end from about 800,000 today, according to Frost & Sullivan. The growth
may be driven by major communications
companies such as cable giant Comcast Corp., which this month announced
plans to offer Internet calling to as many
as 20 million homes this year and another
20 million by the middle of 2006.
The percentage of business phone lines
that make connections over the Internet
is expected to grow to 13.1 percent by
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
the end of 2006 from 7.2 percent today,
the research firm said. Major corporations such as Ford Motor Co. and Boeing
Co. already have traded at least part of
their traditional phone system for Internet-based networks.
NexTone Communications Inc., also
based in Gaithersburg, makes software
that helps carriers hand off calls to each
other and monitor the traffic on their
networks. The company, which has received $32.5 million in venture funding,
is trying to win the business of large VoIP
carriers but it’s competing against large
equipment vendors.
The Internet phone trend also has affected companies not directly involved
in the field. The primary business of District-based NeuStar Inc. is maintaining
the North American database of phone
numbers, a service that is essential for
carriers to route calls properly. NeuStar
has retooled its technology to track the
growing volume of calls riding over the
Internet, said Jeff Ganek, chief executive
of the company.
The most visible players in VoIP are the
companies that provide and market the
new technology directly to consumers.
[Snip]
The most daring companies may be startups created solely to offer Internet calling
to consumers, such as SunRocket Inc., a
Vienna company recently launched by
former MCI executives. SunRocket markets itself as a consumer-friendly alternative with “no gotchas” such as activation
charges and cancellation fees charged by
big phone companies. But analysts said
such small players are about to face the
formidable brand names and marketing
budgets of companies such as Comcast.
COOK Report: The report “Impact of
Skype on Telecom Service Providers”
is interesting. http://www.evalueserve.
com/download_mediacenter.asp?dfname
=Skype&user=N&download=1
Odlyzko: It’s hard for me to get excited
by this report. Why do these folks think
that Skype will win, as opposed to some
other VoIP solution? The range of projections for year-end 2008, between 143 M
and 246 M subscribers, is ludicrously
small, given all the uncertainties.
Also, telco revenues do not have to decline because of VoIP alone. (Migration
of voice to cellular, and competition from
cable are much more serious threats.) If
a telco has a monopoly, and under the
traditional European model, say, charged
$20/month for basic service including
some local calling, $20/month for long
distance voice, and $20/month for broadband, all it has to do (subject to regulators
permitting, and protests of consumers,
....) is to charge $60/month for broadband
with voice tossed in for free. (Actually,
it can probably charge $50/month and
come out ahead, as it can then eliminate
metering and billing costs.)
(These numbers are not meant to represent any particular country, just to illustrate the principle.)
VoIP, whether Skype or Vonage, or anything else, is a threat to the traditional
price discrimination, taxation and subsidy model, but not necessarily to telco
profitability. There is a slight threat to
profitability, because of the lower ability
to price discriminate. (Roaming charges
are high not because costs are high, but
because people traveling internationally
are thought to be more affluent and more
willing to pay for their voice calls home,
etc.).
Now multi-modal competition from traditional cellular, cable, and broadband
wireless are a different story.
Coluccio: Andrew, after reading all that
you’ve written just now, and I myself
taking a moment to apply the principles
of price discrimination, pricing elasticity and the bundling strategies that are
now all too common in the industry, it
dawns on me once again that even if the
incumbents write down their embedded
boxes that continue to produce cupric
oxide, they’re still left to face the bondsmen who, for whatever reasons of the
past and present, have enabled the telcos,
every time an issue comes to maturity, to
continue rolling their debt forward onto
80
new twenty year terms.
From my point of view, these last minute adaptations to market pressures that
the incumbents are now exhibiting, both
the ILECs and the IXCs, alike, will
not be enough to remove those longerstanding financial burdens that they’ve
accrued over the decades, from their
backs. I could be wrong about this, but
I don’t see how. Any thoughts on the
matter would be appreciated.
Odlyzko: You may very well be right.
Those bonds, deferred tax liabilities,
and pension and medical care to retirees obligations might sink them even if
nothing else does.
Shockey: Think unfunded pension liabilities. They love to bury that stat in
their 10-K
Plus let’s remember the SBC and BS
have paid 40 some Billion dollars for
the worst wireless network in the US.
Gill: The latest net adds for Cingular
are 1.8m. Whatever else they might
have done, their network integration is
being done extremely well.
Wireless Business
Models
Shockey: Someday Vodaphone will
stick Verizon with a 30 Billion dollar
bill to buy them out of their share of
Verizon Wireless.
Gill: Verizon would probably like for
nothing better. Verizon Wireless is about
40 percent of revenue and the is by FAR
the fastest growing portion.
Shockey: So what is their cost of capital?
The wire line business is being canabliized by the wireless business and here
comes both Wi-FI, WiMAX and Cable
which in my opinion gets 30 percent of
the residential business by 2008-9 and
SIP trunking eviscerates the enterprise
market by even greater percentages if
the IETF can ever get its act together
to define a rational security model for
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
SIP, etc. Patience. It took how many
years for Southwest Airlines to finally
crack the business model of United, AA
and Delta?
Gill: I don’t have the same confidence in
WiMAX that most people seem to have.
I’m still not seeing how this is actually
going to work in real life deployment,
especially in unlicensed spectrum, unless
_all_ players in the spectrum agree to use
the same phy.
ISP/Hosting
xDSL 5 Cable 5
Customer Acquisition xDSL 15.5 Cable
14.0
CPE
xDSL 4.5 Cable 3
Home Installation xDSL 5 Cable 6
Service/Billing
xDSL 11 Cable 7
Maintenance
xDSL 4 Cable 1
Forster: I’m a little skeptical about
WiMAX as well. I assume the technology is pretty good, but anywhere that has
two decent broadband providers will be a
tough area for a third entrant. It might do
OK in un-served areas, although there it
will have to compete with lower priced
Wi-Fi gear with meshing capabilities.
Sege: WiMAX will probably be good
for rural areas and small business where
cable/fiber does not reach today. Note
the success that Towerstream seems to
be having in the Northeast with preWiMAX into businesses today.
In the long run fiber and wireless combinations are a winning combination,
but in the meantime DSL & HFC Cable/
DOCSIS should pretty well saturate the
broadband market in much of the US and
other similar markets.
It will also be good for transport from
a city PoP to a metro-scale Wi-Fi mesh.
Most of our installations today use “preWiMAX” equipment from various vendors. None are interoperable and all
have their quirks. Standardizing this will
be useful for compatibility and price
reduction.
St. Arnaud: I agree with Jim that I don’t
see a business case for fixed point-topoint wireless in competing with DSL
or cable.
A good web site http://www.cybertelecom.org/data/broadband.htm shows the
costs of DSL and cable deployment. It is
important to note that all these same costs
would apply to a wireless provider, but I
suspect that CPE equipment and maintenance would be higher for fixed wireless.
The only difference is that transport/network costs are already largely paid for in
the case of DSL/coax. More importantly,
especially with cable, it is very inexpensive to offer higher speeds. In Canada
standard cable offering is now 5 Mpbs is
$C 44.95 per month, broadband “classic”
at 1.5 Mbps is $24.95 and broadband
light is $12-$19.
Cable and DSL Internet Access Cost
Structure - an example $ Per customer
per month for model network build:
Total Costs
xDSL $47 Cable $40
Your comment about the variance in
cable speed potentials is well taken, and
should remind everyone that the MSOs
took the same strategy of holding back
on the full potential of the DOCSIS design that availed itself to 30 to 40 Mbps
capabilities, initially, just as the FTTP
networks of today are doing.
By the way, I have a Return on Investment model that was developed here at
Tropos and iterated with about a dozen
carriers for accuracy. It shows $29 total
cost per home passed to build and less
than $8per month per sub to operate.
This includes CPE devices for in-home
access which may or may not be needed
depending on construction, orientation
of the radios, etc. All based on LA basin
home densities.
Coluccio: Thanks for pointing out that
page on the cybertelecom site, Bill. The
unit cost comparisons cited are from a
McKinsey and Co. 2001 report, however,
and probably require some tweaking at
this point, and going forward, especially
as the larger MSOs’ fiber backbones
come into play, where transport costs
are concerned (if I’m reading the intent
behind “transport” correctly). Just as the
installation costs have probably dropped
in some categories due to the plug and
play nature of roll your own installations
enabled by the availability of DCE/CPE
at retail outlets.
Transport/network xDSL 2 Cable 4
81
Only Verizon has made any mention,
and even then only in a passing way,
about its intentions to gradually crank
up throughput speeds on their data component to 100 Mbps, over time, and
even here their stated 100 Mbps is still
conservative with respect to potential.
This is because only Verizon, among
the RBOCs, is employing a true FTT’H’
design in a number of their city roll outs
today. Most of the others, using copper
xDSL extensions from field- and curbnodes to their target points, will max out
at much lower rates, and will have to
share copper spectrum, potentially with
a number of video channels, besides.
As for WiMAX, this is an area that remains an enigma to me, both from the
standpoint of its relative potential from
a technological standpoint, and its perceived popularity among SPs going into
the future. I routinely become involved
in discussions on emerging wireless last
mile techs on my forum, and listening
to the experts, some of whom are recognized in IEEE circles, has given me a lot
ot digest, leaving me still in search of an
opinion to formulate on my own.
Retzer: I think a lot of the interest is in
finding some broadband access method
that can inexpensively bypass the LECs
and MSOs. Local/regional service providers are concerned that the big boys
will muscle them out of the action.
Gill: I am convinced that going head to
head against DSL/cable is a fool’s game.
The wireless value proposition is not in
raw speed, it is in connectivity. Play to
wireless’s strengths, not telco/cables.
Retzer: Thanks, Vijay. I’m not an ISP
but work closely with a number of them.
What do you suggest for value proposition for local/regional ISPs in areas that
are well-served by cable Internet and/or
DSL? I think that some, at least believe
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
they need to be able to offer a high-speed with the mag’s editorial director, Stephen ing of new fiber to the home builds are
access method. It’s a little scary if you’re Hardy, who committed to me to “pull concerned.
small but depend upon service from these some strings” and have it posted as a
Instead, they’ve elected to take the slowreally big companies. Having alterna- feature, soon.
tives is nice.
er route of building out their own service
Coluccio: Richard Shockey, with all that territories, complete with the time conMenard: In a duopoly, things should be said, I agree, and it astounds me to wit- suming prospect of delivering on triple
unbundled
ness the the level of clinical denial that play offerings, at a time when the cable
is being demonstrated by some of the operators are stepping up to their front
Gill: Jere, the best value proposition RBOCs, as they throw money the way doors with eviction notices in hand.
would be playing to the mobility of wire- they’re doing at FTTP.
less, as well as trying to be an alternative
Over the longer term, the ILECs will
to people who can’t get cable/DSL or are Not that I’m against fiber deployments, eventually be forced to deal with comtired of both, though the advantages in mind you, but I don’t see how they can petitors of all sizes whose only means
latency and raw bandwidth are hard to continue to spend like drunken sailors, of accessing subscribers will be through
surmount, esp. if you have gamers in the after coming to terms with all of the their own facilities buildouts, whether
house, where the service lives and dies above. I’m sometimes inclined to think over wide territories or in localized tenby the ping times to the game servers.
that it is merely a last-ditch effort by the ant complex situations, whether they be
captains of those ships who are trying to fiber-based or wireless, or some hybrid
It is entirely possible that there IS no convince themselves that the Iceberg in thereof. This will leave the telcos in a
compelling value proposition in dense their scopes is only an optical illusion situation where they have absolutely no
areas well served by cable/DSL. Taking (pun intended). And I tell ya, to listen control over those upstarts, whereas, in
churn rates from cellular of about 2% of to Seidenberg of Verizon is almost a a contrasting way, they could have been
user base a month, if you get one phone religious like experience to behold, the enjoying a symbiotic or even dominant
call from a user for support, chances are guy is so good. I’m convinced that he relationship with those startups, while
you’ve blown the margin on that custom- actually believes everything he’s saying, serving them as a wholesaler of their own
er for the entire lifetime of the customer. *sometimes.* ;)
facilities and services, to boot.”
This being wireless, it is just going to be
very hard to deal with.
It was about a year ago that Qwest’s CEO VoIP Pricing Power
publicly announced that his company
Retzer: Thanks, Vijay. Good response. was broke. At that time he hinted that Encore
I think there is definite room for local/ he was seriously considering partnering
regional ISPs to provide network and with some of the CLECs, which, in retro- Retzer: My apologies for inserting my
web services that the giants don’t neces- spect, probably would have been a much two cents when you asked Andrew, but
sarily provide very well. You provide wiser thing to do, compared to squashing I’d also like your views on a couple
related points. I was struck recently by
some good insights on the limits and them into the ground.
Comcast’s conclusion that they could
capabilities on the wireless access side.
Earlier today I wrote the following in my charge nearly $50 per month for VoIP
I appreciate it.
SI forum on the subject of the RBOCs when Vonage is all-you-can-eat for $25
Coluccio: It’s not simply a distinction of blowing a good thing (indeed, stepping and Skype is free to call other Skype
the technologies that come into play here, deeper into the fire) by vanquishing their subscribers (I don’t, however think most
but the business models and the type of UNE-P and fiber facilities UNE-L- based consumers are generally impressed with
ensuing operating restraints and costs to competition instead of embracing them the limited network pitch). Now there
is pricing power! They gain that pricing
end users that any business model usu- as partners:
power, assuming they haven’t miscalally imposes, as well. Where WiMAX
is generally perceived to be primarily a “In retrospect, one has to wonder about a culated through a combination of adservice provider’s platform, many Wi-Fi potential outcome that could suggest that vertising/name recognition and I guess
mesh and grass-root, ad-hoc approaches the RBOCs and most of their sibling and bundling. Everyone knows that Comcast
are not, or they may represent a hybrid of lesser ILECs around the country have will be around and if you don’t like the
service you at least know there is somethe two, or even more, approaches.
taken the wrong approach to DSL and
one local (their ads says so), but who are
other forms of competition, all along.
these Vonage guys (the consumer thinks
By the way, I thought of you and Francois when the hard copy of this month’s Consider, where they could have had a even if the current ads are great). So here
issue of Lightwave Magazine arrived. ready stable of resellers and distributors is Comcast able to charge $50 a month
It’s accompanied by a supplement that of their facilities in the way of CLECs for a service with a marginal cost of
is devoted to Blown Fiber technologies and third party agents, they’ve practically probably a few bucks. I’m not even sure
and applications. It doesn’t appear on vanquished all of those, for all intents they have to pay the usual government
their web site yet, but I’ve been in touch and purpose, especially where the shar- fees. If Comcast could do that, then why
82
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
not the ILECs? Where have I, or perhaps
Comcast gone wrong here?
Is this good public policy? Since Comcast, and presumably the ILECs have
considerable market power they face a
downward sloping demand curve where
a company subject to perfect competition would be a price taker. Perhaps we
have, for the moment a market where the
major incumbents can charge $50 and
known, credible competitors like Vonage
can charge $25. The net result of this will
be at this stage far fewer people going to
VoIP, although the price is bound to drop
as others enter the market and consumers
gain confidence. Does a slower transition
and higher cost for VoIP cost the public
or are we just as well off?
At least the industry seems to be moving now on VoIP. It seems that we may
have finally passed an era where the
incumbents were apparently dragging
their feet.
It seems to me that the Internet and applications like VoIP that use it may be
characterized by decreasing long run
average costs - that certainly has been
the case since 2000, although I’m not
sure how much price drops since then
have been bubble-related. Do we have
any data to support (or disprove) the
notion that this industry has decreasing
long-run average costs? If so, then what
sort of strategies are appropriate? I’ve
maintained for some time that rapidly
dropping transit costs mean we should
be pushing new bandwidth-hogging applications out the door just as fast as we
can, which is certainly contrary to recent
history. What would the computer and
network industry be like today if the PCs
had grown slowly? Imagine, if you will
that IBM decided instead of going open
with the PC they had kept it in-house
where it competed with the mainframe
and the result was a slow evolution. What
would have been the economic impact?
Odlyzko: Apropos the last paragraph,
I agree. I have been saying for a while
that the number one imperative for service providers is to teach their customers how to increase their traffic. And
some are able to do it. I was in Korea a
few weeks ago, and their traffic (as well
as that in Japan) appears to be growing
close to 100% per year, whereas here in
the U.S. we appear to be down around
60% a year.
As for Comcast pricing (whether it is $50
or $40/month), it does not look sustainable for long, but there is a lot of inertia/pricing power/... in the system. A few
years ago I dug up some data on banks,
and at that time they had a few hundred
billion dollars in checking accounts that
bore no interest, even though most of
that money could have been moved into
money market accounts. Some of these
inefficiencies can persist for decades. As
one example that I have been citing occasionally, if you go to your neighborhood
gas station, you are likely to see prices
per gallon along the following lines:
regular (87 octane) $1.79 intermediate
(or whatever it is called, but 89 octane)
1.89 premium (92 octane) 1.99
(This is a common but not invariable
pattern.)
Well, if you are in the habit of buying
the intermediate grade of gas, then you
can save easily. Instead of 10 gallons of
that grade, get 4 gallons of premium and
6 gallons of regular, for a net savings of
$0.20.
Reed: Jere - I’m still puzzled as to why
you think Comcast might have pricing
power?
The IBM analogy is underwhelming.
IBM at the time was responding to a
very aggressive competitor, called Apple,
who already had competitors such as RadioShack with the TRS-80.
Retzer: Meaning they didn’t have much
to lose? That wouldn’t necessarily have
prevented them from holding on to their
rights rather than let Intel and crowd take
over the “IBM PC.” If they had instead
kept it in-house in competition with
their own mainframes history could have
turned out a lot differently. Potentially
billions or even trillions in wealth might
not have been generated and we could all
be staring at 3270 screens. Apples have
always been better but the company’s
ability to leverage 3rd party developers
83
and market has never been that great.
Even today, most corporate folks think
Apples are for artists and academics.
Radio Shack just seemed to run out of
gas. Could Apple have felled the IBM
mainframe the way Intel-Microsoft duo
did? We’ll never know but I have my
doubts.
I don’t think I was saying that IBM had
“pricing power” in that market. Actually,
the point I was making is that incumbents
dragging their feet can slow the deployment of new technology and the development of new markets. In the case of VoIP,
the ILECS allegedly drug their feet on
to prevent more rapid cannibalization of
existing PSTN revenues. Strategies like
that have a public cost. Make sense?
Reed: Apple was growing rapidly in the
corporate market, and at the time (Apple
II) was open and modular.
Did God give IBM pricing power? No, I
think it’s something simpler - I was there
in the PC industry when IBM entered,
and IBM BOUGHT pricing power. They
paid flat, upfront contract fees to get the
most popular apps on Apple computers ported to the IBM so they would be
available on Day 1.
In other words, there was very little about
the letters I B M that gave them any pricing power in that market whatsoever.
They did have the opportunity to enlarge
the market by making it seem less risky
to use PCs. And that was their long-term
edge. However, every time they tried to
close the box (Microchannel was a good
example), customers dropped them like
a hot potato.
So I think Comcast’s $50 offering will
fail to generate volume, unless they can
link it to other things that customers
value from them, that they can’t get from
Vonage or those guys who are undercutting Vonage (there’s a $200/year for
two lines Vonage clone that I just got
an ad for. Same service as Vonage, essentially).
“Pricing power” is merely a descriptive term for the results of underlying
advantages. It doesn’t seem to me that
it exists as a “real thing” separate from
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
such things as choke points or barriers
to entry.
Retzer: I think we agree. It simply
describes a firm with a downward sloping demand curve. I would add name
recognition and an established business
relationship with millions of customers
as substantial advantages for Comcast
that give them pricing power.
Coluccio: Jere wrote: “My apologies
for inserting my two cents when you
asked Andrew ...” Not to worry, Jere,
since your two cents often receives more
than the usual two cents in currency exchange. Where did you get that figure of
$50/mo for Comcast? Releases I’ve seen
put them at $40 ...
http://makeashorterlink.com/
?S26A3115A
... while offering more features. (Hey,
I’m only reporting the story here:)
But there’s more to their purported feature
advantages, I think. Despite their having
sunk millions into circuit-switched voice
prior to waking up and fully committing
to VoIP, they had already begun providing circuit switched services to 40,000
residents and small businesses. Okay,
that’s on their dime, and it shouldn’t impact their new biz plan to recover investments in VoIP, but rest assured it does.
Also, there is always the spectre, at least
in the back of my mind, that their new
entry into a Packet Cable-based variation
of VoIP will far outshine at a perceptual
level if not a real, measurable one, from
the perspectives of reliability and assured
quality through the application of QoS, a
better product than that of Vonage, or
CallVantage, or Lingo, to name just three
of a growing number of look-alikes.
Lest we forget, it works counter to the
Cable Operator’s interests to enhance
the quality of best-effort parasitic VoIP
offerings, while their own QoS-enabled
voice services share the same cable
modem space as tenants in the same portion of the spectrum. And taking an even
more sinister view of the matter, there is
nothing forcing MSOs to even support
the parasites, much less enhance their
carriage.
set its product apart.
I don’t know if that equates to the
equivalent of what you refer to as pricing power, but it sure suggests a level
of market power, even if measured in
another, perhaps even a Machiavellian,
dimension.
Officials of the company - which plans to
charge $40 per month, or $5 to $20 more
than most of Internet phone services
- said Monday they believe customers
will pay more for features such as battery
backup to keep the phone line running
during power outages.
So, as long as Vonage and its peers lack
any means of supporting a suitable level
of quality with consistency across all of
its venues of operation, the MSOs will
have, from a consumer experience point
of view, a superior product, and as such
would normally allow them to enjoy a
premium, whatever it might be in terms
of a percentage or dollars per month.
And for these reasons I believe we’ll
see the MSOs experience internal tensions between the throttling up of their
absolute cable modem data throughput
capabilities, on the one hand, which
could potentially improving the quality
of competing, parasitic voice offerings,
and the holding back on those speeds,
which would have the detrimental effects
of making them appear non-competitive
with future FTTP throughput capabilities.
Later Coluccio: Correcting my earlier
URL posting of the Comcast PR, the
press release below discusses the Comcast VoIP offering I referred to, earlier.
The URL, followed by the text for posterity:
http://www.rgj.com/news/stories/
html/2005/01/10/89432.php?sps=rgj.
com
“Comcast to offer VoIP service” by
Maryclaire Dale ASSOCIATED PRESS
1/10/2005 09:45 pm
NEW OFFERING: Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts delivers the keynote
address during a telecommunications
conference Monday in Phoenix.
PHILADELPHIA - Comcast Corp. is
joining the crowd of major cable TV
and telephone companies venturing into
Internet-based phone service, but with a
higher price and extra features which the
nation’s largest cable provider hopes will
84
The new Digital Voice service won’t be
immediately available beyond the three
markets where Comcast has been testing it. The company plans to offer the
service in 20 of its markets by the end
of this year, and the rest of its territory
during 2006.
That delay that could prove costly in a
young market already marred by price
wars among AT&T Corp., Verizon Communications Inc., Vonage Holdings Co.,
and a growing list of no-name rivals.
But despite the apparent disadvantage,
Comcast officials said they hope to sign
up about 8 million phone customers, or a
20 percent share of the markets it serves,
within five years. [Snip]
VoIP and Security in
Government and the
Enterprise
COOK Report on January 27: http://
www.computerworld.com/newsletter/0,4902,99258,00.html?nlid=PM
JANUARY 26, 2005 (COMPUTERWORLD) - A new report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology urges federal agencies and other
organizations to take care in switching
to voice-over-IP technology because of
security concerns.
The 99-page NIST report, “Security Considerations for Voice over IP Systems,”
includes nine recommendations for IT
managers to help them implement VoIP
in a secure manner. “Lower cost and
greater flexibility are among the promises of VoIP for the enterprise, but VoIP
should not be installed without careful
consideration of the security problems
introduced,” the report says.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
“Administrators may mistakenly assume
that since digitized voice travels in packets, they can simply plug VoIP components into their already-secure networks
and remain secure. However, the process
is not that simple,” the report says.
The report, authored by NIST computer security experts Richard Kuhn and
Thomas Walsh, as well as Steffen Fries
of Siemens AG, appeared in draft form
last June and was formally released in
final form earlier this month. Today,
NIST included excerpts from it in an email newsletter.
Among its recommendations, the report calls for building logically separate
voice and data networks where practical,
instead of building a single converged
network. It also calls for using VoIP firewalls and routinely testing them.
Another recommendation says that “if
practical,” VoIP softphones should not be
used where either security or privacy is a
priority. A softphone involves using an
ordinary PC with a headset and special
software instead of a typical telephone
unit.
Many analysts and even VoIP hardware
vendors have discussed VoIP security
for years, but the predominant thinking
seems to be that such systems can be
installed in a secure way (see story).
[snip]
Coluccio: I’ve see the NIST Report
Computerworld summary, and a Powerpoint presentation of same, but not the
full report referenced anywhere, itself,
so here it is:
“Security Considerations for Voice Over
IP Systems Recommendations of the
National Institute of Standards and Technology,” D. Richard Kuhn, Thomas J.
Walsh, Steffen Fries Special Publication
800-58 January 2005
http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-58/SP800-58-final.pdf
COOK Report : This paper is also worth
looking at. http://www.simson.net/
ref/2005/OSI_Skype6.pdf. It is a study
that Simson Garfinklel did for the Soros
Open Systems Institute.
It sparked the following exchange on
Dave Farber’s Interesting Persons Mail
list.
First Commentor: Is Skype secure? The
answer appears to be, “no one knows.”
The account accurately reports that because the security mechanisms in Skype
are secret, it is impossible to analyze
meaningfully its security. Most of the
discussion of the potential risks and
questions seems quite good to me.
But in one or two places the report says
things like: “A conversation on Skype is
vastly more private than a traditional analog or ISDN telephone,” and ““Skype is
more secure than today’s VoIP systems.”
I don’t see any basis for statements
like this. Unfortunately, I guess these
sorts of statements have to be viewed
as blind guesswork. Those claims probably should have been omitted from the
report, in my opinion -- there is really no
evidence either way. Fortunately, these
statements are the exception and only appear in one or two places in the report.
David Wagner: The basis for these statements is what the other systems don’t
do. My Vonage VoIP phone has exactly
zero security. It uses the SIP-TLS port,
without encryption. It doesn’t encrypt
anything. So, its easy to be more secure
than that. So, while it may be bad cryptography, it is still better than the alternatives. Unfortunately.
Adam Shostak: I don’t buy it. How do
you know that Skype is “more secure”,
let alone “vastly more private”? Maybe
Skype is just as insecure as those other
systems. For all we know, maybe Skype
is doing the moral equivalent of encrypting with the all-zeros key, or using a
repeating xor with a many-time pad, or
some such? Without more information,
we just don’t know.
I’m sorry to pick nits, but I have to stand
by my statement. No matter how atrociously bad other systems may be, I don’t
see any basis for saying that Skype is any
better. It might be better, or it might be
just as bad. We don’t know.
85
Dave, I’ve been following the Simson/
Skype thread on IP and I’ve read the
Columbia analysis of the Skype protocol
(http://www1.cs.columbia.edu/~library/
TR-repository/reports/reports-2004/
cucs-039-04.pdf) I’ve known Simson for
14 or so years and have a ton of respect
for his technical skills. However, I think
there are some significant Skype vulnerabilities and associated legal ramifications that Simson did not discuss in his
article.
Security is based on trust of the parties exchanging information that they
are who they claim and that the data
exchanged appears to be random to an
untrusted observer. While Skype’s use
of encryption supports the second part
of the definition, it does not support the
first. Because it does not support the first,
it is very easy to use the Skype network
to intercept communications between any
user or to pose as any user. This presents
a problem as against both third parties
and governmental agencies.
A critical part of the Skype network is
the “super-nodes.” According to the Columbia paper, super-nodes perform three
functions:
* Designating the login authority
* Media packet forwarding
* Routing user search requests Supernodes appear to “volunteer” to perform
the function. Or put another way, they
are nodes that are not under the control
of Skype, but they perform all the routing functions necessary to discover a user
and exchange information with the user.
Super nodes run on any machine running
the Skype program and the machines
under Skype control have no way to
determine if the super nodes are running
unmodified Skype code.
If one were skilled in reverse engineering
x86 code and one were willing to violate
Skype’s user agreement, one could create a Skype node that volunteered to be
a super-node. It would appear to all other
Skype nodes as a normal super-node.
It would perform all the functions of a
Skype super-node. However, it would do
a little bit more. Let’s call one of these
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
super-nodes a “Bad Seed.”
The Bad Seed could point users to another authentication server. Thus, the user
would exchange username and authentication information with a “bad relay
proxy” rather than the Skype server. That
permits the “bad relay proxy” to deny
Skype access to a user that I designate.
Okay a denial of service attack is not
great stuff, but for businesses that rely
of Skype (http://news.com.com/No-cos
t+Skype+strikes+chord+with+businesse
s/2100-7352_3-5553053.html ), having
the prospect of a DoS attack could be
an issue. Further, the “bad relay proxy”
could collect username/password challenge (I’m assuming that Skype’s not
sending the actual password, but performing a challenge/response method
of verifying the password) data and do
dictionary attacks on the passwords. This
isn’t a hardcore vulnerability you say.
Yep... I agree.
The Bad Seed routes some of the media
requests if the two peers cannot see
each other directly. Skype claims that
because the packets are encrypted, the
super-nodes are just routing agents. This
is true unless the Bad Seed is part of the
key exchange (see the next paragraph.) If
the Bad Seed is part of the exchange of
private AES keys that are used to encrypt
the voice data, then they are able to decrypt the audio or text streams. Yikes. If
a Bad Seed was a man in the middle of
the private key exchange, then the Bad
Seed could record your conversation
with another user. Okay, that’s not good.
Given that any Skype node can become
a super-node just by raising its hand and
a skilled hacker can re-engineer a Skype
node to perform bad acts, then if you
connect to the Skype network, you don’t
know which nodes are listening in on
your conversation. But wait, you say, the
requirement for the above bit of scariness is doing a man-in-the-middle attack
on the encryption key exchange. You’re
right. And here’s where the Skype network is totally insecure.
One function of the super-node in the
Skype network is to route and respond
to user search requests. If I want to
connect to “other_dude” on the Skype
network, my client sends out search
requests to a series of super-nodes. The
super-nodes either respond with the address of “other_dude” or forward the requests to other super-nodes. If one of the
super-nodes is a “Bad Seed”, that node
can respond that it is “other_dude.” Because there is no cryptographic trust or
any form of trust authority in the Skype
network, any super node that returns
the information about “other_dude” is
trusted by my node.
so the police don’t hassle you. But you
can do it.
An aside... SSL certificates are signed
by a trusted third party. That third party
validates that the certificate is held by
the organization that claims to hold the
certificate. Using SSL insures that the
party that I’m communicating with is
the party that they claim to be within the
bounds that I trust the signer of the SSL
certificate *and* that once the connection is established that no one can understand the data exchanged with this party.
That initial trust of the signed certification is a critical part of the security of the
overall communication. If I do a session
key exchange with an unknown party,
the communication is *not* secure. This
is the case with Skype.
SIP is different. SIP supports encryption,
but most SIP providers do not make use
of it. The Microsoft SIP client libraries have the option of communicating
with the SIP server via TLS (TLS is
like SSL, but uses the same IP port for
both encrypted and unencrypted traffic.) Additionally, the media portion of
a SIP call can be encrypted by setting a
flag in the media descriptor. While most
SIP providers do not use this functionality, it’s part of the SIP spec and can be
turned on. Note that the machines that
could play man-in-the-middle with an
encrypted SIP call are controlled by your
SIP provider (rather than any machine
running Skype.) Thus, you can trust the
security of your call as much as you trust
your SIP provider.
The Skype network relies on trusting the
super-node. A Bad Seed can perform a
man in the middle attack during the session key exchange by posing as the party
being contacted (or forwarding the information of another compromised node) to
a caller. So, my Bad Seed is able to route
call requests to an untrusted node and
do a man-in-the-middle during the key
exchange and snoop into my call. The
only question is how many Bad Seeds to
you need in order to capture a significant
percentage of the routing requests that go
over the Skype network. My guess is that
the number is in the hundreds. So, with
a hundred machines located around the
world, I could intercept any Skype call
and record it. Pretty scary.
The PSTN primarily uses pairs of copper
wires to transmit voice communications
from my house to the phone company
central office. I can gain physical access
to those copper pairs very easily as long
as I have physical proximity to the location of the person I want to snoop on. It’s
not hard to do. Yeah, you have to paint
a white van with “Verizon” or “SBC”
86
If the government wants to do it, it’s
somewhat harder. The government has to
get a warrant to listen to your phone conversations. Once they obtain a warrant,
they present it to the phone company
which makes an entry into their switch to
record the call or send a real-time copy
of it to the government.
With unencrypted SIP calls, if you are
able to intercept packets, then you can
tap the call. Anybody on your LAN can
listen into your call. This level of security is no different than anyone in your
house can listen in on your phone calls
and anyone in your office can probably
do the same. Anyone who can intercept
the packet stream outside your LAN can
also listen in on the conversation. This is
more of a challenge. UDP packets (the
stuff that the media stream goes over)
may or may not be routed through the
same backbone during all parts of the
conversation. There is a certain amount
of security with the packets going over
the backbone. The ability to snoop on an
unencrypted SIP call is marginally more
difficult that snooping on a PSTN call.
For the government, it’s more of a challenge. Because the media portion of a SIP
call goes directly between the end points
without going through the SIP providers network. This raises an interesting
issue: http://news.com.com/2100-7352-
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
5296417.html. This is interesting for two
reasons. First, SIP “telephone” companies like Vonage will have to provide a
flag to allow them to intercept the media
stream and decode it if the government
has a warrant. Second, the government
has acknowledged that SIP callers have
the same expectation of privacy that copper-pair PSTN callers have. This is really
important.
Users of peer-to-peer file sharing programs
don’t have an expectation of privacy in
their use of P2P programs. That’s why so
many folks are being sued (http://news.
com.com/RIAA+files+754+new+fileswapping+suits/2110-1027_3-5494259.
html?tag=nl ) Skype touts themselves
as a P2P voice communications system
(http://Skype.com/products/explained.
html). That means that if you use Skype,
you have the same expectation of privacy
as a P2P user. Given that the government
has the resources to build Bad Seeds and
that P2P users have no expectation of privacy, you can bet that there are government run Skype nodes looking for Skype
communications between Osama911 and
Sleeper_in_Seattle and that the government doesn’t have a warrant for these
activities.
To conclude my long rant, the Skype
network is radically insecure because it
relies on untrusted super-nodes to perform trusted functions, most notably user
look-up. It’s easy to build a compromised
super-node (a Bad Seed.) With a limited
number of Bad Seeds, the communications between any users can be intercepted or denied. It’s something that a person
with the resources to rent 100 servers in
collocation facilities around the world
could do (that’s about $10,000 per month
investment.) Given that Skype is a P2P
network and users of such networks are
not afforded the same expectation of
privacy that users of the PSTN and other
telephone networks are afforded, the
government could use such a mechanism
to listen to Skype-based calls and have a
reasonable legal argument that they do
not need a warrant to do so.
That’s my 2 cents. Thanks, David
P. S. -- I was CTO and VP Engineering
for an Internet security company for a
number of years and I’m a member of the
Rhode Island bar.
Garfinkel: Hi, David. Lovely to hear
from you again.
I actually specifically discussed this attack with the folks at Skype when I wrote
my piece. They say that all authentication and authorization communications
are encrypted with a public key, and that
the private key is only at the Skype HQ.
I’m not sure where to take that idea, but
it’s an idea. My piece doesn’t go into
details of this kind of attack because it
was written for OSI grant recipients who
are not technical. These grant recipients
want to know if they can use Skype or if
87
they should just keep using their analog
phone lines. Their primary concern is
being wiretapped by the government in
the host countries.
These grant recipients and other Open
Society activists have heard so many
crypto-nuts saying “Skype isn’t safe”
that they’re using the local PTT phones
instead. They’re pouring their grant
money into the coffers of the local governments (who own the PTTs) and they
are opening themselves up to systematic
eavesdropping.
This is just a completely different threat
model than most of the anti-Skype people
are even aware of. I’m sure that if David
wants to write a standards-based SIP
system and distribute it to the OSI grant
recipients, and make it as easy to use as
Skype, and make it sound as good, and
make configuration instant, and make
it interconnect to PSTN networks for a
few pennies a minute --- I’m sure that if
David wants to do all those things, then
the OSI grant recipients and other Open
Society activists will be happy to use it.
But those activists live in the real world
and have to make real choices. Right now
the choice is using Skype or using the
analog phone on their desk. Discussions
about theoretical vulnerabilities and badseed super-nodes just scare the activists
into thinking that this Internet security
stuff is too complicated, and they’re better off just using that analog phone.
Symposium Discussion February 6 - February 24
Skype, SIP, the Enterprise and Security
Skype is Like Apple
II in the Enterprise
Highlights
far better than boundary firewalls, and
sandboxing (virtual machines and chroot
jails) is far more relevant than “shameful
packet inspection” in gateways.
Reed: Skype is kind of like the Apple
][ in the enterprise. People are using it,
but the IT Department doesn’t like it
one bit.
Editor's Note [on March 25]: Wrestling
with a final draft I have just chopped
13,000 words of rather detailed technical discussion. I had put all of this
through an extensive edit and format.
However 120,000 words is simply too
much! (And the 120,000 words was
edited down extensively from the list
discussion!) I realize now that it is an
example of reaching the limits of discussion with 40 contributors over 3 and one
half months.
I’m sure the Skype people want to see
it viewed positively in the enterprise.
I’m sure the Skype competitors want
to spread unreasonable FUD, and also
justifiable skepticism, in order to keep
Skype out of the customers they think
they rightfully “own”.
The best way of course would be to make
their service work as well as Skype out of
the box, and not tie it to enterprise sales
[As I left Lotus in 1992 to join Interval
Research, one of my parting warnings
was that Lotus Notes *must* be purchasable and operable as a solution that
wasn’t just an “intra-company” solution,
or they would lose big to the Internet. I
don’t think they listened carefully - they
continued to create private networks for
customers, and created boundaries for
inter-corporate Notes connectivity that
were operationally too hard to surmount.
This failure was one of the sources of
the “Reed’s Law” idea, since it stunted
Notes’ potential precisely due to the lack
of paying attention to how group-forming creates value].
The reasoning behind “boundary security” is seriously flawed - connectivity across the corporate membrane is
the MOST business-critical connectivity there is, not the least - and at the
same time, putting your protection at
the boundary ignores the nature of the
worst threats, which are predominantly
INSIDE the firewall.
The best protection is right up next to the
application, and based on authentication
at the application semantic level. That
means that per-machine firewalls are
Retzer [reacting to what I have just
cut]: Another [outcome], perhaps is to
deploy a stupid network and not worry
so much about what goes through it.
Coluccio: Maybe we’re sitting too far
apart in the classroom, Jere, but I can’t
tell whether you meant that seriously,
or not. In any event, you’ve hit on a
growing part of the overall problem by
highlighting the dissimilarities between
that which [in networks] is rote stupid,
and that which aspires to act in a stupid
way. It only becomes more so when you
consider the options now taking advantage of stupidity to new heights, a la the
Skype application whose presentation
we just listened to.
The situation approaches that of a Gordion knot when you consider “what is”
and where one would like to be, with the
backdrop being one of the only forms
of Internet based - or PSTN-based, for
that matter - services that is still being
monetized beyond break even levels, in
any appreciable way. And of course I’m
speaking about voice and video conferencing, both of the measured minutes
variety and the all you can eat, as well.
And so, the translation devices at the
edge make everything appear homogeneous. Today we see another example of
this by way of the NAT-firewall traversal
88
capabilities announced by Tandberg, as
illustrated in this NW Fusion article that
arrived in my snailer today:
http://www.nwfusion.com/news/2005/
0207tandberg.html
As a non-ISP, but one who is well accustomed to the kludges that result from
firms merging and being acquired, my
observations suggest that most of the
“dumbing down” through such measures
at the edges of the network that is being
accomplished by these devices are an
imperative, if not merely lending a form
of license, to those who’d prefer - or are
forced into - proliferating the existence
of heterogeneous environments.
And maybe this is sometimes due to
service providers being forced into situations, like the example I just used above
concerning mergers and acquisitions, or
because of a philosophical preference
an SP has for selecting “best of breed”
software, appliances and network elements for each point solution. Thereby
perpetuating the need for such solutions
even further down the road, while effectively providing a form of regenerative
feedback to the syndrome.
"What to do?" is probably not a question
that any individual can answer for the
whole, but rather, "what will folks do?",
is more apt a question to ask here, where
matters or security, if not overall architecture, are concerned.
And through all of the complexity that
is usually ascribed to the newly engineered, deliberate forms of kludges that
result when additional boxes are inserted
in the diagram, in order to assuage the
problems brought on by the other additional boxes, may there not be an added
level of security from viridae and worms
sent by the bad guys that now have to
negotiate those additional boxes, than a
purer form of end to end model would
present? Although this sounds silly, the
question is legitimate, in my opinion.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
I’m just asking some questions here that
happen to be surfacing in my mind as I
read through the list comments, without
any prior suppositions of what the answers to those questions might be. From
the standpoint of doing any type of business in a commercial context, voice and
video conferencing applications may be
viewed as being as far removed from the
architectural ideals of the Internet as a
computer numeric control application is
on a factory floor. It’s merely a business
tool that has to work right when called
upon every time. And they are nothing
more or less than that, from the standpoint of most who use them.
and Late Adopters are the huge bulge
in the frequency chart that is definitely
negatively skewed.
Davis: Well said, Frank, at least from
my perspective. I am an engineer and an
architect. I am also the one my company
trots out to government and enterprise
customers to give the hows and wherefores . . . customers who are highly
concerned about cost, availability, insist
on the telco-like SLAs to which they
are accustomed (four ninies). Frequently
there are competing customer groups: the
older, telco-accustomed, frequently proxies for their customer favorites and personal relationships built up over decades,
and on the other side, younger “whiz-kid
wana-bees” who tout their protocol religion and vendor of choice.
To some objectors, citing that IP was
designed to be connectionless, I respond
that TCP was designed to be “connection-oriented”, just as ATM is connectionless but “connection-oriented.” To
those who insist, with what I always hear
as protocol religion, on EoIP (nothing
less than Everything over IP), I respond,
and Yakov responded, that IP was never
designed to do anything with voice or
video, whereas ATM was, and . . .
These are real issues up at the political
end and tribal end. I am the one usually
brought in at stalemate stage.
These larger organizations, unlike individuals who are free to care or not, who
are constrained by statute, case law and
GC interpretation as to liability and contracts, and policy to provide at least disciplined due diligence on security. At the
Operations level, the security issues are
not only of privacy and confidentiality of
digital information asset stores, but the
requirement to keep the network up and
operational, especially as the post-BUST
cost cutting has driven staff to what I
think is excessive thin-ness.
The interoperability issues that Frank
raises are essential in designing and operating. As a simple case, the Geoffrey
Moore curves on market adoption of new
technology hold true. The economic case
is rarely won by the swift. The Middle
To meet the “four nines” SLA, absent
any, using Gordon’s term, “disruptive”
and rapidly adopted by a super-majority
of the economically significant population, signaling or other in-band or out-ofband IP protocol, such as Yakov Rektor
and some of us techno-agnostics at Cisco
attempted to promulgate, the SS&/AIN
network is essential. Government-toBusiness, Government-to-Citizen, Business-to-Small Business, and Business-toCitizen will require it.
if the engineering and architecture of
communications networks is about “the
communication” part - User Adaptation
Layer, let’s work on that problem, using
whatever tools we have or can design in
the process.
Melissa - who worships no protocol
godlet.
Is the Enterprise is in
Gridlock?
Reed: Don’t bet on the Enterprise markets for any of this, Gordon. Enterprise
use of new technology is now dead.
The Chief Security Officer outranks the
CIO, and each one says: “Be afraid of
novelty, be very afraid.” Just imagine
your worst nightmares and project them
on new technology because it’s weird.
This just reminds me of 1986 at Lotus
when the Chief Security guy (our corporate counsel) said that we should not
allow our employees to interconnect our
electronic mail with the Internet, because
89
that would be the death of Lotus due to
the raging security risk.
As a vice president in charge of developing technologies and products around
(among other things) electronic mail
products and stuff like Lotus Notes, I
and others argued that we couldn’t afford
not to interconnect. This was not an easy
fight. There was “no business benefit” to
interconnecting to the Internet in those
days - we were told we had to limit interconnect to a small number of essential
R&D personnel who could demonstrate
a “need to email”. When we engineers
said: “No, Jim Manzi should be using
Internet mail.” People thought we were
joking. Jim, fortunately, understood the
point, and chose to make an example of
himself.
It also reminds me of the time Starwave
and some Interval Research people demonstrated the first commercially successful Web service to Microsoft’s executives
(ESPN Sportszone) in late 1993. Microsoft could NOT connect to the Internet,
again because of corporate policy. We
had to do the demo at a site outside the
corporate campus because of their overwrought policy.
The CSO’s are now feeling more than
ever empowered (perhaps by the fear
campaign launched by the right to keep
America in line with the Bush administration) to stop any technology that might
make corporations more productive or
better connected to their customers. They
are abetted by technology suppliers selling gewgaws pandering to their fears
(check out some of the new gear pandering to the fear of 802.11, cameraphones
and USB memory sticks being sold today,
which costs a lot and fixes nothing).
So if I were to bet on the source of
the next technology revolution, it would
NOT come from the Enterprise Market.
It should, but it will not. Not until the
CSO’s understand that the best way to
secure a company is to stop dealing with
customers or suppliers, and build up that
moat until they can’t feed their employees, much less help send their kids to
college.
P. S.: Lest you think I am against secu-
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
rity, let me point out that the best petri ... are firing offenses.
Retzer: Frank wrote:
dish for viruses is the corporate intranet,
because everything operates wide open And to back it up, various gear providby default, and hidden from public view. ers are providing traps for such “evil I recently found myself in one such situaI am frustrated that those who argue from technologies” that can be deployed on tion in my own den, at home, where I was
Skyping out over my cable operator’s
security actually create the most vulnera- corporate campuses.
ble and fragile systems. Security matters.
cable modem connection to a centrallized
CSO’s (non-technical lawyers mostly) So yeah, those of us who live largely enterprise conference bridge, into which
are suckers for snake oil salesmen and outside the “enterprise” as consultants, my customer’s Cisco VoIP gear also atnever have to justify their actions in pundits, small-business owners, etc. tached, and into which other participants
from home were also being SIP’ed in,
terms of business risk/return tradeoffs.
don’t see this phenomenon.
simultaneously.
Coluccio: David, while many of your But I can assure you, you may be able to
points are well taken, I don’t know how technically route Skype out of your PC How do you bridge Skype, SIP and
you or anyone else can any longer dif- on the corporate network today, but the PSTN? Thanks
ferentiate today between enterprise, con- trade organizations of corporate legal
sumer, and the caller who is Wi-Fi’ing departments are telling all their mem- Forster: Voice bridging can exist in any
his way via VoIP into a conference center bers to make policies against it, to re- signaling/transport domain (PSTN, SIP,
via VoIP from a cafe hot spot, through quire technology to block it, and asking Skype); mixed mode bridging most likely
the use of a dual-mode cellular device. I senior executives to direct against it.
happens in the PSTN (G.711 on DS-0
recently found myself in one such situawith DTMF & Robbed-bit signaling)
tion in my own den, at home, where I was After all, you wouldn’t want your em- domain because pretty much everything
Skyping out over my cable operator’s ployees actually to be empowered would can connect to the PSTN. The dial bridge
cable modem connection to a centrallized you? That’s a scary thought!
itself looks like a bunch of phones and
enterprise conference bridge, into which
simply does the right mixing.
my customer’s Cisco VoIP gear also at- This fear of novelty is one of the many
tached, and into which other participants reasons why genuinely disruptive new Coluccio: Dead on. And to answer Jere:
from home were also being SIP’ed in, communications technologies come last
simultaneously.
to the Fortune 500. The enterprise mar- As Jim has already noted, the least comket eventually gets there, but it’s rarely mon denominator is a plain old PSTN
The mix of voice applications and point in the vanguard of anything.
compatible 800 number conference bridge
solutions currently being used and on the
- although I’ve been told that if the client
drawing boards has evolved to a level Coluccio: David - Just for clarity, I’m so elected, they could also have used a
that is far too incestuous to allow such Skyping from home, not my clients’ of- VoIP feature accommodation in their IP
distinctions - or exclusions - to be made fices. ;-)
PBX to achieve the same end. Everyone
when discussing matters of security, soledials into the bridge which effectively bely on the basis of who, or from whence, On that note, however, I recently spoke comes a DS-0 exchange, so at some each
call sessions are being set up.
with one my associates who IS situated session is being set up through a gateway
behind a client desk (and who also VPNs of one form or another. I used my SkypeThese dynamics will further frustrate from home two days out of the week), out feature from home to dial in to the
future efforts to distinguish between call- and I asked him if the client’s security bridge. The IT staff at the client site used
ing classes, as the diffusion in the work hawks were still adamant about prohib- SIP-based phones, which, through PRI
place, accompanied by decentralization iting IM’ing over the corporate LAN, gateways to the PSTN, did the same.
of larger corporate offices, continues. So, as they had been a while back. I was And the work-at-homes equipped with
it doesn’t surprise me why a vertically in- advised that they are now using an in- SIP phones use the enterprise VPN. Altegrated proprietary solution, something house IM package, which, while capable though, I’m not sure of the mechanics
like Skype, say, might be so appealing of talking to other vendors/SPs’ versions that are used, but I can find out and report
to some.
of IM, still cannot do so for the types back to you if you wish.
of reasons you’ve cited and otherwise
Reed: Frank - I wish that the internals of implied. Also, Skype is not to be seen I think that this should also serve to point
enterprise networks were just part of the anywhere on the horizon in that particu- out that, under the conditions I’ve outInternet.
lar account, while there are staff that I lined above, at least, different species of
have situated elsewhere who say that VoIP don’t necessarily have to touch each
However, as I mentioned, in many com- it’s being used with mixed resistance, other in an organic way, but in some way
panies, the CSO has ordered that use of still, and I’d imagine that the smaller the must be made to talk a LCD language,
contact managers (like Plaxo), VoIP (like number that exists following the name nonetheless. At the same time, the DS-0
Skype or Vonage), access points, Wi-Fi, FORTUNE 500, the more resistance one normalization also serves to dispel any
heightened concerns surrounding each of
will find.
90
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
the variants also infecting one another,
since it also serves as a means of invoking an active state under quarantine, if
you will.
On February 4 Davis to David Reed:
Your statement immediately below, to
wit: "Don’t bet on the Enterprise markets for any of this, Gordon. Enterprise
use of new technology is now dead."
"The Chief Security Officer outranks
the CIO, and each one says “be afraid
of novelty, be very afraid”. Just imagine
your worst nightmares and project them
on new technology because it’s weird."
This is different from the one in your
second email below:
“However, as I mentioned, in many
companies, the CSO has ordered that use
of contact managers (like Plaxo), VoIP
(like Skype or Vonage), access points,
Wi-Fi, ... are firing offenses."
While the former is just not true, not in
my experience with my customers, and
invocation of the universal premise outside of formal logic is usually hyperbole,
the latter is undoubtedly true at least for
some, and the use of “many” depends on
one’s scalar of what many means.
I know of none, which only means
that this writer knows of none, attacking Plaxo. All of my big customers are
doing test beds or actual deployments
of Cisco’s VoIP or Nortel’s VoIP. Vonage is, among my customers, in no way
singled out as a target.
I wish you would explain the point of
why you wish, as you state below, that
“the internals of enterprise networks
were just part of the Internet.” Why
should they be? The internals of the
enterprise networks are privately owned
and operated, under the constraints of
the marketplace of P&L, for the business requirements of that business/enterprise. Those enterprises are governed
by statutes (Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA,
etc. Government networks must meet
the requirements of Clinger-Cohen,
e-Commerce, e-Auth, and coming is
HSPD-12.) All businesses are bound
to protect privacy and integrity of both
financial transactions and employee personal information (personnel, discipline,
evaluations, labor grievances of some
kinds, EEOC violations). Businesses and
Government networks institute policies
for very secure authentication and communications with and about employees
with some risk, likelihood of being targeted by hostile agents (kidnapping, etc).
Businesses and Government networks
must maintain privacy, integrity, and
transaction logging of sensitive management, trade secrets, intellectual property,
strategy information.
ered workers” without themselves becoming disemboweled in the process.
I would like to hear your dissertation on
the compelling reasons for opening all
that up to any old curious person, or expose that non-public but legally obtainable information for public discussion.
The NIST report - Yes,Gordon, the 100
page one- lays out the risks. No one says
the risks are proscriptive. One can, and
CSO’s do have to accept risk.
I will tell you that I am, with others,
engaged on ferreting out an application you did not mention, specifically
“GoToMyPC”: a remote control program that defeats and renders useless
enterprise firewalls, IDS/IPS, and other
packet inspection devices. GoToMyPC,
once installed on an internal enterprise
machine, maintains an open outbound
connection HTTP (443) to a remote
proprietary GoToMyPC server and exchanges shared private keys with AES128. The remote agent contacts that
broker/server from some outside point
with unknown and unknowable authentication standards (weak passwords, e.g.)
This places anyone with the legitimate
credentials (possessed by a user for use
on the internal network or possessed by
a poseur who has stolen the credentials
via RAT/keystroke logger, or zombie via
RAT) in complete control of the internal
machine, its access to other machines and
network stores. Internal security policies
have no effect on restricting the export
of internal information as, to the network
devices, the request is received from a
device internal and local (the invisible
remote user not being visible). The encrypted connection between the internal
machine and the remote machine through
the GoToMyPC broker is opaque to any
known sensor or firewall device.
Every customer I have wants “empow91
VoIP presents special problems in the
corporate/enterprise/government environment. Business cases have to be
made, risk assessments done, mitigations proposed-tested-deployed that meet
cost-benefit decisions. Information may
be free, or practically free on the Internet, but information is not free in the
corporate/enterprise/government environments. There, information costs to
produce, and that cost has to be justified
with some judgment of ROI.
The issue for techno types like us is to
make the business case. Not by technology alone will one sell anything much
any more.
Stuart Henshall and
Skype Voice Mail
On February 9 COOK Report: Please
welcome Stuart Henshall to the list
By way of background Stuart told me
that for a number of years in the 90s he
worked for Stewart brands global business forum helping various companies
do marketing turnarounds. If I understand him correctly he has been more of
a marketing consumer goods person than
a telecom specialist.
But he is into blogging and he said the
blogging world made him away of Skype
instantly. He downloaded Skype on day
three of its release and his blog appears
to be almost all Skype all the time. Reading from his blog and talking with him
and using Skype more and more myself
makes me appreciate what David Reed
wrote here in early December about how
Skype is CHANGING fundamentally the
way people communicate in general and
by voice in particular.
At http://www.henshall.com/blog/archives/001095.html we find
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
Skype Journal Voice Messaging Fast to share what I was doing with those For that expenditure, I have 4 wireless
Forward January 23, 2005 11:21 AM
that found the line engaged. I got a lot phones dotted around the house, can call
of voice mails. Mostly blank and short for “free” (at least on an incremental
I was granted 10 opportunities to share voice mails. I also got VM’s from people basis), and can call anyone without havSkype VM with others. I shared it with that clearly didn’t know how to stop ing my PC or a separate PC server up
Buzz and I have this wonderful mes- them... I think that is the “Oh no!” what and running.
sage back from him asking for 100 more is it doing factor?.. playing message and
invites. I know he actually wants 1000! then asking to record. Too scared to do I then keep coming back to Skype to see
Of course, I wanted to share this news anything they end up as 1 minute of si- what I am missing - yes, I could set up a
and send it back to Skype . It’s the sort lence. Having added VM to this account I PC that runs as the host machine, I could
of voice message people get a kick from. found that there was no way to turn it off. get (for $150 or so) a phone with a USB,
In fact in my life I find I don’t forward Why would one want to turn it off? Well and could probably manage to wire it
many messages. In the cell phone world in this case a “busy” signal would have around the house to other locations etc.,
I have a feeling that it costs me money provided better feedback. Now that the I could get Out to call people in the US
and then I just don’t have the feature set client is completely offline it has prob- or UK, could work through the voicemail
on my landlines. This seemed the perfect ably taken VM from frustrated former system that is in beta, could perhaps get
message to forward.
listeners all day. Most will be a second or (at a cost) a IN number so that people
nothing at all. Thus this account would could call me (paying by the minute?),
So, I tried to record it to a .wav file a be better served by remaining perma- probably cant make emergency calls
couple of different ways and was unsuc- nently offline rather than collecting VM’s from it, and now my telephone service
cessful. As I’ve already sent a voice mail until this trial ends. Collecting VM on an is dependent not just on the power and
while in a conversation with another account that someone may not use again cable modem, but on my PC not freezing
person. I thought I’d see if I could play seems like a bad idea.
as well. Would my cost be less than $20
it back in a conference call. That failed.
per month - I doubt it.
I also tried Windows Sound Recorder [Snip]
with Virtual Cables etc. Didn’t work - at
I’ve then thought about using Skype
least not yet. In the end my solution was Steve Heap: I sometimes think I am from a PocketPC to avoid using a mobile
to send it to my iPod with iTalk recorder really missing the excitement here in - yes, it works, but if you have already
out the headphone jack and then iTunes these recent emails about Skype, and decided to have a mobile for other concopy it back to my PC. Clipped in Sound I cant fully put my finger on what is venience reasons, it is probably only for
Recorder and convert to mp3. A little too missing. I don’t think I am viewing the international calls that it would be useful,
hard. Still I have an mp-3 and now can world through my many years of telecom and there are ways to do that - such as
provide the feedback. So, here it is. A employment, and am a pretty geeky per- a prepaid phone card - which is about
short snip of Buzz’s message to me on son in trying new technology, but I am the same level of additional effort. Can
Voice Mail. It’s not the same Skype qual- missing the attraction. Skype is great I eventually use a VoIP/ enabled cell
ity; it does deliver the message. VMBuzz technology, implemented in a very novel phone to bypass my minutes allowance PodCast!
way, with new features that are being yes, but the underlying wireless provider
developed, but it is missing what I still will charge me for the bits through the
[Snip]
data connection.
think is the marketplace.
COOK Report: We find at: http://www.
henshall.com/blog/archives/001106.html
Journal VM Update February 1, 2005
05:58 PM
Henshall: I’ve again been playing with
Skype VM beta. I also wrote about it first
here and then added these thoughts here.
Today I terminated my little experiment
with iPodRadio. I just wanted my iPod
back. While it was neat getting visitors
from all over the world listening to my
music I wasn’t getting to use it myself.
So it is now offline. Which brings me
back to VM (voice messaging please!).
I added voice messaging to my iPod
Radio, thinking it would be a neat way
What I want at home is a communications system that lets me make outgoing
“calls” to people around the world, lets
me receive incoming calls from anyone,
lets me make emergency calls if I need
to, allows conferencing, have voicemail
(emailed to me), and isn’t expensive. I
have solved that set of needs by using
Lingo (VoIP) on my broadband connection, with no local line as backup, but
with my mobile available if the Lingo/
broadband is out of action. In an emergency, I can use either Lingo or mobile
whichever is closest to hand. The Lingo
costs me $19.95 a month for unlimited
US, Canada and Europe, which pretty
much defines where I call. Per call pricing outside those areas is reasonable.
92
So - if long distance charges are increasingly bundled into VoIP (and non-VoIP)
based service packages, and especially
if this is bundled into my high speed
internet/Entertainment package at home
- why would I bother with Skype?
Hope this doesn’t sound like the last
wimperings of a fading telecom person!
Stuart Henshall: I’ve not had time to
read the history on the list. Just jumping in.
Lingo is one of the best PoIP plans
around. I think Broadvoice may be even
cheaper for even more countries. As you
note they are effective plans.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
However, your note doesn’t mention the
impact of “presence”, ad-hoc conferencing, audio quality - stereo positioning is
coming, IM/Chat Integration, video, and
always on etc. Elements that are changing how we use and experience conversations. (In this realm there was also a
nice post by Barlow recently called “The
Intimate Planet” http://barlow.typepad.
com/barlowfriendz/2005/01/the_intimate_pl.html .
There is an “Online Presence Spiral” and
this links to a great paper by Douglas
Galbi. http://www.henshall.com/blog/archives/000718.html
I’m a real advocate for intensive use. Not
that Skype may be the only solution; it is
elegant in its simplicity. There are fewer
steps to make a call in Skype vs the
phone or even most mobiles. It’s easier
to return calls etc. That’s probably just
hygiene factors.
Where it really changed what I do is in
“global” connections, sharing links while
talking, and adding in screen sharing file
sharing etc. The capability for an “independent” to hold a global conference
call 4x per week for sometime hours really changes the “who” I can work with.
Having audio where I can hear helps
too. The majority of conversations I hold
on Skype combine text and chat. That’s
something I can’t do on the phone (Well
I can with a Bluetooth headset and my
Nokia using Agile Messenger and Opera,
would be clumsy). Similarly, the “how”
I contact someone is changing. It’s that
“Presence” thing.
In today’s world a “ring” may be rude,
a text message intrusive, when a voice
message may provide a timely update
when you need it. The PoIP plans still
ring, can’t text effectively, and don’t enable voice messaging.
Still at the heart of it I’d choose a Skype
call over a phone call any day of the
week. It’s better sound quality. Until better audio comes along --- then I’d probably go there too. After all what I want to
do is talk and listen.
Retzer: Steve asked: I sometimes think
I am really missing the excitement here
in these recent emails about Skype , and
I cant fully put my finger on what is
missing.
I’ve used it only briefly but it worked
better than a popular VOIP service that
charges. Only briefly because of the
relative inconvenience of using a pc as
a phone.
Steve continued: I’ve then thought about
using Skype from a PocketPC to avoid
using a mobile ...
Your comments didn’t mention that
Pocket PCs increasingly have WiFi so
that you don’t necessarily need to use the
cellular time and you can overcome poor
cell reception indoors if you have WiFi
available. So, go on your business to a
conference where you have WiFi. Connect your bluetooth headset and be fully
connected all day with just the pocket
PC rather than drag a laptop and disturbing folks when the phone goes off. Use
your GSM time and cellphone service or
Skype as desired - forward the cell to the
Skype if you like. I’ve found a lot of conferences in places that have pretty poor
indoor cell reception. Consequently, this
is also a way around that problem. This
is all speculative, however as I don’t
know people doing this now.
Forster: What excites me about is that
they’ve taken an axe to a whole lot of
infrastructure and associated people, allowing them to deploy a very high audio
quality but extremely low cost infrastructure.
You’re absolutely right that using a PC
for a phone has some drawbacks. I believe it’s technically straightforward to
put the client code into an dedicated
device (an appliance if you will) so that a
PC is not required. With respect to taking
incoming calls off the PSTN: yes, that’s
another very valid issue and huge limitation. But I believe that’s fixable as well.
Heap: To prove I am not a caveman, I
did call Stuart on Skype and had a good
discussion about the merits of Skype in a
business context - especially for consulting or global interactions. Quality was
great! There are some good thoughts
93
below and I will watch the other comments with interest. Not convinced yet
for “ordinary” residential use where I
have already dropped Verizon and my
entire “phone bill” is $20 a month, but I
will watch this space!
Ciscoʼs CMX Platform
Promotes Mobility
Across Wireless Access
Networks
Matson: Spent an afternoon with the
mobile team of Cisco Systems earlier
this week. They believe that the ‘mobile’
operators move into the ‘fixed’ space
is the major trend ... and that providing
mobile operators with a fully mobile IP
ability - regardless of access network - is
a key opportunity.
But to hear Cisco talking about “creating network embedded intelligence” to
counter the peer-to-peer IP connectivity
across a “dumb network” was somewhat
surprising!
Forster: Hey, we’re a big place, and we
try to sell to all sorts of different customers with quite different viewpoints.
The groups responsible for selling to a
particular set of customers tend to think
like those customers. The groups selling
Ethernet switches are lot more comfortable with the dumb network / smart edge
notions, but even there the pain of dealing with the incredible mess of today’s
desktop systems running Windows will
drive many to desperate acts.
Matson: They claim their Mobile Exchange (CMX) platform will permit the
customers of mobile operators to roam
over various mobile access networks (
GSM, 3G, WiFi etc etc). Not only that,
because the CMX unpacks and categorizes every packet (to determine URL,
location, file type, content, time, type of
service etc.) it will afford mobile operators to support any business model - such
as identifying a packet and either blocking it or charging for it!!
I can’t believe Cisco has changed its core
view of a world of “the dumb pipe with
intelligence at the edge” if for no other
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
reason than Cisco makes intelligent devices and there is a bigger business down
the line selling to the “edge” than “networks”. But in these chaotic, confusing
and disruptive days transitioning into the
IP world, Cisco cannot abandon the market potential and commercial opportunity
afforded by major cash-rich players (like
the mobile operators) who are “on the
defensive” in the new paradigm shift and
want to deploy intelligence to try and do
anything they can to halt the Tsunami.
Well now we know what Cisco are doing
to help them “evolve into the future”
(their words)! They claim to have 80 mobile operators ‘on board’ with their CMZ
platform and will be making significant
further announcements at the forthcoming GSM event. Cisco is desperate not to
be relegated to commoditization and are
even venturing with radical new charging model with this platform - e.g. $x per
user. Worth watching
Coluccio: “But to hear Cisco talking
about “creating network embedded intelligence” to counter the peer-to-peer IP
connectivity across a “dumb network”
was somewhat surprising!” wrote Malcolm Matson.
I agree that such a statement coming
from a company that vowed to replace
switched PBXes with its own VoIP gear
sounds counterintuitive, but if their audience consists of fixed and mobile wireless operators, then I’d hardly call their
statement surprising.
Forster: Right. (And we did move off
Lucent’s PBX’s, several years ago. Only
recently we moved off the old voicemail
system onto our own IP-based Unified
Messaging System. It’s a big pain to
move thousands of users to a different
system).
Coluccio: If a telephony model is based
entirely on its intelligence residing within the client’s software there is not means
of monetizing their services.
It’s now axiomatic to say at this point
that as application intelligence is pushed
to the “outermost edge” (to differentiate
from the ISP’s edge), and into the client’s
end point software, so moves the value of
that application. These circumstances are
hardly the sort of heart-lifting prospects
that vendors and operators who’d like to
capitalize on the original dream of the
shift to Layer 3 like to hear, much less
promote, when addressing new markets
with their wares.
Matson: Don’t get me wrong. The longer
we are in this period of paradigm transition (lengthened primarily in my view
by misguided regulatory/public policy
intervention) the more ‘visionary’ public
companies like Cisco have to attend to
the short-term interests of their shareholders by developing revenue generating opportunities created by the vested
interests dedicated to extending their
old-paradigm shelf life and slowing the
transition. So I am not criticizing Cisco
and I suppose I am not in that sense “surprised” that a major public company such
as Cisco should seek to generate revenues by serving deep-pocketed vested
interests rather than end users who will
benefit from the demise of such cashcollecting intermediaries.... but then I
suppose I was.
Maybe it simply highlights the fact that
once a public company - then the need to
hit revenue/profit targets transcends all
else - which is why, as an entrepreneur
with private funding backing for me
and the “vision”, I can be single-minded
about where I am going ... trying to accelerate the transition of the chasm ... at
whatever cost. I’m sure Bosack, Lerner
and Co. know what I mean!!
But What is the VoIP
Market?
COOK Report: Is VoIP now mature
enough to be worth talking about only
in the context of what the surmised customer base is? Does it make any sense to
suggest that such a customer base falls
into three broad categories?
1. Ordinary consumers - SYPE
2. Telcos - sip based proprietary systems
3. Enterprises - because of security issues
they don’t like , BUT do they want the
SIP gear being designed for the phone
companies? If not why and what then do
94
they want?
Coluccio: Narrowing the field of ‘customers’ down to just three, i.e., Consumers,
telcos, and enterprises is in my opinion
an over simplification. What happened
to the large base of government-based
networking taking place, not to mention
an even larger base of enterprise customers, municipalities, greenfield operators,
condominium builds, etc?
To further break it down, some enterprise
customers are asset-based network operators unto themselves (some in a very
large way), meaning that they own major
portions of their own infrastructures. I
submit that in each of the categories of
‘customers’ listed above you will find
both SIP and Skype infiltrating into traffic flows, whether they are sanctioned
or not.
Enterprise IT departments fill proxy roles
similar to that which David refers to
when he speaks about the vendor-telco,
or vendor-consumer relationship. In the
case of the enterprise, IT is both service
provider and the vendor that counts, and
has the last say in what is authorized
and what is not. So, IT folks, too, have
to listen to their ‘customers.’ And while
there are many applications that make
sense, like IM, those apps don’t always
become endorsed or supported by IT
in a timely manner. If they are compelling, they eventually find their way onto
users’ nodes, even it if means putting the
enterprise logo on them first. And this is
exactly what I’ve seen happen in my client organizations.
And in a way that we’ve seen this take
place with IM already, where the Merrill Lynches (I believe), the JPMs and
many others have implemented it, we’ll
very likely see the same thing occurring with a -like application before long,
if not licensed directly by and others,
themselves.
You asked earlier if I’d offer some examples of enterprise applications that
might be conducive to , perhaps in banking or brokerage. How about junkyards?
Junkyards and financial trading floors
share more than one legacy together, you
know :)
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
One is a form of public address system
application that is tied to a conference
circuit arrangement known as a “hoot
and holler” network, or, variously as,
“shout down” circuits, or even “order
wires” in some folks books. With some
tweaking to ‘s conferencing features I
can see where similar functionality could
be achieved, although I don’t know just
how far tampering with it would constitute creating another application altogether. See one vendor’s approach to
hoot and holler over IP, below:
http://www.bsslimited.com/Business/
KCS_IP_Hoot.html
Cisco has done considerable work (as
have others) in adapting this application
to IP, as well:
http://makeashorterlink.com/
?B6EF5267A
It doesn’t take too much imagination
to see how ‘s conferencing capabilities
might fit here. I wrote the following
introduction to the article that follows,
which should expose some of the reservations that I have, however, since force
fitting Skype into enterprise will not be
as acceptable as most would think. There
are the usual security issues to deal with,
but beyond those there are compliance
mandates that must be honored with
regard to disaster recovery preparedness,
and Sarbanes-Oxley implications, as
well. Remember, too, that many voicebased financial trading ‘circuits’ (oral
session facilitators?) must be auditable
to the same extent as their computer-data
counterparts, meaning that they must
be recorded (i.e., conversations are recorded) and tied to D/R backup facilities
through a maze of failover gunk, besides,
at least to the extent of meeting minimal
criticality measures.
What follows is a message that I posted
to my SI Forum earlier today, prefacing
an alwayson.com blog post. I’ll play it
back here in its entirety: --[Frank Coluccio: After having used
Skype for only about a month, not to
mention having read several very recent
in-depth interviews with its founders, I
have found all of the implications of that
are offered in the article below to be at
least highly plausible, and most of them
true. What the author states about the
RBOCs resolve to see their convergence
plans to the end this time as opposed to
their earlier announced plans of ten years
ago is particularly in line with my way of
thinking, since for them NOT to follow
through with robust video capabilities
would amount to their hanging up their
sneakers for the last time.
http://www.alwayson-network.com/
comments.php?id=8478_0_4_0_C ]
Begin "alwayson:" The -TV Connection VoIP is forcing telcos to go Hollywood.
Michael Stroud [iHollywood Forum] |
Posted Feb 9: Since Skype invaded my
life, I understand why the telcos are so
desperate to take over my TV set.
My kids’ nanny makes one-hour phone
calls for free every day to her family in
Hungary. I myself plan to call my family
and office in Los Angeles for free when
I’m in France next week. And a buddy I
told about Skype a week ago is already
calling a Canadian business partner every
day, for free.
Worldwide, about 67 million people have
downloaded Skype. How long until one
billion people realize that they can make
unlimited free calls to their friends?
How long until everybody does? One,
two years?
Until then, I can still switch my entire office over to a Voice-over-IP service like
Vonage, and save around $500 a month
on my employees’ phone bills—and
while I’m at it, port my phone number
and incoming calls to my laptop at Starbucks. Hell, I could even Skype over Verizon or Sprint’s EVDO networks—getting unlimited broadband Internet AND
voice calls for around $80 a month.
So what’s all that got to do with TV?
Everything. There’s no margin in voice
calls any more, and the telcos know it.
If they want to survive, they’ve got two
options: bundle commodity services together (wireless and wireline voice and
95
broadband internet); and start zapping
lots of video down their fat pipes. In
other words, get into the TV business.
It hasn’t been lost on the Bells that while
the fees they command for voice calls
have been collapsing, cable companies
have been raising their programming
fees, year after year. That’s because—
satellite notwithstanding—cable operators have remained monopolies in their
markets, while the telecommunications
market has exploded with competition.
This is a qualitatively different situation
than the telcos faced ten years ago, when
they announced expensive and impractical trials to bring video-on-demand,
interactive TV, and other services to
homes. Or when Hollywood super-agent
Michael Ovitz contracted with Nynex,
Bell Atlantic, and SBC in 1994 to develop interactive services over phone lines.
Then, the telcos were dilettantes with
deep pockets. Today, it’s succeed or die.
You can still be skeptical about Verizon’s
and SBC’s publicly announced plans to
invest billions of dollars to offer IPTV
to consumers. But don’t doubt that this
time they will stick to their TV plans
to the bitter end. If they fail, they will
either buy a cable company or be bought
themselves. After all, ten years ago,
who could have imagined that mighty
AT&T’s long-distance business could go
for a paltry $16 billion?
In their battle to implement IPTV, the
telcos’ advantage over cable companies
is the same as their disadvantage: they’re
starting from scratch.
“The telcos are in the enviable position
today that they don’t have this massive legacy investment in all this cable
video technology like cable companies
do,” said Ed Graczyk, marketing and
communications director for Microsoft
Television, which is providing the underlying software for SBC’s and Verizon’s
IPTV services. Cable companies, Graczyk said, have “billions invested in the
underlying technology and services.”
Cable networks are designed primarily for programming; broadband internet
was added later and uses a different
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
architecture. Because interactivity was
added as an afterthought, uplink speeds
are slow.
SBC and Verizon plan an integrated,
open IPTV architecture that will offer
lightning-fast user interaction with the
network and nearly limitless channel possibilities. Think instant channel changing
(no one- or two-second delays after you
click the remote control), thousands of
on-demand channels, multiple picture-inpictures, and multiple camera angles.
Cable companies won’t take this lying
down. They’re planning to ultimately
upgrade their own networks to IPTV,
although they’re tapped out from their
massive investments to go digital.
For both sides, the Holy Grail is offering
so-called Triple Plays or Grand Slams:
packages of three or four services that
will reduce customer churn and create
the economies of scale they need to profit
in an intensely competitive environment.
For Verizon, that means offering wireless and wired voice services, broadband
Internet, and television. For Comcast and
Cox, it means adding telephone service
to their cable and broadband Internet
services.
For both cable operators and telcos,
telephone service will be the commodity
product and perhaps even the loss-leader
they need to drive consumers to more
profitable multimedia services. Because
if they try to gouge you for your phone
calls, you can be sure they’ll turn you
into a Skyper, too.
The Importance of
Directory Services
Stastny: Regarding Gordon’s three categories [of broadband], - I would put
municipal networks under enterprises, as
they have essentially the same requirements
The 3rd point can be split in two:
a. Enterprises connected to telcos
b. Enterprises wanting to peer directly
Case a is supported within the sipconnect
group that is found at http://www.sipconnect.info/mc/page.do with its interconnect draft in turn found at http://web.
memberclicks.com/mcdatafiles/site/sip/
SIPconnect_Version_1_Draft_2-2-2005.
pdf
Case b may the most important use case
for ENUM
Fixed Telcos and mobile operators are
currently coming back to the market of
VoIP very strongly, both in the US and
in the rest of the worlds (see 3GPP/TISPAN/ATIS using IMS, but finally the
whole issue boils down to the question:
will the consumer need telcos anymore
or not? Note that the SIP server manufacturers play a crucial role here, they
may even be betting on the wrong horse.
The horses they should be attending to
is the device and end-user application
providers.
Device manufacturers basically do not
care who is buying their equipment,
just look at the mobile phone industry
Of course they like to sell in bulk via
service providers, but they also sell to
the end-users. And any general-purpose
mobile phone or GSM-enabled PDA is
another step to the death of the service
providers.
The big US carriers, the big mobile operator groups and also the cable operators
are currently competing like mad within
and between the groups and they seem
completely forget Clay Shirkys’ Zapmail
example: http://shirky.com/writings/zapmail.html
You can compete with everybody except
with your customer So this battle will
be decided from the customer, and the
first one really satisfying the customer’s
needs will succeed
Skype is well ahead here
Coluccio: Hi Richard. I had to read your
message twice before I realized that you
would have been much better served in
my opinion if you had prefaced it with
the following qualifier: “From a directory services perspective, ... “
Stastny: Hi Frank. Sorry, I am currently
96
so immersed in addressing, numbering
and naming issues that I assume automatically everybody else is also ;-)
Coluccio: There’s hardly any cause to
sound an apologetic tone. The single
most rewarding aspect of participating
on this list, if not challenging at times,
as well, has been the kaleidoscopic effect it’s had for me and I’m sure others,
seeing the world through so many other
professionals’ eyes on a sustained basis.
I certainly appreciate your viewpoint and
those of others, even when connecting
the dots, using both real and virtual links,
sometimes requires cracking a dust collector, or two ;)
Stastny: In my opinion what will be left
in future as service on the Internet, besides hosting services will be “directory
services” or “identification” services.
This starts with the existing DNS, continues to the move of existing number translation services to the Internet (Number
portability, IN services), using ENUM or
something else, RADIUS etc. for roaming, certificates and public keys, and will
end with RFIDs.
Coluccio: Failing that measure [directory
services], your message would have end
nodes connecting to one another through
an imaginary ether. It appears that you’ve
entirely ignored both the network and
physical layer dependencies below the
services layers in your presentation. How
do enterprises connect to one other independent of telcos or cablecos or WISPs
and ISPs, for example, regardless of what
form of addressing is used?
Stastny: This is easy: the “imaginary
ether” is the IP network. It all boils down
that you know the IP address of the other
party. Ok, some additional information is
helpfull, but this also can be served with
the existing infrastructure, the DNS und
URIs To get the other “ether”, the E.164
numbers in, you need a translation service, e.g ENUM.
So what you need is a namespace and
a centralized service (with the current
development in P2P you may not even
need this)
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
Regarding IMS, this discussion here is
a bit US centric and IMS was up to now
more Europe centric. I personally am not
convinced of its success (in my opinion
it is much too complicated), but mobile
operators like it and now also fixed operators (TISPAN and ATIS. End of March
there will be a joint 3GPP/TISPAN/ATIS
workshop on NGN IMS in Washington.
Earlier - Coluccio: This raises yet another question: Can a discussion concerning
the manner in which naming and addressing is accomplished be fully meaningful
without also taking into account the
service organizations that are supporting
access, aggregation and transport? I suspect that the answer to this would be yes,
if one were looking solely at the services
layer and ignoring everything beneath
it. But if you zoomed in to a set of real
world conditions, would it? I’m not looking to nit on this. I’m merely highlighting my view that one must be mindful
of all adjoining layers when addressing
solutions to any one of them, if they are
to be held responsible for managing the
services of any of them.
On another note, unless I missed a portion of the discussion here, yours was the
first message I’ve read on this list, aside
from an article of my own several weeks
ago, that even mentions the acronym
IMS, by which I take it you mean IP
Multimedia Subsystem. I find this a bit
curious, given the nature of the discussions that have been taking place here.
I’ve surmised that there must be a natural aversion to it, which is fine in one’s
own mind, except that by not exposing
the elements of IMS, and its potential
implications, I find the overall discussion wanting to some degree, due to the
inevitability of having to contend with its
existence in the future.
Skype and Motorola
Marketing Partnership
& Motorola Ultra Cheap
Mobile
Coluccio on February 14: I thought it a
bit odd that there would be no mention
of this release here on the list. There
doesn’t appear to be any mention of it
on their web sites yet, either. If anyone
can shed any additional light on this, it
would be welcome news. From Converge Digest: 15-February-2005 Volume
12, Number 029
“Motorola and Technologies announced
a co-marketing collaboration that will
provide greater connectivity options and
access for Skype ‘s more than 25 million
registered worldwide users. The alliance
will explore opportunities broadly across
both companies. The initial focus of the
collaboration will be on co-marketing
of new optimized Motorola ‘ Ready’
companion products, such as Bluetooth
headsets, dongles, and speakerphones,
as well as delivery of the Skype Internet
Telephony experience on select Motorola mobile devices. Motorola ‘ Ready’
companion products are expected to be
available in the first half of 2005.”
COOK Report: I knew about the announcement but only because I had a
Chat with Stuart Henshel who informed
me rgarding it. Stuart told me that Dmitry
Goroshevskii is doing a federated peer to
peer challenger to Skype. Would that be
good for use by hoot and holler systems
I asked? "Ohhh yes," said Stuart.
Coluccio: Say more about Goroshevskii
and federated, please.
Henshall: Martin Geddes wrote a piece
on [Goroshevsky's] Popular Telephony
and Peerio that may be interesting to
you. Generally the jury is still out. Are
they vapor or not. I’m yet to see anything ever. Still they get press, I don’t
know why. The ideas are interesting.
See http://www.telepocalypse.net/archives/000602.html
“Telepocalypse to Goroshevsky: So
Skypes‘s problem is a lack of private
namespaces?
Dmitry Goroshevsky: Exactly. In our
system you run your own Peerio network,
and join other Peerio networks as a special administration task. You authorize
a handset to join another network, from
which it receives an identifier, and it can
receive calls from the other network. It’s
modular. So just as an example, if you
have another company that you work
97
with a lot, you can create another set of
numbers you use just to communicate
between your two companies.”
Henshall: Now that’s a “federated” approach. Note not confederated. It also
has interesting security implications.
Separately I found myself playing around
with a crude number today. Skype
does provide #of concurrent active users
and “number of minutes served. Today
they broke 2 million concurrent users
and did over 3 million minutes in that
hour. The “Skype” time experience is
like no other communications experience to date. In my view the above confirms that. A possible hypothetical best
guess average usage around 500 minutes
per week. I played around with them
here. http://www.henshall.com/blog/archives/001120.html
I’ve also been mulling over the Moto
deal with Skype. The minute’s case
above means the “profile” of a Skyper
is not one that I’d think fits easily or
scales within the current mobile package for voice or data. Thus with handset
manufacturers it may present a real opportunity. Late night thinking is found
at: http://www.henshall.com/blog/archives/001121.html.
Could Skype’s real “case” already be
in the numbers? Could it be that Skype
doesn’t really know themselves? Quite
possible.
Matson: My inside contact in the London Skype team told me some weeks ago
that they will be launching a branded
WiFi handset for the Christmas 05 market - so we now know who the mfg. Is
[Motorola] ...and what will be top-selling gadget next Christmas!
Peter Ecclesine: “Operators develop
ultra-cheap mobile” By FT.COM – Feb
15
“An ultra-cheap mobile telephone has
been developed by an international consortium of network operators, in a move
that could transform the market by bringing mobile telephony within reach of
millions of people in developing countries.
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
Motorola, the world’s second biggest
mobile phone manufacturer, has developed the C117 handset in partnership
with the GSM Association, which represents operators worldwide, to overcome
the principal barrier to mass phone ownership: price.
The low-cost mobile project was initiated by nine operators, mainly Asian,
and the scheme will be piloted in Asia.
The GSMA has set an initial target of
6m handset sales in the first six months.
With other manufacturers expected to
follow Motorola’s lead, operators hope
the scheme will ultimately drive the
global industry towards 2bn connections.
There are almost 1.5bn people connected
on mobile networks worldwide.
The C117, which is expected to be the
first of a family of low-cost phones produced by Motorola, is likely to be sold
for less than $40 at wholesale prices less
than half the $100 that the GSMA defines
as low cost.
The GSMA, which hosts the industry’s
biggest trade show in Cannes this week,
estimates the C117 will open mobile
phone ownership to more than 700m
new consumers in Asia, Latin America,
the Middle East and Africa if it can ultimately bring the price below $30.
Rob Conway, chief executive of the
GSMA, said that while a low-cost handset offered the prospect of new growth
markets to operators and manufacturers,
it could also aid social and economic development in emerging markets.
“This is a stimulus that can really kickstart the economic development of certain areas. People get connected and that
helps them to build up their social and
business infrastructure,” he said.”
[Editor’s Comment: This is just one
more piece of the emerging jigsaw puzzle. It calls to mind the points so forcefully made by Sam Pitroda and CK Prahalad
in May of last year and published in our
September October 2004 issue. Namely
Asian markets are huge and consumer
electronics development for those markets will need to deliver goods that are
very different from the US and European
Markets. I suspect that this cell phone
development is a very significant move.
Increasingly there is a very viable wireless infrastructure in all parts of India and
China – imagine running on 100 million
of these new very low cost cell phones in
two years time.]
Goroshevsky, Popular
Telephony and Peerio
COOK Report: Thanks to Stuart for
his pointer above to Martin Geddes’
Interview with Dmitry Goroshevsky. I
have read it and find the concept very
intriguing. A couple of questions. Would
any self-respecting enterprise ever install
code like this without being able to inspect every line of it? Is the guy going
to claim that his stuff doesn’t have to
go through NATs because its is used
with “federation” and can use his GNUP
whatever as a gateway to get where he
needs to go?
Coluccio: Gordon, it may have slipped
your attention, but we discussed an enterprise adaptation of the other day very
similar to this during our own call. You
may recall my mentioning WalMart, by
name, supporting its own p2p voice applications with restricted access controls,
and using gateways [GNUP? in this
case?] to its suppliers and to the PSTN,
where ‘WalMart’ permits ;-)
In generalizations on this topic, I don’t
think that I ever, or at worst I have
seldom, referred to the calling model
introduced by Skype in a singular sense,
always preferring instead to use verbiage
like “Skype-like,” or “and other similar
applications,” for this very reason.
COOK Report: Is no one anywhere really
USING Goroshevsky’s stuff?
Richard Stastny: I had a entry (rant)
about this on my blog in November
2004, http://voipandenum.blogspot.
com/2004/11/gnup-numbers-anotherhot-air-teaser.html I copy it in here for
convenience:
GNUP Numbers - another hot air teaser
from Popular Telephony
98
I am not an expert in marketing, but
one potential strategy seems to be to
get all potential customers feed up with
the company before the service really
starts. Whereas the competition (Skype)
is announcing new services only after
deployment, “Populistic” Telephony is
only deploying hot air.
They also seem to have a weird understanding of the meaning of weeks and
days. In my simple understanding a week
is a week and a day is a day. Not so with
Peerio, GNUP, PT or whatchumacallit.
Since May 2004 they announced on their
Peerio444 <http://www.perio444.com>
webpage that new beta-testers will be
accepted within two weeks. In the meantime the webpage was replaced with
“looking forward” into the void. [Editor:
On March 24, 2005 - the above url was
no longer valid.]
At the Fall VON 2004 they announced at
the both, the service will start November
1st, 2004 and will be called GNUP.
OK, on November 3rd one could download the so-called PT Inspector (6MB),
which did basically nothing but check if
something is available at the PT web-site
and tells you the service will start in three
(3) days. After one week it stopped working (did not find the PT web-page, so I
downloaded the new version (only 4MB
now), containing a patch to find the webpage again - and obviously a optimized
software saving 2 MB to do this.
Then the next teaser was announced on
the blogs: you now can get a number!
So I retrieved my GNUP number: (8844)
4294967265
Since Tom Keating <http://blog.tmcnet.
com/blog/tom-keating/voip/voip-blog/
popular-telephony-gnup-registry-nowlive.asp> got (8844) 4294967281 registering a bit earlier, they seem to count
down from 4294967299 ;-).Who came
up with this number? A random generator? Or has this some secret numero-logic
meaning? Freemasonry?
The PT Inspector still tells me the service
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
will be available in three (3) days, so
somewhere in 2006, maybe.
Anyway, I wonder what (8844) means.
From talking to the PT guy at the VON
and reading the flyer they distributed,
they are planning to make a petition?
PT to ITU-T to get country code 884
(which is currently reserved) assigned
for their use.
Although I told them that you do not get
CCs from ITU-T assigned by petition, but
by request and that there is no way to get
a CC assigned to a carrier (here you may
request one out of 882 xx - which is easy
and does not take much time - assuming
a proper request), but only for a service.,
and here you need first a service description. This path is more time consuming
(as I know from personal experience ;-).
On the other hand, they could either use
878 10 or they could even request 878 20
or so. But they seem to know better and
just start to use 884, because it is unused.
ITU-T will really like this.
I wonder which measures will be taken
eventually by national regulating authority if carriers within their reach start to
route numbers on the PSTN to non-existing Country Codes, considering Resolution 20 <http://www.itu.int/ITU-T/wtsa/
resolutions04/Res20E.pdf> of the WTSA
2004 <http://www.itu.int/ITU-T/wtsa04/index.asp> , which instructs:
4. the Director of TSB, in close collaboration with Study Group 2, and any other
relevant study groups, to follow up on
the misuse of any numbering, naming,
addressing and identification resources
and inform the Council accordingly;
5. Study Group 2 to study, urgently,
necessary action to ensure that the sovereignty of ITU Member States with regard
to country code numbering, naming, addressing and identification plans is fully
maintained, as enshrined in Recommendation E.164 and other relevant Recommendations; this shall cover ways and
means to address and counter any misuse
of any numbering, naming, addressing
and identification resources, and of call
progress tones and signals, through proper development of a proposed resolution
and/or the development and adoption of
a Recommendation towards this aim.
Enterprise Voice Issues
Yield Many UnKnowns
COOK Report: I am left with the impression - a rather bizarre one at that
- that the consumer space with Skype,
Vonage, Lingo and all that lot is seriously far ahead of the enterprise. Why?
Forster: What’s so strange about that?
Consumers, or at least early adaptor
consumers, can try out new things much
more easily than large enterprises. Enterprises would inevitably go through an
evaluation process and would uncover
50 different reasons why anything new
is incompatible, insecure, unreliable,
or just too new to adapt so they have to
stick with the status quo. At this stage in
the market for new telephony services
the new players can claim success with
1-10% adoption, but no enterprise IT
department would endorse something
unless they expect to use it for most
or all employees. IT departments like
uniformity not diversity. Eventually, if
there are large cost savings or productivity increases then the enterprises will
respond.
Shockey: As per other comments its not
surprising that consumers are pushing
VoIP ahead much faster than enterprises,
With Skype the benefits are simple,
demonstrable and immediate and they
don’t have to go to committee to define
a implementation schedule.
COOK Report: Are primary issues there
ones of security and interoperatbility?
Forster: No. A primary issue is decision
process time, i.e. inertia.
Shockey: Well yes and no. The security
mavens in many enterprises have demanded that Session Border Controllers
(aka fire walls on steroids) be installed
to present a single point of ingress and
egress to the internal VoIP network and
the effect of these devices are not completely understood by anyone including
the vast majority of the SIP community.
Some Edge Network Element was necessary to implement STUN ICE etc but
99
some vendors have made promises for
these devices I find hard to accept.
Service providers think SBC are necessary since they need a point of ingress
where they can maintain and meter state
for calls that must terminate on the PSTN
and do things like “SIP mediation” which
is basically fix implementations that may
or may not be standards compliant.
In addition the security model for SIP
trunking is not well developed. it is assumed TLS between proxies but this
does not solve the termination carriers
problem of billing which means MCI
need to know with some level of certainty that [email protected] who is
trying to create a session is really Joe
Blow of IBM.
Jennings: I think this is somewhat
wrong. RFC 3325 provided a solution to
this and in truth MCI does not care if it
is Joe or not. They care they can prove
it was IBM and that IBM will pay the
bill. MCI offers this service today so I
think it is pretty hard to argue something
is missing.
COOK Report: Where does Sarbanes
Oxley fit into all this? Does it mean that
there are whole new escalating concerns
of security that mean that a vendor that
sells security has a big edge over one
with just cost on its side....
Shockey: In financial industry applications this is a big big deal. Reuters for
instance developed a private secure SIP
based IM system for bond traders. $18K
per seat per year.
COOK Report: Are enterprises really
shy about innovative VoIP technology
because they don’t have interoperability
and because they are scared of proliferating security dangers?
Forster: They’re probably concerned
about spending a bunch of money on
staff and equipment and then running
into bugs and delays, and not delivering
results.
Henshall: Suggestion: Who is leading
the revolution in call centers? I’m not
referring to the back end rather re-think-
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
ing how we that is you and I engage with an 800 pound gorilla positioned to win ages do carriers have to offer enterprises
a call center. At the moment there is lots the enterprise? What kind of interoper- that will satisfy combined concerns of
of push one or two, wait and hold. Then ability is needed that isn’t yet here? What cost and these other issues?
you get dropped. Tried a HMO recently? kind of security?
Shockey: Well remember what is the
Hung on for half an hour. The paradigm
that is emerging is a world in which we Shockey: Its not a security model prob- Holy Grail here. Direct SIP trunking of
have no need to hang on. We call, click lem. It’s a trust - identity management calls over IP from the edge of the Ena call to: tag on a website, get a text problem. How do I know you are who terprise directly into a Carrier Network
for termination. Eliminate or reduce the
message or a simple voice recorder for you say you are?
number TDM T1 trunks at the edge of
capturing our message, agree to share our
“availability presence info short-term, Jennings: Well as Richard knows I’m the enterprise and you tip the economic
get an update in terms of likely return one of the author on the IETF solution balance way in favor of VoIP and mess
call time and then get the right operator to that problem and one of Richard’s up the LEC’s big time.
calling us back when it is still convenient colleagues, Jon Peterson, is the other cofor us. We’re less frustrated. The opera- author (see http://www.softarmor.com/ COOK Report: Is the enterprise really a
tor is better selected. Plus there are some wgdb/docs/draft-ietf-sip-identity-03.txt ) mess from the standpoint of voice as an
application on its networks? If so what
compelling additional things the co could
However, I’m not sure I see this as a steps must be accomplished to improve
do as a result.
problem. You have no way to tell whom things?
Move from caller on hold to call back re- this email is from. If I called you on
quests combined with text support where the PSTN, you would have no way to Shockey: It’s lots of things. Remempossible. Share short-term presence info know that my caller id was correct. That ber SIP and ENUM like technologies
to facilitate the connection and recon- works fine for enterprises today. I agree completely decompose the features and
nection if necessary. Etc. For web based that knowing who you are would be an functionality of the PBX into plug and
catalog businesses I’d think it would be improvement to communications - but I play components You are beginning to
immediately compelling. Similarly for question the idea that lack of it is a show see the emergence of demands by major
enterprises that - gee, I like those Cisco
Banks and online Financial institutions.
stopper.
phones but I want them to work with my
For not much in monetary early learning Don’t get me wrong I think knowing Avaya IP PBX. Oh I’ve got 7 different
could be captured now.
who I was communicating with would Voice platforms ..I want to manage a unibe a big step forward - I just don’t think fied dial plan across the enterprise that
COOK Report: How can small vendors that it is table stake because no one has all of the platforms will support.
compete under these circumstances?
it today.
Jennings: All the open source PBX
Shockey: You’ve never actually had to What happens as Skype goes on mobile (Vocal, SER, Asterix, sipX, etc) seem to
configure a Cisco Call manager have devices? How does the enterprise protect work great with Cisco phones and gateyou? They have lost several major stra- itself from voice conversations it can’t ways. I asked Avaya if their PBX would
work with Cisco phones but so far they
tegic accounts in the past couple of years control?
have not got back to me yet :-)
-- including Merril Lynch because of the
inherent problems and lack of native SIP Forster: Look at what’s happening with
IM’s, PDAs, and cell phones. Enterprise Forster: If things look like a mess then
support in Call Manager
IT departments in some cases try to we’ve passed out of the early euphoria
Jennings: Funny you should mention control these but I suspect in many cases stage, which is good. We’ll just have
this. We did loose the Merrill deal some- their employees start using there before to keep muddling along and see what
works best and who does it best. There
what over a year ago however I never they’re ‘supported’ by IT.
is huge change taking place, but if we’re
heard SIP mentioned as something that
was involved in that decision at all. How- Shockey: Like DUH, Skype simply disappointed by the short-term expectation gap we may still be amazed with the
ever, Merrill after doing some work with works.
longer-term results.
the company we lost to reversed their
decision and decided to go with a Cisco Jennings: What happens when you use
system. Needless to say we were pleased AOL, Yahoo, etc inside lots of enter- Henshall: Telio www.teleo.com was preprises. The Firewall blocks it. Some sented at [email protected] this week. It’s SIP
- The press release is at
enterprises will choose to block Skype and uses the GIPS voice engine. They
http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/2005/ too. The owner of the network will assert have US numbers available. Voice qualprod_020905b.html
policy on how it is used. Usual cat and ity is comparable to Skype in all ways.
The client is effectively still PoIP. It’s
mouse games will ensue.
not Peer to Peer and all calls are routed
COOK Report: How can Nortel and
Avaya compete with Cisco? Is Cisco then COOK Report: What kind of VoIP pack- through the server in SF so it won’t scale
100
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
the same way. It has no chat facility and
presence is only online or offline. It’s a
good Vonage replacement today. Fee and
prepaid minutes. Minute charges appear
very competitive.
Coluccio: note what this article says: ‘...
an alternative to Microsoft Windowsbased machines, can sell for as little as
$200.”
(It appears that PCs, like voice, are in
a race to the bottom. Where zero wins?
C’mon, now... how far can you leverage
free... I suppose we’re getting ready to
see.)
http://www.internetnews.com/infra/article.php/3483726
Skype, Xandros Bundle VoIP, Linux By
Colin C. Haley February 16, 2005
BOSTON -- Internet telephony specialist
and desktop Linux developer Xandros
will bundle their products and sell them
through retailers including Amazon.com
and Walmart.com.
The agreement was announced here
Wednesday at the LinuxWorld trade
show in conjunction with a preview of
Xandros’ new Surfside Linux operating
system for consumers.
“We share the same values in trying to
lower costs for our users,” Eileen Broch,
director of product management, said,
adding that the agreement marks the
company’s most aggressive move in the
Linux community to date.
With more than 25 million registered
users, Skype is surging. Its software,
which uses an instant-messaging-like
interface, enables free Voice over IP
(define) calling between its broadband
users.
The Luxembourg-based company, which
is privately held and venture-backed
by Draper Fisher Jurvetson and others,
wants to boost revenues with paid offerings, as well.
As part of its pact with Xandros, users
will receive credit for about 120 minutes
for the company’s Out product, which
enables calls to landlines and mobile
phones.
more powerful and broad generalization
here that can be drawn here.
Regularly, the Out service costs about
2 cents per minute for calls to 20 of
the world’s largest markets. Other paid
services, such as voicemail, are expected
soon from Skype.
Skype is not the first Internet application
that has become viral, and it would seem
that the keys to becoming viral are:
Skype officials believe today’s deal will
expand its base. Xandros’ Surfside OS
also includes the Firefox browser, Thunderbird e-mail, a headset and security,
including anti-virus and firewall applications. Xandros-based computers, an
alternative to Microsoft Windows-based
machines, can sell for as little as $200.
Financial terms of the -Xandros pact
were not disclosed.
The pact comes only a day after Skype
trumpeted a broad agreement with mobile phone giant Motorola (Quote, Chart)
at the 3GSM World Congress in Cannes,
France.
That partnership will focus on collaboration and joint marketing of “Skypeready” products, such as headsets and
speaker phones, as well as lay the
groundwork for delivery of service on
Motorola mobile devices.
Skype Not Tied to
Specific Hardware
Can Act as a
Virally Infectious
Communications Agent
COOK Report on February 18: Let me
see if I can articulate a couple of threads
after having talked with Stuart.
Richard Shockey was saying to me and
others more than two years ago that
voice with VoIP is just a bucket of bits.
YES - it its the SOFTWARE “stupid.”
– Yes, he called that one right. But things
have moved on since then big time. What
I think we may be seeing here is do the
basic software voice program right, then
let it lose and watch it virally infect everything.
Tony Li: I think that there is a much
101
- Provides significant practical value Broadly deployable - Free
Moreover, the opinions of those stuck
in the previous paradigm can safely be
ignored. Broadband (and more generally -- higher bandwidth) always enables
new applications and since IP is the
ubiquitous transport, the only real delay
is in discovering needs and engineering
the solutions. This is the real message
of the Internet: communications is only
limited by your imagination. Complexity is evil, and pragmatic considerations
rule the day.
Bandwidth uber alles,
COOK Report: BUT for the infectious
agent to do its work it cannot be JUST
a Wintel platform. It has to run on EVERYTHING
Which is another way of saying that the
software has to be severed from the hardware. Ergo it is another way of saying
WHY Skype runs on Windows, Linux,
Mac OS-X and if I recall correctly soon
on Symbian for smart PDAs that act as
phones, and on the Microsoft agent that
works on cell phones? Forgive my lapse
of knowing the proper terminology.
You know I am Neaderthal in many respects -- no I-pod, no cell phone, never
owned a PDA, so I am being drawn
thankfully here into some new areas. Not
having these other devices (cell phone,
PDA etc) to play with has meant that I
have been slow on the uptake.
Anyway back to the main subject at hand
- while I understand corporate concerns
and security concerns thanks to Frank,
Melissa and others I am concluding that
the profound story here in "VoIP land"
is not Vonage and Ciscos stuff, and SIP,
and IP pbxs etc - this stuff, one way or
another is tied to hardware and not surprisingly tied to the phone system and
its related hardware.
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
Instead, this stuff (Skype), free and
viral, is tied only to one thing. To
BROADBAND and its underlying infrastructure. It could care less whether
it rides over DSL or cable modem. It
does both with equal ease. And now it is
being freed to ride on mobile. Namely on
Wi-fi and cell phones. Skype certainly
depends on all the existing layers of the
protocol stack. In that sense there is
nothing magical about it. In depending
on broadband it has to depend on the
infrastructure that enables broadband.
While end user premises and connections would need some serious upgrades
to run end user controlled ligthwaves,
these same end user connections, if they
deliver broadbrand, can deliver Skype
without any changes to the underlying
network infrastructure.
Skype will move forward in the rest of
the world whether the enterprise likes
it or not, and the applications that will
grow up around Skype will give broadband another huge push that just email
and the web cannot.
Sebastian Hassinger: I believe that
Skype is just another sign of the inevitable restructuring of the communications
sector from a vertical to a horizontal
orientation. Whereas the landscape has
been historically been dominated by vertically integrated firms who own and
operate networks, selling bundled connectivity and ‘value-added services’ to
its subscribers, we are moving towards
horizontally layered network providers
(various flavors of broadband, wireless
or wired) with the ‘value-added services’
(applications) provided by unaligned
firms that ‘float’ on top of the networks.
This is a natural evolution for maturing
networks, and in fact one could argue
the communication sector’s transformation is way overdue, retarded by the
incumbents’ reluctance to change and the
regulatory deck that has been stacked so
decidedly in their favor.
One reason this decoupling is inevitable
is the economic reality that the optimal
business models for selling network connectivity and network applications are
at odds with one another. An operator
wants to drive as much high value traffic as possible across its network and
an application provider wants to reach
the broadest audience possible with its
service. Therefore, a vertically integrated
operator/provider is always internally
conflicted - the network business wants
its value-add services to be bound to the
network it owns, in order to increase the
traffic and the value of that traffic. The
value-add service (application) business,
however, doesn’t want to be bound to the
network because that limits its market
reach.
Imagine a -like application owned by
a DSL or cable provider that favored
its own network - allowing free calls
only to subscribers on the same network, for example, and charging for
calls that ‘leave’ the network. Imagine
this network-bound -like app competing against the actual Skype with its
polymorphously perverse disregard for
the underlying network of its users. No
contest. In fact this is the often the case
with the features of the mobile networks
today - free calls to other subscribers on
the same network, or Push-to-talk only
interoperable with phones on the same
network, or even the spotty operation of
SMS across networks.
There is a robust business in operating
‘commodity’ networks that are agnostic
to the applications that push bits across
them, but it is a far leaner model than
that practiced by the vertically integrated OpEx heavy firms of today. Some
will make the transition gracefully, some
won’t.
Matson: Precisely, Gordon - you are
getting hold of the OPLAN principle
coming at it from the other direction. It
is software that makes the link between
networks - not networks concluding
interconnection agreements in the old
world way. As I have explained before
- the OPLAN “island of local connectivity” is the essential building block - totally unconcerned and uncontrolled as to
how and where ‘bits’ enter and exit the
OPLAN -- unlike a central-office-centric
cableTV or telco network.
Coluccio: Don’t forget that with Skype,
in and of itself, is not *the* content that
102
is being delivered. It is, in fact, a part of
the underlying stack that enables delivery of that content, instead.
Why am I nit’in on this point the way I
am? I’m sensing, not only here but elsewhere, as well, that some would have
regarded Skype as some form of ethereal manifestation poised to be used as a
wholesale substitution of all that has preceded it, when, in fact, it merely muscles
in where it can in the existing structure,
becomes a participant in that structure,
and then steps onto the shoulders of
existing constructs in a very selective
and focused way, instead, so as to be
unencumbered by their usual constraints.
In this way it is able to ignore much of
the gunk and glue that make national and
international networks function the way
that they currently do.
Skype is not the message. It is a part of
the medium.
Skype from an
Enterprise Point of View
COOK Report: Melissa Davis has been
watching these discussions from the private enterprise, proprietary, intellectual
property, security point of view. The universe she lives in is drastically different
from the type of world that Stuart and I
were talking about in our interview. She
sent me some of her thoughts privately.
We talked at length by phone. As a result
I would like to open a new thread that
will talk about the reasons that a very
significant segment of enterprises will
never allow Skype inside. Why they
could because of Skype’s architecture
never afford to allow it inside, even if it
were the enterprise’s own virgin version
of Skype run independently inside the
enterprise’s firewall,
I did get the impression that enterprises
might begin to build their own Skype
like applications that would do Skype
like things in a way that the enterprise
felt secure in being able to meet its legal
and financial responsibilities in a way it
could not do with the current version of
open but proprietary Skype.
There are lots of questions here. Among
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
them are whether the big enterprises
feeling breathing at their doorways will
create their own like applications sooner
than otherwise would be the case? will
these parallel forces enable the telco’s
to trash their circuit switched networks
sooner than otherwise would have been
the case?
Stastny: E.g. SIP? There is basically
nothing you cannot do in SIP what you
can do in (even P2P), you may even do
more and what is even more important
for enterprises: it is not proprietary and
you know exactly what is going on inside.
Enterprises hate proprietary solutions,
they do not want single source. The big
advantage of Skype is that it is simple to
use, but this is not a big argument for an
enterprise.
It is not between ENUM and Skype,
it is SIP vs. ,Skype but you are correct
somehow: for ENUM you need URIs,
basically sip URIs. There is nothing like
a Skype URI. Consequently, Skype is a
walled garden NGN, more walled then
the 3GPP/TISPAN/ATIS NGNs. Consequently, the decision will be made by
the enterprises: if they will go SIP (and
ENUM), the hype will fade away, because the normal users will use the same
client.
But if the companies are not fast enough
to provide their employees decent communications and simple SIP clients to
use on their laptop, PDA and Smartphone, the employees will continue to
use Skype. Skype is now used already
by many business people on the road.
COOK Report: Are we indeed headed to
a world where the only thing monetizable will be bandwidth?
Forster; No. While I agree that Skype,
and VoIP in general, are adding to the
pricing pressure on voice-type services,
I don’t think bandwidth will be the only
thing that will be monetized. Whenever
an amorphous and ill-defined service
that is done somewhat differently for
many sets of customers at great expense
can be crystallized into one thing that
can do 90% of what everyone wants very
conveniently and at low cost there is a
great opportunity for profit.
What seems to be different is that for
telecom the service used to be defined in
terms of what came out of the wire (telco
demarcs), or how the device behaved
(cell phones, IM devices, etc.), but now
the only constant is the IP packet and IP
address; all the rest is in constant motion
and the result is a lot more like software.
Adding to the confusion, sometimes the
software is momentarily solidified into
devices (Skype in a phone).
Coluccio: Jim, one word in your message caused me to reflect: “momentarily”. Unless it was merely extraneous
verbiage, please explain why you chose
to qualify it as such. I’m tending to think
it’s got something to do with the limited
capacity of some mobile devices, but
not sure.
Hassinger: This may be my personal
prejudice warping what you wrote, if so,
please correct me.
As a related aside - if we are headed for
a bifurcation of the providers of applications/value-add services from those of
commodity connectivity, who will subsidize the purchase of the sophisticated
device for the end user?
Forster: Hmmm. I don’t know if the bifurcation will be so strong as to preclude
bundling deals between the various players on either side of the connectivity/application boundary. Or even investments
by the existing providers in the newcomers, which of course would facilitate
bundling.
COOK Report: Lots of unanswered questions.... Melissa? Frank?
Forster: Frank, what I was thinking was
that the functionality is somewhat frozen
for a time so it can act like a fixed-function device, but recognizing that it’s
really software and need not be frozen
forever.
Skype and Enterprise
Security Issues
Hassinger: Jim, am I right in assuming
that while you don’t believe that only
providing bandwidth will be able to
capture value in the market, you would
agree that telcos and mobile operators
can only reliably derive profit from “the
IP packet and IP addresses,” i.e. connectivity/bandwidth? Leaving the capture
of value from software-based services
to those, like Skype, who “crystallize
into one thing 90% of what everyone
wants?”
1. Despite Gordon’s enthusiasm for
Skype:
Forster: I guess it depends on how
adept the telcos and mobile operators
are. Probably some of them will make
this shift. IBM was adept enough to shift
quite a bit over the last decade.
The mobile operators do have inherent
value beyond bandwidth: location. They
know about where the phone is and this
can be valuable although it’s not clear if
it’s a major value or how well they will
capture it. It partly depends on things
like the typical screen size on mobile
phones.
103
Melissa Davis: To Richard Stastny I say
right on point here in many ways.
1.1. No one in my communication groups
or customer groups feels [any need]
other than to configure their network
desktop management systems to detect
agents, destroy them, and report the offender for violating security policy, not
against per se, but against using nonapproved applications, and exposing the
corporate network to outsiders by maintaining easily exploitable open TCP port
80 connections.
1.2. Enterprises own their networks, the
infrastructure, the machines, and the software that runs on them. Those machines
are for business use, and the user signs
an end-user agreement to that effect.
This notwithstanding, the enterprise cannot dismiss liability for misuse, fraud,
theft other than by due diligence based
on industry standard, and judicially recognized as “reasonable” procedural defenses.
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1.3. Enterprises have already gone down
this path with Napster and Kazaa. Hence,
they are not unprepared with policies,
guidelines, practices, and corrective action. Use of Napster and Kazaa or other
P-2-P tools are as punishable by dismissal, litigation to recover losses, and
prosecution on par with importing or
exporting sensitive information through
email, ftp, portable mass storage device,
or other more traditional means.
2. Regardless of whether enterprises
could create a Skype of their own, I
agree with both Richard and Malcolm
that there seems to me no earthly reason or cost/benefit to so do. As Richard
points out, commercial and government
IT want, and in some cases are constrained, to buy COTS (commercial offthe-shelf) software. Advantage: products
that are supported and can do SIP, H.323
transparently and use SS7/IP signaling
when PSTN destinations or sources are
required.
Vendor maintenance and support are a
necessity and a financial no-brainer relative to the costs of personnel and training.
3. Commercial and government networks
are still accounted as a “cost of doing
business”. That means, for those of us
who have operated and run big networks,
quiet and controlled. That is a fundamental difference from those who simply are
“users” of networks, such as end-users.
4. My big customers have huge security
concerns. Just one location with 7000
users reported 11 million penetration attempts in just one month. P-2-P applications, such as Skype and “GoToMyPC”,
which, by means of their operations,
bypass layer 3 and layer 4-7 firewalls
and IDS/IPS sensors/detectors, allow the
thievery, brigandery, highway robbery,
vandalism right into the core infrastructure.
5. VoIP still is of primary interest, as
a cost avoidance for replacing expensive legacy PBX’s, as well as other
advantages. SIP, SIGTRAN (SCTP and
SCCP-UA), H.323 are of interest. Those
protocols fit with the ability to manage
and control the network.
6. ENUM, as a directory service, to
allow location of devices and persons
associated by XML links to devices, call
re-routing, call direction (e.g., next available customer service rep, or high priority service rep for platinum class users,
or “if Jim is busy, ring Doug if free, else
Sarah) still is a concept to be proven.
6.1. it must have authentication
6.2. it must have authorization attributes
6.3. it must be protected against the very
kinds of vulnerabilities that fuel the daily
escalating wars between vandals, thiefs,
brigands and netadmins with DNS
6.4. it must be secure from RATs and
tiny data miners that will make ENUM
a greenfield for IP Phone Spam, identity
theft, and “phishers of men.”
some very preliminary discussions with a
couple of large US system integrators.
I am wondering if this is part of a larger
trend?
Davis: To my knowledge, there has been
only a single instance of such to one of
the Agencies of the U.S. Government. I
know personally about that one. I have
to tread very carefully here due to NDA’s
and internal corporate constraints.
UCLP in some form, whether directly
Edge-to-Edge controlled or controlled by
a rapid web interface OSS/BSS of a provider is imminent. The Canadian NRC,
the US DOE/NNSA, DoD, Treasury,
Justice, the US Homeland Defense are
all constrained to maintain the most rigid
security on their WAN links.
Much of this is still shaking out.
I don’t see a Skype vs. vendor based
VoIP contention. Animals co-exist in the
same eco-spaces if they are not competing for the same food source.
For some people, and this includes me,
we have opted out of the Microscheiss
tax and security holes. That doesn’t mean
that Microsoft feels threatened by us in
its desktop market.
I am an architect and an engineer. I leave
the broad sweep vision thing to others,
and avoid polemics.
I think about and act on the next few
steps. There being no money for me in a
de-monetized application, Skype is just
not something I think about.
There is a major RFP that will be released in April for the entire Federal government. This one is called “Networx”
(US GSA) and is a replacement for the
older GSA “FTS”. Winning a selection
place doesn’t immediately transfer to
contracts, but it does free other Government Agencies from having to let bids.
They can just buy from the list of preferred providers.
Matson: Gordon - Many of us think
that the major private enterprises simply
haven’t begun to understand the implications of flat, universal global peer-to-peer
communication has for their business
models and very structural survival. I am
not sure there is much to be gained by
“blue-skyping” the future in this manner,
but I have for years held to the words of
the great Walter B. Wriston:
St. Arnaud: Melissa: Agreed. Well said.
Are you seeing any changing requirements for wide area networking because
of security? Lately we have seen a couple
of RFPs that will not accept MPLS VPNs
or VPLS because of security concerns.
This, of course, is music to our ears in
terms of UCLP. IN fact one major project
that we are deploying is linking all the
NRC labs in Canada (Canadian equivalent of DoE labs - but on a smaller scale)
with UCLP so that they can manage their
own truly private network, and reduce
number of firewalls etc. We are also in
104
“”The philosophy of the divine right of
kings died hundreds of years ago, but
not, it seems, the divine right of inherited markets. Some people still believe
there’s a divine dispensation that their
markets are theirs - and no one else’s now and for evermore. It is an old dream
that dies hard, yet no businessman in a
free society can control a market when
the customers decide to go somewhere
else. All the king’s horses and all the
king’s men are helpless in the face of a
better product. Our commercial history
is filled with examples of companies that
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
failed to change with a changing world
and became tombstones in the corporate
graveyard.”
Maybe Wriston’s wisdom applies to a
much higher level of the established
order than just individual “companies”
and “markets” in times of seismic technological change such as we are currently in.
Davis: Malcolm, I totally agree with
both of your statements above, but not
the implication lying transparently in
your syntactical construction, some indicative mood form of a French “n’est
pas” implying that the audience should
bow in affirmation.
1. I haven’t seen such business models.
2. Enterprises (private, public, government) have business models globally and
very distinct component models, each
with differing levels of need for the CIA
triad (Confidentiality (sensitivity), Integrity, Availability).
If your statement and your quote are
simply techno-religious a priori value
axiologies, of the now trite cliche of
“Internet vs Telecom”, or “Power to the
People and tear down the walls of the
oligarchs”, or a moral imperative for the
kind of transparency that makes long
haul optical glass seem opaque: then
we simply have nothing more to say to
each other. I don’t share your axiologies,
therefore discussion is impossible.
The eco-spaces of end-users and their
communications needs are fundamentally different from those of complex organizations, though for some businesses
overlapping at the edges.
Enterprises, whether privately held, publically held, or governmental have external constraints to protect and maintain
confidentiality and integrity of certain information stores and transaction records.
Consumers are not so constrained.
Enterprises are playing in a competitive environment. Intellectual property,
business strategy, and much of corporate
governance must be maintained with
restricted availability to “need-to-know.”
The cost of loss of availability, as to
propagating worms, is huge in any business, where, for the end user, loss may
be inconvenient, but of minor financial
impact.
Per the following quote from the Skype
web page: “We prefer to think of ourselves as a big group hug, even a present.
Yes… that’s it… we’re a present… but
without the ribbon.”:
My customers and I retort: “Beware of
geeks bearing gifts.”
Skype, Firewalls and
Security
Coluccio: Also, what of my earlier implied observation above concerning Skype's‘ ability to penetrate WiFi hot spots’
firewalls, even when those hot spots are
not part of such a promotion or ongoing
service?
Davis: Frank, perhaps I haven’t explained
sufficiently how Skype, and other such
“firewall-friendly” applications work
(also reference “GoToMyPC”).
As David Reed has said often here, the
insider threat far, far outweighs the outsider threat.
Skype is not penetrating the firewall
from the outside in. Skype penetrates
the firewall from the inside out, on the
same TCP Port 80 or 443 connections
that are open by design for web browsing. Skype goes out just as your Firefox
or (hopefully not) Internet Explorer goes
out to LightReading or CNN or Google.
What is different about this breed of applications (and GoToMyPC) is that they
maintain persistent strongly encrypted
connections to external untrusted or untrustable servers.
That may not matter to an individual
end-user or a “hot-spot”. It does matter
to any organization that is liable for at
least certain categories of its data stores
(by statute or to stockholders), privacy
of personnel and medical records, employee behavior (e.g., harassment). It
may seem “way over the top” for a
corporate or government agency to have
105
to acquire, secure, and maintain TB’s of
email stores, but the cost is far worse for
not being able to answer the subpoena.
Reed on March 8: Melissa - your point
that connections to from employees’ machines to outside resources pose a risk is
dead right.
But the risk is not exacerbated by those
connections being persistent or encrypted.
The real problem is that internally companies are “wide open”, so any random
person passing through (especially employees and their visitors) are exposed
to information they shouldn’t be allowed
to see.
Making rules at the membrane surrounding the company is like creating the
Maginot Line - you bet your entire security on the assumption that the path
the attacker will take is where you think
it is.
Essentially this is because keeping the
internal records secure *internally* is
viewed as “too expensive”. This unwillingness to do the job right shows up in
lots of ways.
Why was that “backup tape” of Bank
of America payroll records that made
the front pages last week not encrypted
when it was shipped on a truck and insured for a few hundred dollars? Surely
the BofA risk managers know that exposing such personal information is important to stop.
Similarly, you wouldn’t have to worry
about people making phone calls through
the firewall (even if the phone calls
could be hijacked by VoIP hackers to
carry other info), if the fundamental security principle called “the principle of
least privilege” were applied consistently
throughout organizations.
Protecting an organization against losses
should not be a matter of random stabs
in the dark, worrying about symptoms
and highly-hyped threats, but instead
should involve keeping the valuable and
highly private information inside an organization in a secure manner in the first
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
place.
terminate.
In other words, implement a security
infrastructure *inside* the organization
that limits access effectively.
5. In side the internal collision domains
are internal SPF/FW’s and stealth mode
IDS/IPS sensors. The main function here
is to monitor the presence and epidemiology of worms, port scanners, unusual
activity. The legal “procedural defense”
rationale is to establish that user behavior
is subject to monitoring. Now, you and I
know that packet sniffing is a notoriously
bad way to do something like that, given
the sheer amount of traffic, but it is arguable and is argued.
Then Skype or VoIP or whatever cannot
be a threat in the first place.
Davis: David, You are dead right about
everything you have said, with a single
exception that I, at this moment, disagree,
but am willing to be further informed by
your argument if you will advance it another few steps.
Point I wish further clarification on immediately below: David Reed wrote: But
the risk is not exacerbated by those connections being persistent or encrypted.
But first Per agreements: 1. Simple
“Maginot Lines” of perimeter security
are of little usefulness, for enterprises
with the beaucoup bucks they spend on
SPF/FW devices.
2. Inside the “RED ZONE” (Public Internet) perimeter are the email and web
packet content inspection and filtering
engines, the publicly facing Directory
Servers (Border Directories), SIP Proxies
(if exist), Web Proxies, and IDS/IPS (Intrusion Detection Systems/Intrusion Prevention Systems), TACACS+ and RADIUS RAS (Remote Access) services.
The Citrix Nfuse and ICA servers would
sit here, if exist. For medium companies,
this is a single DMZ.
3. For larger enterprises, the description
in #2 above, exists in an Orange Zone
DMZ, handling traffic primarily facing
the Red Zone, or the Public Internet. The
main ingress and egress MTA’s would
sit here.
4. Behind the Orange Zone is a Yellow
Zone DMZ, primarily handling traffic
and transactions within and between the
various Green Zones (considered Trusted
Zones). Intranet Web Servers serving as
secure portals for internal transactions
(e.g., finance, HR, labor, executive strategy) would be here, Yellow instead of
Green if the Enterprise wishes remote access. Or they may be in Yellow because
that is where the inter-data center links
6. The IDS/IPS systems are also there,
along with the NMS (Network Management Systems) to map traffic in effort
to discover “rogue gateways” (illegal
or unauthorized gateways to the Public
Internet).
7. Internal NMS monitor switch and
especially router interfaces and buffers,
again to detect the kinds of congestion or
malformed packets that would indicate a
potential packet pandemic condition.
8. Internal workstations and mobile laptops have virus scanners on them. With
internal workstations, the scan engines
and signature updates are pushed out
with software transparently to the user.
9. Laptops are a huge problem and are
getting more and more attention as a
political battle focuses on locking them
down vs “creativity and innovation.”
Increasingly, mechanisms are being
planned and experiments being done
with requiring scanning before the login
is consummated. That is, with a login
request, the user request is placed in a
queue while another process patches and
scans “out-of-compliance” machines.
10. All of this, as you know, should follow a thorough assessment of what infrastructure and data resources an enterprise
has, triaged by risk (impact of loss or
compromise).
It is here, David, that your major point
of “least privilege” applies. Is it done?
In my experience, yes when it comes to
infrastructure (routers, switches, server
sysadmin).
106
My experience with application access,
and most particularly data store access,
is that it is much easier for a business
unit steward to grant privileges than to
revoke them. If there is a formal employment adverse action, the revocation is not
so difficult. Absent that, and particularly
in “white collar union” shops and civil
service, one could be challenged to meet
almost criminal proof standards to sustain such a revocation.
Further, particularly North American enterprises have largely followed by a long
way that of major European enterprises
in adopting X.500-like LDAP Directory
Services, which allow authentication to
be done globally with authorization done
locally (with a few mouse clicks). Consistency checks and date checks can be
run to produce alerts on possibly stale
permission attributes.
David Reed wrote: But the risk is not
exacerbated by those connections being
persistent or encrypted.
Davis: David, here is where I may be
blinded by my own training and the cybersecurity culture in which I immersed
myself after the Bust.
1. the persistent, always on, connection
seems to me vulnerable to any number
of hijacking, session key theft, and intrusion techniques through known exploitable applications, e.g., Windows Media
Player.
2. the persistent connection is simply out
there hanging for any black hat to use
as a route of propagation for any kind
of malware they have, again, Windows
Media Player is an excellent example of
a propagation route
3. if I allow a non-encrypted connection,
even locally to a proxy, I have the snooping ability to investigate suspicious activity (an insider exporting protected information or a “captured” insider machine
with RATs, Zombies, Trojans, Data-Miners and other digital critters.
4. perhaps not in general with , but definitely not with encrypted sessions, can I
enforce what I am compelled to enforce,
specifically calls which are sexually ha-
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
rassing, conspiratorial, etc.
Please tell me what I am missing.
Reed: Melissa - Disclosure doesn’t require persistent connection. A novel’s
worth of data (plenty if you are trying to
capture a corporate strategy) is only half
a megabyte or so. Given the number of
bits flying in and out the doors of any
company, that takes an instant. It fits in
a tiny corner of an otherwise innocuous
document, perhaps by misspelling occasional words in emails over time. It takes
a few *milliseconds*, not hours.
Disclosure doesn’t require obvious encryption. At the network level, you or
anyone else cannot understand what 99%
of the bits mean, or understand what bits
are reasonable and what ones are not.
It may be that you think you are mandated to listen to everyone’s phone calls because “sexual harassment law” requires
you to do so. I understand that that’s the
interpretation of many lawyers.
Independent of my judgment of whether
that’s good public policy, it’s also technically stupid. You cannot assign enough
people to the job to notice and block all
attempts at sexual harassment merely
by listening to phone calls. Even if you
hire a whole staff of outsourced Indian
English-speaking listeners at low dollars
per hour!
The same argument applies to the idea
that you can monitor every possible
word flying through the network and
prevent theft of information.
The answer to blocking theft of information is to control the flow of information
to the small number of people who need
to know in the first place, not buy thousands of dollars of equipment because
you want to buy Microsoft’s garbage
systems and patch them around the edges
because they do not allow you to build
appropriate security policies at the right
grain in the first place.
Davis: We have no disagreement here.
Your words below capture the problem
eloquently.
Reed: The answer to blocking theft of
information is to control the flow of information to the small number of people
who need to know in the first place, not
buy thousands of dollars of equipment
because you want to buy Microsoft’s
garbage systems and patch them around
the edges because they do not allow you
to build appropriate security policies at
the right grain in the first place.
Davis: As for the monitoring, again we
have no disagreement. As a practical
matter, no team of people is large enough
to monitor the volume of transmissions
and content filters are easily fooled with
syntax (e.g., double negatives) mis-spellings, and shared secret word substitution.
In the case of suspicious behavior, with
internal crypto, such as PKI, the stream
could be encrypted and the transaction time recovered under legal or other
policy permission.
But for now, the main points are those
of the lawyers and the “procedural defense”, as well as the fact that these enterprises continue to pour big dollars into
defective insecure operating systems.
Skype in the “Civilian
World”
Schulzrinne: “Civilians” do get some
of the power and capabilities that larger
organizations had a while ago. This tends
to broaden availability, but there is little
evidence that the same technology implementation is appropriate for professional
use or somehow puts the professionals
out of business. They definitely tend to
exert downward pressure on prices, as
3Com found out when companies like
Dlink, Netgear and Linksys entered the
LAN space. Cisco and Extreme Networks seem to be doing fine, however,
and I haven’t seen a large organization
throwing out their Cisco gear for Linksys
switches. (I know that Cisco now owns
Linksys.)
The demise of telephone service as a
major revenue generator for the ILECs
will likely have little to do with softphone clients like Skype and much more
107
with cable companies offering this as an
add-on service, in addition to Vonage,
Callvantage and the like.
The interesting questions, financially,
is not how many people use softphones
like Skype, but how many would be able
and willing to forego paying the phone
company or its replacement.
It is indeed likely that the total amount of
money spent in corporations on PBX, IP
or traditional, is likely to decrease longterm, but that hasn’t been a major factor
in corporate IT spending for a while.
(We have had the same classical PBX
for twenty years, so the likely outcome is
that we’ll spend less money on the next
generation, but more often, as I can’t
imagine that we’ll use the same IP phone
and software for the next 20 years.)
The notion that peer-to-peer somehow
makes Skype fundamentally different
or better is naive, at best. The cost of
supporting a SIP server, for example,
in an enterprise is trivial, compared to
end systems of any stripe. (We have two
redundant Sun low-end servers, at about
$1000 a pop, for about 200+ users. They
could handle a large part of the university if they had to.)
Davis: I want to look at ENUM and
Reed’s Law and then build on Henning’s
economics:
Henning presents excellent points in his
paragraphs quoted immediately below,
especially with regard to the economic
case.
The collapse of long distance pricing
has long since eliminated the toll-bypass
economic arguments for VoIP of any
kind. The collapse of long bandwidth
and peering prices have reduced the
cost of operating a voice network on
the legacy circuit switched paradigm to
near cost or below. Flat rates for access
and flat rates for number of minutes
pervade the circuit switched business
pricing policies.
Legacy PBX’s, per Henning’s observations, largely function if supported
by maintenance contracts, are rarely a
security concern, and provide a comfort-
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
ing and economically desirable transition
time for the businesses owning them. It
is the rare commercial or government enterprise that will be stuck with the label
“early adopter.” The cost of being wrong
relative to the probability of being right
are just too great for careers.
Now to ENUM and Reed’s Law as it affects Skype and the predictions of scaling
in customer uptake:
Reed’s Law arose from a refutation of
Metcalfe’s Law (the n-wise possible connections being the familiar {N*(N-1)},
where, as N scales to “large”, approximates N^2 as a limit. Reed, without
giving the name of the female engineer
elucidating the refutation, paraphrases
her as showing that if N people make
one call per day, the communications
pair-wise connections approach N, not
{N*(N-1)}. Thus, Reed reports her conclusion, inevitable by her analysis and
his reflection, that it is the size of the
network, not the pair-wise connections
on the network at any given time, which
produces revenue.
Reed knew that of any group of N
members, 2^N possible groupings can
be formed. In group forming networks,
Reed concludes, the connections that a
network can enable then is 2^N, where
as N grows, quickly becomes to dwarf
Metcalf’s {N*(n-1)}.
MELISSA’s LIMIT ON REED’s LAW
(and by corollary a design requirement
for ENUM):
Both Reed’s Law and Metcalf’s Law are
simply simple two dimensional infinite
sequence models, necessary from the
algebraic rules on which they are formed,
but in no sense empirical, as laws of
physics, laws of cellular automata of >
two dimensions, or of complex systems,
that is dissipative systems.
While it is easily shown mathematically,
to the credit of both Reed and Metcalfe,
that it is possible to grow some infinite
network to infinities, it is equally clear
that neither Reed nor Metcalfe factored
in any dampening variables – in other
words boundaries with gradients.
Communications networks are connections of humans, thus are as much a psycho-social and psycho-physical phenomena as a technical ones, and the former
pair must exist with interest before the
latter. This is to say, there must be players in the game, playing under conditions
(rules, boundary gradients) which return
a value to them for the dollars and time
they spend.
If ENUM is to work, one must be able
to control one’s own entries, that is, to
turn it off for one’s own protection and
peace of mind. In the PSTN, we have the
option for private, unlisted numbers, call
blocking, etc.
By now it is well known that the O’Dell
curve on Internet growth that fueled the
speculative bubble was a statistical fluke,
that is the growth doubled every ninety
days for the two quarters under study,
and as far as is known, did not before
or since.
Some of us do not want that, celebrities
and otherwise. We have so much communication that we have difficulty being
productive, not the other way around.
As a psycho-physical model, Reed’s Law
doesn’t map to what we know well and
incontrovertibly about humans and our
great ape cousins. We not only are not
“on” for psycho-social contact (including
cyber-psycho-social contact) all the time,
but past a fairly stable mean, increases
in psycho-social “connections” become
aversive at an accelerating rate.
This would turn both the Metcalfe N^2
and Reed 2^N exponential curve into a
downward opening parabola. Too little
“connection” (pair-wise or group), and
there is a rapid uptake to grab for more.
Beyond the peak and duration window
(we have to map with Fouriers), and
interest declines with annoyance and irritability building.
This suggests to me that, Skype and other
“always on” kinds of vulnerabilities to
“over-communications” will set a limit
on the scalability of the medium and its
rate of adoption, absent any other dampeners.
The other dampeners are risk of compromise to one’s own communications
device, already well known as a highly
preferred epidemiological route of propagation of spamming email relays, email
address capture for spoofing, RATs, dataminers, worms, zombies, and other ugly
digital beasties.
ENUM:
108
Malcolm stated earlier this morning, and
other Skype fans tout, the “flat, peer-topeer, global communications.”
But Skype May Show
up in Some Enterprises
Sooner Rather Than
Later
On February 20 Coluccio: Over the past
two weeks, on an unsolicited basis I’ve
become aware of two instances, merely
by speaking with acquaintances, where
Skype is actively being piloted by a very
large business enterprise. In one case, I
was told of a publicly traded semiconductor manufacturer that has discovered
some flow-related issues that have arisen
inside its firewalls, which is looking at
Skype and should have a fix on, soon. In
another, a financial institution on the East
Coast is readying a launch of an application similar to Skpye (which was hinted
might even be Skype dressed up for the
occasion as something else), but no word
as to when that might be.
Shockey: I’ve heard this as well. Skype
is spreading like wild fire in European
circles. James Enck the noted telecom
analyst with Diawa Securities has noted
this extensively in his blog http://eurotelcoblog.blogspot.com/
Coluccio: And clearly, Skpye has had a
very active front office, despite images
one might conjure by statements in the
press about its limited size and presence, as witnessed by the number of very
serious announcements that have come
out over the past week, alone: a broadsweeping announcement with Motorola;
Amazon and Wal-Mart will be hawking
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
it i.c.w. a PC bundling arrangement with
a Unix OS and Firefox; and discussions
surrounding a host of mobile devices that
would become Skpye ready, soon, if not
already.
were originally intended, for some time
to come, and within designated zones of
trust. So much for the blue chips’ and the
government’s concerns over security and
reliability.
IM was once regarded with the same
level of skepticism and mistrust in large
enterprises as Skype receives today, but
over time it has gained acceptance, even
at the cost of losing its identity during
screen pops, yielding to the monikers of
the firms who employ it. And in those
cases where IM is used, in some cases by
the nation’s largest banks and brokerage
firms, they are indeed designed to operate as walled garden applications, barred
from receiving or transmitting anything
to or from the outside world.
Shockey: See the Microsoft LCS platform. What you described is being delivered.
Shockey: Excellent Frank. I recently
wrote a magazine piece pointing this
out.
Skype, Web Services
and Mission Criticality
Coluccio: Having said that, during the
near to intermediate terms, I cannot see
either IM or Skpye being used to fill the
shoes of mission critical applications or
any of the more advanced requirements
that are now finding their way into complex Web Services.
Shockey: They will once they become
standards-based. Web Services have
completely taken over the data exchange
market because everything around web
services is based on real documented
standards.
Coluccio: Instead, they will continue to
be used as a form of expedient to save
time and steps to get the job done, by
taking the place of email and phone calls.
And this will be so NOT because they
cannot be made to perform to fulfill the
more advanced functions, but for all of
the reasons that Melissa has stated.
But I do believe that they will find acceptance when they are modified and/or
tuned to the organization’s specific criteria as related to both security and their
boundaries on reach, and will receive
use only in the manner in which they
Coluccio: For the other ninety some odd
percent of the universe, however, they
will continue to adopt Skype in the same
ways and for the same reasons they’ve
ever adopted anything else. If it works to
a user’s favor, it will be adopted. If not,
then it won’t.
There are tens of millions of small to medium sized businesses out there whose
sole connections to the Internet consist of
one or two DSL lines or a T1 line or two.
Add some tens of millions of consumers
who attach via broadband from home,
and now from the street via certain forms
of wireless, as well.
And then we are hundreds of millions of
citizens of all types who overlap with at
least one of the categories of presence
listed above, which means that you can
then mark some of those individuals
down twice, sometime three times, as
candidates for using IM, or Skpye, or
whatever the next pop up act is that
comes along.
Several days ago I had an interesting
experience. I started out by having a
long business conversation over Skpye,
which migrated to my cell phone when
my laptop audio bummed out on me, as
it sometimes does without notice, and
then to my cordless POTS phone when
my cell phone’s battery showed signs of
expiring.
During that one and a half hours, approximately, I used the last mile services
of at least three service providers and
the Internet, without counting any of the
services on the other end of the call. And
consider, I am both a private consumer
and the owner of the consulting firm
whose business was being discussed during that call, and the party on the other
end of the line(s) was a client of mine
(who insisted on using Skype in the first
109
place!, and hasn’t stopped thanking for
my introducing him to it, yet).
How many times do I get marked down
for my participation during that single,
albeit multi-parted, conversation?
Hassinger: Gordon asked me to weigh
in on the web services aspect to VoIP
and Skype.
I see web services as a way to loosely
link application components - think distributed computing with less of the painful complexity that guaranteed it would
never be taken up en masse. In that
regard, there is clearly a whole suite of
voice-centric componentry that will be
required for the types of composite applications that enterprises (and end users)
will be wanting to instantiate.
These components and their boundaries
are not yet known and won’t be until
we get into full swing of implementing
composite, web services-based applications. They may range from versatile
client front-end to voice communications
to backend ‘message center’ workhorse
to generic ‘speech-to-text’ modules,’ all
for mixing and matching into cross-enterprise, category-blending applications.
It seems likely to me that the components
will need to be compliant with the dominant standards for interface, provisioning, and management (at the moment
these are Web Services, however I think
we still have some turns of the evolutionary crank to go before we get to the
‘final’ protocols for composite apps).
Like the Web itself, however, the approach is very much retro-fitting, and
therefore it is likely that a technology/
component will emerge as ‘best of breed’
*before* it becomes a standardized plugand-play part of the Web Services infrastructure. Why? Because loose coupling
and late binding don’t amount to much of
an incumbent advantage. If there were a
Web Services component for SIP calling
in use today and Skype became indispensable tomorrow, you could just slap a
Web Services layer onto the Skype client
and swap out the existing component.
The long and the short of it is that the
future of enterprise computing is look-
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
ing more and more like the capricious,
faddish consumer landscape. If Skype
or whoever convinces the world through
viral marketing that their technology is
a ‘must have,’ CIOs and IT departments
will have pretty feeble arguments to opposing that urge.
The very fact that we are discussing the
merits of Skype, a p2p app with a lineage that traces directly back to Napster
(through Kazaa and gnutella) proves
this point, at least to me. (It goes without saying that these are my personal
views and do not reflect those of my
employer.)
Reed: Sebastian’s point about late binding and loose integration is important.
Some control-oriented suppliers (the
usual near monopolies) and control-oriented IT dept. customers, see “Web Services” as the new SAP - the procrustean
bed that all corporate services have to
be forced into. But pragmatism suggests
otherwise - the key thing about successful companies is that they retain flexibility to learn new things and do new things,
and the sensible use of Web Services
technologies can achieve that. Only the
most bureaucratic companies let their IT
departments dictate how the lifeblood
of their companies, information, should
flow in their arteries. IT depts. that focus
on creating business opportunity (such
as new ways to connect to customers and
suppliers and partners) are the ones that
help their companies succeed. IT depts.
that resist new ideas in order to maintain
control often use “security” as a codeword for anti-strategic action.
It’s a paradox that is very simply endto-end secure, and end-to-end resilient
compared to such networks as the POTS,
cellular, and SIP+CALEA networks that
are compromised from the start, but corporate America is making up stories to
try to paint it as insecure and unreliable.
Skype has a problem, in that it is not
currently able to openly demonstrate
its secure nature (potential, and probably actual, because reverse engineers
would discover and expose the holes
rather quickly as they have with SIP
implementations), because its protocols
are proprietary and somewhat secret.
We had exactly the same problem with
Lotus Notes when I was at Lotus, by the
way. When the US government required
Lotus to weaken Lotus Notes crypto for
export (after I left) the proprietary code
in Notes made it vulnerable to accusations that the US was using it to spy on
non-US companies, and for all I know, it
was doing exactly that (my more grandiose spook friends hint that US suppliers
have private deals with the NSA to put
backdoors into every product that is marketed overseas; I don’t know if I believe
them, having never been asked to do so
at Lotus when I was in charge of such
things - I didn’t verify that some junior
programmer didn’t do exactly that).
However, that point is true in spades for
the SIP suppliers, because its security is
still dependent on every component of
a solution working predictably and correctly. SIP has no “brand” investment in
security, and it has no enforcement over
its implementers.
Sip Based Enum Wi-fi
Phones
On February 21, Dewayne Hendricks:
I just completed an iChat with James
Seng, who’s attending the APRICOT
2005 <http://www.2005.apricot.net/>
conference in Kyoto. James pointed me
to his recent blog entry titled ‘Giving out
WiFi SIP Phones’ <http://james.seng.cc/
archives/2005/02/21/giving_out_wifi_
sip_phones.html>. If you’re one of the
lucky folks attending the conference,
then you would have received one of
the new Hitachi Wi-Fi SIP phones as
part of the ‘APEET ENUM/SIP Live
Trial’ <http://www.apenum.org/APRICOT2005/Live_Trial>. Take a look at
his blog entry and consider the future as
more of these phones start to roll out with
support for things like ENUM. I have
had a Pulver Innovations ‘WiSIP’ phone
for several months now, programmed
to use my Vonage softphone account. I
haven’t made much use of it on trips due
to the problems with getting it to register
with commercial hotspots which require
web access of some sort to authenticate
and use their service. Hopefully, these
next generation phones will make travel
use easier then it has been to date.
110
COOK Report: Do read the blog
http://james.seng.cc/arentry
chives/2005/02/21/giving_out_wifi_sip_
phones.html .
Davis: SIP Enum is a viable option,
through a gateway, mediated by a circuit
layer proxy, to an IP PBX that allows
internal users to select availability options and what will be published . . .
and to provide this with authentication
and individual+role/group based authentication and authorization of voice mail
boxes via directory services, is a buildable service via metadata/XML. We
haven’t seen such yet.
But the consumer end-user market is a
different eco-space. There may be differential communications/IP within even a
small business: per our phone conversation, use of a Nextel VoFR walkie-talkie
may be all that is needed in calling from
the retail section of an Ace Hardware
store to the storage area in the rear. A
different kind of communication and
security may be selected for credit card
point-of-sale transactions and EDI interfaces with suppliers.
In an interconnected world, there can be
connected communities of interest with
walled garden protocols, but the wider
the community on some scaling factor
and the more complex the work through
applications, and the changing variances
on the need for confidentiality and integrity, the greater the commonality of
protocols . . . . . . yet, the greater the
commonality, so also the greater the risk
to any exploitable vulnerability.
We just don’t know how it works. SIP
servers are a risk, but one security officers more and more sign acceptance of
such risks --- because there is mitigation
that can be taken.
At least this link didn’t advertise itself
as “fire-wall friendly”. ;-) If you don’t
know what this means, it means that
the traffic of that application (e.g., and
GoToMyPC) slips through firewalls with
outgoing http, and the end-to-end encryption makes the information flowing
impenetrable to IDS or Firewalls.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
Hence, in a crafting of words as skilled
as Carl Rove’s mining of Red State
prejudices, “firewall friendly” is from
the reference point of the application, not
the reference point of the people who are
charged with defending the integrity of
the network.
Reed: If corporate IT thinks that security
is enhanced by making the internal VoIP
system non-interoperable with the “public” voice systems, that is not surprising.
However, it’s why corporate IT shouldn’t
be allowed anywhere near business operations.
The reason they call trade “intercourse”
is because it involves intimacy with your
customers and your suppliers. A business
that can only talk to itself will die the
death of the onanist.
Davis: David, I don’t think there is any
intention for that. Onanism refers to one
person and one only. Any business has
communications needs that are layered.
Any business constrained by the need
to mitigate its risks will be observant of
those needs as they are now. Corporate
competitive strategy and the latest and
greatest product prototype secrets are not
put in the company newsletter, nor are
executive strategy meetings broadcast on
Video/IP.
The substitution of an application or a
technology for the work to be done with
that application or technology, and the
scope and boundaries of that work is to
substitute the means of transportation for
the arrival at the destination and coordination of what is necessary to get there.
Coluccio: David, I understand your point.
However, I submit that our friends in the
black hat cadre have another view of the
term “intercourse.” And they appear able
to “do it” with impunity, wherever they
see an open orifice.
On Walled Gardens
and Getting to the
Other Side of Geoffrey
Mooreʼs Chasm
Something Melissa stated earlier caused
me to reflect on my earliest use of a
closed, purpose-built network, which in
some ways resembles the kinds of walled
garden networks we see in enterprises
today.
During the late Sixties I found myself
using a network set up via submarine
cable channels and satellite links meshing NY City, Paris, London, and White
Plains. Its purpose, like so many other industry ‘order wires,’ was to facilitate the
internal workings of telecom company
employees via express means, sometimes
‘nailed up’ to overhead loud speakers in
work locations, similar to - and in some
ways identical to - hoot and holler networks used by the junkyard and trading
floor crowds.
In the case cited above, every channel
that was used was a dedicated full-time
circuit independent of the TASI (time
assignment speech interpolation, which
was the analog precursor to digital speech
interpolation techniques used in early
TDM T-1 multiplexers) based network it
was designed to protect, thus performing
the function of an independent overlay
that could be used during times of cable,
satellite and TASI system failures. While
these are still used extensively today (see
url below), one might think of a wireless
based public safety and service network
in the same context, independent of public service provider facilities.
In my earliest contemplations of how
Skype would be used in a commercial
context order wires were the first things
to come to mind.
From: http://www.dsptele.com/products/
order_wire.html
“An order wire is a voice communications system used primarily by maintenance personnel to communicate between equipment sites. It is a telephone
system, but has no central office switching. It uses a portion of the network’s
bandwidth that is not normally used
for revenue traffic, such as the bottom
portion of the base-band spectrum or a
portion of an overhead bit stream. It is an
economical phone system that is network
owned.”
111
With substitution of a few words it’s easy
to see how my view of an IM-like voice
application might be supported by the
definition above.
Wetzel: Just my humorous point of view
regarding what I think of the corporate sector. I believe nothing good, new,
or technologically innovative will ever
come from that sector. They always will
be followers and join the wagon very late
when success is here. IT people in that
sector are worried about security issues
only because they want to keep their job
or protect themselves from their N+I
bosses. They sell them a firewall that lets
everything pass and they will be happy
because they got their firewall.
Davis: Damian, Geoffrey Moore, in his
latest and very popular two business
books on techno-business articulates the
same. But, one wonders why you think
it should be different with business and
technology, vs smart money in general. My grandfather taught me well that
“smart money is conservative money.”
Moore’s analysis of techno-ventures
show even most successful ones falling
into his now famously named “chasm.”
Most of the other successful ones are acquired by big techno-corps that have the
incubators to hone and refine, to focus
horizontally on the vertical success.
Money and the bulk of the purchasing
power is in the hands of the “middle
adopters”, the “middle late adopters”,
and the “late adopters.” Early adoption,
where large consequences for failure or
large costs on impact of operations and
labor are at stake, is simply foolish from
a cost/benefit point of view, and dollars
rule.
Damien, I am not saying I have never
been “an early adopter.” Hardly, but what
I am saying is that I am “an early adopter
who was mugged.”
Architecture doesn’t upset me. Skype
is an entity. Worms/Trojans/RATs/DataMiners/tiny NMAP port scanners are
entities. GoToMyPC is an entity. Microsoft is an entity. AT&T will soon no
longer be an entity. The old IBM and HP
are scarcely visible in the present incar-
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
nations. Cisco is no longer getting 90%
margins on cheap Motorola and TI chips
and NVRAM.
[Skype] will get traction or it won’t,
in some niche, some niches, and over
some duration. That isn’t an engineering decision or an architectural one.
When it begins to interfere with business revenues, it will be come a judicial,
regulatory, and legislative issue. I don’t
know how Skype will turn out. ‘Skype’s
success would be a huge push in “the
race to zero.”
Depressions, deflation, stagflation are all
about perceptions of economic and institutional instability. Capitalism works
because the big guys stay big, there is
enough room in this vast economy for
experimental innovation, and in times
of economic and institutional stability, there are incubators for those experiments, and time to allow them to get
traction and modify themselves to fit.
Revolutions impoverish everyone, and
usually for a very long time - as Japan,
Inc has proven. The shock that has rendered the Japanese stagflation impenetrable to monetary and industrial policy
is the shock to the culture of the collapse
of the real estate and banking enterprises, which were backed by a government/MITI that had so long promulgated
invulnerability and wisdom.
You are seeing now in the telecom field
what has been predicted. You are seeing
what your anarchistic leanings fear the
most . . . consolidation, or re-consolidation, “pay for play.”
IP won as the transport of necessity
now. No one cares, especially the ILECs
about the circuit switched legacy dinosaur and all are moving to max revenue
generating businesses and services away
from “common carrier.” FTTH is dead
except as a symbol - making almost no
economic sense with a single exception
- the ILECs see their competition for the
SOHO and residential customer as the
cable co’s, and each other as competitors for the large enterprise/government
space.
Services, the ability to deliver a branded
product with a stable provider at a reasonable price, is the game for SOHO and
the bulk of the non-early adopter consumer. You forget how techno illiterate
the consumer is. In the enterprise/government, bandwidth is simply assumed
to the edge. The differentiators are about
service delivery and SLA’s, as well as
MTSP (MultiTier Security Planning) deployments that cut the internal costs to
the enterprise and fovernment customer.
I don’t need a solution, Gordon. That isn’t
my game, predicting the broadsweeps of
some future. I am an engineer and an
evolutionist. Evolution doesn’t reward
more than very few of tens of millions
of mutations, and those are small ones,
mostly neutral in terms of survivability
and incremental improvements I don’t
know what optimization even means. I
know that what I have is a niche is grey
matter, experience, knowledge, and the
self-discipline to get more and make that
activity fun.
So I only think about getting through the
next few steps and how to get a decent
check for that. Being a player in the “race
to zero” is not in my interest, personally
or professionally (by association).
Skype and Grid
Computing
Having been an early experimenter, and
participant in research, with Grid Computing, I had been thinking of possible
parallels of how Skype or Skype-like
unified messaging might occur. In the
early days of Grid Computing, what we
saw was an almost purely horizontal play
with compute clusters, the grid controller’s only function being to manage connections, send and receive batches, order
packets, and transmit when all batches
complete.
Grid Computing is evolving into vertically integrated work, off loading compute-intensive work from the applications with which users interface, sending
results up to those applications (e.g.,
huge financial systems, nuclear emulation systems, huge financial-engineering
applications integrating project manage112
ment schedule, budget, timeline dependencies with costs over several to many
scenarios).
The discussions here on Skype led me to
such thoughts, especially after Jim Forster of Cisco suggested I try it.
Per what Frank Coluccio and Jim Forster have written, there is the possibility
to modify or reverse engineer the code
such to eliminate the persistent “(ugh)
firewall friendly” problems. We have
done so with internal-only IM with near
wire speed Web packet filtering/ACLs
(Access Control Lists), VLAN design,
and routing policies.
So, it was with that sense of serendipitous propinquity that I chased last
night’s link in slashdot to the following interview with David Worthington
in Beta News on the evolution of Grid
Computing. I share it as a possible path
or at least vector of Skype evolution.
Interview: The Future in Grid Computing By David Worthington, BetaNews
February 21, 2005, 11:41 AM
http://www.betanews.com/article/Interview_The_Future_in_Grid_Computing/1109004118
INTERVIEW Computing grids are software engines that pool together and manage resources from isolated systems to
form a new type of low-cost supercomputer. In spite of their usefulness, grids
remained the plaything of researchers
for many years. But now, in 2005, grids
have finally come of age and are becoming increasingly commercialized.
Sun Microsystems recently unveiled a
new grid computing offering that promises to make purchasing computer time
over a network as easy as buying electricity and water. Even Microsoft is said
to be investing in grids and Sony has
grid-enabled its PlayStation 3 for movielike graphics.
As interest in these distributed technologies grow, so does the probability
for disinformation. With that in mind,
BetaNews sat down with some of the
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
world’s leading grid guru’s, Dr. Ian Foster and Steve Tuecke, to set the record
straight and divorce grid hype from grid
reality.
BetaNews: Since we last spoke in 2001,
what significant developments have there
been in the commercialization of grid
technologies?
Dr. Ian Foster: Back then we were just
seeing earlier interest in grid technologies from companies like IBM etc. Since
then we have seen tremendous growth
and enthusiasm. And a lot of things are
being labeled as grid that perhaps one
could argue they are not. Perhaps they
are more, in some cases, computing cluster management solutions, but also some
substantial early deployments in the industry from companies like IBM and
Sun, and others like HP and so forth.
[snip]
COOK Report: Thank you, Melissa.
At the end of my conversation with
Stuart we talked about Skype’s possible
evolution. Stuart talked about the advantages of a federated system - which
system would incorporate the principals
of Goroshevsky’s design for Peerio - the
design could be done regardless of Goroshevsky’s lack of credibility. Federations
are mentioned in the grid discussion
below.
Certainly anyone can reverse engineer
Skype and probably should do so - including perhaps Skype in its next release
giving itself federated capabilities?
Part of the attractiveness of Skype is the
tool set it comes with. Skype really does
change the nature of one’s communication patterns - I am glad to hear that you
will be giving it a spin. Last night both
Frank and I were looking at the web doing slightly different google searches
in real time and swaping urls back and
forth via IM. Something not doable with
the same effectiveness via email.
While the architecture of the current
Skype carries risks - undoubtedly- what
can be done with it as a platform independent softphone in consumer hands
way exceeds what the other voip models,
tied as they are to the handset and the
legacy telephone system, can do. I think
this bears close watching. It will migrate
to businesses for sure. How far how fast
remains to be seen.
The Google Telephone
Network and a World
of Abundance in
Communication
And back to the Google dark fiber discussion (pages 71-76 above). Have you
all looked at Google’s new local feature
and ‘s voice mail? Look at the maps
available now on Google. It is much better than map quest. You can query those
maps for all hotels within five miles of
any address. Why not gas stations, restaurants, in short why not any kind of
specific retail business? And why not the
next feature being a Skype or Sype like
calling number for that retail business?
There is a potential here for removing
vast amounts of phone traffic from the
PSTN to the Google telephone network.
I am just try to see some of the possibilities of where this could go. But the
cautionary pushback is a welcome signal
to choose my words with care.
You have mentioned a race to zero that
I find frightening indeed - but it seems
that something - like it or not is happening - and the question becomes what are
the activities in the society that add value
and people will pay for? Or if not this
what does the question become?
Davis: Gordon, here is what I am looking
for: simply a business model that would
provide sustainability, scalability, direction, control. In all of anthropological
research, there are only a few sustainable
models that work. There is the techno
primitive fairly flat, family and extended
kinship of the subsistence hunter-gatherer, the warlord, the feudal cum nationstate model. There are equally only a
few economic models that have shown
workability, mass socialism of a Voltairistic model and mass Libertarian models
falling to state or economic oligarchy
(and apparently in the Western World, so
do republics, parliamentary and the US
113
model).
Open Source, e.g., Linux, is not the freevolunteer cyber peer-group of yore. Open
Source programmers, and “the maintainers” of significance in the community now are largely employed by Intel,
AMD, HP, IBM. Linus and McVoy are
corporate animals of this consortium. So,
my question has to do with the economic
model. Given that significant economies
are all monetized, what is the financial
incentive?
How far it penetrates into the realms of
the techno-barely functional and technoilliterate remains to be seen. How it
morphs to provide a border gateway for
enterprise internal security is another
open question.
Per David Reed’s challenge about business connecting with customers, the incentive is to have customer and sales call
centers totally available by any of the
individual and hybrid media present and
emerging. From the network perspective,
those can be air-gapped, or DMZ segregated, from the highly sensitive inner
realms of the enterprise?
The Skype security issues for transit
traffic through an enterprise boundary
are not unfixable. Declared port ranges
connected to SSLv3/TLS proxies would
eliminate the persistent open connection
from the enterprise internal machines to
the “open external relays.” The enterprise could operate a filtered relay at the
edge. Web packet filters could handle the
transit relays with ACL’s.
There are a lot of ways to make these
two eco-spaces compatible. In my opinion, “Either/Or” zero-sum games are not
going to be productive.
Sterling: So just out of curiosity what
is the Skype business model? Agenda?
Skype endgame? Skype exit strategy?
Reed: Well, given that Motorola just announced a Skype cellphone, and Skype
Out makes money, I think the business
model appears to be quite simple. Give
customers something they appreciate for
free, and they’ll buy other things from
you, and people will value your brand-
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
Of course such a business model may
not appeal to those who think business is
about coercing customers and screwing
them out of their last dime once you’ve
bought the right to exploit them from the
government franchised communications
commission (funny how those initials
crop up...)....
think the views of the backers may be
somewhat different, and it’s important to
note that the initial backers, Draper et al,
also flipped Hotmail at a relatively early
stage. My guess would be a trade sale to
a major Internet player, and my intuition
tells me Google, though they’ve never
done anything remotely as big as this on
the acquisition front. I think an IPO is
unlikely in the current climate.
But many other businesses work exactly
that way, just not the “business” satirized
as TPC in The President’s Analyst. :-)
Henshall: This came across my desk
today. I know people that have been trying to do aspects of this for years.
Matson: Well said David. You have it
absolutely. Knowing some of the London
Skype team, it is clear that they deeply
believe that if you have a relationship
with 75,000,000 people as a result of
giving them something of use (at no
charge), then using their creative imagination to develop new and unimagined
elements of value for sale for a few
cents/$ is not too difficult. They have
really begun to understand the world of
‘abundance’ and the new business models which this creates - rather than the
world of artifical-scarcity created and so
vehemently maintained by the twighlight
industries of telecoms, Hollywood, and
music recording.
http://www.twilightutilities.com/ and
http://www.twilightutilities.com/Forwarder.html
name.
James Enck: Absolutely spot on. Zennstrom has said that if Skype could generate the kind of relatively paltry ARPUs
that Yahoo! generates from incremental
services (I think the figure he quoted me
was something like $8 per annum) from
a small proportion of users, it would be
immensely profitable and they would be
satisfied with this. My other observation
is that Skype insiders have expressed to
me their surprise at the rate of take-up
of Skype Out, i.e., revenues are ahead
of budget.
My conversations with Zennstrom have
always led me to believe that his personal goal is to be recognized as a visionary,
and someone who helped to break down
cozy cartels. He started out at Tele2 in
Sweden, where this mentality is deeply
ingrained. He got close with KaZaA, but
it all ended in tears, litigation, and a hasty
exit. So I think from an ego perspective,
he would like to run it and see it get bigger, along with his profile. However, I
“Skype to phone and phone to Skype.
Never miss a Skype call again. Skype
Forwarder acts as both a telephone and
a Skype answering machine, as well as
a Skype to phone and phone to Skype
gateway. Incoming phone calls can route
to TAM (telephone answering machine)
or a Skype buddy, while incoming R
calls can route to TAM or phone. Have a
Skype call dial your cell phone, or dial a
Skype buddy with your cell phone.”
I’ve not tested this. Seems they want to
enable everyone to have their own personal software PBX. The day is just getting closer. I’ll get a test or two done. I’m
“SURE” this is not “enterprise” ready!
What I am observing is “Skype” is
creating interest in audio that goes way
beyond just phone communications. As
software engineers tinker with what can
be done via windows and how to bypass
its crippled audio systems and so on, lots
of creative new applications are beginning to emerge.
Skypeʼs Impact on Voice
Traffic and Open Source
VoIP PBXs
O’Leary: Given the observation (above)
that Skype is driving creation of new
audio applications, how much of Skype’s
traffic generation is new applications and
how much is replacing traditional long
distance? I expect this is pretty hard to
sort out, but it appears that the Skype
114
folks provide stats regularly for their
usage, as does Vonage (and there are
VoIP market share stats for Vonage). Is
“traditional” LD traffic still growing? I
recall seeing various stats in the past the
voice traffic was growing at 2-3% per
year in the 1990s, but I believe this was
all voice traffic minutes, not LD specifically. What does the LD growth rate look
like overall now, given the continued
erosion of prices, and how much of the
overall growth is due to VoIP, and how
much due to new Skype applications,
etc.? I’ll dig around a little and see what
I can find, but if someone has a pointer I
would appreciate it –
Coluccio: Dave O’Leary highlights two
interesting points, which I interpret as:
The fidelity of Skype’s audio response
and the intractability of voice growth.
Historically, most voice codecs were
designed to fit the bounds of the voice
frequency (VF) channel, which have
been almost universally limited by telecom industry channel filters, when channel multiplexed line facilities have been
used:
2700 HZ of bandwidth on the low side
(from 300Hz to 3,000Hz), and
3400 Hz of bandwidth on the high side
(300Hz to 3,700Hz).
Additional line properties associated
with: phase shift, which is the primary
factor in analog signal delay distortion,
often characterized en masse as envelope delay distortion (as opposed to the
latency and jitter we encounter in the IP
sense) and uneven frequency-amplitude
response (fidelity); AM/PM; and a host
of noise contributors further degraded
signal quality to the levels that we’ve
become accustomed.
These line anomalies are non-existent
in a world where the encoding and reproduction of auditory signals no longer
must negotiate hostile analog line conditions and their attendant constraints,
but are enabled, instead, by codecs on
either side of the ‘connection,’ by client
software. Thus, Skype and others who
follow will no longer be bound to the
channel’s parameters. Instead, its codecs
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
can be designed to simply follow the
intentions of the designer, following the
frequency ranges that they select, and in
the process introducing only a marginal
penalty when viewing overall packet
sizes.
of auditing to take place, however,
through its logging and IM auditing capabilities, ironically enough. I wonder
how those will be viewed by anyone
examining them, since no one is actually
auditing Skype, itself
It was about eight years ago that I engaged a DSP application engineer who
had been working on a set of 729/723.
a codec designs, in a conversation about
stereo and quadraphonic delivery of VoIP
for the music and content delivery industries (MoIP?). The TDM equivalents required anywhere from a quarter to three
quarters of a T1 system (using multiple,
concatenated DS-0s) to produce these results in the past, with the latter typically
used for the transport of content from the
studios of FM Radio (and TV) Stations to
their respective hubs for distribution over
the airwaves, which, themselves, were
bandwidth constrained, by design.
Davis: See below for comparisons with
Asterisk and comments of users. Free,
open source. Both sipX and Asterix hope
to leverage their software to sell add-on
products, which has been suggested here
as the Skype model.
While it was envisaged at the time that
such fidelity would someday be available
to the content and distribution industries,
as replacements for what preceded them
in the TDM world, it now appears likely
we’ll be seeing such capabilities extended to consumers for ordinary day to day
use, as well. Granted, such capabilities
already exist in cable TV and other systems that support residential entertainment delivery, but I’m talking here about
applications that are under the end user’s
direct control and choosing. --
Open-Source PBX Battle Brewing
By CAROLYN SCHUK for VOXILLA.
COM
Tracking voice traffic growth has been
tricky business, at best, for a long time
now, even before the introduction of
VoIP. Enterprises who’ve used tie lines,
for example, have tended to obfuscate
the matter, as have integrated packet
delivery systems supported by Frame
Relay and ATM, where the end user
organization has dictated what slices of
bandwidth would be used for which applications. Since ~1998 or so, the problem has only become much larger for the
bean counters, since enterprises, as well
as consumers, have been deploying VoIP
in their backbones (and from PCs, where
the consumer is concerned) in ways that
defy auditing from ever taking place.
The difference, is sipX is sip only, but
easily managed with a web browser.
Asterisk has no easy-to-configure tools.
Both are non-proprietary, open source.
These open source products may be
another play on the techie side of the
market.
http://voxilla.com/voxstory136.html
In the open source PBX world, Asterisk
is king, but it’s no longer the only game
in town.
SIPfoundry, a Westborough, MA-based
group formed in March 2004 to promote open-source telephony applications
based on the Session Initiated Protocol
(SIP), has released a complete SIP PBX,
called sipX, based largely on code contributed by IP telephony vendor Pingtel.
And though Digium, the company responsible for developing the popular
Asterisk PBX, has enjoyed a virtual free
ride in the world of open source telephony since Asterisk was made public in
1999, CEO Mark Spencer is welcoming
the competition.
“It’s beneficial to have several companies offering open source systems,” said
Spencer. “It validates the concept.”
Both Asterisk and sipX are written for
the Linux operating system, but there
are significant architectural differences
between the two.
Skype actually ‘does’ permit such forms
115
Asterisk’s architecture is designed around
a core PBX engine, with applications
layered on top to support a number of
different protocols, including SIP, H.323,
MGCP, IAX (itself an open-source protocol written by Digium), and potentially
other yet-undeveloped protocols.
This approach, says Spencer “offers significant benefits‚ for organizations that
want to support a heterogeneous network
out of the box.”
sipX is built from the ground up using
100-percent SIP-compliant blocks. Unlike Asterisk, sipX speaks SIP and only
SIP, the protocol which has become the
de facto industry standard and is credited
for providing the basic foundation upon
which much of the VoIP industry now
sits.
By relying on SIP, says Pingtel CEO William Rich, sipX “provides a very high
level of interoperability and scalability.”
The architecture of sipX, says Rich,
allows systems developers to perform
different functions on different servers,
replacing the included components with
custom-developed ones, or combining
them in different ways.
[Snip]
Stastny: Or hack your Linksys WRT54G
Router to be a SER or Asterisk PBX ;-)
http://www.toyz.org/mrblog/arsee:
chives/00000186.html and http://eurovoip.blogspot.com/2005/02/100-telco.
html
Coluccio (in answer to Richard Stastny):
Thank you Richard. I pulled on the string
your (toys.org) link and landed here:
h t t p : / / w w w. t o y z . o r g / m r b l o g / a r chives/00000185.html
The message on that page reminded me
that ordinary end users’ machines can be
used as Skype servers. I have, on about
three or four occasions, experienced a
premature session tear down (on hook
from the other end) while talking over
Skype. Could those have been caused
by end users powering their units down,
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
thus removing themselves from my established paths? While the Skype license
states that your computer may be used by
others as a server, there is no compelling
reason why end users can’t power their
units down (or experience crashes, for
that matter, or reboots) at any point in
time. Any thoughts on this?
Another quirk, which I now believe to be
a trending pattern, has to do with initial
session initiation time. Upon first Skyping someone on any given day, I find
that it’s taking longer for the session to
initialize now than it did a month ago. A
little over a month ago I didn’t notice any
appreciable delays in setting up sessions,
maybe a few seconds. Two weeks ago it
was taking me perhaps five seconds or
more. Yesterday I clocked one attempt to
reach Gordon at 13 seconds.
At first it occurred to me that this might
be a scaling problem, due to the enormous numbers of new users coming on
line. But further thought on the matter,
given the nature of p2p being what it is,
I now am tending to think otherwise. Has
anyone else noticed these longer session
initiation times aside from myself? Curious. And if so, what do you suppose it’s
due to?
I should add that when this occurs I do
NOT have a similar problem re- connecting to the same party if I choose to
disconnect and re-connect immediately.
nobody said geeks know how to name
products).
Cisco’s (CSCO:Nasdaq - news - research) router chief has taken a board position at closely held VoIP upstart . Mike
Volpi, head of the Cisco technology unit
focusing on boxes that direct Internet
traffic, has joined the board of the Luxembourg Net calling company, according
to a story published in BusinessWeek on
Wednesday.”
Jennings: I’ve seen several different
proxies running on hacked Linksys box.
Cool hack, but who cares. We have a
name for phones system inside your
house that can’t call out -”intercom”.
You still need the IP phones. As soon as
you want PSTN connectivity, in or out,
you start talking about a telephony service provider TSP of some type. Now the
TSP is willing to provide the proxy for
no more than just the PSTN connectivity
so it’s hard to see the incentive for the
local box that does call control. I’ll point
out people like Vonage charge *more* if
you try and connect something like this
up to them.
Then Toni Li returns to Cisco in December (or was it late November Toni?)
to work for mike Volpi. So far so good
– now take a look at this. http://www.
toyz.org/mrblog/ Feb 22
If it was cheaper to get a ISDN BRI line
from the LEC than to get phone service
from a TSP, and if the linksys box had
an ISDN port, this would be more interesting.
“It’s here, the user owned phone system
The rebels are at it again. This time
they’ve built a free, open-source VoIP
platform for embedded devices. It’s a
VoIP PBX in box, a cheap affordable
box. The box, in fact, is a common
Linksys router. It’s called SIPatH (hey
In the meantime, keep letting me know
about hacked Linksys boxes that do cool
VoIP stuff. I love it - very nice platforms
to experiment around on. Of course a
single intercom system that went to my
house, your houses, and everyone else
house would be interesting.
COOK Report: Check out this September
15 2004 announcement http://www.thestreet.com/tech/scottmoritz/10183131.
html
116
Symposium Discussion February 25 - March 10, 2005
VoIP Economic, Quality and
Network Traffic Issues Highlights
VoIP Adoption Curves
Raj Sharma: I am trying to model the
growth of VoIP end points and I am assuming that the adoption of VoIP technology for the end points will follow
Gompertz or Fisher-Pry models. So, let’s
take the Gompertz model – the speed of
any technology adoption (the slope of
the Gompertz curve) depends on the ‘b’
value. The ‘b’ value for different technology adoptions in the past is given in the
following table
Analogy
Range
b
Radio
1922-1940
.18
Color TV
1955-1992
.18
Television
1946-1960
.32
CD Player
1986-1994
.17
VCR
1979-1994
.23
Pay Cable
1973-1981
.21
Personal Computers
1980-1998
.10
Cellular
1984-1999
.17
Online/Internet
1992-1998
.20
Average
.20
So, I took the average of .20 for adoption
of VoIP in end points and came up with
an estimate that it will take approximately 6-8 years for majority (80%-85%) of
end points to be VoIP. The way Skype
is being adopted, this may even seem
reasonable.
So, my question is, are my assumptions
correct? Does the Gompertz model really apply here? Or is this more of a
viral phenomena that follows a different
adoption curve. Is the implication of this
hypothesis that majority of traffic will be
VoIP to VoIP in 8 years with very little
being originated and terminated on the
good old PSTN?
Odlyzko: The Gompertz model seems
appropriate, and with the parameter you
mention, as long as, the choices are
made by individuals. What might change
things is presence of what I called “forcing agents” in a paper from 1997 that
debunked the notion of “Internet time,”
http://www.dtc.umn.edu/~odlyzko/doc/
slow.evolution.pdf
Forcing agents can push thing along,
say when a telco moves its customers,
whether they want to or not, to VoIP.
Schulzrinne: However, in the absence of
forced upgrades, I have some doubts as
to whether using the average ‘b’ across
the earlier technologies mentioned is reasonable. Unlike almost all of the technologies mentioned in the comparison, VoIP
does not currently offer fundamentally
new capabilities to consumers. (Presence
is nice, but only matters if most of your
calling destinations are on IP, too. Better voice quality is nice, but I doubt that
many non-techie people would consider
this sufficiently interesting to ditch their
phone number.)
Hughes: When one who lives in Thame,
Nepal, a Sherpa village which has NO
Nepalese PTT PSTN service at any price,
and now gets reasonable quality voice
both IP to IP and to Out, that offers new
and revolutionary capabilities for ‘would
117
be consumers’ not just incremental or
marginally better PSTN service.
If you are thinking about only urban
US and other dense population cities
with excellent telephone services, sure,
VOIP isn’t really ‘needed’ except for a
handful of people like me who DO make
lots of long distance calls and therefore
have Vonage at $24 a month (which
cut my AT&T bill by $400 a month LD
charges)
Schulzrinne: I don’t think we’re disagreeing, just answering different questions. I would be the last one to dispute
the usefulness of VoIP, but I’m just trying
to be realistic when people try to estimate
the speed of displacement of existing
residential technologies by extrapolating
from other (US) technology adoption
curves. There is no doubt that VoIP is
today very useful as a “niche” residential
technology in the US and as a core technology in developing countries. But it’s
a big jump from supplying the roughly
at most 5% of US households that don’t
have traditional landline, bought at whatever inflated or subsidized prices, to 80%
market penetration.
I think there is a core message that we
both agree on: It is absolute foolishness
to expend another tax (= USF) dollar on
running narrowband phone service to
hard-to-serve rural areas.
Btw, even the Cisco phone can be configured for G.729 (which has much lower
bandwidth needs than G.711), but I think
Cisco has been primarily after the enterprise market where this matters less.
Hughes: Yes, I even tried the G.729
lower bandwidth over Cisco 7960 SIP
phones, but it still failed at 64kbps satellite bandwidth. Only Skype worked
to Namche, Nepal. (and with 1,200ms
latency!)I hate to kick a gift horse in the
mouth on this list, for it was Jim Forster
and Cullen Jennings, both from Cisco
who got the Sherpa’s set up through me
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
with sets of those Cisco IP phones as a
donation from Cisco. So they will keep
them around until the price of 128kbps
satellite IP comes down from the $1,200
they were paying, even when no climbers
or trekkers are around. Cause they really
are nice phone instruments with built in
speaker, while Skype still requires a PC,
and external speaker or microphone. And
the Sherpas sure are not very techie.
Earlier Schulzrinne: Radio, TV and Internet did. Thus, this is still mostly
a price decision for consumers, with
some risk (reliability, work during power
outages, 911 issues) and inconvenience
(wire up ATAs or restricted to PC). Except for the small minority that make
tons of domestic long-distance calls,
$25-$40/month just for long-distance
isn’t a terribly good deal, particularly
since many of these long distance calls
are now placed over cell phones. Average residential interstate toll minutes per
month is 41, i.e., $2 unless you’re too
lazy to change your 1975 AT&T calling
plan. Total toll minutes is 90 per month,
i.e., $4.50 at competitive consumer rates.
I don’t have the complete distribution,
but since the median is presumably less,
getting close to 50% replacement is
going to be tough.
Data from http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/
Common_Carrier/Reports/FCC-State_
Link/IAD/trend504.pdf
Vonage and kin obviously make sense if
you ditch your regular local phone service, but that’s more of a risk and hassle
for the typical household with a bunch of
phones spread throughout the home.
(I don’t know the details, but my impression is that X.25, frame relay and Telex
were displaced by another version of
forced upgrades: prices that became ever
less competitive or were even raised.)
Odlyzko: These are reasonable objections to my comment (and Raj Sharma’s
assumptions). We’ll see.
But a couple of minor corrections: The
long distance usage figures in Henning’s
message are way too low. I am swamped,
so can’t search for all of them, but
just looking at interstate switched access
minutes in Table 10.1 of the FCC report
that Henning cites, we find (for all of
2003) 444.1 billion, which, coupled with
183 million local lines gives 202 minutes
per line per month.
Schulzrinne: This is indeed peculiar; it
should be noted, however, that access
minutes apparently get counted once at
each end (see explanation on pg. 10-1)
and include 800# calls, so the difference
may not be quite as large.
It is interesting to observe that long
distance volume has gone down significantly, despite falling prices, although I
can’t tell how mobile calls count in this
calculation.
Odlyzko: So the prices are higher than
cited, and in practice considerably higher, since most people are lazy, and then
there are also all those fixed monthly
charges.
Schulzrinne: The subscribers to 30cent
per minute plans are probably least likely
to have broadband Most of them (subscriber line charge and the like) would
not be affected if somebody were to
replace MCI long distance by Vonage,
for example.
Odlyzko: Another little comment: I am
not sure Frame Relay has been displaced
yet. As of a couple of years ago, industry
revenues were climbing (and carriers
were making money). I imagine by now
there has been some cannibalization by
the Internet, but don’t have recent statistics.
Sharma: A new technology is adopted
because it is more economical or technologically superior to the ‘existing way
of doing things’. The latter is, as often
as not, an identifiable older technology.
Thus, the process is referred to as one of
‘technology substitution’ of new for old
technology. Regardless of its ultimate
superiority, when a new technology is
introduced to the market, it is usually
expensive, unfamiliar, unproven, and imperfect. The old technology has already
achieved economies of scale and is wellknown, proven and mature. In short, the
old technology is superior to the new
from a ‘business’ perspective. Add to
118
this the fact that most people’s economic
interests are tied to the old technology.
Thus, at first, the adoption of new technology proceeds slowly relative to the
total market, which explains the early
flat part of Gompertz’s S-shaped curve.
Usually, the new technology finds niche
application where its special features
outweigh its disadvantages. The first
application of electrical lighting was on
ships, where fire caused by oil lighting
was a constant fear. The first applications of transistors were in bomb fuses
and hearing aids, where the package
size and low power requirements were
crucial. Perhaps ‘presence’ is the first
application of VoIP and success in such
early applications combined with lower
cost is allowing VoIP to pull itself up by
its bootstraps.
With Regard to
Architecture and
Economics all VoIP is
not Alike
Davis: But, Raj, VoIP isn’t so new, and
the collapse of PSTN traffic prices, much
of which inter-city traffic, along with
mobile telephony, is carried in VoIP,
doesn’t make it cheaper.
For infrastructure not engineered to the
psycho-physiological requirements and
expectations of voice, VoIP can be, and
frequently is a worse product and very
much more expensive, given the cost
in labor, planning, time, fixing, re-engineering.
Legacy PBX replacement will be a move
reason when that is necessary. Edge-toEdge is VoIP within same provider, or
when encapsulated in Sonet which is
trans-provider interoperable out of the
gate.
I think this one is difficult. I can see/hear
the difference with digital cable and
satellite on my HD TV and my excellent home theatre system (B&W speakers rendering concert halls and movie
theatres rather banal for audio). When
Vonage works, which so far has been a
hundred percent, I notice no difference. I
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
know what to expect in terms of quality
from the PSTN. I use a different standard
with my Verizon CDMA and my Cingular Blackberry.
fice aggregation NE? Must the telephone
handset itself contain the VoIP client
code in order for it to qualify as a VoIP
end point?
The ILEC’s don’t want their own PSTN.
I don’t know what the war cries are
about.
O’Leary: These are good questions. We
are involved with a bunch of VoIP trunking projects with carriers (as described
in other messages) where nothing changes at the handset (or with the service
model), the carrier is just “converging”
their backbone.
Sharma: Originally, the question was
‘can you apply Gompertz curve to adoption of VoIP end points?’ And, if so how
long will it take to reach 80%+ adoption
for VoIP end points. Gompertz curve is
an S-curve and the adoption of any ‘new’
technology (I know VoIP is not new
technology, but that is relative) takes the
longest for the first 10%-15% adoption.
After the first 15% adoption there is a
rapid adoption to saturation (85%+ adoption being defined as saturation), and the
problem at hand is to estimate how long
will it take to go from 15% adoption to
85% adoption. Now I know that we may
not have reached 15% adoption for VoIP,
but the way Skype is going, this may not
be too far. So the estimate was that it will
take 6-8 years after VoIP reaches 15%
adoption for end points to reach 85%
adoption. The reasons for adoption are
almost irrelevant - in fact, historically, in
a lot of cases, the reasons are not even
economics or quality - they could be a
totally different niche application as in
the case of electricity or transistors. So
the question is 6-8 years a reasonable
estimate given the above?
Coluccio: To add some color to the discussion, radio was twenty years or older
before its penetration began to make a
difference, and TV about fifteen. What
would you say VoIP was? If we use the
NetSpeak client software launch as a
start point, then that would make it what,
nine or ten years and counting?
Raj, please define what you mean by a
VoIP end point, since that seems to be
the point of interest here? Does Vonage
count, when the telephone set used is
an analog device, hence an analog end
point?
How about a regular POTS phone, where
the IP to metallic-copper analog conversion is done in the basement? Or out in
the field in a pedestal? or in a central of-
On a somewhat related note, and commenting on another parallel thread with
the discussion of transition from Frame
Relay to IP/MPLS based services, there
are service providers that are using the
same model as with VoIP trunking. Frame
relay continues as the service provided
to the customer, and the backbone is
transitioned from ATM (or a proprietary
technology) to MPLS in the backbone.
So measuring bits carried by frame relay
vs. IP vs. MPLS rather than revenues
derived from the services can generate
quite different views of the market.
Coluccio: That’s a great analogy, Dave,
which captures the essence of what I was
saying about VoIP end points. To suggest
that Vonage qualifies as a VoIP end point,
even though it’s extended to the user
over a ten foot analog cord from an ATA,
and that VoIP from the basement or field
node doesn’t, because the analog cords
on those are 500 ft or 1,500 ft, respectvely, doesn’t make any sense to me.
Unless a user has direct control of the
VoIP client software (application) and
can manipulate its varied features in a
converged data-voice manner, it’s not a
VoIP end point, in my opinion. In other
words, the VoIP client code must be
embedded in the end user’s device, or
as close as possible to it, and must be
under the direct control of the user. Other
thoughts on this, anyone?
Sharma: For call origination, I would
define a VoIP end point as any end point
from which the originating media gets
converted to IP with the use of Codecs
before it ever hits a Class 5 switch if at
all it does. For call termination I would
define a VoIP end point as any end point
where IP media terminates without going
119
through a Class 5 switch. I do not count
all the Class 4 TDM to VoIP conversion
ports as end points.
So yes, a subscriber for Vonage, Lingo
count as a VoIP end point.
Matson: Raj is right as far as history
is concerned but in the case of a highly
regulated sector like telecoms, “technology substitution” is paced by vested
interests and NOT the market of end
users. The world is currently experiencing the confusion and turmoil caused
by the deployment of advanced digital
technologies over the past two decades
by the telcos to shore-up their obsolete
business models.
February 28, Coluccio: Metrics are hard
to come by with respect to actual packet
counts on FR networks, as by now I’m
certain you don’t need to be told. One
metric that is both easier to track, and
actually makes a far more significant difference to service providers, however, is
the amount of revenues that each brings
to their top lines. According to a report
released in BCR last month, FR revs are
still about six times those of comparably
provisioned (similar traffic bearing) IP
services today, with 2007-8 viewed as
the time when they will be more or less
the same, with IP taking off beyond that
point, leaving FR eventually far behind.
Given the radical disparity in per-megabit pricing between FR and IP, however, even knowing the revenue spread
between the two is not really a good
indicator of how their actual traffic volumes compare. And too, many enterprise
intranets use a blend of both FR and IP,
often with the integration of the two taking place on the customers’ own premises, in order to circumvent the high costs
associated with FR’s predominantly hub
and spoke design.
More on Muni Networks
(Texas and Colorado)
Februrary 24 Coluccio: This may appear off topic at this stage of the discussion, or maybe time-shifted by a month
or two from when municipal networks
were being discussed here. I had to share
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
these stories here, just the same. The urls
below will refer you to two municipal
fiber optic access networks that are being
rolled out abroad:
Brazil: http://www.siliconinvestor.com/
readmsg.aspx?msgid=21074902
China: http://www.siliconinvestor.com/
readmsg.aspx?msgid=21074927
see also Lessig essay at From Wired
Magazine, available online at: http://
www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.03/
view.html?pg=5
Hughes: I am supposed to be a 45 minute presenter next Friday, March 4th, in
Colorado at a “City/County Management
Association’s “Emerging Wireless Technologies: Passing Fads or Permanent
Solutions Forum”
50 City and County IT types or Administrators will be there. About 4 ‘City’ Case
Studies will be presented also, and a
panel discussion. Most the cities attending are under 150,000
I am supposed to talk about - ‘future
wireless technologies’ (which, of course,
might be applicable to City or County
Governments
What wireless technologies on the horizon do YOU think would be of real value
to the operations of local governments
like these?
Cheponis: Two main technologies need
exploring: meshed 802.11n (or g or b)
and Wi-Max. I don’t believe the Wi-Max
hype, but it’ll no doubt be useful in some
situations. Wi-Fi is here to stay, it’s the
Ethernet of the Airwaves.
Coluccio: The merits of WiFi, and the
questions surrounding WiMAX, notwithstanding, Dave, you may want to
think about some of the enabling and
ancillary wireless technologies that will
foster backhaul in some cases, and direct
high speed access to schools, municipal
buildings, libraries and hospitals, etc.,
in other cases. Such as some of the millimeter radios like those being supplied
by Terabeam and Gigabeam at this time
that will support gigabit speeds (slated
for 10Gb/s soon). When used in concert
with fiber in a hybrid fiber/wireless configuration, these millimeter radios will
also support the kind of wireless mesh
topologies in some rural areas that would
otherwise be impractical or too expensive, even where fiber from incumbent
providers already exists.
Yokubaitis: Lucky Colorado Municipal
entities that can still build such projects.
I just got back after lunch from the Texas
Legislature where there is filed a new
Telecom Bill (HB 789) ( deregulating
Incumbent Tel cos). HB 789 includes
language that prohibits a municipality
from building or selling telecommunications services OR partnering with any
organization ( wireless service provider)
that does.
The “partnering” part may go away before a final version surfaces for a House
vote. But the part about the city owning,
operating or selling telecommunications
(wireless) services other than for internal
municipal services will probably stay.
“Vamos ver.”
Cities are up in arms. Texas Municipal
League of Cities is roused. Private Community Wireless initiatives are up in
arms.
The Texas Legislature, or at least members on the Regulatory Committee holding hearings on the House Bill 789, does
not want “tax money and municipalities
competing with private money and industry.”
http://www.house.state.tx.us/fx/av/
committee79/50223p35.ram
Hertz: I know you asked about technology issues, but having dealt with, face-toface, dozens and dozens of communities
(POP 2k to 90k) and their so-called IT
departments over the last 8 months, technology really isn’t the issue. The people
that make the decisions have the 50,000foot view and don’t want to get any
closer. The IT people, while not clueless,
tend to be very narrowly focused; they
take the 1-foot view, and don’t want to
look up. As a result there isn’t much
shared understanding between the two
groups.
If you are speaking to IT people, then
maybe the best bet is demystification. A
history lesson may be appropriate, with
history being more than the last 10 years.
After all, the common use of the term
“wireless” pre-dates “radio.” People
have been using wireless for more than
100 years, so we certainly aren’t talking
about fads or new discoveries. There is
nothing new about the physics (disregarding nano-small and cosmo-large),
and there are certain physical law limits
(same caveat) that apply regardless of
whose technology implementation you
choose.
By grounding the IT people, they can
better connect with the people that will
make the decisions to invest (or not).
And like most management decisions, it
isn’t the best technology that wins.
Who does? However, small towns across
this vast homeland of ours (Texas) are
desperate waiting for the promise of
broadband to finally arrive via entrenched
Incumbent telcos. Unfortunately, many
areas of Texas are closer to remote parts
of the Third World. There is no economic
counterpoise to the juggernaut Incumbent except the municipal governments.
They want access to something other
than high cost dial up i.e. Broadband,
that they have been hearing about for
years.
Forster: I think at this stage there’s no
need talk about the technology at a City/
County Management Association, or at
least no need to bring up an alphabet
soup of protocols. You can leave that for
a separate discussion with the technical
people. I think you ought to talk about
the role of government or other quasipublic bodies — merchants associations,
homeowner associations, etc. , and how
they don’t need to become ISP’s per se’,
but can still play a major role in physical
layer through siting, permits, etc., and
potentially in the financing.
Coluccio: Here’s the full-length video on
Wednesday’s hearings in Texas:
Editor’s Note: at http://wifinetnews.
com/archives/004870.html on Feb 21
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The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
Chuck Larrieu asked:
Tell us why is muni wireless a good idea?
Good answers do not include “because
it’s kewl”, “because I think its a good
idea”, “because the poor need it” and
other selfish or pretentiously altruistic
responses. The utility argument is not a
good answer either, because the response
is “why not privatize utilities?” Another
response is “why not socialize other private businesses that government deems
important to the economy or beneficial
to the poor?”
Hughes: Here is my answer to the perfectly reasonable question Larrieu posed
on Glenn Fleischman’s forum. I have
found that a woman Colorado Senate legislator, Jennifer Viega, Democrat no less,
has sponsored SB-05-152 which would
all but block any Colorado town from
setting up their own municipal wireless
(or any other type) public network. The
Colorado Municipal League is against
that Bill, for good reason. Consequently,
I am not only going to educate the 50
Colorado Town/County Government reps
at the Wireless Conference next Friday, I
am going to yank the bell of every Colorado Springs Senator and House member,
whether Republican or Democrat and get
them to kill that stupid bill.
“There’s one damned good reason,
Chuck, why NO State Legislature should
be allowed to block Municipal Wireless networks. And that is because the
Telephone Companies have TOTALLY
FAILED to bring Broadband services to
every town in the US, even though they
are guaranteed rate-of-return monopolies
at the local loop level! And even though
‘Universal IP Access’ is the Policy of the
United States Government! AND they
charge Universal Service Fund Access
fees out of YOUR pocketbook, AND if
they had any brains they could extend IP
wireless to EVERY farmhouse in spread
out Colorado for PEANUTS, and charge
$50 a month for every remote customer
who would be glad to pay it.
I have been actively engaged in bringing broadband to the most Rural areas
of America, including the most difficult
and poorest areas of huge Colorado from
the day unlicensed wireless was FCC
authorized and the first radios came out
- about 1990.
Everywhere the story has been the same
- the small and rural towns beg the Telcos
to bring broadband to them for their economic and educational future. The Telcos
have dragged their feet, tried to obstruct
any one ELSE bringing broadband, and
then when they have been forced to have
charged obscene rates ($2,000 a month
for a T-1 forty road miles from Alamosa
to San Luis School. While *I* put up a
pair of Unlicensed radios that cost less
than $2000 each and got the same thing
30 miles FREE between the radios. In
1995! Where wireless is concerned, the
RBOCs are not only greedy, and too
stupid to see the coming market, they are
also more often than not incompetent.
I hope the Muni-Wireless bandwagon
really gets rolling, and for the first time
REALLY give the State-Anointed Telcos
competition. That will get them off their
ass faster than ANY anti-muni legislation.
And I frankly don’t give a damn if
municipalities are in competition with
private Wireless ISPs, because very very
few Wireless ISPs can on their own
connect up complete towns and cities.
They don’t have the capital, the scale,
or the highly profitable marketplace that
is needed before any Venture Capitalist
will part with HIS money. And I AM a
wireless ISP in Colorado Springs. I’d
LOVE for the City of Colorado Springs
to do Municipal Wireless; I’ll have more
business extending wireless to places no
city wireless network is going to go and
make more money if they DO than if
they DON’T.
Make the Internet Pie Bigger, don’t fight
over the Wireless pieces.
If ANY of the large telephone companies
were real risk-taking profit or loss private
businesses, and did NOT have government filling their pockets by regulation,
there might be a case for holding back
muni’s. But they are NOT real businesses. They are fat slothful Dinosaurs who
require governments to stay in business.
Make the damned Telcos compete for
121
a change. Or run their ass out of town
when they go bankrupt. I have my Voice
over IP, both with SIP, , and can connect
up to a SATELLITE IP feed any time I
need it. I don’t need Qwest for anything
anymore. They had their chance when
the Internet first came in. They failed
then. They had their chance to USE cost
effective wireless for the last 12 years.
They failed at that too. They had their
chance with Voice over IP. They still are
failing compared with ANY private SIP
VOIP company. Now they deserve to
die. That’s called survival of the fittest
where I come from, even if a hell of a
lot of Republicans say they believe it,
but then feed at the government trough
themselves.
And if Municipalities deploying Wireless can be their Pall Bearers, so much
the better. The Muni’s will learn soon
enough its not as easy as it seems, and be
happy, in many cases to invite in private
Wireless companies, subsidize them with
tax breaks, red-tape cutting, and support
just like they do all OTHER job producing businesses.
Coluccio: Dave, Just in case you’re not
angry enough, read this one, where Bell
South blackmails Louisiana to kill muni
fiber project:
h t t p : / / w w w. t e c h d i r t . c o m / a r t i cles/20050225/1232223_F.shtml
On Wireless for
Voice and Interactive
Applications – QoS
OpEx and CapEx
Implications
On February 25 Roberts: We have tested
WiFi (802.11b and g) for many months
to so if we could use it for Skype or
other VoIP to PDA’s. The problems with
voice and 802.11 are severe in a loaded
environment. 802.11 is based on slotted Aloha (which I invented in 1971)
to request a transmission slot. If there
is other competing traffic, the transmitter waits and tries again. There is an
exponential backoff technique so that
one may be delayed for more than most
voice systems (including Skype) can tol-
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
erate without blackout periods (drops).
This makes 802.11 almost useless in a
heavy use area. I would hope that load
control could fix this but I have no proof
yet. I do know that at home and at work,
802.11 (either b or g) is too bad for me
to use wireless voice over it. If instead, I
use a wired computer, and Skype works
perfectly. I expect the same problem was
the problem some of you were having
on cable where congestion grows each
month.
Note that at first, at low congestion,
802.11 for voice works great. So many
people will then install it, later finding
out that data works well, but voice is
hopeless.
On the other hand, no matter how much
I dislike the central design of Wi-Max
or cellular, both have been designed to
support highly interactive data (voice,
etc) with low delay variance once the
call is established. Thus WiMax, used in
open spectrum, may in fact have some
future value.
WiFi (802.11) might be fixed with some
protocol changes. It will not happen
with the currently deployed cheep boxes
but smart vendors could perhaps fix the
delay variance problem.
These points are not well understood
yet, but it is worth warning peopleabout
them.
Coluccio: I want to call attention to article in the January 10 issue of Network
World “Voice over Wireless LAN” by
David Newman http://www.nwfusion.
com/reviews/2005/011005rev.html. The
author took part in extensive tests using
various vendor’s access points, with and
without QoS. Without QoS being invoked, and traffic levels being constant
for all tests performed, only one or two
talkers could coexist in the same zone at
quality levels that were livable. Beyond
that number quality deteriorated rapidly.
With QoS invoked, the number increased
to, I believe, 5 or 6 users. Unfortunately
this article is not posted to the BCR site
yet, but if you can get your hands on
the hard copy it’s worth the read, in my
opinion.
Southworth: This is an article quoting
my business partner that I think is appropriate to our discussions
http://www.vonmag.com/issue/2005/feb/
VoIP/Video Quality of Service, by Richard Grigonis
Size doesn‚t matter– at least for service
providers carrying multiplayer online
games. OK, it matters a little, but in the
scheme of the “my pipe’s bigger than
your pipe” trash talk that‚s transpired
between cable and telcos for years, size
is practically irrelevant. All you need is
broadband.
Quality of service, on the other hand,
does matter. That‚s why the cable and
telco industries are racing to see who
can deliver data with low latency, no jitter and no delay. The one with the most
reliable connection will likely be the de
facto carrier of choice for what’s now a
niche market of gamers that‚s expected
to grow exponentially in size and value
this year.
To be clear, today’s broadband pipe is
adequate for interactive gaming and it‚s
being used today without much worry.
Big-name gaming companies like Sony
and Microsoft already „have our own
infrastructure; it’s open to all broadband
companies” according to Sony Computer
Entertainment spokesman Ryan Bowling.
And that’s enough for today’s gamers.
But best-effort broadband connections
are less than optimal; real-time interactive gaming demands a level of control
that exceeds even the most stringent
VoIP requirements.
“For voice-over-IP you have to have
the round trip time be 300 milliseconds
or less. Gamers are looking for about a
30-millisecond latency; something 10
times better than what we’re doing for
voice-over-IP,” says Peter Macaualey,
an independent consultant from Reston, Virginia, who serves on the DSL
Forum’s technical committee.
The DSL Forum is upgrading its VoIP
QoS specifications to meet what gamers
122
need. While DSL – sans fiber-to-thepremise – can’t match the size of cable‚s
broadband pipe, it can level the playing
field by delivering low latency QoS with
benefits that go well beyond just letting
two gamers have at it.
“This is something for the business environment that would make the voiceover-IP experience better” Macauley
says. “We need to make a business case
for quality of service and we can do that
in a business environment pretty easily.”
Cable maintains a nice lead in high-speed
data networking but can‚t rest on its laurels because the telcos, with a platform
more widely viewed as data-friendly, are
creeping up. So cable is steadily completing details on a next-level DOCSIS
1.1 specification– PacketCable Multimedia (PCMM) – that covers a variety
of needs, including setting rules for how
operators can segment their broadband
networks to make room for dedicated
gamers. [SNIP] . . . .
QoS OpEx Economics
- Flows or UCLP?
Bill St. Arnaud: Technically this [what
the BCR piece above says about QoS
and OpEx] may be true, but rarely do
you see a systemic comparison of QoS
and OPEX versus an alternative of increased CAPEX to significantly increase
the bandwidth. The OPEX costs of managing QoS are horrendous and, because
they are so labor intensive are only going
to increase. CAPEX costs per bit of
bandwidth continue to drop dramatically.
Many carriers feel they will be a charge
a premium for QoS that will more than
offset the OPEX costs. But, it is hard
to imagine how carriers will recover a
premium for a service like voice that
has never seen as a premium service by
the public. Can you imagine carriers trying to sell a service that ensures greater
probability of having better sound quality or a higher likelihood of not being
dropped?
Odlyzko: Very well put. QoS introduces
new levels of complexity into an already
complex system.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
Roberts (to Bill St. Arnaud): I’m not
sure what I said that triggered your
comments about QoS Capex and Opex.
However, I am happy to comment on
the issue. However, to clarify what my
comment was about, it was that Wi-Fi
or 802.11 has serious problems with
delay variation in practical use. I only
had same small private experiments but
the paper referenced by Henning Schulzrinne confirms my concern, only a
few (10-30) VoIP calls are possible over
802.11b and with normal computer FTP,
very few will work acceptably. 802.11g
would reduce the delay, but has a much
shorter range and thus coverage. This
should be of great concern for cities that
are installing 802.11 across the city if
they think it will support WiFi phones.
The same holds true for Motorola and
Skype if they hope to use cheap phones
using 802.11.
Now, back to your economic point, Bill.
I now believe that routers built to route
flows rather than routing every packet,
eliminate a vast amount of complexity,
reflected both in CAPEX and OPEX.
When flows are routed, it is easy to manage the QoS of the flow. The more the
flow is like a fixed rate TDM flow the
easier is it is to manage and support low
loss and low delay variation. The more a
flow is like TCP with big bursts and uncontrolled growth, the harder it is to support and manage. Perhaps the higher cost
of managing TCP over VoIP can be offset
by the use of cheaper excess bandwidth,
but overall, as you know, fiber bandwidth
is the lesser of the costs today. So I would
contend, that bit for bit, a constant TDM
stream like VoIP should be cheaper than
WWW or FTP bits. I cannot predict the
charging model that will be used, I am
only looking at the CAPEX and OPEX
cost. Carriers will charge what the market will bear, and if voice sells at a premium, they may charge a premium. But
as flow routers become more widely used
and the competitive market settles down,
the price per bit may be the same for any
QoS. That is because, managing QoS
only requires discarding and scheduling
correctly, two much easier things than
routing and DOS on every packet. Done
correctly, there is no increased OPEX to
set up or manage QoS. It is a specified by
the sender, either in the DiffServ mark or
in other packet information.
I realize it will take time for me to prove
these points, but do not assume that the
structure of routers has to remain as it has
for 30 years and that with a new design,
that the cost and complexity does not
need to appear in the same place as before. I know full well you understand this
point. So please accept the possibility
that QoS can reduce cost, not increase it.
I will prove it to you very soon. (Andrew,
the same for your comments).
I really do worry however, about QoS at
the wireless edge, since the 802.11 protocol is imbedded in the wireless devices
and cannot be improved easily. People
may assume the same performance as
on the wired network, and this is not yet
the case.
St. Arnaud (to Roberts): It is not the
technical costs of OPEX that are my
concern - it is the human costs of managing SLAs and billing systems that QoS
entails.
In the wireless example, there is no question that today’s WiFi has limited capacity to support QoS. One solution is to
implement QoS so that those customers
who have contracted with you to provide
a service are guaranteed priority when
they make voice calls over your WiFi
system. The other approach is to install
a lot more WiFi nodes. Assuming everything else being equal, for a given number of Wifi VoIP customers, which would
be the cheaper solution? This analogy
can be extended to so many other network examples where it is perceived that
QoS is the only answer.
There are basically two types of QoS
systems: internal and external
An internal system is one that may be
used by a service provider at the edge
of a network so that can prioritize traffic within their network - but not offer
SLAs to their customers. This is something MSOs want to deploy in order to
support triple play on the cable system
between the head end and the customer.
This makes a lot of sense and is relatively
inexpensive
An external system is where a customer
needs end-to-end QoS and wants a SLA.
To my mind this is very costly and expensive because of the SLA management issues regardless of whether you use flows,
MPLS with premium service, WRED,
TDM SONET or other techniques.
However, an alternate approach is to give
the OPEX knobs to the customer so that
can deploy and manage their own QoS.
This gives the customer what they want
without incurring a huge OPEX overhead for the carrier.
This is what UCLP provides - by using
web services we can let the customer
control their specific knobs for managing and controlling end-to-end QoS. This
will work with flows as well.
Roberts: Bill, I agree with all you say
here. There are two ways for the customer to set his own QoS, one which you
mention is a Web service, and a second is
to allow some in-flow QoS signaling, either Diffserv or more generally as I have
done in the TIA and ITU QoS signaling
specifications. But I agree that billing
should be simple flat rate based on the
web setup of a profile. PSTN history
forced me to do call by call billing when
I started Telenet back in 1975 (Sprint
today) and the billing cost as much as
the service. Thanks for clarifying your
point.
Coluccio: to St. Arnaud - I agree with
your explanation for applications that
leverage abundance, as in those cases
you’ve described in the past where universities and large enterprises were provided their own lambdas, which I’m
sure could commute to other situations,
as well, where very high capacity L1/2
links are managed by end users who
have access to the web services you’ve
mentioned, which, in the case you cite is
namely UCLP or equivalent.
Does this scale to the average end user
sitting in their living room, study or office at home? What I’m about to state
holds true for the end sitting behind an
enterprise desktop computer as well as
the residential user sitting at home.
Consider the total personnel-hours/days/
123
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
years that would be involved, if you’re
concerned about human costs, if every
user in a large corporation or residential serving area had to adjust for their
own QoS by manually setting up macro
parameters of their own, and adjusting
periodically for trends and shifts.
The sum total of all users’ time and
labors would be such that outsourcing
those burdens to the service provider
would make eminent sense. A kind of
equilibrium would be reached, similar
to what we have today, where the carrier
is responsible for not only the channel’s
raw capacity, but for governing flow
prioritization and packet loss for all services that share the common channel.
I don’t want to appear to be nit pickin’
the points you made, for they are valid
in the network settings that you’ve described. I am stating, however, that different networking domains demand different forms of attention and treatment,
and where you have a residential serving
area at the edge (or office complex sitting on the edge) consisting of tens of
thousands or millions of subscribers all
being fed from the same cookie-cut reference design pipes at the access layer
- all of them being too narrow in bandwidth, by nature, to qualify for the benefits afforded by abundance - economies
are best achieved by the service provider,
and not the end user, performing policy
enforcement and QoS.
Since I mentioned abundance, I should
remind myself, and perhaps others here
as well, that abundance is merely a relative term, and what might be designed
into a network today as an abundant
resource, such as bandwidth, quickly
becomes the gating factor in the future
as application-creep continues to claim
more cross-sectional real estate in the
pipeline.
Editor’s Note: Meanwhile the optical
network progress we wrote about at the
beginning of 2005 shows no sign of
slowing down. On Tuesday March 15,
Bill St. Arnaud posted the following to
his Canarie mail list.
FYI, 1,000 channel WDM transmission
is successfully demonstrated in an in-
stalled optical fiber for the first time in
the world - 126 km-span transmission
trial on the JGN II testbed -
is not sufficient to make claims like the
preceding one without stating where they
apply.
h t t p : / / w w w. n t t . c o . j p / n e w s /
news05e/0503/050308.html
Bill St. A’s assertions in the above give
and take, where he stated that the complexities and costs of QoS were best
left to the end user while offering the
UCLP approach as an example, were
correct, with the following caveat. They
were only correct if one chose to view
large enterprise on their own fiber nets
or RENs using lambda based networks,
and the “users” in those instances were
also the administrators of those larger
organizations who had high capacity
bandwidth swaths at their disposal.
[With demonstrations like this it is
not inconceivable to imagine a world
where every research institution, if not
researcher, would have its own long
haul 10 Gbps wavelength. ROADM and
ULH techniques may also allow all the
active optical elements for wavelength
insertion and removal be located at customer premises, while the core of the
network consists of solely broadband
optical amplifiers and ROADMs. This
will allow systems integrators and other
organizations to deploy condominium
wavelength networks where very participating institution or enterprise can manage its own set of long haul wavelengths.
Thanks to Olivier Martin and Harvey
Newman for this pointer -- BSA]
Hughes: There’s no free technological
lunch. And this is true even with free,
open source software OR with ‘unlicensed’ wireless, or virtual ‘giveaway’
(extremely low cost) chip sets.
Not only do you have increasing complexity, BUT you also have a real, and
increasing, TIME cost (labor, which in
some quarters = $$$) to master this stuff,
make it work, make it interoperate, make
it standard, make it compatible. By individuals, by organizations, by schools and
universities, by small companies, by big
companies, by governments.
But Bill’s assertions in this regard tend
to lean toward being incorrect, in my
opinion when we focus on individual,
highly-regimented end users who are
only one among millions either at home
or at work, as though they were stamped
out recipients in the reference design of
a larger provider’s (enterprise or carrier)
sphere of influence.
In the absence of a larger provider’s
design, however, I believe Dave’s characterization of chaos ensuing to be correct, especially in triple play circles and
where organizations’ VPNs and other enterprise-specific applications come into
play, but not necessarily when e-to-e and
p-to-p applications are considered, although the more isoochronous-like those
tend to be, the more they fit into the former category, as well.
At the expense of appearing redundant
over this point, for any discussion of this
nature to be meaningful, one has to be
specific about the network venue, who
its tenants are, and which dimension of
networking is being discussed.
[For those contemplating municiple wireless systems], it will be like a Big Wireless Candy Store in the Sky. Until they
try to implement them all in their town,
thinking they are free or cheap costing
them little in their city budgets. Except
time. And THEN begin to see why technology and communications companies
exist, as well as licensed radios.
Technical Aspects of
VoIP Traffic Shaping on
Wi-fi Network
Coluccio: Dave’s comments while correct in their own right, have caused me
to recall the discussion on the cost of
QoS being one of network opex and
capex costs and, as I asserted, time costs
on the part of end users, as well. But it
On February 26, David Reed replied to
Larry Roberts technical 802.11 question: Larry - just to clarify something
you said. The 802.11 standard supports
slotted Aloha operation, but it is wrong
to say that it *is* slotted Aloha. 802.11
124
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
supports both DCF and PCF operation.
DCF (distributed control function) is
slotted aloha, and suffers the problems
you refer to.
PCF (point control function) is a centrally controlled polling protocol, with every
transmitter getting turns allocated by the
so called “access point”. Actual 802.11
networks - the ones you call “cheap”,
even the “cheapest” ones - actually use
PCF whenever an access point is present.
Even the $100 access points use PCF,
and tell their clients to use PCF.
Schulzrinne: I’m sorry, but this is wrong.
All access points today use DCF, with
PCF rare to non-existent. As far as we’ve
been able to determine, Cisco access
points are capable of doing PCF, but
we’ve never seen it being used. (Also,
DCF uses CSMA/CA, which is related to
Aloha, but not the same thing. In Aloha,
the sender can’t listen to the channel; in
CSMA/CA, it does.) This makes sense
since data transfer performance for PCF
is dismal since a large fraction of the
bandwidth is wasted on polling.
Reed: Quoting from the 802.11 Handbook (IEEE), “with proper planning, the
PCF is able to deliver a near-isochronous
service to the stations on the polling list.
... While the PCF is an optional part of
the IEEE 802.11 standard, *every station* is required to be able to respond to
the operation of the PCF”. That means,
access points are not required, but if an
access point is present, every station is
required to operate in a polled mode.
Schulzrinne: Except that APs don’t actually use it. We have worked extensively
in this area recently; see our WCNC
paper, for example, for PCF extensions.
(http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~hgs/papers/Kawa0503_Improving.pdf)
This is just an example, and a rather
specialized one; there are many more
papers, some cited in that paper, on VoIP
capacity for DCF (and a few on PCF).
The problem with some PCF-is-better
papers is that they assume that the PCF
interval and the voice interval are perfectly lined up. Nothing ever is, so you
get into the situation where the station
misses the poll by just a tad, then sends
during the contention period (as called
for) and then has nothing to send during
the next content-free (polling) period,
wasting the poll. Also, with silence suppression, about half of the PCF polls are
wasted on temporarily silent stations.
Reed: As you certainly know, polled networks are NOT slotted Aloha, and are appropriate for voice. In fact, that is exactly
what WiMAX is - a polled network.
Schulzrinne: Unfortunately, in practice,
the voice capacity of PCF is actually
lower than for DCF, at least under the
standard voice models we’ve used.
Reed: So there is no difference resulting from the Medium Access Protocol
between WiFi and WiMax regarding its
appropriateness for VoIP (SIP, , ...).
Where there are differences, it results
from overloading the local access capacity. It is trivially easy to overload a 10
Mb/sec network with a single file transfer. And the situation is worse when your
“uplink” (as in a home network) is only
a few hundred kb/sec, matched to a 10
Mb/s local access network.
Schulzrinne: And SIP works fine in
networks where the average load on the
bottleneck link is 50% or less, and the
biggest packets are a small number of
milliseconds long on the bottleneck link.
The bottleneck link is rarely the wireless access link, but can be the next link
upstream. This isn’t the result of slotted aloha at all, but is instead the result
of overloading the upstream link input
queues, creating a transient, but slowresolving traffic jam in the buffers on the
source side of the upstream link. Nor is
it particularly due to wireless vs. wired
link reliability.
The same problem with voice happens
in wired LANs with under provisioned
upstream paths, and the same solutions
work, but they are not implemented in
the LAN equipment in either case. They
must be implemented in the endpoints or
the router queues, or both.
Reed (in response to Schulzrinne above):
I’m ok to discover I’m wrong, but I
125
didn’t base my statements only on that
book, which was written by long-time
chairs of the 802.11 committee, and vetted by implementers at Intersil and other
primary implementors. I based them on
actual empirical observations carried out
by me and a student in exploring the actual MAC layer of installed APs at MIT.
I may have even looked at Netgear and
Linksys APs at my home in the process.
PCF was present in all cases. This was
not about VoIP, so I bow to Henning’s
experience with VoIP problems on WiFi.
I didn’t find a reference to PCF not being
implemented in that paper, Henning. I
would like to see evidence that access
points on the market do not implement
PCF at all. I have had graduate students
studying the actual frames sent in our
access points, and that work (last year)
showed PCF present in the access points.
So I would be interested in makes, models, and actual frame traces that show
pure DCF operation of a commercial access point (say a Linksys).
It is a different question whether the particular PCF implementation in an access
point supports isochronous traffic well.
The phenomenon you describe (of units
sending frames into the DCF period of
the MAC protocol, instead of waiting
until the next PCF) would indeed cause
problems due to CSMA/CA issues.
Roberts: I want to thank both Henning
Schulzrinne and David Reed for helping
me understand what the problems with
802.11 for VoIP are and why I have not
been able to make it work. Clearly there
are settings to optimize but even then
FTP in the same zone (which we have
lots of) makes delay grow quickly. Also
the number of phones is limited far more
than the “10 Mbps” would suggest. But
from this information, perhaps we can
control the traffic to make it work, up to
the natural limit. Thanks!
And on March 1 David Reed: Henning, et
al. - I have spent a few days in my spare
time doing exactly what I often suggest
others do, checking with my own hands
and eyes. Executive summary - you are
right, and I was wrong. The vast majority of access points I scanned claim that
they don’t implement PCF, so they don’t
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
support a polling mode, and instead are
CSMA/CA. [the work last year had me
looking at 802.11 beacon frames, but
whether PCF was enabled didn’t matter,
so I guess I misremembered :-( ] Kismet
is a quite reasonable tool for examining
the protocols implemented by access
points, to see who claims to implement
the PCF function on cheap access points,
as opposed to DCF.
When one wants to pursue the engineering truth (rather than the marketing
FUD) about networking technologies,
it is very useful to do hands-on exploration. (I remember the many demos of
“bad quality over VoIP” by marketroids
that came down to the fact that most PCs
had problematic sound cards and drivers and bad VoIP software that didn’t
understand how to use those devices in
low-latency mode).
the past couple of days, for which I am
grateful to everyone here.
Larry, with the exception of the WiFi
part of this discussion, when you refer
to flows, I take it you mean MPLS flows
between the edges of the ‘Net, as defined
by the public facing edges of ISPs. Edgeto-edge, in other words, and through the
core, so as not to confuse the term ‘edge’
as meaning the customer end node.
I follow your logic and agree with it,
but at the same time feel compelled to
caution that edge to edge activity that is
internal to the cloud is only one, albeit a
major, part of the end-to-end connection.
I have to go back to Bill’s earlier statement to make a point that I feel applies
equally to some of your last post as it
does to his.
Bill, you stated:
The mystery of networks to users, and
sometimes even “experts”, often leads
to treating the somewhat inaccessible
phenomena on networks as “magic” confusing correlation with causation, especially if one has a prejudice (wireless
is unreliable) that makes the explanation
plausible and confirms the prejudice.
However, a few minutes (or hours) with
Ethereal or Kismet often leads to a different conclusion, if you have the eye
for it.
I strongly suggest being skeptical of all
“experts” (even/especially me! :-) - I
suspect that no one is more skeptical of
what I think to be true than I am, which
is why I went back to check myself). I
still believe that the bulk of problems
with Skype and VoIP over WiFi arise
from overloads at the upstream access
link, not with WiFi per se. In any case,
sorry for misleading you all.
Schulzrinne: Thanks for checking - I
wish more people would take the time
as you did...
Successful Video
Accommodation by
Microsoftʼs IPT Platform
Coluccio on Feb 28: The interchange
on this list has been very enjoyable for
“... but rarely do you see a systemic
comparison of QoS and OPEX versus an
alternative of increased CAPEX to significantly increase the bandwidth.”
You’re apparently basing your assumptions on the existence of statisticallyfriendly large flows within the Internet
proper that support traditional IP service
mixes, where the cohabitation of best
effort and time-sensitive traffic can arguably be accommodated simply by some
degree of inexpensive bandwidth over
provisioning. Agreed. Where a large
backbone is concerned, and where, as I
stated a few messages upstream, where
properly designed infrastructure (LANs
and intranets, in my earlier examples,
but public Internet domains, as well) are
used for transport.
But it is far easier to generalize about
the domains of transport and be correct
about over provisioning than to make the
same assumptions where local or metro
forms of transport and their tributaries,
and, especially, where one is focusing on
access level connections in the deep outside plant where they meet the customer
location. It’s with some hesitation that I
go on here, due to the likelihood that I
too will wind up generalizing, but just
to make sure that I don’t, I’ll state that
in the following I’m going to limit my
126
focus to the conditions that exist on last
mile residential services today, where socalled broadband services are supported
by DSL, Cable Modem and even some
forms of FTTP (the bandwidth scarcity
perpetuating variety), are used.
These exceptions to the qualities enjoyed
over backbone flows hold doubly true
for the growing number of end users
who are now opting for bundled (3P)
services and receiving squeezed-down
droppings of bandwidth on their last
mile connections. Clearly two-thirds of
the RBOC’s promised IPTV subscriber
connections are going to depend heavily
on Microsoft’s coming across with their
compression algorithms in a timely manner, in order that those subscribers’ DSL
connections are able to actually support
all that the carriers are saying they will.
All of which means, that all of the i’s
and t’ have yet to be dotted and crossed
on just how Microsoft’s IPTV platform
will accommodate video, yet. And in
recognition of this, Verizon has actually stated that their initial roll outs will
support analog video over fiber until the
IPTV capabilities are fully developed
and delivered.
The problem isn’t really that onerous
for Verizon, yet, because most of their
published roll-outs are all-fiber based, to
date. Bell South and SBC, on the other
hand, have eschewed all-fiber build outs,
and are deploying copper end sections
using DSL in their FTTP deployments,
instead. Those are the ILECs that have
something to think about, as Microsoft
works to stabilize their compression applications in time for service delivery.
And these are the same ILECs, along
with many other smaller independent
telcos who are delivering 3P over DSL,
who will be using QoS mechanisms to
the hilt in order to make good on their
voice over IP quality assertions, and at
the same time support up to three or
four simultaneous TV sets in the home,
with one of those being HDTV. All
this will take place over <20 Mb/s, and
sometimes <8 Mb/s, offering fewer simultaneous viewing capabilities, along
with multiple voice “connections” and
“broadband data” support. Good Luck!
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
And this is quadruply true where suboptimal forms of DSL are used, and this
again assumes that users in this case are
receiving combined (3P) services that
are all contending for the same meager
number of bits. To be specific, carriers
are offering triple play services over lines
that support anywhere from 1.5M/384k
to 24M/1.0M over last- section copper
xDSL lines.
So, there is not the same friendly mix
of conditions on the last mile stretch
as exists in the backbone or the ‘Net’s
edge-to-edge, which explains why there
is an entire cottage industry developing
virtually overnight to handle triple play
traffic intermediation, on-the-fly engineering, policy enforcement and QoS
management at service providers’ hubs
and head ends.
When you (Bill St. Arnaud) state ...
“The OPEX costs of managing QoS are
horrendous and, because they are so labour intensive are only going to increase.
CAPEX costs per bit of bandwidth continue to drop dramatically. Many carriers
feel they will be a charge a premium for
QoS that will more than offset the OPEX
costs... “
Coluccio: I think prudence would support keeping in mind that, while what
you’ve stated is true for the most part,
it is predominantly true for backbone
economics as time progresses, as is being
evidenced by the take up rates of last
mile triple play services, and the types
of facilities and architectures over which
those services are being offered.
St. Arnaud: “But, it is hard to imagine
how carriers will recover a premium for a
service like voice that has never seen as a
premium service by the public. Can you
imagine carriers trying to sell a service
that ensures greater probability of having
better sound quality or a higher likelihood of not being dropped?”
Voice, Caspian,
Broadband and Korea
Coluccio: Voice is a funny animal. When
offered alone, it’s hard to make a buck on
it. Today, if it is offered as an add-on to
video services, whatever rates are used
go almost entirely to the bottom line of
the provider, if the service is being priced
competitively with the ILEC’s or another
contending triple play provider’s. The
same holds true for Internet access services that they, and this is true because
of the huge economies that exist when
the all three services are offered over
a common infrastructure. If the video
component of the bundle can carry the
weight of the build out (capex, and ongoing opex for the majority of last mile
provisions) and bring in a few dollars per
sub, then the other two services of voice
and Internet access are very often pure
gravy to the provider.
Larry, I guess I can now retract my question regarding flows, since I was late
to recall your earlier explanations of
Caspian’s approach, which was refreshed
in my mind by the release I am posting
below. Congratulations!
From ConvergeDigest.com:
Caspian and ETRI to Develop Flow State
Routing for Korea’s BcN 28-Feb-05
Caspian Networks has been selected by
South Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) to
co-develop advanced IP flow state solutions for the nation’s Broadband convergence Network (BcN). The project will
combine Caspian‚s flow state technology
with ETRI‚s technical expertise in network control and simplified multi-protocol labeling switching (sMPLS).
The BcN project is targeting a goal to
build an integrated network in South
Korea with bandwidth of 50 ~ 100 Mbps
per end user that can offer seamless multimedia services to 20 million Korean
subscribers using wired and wireless
communications among heterogeneous
networks. South Korea already has the
highest broadband penetration rate in the
world and high-speed residential connections offering tens of megabits of
performance have been on the market for
some time. The BcN initiative aims to
drive connectivity to the next level, offering seamlessly connectivity between
services. Network providers benefit with
127
deterministic, guaranteed IP Quality of
Service (QoS) offerings, mobility, and
security for new and demanding multimedia applications as set forth by the
BcN project. Users benefit with cutting
edge integrated services, like IP video
and music, online entertainment, realtime health and welfare response, Voice
over IP, and more, regardless of device
or location.
Caspian Networks, which is based in
San Jose, California, has been developing flow-based routing since its founding
in 2002 by Dr. Larry Roberts. In flowbased networking, packets are routed as
whole flows, i.e. streams of related packets, rather than as individual packets as
in current IP/MPLS networks. Caspian’s
existing “Apeiro” platform examines
each packet entering the router, identifies flows, and then stores to memory
the flow‚s relevant routing information
as well as its QoS, loss, delay and jitter
characteristics. Flows are identified by
the combination of source address, destination address, source port, destination
port, and protocol. Subsequent packets in
the flow are switched based on the “flow
state” data already in memory. By tracking potentially tens of millions of microflows per 10 Gbps interface per second
in hardware, Caspian said its Apeiro
platform provides deterministic QoS for
premium IP traffic that is equivalent to
ATM. The ASIC-driven platform is capable of handling flow set-ups significantly
faster than the circuit set-up rates typical
of ATM and MPLS.
Caspian will establish an R&D center in
Korea to support the co- development
efforts with ETRI and to serve as a technical support hub for the Asia Pacific
region. Initially, Caspian expects to hire
about 15 engineers. http://www.caspian.
com and http://www.etri.re.kr 28-Feb-05
* In Sept. 2004, the government of
South Korea picked 3 consortia to conduct Broadband Convergence Network
(BCN) trial operations scheduled for
this year. The consortia are led by led
by Korea Telecom, SK Telecom and
Dacom. The goal of the BcN is to build
an integrated network supporting bandwidth of 50 ~ 100 Mbps to 20 million
subscribers via wired or wireless access.
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
* In January 2005, Northrop Grumman Mbps DSL line might have at most 200 convey to Bill St.Arnaud. We have been
awarded a multi-year contract to Cas- flows with a resulting variance gain of trying to add traffic types like voice
pian Networks for joint development of a 14:1, still 4 times less variance than 16 and video that require call acceptance
critical element of the space communica- queues. But given call acceptance control control to a router designed mainly for
tions system payload for the Air Force’s for voice and video it is quite reasonable TCP traffic and the same control method
Transformational Satellite Communica- to achieve very low delay variance and (WRED) that works for bulk data does
tions System (TSAT) Space Segment.
low loss on these UDP flows if no new not work well for streams.
flows are accepted once the average UDP
Coluccio: (To Larry Roberts) I had lost load exceeds some level. Without call ac- [Editor's Note: I am continuing to wield
site of your involvement and pursuits ceptance control, there is no way to keep a machete chopping chunks of sections
within Anagran, the company you found- voice or video from overloading the link and and entire section on IMS in the Moed and currently head up (I believe), and all the flows having significant loss. bile World -except that is, for Sebastian
whose mission is to:
The TCP traffic can fill the rest and may Hassinger's closing remark that follows.]
have higher loss than in the core, but it
“ ... [develop] a next generation Customer is the streaming flows that need to be IMS in the Mobile World
Premises Equipment (“CPE”) IP Router. protected. This works well at the edge
Anagran will enable high quality voice and of course this is where it is needed Sebastian Hassinger: IMS seems to me
and video, load balance among users, most. One can improve utilization and to be a layering on top of the architecachieve high throughput TCP especially reduce cost in the core as well, but this is ture that the mobile network operators
critical over long distances and allow not strongly related to QoS, more the fact have been developing for the delivery of
fairness of broadband utilization.”
that FSA routing is less expensive than network-delivered value-add services to
packet routing and can achieve higher their customers. Last year this was called
http://www.anagran.com/index.html
efficiency.
Service Delivery Platform, or SDP. From
I’m therefore particularly eager to hear
what you have to say about how I characterized the edge/distribution/access
traffic handling considerations for residential and soho triple play traffic in
the message immediately inline, quoted
above.
Roberts: Frank - As you have realized
in reading the Caspian announcements
and my Anagran site, I was talking about
individual flows, not MPLS composites.
If we then consider a Flow State Aware
(FSA) router that can identify all flows in
an IP link and manage the QoS (discarding, scheduling) of each flow separately,
rather than managing a small number
of queues, then the statistical gain is far
improved even at the edge of the network
where there may be much smaller links.
IP generally has 100,000 individual flows
per Gbps of traffic. In the core then one
has 1M flows per 10 Gbps link and by
standard queuing theory if one manages
all million separately rather than as 16
queues, the improvement in variance
is 1M^(1/2) or 1000:1 rather than 4:1.
At the edge, the gain is less, since a 2
As to OPEX, the current methods of
managing QoS in standard packet routers
with a number of WRR priority queues
does take considerable manpower to tune
the limits on each queue as the traffic
mix changes. This tuning need not continue however once the routers are measuring and controlling all the flows and
automatically controlling the accepted
load to insure the QoS of all accepted
traffic. There should be no need to tune
or monitor the network manually at such
a fine level. The QoS is being managed
automatically and the network operator
only sets up the global parameters once
and then assigns each user one of a number of standard profiles. The network
then enforces these profiles to maintain
the global parameters.
With the current “best effort” router
design it is costly in both OPEX and
CAPEX to improve QoS and there is no
way to control loss if too much video is
requested. But this situation is a result
of the 30 year old router design, and we
should not assume it cannot be changed.
This is the message I was attempting to
128
a bird’s eye view each new TLA (Three
Letter Acronym) actually looks like
another incremental step towards the
same eventual goal. Namely, leveraging
emerging telcom and IT technologies to
build those fabled Next Gen Networks
(NGNs, the TLA from the year before
last) that allow network operators to
fulfill their dream of becoming Service
Providers of value-add services to their
captured customers. IMS specifically is
the turn of the crank that adds SIP on top
of an end-to-end IP layer that promises,
like every turn of the crank, to lower
operating costs while enabling the efficient delivery of new revenue-generating
services. In some conversations it seems
that IMS is primarily preoccupied with
the delivery of video to handsets. It also
incorporates some principles of SOA
(Services-Oriented Architecture) and
Web Services.
In other words it’s mostly “marketecture”
wrapped around the integration of a few
new bits of technology into the existing
network.
Symposium Discussion March 3 -10, 2005
Some VoIP Regulatory Issues Highlights
Vonage Whining its Way
to Open Access
Editor’s Note: Early March saw an example of what will undoubtedly happen
again: port blocking used by a small North
Carolina CLEC. Vonage asked the FCC
to step in and prevent the blocking. On
March 3 the FCC ruled in Vonage’s favor.
http://www.internetweek.com/allStories/
showArticle.jhtml?articleID=60405234
“The Federal Communications Commission announced Thursday that it had
reached a $15,000 consent decree with
Madison River Communications, a Mebane, North Carolina service provider
that calls itself the “17th largest phone
company in the US,” with “234,204 connections in service.” According to the
FCC, Madison River pledged to “refrain
from blocking VOIP traffic and ensure
that such blocking will not recur.”
This touched off a lot of discussion. I
am publishing only a small part of the
discussion because it goes too deep into
the American regulatory arcanae that in
the view of some been responsible for
the failure of broadband infrastructure
in the US to keep up with the rest of the
world.
Matt Wenger: Vonage’s response is perfectly indicative of what is wrong in
Telecom. The infrastructure providers
want to have a monopoly on services
(we own the customer.) The pure service
plays want no-cost access to infrastructure (we own the customer and you, Mr
infrastructure provider, own the duncecap) The customer wants a wide variety
of affordable services with as little hassle
as possible.
This fleeting moment where the rules of
engagement have fallen behind the ability of the technology (read: loop-holes)
is not sustainable. It is acceptable for
Vonage et al to take advantage of it while
it “fleets”. It is childish to whine about
it when it “flows”. We need a sustainable model and what we’ve got now, Mr.
Vonage, is not it. If you ain’t part of the
solution...
Goldman: Of course, many CLECs
have argued to regulators that competition demanded open access. Some VoIP
providers are former CLECs who now
say the CLEC model was never valid.
One CLEC notes, “The worm may have
turned over a bit.”
Coluccio: If the ILECs knew how to deal
with ‘channel partners,’ then the CLECs
would have been regarded as distributors
in the supply chain rather than being
viewed as adversaries. Being the bigger
of the two segments, the ILECs could
surely have set the stage as such.
“Some VoIP providers are former CLECs
who now say the CLEC model was never
valid.”
Why is it that when a CLEC upgrades to
VoIP its name is changed to “VoIP provider” or an “ITSP”. And when an ILEC
does the same thing, i.e., upgrades to
VoIP, they are still called an ILEC?
Editor’s Note: While I have eliminated
many exchanges from the mail list discussion -- On March 3 Matt Wenger
again sums up: Those that insinuated
against my insinuation (Dave, Henning
et al) basically fall into the same camp:
That the customer pays their ISP, Vonage
pays their ISP and so everyone pays their
fair share. That was not the point.
The question is, is this model sustainable? The answer is likely not. What
is the pressure on local loop Internet
charges to the end user? Is it trending
up, keeping pace with inflation? Or is
it trending down? What’s happening to
the costs of the Infrastructure provider?
Those pole contact fees going down?
How about OSP maintenance? Is the industry of Internet infrastructure becoming more like a diverse group of Small
specialty Organic farms or trending more
to Mega-agriculture? As internet con129
nectivity costs approach zero (supply
continuing to outstrip demand - chapter
11 instead of chapter 7 etc...) where do
the revenues come from? Triple play?
Quadruple play? The be-everything-toeverybody-play? How does the LLIP
protect their investment and their revenues? Is this unfair? What happens to
Vonage if all the local loops go out of
business? (10 bucks says they buy them
- wait a few years for those announcements to start happening - control is
ultimately in the pipe).
So I ask the folks who didn’t like my
insinuations, if I own the pipe, why can
I not block or otherwise impede traffic
that is counter to my business model?
If I want to sell VoIP, why can’t I block
yours? AOL has been redirecting web
sites for years (or so someone once told
me - though I personally saw no proof).
Can I block porn? Can I block things that
might get me sued? What if I only open
certain ports? Technically, I’m not blocking. I’m just selectively allowing. What
about destination-based policy routing?
Are you going to come after me for that?
Are you going to force me, via whining
to government regulators, to offer great
QoS for your packets?? What if my QoS
isn’t as good as the next guys and I cause
you a bunch of expensive support calls?
Are you going to force me to have the
latest and greatest kit all the time and an
oversubscription rate of no more than...
(hey... I’m liking the sound of this for us
gear pushers).... hmmm starting to sound
like an SLA...
If you want to control the medium, buy
it. Or rent it. Offer cash incentives (ok
bribes) back to the network providers.
Do joint marketing (wholesale/retail).
Hell do anything, but for Pete’s sake (and
mine and everyone else’s) don’t go whining to the government of all places to rere-re-regulate this god-forsaken industry
(Francois, I loved “re-regulation”, although perhaps more accurately it would
have be re-re-re-re-re-regulation. I will
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
steal it and use it re-re-repeatedly!).
Amazon pays for bandwidth - for website traffic that is probably an acceptable
metric for now (I haven’t seen another
compelling model, although ad insertion
is really starting to gum up my models at
the moment... more on that another time).
As Andrew and others have demonstrated so well on this list, and I continue to
re-re-reiterate - look at cell phones. You
must move past charging for commodity
bandwidth and into charging for VALUE
if you are to build a sustainable network
model. Just because one service warrants
a mbps fee, doesn’t mean the next does.
We’ll never get HD Video over IP (which
means the triple-play will be re-re-reclusive which means sustainability issues
for small infrastructure providers).
Mr Whine E. Vonage, blocking or otherwise playing with packets bound for
your switch impedes on neither your
right to freedom of speech nor ours. You
have the right to build your own infrastructure. Or, W.E. Vonage, you could do
what the rest of us who don’t like system
are doing, and contribute positively to
changing it by supporting open models
where you can control the quality of your
service. Pay your way or pave your way
to the center of the earth with the others
you blind bastard. Your “call” (to coin a
phrase... ha-ha! the re-re-entrendres are
endless! )
Schulzrinne: Since access providers
have a near monopoly in many communities (and are trying very hard to maintain such monopoly - see community
wireless discussion), they are not just
another business that can choose what
service they offer to you.
Wenger: Under what statute is a CLEC
forced to provide ANY service? The only
folks I know who have to provide service
are the incumbent LECs and all they
have to provide is Phone. No one has to
provide video, voice over IP, internet access. If someone owns the infrastructure
they can choose to sell you whatever
they want. Furthermore, they can sell
you what you don’t want. And they can
refuse to sell you what you actually do
want. Unless the law changed while I
was asleep, this is the sit-comedic nature
of American Telecom.
Schulzrinne: You can’t claim the benefits of monopoly and common carrier
status and then complain when you can’t
discriminate on services.
Wenger: Wha-ha? Sure you can. You can
do anything you want in a deregulated
environment where you own the asset.
Watch what happens when these guys
build fiber. Have you seen the FCC ruling? Now you are right, we are in a weird
grey space of non-re-un-re-regulated telcom, but on a basic principle if I own the
asset, and I am a private company, I can
do what I want. This is called de-regulation and it is where we are going, like it
or not. But let’s drop the ILEC case - I’d
love to bully the ILEC as much as the
next beanpole with a penchant for regulation/public floggings. What if the company that Vonage is complaining about
is actually a CLEC? Would this change
your argument? Would you say, oh well
no, I guess they can block? What if it
was the cable company (which my badly
informed, usually delusional contacts tell
me this is the case)? What if it was the
local wireless ISP? What if it was all
three and they were all competing in the
same geographic area?
Are you arguing that no company with an
asset should be able to control that asset
(and protect their investment) or are you
just arguing that the assortment of ILECs
can’t have that right?
Schulzrinne: This illustrates the need to
separate out the rate-of-return, natural
monopoly parts (fiber, coax, copper, licensed spectrum) from the competitive
aspects of service provision.
Wenger: Now you’re talking my language. I couldn’t have said it better
myself. You would have to look a ways
to find a greater believer in (or advocate
for) pure Open Access than I. And you’re
right. That’s exactly what this illustrates.
But when you do that, how do cover
the costs of the Infrastructure? I won’t
rehash my arguments from November/
December here. The point is that simply
separating the services from the infra130
structure does not sustainability create.
What is the billing model? If you say
mbps then I won’t be investing in your
network anytime soon... Like it or not,
Data is not Data is not Data. Just like
steel is not steel is not steel. Some steel is
a knife. Other steel is a car. Other steel is
the plate in my head (where is that medication anyway...). (even better is water is
not water... I’ll pay more for water in a
bottle in a store than from my tap poured
into an empty bottle. I’ll pay even more
for that bottle on hot golf course.)
Basically Henning, I think we hold the
same belief. The ideal would be separation of infrastructure from services. What
I think we disagree on is how the dollars
might flow to sustain such an ideal. I’d
love to hear a different model of sustainability for an open system if you have
one. While we’ve had a lot of success
(after a lot of failure) with our models,
there is always room for improvement or
even radical innovation.
Schulzrinne: There is no natural right
for a company to leverage public rights
of way to extract maximum monopoly
rents.
Wenger: Err.... I think I’ll drive by a
debate on natural rights. (But on second
thought) I have no natural rights to land
my house sits on either. Somehow though
I have ended up with for-all-intents-andpurposes-natural rights. The American
Dream, I believe it is called. Property
law. But you are on to something here.
BOY WERE WE DUMB HEY? They
asked and we gave. Sometimes, in our
slightly less drunken moments, we even
thought to sell.
Schulzrinne: Nobody forces Verizon or
the cable company to be in this business.
If they’d rather sell that part to a true
utility company, I’m sure there would
be takers.
You are essentially advocating to go back
to the French minitel model; there were
good reasons it didn’t survive the arrival
of the Internet.
Wenger: Yes and none of them had to do
with the billing model. Support, new ap-
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
CODECs and Perceptions of Voice
Quality
Coluccio: On the matter of voice quality, most assessments are usually
vague and subjective, such as “pretty good,” “toll quality,” or compared
to what were one time, and continue to be in many cases, similarly inferior gradings such as “cellular-like” and “citizens band-like” quality.
Is there a published reference that someone here can point to that charts
the frequency response ranges and other applicable parameters affecting
sound quality of all codecs used in VoIP today, especially those used for
Skype and the more popular variants of SIP, H.323, etc. for comparison
purposes, even if those parameters only reflect ideal conditions?
The only time I’ve experienced SIP to be as high in quality as Skype
has been when a properly engineered enterprise LAN was used, and
less so on properly designed intranets. In either case, this has been true
only when there were no intervening switched services involved, such
as those that would employ an H.323 gateway to the PSTN. Those, as a
matter of physics, default to the narrower bandwidths found in PSTNdesigned multiplexed channels, i.e., they never allow more than 3400 HZ
of passage, and sometimes that number can be 2700 HZ.
In this message I use the term “artifact” consistent with Webster’s fourth
definition: an object, observation, phenomenon, or result arising from
hidden or unexpected causes extraneous to the subject of a study, and
therefore spurious and having potential to lead one to an erroneous conclusion, or to invalidate the study. In experimental science, artifacts may
arise due to inadvertent contamination of equipment, faulty experimental
design or faulty analysis, or unexpected effects of agencies not known to
affect the system under study.
Having stated that, I’ve encountered more forms of auditory artifacts
on SIP sessions on intranets than I have with Skype on the open ‘Net,
even when the majority of those conversations have been near-pristine
for the greater portions of those calls. The artifacts result from, I have
to surmise, spikes in neighboring applications. Skpye, too, has resulted
in momentary noticeable blips and dropouts, but far more seldom than
my SIP intranet experiences, thus far. And neither has been able to quite
match SIP in the latter regard when a properly engineered LAN was the
sole medium used.
But I have been dropped stone dead (off-hooked) from several Skype
calls over the past month for no apparent reason, and with no means of
determining why those disconnects occurred, which, I believe, may be
one of Skype’s Achilles heels where enterprises are concerned. Skype
simply doesn’t permit the visibility into the network, as things stand
today, that is needed to satisfy corporate surveillance and OAM requirements, even if some of those requirements are, in the final analysis, perfunctory, at best. Again, a summary reference for codec designs would
be useful, and if anyone can point me to one, or explain why such a tool
would be less than fully useful, I’d appreciate it.
Reed: Voice quality is mostly about psychoacoustics, not frequency response. I have lots of references in my drawer about that. Unfortunately,
there isn’t a way to analyze waveform distortions to determine “voice
quality” without user testing on a variety of voices.
Gill: You can use MOS-CQ scores to get a pretty good idea of how it
works. Brix makes boxes that do this for you.
Reed: Generally, however, end-to-end codecs work a lot better than intermediate translations between codecs, given a particular bottleneck bit
131
rate. This is why Skype can work well - it never attempts to use
existing voice paths in the middle. End-to-end SIP can be excellent
as well. But too many VoIP providers make their business around
interconnect, and then do the interconnect poorly.
It’s well known that certain digital cellphone codecs interoperate
poorly, even when operated alone they provide quite good quality.
I don’t know of anyone who has worked on “impedance matching”
(in the metaphorical sense) between low-bitrate psychoacoustic
channels that work on slightly different theories - that’s what it
would take.
Gill: Is there a reference you can share. I regularly talk between
CDMA (using EVRC 8k and 13k et al) and GSM forcing AMR
or EFR EFR/HR, and at least to my ear, the background noise and
poor noise suppression of the GSM codecs tends to dominate the
call quality issues.
Reed: Vijay - I don’t have a reference for composite-codec distortions, just comments from many peers in the cellular systems
engineering field (Qualcomm, Motorola, Ericsson, Nokia) about
the problem. I’d be interested in a reference as well.
It’s plausible, given the kinds of tricks used in different codecs,
that artifacts that are not salient to a human ear are detected and
distorted by a second similar or dissimilar codec into distressingly
audible artifacts. That certainly happens in image and video compression (for example the edges of blocks in JPEG are not visible,
but if you then take a previously compressed JPEG image and run
it through certain wavelet compressors, the edges are emphasized
and become an irritating grid like artifact.
Such artifacts are not visible/audible in simple measures like the
frequency response, but are nonetheless highly visible/audible to
the nonlinear detectors we humans have to work with. Hence the
benefit of using a single end-to-end compression codec, rather than
concatenated codecs willy nilly trying to simulate POTS.
Coluccio: David, your points concerning psychoacoustic considerations are well taken, although I was not looking at the matter
from a psychoacoustic-, or even psycho physiological- standpoint.
Whatever the deeper analysis may provide from those standpoints,
however, one cannot discount the heavy weighting that frequency
response has in determining what we generally perceive as voice
quality, especially under *ideal* conditions. And it was the ideal
condition that I was asking for - not tandem, dissimilar, connections in the presence of congestion and other forms of noise (latency, jitter, “impedance” mismatching). By the way, I’m glad for
a change to see someone recognize that the latter term ‘impedance’
is in fact a form of metaphor when used in this context, more often
than not ;-)
I’ve not seen actual studies conducted on the mixing of tandem sections of several VoIP paths, i.e., “in line” sections connected to one
another using multiple forms of coding. But I have seen in the past
TDM equivalents, where, for example, proprietary forms of digital
speech interpolation (DSI) and delta modulation techniques of the
type that Tymplex used were connected in back to back configurations with ADPCM, and then with cellular .72x algorithms,
with results that were sometimes utterly horrific.
For the hell of it, I’d still like to see the chart I asked about earlier,
if anyone has one. I’ve Googled this thing to death without reaching any satisfaction.
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
plication development, integration, opex why Powell’s policy is so, frankly, cor- choice. Thus I suggest that Powell is posbut not the revenue model:
rupt. The ILECs have monopoly power, turing, using Vonage’s temporary, limited
which has been greatly strengthened by competition as a bad excuse for giving
From Wired 2001: “the real story is recent FCC actions. (They fought the the ILECs almost all of the cookies.
Minitel’s ability to convert online traf- USTA and USTA II cases about as hard
fic into money in the till -- not only for as Bre’r Rabbit fought being thrown Pershing: This is distinguished from,
France Telecom but also for the 7,000 or into the briar patch.) The Telecom Act say, I don’t know, SBC, and its market
so companies that depend on the bulk of laid out a fairly clear vision of competi- dominance of the infrastructure facility.
their business from teletext customers. tion among certificated LECs, providing It is questionable whether the infrastrucFrance Telecom raked in over 690 mil- common carriage to unregulated ISPs. ture market can be competitive. But
lion euros ($614 million) in revenues Powell does intense violence to that perhaps the application service provider
from Minitel services in 2000, 440 mil- law, making life even more difficult for market can be.
lion ($392 million) of which was then facilities-based CLECs (I’m *not* talkdivvied out among participating com- ing about UNE-P here), and proposing Goldstein: That was the Telecom Act
panies. These revenues, generated by the removal of common carriage protec- model -- unbundle the parts of the netcharging users between 0.6 euros (50 tions needed by independent ISPs. So work that were needed for competition,
cents) and 1.35 ($1.20) euros per minute, the ILECs and cablecos will have 100% or whose absence would impair competidepending on the service accessed, are of the cookies in the jar to split between tion. Nobody but nobody though, when
it was passed, that ILECs would be able
collected as part of customers’ bimonthly themselves.
to proclaim that there was no need to unphone bills.... <snip> But analysts still
give Minitel a two-to-five-year window Since the cablecos are, in most cases, bundle the local loop, or for that matter
late to the voice party (they’ll create transport to the CO where the loop ends!
for survival.
a strong second provider within a few Yet that is precisely what the TRO all so
That’s enough time for France Telecom years, and are starting some aggressive often does.
and its partner companies to continue PacketCable rollouts already, but few
making healthy profits from Minitel - people have seen it yet), the ILECs in Sensible public policy is to split the ILECs
- and e-commerce firms to try to figure early 2005 now have almost all of the into outside plant companies (LoopCos)
out how to work the same magic for the voice cookies. UNE-P was the primary and service companies. CLECs and ISPs
Internet.”
mode of residential voice competition, could then compete with the latter, using
and its phase-out is so fast that most whatever technology floated their boat.
Check out Andrew’s analysis of the cell players don’t have time to evaluate, let
phone service-bandwidth costs table. A alone install, UNE-L replacement (which Franscois Menard: Hear hear, Fred has
call costs “less”(in $/mbps) than an email as noted has gotten a lot harder since the summed up what’s wrong in the USA like
which in turn costs less than an SMS. Remand TRO). So there is no real voice I have not often seen in so few words.
Data is data is data right?? Wrong. What competition *except* for parasitic VoIP This is a keeper for posterity and likely to
is a shame is that they didn’t figure out operators like Vonage.
be circulated to a few CRTC staffers who
how to work the Minitel magic “forward”
are wondering what’s so wrong with the
into the Internet. (<start plug>Although I These guys are no threat to the ILECs. In FCC the next time they ask me.
know of a little Swedish company that order to use them, you first need DSL or
did... :-)</end plug>)
a cable modem. In the case of DSL, you Editor: Earlier on our network Economneed a first line from the ILEC before ics list Francois commented: This [the
Editor Again: Finally On the Cyber you can get it. So Vonage becomes a FCC order by which Madison River
Telecom Law mail list on March 10 Sean cheap LD play, and a privileged offerer agreed not to block Vonage and paid
Donelan Asked: Why is the FCC wanting of Foreign Exchange service (which non- a $15,000 fine for doing so] is a nonto act on Vonage’s behalf?
VoIP players can’t offer except as costly binding staff recommendation associated
LD Access). In the case of cablecos, with a consent decree, which to me is
Genny Pershing wrote: “Competition.”
Vonage can ride along for now. But once far from a commission decision with full
PacketCable is available from the ca- legal force. Until next time.
The traditional primary purpose of com- bleco, Vonage, with its necessarily lower
munication is competition, or lack there quality, won’t be such a great deal. Ca- Coluccio: I don’t know about that Franof. It is not that Vonage uses VoIP. Do bleco costs of offering PacketCable are cois. Alternatively, a provider may simply
not superficially confuse policy with the low enough (self-parasitic) to kill them choose to de-prioritize voice by devising
a means of granting higher status to evmeans by which policy is applied. VoIP off, if they deem it necessary.
erything else that is best effort, if they
brings competition. Therefore VoIP is the
magic line drawn in the sand that distin- Since there appears to be no legal basis wanted to be real scum bags about it.
guishes policy.
on which to ban VoIP port blocking or
filtering by cable ISPs, Vonage as a com- No, the way that the incumbents will
Fred Goldstein answered: And this is petitive alternative to the ILEC is a shaky win share is by prioritizing their own
132
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
time-sensitive services through DOCSIS/PACKETCABLE and VoDSL/ATM
QoS mechanisms, while best effort continues to ride what’s left over. And the
telcos/cableops will charge an additional
ten to fifteen bucks per month more than
the parasitics while they’re doing it, in
my opinion. I don’t think that any big
names want to be associated with the
alternatives having to do with blocking.
But you never know.
How to Explain Why
Skype Works Better?
Retzer: How do you explain that Skype
simply seems to work better than H.323
and SIP? Neither of those would, I think
have met the Sherpa test as well or the
link reported yesterday WIMAX local
- - Internet - PSTN - T-mobile even
assuming they found their way to the
PSTN. The quality probably would have
been poor. I gave up on Vonage locally
last year because quality was so poor
over my Comcast account. Skype works
great, at least on the limited tests I’ve
tried. I’ve similarly found h.323 calls
need to be engineered to work well but
Skype , as they say “just works.”
Not being able to look into how Skype
works or how the flows actually go
(which is why I asked if you or anyone
else has tried to analyze flows), one hypothesis I have is that is trading latency
for jitter and bit loss - accepting delays
to otherwise improve the quality, maybe
using P2P to cache calls. Obviously,
codec choices may also have a huge
bearing. Your comments, below seem to
support this notion to some degree. Have
you done any actual analysis of Skype?
Thanks
Forster: Better execution. Architecture
counts for about 10% of a solution;
execution & operations count for about
90%. In this case the area of great execution is that Skype apparently downshifts
to lower bandwidth and/or larger packet
sizes quite nicely by itself. There’s no
question that the codec in the phone
Cullen sent could do a decent job on
a 64kbps link, but neither Cullen nor I
had the time to fiddle around with the
parameters. As Cullen mentioned earlier,
Skype licensed a codec and packetization engine from some outfit and they’ve
done a great job with it.
I’m happy to give Kudos to Skype for
their very nice job, but let’s not confuse
a great product with other architectural
and protocol issues. Skype won’t be the
last really great voice software product.
Reed: Hear, hear! Jim Forster - you
nailed it with that line.
But the folks who think they can sit
this out in comfortable enterprise niche
markets, selling FUD to the CIO’s about
requirements for perfect QoS, -- in order
to win closed, proprietary, incompatible
bids that interoperate merely as crappy
interconnects with the PSTN -- those
guys are toast in the long run. Remember that Cullinane (king of the database
market) *deigned* to do a crippled PC
version of their software that was carefully designed not to cannibalize the
customers for their main product. Where
are they now? Wall St. “loved” their embrace of the PC market, by the way, and
thought they were really “cutting edge”.
Shows you how smart it is to listen to
the investment bankers on these things.
Everybody loves to suck up to the selfdefined brilliant CEOs who “bless” the
new technology with their charismatic
narcissism. (Leaders are narcissistic by
definition, which is what gives them
charisma, often a very good thing in
a leader, so that’s not intended as a
criticism; rather I am emphasizing why
it leads them to be somewhat blind and
insulated by sycophants from really disruptive, worrisome changes)
I doubt that Skype thinks it has won
the market. I think they are still scared,
which is a much better attitude than those
who think SIP is merely an incremental
way to do the same old stuff over IP.
I can’t emphasize enough that there *is
no enterprise market* for communications that is separable from the dynamics
of the broad telephony market, the weak
separation only being a sales channel
separation and no more. This was Lotus’s big mistake, and why Notes didn’t
own the Internet when Notes could have
become the “better WWW”. As I was
133
leaving Lotus in 1992, I was one of a few
people that kept telling my fellow VPs
that the Internet was either a threat or an
opportunity, and they had to get out of
the enterprise-centric sales model, starting to look at making Notes architecture
just work as a platform across the entire
inter-enterprise and inter-SMB and interperson space. They chose margins over
market share, and came too late and
too incompatibly to the Internet (with
Domino). Again the analysts “loved”
Lotus’s embrace of the Internet, and believed John Landry (remember Cullinane
- he was the guy who conned the analysts
at Cullinane) that Domino was going to
define the real enterprise Intranet.
I know that these stories of mine should
scare the CEOs, but their cockiness, and
that of the VPs of Sales who “own” the
accounts, will ensure that they don’t hear
what I’m saying. Remember that *sales*
sees the enterprise market as distinct,
and will invent reasons to believe that
despite evidence to the contrary. (And
most CEOs come from Sales...)
So, the real hope that SIP will have a
chance to be the defining architecture
lies with true entrepreneurs who hear
what Jim says above, and realize that SIP
is best deployed by someone who does
not see it as an extension of their business, but as their ONLY business, end-toend. They won’t exclude the enterprise,
but they won’t allow the enterprise to
“own” the evolution of SIP either.
Who will be the Cisco (who played that
role with IP in the early days of the Internet) of this space? Cisco is not the Cisco
it was - it’s now run by the charmers who
make Wall St. happy - the Sales guy.
Pulver has a shot, but honestly, he makes
too much money on VON to be scared
enough to make it happen.
Cringly Asks Have Best
Days of VoIP Come and
Gone?
Mike Cheponis: Cringley’s column presents an interesting take on what we’ve
been discussing here. http://www.pbs.
org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20050303.html
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
The Best days of Voice-over-IP Telephone Service May Already Have
Passed
By Robert X. Cringely
These are heady days for Voice-over-IP
(VoIP) phone services. From Vonage to
Packet8 to Skype and a hundred more besides, several million people around the
world are enjoying really cheap phone
calls that are carried primarily over the
Internet. But that fun may be diminishing
soon because the big Internet service providers, which is to say the big telephone
and cable TV companies, are about to
start taking back that third-party VoIP
traffic, leaving Vonage and the others at
a distinct disadvantage.
[Snip]
The other big broadband Internet provider is typically your local cable TV company. Not sharing the values of phone
companies, they ignored VoIP, too, until
they realized that it could become a new
source of revenue. With so many things
available for free on the net, finding a
service people are willing to actually pay
for is thrilling to companies like Comcast. Now they just want to make sure
that the VoIP service you use is THEIR
VoIP service.
The trick for phone companies and cable
companies alike is to hurt the VoIP upstarts without incurring the wrath of
Congress, the FCC, or any other regulator. They have to be sneaky.
rules for passage and a private highway
lane to drive on.
The net effect is that any packet that isn’t
tagged will only get “best effort” service,
which means whatever is left.
“Best effort,” as defined by IETF RFC
791, makes almost no guarantees. The
packet may arrive damaged, it may be
out of order (compared to other packets
sent between the same hosts), it may be
duplicated, or it may be dropped entirely.
And that was in the good old days.
Now imagine “best effort” transport on
a backbone that is already clogged with
tagged traffic that gets preferential treatment. Where previously all packets got
“best effort,” in this new system some
packets get better than best effort, which
means the remaining packets will effectively get worse than best effort.
The telco and cable guys know enough
about their networks that they can throttle their network capacities up and down
so that “best effort” service is going to
be pretty awful. But have the magic tags
on your packets and you’ll have decent
service.
The beauty of this approach is that they’re
NOT explicitly doing anything to the 3rd
party service applications. They’re just
identifying and tagging their own services, which is within their rights.
[Snip the remainder]
Coluccio: Thanks, thanks. Cringely
needs to read the COOK Report:)
Here’s how they plan to cripple the Vonages and ‘s, according to friends of mine
who have spent 20+ years in engineering
positions at telephone companies, cable
companies and internet service providers. As the phone and cable companies
begin offering their own VoIP services
in real volume, they plan to “tag” their
own VoIP packets so that at least within
their own networks, their VoIP service
will have COS (Class of Service) assignments with their routers, switches, etc.
They also plan on implementing distinct
Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs)
for the tagged packets.
I don’t want to listen to any Volkswagon
ads. Nor do I believe necessarily that he
is even headed in the right direction, but
a lot remains to be seen concerning the
sustainability of the cable and DSL models, all migrating to triple play, as it were,
and what the breakdown in true unaffiliated broadband will look like over the
next several years, when true condo-like
Layer 0/1’s are deployed.
Tagged packets get both less restrictive
My belief is that video technologies
Have you or anyone else here attempted
the switchboard.ca applet?
134
needed to satisfy residential entertainment requirements are slowly breaking
through the barriers by the established
by the lock-in frameworks of the established cable industry. Now we see the
RBOCs emulating this model to a great
degree, where they are not imitating it
outright, despite their purported plans
to use IPTV as a foundation for content
delivery. But how long will it be before
these established models start to take on
anachronistic attributes, especially where
users have ample bandwidth to try out
emerging alternatives?
In contrast to having users fed the standard pablum that service providers have
regimented themselves around, users are
now seeing that the light that shines at
the end of the tunnel is illuminating a
new kind of video - and other forms of
content - acquisition by executing downloads directly from Web-based content
providers of their own choice.
For this proposition to be lead to a sustainable model, most of the so-called
(bandwidth starved at this time) “broadband” FTTP or HFC or BWA access
links would have to be freed of their
usual lists of “must also get” payloads
that ride over them today, which are,
in the main, represented by vertically
integrated services over ATM/DSL and
FDM/DOCSIS, respectively.
In other words, give me a pure multiten-megabit or gigabit pipe to my home
and I’ll select what I want, when I want
it, and talk to my girlfriend in Bulgaria
using any service provider or PC-enabled
application that I choose. It could even
be the PSTN, for that matter, but I’ve
made the choice at that point, and not my
State capital’s favored son.
Cringely cites:
“The phone companies -- always slow to
react -- did not pay much attention at first
to these outfits they collectively refer
to as “parasites,” but now, with several
million lost customers, they are paying
VERY close attention indeed.”
Silly me. I’ve been using the term “parasitic VoIP” as though it were an accepted
element in our shared, albeit evolving,
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
lexicon. But I think it’s clear that Cringely is suggesting that the term ‘parasite’ is
being used pejoratively. Any comments
on this, before I further insult someone
inadvertently through its continued use?
Menard; Yes, but he neglects to even
mention that whatever evil play may be in
sight of ILECs and Cableco’s. Such plans
would fall flat faced if the rules of the
game are applied diligently which would
mean that prioritized virtual local loops
(i.e. packetcable loops, AAL2VoIP VoIPoDSL or VoIPoVLANoEFM(Ethernet
in the first mile)) diligently and properly
unbundled at essential facility rates (incremental costs + 15% mark-up).
This is what we’re working on in Canada
(with zillions of words on this topic on
the public record already) and I think
the CRTC has no choice to deliver and
WILL ACTUALLY DELIVER, including this over DRY COPPER as it is currently the case over Coax in Canada.
Why it is not happening in the US is
purely a failure of the FCC to be proactive.
Now let’s see if the IP-enabled services
NPRM motivates the FCC to do something this time?
Coluccio: Francois- You’ve asked many
times why the FCC hasn’t done as much
in the USA as the CRTC has in Canada.
To do what? To perform surgery on the
rules governing a dying model? There
was a time, maybe five, six years ago,
at about the time that AT&T picked up
the assets of TCI, when I was at your
side seeking equal access to DSL, DSOs and best effort capacity over cable
modem links. Recall all the discussion
over where the IP access point would be
situated on the cable modem model?
I’ve watched you hone your regulatory
acumen since those earlier times, to the
point that I’ve enjoyed reading some of
your poignantly written petitions to both
regulatory agencies. But it occurs to me
at this later date that you are continuing
to fight a battle, which, if successful,
may be only a Pyhrric victory, at best.
Just so that what I’ve stated above is not
entirely misunderstood, certainly there’s
life left in the old model, and certainly
some benefits will accrue if incumbents
are forced to open their capacity to competitors. But I submit that your energies
could be better spent working towards
the creation of a new model, instead of
seeking fairness treatment on the old
one.
In all fairness to you, however, you’ve
also done your fair share in seeking new
approaches to last mile delivery, and
you’ve done this quite capably in your
work in the areas of fiber to the home
and condominium cable architectures,
both in the outside plant and the inside
(neutral) hubs. All of which makes it
appear even more curious to me why
you’ve split your time the way you have,
doing battle on both sides of the divide,
i.e., between legacy and nascency.
Cringely’s view, by the way, merely
reiterated what I stated earlier to you,
yesterday, concerning the other ways that
the incumbents have to skin a cat. And
that was, namely, by relegating competitive packets of all types to the bottom of
the best effort heap.
By the way, the 15% on top of marginal
costs to provide incremental or shared
capacity is what a provider needs to
merely subsist, if not even a little bit
more. This doesn’t say much about why
a service provider might want to even
stay in business. But I’m open to correction on that one, as I am to all of the
above, as well. Thanks for your reply.
Menard: Frank, If your message had
come from anyone else, I would have
said that your message had been written
by someone who doesn’t understand the
challenges of competitive entry.
example: twice in my life the US Postal
Service tried to get Congress to block
“electronic mail” because they were supposed to have a government monopoly
(including being the largest jobs program
in the United States!) according to the
law.
Similarly, twice the US DoD tried to get
all civilian use of strong crypto banned
under ITAR regulations, US patent law
(which protects munitions, which include crypto). These were serious efforts, involving Congress and the various agencies. They failed to stop both
revolutions. Smaller versions happened
when CATV and Satellite dishes started.
So you can be forgiven because you are
young, and revolutions are necessarily
rare. (You don’t want a state of continuous revolution, believe me). But don’t let
the regulatory process suck you into the
idea that it is the place to effect change.
Menard: Given this restriction, and
post bubbe, I have come to conclude
after seeing other (much better VC’ed)
competitors fail that we must finance
our entry from proceeds generated from
the value-added resale of unbundled elements under the protection of price
floors.
You will notice that our condo fiber entry
has also been accompanied by several
price floor regulatory enforcement exercises, because if you’re an ILEC and
you’re dominant, you can always bid
below cost to kill a competitor then afterwards raise prices to defray these costs.
Why, because ILECs can, and infact
HAVE been doing this in Quebec as a
result of a mere 150 M$ subsidy from the
Quebec government after being unsuccessful in lobbying out the program.
Reed: Ever the optimist, I just refuse to
cede such power to the regulators. Of
course that’s what the *tendency* is,
Francois.
So our model of condo fibre on the backbone and WiMax in the access, faces
similarly the wrath of forborne-conditional-to-the-presence-of-cost-basedUNEs ILEC DSL where forcing out
the enforcement of price floors is much
more complex and intertwined with the
provision of local telephony (be it TDM
or packet-based).
But the regulators can be beaten. Just for
So just to make sure we do not eat our
Evolution is the only way in telecom
because regulators will not let revolution happen. There are too many jobs at
stake.
135
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shirts deploying WiMax, I must fight it
out on the DSL and DOCSIS fronts. If
I cannot finance WiMax because of the
risks, then FTTH is out of my league, at
lest for the next two years.
COOK Report: I think what Francois is
saying is that the Canadian incumbents
are now under bidding Xitelecom (his
employer) for condo fiber builds? What
I didn’t quite understand was the incumbents have been able to do this courtesy
of a $150 SUBSIDY from the Quebec
government. How in the heck did they
bring THAT about? Is there some Canadian equivalent to Verizon in Philly
underway? Francois or someone - tell us
more please.
I think BOTH Frank AND Francois have
compelling arguments here.
But Are P2P Voice
Applications Blockable
in the Same Way as
Vonage or Lingo?
Meanwhile I have a technical question.
we have seen it mentioned that the cable
plant can use docsis to descriminate
against Vonage, Lingo and the like.
Would really appreciate it if one of
our more technically minded folk would
comment on the dangers here for VoIP
traffic. What is the common denominator
here of susceptibility if anything? SIP?
Something else? Port assignment? The
FCC doesn’t like port discrimination but
unless Brand x is upheld it will make no
different because the cable cos are regulation free.
(Without going back to the article) was
he saying that DSL telco folk could do
the same thing? And finally and most
important what about the P2P services
like ? How susceptible are they to traffic
shaping and prioritization services? Has
anyone tried to strangle a p2p service
yet? They have gone after them legally
but could the incumbents kill in the last
mile? I would have thought not but i certainly don’t know the technical detail the
way many of you do.
Reed: You can *try* to block , Vonage,
Lingo, Bittorrent, etc. at the DOCSIS
layer, but the fundamental issue is “recognition”.
Recognizing a specific end-to-end application can be done by looking for “signatures” specific to that application.
To do so, you have to reverse-engineer
the application, and distinguish it from
other applications you dare not block
(because they would cause customers to
switch to another provider, at least in a
competitive market).
Thus, I could probably come up with
a scheme that blocks Skype, but if I
and many other providers start blocking
enough to annoy Skype, it can release
a new version that doesn’t have that
signature.
Ultimately this “arms race” can be won
by the ISP only if
a) it can keep its customers from switching to a competitor that does not block
(and in the US, oligopoly attempts to
organize competitors violates antitrust
laws, so you can’t do this by forming a
club of thieves to conspire to define a
blocking strategy across all competitors
in a market),
or b) it can find a class of behavior that
it can block that is acknowledged to be
“bad” by all competitors and the government. Linking the blocking to that class is
possible. For example, one could enforce
a rule that every 10 seconds the access
port refuses to send ANY packets for 0.5
second. This would kill all isochronous
uplink traffic, but allow all of the couch
potato traffic including streaming video
to continue to work.
You still have to convince Congress that a
conspiracy by access providers to deploy
such a scheme is worth not enforcing antitrust laws against. Assuming one could
get the government to agree that preserving the right of the carrier to block isochronous uplink traffic will prevent, say,
Child Pornography or Terrorism, you’ve
got a deal with any Congressman willing
to take your PAC money.
There’s room for creativity here - there’s
136
no lack of willing technologists out there
who will creatively argue that there is
“risk to the network” if certain applications are allowed to flourish - remember
Carterfone and Hushaphone (and remember that in Hushaphone, the courts were
persuaded that a piece of plastic on the
handset threatened the entire network).
Coluccio (referring to Francois Menard’s last post above): Francois,
I’m glad you received my post in the
constructive manner in which it was
intended.
“…I would have said that your message had been written by someone who
doesn’t understand the challenges of
competitive entry. Evolution is the only
way in telecom because regulators will
not let revolution happen.”
My point was this. Embracing the idea
that efforts to make the markets for T1
hierarchical and DOCSIS models fair,
is, in fact, a means of forestalling their
inevitable demise by reinforcing their
legitimacy in a way that impedes the very
evolution you mentioned.
Menard: I fully agree, but if the fail
fast model doesn’t work, then the tie’em
up model is the only alternative. I have
perfectly good models for infrastructure
deployments, with real customers. However, these models fail upon presence of
anticompetitive behavior that can take
many forms.
The inevitable demise of the ILECs and
of the MSO’s can only arise as a result
of the entry of competitors or the refusal
of their investors to further bankroll their
debt into the future. With no competitors, why would someone find a risk into
that?
Coluccio: Francois wrote “There are too
many jobs at stake …”
This gets closer to the heart of one of the
more emotional elements of this subject,
which I agree is important to consider.
But the disruption to jobholders isn’t immediate and wholesale, neither is it permanent for the greater majority of those
affected, as some will receive early re-
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
tirement or parachute on to better things.
And it doesn’t begin and end with front
line employees who hold union cards
and their immediate bosses and middle
management working stiffs, either.
What the Regulator Will
and Will Not Do
Menard: My point is that the regulator’s
will not do disruptive things. I’ve already
seen the CRTC say a couple of times that
balancing the interests of consumers and
competitors needed to be done against
the financial stability of the ILECs. The
regulators want them around and will go
as far as handing out to them new monopolies as we have seen with the FCC.
Coluccio: This form of disruption will
also affect, in a direr way and to varying levels of degree, the companies that
today represent the paragons of the content and telecommunications industries,
as well. Stated in a general way, it also
affects major links in the overall supply
chains of the vertical group, and where a
link is not taken out, entirely, then it will
have no choice but to adapt to a set of
new rules of engagement, which means
that the company either retools itself, and
quickly, or it perishes.
But the larger number of wage-earning
employees will shift to new positions in
other companies or industries, and, as
usually happens in situations like this
one, an equal or greater number of positions will eventually be created that need
filling, through the opportunities in new
ventures that ensue as a result of the void
that is created by the exiting of the old.
See my earlier note of today to Malcolm,
in this regard.
Menard: Given this restriction, and
post bubble, I have come to conclude
after seeing other (much better VC’ed)
competitors fail that we must finance
our entry from proceeds generated from
the value-added resale of unbundled elements under the protection of price
floors. You will notice that our condo
fiber entry has also been accompanied
by several price floor regulatory enforcement exercises, because if your an ILEC
and you’re dominant, you can always bid
below cost to kill a competitor then after
raise prices to defray these costs. Why,
because ILECs can, and in fact HAVE
been doing this in Quebec as a result of
a mere 150 M$ subsidy from the Quebec
government after being unsuccessful in
lobbying out the program.
Coluccio: Like Gordon, and very likely
some other listeners here, as well, I’m
puzzled by the $150 Million subsidy to
which you refer. Please explain.
Menard: The Quebec Government
put out a subsidy fund called Villages
Branches (Connected Villages) which
school boards and municipalities can
jointly apply into (they cannot apply
without first teaming up) with an objective of financing 66% of dark fiber infrastructures and nothing else (they pay for
the remaining 33%)
The ILECs tried to make sure this program never saw the light of day and have
lost. Consequently, they have been bidding below costs on the tenders issued
to this date to make sure that the opportunity for a new build doesn’t fall into
the hands of one of their competitors.
I’ve been fighting this out at the CRTC
for the last two years (with some good
success I might add with another victory
scheduled for March 9, I’ll tell the list
more on March 9 or go hide myself then
as a result of my first failure, though I
doubt the latter).
Coluccio: In recent times some municipalities have yielded to spending money
on ILEC outside plant projects, when the
ILECs were forced for environmental,
aesthetic, or zoning reasons to place
their previously overhead-strung cables
in underground conduits, or to bury them
directly in soil. (This sure sounds like a
more environmentally friendly alternative to aerial cabling, doesn’t it?) But not
until a lot of horse-trading transpired,
first. When the ILECs stated that they
would do the burying and or conduiting
on their own dime, if they were permitted to adjust their tarriffed cost elements
accordingly, hence their pricing and ROI
metrics, as well, the municipalities, with
I’m sure a little pressure from their state
capitals, acquiesced to foot those bills
themselves. I guess you could say, then,
137
“Score one for the ILECs.”
Is this, or something related to this type
of compensation what you are referring
to?
Menard: Our model of condo fiber on
the backbone and WiMax in the access,
faces similarly the wrath of forborneconditional-to-the-presence-of-costbased-UNEs ILEC DSL where forcing
out the enforcement of price floors is
much more complex and intertwined
with the provision of local telephony (be
it TDM or packet-based).
Coluccio: I almost know what you’re
saying here, but just in case, would you
kindly break that last sentence down for
me substituting a lengthier statement
for the hyphenated string, and leaving
out variations stemming from the word,
“forbearance”? Also, please elucidate on
your (frequent) use of the term forbearance, describing what you mean by it in
the context that you use it. Thanks.
Menard: Unlike the FCC which has
yet to officially forbear from regulating
broadband, but rather has only been nonreceptive to Computer II enforcement
complaints, the CRTC has actually forbore from regulating retail Internet and
WAN services (in 1999 and in 2000),
tough with a pesky little condition which
has yet to be fully enforced like Computer II, that is, unbundled network elements
being made available to competitors. To
date, these UNEs have either been unavailable or the price for them has meant
competitors being price squeezed to the
point of preventing them from justifying
making further investments into their
own facilities.
With the VoIP public notice, the CRTC
will decide whether VoIP-based local
services will be subjected to the same
price floors than POTS.
Therefore, assuming that high speed Internet (HSI) was given away, the bundle
of VoIP+HSI would at least reflect the
price floors for POTS.
Our model of Villages-Branches financed
Condo fiber + WiMax in the last mile
works, but only if there is a price floor
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
for POTS.
The decision for price flooring VoIP to
the POTS levels will be made by June
2005 in Canada.
On March 9 Francois Menard: As promised: An ILEC making 8 billion dollars
a year of revenue caught pants down
bidding below cost (i.e. below tarriffed
rates) to evict our competitive entry:
http://www.crtc.gc.ca/archive/ENG/Decisions/2005/dt2005-12.htm
Wenger: Congratulations Francois. A
fine victory indeed. What are the implications for the growing community
network community?
Menard: Thanks, that’s a small reward
for countless hours over the last two
years at understanding the regulatory
framework in Canada. I guess that I’m
now entitled to charge as much as a
lawyer.
If nothing else, this decision will certainly discourage ILECs from lobbying
community networks to go in the bed
with them to spread the ILEC dominance
disease which prevents you from even
having the will to consider competing
with the ILECs.
Deals from ILECs which are too good to
be true USUALLY are and often disguise
a) the advancement of rate increases for
uncapped local telephone services (such
as Centrex) and b) result in the eviction
of competitors which do no longer have
the economy of scale to pursue facilities-based deployments, which b) then
result in b.i) ILEC raising prices by way
of only offering lit services which are
much more expensive than dark fiber
services. All of which are antitrust-type
plots leading to market eviction of new
entrants that fall in the category of criminal offenses.
Wenger: Does this simply close the door
on some loopholes for anti-competitive
behavior, or does this open some proactive doors for them as well? Any word
on the Dark Fiber Tariff or how that is
coming? The longer it goes, the less optimistic I am.
Menard: It means that the public interest
will be served by truly competitive behavior between carriers rather than have
a special breed of carriers that are not in
the business of competing the ILEC.
Did you know that the CRTC ordered
TCI in Quebec and Telebec and Bell
Canada and Northwestel to file dark
fiber tariffs, but that in each case, they
made sure that the tariff was much more
expensive than the cost of construction,
even for a single pair of fiber.
While true that the CRTC has yet to order
TCI to file an IX dark fiber tariff in BC
+ AB, even if it did, I would bet that TCI
would make it so that the tariff would
not be financially in reach of community
networks.
Wenger: On another CRTC related note,
I note Canada is beginning a major review of the Commission and the press
makes it seem rather ominous. Like
kiss the commission good-bye... While
I have not always agreed with the speed
or reasoning of their decisions, I note the
past 18 months has seen a rather positive turn for the better in the manner in
which decisions are protecting competition (maybe they’ll actually begin to
encourage it soon!). To kill them now
seems almost ironic, but the cynical
view would say that now they’ve stopped
protecting the rights of the ILECS, their
value is limited... I hope that is not what
you are hearing on the frozen streets up
there... (Come to think of it, mine are still
frozen too).
Menard: Any telecom policy review
will be coming out through a finely
reduced and well-defined scope for a
public notice that will attract several hundred pages of filings which will force the
reduction of the arguments to something
which is hopefully in the public interest.
I would be surprised that Parliament will
be as bold as rewrite the telecom act
without making this a public process that
is accountable. In other words, I now
know how to play the game and play it
well, and I trust that the ILEC have little
to no chances to get a new monopoly in
return.
138
I do have to admit that even yesterday,
I doubted about winning and I was not
overly optimistic ... and look at what
came out... the CRTC even said that
equipments were regulated and we did
not argue that at all at great length. When
you’re swimming in blood, they listen
to you ... we just need to well articulate
why we’re swimming in blood which
is easier when you are being foreclosed
from competitive entry.
This is easier than to demonstrate that
you are subject to an unreasonable price
squeeze even if such is even more true.
Forster: Yes, congratulations Francois. I
think you and I disagree on some aspects
of what should be regulated, but I support and applaud your efforts to keep the
incumbents from using unfair business
practices.
Coluccio: Congratulations, Francois.
Several days ago, when we were discussing your petitions at the CRTC concerning open access, voice and pricing
floors, I was unaware that they included
Dark Fiber pursuits, as well. I may have
missed that point, but Kudos to you,
anyway.
Your reply to Matt highlighted something
to me as though it were an epiphany,
which it really shouldn’t have at this late
state of the game, but it did. And that is, it
should be the regulators’ to see to it that
the monopoly holder for a given territory
provides its subscribers with the types of
services they demand, in this case dark
fiber, and not simply the family of services that fit their historical computational
methods for determining ROI based on
legacy services, alone.
Yeah.. yeah, I know. But it did me good
to hear myself say it.
Menard (earlier) : So just to make sure
we do not lose our shirts deploying
WiMax, I must fight it out on the DSL
and DOCSIS fronts. If I cannot finance
WiMax because of the risks, then FTTH
is out of my league, at lest for the next
two years.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
Coluccio:What are the basic capacity
utilization and planning assumptions that
go into your WiMAX model? Can you
share those with the list? Also, are you
looking at WiMAX as a form of remedy
to satisfy extreme rural situations, or to
support mobility and ad-hoc wireless
networks and backhaul, irrespective of
tele-densities in the regions in which
your plans call for deployment?
St. Arnaud: I think Cringely’s article is
an example of Odlyzko’s price discrimination model in another guise.
I don’t one should regulate against price
discrimination. There are other effective
techniques:
(a) Ensure there are enough competitors, so that you get at least one network
equivalent to Wal-Mart ( but this is hard
to do, if not impossible, in the last mile);
or
(b) Give the customer control of the
network and QoS knobs through ownership or other techniques until they can
reach an interconnection point where
they can meet with many competitive
service providers. (This is happening in
the enterprise world - but will that model
extend to the home?)
Vonage Suffers
Widespread Outage on
March 4
Coluccio: Here’s a brief report from convergedigest.com on the Vonage outage.
Vonage suffered a widespread network
outage on March 4 at 2:45 EST affecting
nearly half its 500,000 customers across
the U.S. Both inbound and outbound
calling via its VoIP service, as well as
its website and voicemail system, were
down periodically throughout the afternoon. Vonage attributed the outage to a
glitch in a software upgrade to its network. http://www.vonage.com
Coluccio: Glitches happen. During the
late Eighties when Signalling System
No. 7 (SS7) was first coming on line,
entire sections of the US were without
service due to a software glitch. Sean
Donelan raised an interesting question
on NANOG related to how VoIP carriers
like Vonage should be regarded in situations like this one. Sean asks:
Out, exactly what promise are you given
of being able to complete a call? Skypedoes not claim to replace telephone
service at this point in time.
“After Vonage was successful in getting
the FCC to fine another provider, will
Vonage accept the FCC’s jurisdiction
and comply with all the outage reporting
and regulation requirements expected
of other telecommunication providers?
For example, telecommunication providers have to report outages of more than
30 minutes affecting more than 30,000
subscribers. Vonage’s outage on Friday
affected 250,000 subscribers for over 45
minutes. Although Vonage claims its the
first outage related to software, Vonage
has had other outages. Or do folks expect
Vonage to flip-flop and claim they are an
“information service” and don’t have to
follow FCC regulations.”
Vonage, on the other hand, differs in
many ways. It claims to be a phone service, and even apologizes for not being
able to offer 911 properly. It sells its interconnect to the phone network as a primary function, and so forth. So it is very
much like a cell phone carrier. It has no
monopoly over customers in any market,
so it has no “special” role to serve the
public, other than its contractual role.
I think that accountability in this case is
a good thing. It at least allows the user
community to gauge the historical performance of a provider over time, thus
enabling users to do a more intelligent
selection. When the big fishes become
subsumed by the littler fishes, at some
point one has to also ask, should those
little fish like Skype also be held accountable for their performance? It’s not
as though Skype had absolutely NO infrastructure, for the servers and the very
code that they use constitute some level
of liability that can be measured in kind.
What do you think?
Oh, I know, there are those who just want
to twist the law in any way they can to
“get” Vonage and Skype . And they may
succeed. After all, the courts agreed that
a little piece of plastic on the handset
was a risk to the entire Bell System in the
Hush-A-Phone case.... an we all know
that Vonage and Skype are in league with
the terrorists and child pornographers
(not to mention the indecent NFL and
Janet Jackson).
Reed: This is very interesting. It draws
an interesting difference between Skype
and Vonage.
Skype charges you nothing for calls
between subscribers. Skype’s ability
to connect calls between subscribers
is quite robust - even if all of Skype
‘s servers went down for 24-36 hours,
you could complete calls (at least if you
believe them that information about connections is cached in the endpoints and
shared among them for 72 hours). Skype
charges you nothing for the software as
well. So the outage of interest is Skype
“Out” failure. Presumably those interconnect points are few in number, and
thus vulnerable. But if you buy Skype
139
So I think Vonage should be treated like
a cell operator, more or less. When a
cell tower dies (and this happens often
enough) are they called on the carpet by
regulators? I haven’t heard of this, but I
could be wrong.
Coluccio: David, since the Internet has
subsumed so much of what was once
deemed to be critical communications
in the past, the greater question should
be: Should _anything_ be reported on
a mandatory basis, and if so, then why
not ISP and backbone provider outages,
as well? It’s an old question, I know, but
I believe it has more weight today than
ever before, due to the shifts that have
taken place. And granted, if _all_ types
of entities were to be included, then there
should still be room for means testing
the smallest mom and pops based on
their size for exemption purposes, too.
Thoughts on this entire matter would be
appreciated.
Also concerning the cellular ops: It was
true until recently that cellular/pcs/paging operators were exempt from reporting requirements, but due to the domi-
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
nant roles that they have grown into after
displacing a major portion of all landline
service activity, the FCC changed its
guidelines to include them, as described
in the following FCC-issued February
2004 NPRM:
mization of route costs through whatever
criteria a user selects, also permits the
kind of fallback you’ve referred to in an
automated way, and this is something
that is typically used only by large user
organizations.
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-04-30A1.pdf
As a consumer I do the same thing manually anytime my cable modem service,
RoadRunner, goes out on me. Which is to
say, I immediately press a few keys and
I’m immediately onto my NetZero dialup
account, and continue along, working on
an impaired basis.
from p. 28:
---snip: “Our proposals would require
the reporting of outages of at least 30
minutes duration that meet specified criteria. One of the criteria is that the outage
potentially affects at least 900,000 userminutes for providers of telephony and/
or paging services (including wireline,
cellular-type wireless, cable telephony,
and satellite telephony services). Those
communications providers that would
qualify as “small businesses” are, we
believe, highly unlikely to experience
outages of sufficient magnitude to meet
the user-minute criterion. If they were to
experience such an outage, then a likely
inference would be that a small number
of users had lost service for several days
duration, a situation of which we should
be apprised. We do not believe that it
would be wise to exempt small businesses from the proposed requirements to
report outages of at least 30 minutes duration that also satisfy the other proposed
reporting criteria (i.e., those criteria that
are not expressed in terms of user-minutes), such as the criteria of potentially
affecting special facilities, offices, or services including 911) or presenting major
infrastructure failures or SS7 problems.”
---end snip
Reed: I personally think that the market
approach to solving the outage problem
solves a big part of the problem, if as a
customer you can discover your own outages and switch to a competitor (or use
multiple suppliers and push business to
those who earn your trust...).
Coluccio: David, I didn’t expect quite
that kind of response from you, but I’ll
take it for its stimulative effect ;)
Multi-homing tools, aside from allowing
weighted load sharing and per-flow opti-
You do of course see the contradiction in
your last message, though - inspired perhaps by the irrationalities that exist in the
Internet “market place”** - by suggesting first that there shouldn’t be more than
one provider, and then stating that a user
should be able to detect a failure on its
own and switch to an alternate provider.
Not to be repetitive, but I think this is
fitting here: I recently started a conversation over Skype, then jumped to Cellular
when my PC audio bummed out, only
to have to revert to my PSTN wireless
handset when my cell phone battery died.
Allow me to muse here for a moment:
*Skype* re: Market Place: Is the Internet
as we’ve come to know it a common form
of “market place”, yet? If so, when did it
finally become one? From its inception,
egalitarian modality ruled its existence,
only to find at one point it had become
commercialized, or so it was told.
But its binding customs and cultural
mores as they apply to many of the
surviving non-Tier 1s and some of their
heirs, have persisted and influenced its
day-to-day operation right up to the present. So,in a sense, those ISPs that are still
the believers of yore might be thought
of as the singular cloud your message
implies? While the larger BBs and NSPs
have led the influence curve toward the
market place form of commercialization
shared by traditional carriers?
Does any of this make any sense in the
context of your dual message above? I
suppose that even if it did make sense,
one would still have difficulty circum140
venting a backbone failure, especially
if the affected party were secluded in a
rural area. Just some musings on what
you said.
Forster: Right...And the Internet, web
pages, and blogging enable a very easy
and efficient reporting system.
Coluccio: Right. But beware of the signaling channel that is embedded within
your bearer channel. In other words, keep
at least one POTS phone in place when it
comes time to take the axe to your PSTN
account ;)
On that note, five years ago I’d have
pooh-poohed any notions about a threat
to the Public Internet as a whole. Today
I’m far less sure. If pressed, I’d have
to say that the probability of a system
wide failure due to security breaches
inflicted by black hats and hostile agents
are higher now than ever before. Not a
comforting thought, but consistent with
the flow of this discussion.
Reed: The bigger problem today is having multiple suppliers at all, given the
propensity to let big suppliers block new
entry via regulation, “national security”,
and other games (at the local and the
Federal level).
Forster: A cable industry VP once said
at a national conference, on the subject
of getting business from the state governments for fiber, SONET, and Internet services something like this: “We can win in
the market but we’re getting killed in the
state legislatures & agencies. The ILECs
are writing the RFPs for them before we
see them and then we have 30 or 60 days
to respond”. That comes from long-term
relationships, on both institutional and
personnel levels, between the ILECs and
the government.
Reed: I.e. “crony capitalism” or “crony
socialism” depending on which party
spins it. It’s corruption no matter how
you spin it. No different than Indonesia.
Coluccio: Interesting observation, David,
re: crony capitalism.
Prior to the first divestiture of AT&T,
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
A refutation of Metcalfeʼs Law and a
better estimate for the value of networks and network interconnections
Odlyzko: This comment is different from the various discussion
threads going on, but it bears on some, and on some considered
earlier, to I thought you might be interested in this note.
The paper is titled "A refutation of Metcalfe’s Law and a better
estimate for the value of networks and network interconnections"
some notion of network value. A monopolist or few large competitors can exercise considerable pricing power. They have a
downward sloping demand curve where the smaller providers
are effectively price takers - participating in a nearly perfectly
competitive market with near-horizontal demand curves. In a
free interconnection model, any service provider I peer with effectively increases my competition so that I lose pricing power.
This is because the networks I peer can connect to my customers just as easily as I can connect to them. I may increase the
“value” of my network in the sense that I can now connect my
customers to more people so that the marginal cost of connecting more people is less but at the same time my demand curve
is flattening because I face increased competition.
Authors; Andrew Odlyzko and Benjamin Tilly
Abstract
Metcalfe’s Law states that the value of a communications network is proportional to the square of the size of the network.
It is widely accepted and frequently cited. However, there are
several arguments that this rule is a significant overestimate.
(Therefore Reed’s Law is even more of an overestimate, since
it says that the value of a network grows exponentially, in the
mathematical sense, in network size.) This note presents several
quantitative arguments that suggest the value of a general communication network of size n grows like n*log(n). This growth
rate is faster than the linear growth, of order n, that, according
to Sarnoff’s Law, governs the value of a broadcast network. On
the other hand, it is much slower than the quadratic growth of
Metcalfe’s Law, and helps explain the failure of the dot-com
and telecom booms, as well as why network interconnection
(such as peering on the Internet) remains a controversial issue.
From this perspective, I don’t think it is at all surprising that
large networks are not willing to freely peer with small networks. This is all sort of last year’s news, however because
when the bubble popped we had a whole lot of competition in
the network core but a very mixed and largely uncompetitive
market on the edges. We’re now in a period of major consolidation with a few large victors buying up the core so it appears
that we’re headed for a whole new game.
However none of this answers the question of how you maximize the value of the network to society?
Odlyzko: Sorry if the paper was not sufficiently explicit, but
the viewpoint in the paper was definitely that of the customer.
There is extensive discussion of the value to an individual
customer, and total value being the aggregate of the individual
valuations. The issue you raise is that of how the service providers can extract enough of the value the network provides to
the customers to pay for constructions and maintenance. That
FULL PAPER AT: http://www.dtc.umn.edu/~odlyzko/doc/met- is a key question that is outside the scope of the paper.
calfe.pdf
Forster: Interesting paper.
Retzer: You make some very good points, Andrew but also
miss a key issue in my opinion. First off, I must say that I Einstein’s Relativity clearly superceded Newtonian physics,
wholeheartedly agree that not all connections are equally valu- but within the domain of non-relativistic speed and mass
able especially at any given point in time. I also agree that Newtonian physics is quite accurate. Maybe we should look at
locality is an important factor. However, your paper misses the Metcalfe’s and Reed’s ‘Laws’ as being accurate within certain
mark in my opinion by not identifying from whose viewpoint is domains based on the homogeneity of the users but inaccurate
the value measured? Based upon the general thrust of the paper as the population and heterogeneity grow.
and your other work, I have to assume that you are looking
at the question through the eyes of the service provider who In the early days of the Ethernet and the Internet the networkwishes to monetize the value of their network. This actually ing community was quite homogenous. In the Universities
confuses the issue because the value to the service provider is they were collegial; in the workplace people were cordial and
not the same as the value to customer or the value to society. professional for the most place (flame wars a possible excepA network infrastructure provides customers a great deal of tion). As the network grew within these fairly homogenous
surplus value beyond what they pay the service provider, and communities Metcalfe’s & Reed’s Law could well have held.
provides society as a whole even more surplus value than it Social mechanisms (peer pressure, etc.) helped keep behavior
does the direct customers of the network.
consistent with group norms. As the number of users on the
Internet approaches a significant fraction of the population of
The value observed by the network provider, however is a the earth the homogeneity declines and peer pressure is ineffunction of supply and demand that probably has far greater fective.
impact on a service provider’s willingness to interconnect than
141
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
maybe going back as far as the Manhattan Project (Sandia Labs), and then the
‘cold war,’ the Bell System held a very
special position in the eyes of many government officials that was second only to
that of religion, which effectively made
Bell exempt from most of the usual separations between church and state.
speak of has survived to this day, and
why a special regard has always been
held for Mom. Some roots continue to
grow on their own, even after the tree
is chopped down and used for kindling.
And so it goes.
all the London terminals.
Skype in Hotspots
As the sole provider, hence, guardian, of
the national resource known as the telephone system, Bell found itself involved
in the inner workings of congressional
committees performing risk assessments
and making recommendations at first
in connection with the Soviet nuclear
threat, and then the nation’s top security
agencies and advisory positions like no
other private company of its time.
Hassinger on March 3: Found this on
Ben Hammersly’s blog: http://www.benhammersley.com/weblog/2005/03/03/
snow_and_.html
Coluccio: Yes, the same thing jumped
off the page at me when I read the release, too. I wonder, even, if a hot spot
even needs to be a participant and announce its availability for Skype access.
It’s a neat, timely promotional effort,
especially at a time when most users,
as the second piece noted, don’t have
-enabled handsets, hence providing for
a built-in buffer to over-usage. How
sustainable this could actually be when
users become equipped, given the scaling constraints that access points demonstrate with regard to growing numbers
of voip - as discussed here very recently
- remains an issue I’d be interested in
hearing more about.
These circumstances engendered the
lofty, near-sacred image that Bell has
grown to enjoy, which has survived the
integrated circuit chip, Arpanet, two divestitures, the bubble, and now, what we
like to think of ourselves living in since
being liberalized by the power of IP - a
new age of enlightened reason, as well.
It’s no wonder that the cronyism you
“Meanwhile, one terribly interesting
thing to arrive in the Press Release Inbox
this morning: have signed a deal with
Broadreach to allow to be used free over
the 300 or so ReadyToSurf wifi hotspots
in the UK.
Broadreach’s ReadytoSurf(TM) network
of locations has a combined footfall of
over 1bn per year and includes major
brands like Virgin Megastores, Eurostar,
Travelodge, Moto, Little Chef, Virgin
Trains, EAT , Choice Hotels and Quality
Inn and major railway stations including
142
You’ll still have to pay to get web and
email, but the firewall is unlocked for
Skype traffic. You hear that? That’s the
sound of the future.”
[Editor: Frank did hear more. I have
however moved the result to pages 106107 above where it follows another conversation on security issues.]
Summary Conclusion March 11-17, 2005
Instant Voice, Chat and Messaging Motivate
Early Adaptors to Rethink What it Means to
Be Connected Highlights
Editor’s Note: One of the enduring
lessons that I am carrying away from a
three month immersion in SKYPE, SIP
and VoIP is that while it may yet be a
long time before voice leaves the PSTN,
the richness of opportunities to communicate is becoming so stunning that
the very multitude of new options will
lead to difficulties. It starts from the very
scarcity model of the phone company
where we communicate one-on-one at
the sufferance of the commanders of the
“intelligent network,” where our identities as phone numbers are on view to
the world unless we pay to keep them
hidden. What is emerging is a much
different model where if we don’t take
more direct control over our identity and
reach-ability we will be overwhelmed.
The new tools can be used in many new
ways as the discussion with which we
shall close this symposium shows. What
is uncertain is how far and how fast this
perceived need for identity management
will spread. The user communities involved with tools like Skype will need to
work out ways of using the tools that are
acceptable to others.
Skype had better listen carefully to its
users and incorporate within its product
the ability for users to control the extent
to which they may be reached and the
conditions under which they may be
reached with these tools. And above all
Skype had better look at engineering barricades against spam.
This is an early adopter, leading edge
experience to which the Skype community, the handset makers and the phone
companies at large need to pay careful
attention.
COOK Report: On March 11, James
Enck posted a short essay he called
Skam on his blog http://eurotelcoblog.
blogspot.com/
Enck: I’m going to coin a phrase here,
I think. Anyway, Skam = Skype spam.
A friend received the following message
yesterday:
"Dear friend, I represent a consulting
company from Latvia. The company is
one of oldest in renewed Latvia. I have
a proposal concerning legally reducing
income taxes. You would be surprised
about the results. Agents interests are
appreciated."
Skype. I am also a bit concerned that, as
it gets bigger and better, it is also more
attractive to those who have less noble
intentions.
On March 15 COOK Report: I have
been a little concerned about whether my
repost of James Enck’s Skam here a few
days ago rubbed salt in any wounds. It
was not my intent.
This morning I opened up Skype to find
that Stuart Henshall had initiated a group
Skype chat for 46 people last night while
I was offline, in order to discuss SkypeIn. The entire archive appeared in the
client, and contained some interesting
reactions, as well as some baffled ones. It
seemed that some people were confused
and perhaps vaguely resentful of being
dragged into a group chat. Several exited
immediately.
I instant messaged Stuart and found this
Blog entry below in reply.
I certainly don’t blame Stuart, because I
like well-intentioned enthusiasm. But it
made me start to think. Is it possible to
repeat this process with people outside
your contact list? I assume so, but I’m
not going to try it. How about a Skambot, which indexes Skype users from
the directory, enabling Skammers to set
up unsolicited super-sized group chats
like the benevolent one I experienced
- but with the message being Latvian
tax strategies, or worse. What defense
do users dragged into this sort of thing
have? How about unsolicited file transfers of advertising, porn clips, or worse?
Remember, I wasn’t online at the time
the chat started, but still got all the messages when I booted up today. Yes, I
have a right to exit, but do I have a right
not to be brought into it in the first place?
My feeling is that I don’t, not at present
anyway.
Since I was not directly involved, my
reaction was that James’ original post
was a reaction to an unexpected invasion
of presence and not an accusation of
spamming. Still, this seems to be a case
where putting new tools in the hands of a
wide group of users will cause inevitable
bumps that require thinking through as
Stuart has below.
I love Skype as an application and a
force for keeping the telcos awake at
night. I admire the spirit of innovation
that Skype is pursuing. I am amazed at
all the activity being inspired around
143
I think it is a good reply. Stuart also took
me through some privacy settings and
chat settings that are not available yet on
the MAC Skype client - I therefore have
a bit of a better understanding of what
went on. If I understood Stuart correctly
a Skype megachat (limited to 50 people)
is like setting up an IRC channel.
In http://www.skypejournal.com/blog/
archives/2005/03/buddychat_insig.php
Stuart wrote
Henshall: James Enck is concerned
about Skype Spam. I was wary then
intrigued by his response. It just proves
that you experiment and learn. When I
first saw his blog I thought: “How could
you”? Then I asked myself: “What needs
fixing?” I have a suggestion and a solution that could further improve Skype. It
involves more control over Skype Mega
Chats.
When SkypeIn launched last week I saw
a timely opportunity to share this news
with a group of buddies all of whom use
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
and understand my interest in Skype. According to James, I shared it with 46. It’s
called a group chat session (Skype MegaChat!) and you select who you want to
add and hit start. Did I become in James’
words a “skammer”? I don’t think so.
Still the result led to new thinking.
Rethinking Skype Mega
Chats
In retrospect it was a little like starting a
group e-mail list without enabling others
to opt-out until they got the invite. The
option always existed to “leave” and
some did. However, I think for the majority it was their first experience with a
Skype Mega Chat, and it caught them off
guard. It surprised me a little too. Some
thought it neat, others left and some were
frustrated with the exit process. To leave
a group chat you must hit the “leave”
button, closing the window isn’t enough.
However, this isn’t where the real story
is.
The opportunity exists for Skype to insert
another level of chat control. This option
would automatically refuse chat invites
where more than x people are involved.
Or said similarly, “limit” my chat participation to chats containing 4 or less. The
mega group chats can then be always
“blocked” or put into a call/chat list context that doesn’t pop-up/ring buzzers, etc.
This would be useful. If you have ever
had a group chat going while being on
a SkypeCall and haven’t turned off the
message “whistle” notification you will
know what I mean.
Creating two chat types would add new
utility. There are pervasive chats that
many want to leave open, similarly the
head of a small company may start a
group chat to provide an update. Traditionally this may have gone by e-mail,
some are even broadcast phone messages. Sending it via Skype means you
will get it whereever you are logged on.
That’s interesting in a mobile, multi-device world. It seems like it may follow
you better than e-mail and, along with
presence, be more timely. The Skype
mega chat is similar to an e-mail list.
However, to give it the priority of a oneto-one chat is wrong. One-to-one chats
are invasive, less so than a call, and more
so than just leaving a voice message.
My learning is that group chats are interesting and very powerful. I didn’t understand the power that “initiating” one has.
Rather than have reservations, I’d like
to be able to share more news with my
buddies. However, it doesn’t deserve the
visibility of a one-to-one chat, or the chat
that invites you into a conference call.
For that we need the fix suggested above.
Thus, let’s not conclude that we have a
spam problem. However, let’s manage to
enhance the experience. I could indeed
start a mega chat with unknowns however, only with people that accept chat
messages from people not on their buddy
list. Potentially I could ring and call and
do all sorts of things to capture the list.
However, it all falls down when Skypers
set their privacy options to reject calls
and chat from users not on their buddy
lists. At that point you must ask for an
authorization to interact.
Coluccio: Interesting, Gordon, Stuart
and James. Allow me some musing for
a moment.
One of the notions I had, several times
when reading through your last message,
was the level of intersection that exists
and the possible redundancy that is taking
form, as well, between Skype and regular
forms and uses of e-mail and IRC. Especially when the feature capabilities of
one of them has to be analogized in order
to describe what is happening in, and the
nature of, the other.
System”
[Editor’s Note: This system uses the
federated P2P architecture developed by
Nimcat Networks in Canada and similar
to Goroshevsky’s Peerio both of which
are discussed in the interview with Jame
Enck on pages 57-65 of this issue.]
Powered By Nimcat, The VentureIP System Enables SMBs To Easily Install and
Operate A Full-Featured Phone System
By Simply Connecting Telephones To
Their Network
TORONTO (March 14, 2005) - Aastra
Technologies Limited (TSX: AAH), a
leader in enterprise communication access products, extended its industry leadership today with the launch of VentureIP
- the first enterprise-class, P2P (peer-topeer) IP-based phone system. Powered
by Nimcat Networks’ nimX software,
the system enables small-to-medium
business (SMBs) to install, operate and
manage a full-featured phone system
by simply plugging the VentureIP 480i
telephone into their local area network
(LAN). The system scales on a phone by
phone basis and can be connected to the
local PSTN via the VentureIP Gateway.
Meanwhile here is another P2P solution,
this time for enterprises. Or so says the
PR:
“We are pleased to offer the first IP-based,
P2P system in our industry that meets the
enterprise-class telephony needs of the
SMB market,” said Hung Lam, director
IP product portfolio at Aastra Telecom.
“When a new VentureIP 480i telephone
is added to the network, it independently
recognizes all other VentureIP terminals
and gateways on the network and instantly forms a trusted, virtual exchange
- with the ability to interact with its peers
and to connect to the PSTN. When a user
connects a VentureIP 480i telephone into
their data network, the device automatically configures itself, allowing calls to
be made and received without any additional, complex setup or centralized
server equipment. Additionally, through
its connection to the LAN and the Internet, users have Web-based access to the
VentureIP system to better manage their
set’s options, as well as access to future
software enhancements.”
“Aastra Launches VentureIP - The First
Enterprise-Class, P2P, IP-based Phone
[Editor: BIG SNIP of the remainder of
Astra Tech announcement.]
At what point are they truly redundant?
When sufficient scale in membership
to Skype is reached? Or simply when
enough of one’s own, personal, trusted
parties joins onto a service, where no
other parties still matter?
I never said this would make any sense.
Just musing, as noted. But the notion did
crop up, just the same.
144
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
Henshall: Please tell me why I should get
excited about Aastra? http://www.aastra.
com/enterpriseip/pro_228.asp What I see
is a telephone with an oversized LED.
I don’t see an instrument of the future
here. While it may eliminate some back
end elements and provide a lower cost,
there will be no “joy” from consumers
learning to use this phone. There is no
story about changed work practices. It’s
productivity that is the real opportunity
here, not cost.
The future is in “Presence” and tools
that enhance conversation and communication. The handset I see here isn’t
even cordless. I really must be missing
something.
Separately, I added to my desktop a “telephone” today, actually it’s a VoIPVoice
product I said I’d test and learn from.
www.voipvoice.com. See the CyberPhoneK. It integrates with the Skype
API, it’s fairly basic $50.00 retail. With
SkypeOut and SkypeIn it does more
than any PSTN phone. However, having
it on my desktop is a retrograde step.
I’ve been using a Bluetooth headset. It’s
paired with my laptop when I’m home
and with my mobile when I’m out. My
hands are free to work and text, no need
to hold a phone. I can even go and make
coffee. There are usage occasions where
a CyberPhoneK has real merits. I’ll save
that for another time.
Aastra’s underpinnings may be neat and
revolutionary; however “users” adopt
new tools and demand them when they
bring delight, provide advantage, etc.
The Aastra Venture IP phone looks many
times more expensive than “software”
and a longlife Bluetooth headset and a
good mobile PDA. I know which way I’d
be working to take a small enterprise.
I’d love to be convinced and shown why
this is “NOT” yesterday’s product.
Coluccio: Stuart, thanks for responding to both messages. My reporting on
Aastra was simply that: reporting. I was
simply publicizing it for the list.
If I’m reading you correctly, then I base
my world of telephony contacts on who
it is that I find in “my own” network,
then by definition I either find myself
tacitly or deliberately excluding anyone
who is not in my own network. And if I
don’t outright exclude them and choose
to contact them through ordinary means,
then I am at least more likely not to come
across them as a matter of routine, or
even casual, encounter as I would if they
were a part of my own network. If those
same excluded parties, in turn, are a part
of their own network(s), my chances of
contact with them is doubly or “nth”ly
reduced, depending on how many “their
own” networks exist.
Except that, if all of “their own” and
“my own” networks were made to be
compatible with one another, then this
balkanization would not so readily occur.
Without such compatibility, Reed’s Law,
not to mention the benefits to be derived
from sharing ideas on a global scale,
goes down the tubes.
I was discussing this eventuality this
evening with a colleague in Boston during a very long Skype-enabled conversation, and I suggested to him that the
problem I’ve posed here could become
exacerbated if there were five or six
more popular variants unleashed. His
comeback to me was, “Why five or six,
and not fifty or sixty?”
To which I responded: “I was only talking about the next couple of months.”
Davis: I remain to be convinced of your
premise (RE your remarks on Skype vs
Aastra), that being that you know the
complete story on “productivity” and
“changed work practices,” “real opportunity,” what will “advantage” an unlimited set of users.
If the butter on your bread is spread
by the knife of “presence,” “always-on
availability,” your Bluetooth headset to
softphone, then more power to you. Such
is a different statement than saying what
is best or better for “everyone.”
In my world, such is
level of the first line
of control and scope
increasingly filtered
“presence,” mitigated
145
demanded at the
supervisor. Span
of work require
communications
by priorities, up
the chain and across scope focii.
Human transactions are touted in “popmanagement” and “pop-psych” literature
as equivalent to worker “empowerment,”
but only for the dispossessed. Human
transactions are a variable overhead cost
that must be run through the calculus of
cost/benefit analysis once human organizations reach a size of more than 50.
Just as industrial design and engineering has deployed statistical analysis on
product quality to find that the overwhelming preponderance of error was at
the human-to-line and human-to-product
interaction nexus, so also is it for interhuman communication.
Ninety percent of human speech is not
about the content expressed but about all
sorts of other primate agendas, including, but not limited to, posturing for
rank, contentiousness, turf, “blue sky”
attention seeking, scape-goating, and just
pure “keep alives.” Those are calculated
on the cost side of the cost/benefit calculus.
We develop electronic work flow and
electronic document sharing to eliminate
those long and personnel cost expensive
“reporting” and “project management”
conference calls. The margin pressure
in the global economy just won’t afford
them.
For me, the future is about “Choice of
Tools.” As we move from traditional
labor and traditional life long job skills
and employer homing, it will be up to the
worker to select the Tools and how and
when to use them to set marketability.
More choices and the ability to choose
among tools are what “empowerment”
means. More choices do not make for
better decisions, of course. And the market is the ultimate judge.
Savage: Let me de-lurk here for a brief
observation. The underlying assumption
of 20th century telephony and later ‘net
connectivity is that ubiquity is either the
norm or the desired goal. [Insert historical observation/rant about Bell System
propaganda value of universal service
here.] In fact I suspect that most people
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
have little interest in connecting to the
vast majority of others on a “ubiquitous” network. Moreover, interests in
connecting are asymmetrical. The group
of parents on my kids’ soccer teams need
to be able to call each other. I want to be
able to call tech support for the products
I buy, but I do not want to hear from the
company’s telemarketers. Etc.
My not-terribly-well-formed hypothesis
is that if establishing connectivity to
selected groups of people were easy
and cheap, what would happen is the
creation of islands of open connectivity
linked to each other and/or the world by
non-transparent “gateways.” Think AIM
buddy lists. Once you are vouched for
by someone in the group, you’re OK, but
until then you’re out.
This absolutely interferes with ubiquitous connectivity. My suggestion is that
this is not a bad thing. To the contrary, it
is perfectly rational for people to value
connectivity to certain groups more than
others, to value inbound versus outbound
connectivity differently, etc. Skype et al.
are permitting a certain natural experiment of this phenomenon in a way that
the ubiquity model, imposed via the
command-and-control Bell System, did
not.
Hertz: Chris Savage’s suggestion about
connectivity is absolutely consistent with
the idea of separating the ownership
and operation of the pipe from the pipe
contents, and moving the network intelligence to the edge. The pipes need to
be ubiquitous but the connections do
not. There is no incentive for the pipe
operators to know anything at all about
the pipe users (other than the flow parameters needed to size the pipe). Users
(commercial, individual, enterprise) are
free to set up whatever connectivity they
choose.
Or not?
Choosing How to
Connect with Each
Other Becomes Critical
Jere Retzer: People want to connect to
those whom they want to connect when
and how they want to connect and they
don’t want to be bothered by those who
they don’t want bothering them. That’s
why I think we may be seeing the death
of the public telephone directory as well
as public telephone numbers. Moving
from the confined PSTN to VoIP really
opens the door to changing a bunch of
stuff, in my opinion. That’s because of
the automation that makes it really easy
and affordable to annoy (read SPAM or
SPIT, whatever we’re calling spam over
VoIP these days), as well as a bunch of
desirable ways and reasons to connect
people.
Oregon, for example had a “do not call”
registry for telemarketing years before
the feds. I’ve belonged to it and like it a
lot, even if I had to pay $6 every couple
years for the privilege - just wish there
were a way to ban the political calls during election season - now THOSE are
annoying. My e-mail, on some accounts
however is just a disaster of spam - three
fourths of the stuff I get on one account
is spam. Fortunately, I’ve gotten pretty
good picking out the junk just from the
return address and subject line but it is
still annoying. I cannot imagine however, my phone starting to ring off the
hook at night with robot calls inviting
me to buy Cialis. The fact of the matter
however, is that all it takes is some free
gateways from the IP to the PSTN world
to make that happen right now and once
that home phone is VoIP then nothing
currently prevents it. Once these spam
phone calls are as cheap as spam e-mail
the spammers will decide that one hit in
10,000 is well worth it and look out.
I sometimes have a hard time figuring
out exactly what the big deal is about
privacy these days - really seems people
are getting carried away worrying about
stuff. The other day I got an e-mail, not
an urban legend reporting the shocking
information that if you type your home
phone number into Google, it will offer
your name and a map to your house.
Same day, I heard a bunch of news stories (as well as ads for shredders) about
identity theft with cautions to “shred
everything with your name on it.” I felt
like wrapping up my Qwest phone book
(which I now use about 2-3 times a year)
in plain brown paper and delivering this
146
“shocking exposition of private information, no doubt with full knowledge and
consent of the Oregon PUC” to the local
TV station news department to see if
they got the point. A lot of stuff we used
to never worry about is now suddenly
private information to be protected with
all your might. Seems weird.
Automation is, of course the reason why
people ought to be concerned because
it once cost significantly more to indiscriminately market to or use someone
else’s identity inappropriately than it
does now with the Internet because all
of a sudden the price to bother or steal
from you has dropped to nearly nothing.
I don’t think master directories, such as
patient directories are the solution either.
Do you have any idea how lucrative a
target those servers that have your email, phone and credit information are to
people who want to abuse it? Thing is,
the more information about you collected
in a directory the more valuable it is to
people who lack the integrity to honor
your privacy and your desire to protect
your stuff.
We want to communicate with those we
want to communicate, however on our
terms. We all of us have many different
persona - our work, family, hobby, community, various groups, etc. We have
different expectations for these different
situations as well - when at work I expect
certain kinds of contacts but when walking down the street the shields are up.
Our “phone system” needs to adopt this
sort of paradigm as well, in my opinion.
What is a phone number if not simply a
pointer to you in a particular persona?
There’s nothing magical about 10-11
digits. In fact, that is not particularly
secure because it is not a lot of entropy.
My work number points to me at work,
personal cell to my personal persona,
etc. So, for those who have a hard time
imagining this P2P phone system that
seems to be rapidly evolving in Skype.
I say maybe this is a good thing that
business, and Skype needs to figure
out as well. Suppose I had a business
identity or some means to identify business calls and some means to identify
personal calls that I want to receive. That
would be pretty sweet. I’m not sure how
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
it would work - maybe the traditional
PBX becomes an LDAP database with
employee names and business contacts.
Not bragging, but I have hundreds of
business contacts currently unknown to
our phone system and it sure would be
nice to have them automatically available to my phone - sort of caller ID of
the future. Same thing with my personal
contacts but that’s a directory most probably I would like to keep private. Needs
thought, but this or something like it is
where we need to go with enhancements
like if I get a return call from some entry
not currently in the book it pops up
return call, but if it is an unknown and
unverified call it gets screened.
For those who say: “You’re using your
employer’s systems,” and “You should
not be using it in unapproved ways or
using their network for personal business.” I say: “Yes, you’re right.” However I haven’t laid similar restrictions
on my employer effectively using my
personal networks at home, etc. I’m not
saying we should abuse our employers’
resources. We assuredly should not but
the line between personal and business
life is getting fuzzier every day. The
majority of sales people in this country
today probably telework from home at
least some of the time. A lot of us tote
around extra devices and phone numbers
to keep up a distinction between work
and personal life that could just as easily
be handled in software. Our employers
all have a vested interest to improve our
personal productivity and this approach
might help. Phone numbers, as I say are
just pointers.
So, to answer Chris (and I apologize for
the long rant), I think we really do want
to be always on, and always connected
but under our own rules. Thanks for
your time.
Skype In Looks to Be an
Important
Intersection Between
Skype and SIP
Editor’s Note: SkypeIn announced on
March 11 and SkpyeOut now a million
strong rests on an agreement with iBasis
to use SIP to interconnect calls with the
PSTN.
Shockey: (Please see Stuart Henshalls
Interesting blog entry) http://www.skypejournal.com/blog/archives/2005/03/
skype_strategy.php#more
Henshall: What should Skype’s strategy
for SIP be? With the beta launch of SkypeIn many Skypers are getting a “traditional” phone number. That number is
also a SIP number. The Skype interconnect (see iBasis below) to the PSTN required working with partners that could
“connect” Skype to the PSTN. Thus all
SkypeOut and SkypeIn calls use SIP to
connect. This is a question piece, looking
at whether Skype should make SIP numbers available to SkypeIn buyers. Then
connecting to any SIP phone from Skype
is free. (See also Skype and SIP?)
Consider -Should Skype offer Skypers their SIP
number at a small price premium? This
would immediately separate them from
almost everyone else outside FWD and
PhoneGaim. Vonage’s ATA boxes are
locked, CallVantage the same, etc. Even
most of the “new” softphone players
(TelTel, Teleo, Damaka) are “locked”
even when they claim SIP.
What are the strategic implications for
Skype and competitors if Skype opens up
SIP? As a user I could use Skype “supported” SIP features. That may mean I
can ring a Wi-Fi SIP phone device, I
may find it hard to scroll my buddy list
or obtain the same voice quality as I get
with the Skype experience. Would this
allow me to receive “securely” (I don’t
buy the security argument BTW) my
SkypeCalls on a corporate SIP device or
SIP softphone without upsetting my IT
department? If so, this would be pretty
cool. At the moment unless I have call
forwarding, (or Vonage already at home)
I can’t enable my home landline to ring
the office. Wouldn’t SIP enable you
to ring your Skype almost anywhere?
While the call quality would be inferior...
the sound would always be better on a
Skype soft client or via a Skype enabled
hardware device (the approval and integration process is real important).
147
What if Skype just offered SIP numbers
with SkypeIn? Would that make them
quickly the largest SIP community and
deployment? Could Skype then “shape”
the direction of SIP and thus telephony.
What happens if Skype introduces their
own version of SIP (Microsoft vs Sun
on Java)?
Does Cisco fit in the Skype SIP plans?
It’s a fact that Mike Volpi from Cisco sits
on Skype’s board. We have examples of
both Linksys D-Link router solutions.
Jeff Pulver noted back in September last
year that they could work a proprietary
form of SIP.
Is it appropriate to guess that the SkypeIn system now adds @skype.net to all
Skype names to create the Skype SIP
identity. So I’m [email protected]
net or something similar for them to provide the interconnect. That registry then
opens up a number of new opportunities
and the ability to substitute “corporate”
e-mail addresses for the Skype created
dummy address. Thus this would enable
connections to corporate registries, etc.
I’m not the telecom / SIP wizard, I just
write scenarios from time to time. Could
a leap take us to using the organization’s
SIP server to register “internal” Skype
clients into the Skype network? All connections outside the firewall would be
via the SIP server, and thus the enterprise
would have the “security” and functionality of Skype inside. Perhaps complements of Cisco?
My real interest in this line of thought
began with creating an even larger market for Skype-related hardware. Making
hardware that is both SIP and Skype
compatible will further accelerate Skype
growth. It creates a larger pool of hardware that “works” with Skype while
sucking more people into the “Skype”
experience. The hardware that Skype
approves can then focus on better sound,
experience, etc. Done correctly the price
premium would be for Skype approved
hardware. Interestingly “consumers”
could be the one’s paying the royalty
via their service agreement. I don’t think
Skype began with a SIP strategy, in fact,
many press releases complained that
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
Skype wasn’t SIP-based in a “how could
they” approach. Now in a twist of fate,
opening and driving Skype/SIP could
bring in many new developers and systems suppliers. It could also prove that
Skype has both broken SIP and perhaps
ready to press it’s own form forward.
Notes: I blogged 5 million Softphones
when SkypeOut was launched [on May
18, 2004 ]. They are over one million
SkypeOut customers now. Alec Saunders
succinctly put it that they were distinctly
breaking inter-op [by not becoming completely SIP compatible]. At the same
time Tom Keating asked whether Skype
had the capability to “skip the SIP bandwagon.” Will Mr. Blog get his wish?
“iBasis is a first rate partner in delivering interconnections and handling large
volumes of Skype’s Internet telephony
terminations to the traditional PSTN network,” said Niklas Zennstrom, Skype’s
CEO and co-founder. “We appreciate
iBasis’s expertise in delivering innovative new solutions and efficiencies, and
we look forward to continued joint success in expanding the consumer adoption
of Internet telephony worldwide.”
These distributed facilities provide support for multiple protocols and devices,
network-to-network SIP authentication,
and trans-coding capabilities using SIP
proxies, Session Border Controllers, and
trans-coding systems within the network
ingress points.
Jere Retzer: One interesting wrinkle on
the linked article is that SIP is really just
a way to set up the call so that if both
ends have Skype I would think you’d
be able to use Skype codecs and other
features.
Schulzrinne: Which you can already do
today. There are no “Skype codecs,” just
codecs that Skype licensed from GlobalIP Sound. SIP will happily negotiate
them between consenting applications.
Shockey: Exactly. My licensed XTEN
client can support ILBC very well.
SKYPE as I have mentioned here before
is a fine application but its still a “silo”
just like AIM and Yahoo IM, etc. SIP
is a global service based on open IETF
standards.
The SKYPE application user interface is
first rate and very easy to use the Skype
team are fine applications developers. As
a certifiable SIP bigot I still wish them
well. They have demonstrated beyond a
shadow of a doubt that voice is still nothing more than a bucket of bits.
Now add SIP CUA functionality to the
Skype user interface and let me buy a service ...aka sip:[email protected]
net add H.264 video along with the free
P2P and I’ll be happy to open my wallet.
The theory of SIP integration should fit
in nicely with Skype’s intention of having a “Chinese menu” of incremental for
profit options like SkypeOut and voice
mail, etc.
There is only one problem with that
theory … will the new Microsoft ISTANBUL Messenger client crack open the
SIP market by putting a real functional
SIP CUA on the desktop.
Statstny: Funny, [looking at Stuart Henshall’s ideas for Skype and SIP above]. I
had the same idea yesterday when I tried
to find out a way to point to my Skype
name in ENUM.
The easiest way to show this would be
to set up a SIP proxy skype.net with sip:
[email protected] running a Skype
client via the API.
Since Skype is an NGN, this would of
course be an SBC.
Skype could do this of course natively
and as Henning pointed out, Skype is
using open codecs, so the media stream
could go direct. Remains the encryption
problem […]
Coluccio: I was waiting for someone to
mention encryption, Richard. Thanks.
And this would also raise its head upon
attempting any gateway function between dissimilar P2P variants, as well.
Would it not?
Since my initial post on this subhead,
many interesting concepts and individ148
ualized views have emerged. And although it was not my intent to challenge
the notions that have been aired here,
some good stuff has come out of the discussion, just the same.
What do you mean by an “open” codec?
Isn’t the codec that Skype uses on the
pricey side of proprietary code? Or, am I
not reading what you’re saying; the way
you intended it?
Geddes: I notice Richard’s comments
that Skype is a silo whereas SIP is open.
Richard’s thesis is more openness equals
more value. I don’t see things that way.
At the risk of invoking the “evil bit”
April Fool’s joke, you can broadly class
connections between endpoints into
“wanted” and “unwanted.” The value of
a communications system to the users
is the value of wanted connections, less
their “toll” cost, less the expense of
handling the unwanted transactions. (All
abusive calls are unwanted, but not all
unwanted calls are abusive, so these issues are not synonymous with spam or
criminal activity.)
Today, SIP-based solutions and Skype
broadly offer the same up-front communications value of a duplex audio stream,
presence and client features like history
and voicemail. Application-layer innovations can be implemented either way,
and whilst SIP might be more adept at
accommodating unexpected usage, this
doesn’t seem to be a significant factor
today. It’s easy for two users to adopt
either system, and neither is much used
like the PSTN for soliciting strangers;
calls are within defined groups. So the
“application value” appears similar.
Both have a zero per-call toll cost (onnet).
The differentiator in user value therefore
is in the unwanted connections. A totally
open SIP solution with a “naive” ENUMtype call routing solution will result in
the mother of all voice spam festivals.
This is likely to swamp any positive benefit from increased reach of addressable
endpoints. Richard is already working on
adding pointer data to ENUM as the first
steps to creating identity meta-data you
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
can use to filter callers; there remains a
lot of work to do. Note that the alternative -- Carrier ENUM -- is again a closed
“members only” system.
Skype’s closure is therefore a feature,
not a bug, in the absence of a scaleable
public identity system to complement
an open protocol. If you look at some of
Stuart Henshall’s or James Enck’s recent
postings, you will see how important are
limiting communications and connectivity. The features they seek are to *not*
participate in large group chats, or *not*
to receive long voicemails.
SIP and ENUM attempt to import the
best of SMTP, HTTP and DNS. Unfortunately, they also import the worst aspects of those, and without regard to the
fundamental differences between media
they carry. Unlike e-mail, you can’t use
the message content to filter voice communication. The interruption -- and cost
of the unwanted call -- happens up-front.
SIP and ENUM cannot survive as currently constituted by copying the open
model of e-mail. Today they can only
prosper as hidden components of closed
systems.
In the past, the value of telephony came
from connecting people over scare connectivity. Now, the “connecting” effort
over and above the packet data costs
are negligible. In the future, value will
come from *inhibiting* connections
over abundant connectivity. The paradox of the paradox of the best network!
(See http://www.telepocalypse.net/archives/000407.html). You make more
money from stupider networks by throwing stuff away intelligently.
How this might impact the end-to-end
principle is a post for another day. None
of this changes even if you move to a
mesh utopia with no service providers.
Coluccio: After reading Martin’s and
several of the others’ views on what constitutes an open or closed network I’ve
concluded that:
-- no network is entirely open, since, in
the extreme, the only natural cord to the
mother ship that we’re born with is cut
within the first few moments of our new
lives on this planet, which was soon followed by a smack on the ass just so we
wouldn’t forget it. And,
-- very few networks are entirely closed
to the individual who’ll spend the time
and effort to become included as one of
its members.
I found myself musing over what IT
managers who’ve suddenly found themselves in charge of voice services, as if
voice weren’t data, too, in the world at
large would have to say on the subject.
I thought of them because those are the
folks who pay the bills that I send out
once a month, which allows me to spend
extraordinary amounts of time talking
over Skype and writing sometimes profusely to this list and elsewhere about
things that my clients should be doing
but aren’t.
Of course, enterprises each have their
own forms of open and closed networks,
too. On the side of open there exists,
variously, the Internet, the PSTN, or
simply the horn. The closed options are
--with “closed” to be taken with a grain
of salt-- private lines, intranets, VPNs,
and insulated networks that are entirely
cordoned off, often owned outright by
the enterprise, from even their own internal intranets, with the latter serving to
satisfy situations requiring the “utmost”
in *secure* communications. And some
closed systems take the approach of
using lines and switching facilities on the
PSTN and the open Internet and encrypt
everything so as to be unintelligible to all
but a privileged community.
Stastny: I think there are some flaws in
your argumentation.
One is that you mix up openness of a
protocol with security and privacy issues.
Skype does not provide you with any
security from other Skype users, so if
anybody is finally in Skype you will get
called by anybody again. Hiding of contact details is also not solving the spam
and spit problem. I am just reading Rick
Whitt’s (MCI) papers on horizontal layering and regulation. http://global.mci.
com/about/publicpolicy/presentations/
149
horizontallayerswhitepaper.pdf
I think you are also trying to solve a
problem in one layer in another layer,
namely a problem of the connectivity
layer in the identity layer.
As we talked yesterday: SIP and Skype
are providing connectivity end-to-end
via the transport, but it is finally the
problem of the end-users to solve their
identity problem between them. This
is especially true in P2P systems where
nobody is there to solve this problem for
you anyway.
Richard Shockey wrote: SKYPE as
I have mentioned here before is a fine
application but its still a “silo” just like
AIM and Yahoo IM, etc. SIP is a global
service based on open IETF standards.
Retzer: Well, partly just to be contrarian, but also because I’d really like to
see some real progress in VoIP please
allow me to pose an alternative view in
response to Richard. I also believe and
fully support the idea of open standards.
That said, we see in some cases (such
as MS Windows) victory by proprietary
over open. Why is this? In my reading
on the network economy, one commonly
proposed thought is that in an industry
characterized by network effects there
is a tendency toward monopoly or very
limited oligopoly in particular niche
markets.
How do you reach a global consensus
on how to re-engineer the phone system
when a number of the key players have
a substantial vested interest in the legacy
PSTN where they still make far more
money then they will probably ever
make with IP voice. “Why,” I can just
hear IBM execs asking in 1985, “would
we want to put a lot of money into developing this PC thing when we have
these wonderful mainframe computers?”
Success today is at war with success
tomorrow.
Then along comes a small company with
a good idea and product that proves unexpectedly popular (albeit proprietary)
that takes off. All of a sudden you have
success emerging from the endless de-
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
bates. The world loves a winner. An
empire is born.
One notion that keeps coming back to
me as I think about our current market
is the idea that one man’s barrier is another man’s opportunity. In our world,
if the incumbents throw up barriers to
competitive, independent VoIP services
- arguably easier if the competitors are
using open standards - they are in effect
creating a huge reward opportunity if
someone finds a way around their Maginot line.
Statsny: That’s exactly what happening
with SIP and Skype, and they also will
kill in the same way ENUM, only to
loose it to Microsoft.
Retzer: We seem to see over and over
success in the arena by those who know
how to change the game, negating Goliath’s advantage. They, in their resistance
may be creating market pressures that
magnify the bandwagon effect when a
victor appears.
I’ve been studying recently Andrew’s
excellent paper on price discrimination.
He had a really interesting reference to
Scott Bradner’s list of “10 choices that
were critical to the Net’s success.” So I
Googled and found this version reported
(and edited) by Dan Gillmore on http://
www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/business/columnists/4029770.htm. I
found #8 possibly relevant to this particular discussion:
“8) International telecommunications
standards bodies reject TCP/IP, then
create a separate standard called OSI.
TCP/IP, remember, was designed as a
low layer on top of which other applications, such as e-mail, would be created.
OSI was carrier-centric, a suite of protocols that included things like e-mail.
Had TCP/IP been accepted and then
co-opted by the international groups and
telecom companies, things we now take
for granted might not have appeared, or
might have been under central control.
One of the fundamentals of the Net is we
can create new protocols on top of IP, as
Tim Berners-Lee did to create the World
150
Wide Web, says Bradner – ‘and we don’t
have to have permission of the carriers
to do that.’”
Will SIP go the way of OSI? Maybe we
should hope that SIP keeps Goliath busy
long enough for David to emerge victorious. Just food for thought.
Editor's Conclusion: All of which would
seem to hearken back to what David
Reed said at the beginning of this symposium in early December - that Skype was
on the way to becoming the Wintel platform for global voice. Something very
significant is happening and we have as
readers a much longer immersion than
intended in that. There is much chaos
and turmoil out there. In looking through
the darkened glass we cannot conclude
anything beyond the point of view that
what this discussion has described is
adding an entirely new point of view to
VoIP for end users and small businesses
- while the impact on enterprises will
not be as immediate - in the long term
it is difficult to see how enterprises will
remain unaffected.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
Interview, Discussion, and Article Highlights
Click on blue page numbers below to go to those pages - no live URLs in this section
Functional Aspects of
Skype
p. 13 COOK Report: What do you see
then as the context and big picture of
what is going on with Skype?
Henshall: Letʼs start by considering the
OS. When Skype originally launched it
was as a Windows platform and there
was a lot of discussion that said: “Oh
Skype is just another windows application”. Folk concluded that they would
never develop for other platforms because with Windows they had the whole
world and therefore they didnʼt have to.
Consequently their first interesting strategic move was in going multiplatform
- something that for a small software
company was enormous an cost. But
they went on to support Mac OSX and
Linux. Concurrently with this they built
a PDA version for Windows compatible
PDAs. Consequently we are sitting here
today with Skype being available on all
major platforms with the exception of
Palm - if you consider Palm to be major.
You also have some evidence that says
they are either looking at or doing work
in the Symbian area.
p. 14 Henshall: Skype, as you are beginning to see, changes the way people
work. Way back in 2003, I was beginning to compare Skype to Microsoft
Office where the office platform was
all about text and email and things like
that. Now I have begun to run off of two
screens. A work screen directly in front
and one with Skype as an application
off to one side. At the moment I have
Agile Messenger on my work screen.
On my left I have my Skype and email
applications. This is basically a communications screen. This modifies the way
one begins to work and helped me to see
Skype early on as something that was
creating a new communications platform in a way similar to that in which
Windows created a work platform.
But the things that Skype is doing all
have the potential to pull users away
from the old world of text and email to a
newer world or real time chat, IM, voice
calls - in other words integrated applications that are ultimately tied around your
phone and hand set.
p. 15 What happens is the same thing
that happens when I put Skype on multiple machines at that point. My computer
rings if it is on and if my cell phone is
on, that also rings. If I have a choice, I
answer the computer and take the call
on VoIP. If I am actually home in my
house and I have one of these combined
I-mate GSM cell phones, my cell phone
will know to take that call on the Wi-Fi
connection and treat it as a VoIP call.
COOK Report: Therefore the flexibility,
independence and power of the platforms that are in the consumerʼs hands
are setting up a series of relationships
where the patterns of connectivity are
going to happen in ways that work economically and physically for the convenience of the consumer and not the cell
phone company?
p. 16 COOK Report: As Rich Shockey
said: “Voice is just a bucket of bits.”
Henshall: Right. And the question becomes where does the bit bucket or
software reside? In what type of device?
This type of software is just going to infect every device in some way. The key
gift this next Christmas potentially is a
Wi-Fi capable phone handset that looks
juts like your normal phone handset
except that it is Wi-Fi capable and you
have a VoIP client on the other end of it
and when you want down to a local hotspot or go next door to the neighborʼs,
you just take your phone with you.
[snip] The question here is always-on.
Always ready to talk. 3G is about always-on and so is Skype . You could say
151
that Skype is just accelerating that style
of working. I can sit here in my office
and connect with five other people in a
conference call. We can all put ourselves
on mute and leave that call running the
whole day if we want. Anytime we want
someoneʼs attention we can just un-mute
our headset and call out to them.
They call it “push-to-talk.” I can have
that up right now on my computer namely a “push-to-talk” network for
up to five people and continue to run
another iteration of Skype, side-by-side
with it, and continue to take and make
calls there whenever I want.
p. 18 Henshall: However let me also say
that I think that it is quite plausible that
the structure for IP telephony that Gorsohevsky is talking about could become
the real future for communications.
COOK Report: So one might well say
that the message here is that while Skype
so far is very successful, it certainly has
some weaknesses. That from the work
of Henning Schulzrinneʼs students and
others we certainly have a good idea
of how it operates. [See http://www.
cs.columbia.edu/~library/TR-repository/
reports/reports-2004/cucs-039-04.pdf
for an early attempt at a Skype protocol
analysis.] Therefore, folk should not sit
back and assume that Skype in its current instantiation is the be-all and end-all
for peer-to-peer IP telephony? Right?
Henshall: Let me answer by asking a
question about what Goroshevsky is
talking about. It seems that he is saying
that he will give anyone who wants one
an exchange and that with an exchange
those people are free to go and connect
up to an emerging mesh.
Now hereʼs my question: What happens
if Skype says that the only way to solve
the enterpriseʼs problem is to give the
enterprise that same capability and that
you as an individual can also buy the
same capability - so that rather than hav-
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
ing one log on (authentication) server
in Denmark, anyone can have a log on
server. In this arrangement the authentication servers mesh with each other
and then you make your decision as an
individual as to whether you want to join
all servers or whether you want to join
just a few subnets.
COOK Report: What you are also saying
is that if the Skype people are as intelligent as we would assume them to be,
they have to have resources and brain
power devoted to work on these kinds of
enhancements.
The value of presence
COOK Report: It sounded to me like
you were saying that if you could bring
enough people together you could create an effective counterweight against
anyone who wanted to take Skype in a
direction that would be bad for its users
as a whole?
Henshall: Itʼs a nice idea! What I have
in mind is a bit like Consumer Reports
or JD Powers.
Unfortunately Skype is really not a marketing organization at all. I encouraged
them to start their forums early on.
Because of those forums they have a
strong core group of beta testers out
there. These people have become absolute maniacs in helping Skype develop
its product. Some of them are retired,
some are young kids. The testers are a
crosssection of people who have a passionate interest in what it is enabling.
COOK Report: Do they have a community of 3rd party developers like the iPod
has acquired? Would part of your idea be
to identify, coordinate and interconnect
some of these entities where your role
becomes one of helping the developers
create viable business models for use of
the Skype technology? You are the guru
who knows how to build what will work
in that world? Or I would come to someone like yourself if I am trying to figure
out how to best apply this technology in
a way that supports my on-going current
business?
Henshall: Yep. All this would be key
elements of what can be done. I believe
that we are still in the very early days of
what the Skype API is and where people
actually are. But I think things could accelerate very quickly - especially once
the first real application that solves presence comes out. This will provide a
wake up call to more than a few people.
COOK Report: How do we know what
to look for?
Henshall: The part that I donʼt think
Skype really understands is one of the
most valuable: It is all about presence.
While Skype offers free person-to-person calling, the larger question is what
can you do when you have presence?
Symposium Discussion
Dec 1 – Jan 4
p. 25 December 12 Dave Hughes: Hurrah! I just KNEW that Skype would
work if nothing else would!
I just got a Skype call, from Tsering
who was all the way over at 13,000 foot
in Thame, Nepal, (12 hours difference
- Sunday night here, Monday morning
there) in the classroom with 9 Sherpa
kids. 5 miles and three Smartbridge
Wi-Fi radio relay hops from his Cyber
Café base in Namche (on the Everest
trekking trail) then over TWO satellite
jumps to the US, (one with only 64kbps
bandwidth) then over the net in the US
to me! VERY clear!
Then he called Mingma Sherpa in Pittsburgh from Thame, had a good clear talk.
Mingma will now be able to teach those
kids English, ORALLY, and not just by
email, as well as use the link to instruct
them in spoken Nepalese, how to better
operate their classroom computer which
Jim Forster of Cisco donated last year!
Hey those kids are gonna get educated in
spite of their remoteness!
Snip David Reed: Well, I have gone on
record (at the MIT CFP working group)
as saying that SIP may have missed its
window, because of Skype. (And I was a
big fan of SIPʼs potential).
152
SIP could have been what Skype is
becoming, but the SIP community has
been trying to replicate the walled garden before deploying. They are destroying the value of open interoperability
that was in SIP, just as Skype is opening
its APIs to get the boost of third party
developers.
SIP should have won, because it is an
open standard, but the desire to create a business model that captures the
old unsustainable voice revenues of the
RBOCs has seduced Cisco and its customers into waiting and making the standard more complex. Unlike the old days
of the Internet, where interoperability
was the centerpiece, the likelihood that
a SIP phone will work with one from
another vendor is near zero. There was
a reason that the major IP trade show in
the early days was called “Interop”!
So now instead of innovating to make
SIP work as simply as Skype does out
of the box, the business strategy of the
access providers is: attack their best
customers by finding reasons to block
Skype traffic.
This reminds me of the IT departments
who tried to keep department managers
from buying Apple IIʼs because they
were afraid that their budgets and power
were at risk. Also reminds me the suicidal behavior of the Bluetooth consortium
- (in contrast with the 802.11 vendors).
Sending voice over IP is trivial. Thatʼs
not the technical problem. Getting scaled
adoption is hard, and a common standard that works simply was required.
SIP could have been a contender. It isnʼt
going be. And I think its own “proponents” killed it.
This is completely analogous to what
happened with Unix vs. Windows. (It is
balkanization vs. a common platform).
Open platforms can win, but a groupʼs
self-interest in cooperation and coordination is often poorly understood by
the members of the group itself. Linux,
on the other hand, seems to be growing (Linux is now much larger than
Macintosh, in terms of desktop market
share. In server market share itʼs been
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
dominant for longer). What makes Linux
win is that the groupʼs interest in interoperability is identified and managed, as
opposed to ignored and frustrated by its
own members.
p. 27 Reed: Skype is a completely proprietary system. I have studied the behavior of Skype as I use it, so I think I
know more or less how it works in gross
detail. Perhaps I can even find out more.
But they donʼt follow any published
standards above the TCP/IP layer. Their
protocol for “just working” when behind
a NAT box or firewall is elegant and simple, but it isnʼt based on standards-based
NAT traversal (such as STUN or UPnP).
They donʼt support SIP interoperability, though there should be no problem
interconnecting to SIP if they feel they
need to at a gateway. They use nonstandard presence protocols. And they
exploit end-user machines, even when
you arenʼt making phone calls. How do
you know if they are doing bad things
to your machine behind your back? Just
look at the active connections on your
machine using netstat or whatever your
OS provides. What are those connections to Japan or India doing? Are there
security risks? You donʼt know. Do you
care? Maybe not. I tend to trust them, but
all of their programmers are in Estonia,
so what do you really know about what
the code you downloaded does? They
encrypt all the traffic, but what kind of
key management is involved?
[Snip]. Reed: They just recently defined
and published some APIs by which third
parties can use their protocols. These
APIs let you do some rather nice things,
and build things that go well beyond telephony. They are a lot easier to use than
developing a whole SIP client, even if
you have the open source code. Library
APIs are much more productive than
source code, even though not transparent. And remember, if you build on
the APIs, you get a huge and growing
installed base, for free. The base will
support those APIs. This is pretty nice
for someone who likes to build stuff for
a market.
Skype can control what it chooses to
control. Of course they own their code
- thatʼs how copyright works. They can
license it on ANY terms they choose, and
charge what the market will bear. They
choose to let users use the binary for free,
and sell Skype-Out accounts. Will they
sell the later versions, or merely charge
companies for the right to interconnect?
They can do what they want, and will
probably choose to grow their user base
to create value (by Metcalfeʼs Law and
Reedʼs Law valuations arising from the
value of connectivity options and groupforming options that grow faster than the
user base grows).
Well, Skype is doing what Microsoft and
Intel did in the early days of personal
computers. It has created a platform that
is *very* attractive to third-party developers, because of its size and ubiquity.
It has invested in market share, and it is
now opening interfaces and architectures
that allow for others to help build value
around Skype, while maintaining control
of a core, and acting benevolently to
those who choose to enhance the Skype
platform.
This is not at all like true “open source”
behavior. But it is *very* attractive to
both customers and partners.
Remember, in the early days, it was
Apple who made the mistake of not
supporting its developers. They screwed
their own partners, by competing with
them, or making sudden changes that
disrupted its partners. They deliberately
harmed both peripheral developers and
software developers who got too close to
Appleʼs customers.
On the other hand, the Unix companies
(Sun, DEC, HP, IBM, ...) deliberately
developed incompatible “features” that
made it impossible as a third party hardware or software developer to be a Unix
vendor. One had to choose which company one supported. They acted as if
Microsoft was insignificant, and as if the
other Unix suppliers were total enemies.
I.e. they destroyed their own advantage
of maturity and compatibility among
themselves in the areas where compatibility and capability were advantages
they “owned.”
As a result, Microsoft/Intel was the truly
open, binary compatible platform, and
153
until about 1988-89, they focused on
building shared value with their 3rd party
hardware and software partners. IBM
was the first casualty, followed by Lotus,
Wordperfect, Novell,...
Skype can (and probably will) play this
game. They need not be truly open they are open enough, and compatible
enough.
p. 31 Reed: I have spent my career
arguing for open systems like SIP was
supposed to be, not open systems like
“Unix” turned out to be.
I was going to write a long comment, but
instead let me use a comment that I think
is due to Peter Drucker (at least it reflects
his way of thinking).
The way to succeed in business is to
pick the best customers, and delight
them. And the crucial caveat - the best
customers are not the ones who always
buy anything you sell - those are *your*
best customers, not *the* best customers.
The best customers are the ones who will
teach you what you should be selling.
The following is how it applies here:
SIPʼs vendors have defined their customers to be phone companies.
Skype has defined its customers to be
people who live a communications-centered life.
Itʼs impossible to delight a phone company with voice over the Internet. The
people who live a communications-centered life will teach you what really
matters. Those people are *not* happy
customers of the phone company.
Itʼs still possible to beat Skype with SIP,
but the current SIP vendors (such as
XTen) have no clue whatsoever! To win,
you have to delight some customers, not
participate in an illusory “market” for
“technology”.
Hereʼs why Dave Hughes matters. Heʼs
delighted! Iʼm sure heʼd be even more
delighted with a truly open system. But
he canʼt get an open system, with full
interoperability, today. And he canʼt be-
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
cause the SIP people think the game
is about making the incumbent phone
companies happy. So openness (as defined by market-enhancing and marketdelighting interoperability and ease of
use in many conditions) plays second to
controlling the users.
running voice and call control over port
80 (HTTP) to evade firewall restrictions
or running both call control and voice on
a single transport association.
Thatʼs what happens when you have
MBAs run your company instead of true
entrepreneurs.
- You can do security by obscurity.
Open standards need both entrepreneurs
and innovative technology. Iʼm not sure
which is more important. Microsoft got
where it is by entrepreneurship, and a
slight bit of open APIs (partly contributed by IBMʼs PC architecture choice).
X.500 was “open” but controlled by
phone companies (well the OSI, which
is a consortium of phone-thinking people). Internet mail headers were “open”
and entrepreneur-led.
It all starts with the endpoints, and delighted users trump slow-moving phone
companies.
When Pulver started FWD, I thought
there was a chance for SIP. But when the
SIP vendors didnʼt embrace it enthusiastically, that revealed FAR MORE about
how the vendors think.
SIP Must Interoperate
While Skype Need not
Do So
p. 32 Schulzrinne: Not being an open
standard has a few advantages:
- You can limit yourself to working with
only one Internet-to-PSTN “carrier”
(Skype) and one, global authentication
server; many of the problems experienced by SIP users are configuration
problems that are much harder to solve
if there are multiple service providers. I
readily admit that the IETF community
has not nearly paid enough attention to
configuration and diagnostics issues.
- You can do things that would get you in
trouble with corporate security folks or
any network engineering group, such as
- You donʼt have to worry about interoperability as you control all the software.
The success of non-open applications in
general, probably has little to do with
technical superiority, but it does point
out the real costs of open systems in
terms of testing, brittleness in the field,
customer configuration and the like. The
Web had it a bit easier, with essentially
one or two dominant pieces of software,
on both the browser side (Netscape and
IE) and the server side (Apache and IIS),
but even there, the experience has often
been frustrating.
Continued dominance of proprietary applications, as shown by IE (ActiveX),
also often has little to do with technical
superiority but rather, with bundling advantages. Skype and Microsoft certainly
enjoyed that advantage. Neither FWD
nor iptel.org nor all the other providers
of similar PC-to-PC services had anywhere near the name recognition and the
ability to cross-market. (I also suspect
that VCs, having “learned” the lesson of
earlier PC-to-PC VoIP failures, ignored
the fact that the deployment of broadband made this much more viable than
attempting to do voice-over-modem.)
Iʼd be curious what you would cite as
evidence in SIP of the sinister influence
of PSTN types. Yes, there are things
like “early media” that are influenced
by the need to interoperate with legacy
systems, but they are very much at the
margins and donʼt really shape the overall system.
Reed: Sinister is your word not mine.
I donʼt think it is sinister. Itʼs just sad
to waste time pursuing those customers. I can tell you that many of the SIP
vendors are spending lots of time with
those customers. And they build their
business plans based on numbers from
those customers.
154
p. 33 Jennings: I think a better path is
to take a balanced approach of fixing
the network such that real time P2P applications can work well on it while at
the same time being realistic about the
deployment of IPv6 and NATs. Some
guy called D.P. Reed has this great
paper about the “End to End” principle
that I strongly believe in :-) To do this,
I have been working with the NAT and
Firewall vendors. For all intensive purposes there are 3 vendors of home NATs
and threee vendors of non-home NATs
so itʼs not that hard to reach them all.
The goal is to make end-to end-possible
but still allow administrators of firewalls
to impose the policy they wish. If they
want to stop a certain type of traffic,
they always can do it so the goal is to
make it easy for them to do and make it
so that they donʼt accidentally kill other
things in the process.
Reed: Most of the network works fine
already, on a performance basis. Itʼs
not clear we need to add stuff to create
QoS. Perhaps we should delete some
stuff (like firewalls). I run real-time collaborative p2p applications (Croquet)
between my home in Boston and Cary,
NC; Magdeburg, Germany (former east
germany); and Palo Alto. Often I use
hotel networks, too. The latency and jitter is quite acceptable.
What the Technology
Must Do in Order to
Please the User
p. 35 Jennings: Iʼm all ears on this Iʼm very interested in what to improve.
If standards donʼt matter, then we need
to get the meetings moved from Minneapolis to somewhere nice and warm
:-) You mention that people really like
Skype and that it delights real users. Can
you dig into that a bit and get specific
- What is it about Skype that people really like?
Reed: Iʼl let other users like Dave
Hughes chime in. No particular order,
except #1 is by far the first among
equals.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
1. It just works out of the box in minutes,
no matter where you are (zero configuration setup).
Shockey: Yep. It just works. Even a certifiable SIP bigot such as myself uses it
all the time.
Reed: 2. The voice quality is excellent.
Shockey: Nothing like the ILBC codec
that is the best in the business. Now
Skype did have to license that code for
real money and you canʼt get it in other
products like XTEN unless you pay for
the licensed version of the product.
http://www.globalipsound.com/
Reed: 3. Conferencing is trivial to do,
and free.
Shockey: Yes, but Skype had the luxury
of vertically integrating all the various
elements of a coherent VoIP system
without having to interoperate with other
implementations as SIP must.
Reed: 4. No phone numbers just names,
you start with “presence”, and typically
use the IM feature to ask politely, with a
topic in mind, if the other person wants
to talk now or later.
Shockey: Ditto but that is a User Interface issue that now everyone is going to
mimic.
Reed: 5. No “call waiting” - you can
blend multiple IMs, voice calls, conferences, ... with a nice User Interface that
exploits it.
6. You donʼt have to hold a telephone in
your hand when you want to use a mouse
and keyboard to do other stuff.
Shockey: But you can do that with any
decent softphone such as XTEN
Reed: 7. And of course, itʼs free (or
rather, since you are already paying the
cost for Internet access, and Skype uses
such a trivial amount of extra resources
after that, itʼs a rounding error).
8. Finally (this was a bit late), Skype just
works across OS X and Windows, and a
few less popular platforms.
In contrast, every SIP user experience
design I have seen (such as XTen) is
modeled after the POTS User Iinterface
that evolved based on the restrictions of
a central, legacy switch, with dedicated
circuits, 10 key pad, special case conferencing. And every SIP install is a nightmare of “settings” and failures to operate
over various firewalls, tunnels, etc.
Admittedly, you could do everything that
Skype does based on SIP. But to do so,
youʼd have to admit that telephony as we
know it sucks and is worth redoing all
over again to make it fun and productive.
Heck, maybe the generality of SIP might
even be exploited so that you can get
a voice bandwidth of 16-16KHz, and a
dynamic range of 96 dB, rather than the
typical 3 kHz/8 bit audio that is the best
one can get from “toll quality” sound.
I could play my flute for my daughter
when Iʼm on the road.
My point is that the *potential* for delight *is* hiding there in SIP. But the
folks who do SIP have invested no time
thinking about it, much less time making
it happen. Stop hiring engineers and people who think writing standards is their
idea of a great way to spend a weekend,
and start hiring creative types who have
strong views of how cool things could
be. XTen, for example, isnʼt cool - itʼs
just a picture of a phone on my screen.
p. 39 Reed: To the extent that your blinders only lets you see the world from the
perspective of “carriers” (and now Iʼm
including wireless and fiber, to include
Francoisʼ blinders, which are typical
of the optics-heads) you miss the essence of what is happening in the world.
Despite the enormous “narcissism of
the operators” (who cannot see that the
world of communications is NOT about
them), the real world of communications
is about the messages, not the bits, and
the users, not those who would claim to
own them.
COOK Report: We had a similar argument about 6 weeks ago. Is there any
chance that we could agree that - like it
155
or not - for the foreseeable future (several years?) SOMEONE besides just the
end users will have to operate networks
and provide wide area service? Eventually mesh nets and viral networks may
combine with dynamic optical technology to push standard operators into the
so-called dustbin of history. But for
some number of years this is not likely.
In my opinion at least.
A Changing Role for
Operators
p. 39 Reed: Of course operators will
exist and operate networks. That isnʼt
my point about the “narcissism of the
operators.” The narcissism is the idea
that they deserve to play the role of defining what the services will be that are
supported by the meaning-free bits that
traverse their networks, among interoperable endpoints.
Francois is committed to putting in pipes
to carry those bits. I suspect he would
like his pipes to be the preferred solution
for as many bits in as many circumstances as possible. More power to him,
but my point is that other than doing a
good job on those bits, he has no leverage to force certain kinds of bits to traverse his pipes. Bits that make up video
streams may travel over his pipes or over
wireless connections or via satellites or
over packets delivered using Bit Torrent
asynchronously. The users now have the
leverage created by interoperability, and
they are using it.
They do “route around” attempts to tie
services to particular sets of pipes.
Thereʼs a fantasy out there that fiber is so
wonderful that the first fiber to a home
will “own” that home forever, and allow
lock in. I donʼt buy that - itʼs just another
way of saying that no one will ever need
more than 300 baud because a person
canʼt read that fast.
Shockey: Well if you put 100 channels
of High Definition NFL football on it
you just might. :-)
Reed: If the operators get over their narcissism that the world depends on them,
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
so they should be given all kinds of
rights and privileges, they have perfectly
fine businesses to run. Iʼm sick and
tired of the wailing and crying and poor
mouthing I hear from operators. The sky
isnʼt falling.
Shockey: Well, the sky is falling if you
are a LEC and look at their gross revenues and margins on the landline sides of
their business. Its not a pretty sight when
you then factor into your business model
that you will lose 1/3 of your residential
business to Cable Operators within 3-4
years and perhaps 30% of your enterprise business to SIP trunking at the
edge and IP Centrex from the IXCʼs -- if
they can hold on long enough.
Reed: Itʼs not the operators that will
define the services, or “permit” them to
exist. They will get paid, to the extent
that a lack of capacity will find entrepreneurs willing to fill it. Itʼs just that
the current operators need to realize that
they havenʼt got a lock on that new business, and to get started on figuring out
how to remain competitive.
Shockey: David, itʼs just that traditional telephony carriers do not want
to be turned into gas, water, or electricity utilities where they have to live on
reduced but highly regulated rates of
return much lower than they are accustomed to though I need to research this
more. The ILECS still think they are
high tech businesses when they are not...
they are bit pushers. They are totally
enamored of “new services” or “content
delivery” where we both know that those
services, as Odlyzko has proven, are not
all that profitable and you know can be
delivered at the edge by anyone.
Reed: Else they are going to be the next
Kodak or Polaroid - companies who
thought the film stock and patents they
held were the core of what photography
was going to mean to its users forever.
Now itʼs about ink, image sensors, metadata, coding, and digital storage.
Shockey: Well, I still think there is a
good business being a bit pusher.
The ultimate economic question I have
is since we can now conclusively prove
that Voice is simply a edge application
on the network (the Skype demonstration), which means its real marginal
value is zero (like email). What will
happen to the telecom industry when
you yank over 200B in revenue right out
from under it? OK ..50 Billion. Have
you looked at the bond ratings on Qwest
recently?
Symposium Jan 5 – 15
A Balkanization of
Personal and Enterprise
Communication Trends
p. 41 Coluccio: The discussion that has
been about losing the telephone number
in favor of a Skype tag or other “personalized ID” I find to be somewhat of a
distraction, while also a bit amusing, because it once again demonstrates how the
discussion on this list has a tendency to
balkanize the telecom universe, and ultimately focusing primarily on “personal”
communications trends, as opposed to
how those trends will eventually meld
with the communications traits exhibited
by large commercial and government
service characteristics. Yet, wide-sweeping projections are made that appear to
encompass all of the above, when they
are, in fact true, but they are true most
likely for only the most personal level of
individual usersʼ communications needs
and provisioning, even if they find their
way into enterprises. Like a PC is personal to each user, e.g.
Skype-like applications, I firmly believe,
will come to permeate every aspect of
personal and office communications, but
those applications will only “displace”
the traditional attributes of earlier services in a limited percentage of total
point solutions. Where the newer Skypelikes will dominate most demonstrably,
in my opinion, will be as incremental
personal applications. Just as email and
IM have grown to become, today. That
is a far cry, however, from putting telephone numbers in their graves. The
world as we know it is not made up of
IP coders and IETF delegates, despite
the size of this list becoming what it
156
has, and despite our losing focus of the
larger flows that take place each day that
have absolutely nothing to do with the
open Internet, and never get counted on
anyoneʼs stats because they take place
behind closed optics.
Multiple VoIP Markets
p. 42 On December 30 Schulzrinne:
Having read some of the discussion,
it seems weʼre simultaneously talking
about three different things:
- product design
- wideband codecs
- protocol design
Only the last one has anything to do
with SIP. It is pretty clear that many
SIP implementations have fallen short
on the configuration end, with lots of
configuration options that shouldnʼt be
necessary to be exposed at all to normal
users and inconsistent labeling of the
two items that are really necessary. A
good SIP device should need exactly the
userʼs email address/phone number (for
corporate) or carrier SIP URI (for FWD
and the like) and a password.
Making software look like cell phones
or office phones is part of the same User
Interface disease that makes certain vendors, even ones with a tradition of UI
excellence, convert their media players
into jukeboxes and DVD playback software into silvery boxes with 7-segment
green play time counters. The whole
notion of “skinning” is beyond me;
strangely, Microsoftʼs Windows Messenger SIP tool seems to have largely
escaped it. As far as I know, it predates
Skype. I guess early automobile designers couldnʼt resist making their horseless carriages look like, well, horseless
carriages.
I should point out that the Pingtel phone,
a SIP phone device, was designed with
wideband codecs in mind, although Iʼm
not sure how widely they got out of beta
with that feature.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
snip
Schulzrinne: We clearly have at least
two different VoIP markets: first-line
landline replacement (Vonage, AT&T
and the like) and the talk-cheap-internationally-by-PC market. User feature
requirements for the former seem rather
different than for the latter.
p. 47 January 11 COOK Report: I have
added Raj Sharma of NexTone to the
list. Rajʼs principal interests lie in the
harmonization of protocols for the IXCs,
ITSPs, ISPs and ILECs, such as SIP and
H.323 along with a long list of proprietary ones made by all of the VoIP fieldʼs
popular vendors.
Reed: Cool. Welcome Raj to the debating society!
But to get down to brass tacks, and
semantics that show a broken mindset,
“harmonization” (in its typical telecom
meaning) is not going to be a winning
strategy. Harmonization is what a bunch
of technocrats, relying on a government
enforced oligopoly (i.e. the ITU) thinks
it has the power to do. I.e. shades of the
3GPP, or NANP.
VoIP is inherently happening at the edges
(whether they are PBXes, SIP phones,
etc. at the hardware level, and Skype,
FWD, AIM, PTT, Blackberry email as
the viral integrating technologies).
Viral Communications
Stastny: To which I fully agree. By
the way, David, congratulations to the
“Viral” paper. Since it is a draft and quite
old, does an updated version exist?
Reed: Richard - the viral paper was written for a special issue of the BT Technology Journal (October 2004). That journal
is now out, and I commend it to you...
http://dl.media.mit.edu/viral/viral.pdf
may be the same version you have - I
think we should probably replace it with
the prettier published version from the
BT Journal, now that you point it out and
assuming we can get a PDF of that.
Editorʼs Note: The special issue of the
BT Technology Journal is on the Media
lab Web site and is well worth reading. However I steadfastly disagree with
David in that I find the general sweep of
the May 19 2003 draft much better than
the two early articles in the BT journal
that are intended to replace it.
know you and your ideas have turned
up absolutely unaware of this paper. The
ideas are certainly out there. But the May
2003 version of the paper wonderfully
ties them together in a FRAMEWORK
or a pair of lens through which to see the
world. We need frameworks I think. And
this is a REALLY REALY GOOD one.
Reed: You may also be interested in
our group website: http://dl.media.mit.
edu/viral/ and the cross-MIT sponsored
program Andy and I have launched with
Dave Clark and Charlie Fine called
the Communications Futures Program,
which focuses on the evolution of the
architecture of the communications industry (website under re-construction).
Now you mentioned special issue of the
BT Technology Journal (October 2004).
With that as a lead, I found in Google
And the broader embedding of the viral
work in human networks, our bigger
vision called “Organic Networks” in
that special issue: http://dl.media.mit.
edu/BT-vco.pdf
Donʼt want to be seen as hawking CFP
or the Media Lab here, though.
COOK Report: David, Iʼd like to do that
for you. :-)
Seriously I am amazed - People on this
list are gradually beginning to read it
and uniformly say WOW. I advertised
and endorsed it to a private list of David
Isenbergʼs that some of you are on there
again not much reaction.
Last night I sent the PDF to Sebastian
Hassenger and pleaded with him to read
it. Talked with him today. He has read
it and remarked that he finds it really
wonderful and wondered how he ever
missed it. Sebastian is Senior strategist
for pervasive computing in one of IBMs
WestchesterCcounty, NY Labs. He was
on one of my lists in the August October
2003 time frame. To the extent that I
understand what he does it is to survey
where all this stuff is going and make
sure his colleagues at IBM understand.
I told him what we are doing and he
agreed it was right down his alleyway
and agreed to join.
David, there seems to me there is a theme
going here... many, many people who
157
http://www.media.mit.edu/publications/
bttj/
Competition and
Wireless Paths
WiMAX Troubles
p. 52 WiMAXʼs fate (yet undecided,
though I think it will fall into a miniscule shadow of what it could have been,
just like Bluetooth has) proves nothing
- thatʼs the mistake of synecdoche, i.e.
the case where a metaphor conflates an
instance with one of its categories.
Shockey: Iʼm increasingly interested in
this. I have heard anecdotal evidence that
WiMAX has some big problems with
fog and other extreme forms of weather
that is peculiar to the RF absorption
characteristics of the spectrum WiMAX
typically uses.
Has anyone heard anything more about
this?
Reed: WiMAX has bigger troubles.
Itʼs no different than cellular from the
50,000 foot perspective. Itʼs not opening a new market, but merely using the
same technology to try to start a service
that competes with a universally present
service. The only advantage it might
have is that it is not being positioned as
a mobile service with roaming, so it can
be rolled out incrementally. But cellular
data services are easy to add.
Somebody should study Christensenʼs
book again, and notice that wireless
broadband need not enter the market
in the markets that have already been
cherry picked. 802.11 is a much better
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
starting point - every computer user
already HAS one endpoint of that system, and will buy whatever feeds their
itch. 802.11 reaches the telephone poles
in your neighborhood, if you put a
bridge in your window. And if there
are no telephone poles, it reaches your
neighborʼs apartment or your neighbor who has a fiber with lots of spare
capacity for now. Thatʼs HFW (hybrid
fiber(cable)wireless). A lot cheaper and
more upgradeable than APON, EPON
and other PONzi schemes.
Cellular is already taking share from
some wireline services at a rate that
erodes the profit pool. There are lots of
other wireless paths beginning to unfold.
Cable competition (facilities based competition in HFC) is finally born in some
regions, despite the fundamental socialist intuition that no economy can sustain
2 fibers to any home (a lot of hooey
based on the old Big Lie that demand is
inelastic for communications).
band audio codecs is that he says for
the future it will be like the difference
between black and white TV and color.
This is where he sees services differentiating themselves once price is no longer
an issue. The thinking seems to be that
market share will be determined by
whatever platform delivers the best sensory experience. This is an area where
Skype already is quite far ahead.
COOK Report: Certainly visual presence canʼt be far behind? All manner
of web cam devices are becoming very
cheap.Therefore, it probably will not be
long at all until Skype or its competitors
do video as well as audio? As monitors
get bigger there will certainly be room
for a video window. As you move all
kinds of presence to the edge on an individual basis, this should drive increased
demand for bandwidth and for filling
up fiber.
The audio aspect is open to improvements in interesting ways. I have seen
reports from Stuart Henshall that he has
heard that Skype is working on spatial
positioning of voices in a conference
call. There is always scope for something like haptics where you can project
some element of a personʼs physical
presence such as a heartbeat to come
into play here. In the grandparentsʼ scenario, the sense of being there and being
able to listen to the kids play as opposed
to having five minutes on the phone with
them is worth thinking about. This of
course becomes possible if the technology works and as long as the service is
not metered.
Enck: Yes - all of what you suggest is
absolutely true. I think what Duric is
saying is indicative of a growing realization that use of peer-to-peer audio communication softphones or software like
Sype is just fundamentally different than
products based on SIP that must use ordinary hardware telephones and be able
to connect effortlessly to the PSTN. You
have on the one hand what he is saying
and on the other hand rather negative
responses coming from the SIP folk and
the SIP --using hardware community.
This is indicative of the Skypeʼs having
driven a wedge down not only the proprietary versus open standards issue but
about what the very nature of the service
is. Zennstrom has never made any bones
about the fact that Skype was originally
basing its interface and user experience
on instant messaging adding in effect
instant voice to instant messaging. They
were never trying to recreate the telephone experience.
Alan Duric is the CTO of Telio, not the
one that every one is talking about in the
States but a company that is basically a
Norwegian Vonage. Duric used to work
at Global IP Sound where he was one of
the authors of the Sype audio codec. His
description of some of the things that are
in the development pipeline with broad-
COOK Report: This gets back to what
David Reed was saying last December
on the mail list about Skype not being
an IP replacement for the telephone but
being designed for strongest appeal to
those living a communications centered
life. One has to really re-orient oneʼs
mindset in approaching this.
James Enck Interview
p. 57 Future Possibilities: Improvements in Presence and in Audio
158
Enterprise Concerns
about Skype Encourage
Competitive Products
p. 58 COOK Report: Perhaps this is
because of the very negative reaction
that Skype gets from enterprise security
people? Would you describe what you
hear from enterprises as to their use or
non use of Skype?
Enck: I wrote a piece not long ago on
Accenture. It turns out that this piece
flushed out two other guys. They have
project teams working in Pakistan, and
other teams in Amsterdam, Madrid, Vienna and London. First of all within
Accenture itself I have confirmation that
top managers and even board members
are aware that this is going on. While
there is no official policy pro or con,
they have never said to their employees
that you cannot use Skype. Apparently
at least one senior board member of Accenture is a Skype user himself and does
so within the business.
Now when they are out at client sites
what they do apparently is set up their
own free-standing Internet access point.
They would work through the local telco
to construct a VPN that would enable
them to set up their own access node
independent of the clientʼs network. Or
perhaps they would just bring in an independent DSL line. Therefore, the client
network is never at risk. It is Accenture
within Accenture. The reading I was
given is that they are currently interested
enough in it and want to see where it will
take them such that there is no effort
made to stop it or restrict it in anyway.
The folks I have talked with stress that,
while they are not going in clandestinely
and using this behind a clientʼs firewall,
it is something they feel comfortable
enough to use within their own organization and that they are not discouraged in
anyway from doing this.
COOK Report: What do you hear about
the dangers and risks of a peer-to-peer
system like Skype?
Enck: While I am not a security expert, I
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
have certainly noted Melissaʼs concerns
about an open Port 80. I have also noted
the opinion of Dimitry Goroshevsky at
Popular Telephony http://www.peerio.
com/ and the folks at Nimcat Networks
in Canada http://www.nimcatnetworks.
com/ that any IT manager who turns
loose an application that can punch a
hole in a corporate firewall needs his
head examined and that is why they have
built into their application an administrator role where central control is required
to switch functions on and off.
COOK Report: So isnʼt this another way
of saying that what is going on here will
probably evolve into new software packages, new devices and new companies?
Right?
Enck: Absolutely and I think that there
may be future iterations of Skype that
embrace enterprise security concerns. It
canʼt be something that is perceived ass
a renegade product. They will realize
that if their product is to find widespread
enterprise use, it has to be controllable
from the IT managerʼs view point or it
will be seen as an unacceptable threat no
matter what the perception of benefits by
the other folk in the enterprise.
Popular Telephony
p. 59 Enck: Over the past two or three
months their press releases have made it
clear that they have a working relationship with Texas Instruments (TI).
COOK Report: And TI would have denied Goroshevskyʼs assertion were it
false?
Enck: I think that indeed you can count
on that. It looks now that TI has ported
his software onto its DSP. Given that TI
is there I would be surprised if Broadcom
is not also involved. My surmise is based
on the fact that Broadcom is a financial
investor in Nimcat Networks which is
Goroshevskyʼs principal competitor.
Also I know someone in the product and
development unit of a large European
electronics firm. These folk have actually done trials of the Peerio application
in their laboratory and had good things
to say about it.
COOK Report: The software resides as
firmware in a TI Digital Signal Processor (DSP) chip then? Where would one
find this chipset?
Enck: It would be in the desktop VoIP
or hybrid kind of phones that are coming
out. The ones that they, in late February, announced from Grandi (a Chinese
firm) is a good example. That phone has
a PSTN connection, two Ethernet jacks
and also a SIM Card slot. Popular Telephony has signed agreements with about
6 different makers at this point. They
have Gateway people involved.
COOK Report: Their software loads into
the DSP as firmware?
Enck: Yes. It is firmware. Middleware
or whatever you want to call it. Theoretically at least it can sit on mobile handsets
or on virtually any other device you want
to think about.
COOK Report: How would it work?
Enck: I think it would be conceptually
similar to some of the clients developed
around Skype by third parties. For example there is a product called the DualPhone, a DECT phone for Skype <http://
fa86dd8e8eff5070c1256f1c0040dee5.
dualphone.net/>. It is a cordless phone
that is available in Europe. It is both a
wireless PSTN phone and one that affords you a connection to your PC and
to your Skype contacts. You can access
both and choose what kind of call you
want to make from this single handset.
Conceptually that is how it would function. What the mechanics at this point
are going to be I am not sure. Whether
there is to be a purple button with a “p”
on it to launch Peerio for example? Or
whether it is in the numbering or in how
your address book is structured?
COOK Report: But presumably it could
also be distributed as a software client?
I understand that like Skype it is peerto-peer in its structure but presumably it
is how the “peer-to-peerness” is implemented that is different?
159
Enck: Yes. I think that is a good example of the difference. Peerio is a bit
of a black box. I had a conversation
with Bram Cohen, the guy who wrote
Bit Torrent. Although he was not aware
of any of the P2P voice systems I gave
him a description of what Dmitry was
doing and said that I had asked Dmitry
whether Peerio was similar to any other
P2P application? Dmitry had replied
well, yes and no. Conceptually it was
similar to something called Chord. Later
I read some academic papers describing
Chord but did not understand them very
well. However when I mentioned Chord
to Bram Cohen, he immediately said that
he understood what Goroshevsky was
doing. For this I conclude that within
P2P coding circles, this is an architecture
that is actually understood.
Skypeʼs Cellphone and
Wi-fi Direction
p. 60 COOK Report: How would you
describe the wireless wi-fi direction in
which Skype appears to be headed? I
think Stuart in his conversation with me
was suggesting that Skype viewed its
value more in mobile technology than in
convergence with the PSTN.
Enck: I think that is correct. Certainly in
Europe the mobile area is where a lot of
the arbitrage opportunity for subscribers
exists. The reason for this is that if you
are traveling around Europe, you pay
very heavy charges for roaming. This
is an area that costs businesses a lot of
money and where they would be very
keen to make savings. Based on anecdotal evidence I get people from the States
seem to be happy to go into a T-Mobile
or BT commercial hotspot and pay seven
pounds for an hour because in that hour
they can make forty dollars worth of
international calls over Skype.
Very worthy of attention in this area is
the announcement yesterday (March 3)
regarding Broadreach. They are huge in
the UK. They cover all of the London
train terminals, as well as all the MoTo
roadside truck and car stops that are really somewhat like miniature shopping
centers. They claim that 500 million people is the annual total of the daily visitors
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
to all their locations, although obviously
people arenʼt going to be carrying their
laptops on each and every visit.
Broadreach is basically a wi-fi managed
services company that is hired by the
railroads to wire up the train stations for
wi-fi and so on. They actually do give
services to a chain of coffee shops called
“EAT”. They manage and connect to
the Internet the networks of the various
enterprises that buy their white label services. They seem to specialize in white
label wi-fi networks for retail and travel
organizations.
One of the companies I talked to recently that does work in this area was getting
about 350 to 400 pounds per month per
site. They have a little Linksys wi-fi
node and DSL connection and come by
and check it out every few days.
COOK Report: But a London train station takes much more substantial equipment?
Enck: Oh yes. You can bet on that.
Meanwhile some of the locations are
quite desirable and this will expand
enormously the Skype friendly locations
for people to work from. The release
was worded very strangely and I am not
precisely sure how the use arrangement
will work.
p. 60 COOK Report: How far are we
from these dual use handsets being on
the market? Two or three months?
Enck: I think that is a about right for the
enterprise market. And perhaps another
two to four months beyond that for the
general consumer market. My reading
of the handset makers is that they are
scared. They have been the victim of
the carriers for too long. They have seen
the carriers hammering them down for
too long. They are begining to see that
the carriers have a limited shelf life so
they have to begin to ask whether they
want to continue to be a slave to this
dying industry? Or do they want to get
in bed with an application developer like
Skype. You can see it now not only with
Skype and Motorola, but you can also
see it with Microsoft Nokia announce-
ment that shocker everyone so much a
few weeks back about allowing direct
connectivity between Windows XP and
Symbian based handset in order to share
music. This will immediately eliminate a
certain amount of carrier revenue. Who
is going to pay a dollar fifty for a song
download over the network when you
can simply down load to your I-tunes
and the upload it to your phone?
Nokia signed an agreement with Macromedia developers to allow more independent applications coming in. They have
also opened up a Python forum. Python
is apparently well tailored to writing
things like SIP applications. Bit torrent
is written in Python and the fact that
they are opening up the Nokia platform
to this kind of programming language
that is associated with wild disruptive
open source technology is a further sign
that the handset makers donʼt want to be
enslaved to the carriers.
I think Motorola was really sticking up
its middle finger at its traditional customer base and saying “look we want to
carve out a sustainable stake in this sort
of value chain because we think your
traditional model may be in trouble and
we donʼt want to be on the wrong end of
that.” I think also that the Motorola guys
will have seen the Taiwanese makers
HTC, or High Tech Corporation trying
to court Skype. They will have also seen
the Skype I-Mate announcement and
find themselves getting very paranoid.
COOK Report: Are you seeing anything
from Skype about how soon they are
going to be out on Symbian? [Editorʼs
Note - Global IP sound has announced a
version of their Voice Engine codec for
Symbian during the week of March 7.]
Enck: No and that is an important question. If they really want to cover the
mobile front, they do need to get it out
there.
pp. 62-63 COOK Report: What we are
talking about then is a really well entrenched peer-to-peer system. The ability to stop or root out such a system
as long as access to the Internet is not
licensed and controlled along the lines
160
described by the author of the Digital
Imprimatur is generally nonexistent? To
try to control such networks would render so many other things inoperable as to
effectively destroy the Internet?
Enck: Yes. I donʼt think anyone can
root it out. It is here to stay. That is
one of the things I like about it. There
is no reasonable way that you could
gain control of what it does. If you look
at industry trying to create alternative
products that will do what peer-to-peer
networks do and create what people like
about them, then they have a really lousy
track record. In my view practically
everything that has happened in Internet/telecom product development has
been an accident. Email. SMS. These all
found uses that were not intended by the
developers and they have subsequently
become massively transformative consumer technologies.
I think instant messaging has been another case in point. What has Yahoo,
MSN and AOL accomplished? What
was that all about? What was the master
plan behind it? It generates zero revenue
for the telcos. It has caused all sorts
of problems in enterprises. But they
have also found ways to use it for their
own ends by putting it safely inside of
sub-netted playpens blocked off from
undesirables.
COOK Report: What are your views on
Skypeʼs market place position? Do they
have such a head start that no one else
can overtake them?
Skypeʼs Market Place
Position and Prospects
for More Controllable
Competitors
Enck - Being bigger than all the other
VoIP implementations in the world combined it is looking pretty formidable.
Yahoo Japan would be the closest in
size. But what have they got? Five million? And yahoo is an access-based service so you are stuck with an IP phone
in your house. It simply doesnʼt have the
same feature set as Skype.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
COOK Report: What you mean is that it
is rather like Vonage or Lingo?
Enck: Yes. Exactly. Then you get down
to the next level with firms like Vonage
and Iliad in France. Time Warner Cable
and so on. At this level we are still talking about only a few hundred thousand
users. You put all of these together and
you still get a number that is smaller than
the registered user base of Skype. We are
talking about over 2 million concurrent
users at any give time these days and that
is a helluva lot of people.
COOK Report: What I am beginning to
realize is that the feature set of things
that can be done with a P2P instant voice
program like Skype are by no means
exhausted. But still Skype seems so well
embedded that the competitionʼs feature
set would have to be really stunning to
get people to switch?
Enck: Quite true. Likely the only way
would be to take an entirely different
approach. There is a company called
Voipster in the Netherlands I have been
tracking that had gone rather quiet. But I
reestablished contact with them a couple
of days ago. www.voipster.com/
They have a similar background to Skype
in the sense that they are very small and
have developer in Estonia. They were
using the Global IP Sound codec but
they dropped that in favor of something
that uses less bandwidth because they
are trying to get a start in some emerging
markets. Their goal is to be an invisible
partner to carriers or ISPs. Or potentially
to people in the online world whether
that is retailing or services. They should
becoming out soon with exciting announcements. Their architecture is very
similar to Skype but they allow a level
of control at the administrator level with
the set up of their systems that will be a
relief to enterprise security people.
COOK Report: In this sense they might
be the software that gives Google working telephone icons for parts of its emerging local service activity? Services like
this that could be used and administered
by third parties rather than just out there
like Skype might be more interesting to
Google? And in the third world are if
you can get by on less bandwidth, you
have a lot of possibilities.
packages may be putting themselves at
financial risk if their PCs happen to be
supernodes on the Skype network.
p. 64 COOK Report: Kees Neggers with
Surfnet6 and Gigaport in the Netherlands
has certainly prepared the groundwork
for this expansion. But the ideology here
in the United States that says anything
done by a government is, by definition
incompetent, is doing us considerable
harm. The direction of the technology is
pushing broadband more and more in the
direction of becoming a central economic utility - as vital to business activity as
roads, water, sewers and electricity. Perhaps with more Skype like applications
and the new things underway at Google,
it will begin to dawn on people that
broadband is more than just faster down
load of email and web pages? I went to
broadband only because I wanted long
distance telephone arbitrage with Vonage but now that I am there it makes me
see things in entirely new ways.
However in places where cable TV is
making inroads, the cable companies
are saying to consumers we will double
you band width speed or double the cap
for the same prices as the telco. This is
hardly satisfactory. I see it as a feeble
attempt to circle the wagons. You could
really smell the fear in the Netherlands
the other day when KPN announced job
cuts of 8,000 positions over the next five
years.
Enck: Agreed. I think what you see
now in Europe is that the carriers see
broadband as a new revenue opportunity
with the ability to charge for overage on
monthly usage caps. What they are doing
is putting a usage cap on their prices.
The minimum BT product at the moment is capped at one gigabyte - but for
heavenʼs sake that is a less than a single
feature length film. What is that in music
terms? Four hundred songs? Itʼs a joke.
What they want to do is sell you incremental bandwidth for a charge. Telenor
which is one of the most forward looking companies in Europe tried this idea
two years ago and quickly scrapped
it because of overwhelmingly negative
reaction. But all the telcos in Europe are
looking at capped products. They sell
you cheaply a basic connection with a
cap or you can upgrade to the so-called
unlimited plan. Unfortunately people
then find that those have limits of 20 to
30 gigabytes.
(http://www.bt.com/broadband/bb_info.
jsp?targetSection=packages)
An aside: Martin Geddes made an interesting post the other day about how
people who are on bandwidth capped
161
pp. 64-65 COOK Report: How would
you sum things up at this point?
Enck: It is a ball of confusion! I think
Skype has been an inspiration to watch.
I was lucky enough to stumble on it a
week or so after they launched and started to write about it. I think some people
here thought I was crazy but some other
clients clearly grasped the meaning of
this from day one. We are talking here
about institutional investors who have
peopleʼs pension money at stake.
I think that everything we see from them
and everything being thrown at Skype
by want-to-be competitors is evidence
that it is a genuine force with validity
and staying power. The validity is best
described along the grounds of saying
that users simply love the product. You
plug it in and it just works.
It seems to be engendering a different
kind of behavior and usage from people
than does traditional telephony. I think
at this point if you are out there trying
to sell a VoIP product on the basis of
it being simply cheaper PSTN quality
voice that you are on the wrong track.
Symposium Jan 15
– Feb 8
p. 66 Raj Sharma: It may be useful to
think of IP telephony in the context of
peering:
(i) carrier to carrier peering,
(ii) carrier to enterprise peering,
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
(iii) carrier to consumer peering.
Even in case of Skype, there is VoIP
peering, specifically with its SkypeOut
service, where Skype hands off traffic to
another VoIP carrier to terminate the call
to a traditional “ʻblack” phone. But letʼs
say that all 6 billion people on the planet
are using VoIP and they have all discarded their traditional “black” phones, does
the need for peering go away? I will
submit to you that peering is required no
matter what - it is required every time
two networks which have different ownerships connect with each other.
Snip
Forster: I think an implicit assumption in what you are saying is that the
business models can support the expense of negotiating and executing these
agreements and deploying equipment
required to support these agreements,
whereas the alternative is to design the
infrastructure and end points such that
the need for these is minimized. In the
past the cost of all this was small compared to the rest of the business, but IP
telephony can drive down the costs of
operation enormously and itʼs especially
noticeable as the voice service has been
largely separated from the access network service -- a typical subscriber pays
$X for broadband Internet access, and
then $Y for a voice service, and Y<X.
In some cases with certain restrictions
Y=0, but in any case the separation of
access from voice service highlights
the competition for the voice service.
Weʼve argued about various aspects of
Skype, but I think no one will argue
that what theyʼve built is incredibly efficient -- very, very few people required
per thousand customers. It just operates,
with basically no operations staff.
So the challenge for these peering functions is to justify their expense.
Schulzrinne: The question is whether
VoIP requires special application-specific peering, beyond the already-occurring
IP-level peering at BGP level. Nobody is
arguing with the need for the latter. Iʼm
certainly not enamored with VoIP-spe-
cific peering - we donʼt do email peering
or web peering, either.
COOK Report: I think Nextone has a
window of opportunity - (space of time
before the iceberg closes in). The Question is whether the window is six months
or two to three years?
Viral Radio
Pp, 68-69 Reed: Jere - the truly simple
and cheap viral radio network is a research agenda, not a business plan, so
Iʼm very hesitant to predict deliverables.
Itʼs important not to confuse a clear view
with a short distance.
At the Media Lab, we are inventing
ways to build systems that scale by cooperative adaptation to the propagation
environment, that need no infrastructure.
So what have we invented? Well, Iʼve
been involved in filing 3 patents so far
on the viral radio ideas, one on an invention done before I joined the Media
Lab, and two after, and a couple more
are being prepared. Not trying to be coy,
but I canʼt disclose the details because of
the way the Media Lab sponsor contracts
work - sponsors get first looks and first
chance to negotiate rights. (Itʼs a good
deal to join a Media Lab consortium or
the Communications Futures Program!)
The work involves both techniques
based on advanced software-defined radios that have highly adaptable frontends and fancy DSPs, and techniques
that can be applied with mass-produced
cheap radios of the kind that cost $10
per unit today - the former could be just
as cheap, but the volumes havenʼt been
there to drive the learning curves, though
the new GnuRadio Universal Software
Radio Peripheral is the next step in cost
reduction on that paradigm (first radios
were $20,000 per unit, USRPs under
$500 per unit, ...).
We also have a small NSF contract, exploring the use of networks of software
radios to measure and adapt repeaters to
indoor and dense urban propagation as
it changes.
162
A couple of students have written and
published papers describing different approaches for cooperative physical layer
repeating.
Another student has been developing the
concepts and techniques associated with
“viral broadband” - to demonstrate his
hypothesis that cross-connects within
towns and neighborhoods and distribution of content into cheap local storage
provided by the users provides a richer
set of services that includes all “broadband”, but in a much more incremental
and organic economic process than traditional command and control central
service providers.
But as I said, this is all early stuff.
We arenʼt the only people exploring the
technologies that will lead to “viral” infrastructures. But I think our long-term
vision is more clear - most of the other
folks are trying to adapt ideas like multiantenna systems, MIMO, ... into existing
legacy networks. Nothing wrong with
that, in fact itʼs hugely synergistic.
Google wants dark fiber
pp. 72-73 Coluccio: With respect to
the prospect of a company like Googleʼs
building their own infrastructure and taking a slice of IP traffic off the open Internet along with it, Jere Retzer wrote:
“I find that hard to swallow. Google benefits as much or more than any company
from a full interconnected network. Just
because they are thinking about acquiring their own high-speed links in no way
implies they would remove access to
their content and services.”
Gill: I agree.
Coluccio: True, but that is not what
I was getting at. Google itself or any
other like it would always have a desire
to extend their content and services to
users, whether those users are large
enterprises or consumers, but such does
not *always* require what has now
become regarded as access through oneon-one connections with them. Take for
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
example how large firms now access carrier hotels and collocation sites on their
own, by virtue of lambda directs they
execute through their own dark fibers,
which they rent from fibercos or build
on their own.
Can you envisage a Google cutting deals
with the Merrill Lynches and GMs of the
world, heck, with any enterprise for that
matter, whereby Layer 1/2 piping to their
data centers and communications center
avails to end users the same content
and services as those companiesʼ users
would otherwise have to search out over
the Web? Think of it as a drop shipment
in bulk capacity form (daily uploads to
client caches?), if you will. A collateral
benefit of this could even be seen in the
heightening of security, too, as well as
offloading of traffic from main access
router ports to the Web, where business
as usual is conducted.
Gill: The problem is that ports cost
money. For a few tens of critical suppliers, sure. However, it doesnʼt scale
to several thousand such. Building and
maintaining a fiber infrastructure that
homeruns to the customer base costs
money. You want to get the benefit
of amortizing your OPEX and CAPEX
across as many connections as possible
over the same pipe.
Coluccio: Looking forward, I believe
weʼll see more of this type of WWW bypass situation unfolding where it makes
sense, which, if not done identically to
what Iʼve just described above, then in
some similar form. Such capabilities will
be enabled cost effectively through the
inherent abilities and economics afforded by optical switching, when done for
the purpose of creating quasi-permanent
virtual links to SPs at Layer 1/2 from
colocated network elements owned by
end users in the same or colos, or even
between virtual colocation centers.
Gill: This looks good on paper. Places
where rubber meets the road, not so
much. With the rate of current trouble
tickets on our pipes, there will be a
full time department just managing and
troubleshooting the network. This is not
Googleʼs core functionality.
Coluccio: There is always the other way
out by using a gateway built for the purpose, as an alternative that would allow
the accessing of the WWW directly,
and then crawling over to the targeted
Google or cache site, as is normally
done. And while I view the eventualities
I cited above as inevitable, Iʼm only stating them as my interpretation of a trajectory thatʼs already in motion, and not
from an ideological slant. I hope that that
was a sufficient amount of CO2 to douse
any nascent flames that might have been
smoldering. ;)
And if Google currently operates using
several languages now for the purpose of
mass customization, and seeks through
further market targeting to entice additional business through a narrower
approach to customized products, then
think what having a captive usership on
the other end of a dedicated pipe might
portend for their marketing potential
down the line, sans the overhead of
much other peoplesʼ services and gunk.
Gill: Or license their software and run
it in the customer datacenter, instead of
providing pipe.
Cohen: Ooh. I forgot one thing. The guy
in charge of infrastructure to some extent
at Google was at Yahoo before that. He
had plans there to build Yahoo a global
network of some sort and probably took
that plan with him.
Gill: Precisely. There isnʼt a quantum
jump between “100% transit in one location” to “global backbone.” At some
point, it makes more sense to gradually
build out the backbone like a large ISP
and run that between your major data
centers, and to peering locations. Its a
purely numbers play. AOL did something very similar to this, gradually moving from a few transit points to a global
backbone with no transit.
St. Arnaud: I suspect the reason that
Google may want dark fiber is the same
economic pressures that are driving
many media companies to reduce Internet transit fees by locating services at
major carrier hotels around the country.
163
Google VoIP
p.74 Stastny: Another idea why Google
may want dark fiber is on Tom Keatings
Blog
http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/VoIP/VoIP-blog/google-VoIP.asp
Schulzrinne: Calling this idle speculation would give it too much credibility.
Unless they plan to supply their yellow
page business customers with fiber or
run fiber to residences, none of these
VoIP calls would ever touch their network. Theyʼd only make money if they
became another run-of-the-mill Tier-1
ISP, of which there is not exactly a shortage. Some of these have gone through
the Chapter 11 rinse cycle, so their
former stock holders (and now wallpaper holders) have paid for their capital
expenses.
Stastny: Of course Henning is correct
that VoIP calls from the end-user clicking on the link, but on one hand they
may want to connect the other side.
On the other hand the idea of Google as
ISP may not be too far-fetched: Think
about YahooBB in Japan and Fastweb
in Italy (providing FTTH in all bigger
Italian cities between 50 to 100 Euro/
month).
The 100 Euro provides you with at least
10MB and a set-top box containing a
video-cam for real-time video communications from home. Italians like to
participate in TV-shows interactively
Wetzel: Thatʼs funny, instead of having
access providers that desperately want to
provide content with the hope of making money with it, to compensate the
loss they experience in selling low cost
accesses, we may see content providers
which will provide accesses to end users
and which will make money with both.
Coluccio: It sounds similar to, but not
exactly, the evolution of the cable TV
cartel. Oops... did I write ʻcartelʼ? Of
course, I meant to write “industry.”
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
Stastny: Tom Keating was right:
see: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1454225,00.html
Citation: Mr Hewitt said that a Google
telephone service could be made to link
with the Google search engine, which
already conducts half of all internet inquiries made around the world. A surfer
looking for a clothes retailer could simply find the web site and click on the
screen to speak to the shop.
See the following quote: Google gears
up for a free-phone challenge to BT by
Elizabeth Judge, Telecoms Correspondent http://images.thetimes.co.uk/images/trans.gif GOOGLE revolutionized
the internet. Now it is hoping to do the
same with our phones.
The company behind the US-based Internet search engine looks set to launch a
free telephone service that links users via
a broadband Internet connection using a
headset and home computer.
p. 78 Coluccio: Itʼs odd that you should
mention Sprint-Nextel here, because
AT&T is in the process, as we speak, of
becoming a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) taking partitions off of
Sprintʼs wireless platforms, effectively
becoming a reseller of Sprintʼs wireless
services. When Seven-Eleven does this
they are called a MVNO. And in my
book, that is exactly what AT&T has
committed to doing, as well.
That sounds to me like theyʼre still
trying to garner revenues from voice
minutes. Doesnʼt it sound that way to
you? The company has always been
good for making a splash far in advance
of perceived threats. As when, Tom Evslin, then recently brought on by AT&T
from Microsoft during the mid-nineties
proclaimed that if anyone was going to
cannibalize AT&Tʼs voice service revenues with IP Telephony (what was then
called variously IP Phone, or simply
I-Phone), then it would be AT&T itself
that was going to do it, and no one else.
Theyʼve had ten years to inflict said cannibalization on themselves. Have they
succeeded yet?
Odlyzko: Yes, AT&T is planning to
become a MVNO, but this is largely in
order to be able to offer a complete bundle of services to its customers. There is
not much money in being a reseller of
somebody elseʼs service in general.
There is nothing wrong with trying to
garner revenues from voice minutes.
My argument has been for years that
the wireless industry has been negligent
in ignoring the opportunities in more
wireless voice and higher quality voice.
Once we get to real ubiquitous and
inexpensive wireless broadband state,
that opportunity will be gone (as it is
pretty much gone in the wireline area),
but right now it can still be exploited,
but these guys are still mesmerized by
content.
AT&T has done very little cannibalization through IP Telephony.
that transport/network costs are already
largely paid for in the case of DSL/coax.
More importantly, especially with cable,
it is very inexpensive to offer higher
speeds. In Canada standard cable offering is now 5 Mpbs is $C 44.95 per
month, broadband “classic” at 1.5 Mbps
is $24.95 and broadband light is $12$19.
Cable and DSL Internet Access Cost
Structure - an example $ Per customer
per month for model network build:
Total Costs
xDSL $47 Cable $40
Transport/network xDSL 2 Cable 4
ISP/Hosting
xDSL 5 Cable 5
Customer Acquisition xDSL 15.5 Cable
14.0
CPE
xDSL 4.5 Cable 3
WiMAX Problems again
Home Installation xDSL 5 Cable 6
p. 81 Forster: Iʼm a little skeptical
about WiMAX as well. I assume the
technology is pretty good, but anywhere
that has two decent broadband providers
will be a tough area for a third entrant.
It might do OK in un-served areas, although there it will have to compete with
lower priced Wi-Fi gear with meshing
capabilities.
Service/Billing
xDSL 11 Cable 7
Maintenance
xDSL 4 Cable 1
In the long run fiber and wireless combinations are a winning combination,
but in the meantime DSL & HFC Cable/
DOCSIS should pretty well saturate the
broadband market in much of the US
and other similar markets.
St. Arnaud: I agree with Jim that I donʼt
see a business case for fixed point-topoint wireless in competing with DSL
or cable.
A good web site http://www.cybertelecom.org/data/broadband.htm shows the
costs of DSL and cable deployment. It
is important to note that all these same
costs would apply to a wireless provider, but I suspect that CPE equipment
and maintenance would be higher for
fixed wireless. The only difference is
164
Sege: WiMAX will probably be good
for rural areas and small business where
cable/fiber does not reach today. Note
the success that Towerstream seems to
be having in the Northeast with preWiMAX into businesses today.
p. 83 Odlyzko: Apropos the last paragraph, I agree. I have been saying for a
while that the number one imperative for
service providers is to teach their customers how to increase their traffic. And
some are able to do it. I was in Korea a
few weeks ago, and their traffic (as well
as that in Japan) appears to be growing
close to 100% per year, whereas here in
the U.S. we appear to be down around
60% a year.
VoIP and Security in
Government and the
Enterprise
pp. 84-85 COOK Report on January 27:
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
http://www.computerworld.com/newsletter/0,4902,99258,00.html?nlid=PM
JANUARY 26, 2005 (COMPUTERWORLD) - A new report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology urges federal agencies and other
organizations to take care in switching
to voice-over-IP technology because of
security concerns.
The 99-page NIST report, “Security Considerations for Voice over IP Systems,”
includes nine recommendations for IT
managers to help them implement VoIP
in a secure manner. “Lower cost and
greater flexibility are among the promises of VoIP for the enterprise, but VoIP
should not be installed without careful
consideration of the security problems
introduced,” the report says.
“Administrators may mistakenly assume
that since digitized voice travels in packets, they can simply plug VoIP components into their already-secure networks
and remain secure. However, the process
is not that simple,” the report says.
Symposium Feb 6-24
Skype is Like Apple II
in the Enterpise
p. 88 Reed: Skype is kind of like the
Apple ][ in the enterprise. People are
using it, but IT doesnʼt like it one bit.
Iʼm sure the Skype people want to see
it viewed positively in the enterprise.
Iʼm sure the Skype competitors want
to spread unreasonable FUD, and also
justifiable skepticism, in order to keep
Skype out of the customers they think
they rightfully “own”.
The best way of course would be to make
their service work as well as Skype out of
the box, and not tie it to enterprise sales
[As I left Lotus in 1992 to join Interval
Research, one of my parting warnings
was that Lotus Notes *must* be purchasable and operable as a solution that
wasnʼt just an “intra-company” solution,
or they would lose big to the Internet. I
donʼt think they listened carefully - they
continued to create private networks for
customers, and created boundaries for
inter-corporate Notes connectivity that
were operationally too hard to surmount.
This failure was one of the sources of
the “Reedʼs Law” idea, since it stunted
Notesʼ potential precisely due to the lack
of paying attention to how group-forming creates value]. [snip]
Coluccio: “What to do?” is probably
not a question that any individual can
answer for the whole, but rather, “what
will folks do?”, is more apt a question to
ask here, where matters or security, if not
overall architecture, are concerned.
And through all of the complexity that
is usually ascribed to the newly engineered, deliberate forms of kludges that
result when additional boxes are inserted
in the diagram, in order to assuage the
problems brought on by the other additional boxes, may there not be an added
level of security from viridae and worms
sent by the bad guys that now have to
negotiate those additional boxes, than a
purer form of end to end model would
present? Although this sounds silly, the
question is legitimate, in my opinion.
Iʼm just asking some questions here that
happen to be surfacing in my mind as I
read through the list comments, without
any prior suppositions of what the answers to those questions might be. From
the standpoint of doing any type of business in a commercial context, voice and
video conferencing applications may be
viewed as being as far removed from the
architectural ideals of the Internet as a
computer numeric control application is
on a factory floor. Itʼs merely a business
tool that has to work right when called
upon every time. And they are nothing
more or less than that, from the standpoint of most who use them.
p. 89 Davis: Well said, Frank, at least
from my perspective. I am an engineer
and an architect. I am also the one my
company trots out to government and enterprise customers to give the hows and
wherefores . . . customers who are highly
concerned about cost, availability, insist
on the telco-like SLAs to which they
are accustomed (four ninies). Frequently
165
there are competing customer groups:
the older, telco-accustomed, frequently
proxies for their customer favorites and
personal relationships built up over decades, and on the other side, younger
“whiz-kid wana-bees” who tout their
protocol religion and vendor of choice.
These are real issues up at the political
end and tribal end. I am the one usually
brought in at stalemate stage.
These larger organizations, unlike individuals who are free to care or not, who
are constrained by statute, case law and
GC interpretation as to liability and contracts, and policy to provide at least disciplined due diligence on security. At the
Operations level, the security issues are
not only of privacy and confidentiality of
digital information asset stores, but the
requirement to keep the network up and
operational, especially as the post-BUST
cost cutting has driven staff to what I
think is excessive thin-ness.
The interoperability issues that Frank
raises are essential in designing and
operating. As a simple case, the Geoffrey Moore curves on market adoption
of new technology hold true. The economic case is rarely won by the swift.
The Middle and Late Adopters are the
huge bulge in the frequency chart that is
definitely negatively skewed.
To meet the “four nines” SLA, absent
any, using Gordonʼs term, “disruptive”
and rapidly adopted by a super-majority of the economically significant
population, signaling or other in-band or
out-of-band IP protocol, such as Yakov
Rektor and some of us techno-agnostics
at Cisco attempted to promulgate, the
SS&/AIN network is essential. Government-to-Business, Government-to-Citizen, Business-to-Small Business, and
Business-to-Citizen will require it.
To some objectors, citing that IP was
designed to be connectionless, I respond
that TCP was designed to be “connection-oriented”, just as ATM is connectionless but “connection-oriented.” To
those who insist, with what I always hear
as protocol religion, on EoIP (nothing
less than Everything over IP), I respond,
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
and Yakov responded, that IP was never
designed to do anything with voice or
video, whereas ATM was, and . . .
policy. We had to do the demo at a site
outside the corporate campus because of
their overwrought policy.
if the engineering and architecture of
communications networks is about “the
communication” part - User Adaptation
Layer, letʼs work on that problem, using
whatever tools we have or can design in
the process.
p. 90 Reed: Frank - I wish that the internals of enterprise networks were just
part of the Internet.
Melissa - who worships no protocol
godlet.
Reed: Donʼt bet on the Enterprise markets for any of this, Gordon. Enterprise
use of new technology is now dead.
The Chief Security Officer outranks the
CIO, and each one says: “Be afraid of
novelty, be very afraid.” Just imagine
your worst nightmares and project them
on new technology because itʼs weird.
This just reminds me of 1986 at Lotus
when the Chief Security guy (our corporate counsel) said that we should not
allow our employees to interconnect
our electronic mail with the Internet,
because that would be the death of Lotus
due to the raging security risk.
As a vice president in charge of developing technologies and products around
(among other things) electronic mail
products and stuff like Lotus Notes, I
and others argued that we couldnʼt afford not to interconnect. This was not
an easy fight. There was “no business
benefit” to interconnecting to the Internet in those days - we were told we had
to limit interconnect to a small number
of essential R&D personnel who could
demonstrate a “need to email”. When we
engineers said: “No, Jim Manzi should
be using Internet mail.” People thought
we were joking. Jim, fortunately, understood the point, and chose to make an
example of himself.
It also reminds me of the time Starwave and some Interval Research people demonstrated the first commercially
successful Web service to Microsoftʼs
executives (ESPN Sportszone) in late
1993. Microsoft could NOT connect to
the Internet, again because of corporate
However, as I mentioned, in many companies, the CSO has ordered that use
of contact managers (like Plaxo), VoIP
(like Skype or Vonage), access points,
Wi-Fi, ... are firing offenses.
And to back it up, various gear providers are providing traps for such “evil
technologies” that can be deployed on
corporate campuses.
So yeah, those of us who live largely
outside the “enterprise” as consultants,
pundits, small-business owners, etc.
donʼt see this phenomenon.
But I can assure you, you may be able
to technically route Skype out of your
PC on the corporate network today, but
the trade organizations of corporate legal
departments are telling all their members
to make policies against it, to require
technology to block it, and asking senior
executives to direct against it.
After all, you wouldnʼt want your employees actually to be empowered would
you? Thatʼs a scary thought!
This fear of novelty is one of the many
reasons why genuinely disruptive new
communications technologies come last
to the Fortune 500. The enterprise market eventually gets there, but itʼs rarely
in the vanguard of anything.
Coluccio: David - Just for clarity, Iʼm
Skyping from home, not my clientsʼ offices. ;-)
On that note, however, I recently spoke
with one my associates who IS situated
behind a client desk (and who also VPNs
from home two days out of the week),
and I asked him if the clientʼs security
hawks were still adamant about prohibiting IMʼing over the corporate LAN,
as they had been a while back. I was
advised that they are now using an in166
house IM package, which, while capable
of talking to other vendors/SPsʼ versions
of IM, still cannot do so for the types
of reasons youʼve cited and otherwise
implied. Also, Skype is not to be seen
anywhere on the horizon in that particular account, while there are staff that I
have situated elsewhere who say that
itʼs being used with mixed resistance,
still, and Iʼd imagine that the smaller the
number that exists following the name
FORTUNE 500, the more resistance one
will find.
p. 91 All of my big customers are
doing test beds or actual deployments of
Ciscoʼs VoIP or Nortelʼs VoIP. Vonage is,
among my customers, in no way singled
out as a target.
I wish you would explain the point of
why you wish, as you state below, that
“the internals of enterprise networks
were just part of the Internet.” Why
should they be? The internals of the
enterprise networks are privately owned
and operated, under the constraints of
the marketplace of P&L, for the business
requirements of that business/enterprise.
Those enterprises are governed by statutes (Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, etc. Government networks must meet the requirements of Clinger-Cohen, e-Commerce,
e-Auth, and coming is HSPD-12.) All
businesses are bound to protect privacy
and integrity of both financial transactions and employee personal information (personnel, discipline, evaluations,
labor grievances of some kinds, EEOC
violations). Businesses and Government
networks institute policies for very secure authentication and communications
with and about employees with some
risk, likelihood of being targeted by hostile agents (kidnapping, etc). Businesses
and Government networks must maintain privacy, integrity, and transaction
logging of sensitive management, trade
secrets, intellectual property, strategy
information.
I would like to hear your dissertation on
the compelling reasons for opening all
that up to any old curious person, or expose that non-public but legally obtainable information for public discussion.
The COOK Report on Internet May June 2005
I will tell you that I am, with others,
engaged on ferreting out an application you did not mention, specifically
“GoToMyPC”: a remote control program that defeats and renders useless
enterprise firewalls, IDS/IPS, and other
packet inspection devices. GoToMyPC,
once installed on an internal enterprise
machine, maintains an open outbound
connection HTTP (443) to a remote
proprietary GoToMyPC server and exchanges shared private keys with AES128. The remote agent contacts that
broker/server from some outside point
with unknown and unknowable authentication standards (weak passwords, e.g.)
This places anyone with the legitimate
credentials (possessed by a user for use
on the internal network or possessed by
a poseur who has stolen the credentials
via RAT/keystroke logger, or zombie via
RAT) in complete control of the internal
machine, its access to other machines
and network stores. Internal security
policies have no effect on restricting the
export of internal information as, to the
network devices, the request is received
from a device internal and local (the
invisible remote user not being visible).
The encrypted connection between the
internal machine and the remote machine through the GoToMyPC broker is
opaque to any known sensor or firewall
device.
Every customer I have wants “empowered workers” without themselves becoming disemboweled in the process.
VoIP presents special problems in the
corporate/enterprise/government environment. Business cases have to be
made, risk assessments done, mitigations proposed-tested-deployed that
meet cost-benefit decisions. Information
may be free, or practically free on the
Internet, but information is not free in
the corporate/enterprise/government environments. There, information costs to
produce, and that cost has to be justified
with some judgment of ROI.
The NIST report - Yes,Gordon, the 100
page one- lays out the risks. No one says
the risks are proscriptive. One can, and
CSOʼs do have to accept risk.
p. 94 Coluccio: Narrowing the field
of ʻcustomersʼ down to just three, i.e.,
Consumers, telcos, and enterprises is in
my opinion an over simplification. What
happened to the large base of government-based networking taking place, not
to mention an even larger base of enterprise customers, municipalities, greenfield operators, condominium builds,
etc?
To further break it down, some enterprise customers are asset-based network
operators unto themselves (some in a
very large way), meaning that they own
major portions of their own infrastructures. I submit that in each of the categories of ʻcustomersʼ listed above you
will find both SIP and Skype infiltrating
into traffic flows, whether they are sanctioned or not.
Enterprise IT departments fill proxy roles
similar to that which David refers to
when he speaks about the vendor-telco,
or vendor-consumer relationship. In the
case of the enterprise, IT is both service
provider and the vendor that counts, and
has the last say in what is authorized
and what is not. So, IT folks, too, have
to listen to their ʻcustomers.ʼ And while
there are many applications that make
sense, like IM, those apps donʼt always
become endorsed or supported by IT in
a timely manner. If they are compelling, they eventually find their way onto
usersʼ nodes, even it if means putting the
enterprise logo on them first. And this is
exactly what Iʼve seen happen in my client organizations.
And in a way that weʼve seen this take
place with IM already, where the Merrill Lynches (I believe), the JPMs and
many others have implemented it, weʼll
very likely see the same thing occurring
with a -like application before long,
if not licensed directly by and others,
themselves.
You asked earlier if Iʼd offer some examples of enterprise applications that
might be conducive to , perhaps in banking or brokerage. How about junkyards?
Junkyards and financial trading floors
share more than one legacy together,
you know :)
167
One is a form of public address system
application that is tied to a conference
circuit arrangement known as a “hoot
and holler” network, or, variously as,
“shout down” circuits, or even “order
wires” in some folks books. With some
tweaking to ʻs conferencing features I
can see where similar functionality could
be achieved, although I donʼt know
just how far tampering with it would
constitute creating another application
altogether. See one vendorʼs approach to
hoot and holler over IP, below:
http://www.bsslimited.com/Business/
KCS_IP_Hoot.html
Cisco has done considerable work (as
have others) in adapting this application
to IP, as well:
http://makeashorterlink.com/
?B6EF5267A
The Importance of
Directory Services
p. 96 Stastny: Regarding Gordonʼs three
categories [of broadband], - I would put
municipal networks under enterprises, as
they have essentially the same requirements
The 3rd point can be split in two:
a. Enterprises connected to telcos
b. Enterprises wanting to peer directly
Case a is supported within the sipconnect group that is found at http://www.
sipconnect.info/mc/page.do with its interconnect draft in turn found at
http://web.memberclicks.com/mcdatafiles/site/sip/SIPconnect_Version_1_
Draft_2-2-2005.pdf
Case b may the most important use case
for ENUM
Fixed Telcos and mobile operators are
currently coming back to the market of
VoIP very strongly, both in the US and
in the rest of the worlds (see 3GPP/TISPAN/ATIS using IMS, but finally the
whole issue boils down to the question:
will the consumer need telcos anymore
COOK Network Consultants, 431 Greenway Ave. Ewing, NJ 08618 USA
or not? Note that the SIP server manufacturers play a crucial role here, they
may even be betting on the wrong horse.
The horses they should be attending to
is the device and end-user application
providers.
Device manufacturers basically do not
care who is buying their equipment,
just look at the mobile phone industry
Of course they like to sell in bulk via
service providers, but they also sell to
the end-users. And any general-purpose
mobile phone or GSM-enabled PDA is
another step to the death of the service
providers.
The big US carriers, the big mobile operator groups and also the cable operators
are currently competing like mad within
and between the groups and they seem
completely forget Clay Shirkysʼ Zapmail
example: http://shirky.com/writings/zapmail.html
You can compete with everybody except
with your customer So this battle will
be decided from the customer, and the
first one really satisfying the customerʼs
needs will succeed
Skype is well ahead here
Coluccio: Hi Richard. I had to read your
message twice before I realized that you
would have been much better served in
my opinion if you had prefaced it with
the following qualifier: “From a directory services perspective, ... “
Stastny: Hi Frank. Sorry, I am currently
so immersed in addressing, numbering
and naming issues that I assume automatically everybody else is also ;-)
Coluccio: Thereʼs hardly any cause to
sound an apologetic tone. The single
most rewarding aspect of participating
on this list, if not challenging at times,
as well, has been the kaleidoscopic effect itʼs had for me and Iʼm sure others,
seeing the world through so many other
professionalsʼ eyes on a sustained basis.
I certainly appreciate your viewpoint
and those of others, even when connecting the dots, using both real and virtual links, sometimes requires cracking
a dust collector, or two ;)
P. 97 Henshall: Martin Geddes wrote a
piece on [Goroshevskyʼs] Popular Telephony and Peerio that m