VoIP available Underground

Commuters are always on the lookout for ways to pass boring tube journeys and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) may be able to assist.

Users of the London Underground can now make free or cheap calls on their mobile devices due to Wi-Fi provision.

The service will come courtesy of BT Openzone, which is part of the British Telecomms company. BT Openzone has teamed up with the London Underground for a six-month trial of Wi-Fi access at Charing Cross station, one of the busiest tube and rail stations in the United Kingdom.

Starting on Monday, November 1, anyone within Wi-Fi distance of Charing Cross can get internet access on their laptops, smartphones and other devices, even though they are underground.
Therefore even in places where there might not otherwise be network coverage, tube travellers could make Voip calls, instant message, send and receive emails and other benefits.

The implications of this are huge as for many people a large part of the working day is taken up by having to travel underground on their way to work.

The CEO of BT Openzone, Chris Bruce, said: "Wi-Fi is the fastest and simplest way for people to access the internet when they are out and about.

"With the launch of this trial at Charing Cross we are now giving commuters the chance to enjoy the biggest Wi-Fi network in the United Kingdom."

The service is free to all BT Openzone subscribers and more than five million BT broadband customers with unlimited Wi-Fi minutes.

Comcast Improves VoIP Market Share

Comcast has improved its share of the VoIP and Broadband market - bad news for telecommunications companies which are having to fight to keep ground. However the company lost 275,000 video subscribers, which is a huge blow any way that you look at it.

Third quarter earnings suggest that the company is growing at a steady rate having added 228,000 voice customers and 249,000 high-speed Internet customers.

Revenue has climbed by 7.3 percent to $9.49 billion despite a third-quarter net income fall. Revenues are growing as customers snap up the faster cable sppeds and cable Triple Play by the company.

At the same time VoIP services and bundles have become increasingly expensive. The company said that the fall could be explained by costs associated with their upcoming acquisition of NBC Universal.

The Comcast report stated: "We continue to improve our performance competitively. In the third quarter, Comcast gained 202,000 new customers (Video, HSI and Voice from telcos) compared to a combined loss of 465,000 by AT&T and Verizon."
According to Comcast 32% of Comcast video customers now take the Triple Play, which is a  TV/voice/broadband service, compared to 27% at the same time last year.

First Facebook VoIP App

A VoIP provider JAJAH is claiming to have created the first VoIP app which can be imbedded into Facebook.

JAJAH Social Call will be available to the estimated 500 million users of the world's largest social networking service.

Initially created as a mobile app for the Blackberry, JAJAH Social Call is only in beta at the moment but allows calls to Facebook friends around the world at low rates.

A spokesman of the Telefonica Europe VoIP company said:  “JAJAH Social Call is the first global telephony service to work within Facebook.”

"All you have to do is click and call as there are no further downloads and no charges required. We have seen numerous announcements from many companies, but JAJAH is the first to bring a genuine calling service to Facebook.”

JAJAH is making a significant move in the world of social networking having already created a deal with Twitter.

However the VoIP giant Skype has already integrated a VoIP calling service on Facebook which is PC-based - Skype 5.0. As long as Facebook friends or contacts are also listed on Skype then you can call them for free.

Telefonica Europe runs O2 in various European countries including the UK. It bought JAJAH for 207 million US dollars at the beginning of 2010 when it was just a start up. Now German customers can use O2 Global Friends to make international VoIP calls by dialling a local number.

Skype and Nimbuzz in VoIP Feud

Skype is due to to cut off Nimbuzz support by October 31, 2010. Nimbuzz is an app which provides free communications over the internet in various forms.

That means that users of the VoIP service will no longer be able to make use of Nimbuzz features such as Instant Messaging and chatting.

They will however be able to IM and call contacts on other VoIP and SIP providers. Similarly Nimbuzz can still be used through social media and search engines such as Windows Live Messenger, Google Talk, Facebook, Yahoo, AIM, MySpace and Twitter.

Reasons as to why Skype is withdrawing Nimbuzz support are varied. It could be because Skype wants a clean slate before it completes its Initial Public Offering (IPO) which is similar to floating on the stock market.

It is more likely that an ongoing feud has taken its toll as Skype says Nimbuzz refused to communicate over issues with the End User Licence Agreement and the API terms of use.

The episode is very reminiscent of the recent fraction between Skype and Fring when Skype took legal action over what it called 'misuse of software'.

Either way Fring and Nimbuzz were essentially competitors to Skype's VoIP service which allows free or low cost calls between computers and from PCs to landlines and mobiles.

MyNetFone Launches VoIP Apps for Smartphones

MyNetFone is extending its VoIP service provision by launching a mobile VoIP service for smartphone users.

It will include an iPhone app, which is already available, as well as soon-to-be-released apps for Android and Symbian users.

While this is a congested market, MyNetFone claims to have some app features which set it apart from the competition.
The MyNetFone technical director, Rene Sugo, said: "We have a number of cool, nifty features such as  voice tunnel technology and conversation recording which are easy-to-use and consumers are sure to find them a real bonus."

Conversation recording does what it says allowing users to record their voices for playback at a later point. The caller is automatically notified that they are being recorded for safety reasons. It can work from behind a firewall or other form of block for both incoming and outgoing calls. Other features include last call logs and loudspeaker.

The app comes in many languages including in English, French, Chinese and Spanish. It has been available since October 18 and requires iOS 3.1 but can work on first generation iPhones and iPods if they are upgraded to OS 2.2.
To download the free app just look for it on the Apple iStore. It can be registered to an existing MyNetFone account or registered as a standard VoIP plan. There are no registration or ongoing fees once downloaded but they customers pay per call if they select the 0$ per month plan. Initial reviews of the app have been good.

Bundled VoIP Usage Grows Worldwide

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is now used on more than 22% of consumer broadband lines around the world.

According to industry analyst Point Topic, VoIP is claiming an ever greater market share and becoming increasingly important to Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

VoIP, which allows free or low-cost calls over the Internet, has already passed 100 million worldwide subscriptions

It continues to show impressive growth in 2010 by adding another 12 million subscribers. The industry accounts for 15 billion dollars a year, mostly in bundled VoIP subscriptions.

The senior analyst at Point Topic John Bosnell said: "In some markets subscribing to broadband without a bundled VoIP service is difficult and expensive.

"France Telecom, for example, offers only one stand-alone broadband subscription, with a low broadband speed. Consumers who want higher broadband speeds must choose a bundled offering with VoIP. "

Mr Bosnel explained that in France fierce competition has encouraged increasing numbers of bundled VoIP services to be offered.  Because consumers are expecting low-cost, add-on services from their ISPs, VoIP services are a cost-effectiven and easy to install solution.

Because of this more than 70% of households in France now have access to VoIP, while in America that is one in three broadband users, making it the best VoIP market.

However China does not show the same levels of saturation even though it has the largest worldwide broadband market. That can be explained by the fact that in China only one in 20 broadband subscriptions is now bundled with VoIP.

Therefore as more customers enjoy the cost-effective benefits of VoIP and more bundled subscriptions are available there is every chance that there could be 200 million subscribers worldwide by the year 2015.

Android Gingerbread to allow VoIP calls

The latest version of the Android OS, Android 3.0, will allow cheap VoIP calls.

According to unofficial online reviews of the operating system, codenamed Gingerbread, it will include new scroll effects, a re-modeled notification bar and new icons among other improvements.

For instance the debugging icon will have a cleaner and more uniform feel says Phandroid. The green of the Android icon will also be applied to more of the smartphone's design features.

But there are two big draws. A video-conferencing service hopes to be just as crisp and clear as Apple's Facetime. And free Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calling courtesy of the new Google Voice capabilities. Therefore as long as you are in range of Wi-Fi you can still use your phone to make low cost calls..

"Google is adding SIP support in their Google Voice application to allow you to receive calls to your Google Voice number over WiFi and cellular data."

On this, as with other apps, the plan is to make them feel like a part of the Android experience rather than something that has just been tacked on at the end.

It is not clear as yet whether Gingerbread will be incorporating hardware acceleration. It does seem though that the Google VoIP access will be unique to Gingerbread, which is annoying for Android 2.2 Froyo users. And even Gingerbread may have to wait until the beginning of 2011 to be released.

New Website for EU VoIP Calls

The VoIP company Peoplefone has just launched an EU-based website in countries such as Poland, Austria, Switzerland and Slovakia. Peoplefone uses SIP trunking and VoIP is compatible with all IP-devices.

The site lets customers download a mobile application which allows them to make low cost worldwide Wi-Fi calls from cell phones.

It is building on the popularity of such apps for smartphones like the iPhone and Android OS, as already released  by Peoplefone.

It is estimated that there are already 50,000 users of the mobile app on a variety of devices including old favourites like the Symbian OS and new releases like the Windows mobile phone.

All you have to do is download the free Peoplefone application for your mobile phone or computer and complete the setup which is straightforward. There is no  fee. Calls to landlines and mobiles with the EU can start from just 2 cents per minute. It is also possible to get low calling rates for places far afield such as China and India.

Cypress and Broadvox Unify Communications

The Unified Communications and VoIP service providers Cypress Communications and Broadvox have now agreed a merger.

Cypress provides hosted communications to small and mid-sized businesses and enterprises (SMBs and SMEs) while Broadvox provides virtual PBX hosted services and SIP Trunking for carriers.

Andre Temnorod, the CEO at Broadvox said: "We're excited about this merger agreement with a unified communications leader. The new, combined company will be in an improved position to provide high-quality and innovative services to our target markets and this strength will be key to continued future success.
He added: "We look forward to finalizing the transaction, but it is important for our customers, partners and stakeholders to realise that it is business as usual at Cypress Communications and Broadvox."

The Cypress Communications and Broadvox customer bases are not expected to to be affected by the merger and they can continue to make use of hosted unified communications and VoIP solutions.

The enterprise targeted Cypress C4 IP and Broadvox GO!VBX for SMBs will function as usual in terms of technology platforms, features and phones.

Stephen L. Schilling, CEO  of Cypress Communications, said: "The merger positions us well to serve SMBs and SMEs with VoIP segments. The combined company will boast a huge VoIP network and continue to provide 24x7 support and service for hundreds of thousands of businesses and consumers every day."

Both companies can make use of a strong network backbone for direct origination and termination of voice traffic.

Faster Broadband Improves Brisbane VoIP

The city of Brisbane in Australia will get greater Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) capabilities thanks to new fibre optic cables.

Constructionof the fibre-optic network will start at the beginning of 2011, with half a million set to be rolled over the next four years.

VoIP allows anyone with a fast Internet connection to make low-cost or free calls between computers,or even from computers to landlines.The most well-known worldwide VoIP provider is Skype.

The broadband specialist, Fibre-optic i3 Group, has signed a deal with the City Council to bring broadband to Brisbane. Cables laid underground alongside the sewer system will allow a super-fast Internet connection which is perfect for VoIP.

However VoIP will not be only technology to benefit because download speeds will be up to 100Mbps, giving users many options.
The Brisbane fibre-optic network will be in addition to the state-wide National Broadband Network (NBN).

The Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman said: "We  have no disagreement with the National Broadband Network . But as the Mayor of Brisbane with the best interests of our 1 million residents I want them to get this broadband service and this infrastructure as soon as possible."

Skype adds Facebook functionality to VoIP

The partnership between the VoIP application Skype and the world's most popular social networking platform Facebook is already beginning to bear fruit.
Skype 5.0 for Windows has integrated Facebook features such as the ability to call and text Facebook friends on their mobile phones or landlines, sync Facebook status updates with Skype messages and the News feed.
Ethan Beard, the director of the Facebook Developer Network, stated: "We are working with companies such as Skype to make it easy to find your friends anytime you want to connect."

So far feedback to the new Skype has been overwhelmingly positive. And it looks as though both companies will benefit from the partnership.

Despite having more than 500 million users worldwide Facebook is always trying to extend its reach while Skype is increasingly on the lookout for new revenue opportunities. Although Skype has millions of worldwide users it is estimated that only around 8.1 million of them actually pay for the service.

Although the two companies are giants they also face competition from the recently launched Google VoIP service which can easily be accessed by Gmail users. They can make use of Google Voice to text or call any North American phone line for free and the service has so far been very successful.

VoIP to grow in Africa

Voice over Internet Protocol in Africa and the Middle East will grow at a rapid rate over the next five years.

According to a study by Pyramid Research the VoIP solutions sector will be worth around $2.77 billion in 2015, compared to $1.1 billion in 2010.

This will be due in part to an increasing number of technology licenses issued to Internet Service Providers in countries within this huge region.

Another factor influencing the growth of VoIP will be the take up of broadband which is predicted to double by 2015.

However, the process faces challenges as is evident from the recent decision of the Lebanese government to block VoIP. Telecomms companies in these countries see cheap or free VoIP calling using computers rather than traditional phone lines as a threat to their revenue structures.

Hussam Barhoush, a senior analyst at Pyramid Research, said: "The process of liberalisation in several markets including Africa and the Middle East has allowed new entrants to launch VoIP services using new technologies."

Mr Barhoush added: "This growth of VoIP subscriptions, coupled with the high demand for cheaper international calling rates as well as regulators issuing more lenient rules toward VoIP as a service, will accelerate VoIP revenue prospects."

Liverpool has Best VoIP Broadband Speed

In a week when Liverpool football club has been in the news for the wrong reasons, there is good news both on and off the pitch.

Liverpool FC supporters will be happy to know that the sale to American company NESV should be able to go through after a High Court battle.

Meanwhile the city has just been proclaimed for having the fastest broadband speed in Britain.

With an average broadband speed of 7.72Mbps Liverpool has the fastest UK broadband which means that Liverpudlians can make VoIP calls more easily.

Voice over Internet Protocol, the technology around which low cost or free PC-to-PC calls are made through companies such as Skype and 3CX, needs fast broadband in order to work properly.

The speed tests were carried out by 50,000 users of Broadband-expert.co.uk. However the survey does not distinguish between different types of broadband packages which can go 2Mbps ADSL lines up to 50Mbps fibre optic connections.

It also showed that customers may be paying for more than they are getting. Many Internet Service Providers (ISP) advertise speeds of up to 8Mbps, but the average speed for all tests was well below 8Mbps.

ISP regulator Ofcom recently carried out a survey of 1,500 customers which showed average download speeds of 5.2Mbps being well below what was advertised.

Windows Phone 7 to Provide Mobile VoIP

Microsoft is announcing details of the Windows Phone 7 launch this week. The phone will allow customers to make cheap VoIP calls over mobile and fixed networks, as well as access the internet and other advanced features.
Microsoft considers this product crucial to it fortunes in the smartphone industry after the previous failed launch of the KIN phone. Yet the early signs are not encouraging, especially given the popularity and dominance of the Android and iPhones.

According to The Register, a recently held free day of training on developing for Windows Phone 7 was only one third full.

Neither is the phone being offered by the US Network Giant Verizon. Their President Lowell McAdam suggested that the market belongs Google, RIM and Apple because the Windows Phone 7 is not leading edge.

However the Register IT expert Tim Anderson said that he was impressed with the phone concept, even though no-one has had the chance to try it out yet.

He stated: "The phone is innovative. While the touch UI does borrow familiar ideas thanks to Android and iPhone, the dynamically updating tiles and the hub concept are distinctive.
"What McAdam really means is that the Windows smartphone might not succeed in the market, but such views from someone in his lofty position may be self-fulfilling."

The platform is based on Silverlight, .NET and XNA and while Anderson says that this is impressive technology, similar technological advances did not manage to save the palm VoIP smartphone from obscurity.

Yet Microsoft is a huge company which has already shown that it is ready to go all out on advertising spending where the Windows Phone 7 is concerned.

And early reviews suggest that Windows Phone 7 shows encouraging attention to design and ease-of-use. For now Microsoft can afford for the phone to fail, but another blemish will sit uncomfortably on their superior track record.

Free VoIP calls for Android

Skype, the low cost worldwide calling service which relies on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), is now giving free calls to Android mobile users.
Usually Skype calls need to be made from PC to PC, but Skype for Android will work over 3G and Wi-Fi networks.

This is excellent news for Android users who have had to wait a long time for the application to be available on the market. Although a Skype VoIP app for Android appeared when the OS first came out it was limited to Wi-Fi only and was soon withdrawn.
The new app works exactly as Skype does on your PC.You just sign in and then list of your contacts is available.
Early reviews have said that the call quality is excellent and the presentation is sharp.

Recent studies have shown that mobile VoIP services are becoming more popular as increasing amounts of customers want to make calls while on the go.
According to a new report by Allot Communications, mobile data bandwidth usage increased by 68% during the first half of 2010.
Along with another Unified Communications benefit, Instant Messaging, VoIP is a rapidly growing market as businesses look to stay in touch.
The report stated: ""VoIP and IM applications grew significantly during 2010 to become the second fastest growing type of traffic. These forms of UC have become popular, cost-effective alternatives to traditional voice and messaging services."


Cisco loses VoIP executive to Skype

Skype has managed to pinch Cisco Systems VoIP executive Tony Bates as their new CEO.

It marks another battle unified communications war between Cisco and Skype as they compete to produce the best video conferencing products. To make the stakes even higher rumours have been swirling for a while that Cisco intends to buy Skype.

While he was at Cisco, Bates helped to generate $20 billion in sales by guiding 12,500 employees in his team. Having been described as a key player at the heart of Cisco's business, Bates will be sorely missed. He spent more than 10 years overseeing Cisco products such as the CRS-1 tablet.

Bates will start at Skype in late October. He said: "Skype is a powerful global brand and a global technology leader in VoIP communications,"
"There are extraordinary opportunities ahead for the company and I am eager to lead at this exciting juncture and continue transformation."
This is not the first time that Cisco have lost an important executive to Skype. In November Jonathan Rosenberg left Cisco to become the chief technology officer for Skype. Meanwhile Joseph Burton left Cisco's UC team to become CTO for Polycom.

It is clear that a rapid market shakeup is taking place at a time when the VoIP industry is burgeoning. Cisco has said that within the next five years video will account for 90% of all internet network traffic.
That explains why Cisco will soon announce a Telepresence solution for the home.

Skype is also bringing enterprise VoIP to the fore with new video-conferencing features in collaboration with Avaya. Gaining this extra business revenue will be a key part of Bate's job. Only a small fraction of Skype's 124 million monthly users actually pay for the service so he will be tasked with improving this.

Skype CEO Joshua Silverman said in a statement: "I'm proud to have led company growth during this critical transition period.
"Today Skype has over 560 million registered users worldwide and continues to develop popular products and services.
"With a world-class communications industry veteran like Tony, Skype is well-positioned to become the standout communications platform for consumers and businesses around the world."

VoIP blocked in Bahrain

Bahrain has joined a list of countries which include India and Lebanon in which Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services are being blocked.

Authorities in the Middle Eastern Kingdom of Bahrain have ordered that two services offering VoIP be blocked by law.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authroity (TRA) commanded Internet Service Providers in the country to block access to Seefcall and Nonotalk which is effective immediately.

The TRA said in a statement that both services are in breach of Bahrain's Telecommunications Law and were actively targeting Bahrain by advertsiing their prices in the local currency.

Nonotalk offers consumers in Bahrain an unlicensed public voice IP telephony service. Meanwhile Seefcall provides a call-back service so users can buy credit online and then make domestic and international VoIP calls.

Both were seen as a threat to traditional telecom providers in the country because VoIP allows customers to make cheap or free calls worldwide from computer to computer and even from PCs to landlines and mobiles.