Bad Days for Unified Communications

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

The Latest Fashion – Wearable Computers

Summer is truly over. It’s back to school. That’s too bad for the kids. It doesn’t seem as bad for the rest of us, since this was a summer when things didn’t really slow down. Let’s look at interesting news and commentary from the week that’s ending.

Wearable Wi-Fi

The wearable computing trend, which is thought to have gotten started in earnest with Google Glass, is not just about devices. The idea is that these accoutrements, be they glasses, watches or the like, can be networked to work more efficiently than they would as ad hoc devices.


This week, Broadcom announced a Wi-Fi framework specifically for wearable technology. WICED Direct, according to ZDNet, combines Wi-Fi with a proprietary technology called Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED). The story says that the goal is to offer options that provide high levels of performance while simultaneously cutting power utilization.

With Age Comes Wisdom

Steve Leonard, the executive vice president and general manager of Bandwidth.com, has an interesting and well-written piece at Light Reading. He begins with the observation that most of the advice to this point has flowed from over-the-top (OTT) providers to the legacy phone companies whose subscribers they are poaching.

In reality, Leonard writes, old line telcos have valuable things to say to the newbies. The advice: Interoperability is a key to long-term success, it is a bad idea to make prospective subscribers change their phone numbers in order to use a particular app, it is wise to comply with the spirit and not just the letter of the 911 rules and regulations, and it is unwise to assume add-on services must be free.

Unified Communications Sector Changes

The video communications equipment market – more or less the unified communications sector – is a victim of the success and advances going on around it. The shift to software and lower cost equipment is affecting results, according to IDC.

The firm said that during the second quarter, worldwide revenue for video equipment was $532 million, a decline of 10.7 percent compared to the year-ago quarter. That is more than a third – 34.3 percent, to be precise – below the results of the fourth quarter of 2011. That, according to the eWeek story, was the high water market for the category. The story and the report from IDC show a segment fundamentally changing:

The trend is forcing established video conferencing vendors like Cisco Systems and Polycom—which initially built their video collaboration businesses on the back of hardware systems—to pivot quickly to software and cloud-based offerings. At the same time, it's given rise to a growing number of smaller companies, such as Vidyo and Blue Jeans Networks, that offer software-only video conferencing solutions that are made for a more highly mobile workforce that wants to be able to collaborate on whatever device they are using.

Cox and Cable Offer Huge Wi-Fi Footprint

The cable industry is well positioned to succeed in the Wi-Fi sector. It has high-quality and ubiquitous infrastructure and sophisticated back offices. It’s happening: This week, Cox Communications said that its customers can now access 150,000 indoor and outdoor public hotspots.

The interesting thing is that the lion’s share of those hotspots are not in Cox’s cable franchise areas. Cox is a member of CableWiFi, a consortium of cable operators – Comcast, Time Warner Cablevision Systems and Bright House Networks are the others – that provides subscribers free access to the cumulative total. The story says that once logged on, subscribers of Cox Preferred, Premier and Ultimate packages remain automatically connected for 180 days.

Here Comes 5G

And, finally, comes a story that most observers knew would occur sooner or later. The cellular industry has hit high gear in its 4G LTE rollouts. That can mean only one thing: 5G is on the way.

Bloomberg reports that Huawei said it plans to introduce commercial 5G networks by 2020. 5G, the story says, will be 100 times faster than 4G. The Bloomberg story references a report in the Commercial Times that China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has invited two Taiwanese companies – Hon Hai Precision Industry and MediaTek -- to join China’s 5G development team.



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