For hosted voice service providers and mobile network and fixed-line operators, BT’s launch of a major global IP exchange (GIPX) hub in Singapore could be good news. Set up to meet the demand for growing traffic over its IP Exchange platform, this is the third announcement I’ve seen from telcos in this region in the space of two months — the others being Telstra Global Services and Tata Communications.
BT’s wholesale service enables communications providers to connect VoIP to VoIP and VoIP to traditional voice calls, and runs over its MPLS network — i.e., a private IP network.
I spoke with Beatriz Butsana-Sita, managing director of BT Global Services and Global Telecom Markets, who explained that delivering the GIPX service closer to BT’s wholesale customers in this region serves to minimize their cost to interconnect to BT’s clearinghouse. “GIPX also provides an opening into BT’s platform for advanced IP services that we continue to invest in,” she said.
The telco is also working on a number of developments to further expand the service, such as the ability to support mobile 4G and provide video interoperability between different devices and networks.
The BT GIPX Singapore hub:
Provides a local switch function in the Asia Pacific region. This brings BT’s GIPX service closer to customers’ networks.
Acts as a multiservice GIPX point of presence (PoP). This helps address the growing demand for interconnect services in the region. The services that benefit from and are supported by GIPX include fixed and mobile voice (at a range of qualities, e.g., high-definition voice); fixed, mobile, and wireless data; roaming services; and videoconferencing.
Avaya announced its intention and agreement to purchase Radvision today. These two technological powerhouses have the combined brainpower to put together some of the most advanced unified communications solutions in the world. Radvision’s experience in building complex modular communication components plus Avaya’s strength in delivering complete, reliable communications solutions is an appealing combination. The strengths of this combination include:
Breadth of open technologies. Radvision’s H.323 and SIP stacks will combine neatly with Avaya’s Aura architecture to enable a wide range of interoperable communications solutions from varying vendors built on multiple old and new technologies.
Video portfolio. Radvision’s Scopia videoconferencing portfolio (from desktop to telepresence) extends Avaya’s current partner-driven video endpoint model.
The cloud. Radvision’s service provider relationships gives Avaya a firmer footing from which to sell cloud solutions to service providers.
Issues that management will have to deal with in the combined company:
Cultural fit. Avaya’s consensus-driven and collaborative culture may not provide the direction Radvision’s developers got used to within Radvision’s traditional command and control structure.
Revenue growth. Radvision has been on a slide. The Avaya/Radvision combination will have to open new markets and increase win rates to pay back the $230 million purchase price — approximately three times Radvision’s annual revenue.
Two weeks ago, I used this blog to talk about videoconferencing solutions being deployed on portable platforms, namely tablets like the Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy. Every video vendor is rushing to offer a more portable video experience to extend the use cases they support and drive more value — and more business. Mobility is a key information worker characteristic that video vendors are rushing to satisfy, and announcements over the last 24 hours bring two more requirements into focus:
Usability. Yesterday (31 Oct., 2011), Dimension Data published a press release about their global, managed visual communications services. They stressed the need to educate employees about how and when to use video — and their ability to assure availability and reliability — to increase adoption and thus the value of videoconferencing within an enterprise. Dimension Data will likely leverage elements of their Adoption Management Program (AMP) to educate users and drive adoption, while relying on their deep capabilities in delivering managed interoperable services across the unified communications and collaboration market to deliver reliability.
Today, Cisco unveiled its home telepresence solution called Umi (prounounced you-me, get it?). For those of us who aren't familiar with Cisco's use of the term telepresence, it's a term it coined to describe the very impressive (and very expensive) enterprise immersive videoconferencing experience it provides to businesses around the world. In the home, it basically means TV-based videoconferencing.
The home offering is similar to the enterprise version in two key ways -- it is also impressive and expensive. Starting November 14, affluent consumers who really want to connect with family across great distances (and who are either unaware of or uninterested in Skype) can put down $599 and sign up for a $24.99 monthly Umi service fee and become HD videoconferencers. I tried the system in a real home and I'll admit the quality is eye-opening. As is the price. Read more of the details here in this post from CNET, but some of the less obvious points include: video voicemail, video voicegreetings, and the ability to record video messages when not connected to someone else. The camera rests above your TV screen and makes for one of the most believable videoconference setups I've seen (the person you speak to actually appears to be looking at you, imagine that). The whole experience rides on top of the existing video input so that while you watch TV you can see a message indicating a call is coming in. Choose not to take it and it will go to video voicemail. There are nice touches like a privacy-minded sliding shutter over the camera (complete with "shooshing" noise when the shutter closes) that helps you know via the senses of sight and sound that your camera is not on. So go ahead and give the missus a kiss while on the couch, no one is looking.