broadband End User internet piracy Regs

I don't need broadband – I use my neighbour's WiFi – problems with Digital Economy Bill

I was talking to some people today about what type of broadband they had.  One of them surprisingly said she didn’t have broadband. I found this astonishing.  However the truth came out when she told me she just used next door’s which was unsecured.

Whatever you think of the morals of this it is a real life pointer as to the problems of proof when it comes to accusing a broadband owner of illegal downloading. 

I present here, for your delectation, the winner of the “dontdisconnectus” “Sing our Petition” competition.  The opposition to the Digital Economy Bill is building but it has some way to go yet I feel.

Business internet

You're nicked son – Big Brother aka Digital Economy Bill

Not plagiarism, just admiration. A guide to illegal music downloading for the non technical.

Thanks to boggits for the lead.

Business internet ofcom piracy

Bono sums don't add up.

The BBC reports today that singer Bono is claiming that the revenues lost by the music industry due to illegal downloading mirrors the growth in profits of the Internet industry.

This didn’t sound quite right to me but I doubt that anyone has any real data. It did prompt me to see if I could have a stab at sizing both industries myself from my limited sources of information.

Firstly in last year’s Ofcom communications market report the total number of ADSL tails is quoted as being 17.3 million connections at an average cost of £10.71 a month.  This works out at just over £2.2Bn revenues in 2008.  I realise that there will be other revenues that add to the total ISP take but ADSL will be the biggest portion of the whole. Also I have no doubt that the music industry would quote the total communications market size as the number to compare.

Now look at the available data on the music industry in the UK posted recently in the Times which suggests that turnover in 2008 was, wait for it, just over £2.2Bn.

Whatever the right numbers it clearly suggests that Bono’s claim is just the hype that most people will hopefully see through, or at least MPS about to decide on the Digital Economy Bill.  We are at an important juncture in process of the DEB and it is important that the ISP industry gets its own message across as clearly and successfully as the music industry seems to be doing.  I haven’t been monitoring the relative amounts of press coverage each side has been getting.

ofcom1Finally the chart, taken from last year’s Ofcom market report shows how the media and telecoms industries have been performing relative to the stock market. It suggests to me that the media industry, again assuming the metric is the right one, is not doing so badly, relatively speaking.

I’m quite happy to be corrected with any of the numbers here but we do need to try and get a correct persective on the whole situation.

Business fun stuff

What Santa does after a hard day's present delivering!

Post present delivery massage for Santa
Post present delivery massage for Santa

When Santa has finished for the day (night) he goes in for some well deserved relaxation. In this case Timico was pleased to be able to offer him a massage. We had a team of therapists, masseuses and beauticians in yesterday to give the staff a bit of a Christmas treat and luckily for Santa it happened on the same day as his visit. It’s a tough old game.

Note part of his outfit visible on the chair.

Engineer voip

VoIP MOS test results are at least as good as PSTN – it's official

The official ITSPA Awards test results make for very interesting reading. All entrants for the Best ITSP, consumer and SMB categories had their services independently tested by Epitiro.

There were 16 entrants for these two categories. On average Epitiro made 400 calls per company and then took over 50,000 technical measurements. Calls were all made over the same broadband connection.

All bar one company tested reached the ITU-T P.862 PESQ MOS Quality rating in excess of 4.0 thus meeting the ITU-T P.800 subjective rating of ‘Excellent’. The one that didn’t met the subjective rating of “Good”.

Consumer VoIP MOS downstream average = 4.3
Consumer VoIP MOS upstream average = 4.25

Business ITSP (SMEs) MOS downstream average = 4.25
Business ITSP (SMEs) MOS upstream average = 4.25

There is no real reason why there should be a difference between consumer and business downstream MOS.

Packet Loss was very minimal. Only three companies experienced any packet loss (minimal – 1.3% was the highest loss)

Call set up times were in general on a par to the PSTN standard of 2.5 seconds and better than mobiles.. The customer would experience no difference.

These are great results and are a serious independent endorsement of VoIP as a mainstream communications technology that can replace traditional PSTN services.

PS MOS = Mean Opinion Score and represents perceived quality of a telephone call.

Business voip

ISDN problem & what to do about it

I love it when our ISDN line develops a fault, as it seems to do once a year with the month chosen at random. It’s happened to day. The reason I love it of course is we also have SIP trunks coming into the office so normal service doesn’t have to be resumed – it doesn’t stop in the first place. Hooray for ISDN faults 🙂  (hooray for SIP trunks).

I don’t have access to the numbers but it would be interesting to see the BT Openreach figures for exchange line faults. As reported last week the equipment is getting fairly mature.

End User internet

slow down – it's all going to explode!

Worth watching. Blows my mind.

End User engineering

"error 30"

I was doing some interviewing this afternoon and one candidate came up with “error 30” – a great Tech Support Ticketing error resolution code that is used at one company he had worked at.

Error 30 is down to the entity 30cms from the PC screen. Basically if you don’t understand you are probably part of the problem 🙂 . I thought it was good enough to write down. I got back to the NOC and related this to the team and got a few others thrown my way:

PEBKAC – Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair

PICNIC – Problem In Chair Not In Computer.

I’m obviously easily entertained!

Business internet piracy Regs

P2P regulation in Digital Economy Bill ain't going to work

Now that the Digital Economy Bill has been published we can comment on its specifics. and in particular on the aspects relating to what the Government describes as “Online infringement of copyright” or illegal filesharing/Music Piracy in every day language.  It doesn’t just pertain to music, it includes movies and software as well – many of the abuse notices received by Timico in respect of naughty customers are concerned with the latter.

First of all the proposed Bill grants Lord Mandelson far too much control.  The Secretary of State will have the power to make specific recommendations on costs and impose an obligations on ISPs to use technical sanctions. The uninitiated should read this as “telling ISPs how much they will be allowed to charge rights holders for the implementation of the requirements of the Bill.  Technical sanctions = cutting off broadband connections.

In the first instance the industry thinks these responsibilites should be given to an independant body.  Also the idea that ISPs should share some of the cost burden is contrary to the Government’s own legislation – the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000) (RIPA) – which considers it appropriate for ISPs to be reimbursed for costs incurred when assisting in serious criminal investigations,  such as terrorism or kidnap.

What the Government is saying here that it believes that it is ok to recover costs for assistance with the pursuit of serious criminals but not for costs incurred pursuing an alleged civil infringement on behalf of a commercial interest. A scenario that normally burdens the party with the commercial interest with the cost.

ISPs are happy to help and indeed are not in favour of copyright infringement but think it is grossly unfair that they have to pay to police it.

Secondly the suspension of users’ accounts as a potential sanction is wholly disproportionate and is in direct opposition to the objectives outlined in Digital Britain to increase online participation. It seems that this will enable the suspension of users’ accounts without a ruling from a judge. This is potentially in defiance of the forthcoming EU Telecoms Package that guarantees users’ rights to a presumption of innocence until proved guilty.

The Government seems to be blind to the fact that serious copyright infringers can easily evade detection by employing encrypted P2P (for example).

Instead of wielding a big stick Government should be asking rightsholders to reform the licensing framework so that legal content can be distributed online to consumers in a way that they are clearly demanding. Currently the online copyright law is a mess spread across many countries and legislatures and the costs to industry of getting it sorted are huge. 

The Government is trying to push this Bill through quickly but it isn’t going to stop the problem. Lift up your heads and raise your voices all!

Business internet security

Government confirms it won't mandate IWF list

Further to my post of a couple of weeks ago it has been confirmed that legislation is unlikely to be introduced to mandate support for the IWF blocking list.

Alan Campbell, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Home Office, said that it remains the hope of Government that the target of 100 per cent of consumer-facing ISPs operating a blocking list will be achieved on a voluntary basis in answer to a Parliamentary question by James Brokenshire MP this week.

Mr Campbell said that the Government recognised the work of the internet industry in reaching the figure of 98.6 per cent of consumer broadband lines being covered by blocking of sites identified by the IWF. It remains the Government’s hope, he added, that the target of 100 per cent of consumer-facing ISPs operating a blocking list will be achieved on a voluntary basis.

The ISPA met with Alun Michael MP on Monday to discuss this issue and it was agreed that ISPA was commited to the eradication of child abuse images in the UK and that it will continue to work with the IWF and Government to achieve this target.

The Parliamentary question can be found here.  Again thanks to Nick Lansman and his ISPA team for both this input and the excellent work they have been doing in the background on this issue.

datacentre Engineer

It's all about wiring

Following my post on our fibre installation earlier in June The build of our new datacentre module in Newark continues.

Datacentres, whilst giving the appearance of being high tech,  are all about wiring and plumbing.  So I’m getting in the cable monkeys and plumbers.

Couple of photos below give you a feel for part of the process. Underfloor power connections to each rack space and a coil of fibre that might look innocuous but will carry the lifeblood of the datacentre, ie the data itself.

It makes me think of the pony express, or the old stage post mail system and how things have changed. I’m getting romantic in my old age.













Of course it will be tidied up a bit before we open for business.

Business internet

Interview with Jeff Pulver for "Hardcopy", newsletter of ISPA

Jeff Pulver
Jeff Pulver

The Digital Britain report dominates current debate in the UK internet related industry. Its aim is, broadly put, is to promote universal use of broadband and to stimulate the digital knowledge economy thus keeping the country competitive in the 21st century. Although facilitating the plumbing of this digital economy, the Government quite rightly leaves the innovation of new ideas for delivery down the pipes to industry.

New York based innovator Jeff Pulver was a prime mover during the pioneering years of the VoIP industry. He started the Voice On the Net conferences and was founder of the company that evolved into Vonage, the US based VoIP telco. Jeff has since moved his attention to helping to create the wave of the Social Networking technology revolution. Both areas of technology, whilst requiring an underlying network to support them, hinge on the development of new ideas and applications.

TD: What parallels can you see between what was happening in the early days of VoIP and today in Social Networking?

 JP:  Social Networking has been part of the human experience since there was documented human experience. My focus is on the evolution of social communications, something I call: SocComm and what happens next as the world shifts from a dial-tone generation to a presence based one.

Back in the early days of VoIP we had dialup and slow computers and limited quality for the voice experience but it did not hold back a generation of people who were hobbyists by night but technology explorers by day who experimented with the technology and understand the power of what it meant when voice could be an application and no longer be a utility service.

I believe the advent of the widespread availability of social networking platforms such as Facebook and twitter are going to have a more profound impact on the future of communications in the next 5 years ahead than what we have seen in the VoIP space in the past 15 years.

TD: Aside from the by know well known business models associated with advertising, where do you see the moneytization of Social Networking?

JP: I am not a fan of pushing business models into nascent industries. Business models are disruptive to innovation and should never be forced into an ecosystem. What we will see emerge is another example of how disruptive technologies change the face of business in ways that were obvious to some by blindsided by others.

I believe presence will be moneytized with the advent of social communication. Presence will emerge to be a 25 billion dollar business.

TD: The battle against regulation of VoIP in the USA has been a feature of your career activities over the past ten years. Is there a similar debate to be had in the space you are in now?

JP:  The fight is about to begin. Any platform which attracts 175 million active users (and growing) will get the attention of the government. My challenge is to see this space remains regulation free for the foreseeable future. (Maybe this is the foreshadowing of a future unannounced statement from me. hint hint)

TD: The UK has traditionally been strong in the production and delivery of content such as music and TV and this is recognised as a strength that our Government wants to maintain. Do you see any signs of internet innovation coming out of the UK in other areas?

JP: There were other signs in the late 90s and the post dot-com bubble but at the moment there are not a lot of hi-tech UK companies on my personal radar. I would like to change that.

TD: Can you paint a picture of life in the new Socially Networked world

JP:  It is world where people are more real, we know the identity of the people we are communication with and a world where each of us contribute daily to the social sculpture known as the Internet.

TD: Whilst initially slated as a consumer oriented technology, Social Networking has now been adopted by large corporations as a marketing tool. Do you have an example of where this has worked successfully?

JP:  Just ask the CEO of Zappos – @Zappos on twitter. They did a billion dollars in sales in 2008 and they have just about their entire organization focused on social media and on twitter. The Blue Shirt Nation of BestBuy is another example. This is the case where BestBuy launched their own internal social network for 130,000 people. These enabling technologies can and will change the world.

TD: Thank you very much for your time Jeff. You have had a punishing travel schedule over the past few months promoting Social Networking and have now started to raise the bar with conferences such as SocCom. Please accept my best wishes for the success with this activity.

Thanks for the opportunity to be read today. If you would like to learn more about my activities, please visit my blog – and follow me on twitter – .

Business voip

"Unified Communications" is dead on its feet

As 2009 evolves it is becoming much clearer where the world of Unified Communications is going. UC has always meant different things to different peopleYesterday I saw it move on with the Twitter coverage of SocComm.

What is now becoming obvious that we are moving to a world where everything interoperates with everything else.  A bit of a generalisation and very dramatic I know but anyone expecting to be a player in communications markets in the future needs to have an open approach to doing business.

So vendors traditionally associated with fairly closed UC plays, such as Nortel, Cisco and Microsoft need to make it easy to integrate their tools with new kids on the block such as Facebook and Twitter. They are all moving towards this slowly. Timico is in the middle of a major platform upgrade with its Nortel UC capability and the new offering will optionally enable Instant Messaging with other networks such as MSN, jabber, yahoo etc. 

It is only a short hop then to see Nortel soft clients embedded in Facebook (they already do this with traditional business tools such as Outlook and Lotus Notes),  Facebook profiles and Twitter feeds embedded in corporate websites and vice versa and wall posts embedded wherever you care to embed them (plasma display on the fridge?!).

There was a time when I thought that the world of UC would be dominated by a few giant players. Now, we are seeing that new companies can  easily develop applications that sit well with existing systems.  2009 is looking like a year of accelerated integration and I think that the phrase Unified Communications is already dead on it’s feet because I don’t think it adequately describes what is actually happening.

Archived Business

The Long And The Short Of IT – Or IT Isn't All About Size

In some respects Timico is punching above its weight but our philosophy is to reach for the stars, which might be why we were 4th in the Sunday Times Techtrack last year.

The long and the short of it a company is only as good as its people. Michelle Sharp is Director of Customer Services at Timico. Gareth Bryan is a Technical Solutions engineer and is often out and about on customer sites. Both are pictured below.  You need to scroll down below the photo to appreciate that all is not what it seems.


Using the ruler (30 cms or 1 foot) in the photo as a reference there is a prize for guessing the size difference between the two.  Bonus points for getting their actual heights right. (Timico staff need not apply 🙂 )


Photo taken with Nokia E71

Business internet

Jeff Pulver Social Networking Breakfast & The Death Of Email

I have just been to one of Jeff Pulver’s breakfasts and was completely bowled over with how effective his networking techniques are.  Jeff, as he told us in his speech, is naturally a very shy person. It’s taken me ten years to realise this. In order to overcome his shyness he has developed a technique for getting conversation going.

This involves sticking bits of paper on yourself with a statement about you that is meant to be an ice-breaker. The person you are talking to, during the course of your chat, writes a comment on a small piece of sticky paper and sticks it on a label that you have positioned on your chest, and vice versa. This can be somewhat awkward if that person is a she but hey ho. The sticky note effectively works like the “wall” on Facebook

The point of these breakfasts is not to learn how to network though. Apart from Jeff, who I already know, I didn’t meet a single person who might be described as shy. Everyone there was an entrepreneur and interested in how the whole Social Networking technology movement, if I can call it that is going to change the way we work.

I can’t say I have all the answers although I am working on it. What I did pick up on though was Jeff’s comment regarding the death of the email. He has a point. Most of the younger generation (Y), me included of course, now communicate more by IM and the use of sites such as Facebook than by email.

The Timico Network Operations Centre is not at the Newark HQ and during the day I will have many conversations with the team via IM. In fact I probably only use email to open tickets to get specific jobs done. The team is largely always online whatever the time of day.

This is so much the case that if there are any developers out there working on IM products can I suggest that we need to be able to drag and drop IM conversations into folders. This is how I store emails for later retrieval. I’m not going to patent this idea (it wasn’t mine originally anyway).  Consider it to be my contribution to the open source movement 🙂 .

Many photos were taken during the breakfast so I’ll see if I can get hold of one. I have to say though as a breakfast it was a complete failure.  I was too busy talking to eat anything 🙂

End User internet

We7 – Free & legal music downloads

I have mentioned before when I met CEO Steve Purdham at the Internet Conference and the subject of illegal music downloading via P2P is becoming almost a regular feature. In a rare moment of relaxation (really) I thought I’d revisit the We7 website which I had registered with for research purposes prior to the conference .

I’ve got to say that having sifted through the site it is brilliant. It gives you the choice of listening to a huge store of music free of charge and also the option to buy. You can put together a playlist which can then be shared with friends via email, bookmark or Bebo.

I put a Frank Sinatra playlist together. My favourite Frank tracks are all on vinyl so this is great. I do have to listen to a short ad in between tracks. I’m talking probably only a second long, almost subliminal, which so far I haven’t found to be a problem. I’m listening to it as I write this post.

This type of website is leading the charge of the music industry towards new business models that encourage people not to download illegally. I don’t know how much exposure the site gets. I would think if they created some kind of Facebook interface their usage would rise exponentially. Whether this is feasible I know not. 

I’m adding We7 to my blogroll.

Business fun stuff

What's Going To Happen In 2009?

I would be writing this from my Caribbean beach home if I were really any good at predictions. Having said that there are a few macro level changes I think will happen in our industry that are worth putting down as reference points. Some of these might be considered obvious but are none the less valid – they will be high profile in 2009.

  1. Facebook will come of age as a business tool as well as a social networking website. Linked-In will struggle to keep up with Facebook.  Twitter will gain in strength.
  2. The use of web based conferencing and collaboration will grow significantly in the face of the economic downturn and the need to cut costs. 
  3. The ISP industry will see some big consolidations. In the UK the Big 6 will become the Big 4. 
  4. Mobile VoIP will become mainstream for business.
  5. The ISP industry and the Music industry will finally get together to combat illegal P2P downloading.
  6. Liverpool will win the Premiership. 

6 predictions are enough. It reduces the chances of getting it wrong 🙂 .

Business engineering

Redundancies at Cable & Wireless / Thus

Sources inside Cable & Wireless/Thus say the company is wielding the axe before Christmas. It is a sad truth that many large companies do this at Christmas to clear the decks for their new financial year in April.

In actual fact this must have been only a matter of time following C&W’s recent acquisition of Thus. I don’t know how many individuals are affected but I daresay it will be in the press sooner rather than later. There is certainly no mention of it yet in the FT or The Register.

BT also seems to be making substantial cuts in headcount. These days being made redundant is not necessarily a reflection on the abilities of an individual. Large organisations often close down complete divisions.

It is said that during the dot com bubble burst in the early 2000s around a million people left the telecoms industry. I don’t believe we are in for the same wholesale exit this time round but only time will tell.

Archived Business

It's a Partnership Approach

Businesses cannot succeed with an “us and them” attitude. We live in such a complex environment that in order to be successful you have to have friends who are pulling your way.

At Timico we work with through both a direct sales orgainsations and through business partners. At the end of the year we have a bit of a celebration. This year our best selling partners were treated to a conference and lunch at Timico Towers.

The conference was informative and entertaining and the lunch was top notch. The photo below shows some of the individuals involved.

Business voip

BT's Policy Regarding Number Porting – Cease And Reprovide

When, as is increasingly the case, a customer wants to move his telephone number to a VoIP service the underlying analogue line is ceased. ie it stops working.

If that customer wants to use the (VoIP) number over his broadband connection then he has a problem because the broadband connection stops working because the line has been ceased. He has to wait for a new underlying number to be provided which ain’t a quick process. This is a very anticompetitive scenario because it makes it hard for an end user to reuse a number if it is their only line.

A year ago the industry asked BT to change their process so that the line could immediately have a new number to keep the broadband working. Nothing seems to have happened here so the Internet Telephony Service Providers’ Association is taking up the cause and will be lobbying BT.

I’ll keep readers posted here because this does seem to me to be an issue that is preventing a free market from working.

broadband Business internet

AT&T Trials Usage-Based Charging and BT Hikes Bandwidth Costs

AT&T has announced a trial in the USA for usage based broadband charging for its customers in Reno, Nevada.  This follows on from a similar trial in June by Time Warner Cable and also a 250GB cap on usage placed by Comcast on its customers. The move towards metered charging is I believe inexorable.

We are in for interesting times here in the UK. BT has just hiked it’s ADSL bandwidth costs to service providers. This will make ADSL more expensive in the UK. Whether this price rise gets passed on to end users remains to be seen. It certainly makes life more difficult for service providers who were already likely to move to usage based charging.

Of course BT increasingly has more competition in the guise of companies installing their own kit in BT exchanges – what’s known as Local Loop Unbundling. This competition is largely in the consumer space with broadband sometimes being packaged as a “free” element of a deal that might include line rental, minutes and, in some cases, TV. The level of service that this “free” broadband brings is unlikely to cut the mustard with most businesses.

So what does this mean?

  • In the first instance a quality broadband connection is likely to get more expensive. Most LLU players don’t have a wholesale offering that B2B service providers could resell.
  • Secondly broadband customers in rural areas are likely going to have to pay more for their connectivity because the LLU operators don’t provide broadband in these “uneconomic” areas. This will exacerbate the so called “digital divide”, already a hot topic in the light of the high anticipated cost of rolling out Next Generation Access to rural areas.

BT recently removed the installation costs associated with (some) new connections to their ADSL network. On the face of it this latest move looks like they have simply shifted these costs onto the line rental. The country would certainly benefit from more competition in the wholesale space.


End User travel

The rain in Scarborough falls mainly on the Davies'

It also rains in Spain

but are they as well prepared for it?

You won’t find anything like this in Las Vegas.

Nor this.


broadband End User internet mobile connectivity

A Teenager’s Homepage

Before we set off on our camping holiday (destination unknown) I sat down at my daughter’s pc to print out some campsite options in Yorkshire.

I was somewhat bemused to find that her homepage was set to BBC iplayer.

Look out ISPs everywhere. Your bandwidth forecasts are inadequate.

My trusty E71 got me to the first campsite on the list and that is where we stayed. I also used it to write this post.

End User internet

"Stealing" domain names is just not cricket

Businesses need to be mindful of the need to manage their domain name strategy sensibly. There are any number of individuals and organisations out there ready to take advantage of the careless.

For example take a look at Not a bad time to be visiting the site during an exciting match between England and South Africa (yes I did say exciting).

If you now visit you will see a difference. The spelling mistake is an easy one to make for someone looking for the main cricket website in the world (wide web). A good domain name strategy would have seen cricinfo snaffle both domains.

Now visit This one you might think would certainly take you to cricinfo but it doesn’t. It is owned by someone else and until recently took people to a cricket shop completely unassociated with

This is quite a high profile example of someone not doing something right when the business was small and it didn’t matter but paying for it downstream.

There are other different examples – the famous myspace court case where the domain name was owned by an ISP long before existed.

It is quick and easy to check your own business’ domain name – click here if you need a domain name checker.

Good luck England.

Business UC video voip

Tesco's new VoIP telecommunications infrastructure

Tesco has just announced a new investment worth £100m over 5 years in a new next gen telecommunications platform connecting 1,800 sites over 14 countries. What the announcement doesn’t say is that it is based on Nortel technology. Specifically the multimedia collaboration features are based on the Nortel AS5200 platform. This is the same platform used by Timico for its multimedia Unified Communications based VoIP services. Tesco is using video conferencing and Instant Messaging as well as file collaboration and VoIP.

The Tesco network is big enough to justify it’s own platform. However Timico provides partitions on its Nortel platform so that smaller organisations than Tesco can benefit from the same feature set (without having to spend £100m).

This is a big milestone for the Nortel platform and an endorsement of Timico’s VoIP strategy.

Apps Business UC voip

Ribbit & BT – Unified Communications

BT has bought a company called Ribbit based in Silicon Valley, California. Why is this interesting or significant to the UK business community? Maybe it isn’t.

However there is a chance that in the UK we will see the effects of this acquisition in the next year or two. Ribbit provides the hooks to make voice calls from different applications. In itself this isn’t anything special – Timico could do the same thing using it’s Nortel 5200 platform given the time and inclination.

Ribbit has tried to make it easy for 3rd party developers to do so and as a company whose sole reason for existence seems to have been to do this then one must assume that they would be doing a good job of it.

I think my one observation relates to what BT expects to do with the platform. It seems to me that Ribbit is set up as an applicaton for a wide community. I suspect BT might just use it to develop their own embedded voice applications. This to me would be a lost opportunity. Here BT has the chance to position itself at the centre of a Web2.0/VoIP2.0 world in the UK but it needs to keep Ribbit open to all to do so.

In the world of voice, at least in business voice and Unified Communications, it is also important to keep the activity and platform UK centred when selling to UK parties. This is why I believe that a Webex service with a voice platform based in the USA will never have a huge market reach in the UK. The same applies for the apparent efforts of Microsoft with hosted OCS.

Timico is based in the UK, offers UK services and telephone numbers, and I believe will be going head to head with Microsoft and Cisco in this space. Of course in other areas we will be partnering them. Interesting times…

Apps Business security

Access control meets www – and it's not what you think

When I began this blog I intended to cover subjects that I felt would be of general interest to users of business communications services in the UK – Timico customers generally. I didn’t think that this would for one moment include the topic of door entry systems. It does.

Some time ago we began a relationship with a company called Paxton Access. This was because we needed a security system for our new purpose built Headquarters building in Newark (Notts – not New Joisey for the benefit of international readers). Since then we have started installing it as part of an integrated package for customers.

Door locks have moved on a long way. This system comes with a Software Development Kit. I’m not suggesting that this is something particularly useful for general business customers who won’t know one end of a SDK from the other. However the rich engineering talent we have at Timico has been able to put it to good use.

We now have an intranet page that provides access to the door entry system. One click on the web interface and the door can be opened. Is this a security risk? We don’t think so. Access to the web page is controlled via Active Directory authentication and is tied down to specific individuals. This can apply to any door at any of the Timico UK locations and can be tied in with camera visuals so that the person allowing entry can see who they are letting in.

The same door can be opened by anyone holding a registered keyfob or, using the intercom, via any telephone handset on the Newark Nortel PBX. This functionality could be extended to opening by sms pin number from registered mobile handsets, or via command line interface from non Windows PCs as is the case in our Ipswich NOC where the engineers have the traditional geek’s abhorrence of all things Microsoft.  

There is more. This system can be used to set the alarm and turn off all the lights when the last person leaves the building. This is serious use of web technology for mundane but important business needs. 

Business datacentre

Microsoft's Internet Strategy

I happened to be reading the New York Times today – as you do. The specific article revealed that Microsoft’s share price has dropped 5% – simply because Microsoft President Steve Ballmer mentioned that he thought technology stocks were overvalued – oops.

The main intent of the article was to look at Microsoft’s internet strategy. Its attempt to buy Yahoo has been high profile. However what is slowly emerging is its other plans in the general area of “internet”.

MIcrsoft is moving into the Software as a Service game which I’m certain means online based versions of the type of application that business buys today and sticks on a server in the corner of the office.  Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint for example.

It likely means much more however. Another interview on the web by Om Malik with Debra Chrapaty, Microsoft VP of Global Foundation Services (!!??) revealed some of the extent of the Microsoft investment in this area.

Two years ago Microsoft was said to be spending $2Bn on its network infrastructure. Some of today’s facts are absolutely astounding:

The company is adding 10,000 servers a month to its network.

New data centers being planned/under construction are equivalent of over 15 US football fields of data centre space (sounds a lot but it is probably the same as five rounders pitches J ).

Plans to cut of 30% to 40% in data-centre power costs company-wide over the next two years. (not buying it’s electricity from my UK supplier then – mine has just jumped UP about 150%)

Current network backbone runs at about 100 gigabits per second, but soon Microsoft plans to bump it to 500 Gigabits. For comparison BT21CN connectivity being offered to ISPs is based on 1gigabits rising to 10gigabits although I’m sure that their backbone must be faster than that.

Building out its own Content Delivery Network – 99 nodes on a 100 gigabit per second backbone.

For Microsoft, total data grows ten times every three years. The data in near future will soon approach 100s of petabytes.

Their datacentre opened in Quincy, Washington opened in April 2007 and when complete will consume 48 megawatts of energy. Microsoft can tap up to 72 MW of energy coming from hydro-electric power.


In San Antonio Texas two further datacentres are planned for opening in September 2008 covering  447,000 square feet on 44 acres.


These numbers are just beyond comprehension for us mere mortals and are an indication of how serious the internet business is becoming.


By the way did you know that Microsoft owns Expedia, the travel site. I didn’t.