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Archive for the ‘Voice 2.0’ Category

My Post at Network Computing

Posted by tggokul on July 11, 2009

Network computing in its latest edition has  my post on something that is very close to my heart . What is really unified communication and what aspects of unified communication is relevant in today’s world. My U2C manifesto.

Have a read and let me know what you think

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Posted in Cisco, Voice 2.0, VoIP/IMS, Web 2.0 | Leave a Comment »

NGN in India?

Posted by tggokul on December 10, 2008

iLocus reports that there is a surge within the service providers to provide NGN service. People who follow my blog know that I am a big fan of IMS and who honestly believe that it is not just another marketing gimmick.

At the same time, I have come to believe that Indian service providers are not ready to deploy it for the following reasons. Before I get to the reasons, I had a chance to meet up with some very senior technical folks in a major Telco last week and they told me that they were Beta testing the NGN architecture and was asking how the contact center solution we were going to provide fit in that scheme of things. I was very surprised that atleast one Telco was talking this language and I told them so. The guys smiled wryly that they are thrilled about the technical possibilities but they still don’t have the business approval to go to production on full swing.

When I questioned him further on why they face resistance, the answer was simple. The Telcos in India operate on revenue sharing model and believe it or not, ZTE/Huawei are the hottest selling vendors in India. Though they claim to have a NGN play, they are not half as ready as Ericsson or even for that matter Alcatel. These guys cannot afford Ericsson and for what they get, they cannot implement a pure play IMS world.

Now if we are talking just about SIP Trunking ( well VoIP trunking is SIP trunking in this new world. H323 is there but the number are dwindling), then the report holds a lot of merit.

Posted in Voice 2.0, VoIP/IMS | Leave a Comment »

IP Termination is just a myth

Posted by tggokul on August 28, 2008

There seems be a lot of hype going around of late about how IP Termination is about to get legal in India. I had to wake up from my slumber and respond to this in my blog. Let me make myself clear. I am not brushing this announcement because I am not convinced about this, but to temper expectations. I heard people saying things like there are no more restrictions to terminate calls originated on IP to PSTN lines and I want to say how far from the truth we are.

My first reaction to this announcement was cynicism since TRAI had recommended this 3 years ago as well and the telecom operators convinced DoT to reject TRAI’s suggestion.This is a similar recommendation that has again been placed before DoT.

What the news clippings suggest is the rosy picture. What they don’t say is that all the Telecom operators have already filed a lawsuit that will prevent this from becoming a law. The reason is simple. These Telecom providers have paid 1650 crores each to get these licenses and the new Internet Service providers are paying 0. What the telecom operators are asking for is for a leveling field. Which means the following, if the new ISPs want to play this game they have to pay the same amount for the licenses or if DoT wants to go ahead and implement this TRAI recommendation, they would need to give these licenses to the existing operators. I know for sure Airtel is atleast ready to do this.

Sadly to say, there will not be any impact whatsoever in the way we communicate in the near future. And even in the distant future what I see is, IP calls landing on the PSTN would be permitted, only if the current telecom providers (namely Airtel, Reliance) are also the ISPs. That is how I see it.

So if somebody says that all is well in this world of “Walled garden” ask them to wake up and smell the coffee. But I have hope that this might happen and I have stated the reason in one of my earlier post as well. This can become a reality only when the players feel that they are playing the same field and ADC has to go for that.

Posted in General, Voice 2.0, VoIP/IMS | 8 Comments »

Contact Center gone wrong?

Posted by tggokul on February 19, 2008

I had a broadband outage this weekend and I called up Bharti Airtel’s customer service. I was met with an IVR which calmly collected all my information. ( Account Number/Problem Description etc). I was pleasantly surprised that I was going to have my problem recorded by the IVR itself and I did not have to go to an agent.

My assumption was that the case would be recorded by the IVR and a complaint would be raised and an complaint id would be smsed to my mobile phone. I couldn’t be happier. That would save me time to talk to an agent. But then the worst happened. After the IVR collected all the details, I was asked to wait in queue to be transferred to an agent. I still thought it was fair enough; maybe the telcos need me to talk to the agent for auditing purposes.

So I wait and I am put on to an agent. The agent asks me the SAME questions the IVR asked. So I ask the agent, I just entered these details in the IVR, don’t you have a screen pop of these. And he says ‘No’. So what is the point of me spending my time on the IVR? So I register my complaint with the Agent on my broadband outage and also registered another complaint that their IVR/ACD integration sucked.

The good guys from Airtel called me the next day and wanted to know what the problem was. I started of asking whether they were employees from Airtel or just some bozo from an outsourced call center. I don’t want to be talking to another agent who has no clue what an IVR/ACD is. So he assures me that he is proficient on these and asked me again what the problem was.

I told how skewed his IVR application was ( Btw, my call was also dropped on the IVR 2-3 times when I was in the queue) and this is not the way an IVR needs to be written and surely not the way an ACD integrates with the IVR. I asked him what was the ACD/IVR they were using and he said Nortel. I asked him to inform his higher ups to move to better platforms 🙂 Maybe Cisco 🙂

If you are an Airtel executive reading this post, make sure that the IVR applications are written well. If you want call completion on IVR to be maximised, atleast give us consumers a chance to complete it. I am never going to access your IVR for bill information. I will do it online. The only reason I will call into your IVR is for complaints, and since you already have menus for that, why can’t you integrate it properly?

I would be more than willing to help you if you get in touch with me.

Posted in Cisco, General, Voice 2.0 | 1 Comment »

Third Party Voice Control

Posted by tggokul on August 30, 2007

There are enough mechanisms and more ( like JTAPI, TAPI) etc which allow you to write applications that can do third party call control. My question is, are there mechanisms to do third party voice control?

Let’s say that there are two ip phones which are controlled by your centralized IP PBX. Now I can write applications that can do a makecall(), answercall() etc on these two phones. But media will be to/from these phones. What I want to do is makecall() from one phone, but have the media terminated somewhere else.

I don’t want to connect and then do a transfer, that would be a round-about way. But having said that, if there are no other ways to do it, then this would be the way to take. Let’s come to the scenario where this would be useful ( would this be the next killer app?)

Let’s say I have a dual-mode mobile phone with wifi and let’s say that termination to a TDM line ( mobile/landline) is cheaper or has better quality through the GSM network. Or it could be as simple as I have way too much free minutes available during the weekend. Now, it is obvious I would be carrying the phone all the time. What if my wife is sitting somewhere else and wants to call somebody through my mobile GSM connection? Assuming she is connected on the Net, she should be able to reach the wifi enabled side of my phone and should be able to make a call out through the GSM world. But the media coming in should go to the softphone she has in her desktop/laptop rather than to the mobile I have.

The media will take the following route. Laptop->wifi side of mobile->GSM network->end user and vice-versa. This is more like a three party conferencing, only thing me sitting in the middle am not doing it, rather the third party is doing it. This would be the reason why I am looking for ways to do third party Voice control.  

You don’t need things like Skypeout minutes and you don’t have to be with the phone to make/receive calls. Say, I forgot to carry my phone. No worries, all I need is an internet connection and I can still use my phone. Something like a pc-anywhere on my mobile phone, only simpler and easier.

Posted in Voice 2.0, VoIP/IMS | Leave a Comment »

Is Skype a Web Application or a Telecom Innovation?

Posted by tggokul on August 29, 2007

The last two days has seen considerable discussions on the Internet thanks to some hard-talk by Mark Cuban ( Btw, I am an ardent fan of MC. How can you not like a guy who fights with NBA officials?).

Vijay toes a similar lines when comparing Telecom Innovation v/s  Internet Revolution. A very interesting read. My contention though is that there is so little to separate between the two. I say Skype is a telecom innovation. Skype is a Telco, so will be every other web companies ( like Google) soon. So where do we differentiate? Am very interested to know what all of you think about this.

Posted in Voice 2.0, VoIP/IMS, Web 2.0 | 2 Comments »

Telco to offer Insurance?

Posted by tggokul on August 11, 2007

The things Telcos do these days to retain their subscriber base!!! BSNL, one of the leading Telco in India is offering a non-life insurance cover to all its 40 million landline subscribers for an extra 1 Re a month.

BSNL has been losing subscribers at an alarming rate ( mainly to Bharti Airtel) and this scheme they hope will stop the outflux. I assume BSNL will bear the rest of the premium. The second stage involves them extending this offer to its mobile subscribers.

Let me do some Math here. In general for an insurance cover of Rs.50000 a year ( 1200$), you would need to pay a premium of Rs.200 ( $5) a year. Now Rs.1 a month translates to Rs.12 a year, the rest Rs.188 has to be shelled out by BSNL per year per customer. This makes no business sense to me. Yes, I appreciate the noble cause where everybody including the poor in rural India get a chance to be covered. But how does BSNL plan to make profit?

Having said that, Insurance premium is a volume game ( more people you have, lesser the premium) and if anybody can play the volume game, it is the Telcos in India. With nearly 70 million subscribers ( landline + mobile), I am sure they can twist the insurance partner ( in this case State Bank of India, though BSNL retains the right to have multiple partners if need be) to reduce the premium rates.

Let me throw out an interesting thought. If this is the precursor of things to come, would Telcos enter retail as well? Bharti-Airtel ( taking a leaf out of Walmart’s book) is almost there with it ELP ( Everyday Low prices) scheme. Reliance has a very strong retail/telecom business. So what if they come and tell me ( Bharti is my landline/Broadband/mobile service provider) that I get better deals in their retail stores because I am a subscriber. Now THAT would make me stick to them for ever!!!

Posted in Voice 2.0, VoIP/IMS | Leave a Comment »

Have you Registered for the DNC campaign?

Posted by tggokul on August 11, 2007

Though there are a whole lot of issues where CDMA and GSM operators in India don’t see eye to eye, one thing they plan to colloborate on is to run a campaign to educate their subscribers on the DNC ( Do Not Call) registry. Am I the only one to see the irony here? They are calling people to let them know they won’t be called if they register for DNC 🙂

This registry is supposed to become active in September ( I am a little skeptical of the date because I first heard that it was going to be active as early as April). Call Centers that use Outbound Dialers need to start looking at this database. I know for a fact that Cisco’s Outbound solution caters to this. As a matter of fact, I think any Dialer company that has sold its product in North America would already have this. The companies that might be affected are the ones that cater to just the Indian market ( like for eg. Drishti Solutions)

Anyway I still don’t have information as to how to register for this online. I need to register for this asap. I am done with people offering me great personal loans and credit cards.

Posted in Voice 2.0 | 1 Comment »

2G spectrum for Sale?

Posted by tggokul on August 11, 2007

Economic Times reports that Ministry of Finance ( hopefully with the consent of Ministry of Telecom) is pushing for the sale of 2G spectrum. What they are recommending is having a fixed fee model or an auction system through which the operators can bid for the spectrum.

The finance ministry hopes that this would enable effective utilization of resources. The operators, since they are paying for this, would pursue new technologies or improve existing ones since they have to get an RoI. This is the thinking of the ministry of finance. As of today, the operators  pay an entry fee for 2G, but subsequent allotment of resources is free. A committee has been set to price the spectrum and the result of this will be out soon.

The CDMA guys are the major proponents of this because they feel cheated since the licensing model entitles GSM operators 6.25 MHz of free 2G whereas the CDMA guys get only 5 Mhz. The next few weeks ( till the committe comes out with its recommendation) are going to be quite interesting and it remains to be seen whether Reliance ( CDMA provider) can uses its political clout to get this done.

Posted in Voice 2.0, VoIP/IMS | 3 Comments »

Put on Mute : The Next person

Posted by tggokul on July 31, 2007

I just figured out what is the most important application I need in my day today life. Putting another person on mute.

Check this out. You are on a conference call ( through a conference bridge). It is a very important call. This is a make or break deal. You and your subordinates are in the bridge taking the call from different locations. You have just about sealed the deal when your subordinate/colleague starts ranting about stuff that you know for a certain fact is going to make things go south. You want to yell at him to stop. But there is no way. He goes ahead and completes saying what he had to say and you are screwed.

How many of you face these problems on a day today basis? I know I do. Unwanted information being divulged out in conference calls. Wouldn’t it be great that by a press of a DTMF you can mute the guy? There are a few challenges here. First thing would be how do you know which caller in the entire bridge to mute, as in what is the identification of each of these people in the conversation.

Now, this surely can’t be done in a TDM world and SHOULD be possible in an IP environment. Is there any mechanism in any of the signalling protocols ( could be SIP/SCCP or anything) to make an endpoint be just in the ‘recv’ mode and not in the ‘send-recv’ mode. Can 3pcc have this kind of control?

As said before, if at all this can be done, it has to be IP. But trust me, I will buy the solution just to have this feature 🙂 Too many goons saying too many things in conference calls is getting on my nerves!!!

Posted in Voice 2.0, VoIP/IMS | 4 Comments »