everything about the european voip market: trends, startups, news and reviews


VoIP as denial of service coverup solution?

The latest flurry of articles regarding VoIP being used by cyber criminals to cover their traces doesn't stop to irritate me. What a bunch of nonsense. Apparently a group of researchers at the UK's Cambridge University and USA's MIT have published a study, indicating how easy it would be for 'hackers' to cover up their traces using Voice over IP protocols. Traditionally, 'hackers' use IRC or - less frequently - instant messaging, to launch DDoS attacks from an enormous amount of computers at the same time. These IRC channels or IM servers are apparently monitored by law enforcement personnel to help them trace the originators of the attack.

According to the new study, hackers could theoretically use Voice over IP protocols that ... and here it comes ... by their very nature would make it a lot more difficult to trace the originator, because of (a) the sheer volume of packets, (b) the possible use of encrypted protocols, (c) the use of proprietary protocols and (d) the use of peer-2-peer technology ... Come again? I mean, are these traits unique for Voice over IP? And is there any seasoned hacker who has had to wait for VoIP to arrive to make use of this technology? Again a beautiful example of FUD being distributed by so called researchers who apparently have nothing better to do than find the new "security issue" or what have you .. to scare people away from a certain technology. And then, of course, it is shamelessly copied by every website online, because, security sells .. and telling scary stories sells even better!

I have absolutely no problems with people doing decent research and publishing decent reports of what may go wrong .. but please .. let's not overreact and try to find problems where there aren't any. I don't want to come across too negative, and the people who wrote this document probably had good intentions. But who commissioned this study, and why? I certainly see no value in it whatsoever.

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European VoIP demand booming

The demand for VoIP solutions is booming according to vendor Shoretel. They recently set up offices in Madrid, Munich and a reseller partnership in Benelux to support their European expansion. An interesting viewpoint in the article:

"The nature of Europe, as a set of countries that need to work together and interoperate on standards just to conduct business, lends itself to coming together around the IPT standards and adopting them across the continent. High toll rates make communications costly and so deploying an IP telephony solution not only reduces telephone bills but ensures gains in productivity.”
I never looked at it this way but it certainly is true. When I started this blog I planned to also highlight the differences between the USA and Europe on this matter and this is certainly one. The two markets are very different, and stuff that works in the USA might not necessarily work at this side of the ocean.

An interesting concept in the USA is the alliance between Avaya and AT&T. Although I'm sure similar initiatives exist all over the globe, this is the first one I've seen on such a large scale with both vendors actually pushing VoIP as the solution. Unfortunately still many incumbents partner with vendors of traditional telephony systems in order to protect their market share.
AT&T has joined up with Avaya in an effort to help companies smoothly transition to Voice over Internet Protocol telephone systems. The project is aimed at giving business customers a single point of contact for the design and implementation of VoIP deployments.
Still plenty room for opportunity here. If you are a telephony systems manufacturer, and everyone can be one these days thanks to Asterisk, try to partner with a local, small, alternative operator that supports VoIP. If you are a small, local VoIP operator, find a PBX manufacturer to partner with. If done properly, this relationship should be beneficial for both.

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Skype battles to stay ahead

Skype contributed a modest 25 million dollars to parent E-Bay's total net revenue of 1.5 billion dollars according to recent published results. The number of registered users skyrocketed in the last quarter of 2005 from 52 million to 74.7 million. Yet Skype is still battling to stay ahead:

"Skype is going to be challenged by a host of others, by services that live independently of the PC," said Steve Blood, vice-president of research at analysts Gartner. He said one of Skype's weaknesses was that it was still used primarily early adopters - people who know their way around a computer, rather than the person in the street.

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Google Opens IM, VoIP Services

This is great news, I thought they were already pretty open regarding the technology they're using. But it seems Google has taken it up a notch and now allows anyone that supports XMPP to connect to their platform. It will be interesting to see how this impacts Googles popularity and that of the other big three players (Microsoft, Yahoo, Skype)

Google Inc. has opened it instant messaging and Internet telephony services to any company willing to support the XMPP protocol, a standard under the control of an open-source foundation. XMPP, or extensible messaging and presence protocol, is an XML-based protocol for passing instant messaging and presence information among servers. The protocol is under the Jabber Software Foundation.

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Interview with Mark Spencer

A little over a year ago I posted an interview Sineapps had with Mark Spencer (creator of Asterisk). Yesterday, OSdir posted a little more substantial interview with Spencer.

Telcom just doesn't have the same barriers to entry. It's a lot easier for Asterisk to get in. There is no single ubiquitous platform that everybody uses for their telephony. And people already have some understanding of what open source means and what its value is.


Dual mode GSM/WiFi phone

If 2004 was the year of the cameraphone, and 2005 the year of the musicphone, I hope 2006 will be the year of the dual-mode VoIP phones. I'm sure this will drive the adoption of VoIP technology among people to new heights. Although it seems that most models will only offer WiFi as a means to connect to your provider, it's definitely a start.

To increase adoption even further I would like to see these phones supporting UMTS as well, as it is being rolled out in most European countries (or has been, by now). This will allow you to make your VoIP calls anywhere, instead of having to look for a WiFi hotspot first and stay tethered during your call. It will be interesting to see what operators will try to do to compete with these offerings, or much rather block them straight away.

Anyway, it looks like Taiwanese ODM Winston NeWeb Corp is demonstrating such a phone at the CES in Las Vegas. They are purportedly running Linux based Trolltech's Qtopia Phone Edition, which I mentioned earlier. That is definitely a good thing, now if we would only see some mainstream manufacturers picking this system up, we're in for some good things in 2006. Best wishes!