VoIP Revolution in Israel – Today??

The Israeli Ministry of Communications sent out a press release a few minutes ago announcing the opening of the VOB market.
New suppliers will be allowed to use existing ADSL and Cable infrastructure to sell Voice over BB service. Until now it was illegal for 3rd parties to commercially sell services.

After years of false starts  – does this mean that finally consumers in the land that VoiP was invented – will have a choice?
I hope so – though too many  disappointments in the past damper my enthusiasm!

Will Microsoft Save Us?

After spending a couple of days last week at the IT Expo in Fort Lauderdale, I am wondering if we should ask Microsoft to step in and save the VoIP industry.

In my opinion, the most exciting area in the VoIP industry today is – Voice Peering. At the conference I had the privilege to hear insights from a number of leaders in the field such as Natan Tiefenbrun of Xconnect, Hunter Newby of Telx, Kevin Fleming of Digium and Jon Arnold of Jon Arnold Associates.

What is Voice Peering and what is so exciting about it? In it’s most basic form VP enables VoIP servers to speak directly to each other therefore sending calls between them over IP and bypassing the PSTN completely. Some VP services emphasize the cost savings and some the QoS improvement that results from the direct IP connection.

These benefits are great. However we have only begun to scratch the edges of age of Voice Peering. Sure it is nice to save a little money while improving quality, but termination costs in the major countries are so low, that the benefits are negligible. What really excites me is the opportunities for services some of which we haven t even though of yet! Just think about it, once I know that I am communicating on an IP network end to end, there is no limit to the applications that we can add to our communications. Presence, Video conferencing, Intelligent call handling etc. can be rolled out network wide, the potential is practically unlimited!What is holding us up? The lack of standards of course! There is SIP, H.323, MGCP, and many different codecs. Not to mention proprietary systems such as Skype. Those of us with a little gray hair might be reminded of the operating systems in the early PC era. At the time ( early 80’s) there were numerous operating systems, DR-DOS, CP/M, G-DOS to name a few. CP/M was very popular, but try to take a disk from a CP/M disk of one manufacturer and read it on another manufacturers computer – you probably couldn’t…. Along came Microsoft and IBM with the their MS/DOS and PC/DOS and changed the world – enabling compatibility and portability. You could take a Wordstar (remember them?) document from one computer and read it on another. Microsoft and IBM opened the industry to competition and the rest of course is history.So where are we today? Sure we have SIP, which may be our MS-DOS, but we don’t have the IBM/Microsoft who are pushing it. If we don’t want to wait 20-30 years to standardize there has to a telecom”Microsoft”.
Maybe Microsoft or IBM will again take the role, but others such as HP, Cisco, Sun could also join in. I would love to hear your comments.

Thanks Continental!

Exactly 24 hours (almost to the minute) before my scheduled take off tomorrow to Fort Lauderdale for the Itexpo, I received an email from Continental Airlines reminding me to check in online. I know that most airlines allow you to do so, but this is the first time that I received a reminder.

Good boy that I am, I took care of it immediately and was rewarded with a choice seat for my 11 hour transatlantic flight! While I had already selected seats on reservation, I was now able to change to an exit row aisle seat, which gives my back the comfort it needs.
Thanks Continental!

An iPhone ad from 1996

Well I took a ride back in the Time Machine to 1996,and guess what I found? An ad for the iPhone not from Apple….
The ad was in the Sep 96 edition of Asian Computer Sources shop. So it seems from this and the fact that Vocaltec, Jeff Pulver and others all used the term iPhone back in 1995-6, that we are talking about a generic term and not a trademark!

(if you look in the ad – you can see twice the term iphone in red)

iphone ad

Now You Can Make Money from FREE Calls!

Once upon a time we paid tons of money for international calls. Heck I remember paying $1 and more a minute to call London. Then along came calling cards, call back services and other voip solutions and prices went down to a few cents a minute. Lately there have been a proliferation of services such as Future Phone that let you call for free to 20+ countries. All you need to do is call an access number from any phone and dial your destination. And you can talk for FREE!

Well, the next step is to make money from Free Calls, and I would like to help you do that! First I will explain to you how it works and then I will tell you how you can set up such a system in less than an hour.
You see, there are certain numbers that you can receive revenue on them when they are called. Examples are – Numbers in rural areas in the USA (like Iowa), 0871 numbers in the UK and mobile numbers in many countries. The phone company will pay you a percentage of the money they make on every call made to these numbers. As long as the “kickback” from the phone company exceeds the costs of terminating the call – you make money. There are many countries that you can call today for approx. 1- 1.5 cents wholesale a minute. So as long as your “kickback” is higher you got it made!

You probably can find out in your country what numbers the phone company will give you a revenue share on. While it is true that some of the numbers cost the callers money, however from experience people will still call. I know someone who did a couple of million minutes a month on free calls using a mobile number which costs the caller 10-15 cents a minute!
Once you do get a number like that – all you need to do is forward it to the Flat Planet Phone server.

We will have you set up within an hour to process calls on that number. Our system is ready to automatically calculate each call in real time to make sure that your customers will not make calls to destinations that are not profitable for you.

You will be able to access the system in real time and watch your money accumulate! During our Beta period we will be doing this for free, all you need to do is pay us the cost of the calls.

Go ahead make money from free calls!

For more info contact us at freecalls@flatplanetphone.com

Who owns the iPhone trademark and it ain’t Cisco….

Jeff Pulver’s post reminded me that Vocaltec introduced their Iphone internet phone software in 1995!

I actually remember going to meet with them in their Herzliya, Israel office. At the time I was an importer of modems (fast ones! 1200 baud = 1.2kps) and the idea was to bundle the program with my modems and then resell the package to the local ISPs. Don’t remember why but it didn’t work out at the time.

Just another reminder how Vocaltec practically invented consumer VoIP, but was never really able to commercialize it…

Will you be at the IT Expo in Fort Lauderdale?

If you plan to be there, drop me a line. I hope to take advantage of the conference to meet with potential partners and discuss how we can flatten the planet together!
Our Beta Program is getting some great response. Requests are coming in from Peru, Uruguay, Ecuador, Chile, USA, Canada, Albania, Germany, Israel, Croatia and Australia to name a few!

Is the iPhone the first phone worth criticizing?

Many bloggers such as Alec, Robert Scoble , Paul Kedrosky and others came out with criticism of the iPhone. Their comments reminded me how when in 1983 Apple introduced the first Mac (128k, one floppy and no hard disk), Alan Kay (at the time a Apple Fellow) compared it in an internal Apple memo to “a Honda with a one quart gas tank” well designed but “it can only take you to the corner store and back”. However with all his misgivings, Kay considered the Mac to be the first computer “worth criticizing”.

Sure, the iPhone is not perfect. But it is does break ahead of a lot of other products on market. The march towards One Device is on and I have no doubt that we will see improvements and in the years to come. Do we really want to carry around separate cell phones, MP3 players, notebooks, and PDAs?

Currently I use a Nokia E61 and no longer shlepp around a laptop. The only thing I am missing is a rollup keyboard that connects to the phone and a tiny projecter that snaps on the phone and allows me to project the screen from the Nokia onto to any flat service such as a wall. if I had those 2 things it would be a compete mobile solution for me!

In summary – the iPhone may be the first handheld computer worth criticizing…

What is so special about Truphone??

so asks Mr. Blog ….

And I could add what is so special about Rebtel (raised $20m), Jajah, fring and the other minute stealers (a term which I think was coined by Andy Abramson). While I do sincerely applaud their ability to raise $24.5m, it is hard to see where is the long term value. It does seem that they make it easy for the consumer to make a cheap call, but as Chris Shipley wrote does one feature make a company?

I think there are 2 things to learn from this event. One – is that VCs are hungry to invest in companies that cut out the insane mobile rates and two – if you make your story very simple to understand and use, you can sell it.

While I do wish them the best, I still believe that the future is in providing a platform which allows you to communicate with your group (family, co-workers, friends) in an easy and efficient manner. That is what we are trying to do here at the Flat Plant Phone Co. together with partners like iotum and others to be announced!

Steve Jobs does it again!

The iPhone is an insanely great product! Steve Jobs has proven that he can take existing technology and turn it into products for the masses. And great products! Sure he had a couple of misses along the way, but 4 hits ain’t bad…
1975 – Woz makes a cool motherboard – Jobs turns it into the Apple II

1983 – Xerox and others develop  the GUI – Jobs develops the concept into the Mac

2003 – MP3 players start to proliferate – Steve Jobs goes one step further and makes the coolest player – the iPod

2007 -  Steve takes the latest technology and integrates into the only device that you need to carry – the iPhone!