Business UC video

Video conferencing takes the strain out of taking the train

Vidyo video conferencing takes the strain out of taking the train

Interesting statistics for Netaxis’ internal usage of their Vidyo video conferencing solution in 2016. We had a cumulative total of  91,496 minutes of connections. That’s 2 months, 3 days, 12 hours and 56 minutes of connections. There were a total of 974 meetings connecting 2,000 people with  an average of 2.05 persons per meeting at a duration of 45 minutes. Meetings under 15 minutes were not counted.

Those are quite chunky stats. Over the period concerned Netaxis had around 25 folk in the company and they operate a flexible working policy which means any one person can be working from home, at a customer site or in the office (or down the pub etc).

I was quite surprised when I saw these numbers. They are impressive. What jogged my memory was seeing people on Facebook complain about the Tube strikes in London:

eg Not often I post but today……tube strikes can do one!! ????  (Name withheld to protect the innocent.)

These Netaxis Vidyo video conferencing statistics could be turned into a pounds shillings and pence number (well we did vote to leave the EU) representing time and money saved by people not having to travel to meetings plus the Carbon footprint savings. You can work those out yourselves as they might apply to your own business.

I’ve always been somewhat sceptical of the usefulness of video for business meetings. All the big video conference companies have lots of business case material for why it is worth shelling out hundreds of thousands of pounds (shillings and pence) for their kit but I suspect it is only big business with global presence that bought it. I use desktop video a lot in my personal life taking to the family but before I met the Netaxis folk have never bothered with it for business.

With Netaxis I use it a lot. Firstly it means free international calls from both my phone and desktop and you get all the usual desktop sharing/IM/presence stuff which does get used. We don’t only use it for internal meetings. We use it for customer demos as well. The point is it is so easy to use and it works well over the cellular data network as well so the experience of video on your mobile is good.

This isn’t really a sales pitch for Netaxis and Vidyo but an observation that the world is changing before our very eyes and I think that the tech we have been pushing for perhaps 15 years is finally becoming useful and being used.

Actually scratch that. This is definitely a sales pitch. So if you are reading this whilst stationary in gridlocked traffic somewhere near London, crammed on to a Southwest train running late or walking along trying to stay on the pavement somewhere between a mainline station and your office we need to talk:) Especially if you want to easily integrate video conferencing services with your existing service proposition.

Take the strain out of using the train.

Disclosure I do consultancy work for Netaxis. They are good guys.

Other video related posts on this blog.

Engineer surveillance & privacy video webrtc

Wormholes, WebRTC and the implications of algorithmical analysis

James Batchelor is Founder and Chief Executive at Alertacall, an organisation which uses neat technology to deliver services which increase human contact with people at risk and are used to improve the lives of many thousands of vulnerable people. Prior to that he was involved in the creation several ventures in the internet service provision, internet retail, telecoms, recruitment and telecare sectors. James has been an ipcortex customer since some of our earliest days and is one of those people who, every time I have the pleasure of chatting to him, I always walk away with a valuable bundle of unique insight. I posed the question to James about the technology impact of WebRTC, and this is what he came back with…

WebRTC meets wormholes

On a long-haul flight in 2001, with the occasionally pungent aroma of reconditioned air in my nostrils and the drone of Rolls Royce engines through my headphones I was transported for a few hours not only to USA – but in to an alternative future. I had the immense pleasure of having time and little else to do but read a novel and a science fiction one too.

The story I read, “The Light of Other Days”, is centred on the discovery of wormhole technology which can be used to pass information instantaneously between points in the space-time continuum. The technology is commercialised by a global media company and used to create the “wormcam” which allows for anything anywhere to be viewed with profound implications for privacy.

As I ponder the applications and implications of WebRTC, and explore its own wormhole like qualities, I wonder whether there are similar impacts for humanity and how the absolute digitisation of our communications streams – coupled with the massive computing power now at our fingertips – could impact upon our own privacy in novel and unexpected ways.

My own company Alertacall is particularly interested in understanding how patterns in the way people communicate with us can indicate a change in their “need”. This is with the positive goal of helping our older customers get the help they need before a situation escalates and becomes materially more difficult to manage. And, as our future products and services start to use WebRTC and other similar communications technologies I wonder what additional data we’ll have at our disposal.

Real-time analysis

I’ve long hypothesised that computers should be able to detect from cameras and other input devices subtle things about human physiology that the human eye cannot, but only had clear evidence of it after stumbling across the fascinating TED talk See invisible motion hear silent sounds.

This talk demonstrates the possibility of detecting heart rate with nothing more than video, by analysing the microscopic movements in our skin caused by pulsating arteries. I wonder how long it is before a methodology to determine skin temperature is devised, or what can be inferred by knowing how quickly someone breathes, blinks or swallows?

In 2012 the mathematician Mr Max Little announced that Parkinson’s symptoms can be detected by using algorithms that analyse voice data. There is also Voice Stress Analysis, which can indicate a range of emotional states including the detection of whether someone is potentially lying. What else could be inferred from a “call”?

But what specifically has this got to do with WebRTC and similar stacks? I suggest that the incredible proximity of these communications streams to silicon provides an unprecedented opportunity to develop applications that exploit all of these methods for causes good and bad. For example: imagine if calls to emergency services were prioritised using real-time analysis of video and voice, where the person most likely to be having a heart attack is answered first.

Also, imagine a world, in which the person or organisation you are in a call with has installed one of the dozens of analysis applications that are likely to emerge – and can infer huge amounts about your physiology. “Mum, I’m absolutely fine” the daughter says to her mother, but moments later the concerned mother’s machine tells her it’s simply not true with a simple Chrome plugin.

We’re tremendously excited about the applications we can build with WebRTC to connect with our customers and to connect our customers to each other – but live in constant wonder about what opportunities will emerge.


Previous posts from the ipcortex WebRTC week: Defragmenting today’s communications

WebRTC – where are the real world applications?

Welcome to ipcortex WebRTC week on

Check out all our WebRTC posts here

broadband End User Net social networking video

Broadband – A Student Perspective on an Essential Service

Broadband is a key service students need to navigate their time at university guest contributor Zoe Redfern recently completed a Masters in Computer Information Systems at the University of Lincoln and will relocate to Cheshire in the coming months to begin a graduate job with Siemens.

Having completed my Master’s Degree at the University of Lincoln not long ago, I am quite qualified to comment on the four years I had to put up with ‘Student Broadband Packages’.

At the time I moved into Courts (the on-campus accommodation) only an Ethernet connection was supplied, one to each bedroom. WiFI was installed soon after, though.  From that point students could actually connect their laptops to the Internet from their flat’s kitchen and living areas. This WiFi was great in the flat I inhabited at Courts during my first year. Although I was in the room furthest away from the wall mounted router I could still connect to it without any issues.

By the time I moved out of Courts the issue of Internet was very close to the top of my list, so I moved into an accommodation block that provided Internet as standard. The service started off at 8Mbps connection and went up by 2Mbps’s each of my three years there, and it suited me down to the ground. It was one less thing to worry about, and with me studying for an IT degree any problems would have fallen on me to sort out.  That, and chasing others for payments was something that I would have found to be really annoying.

To be honest, the Internet connection at my second accommodation — supplied by a company called Ask4 — was really good (and no websites were blocked by the Ask4 service, unlike the BT Broadband service I used whenever I went home) I was so pleased with the service, in fact, that I did on-site promotions for the company for two years after the landlord put my name forward. I was irritated and puzzled, though, that even though we had a standard connection we could pay extra to upgrade. For instance, we could spend £80 for the year to have a 30MB connection in one room only. My boyfriend was paying just a little more than that for a 100MB connection in his student house…a connection that that would’ve cost roughly £400 in my flat!

In the end, I paid for the 30MB connection for two years, using the money I earnt from Ask4 to do so (in essence, a win-win situation). I stuck with the flat rate this last year, though, and I must admit that other than it being a little bit slower for downloads it was just fine! And I honestly cannot say that I encountered any problems with the Ask4 Internet packages, etc., though it did become a bit tedious when the company would schedule maintenance to occur close to deadlines and throughout the night (times when most students were probably pulling an all-nighter).

I would say I used the Internet primarily for work during my last year (with the odd bit of procrastination here and there), and to keep in contact with family and friends as well. I also like to game when I have the chance, download TV shows and music, and stream football and other sports. Also, I found that I was using the Internet more to keep in contact with friends outside of Uni, too, as well as to arrange things with Uni friends. And I used Social Media to both keep in touch with people and to contact companies about graduate positions. Thus, with the Internet fulfilling so much of my contact needs, I discovered that even though I get unlimited texts each month on my phone contract, I was no longer sending as many texts as I once did!

Finally, the Internet connectivity around the University campus was always great! I used to take my laptop to the library to do work, making use of the Uni WiFi each time with no problem, and the speeds were more than sufficient for what I needed and wanted to do on the Internet.

Apps End User Mobile mobile apps phones UC video voip

A Chatty Kory

Who among the teeming throng hasn’t at some point or another had the thought, “Instant Messaging sure is a marvelous thing…no idea what I’d do without it…but really, by this point shouldn’t I be able to seamlessly carry on an IM conversation via Yahoo! Messenger with a contact using Google Talk? Or AOL AIM? Skype? And vice-versa? And do I really need to subscribe to all of these services – and lest I forget to mention Windows Live Messenger, Facebook Chat, Twitter, and so many others — to ensure real-time IM reachability?”

Yes, that is one large mouthful of a thought, but it should be easy enough to chew and swallow.

Numerous times over the past 15+ years the effort has been made to establish a unified standard for Internet-based instant messaging, and all of these efforts have thus far come to naught. Entrenched proprietary protocols die hard, after all, and with such integrated services as IP telephony, video conferencing, desktop sharing, and file transfer thrown into the IM provider mix (to name but a few) the potential for absolute and utter world communication dominance is such that no one major player is ever likely to champion a true standardization. No, “the greater good” will never be enough of a reason to hasten such a sea change. Instead, it will require either (1) a scenario in which instigating such a protocol will benefit all parties, (2) an irresistible push/pull prompted by a powerful outside party (government?), or (3) good old-fashioned fish-eat-smaller-fish empire building.

A Chatty KoryNow to be fair, there is some light in the sky these days regarding inter-network IM capability. For instance, with Yahoo Messenger you can add and communicate with contacts using Windows Live™ Messenger, and you can add your AOL AIM contacts into Google Talk. Such functionalities, however, are the result of agreements reached between the networks, agreements in which a bridging of two (or more) proprietary protocols has been put in place not to open communication up but to simply extend one IM provider’s boundaries to include those within another’s.

chromebook Engineer media video webrtc

Bandwidth use for Google Hangouts #WebRTC

Was on a WebRTC conference call this morning. I was calling from the Chrome browser in my Chromebook. Volume could have been slightly louder but the quality of the call was terrific. All I did was click on a link and hey presto. I’ll tell you more about it in due course.

We chatted for over half an hour. It wasn’t video as the other participants were using standard SIP phones. We were hooked up through a WebRTC gateway in the (good ole) US of A.

One on the subjects that came up was bandwidth use of video streams when making WebRTC calls. Using a gateway minimises the amount of processing that you have to do locally and also cuts down on the internet bandwidth you need.

Google Hangouts apparently use your laptop/local device to do the video mixing and thus you need more i/o bandwidth. Google tells us that for person to person video hangout the min bandwidth required is 256kbps/512kbps (up/down) and ideally for the best experience 1Mbps/2.5Mbps).

For calls with more than 2 persons the ideal scenario changes to 900kbps/2Mbps. This means that many people living with poor quality ADSL connections will not be able to properly experience the power of Google Hangouts.

It also explains why calls at weekends (that’s when we hangout) to my daughter at Durham University are also poor quality. It has been known for four of us kids to be on the hangout – one in Durham and three in separate rooms in the house in Lincoln (me and the two lads still at home).  We have 7Mbps up in our house but in Durham it is an ADSL connection shared between four in a student house.

Shame really. For the want of a few quid more on the broadband line it could be much better. Students however are always skint and conserve the cash and we should recognise that they are representative of many people in the UK.

With time everyone will be on a faster broadband connection but for the moment, and I know I’m quite likely to get noises of agreement (or maybe just the occasional assenting nod) from readers in rural areas, many still have to live with limitations of their internet connection.

Mind you I’m all right Jack:)

That’s all.

Cloud End User media video

BBC iPlayer growth – tablets shifting our viewing habits

Richard Cooper runs the BBC’s online platforms. He was guest speaker at the ISPA Conference last week and his subject was naturally iPlayer which with 245 million requests in September has enjoyed 23% year on year growth.

bbc_iplayer_request_growthI took pics of some of his slides – this first one shows the increase in requests. The step function in January is interesting. The BBC have labelled last Christmas as the year of the tablet. The growth in traffic is largely down to the increase in people getting tablets as Christmas presents. Apparently you could almost plot the rate of opening of presents based on the growth in the traffic on the day.

bbc_iplayer_trafficnov13The second pic shows the exponential month by month growth in iPlayer streaming traffic expressed in TeraBytes. Impressivo. Apparently, according to Richard Cooper, the perceived wisdom is that this rate of traffic growth is set to continue until 2025, based I think on the continued development of Video quality and usage until the point comes where the human eye can benefit no more.

bbc_iplayer_timeofdayFinally we have a chart that shows how TV viewing habits are changing now that people are watching programmes on more than just the TV. Internet usage peaks at approx 5pm – this includes all web browsing. TV watching peaks just after 9pm and iPlayer requests peak around an hour later. People are taking their tablets upstairs and watching in bed.

A few observations spring to mind. People are starting to do everything online. Music listening is moving to streaming, movies are moving to catch up TV and video on demand and why would you bother with physical copies of games? The time is rapidly approaching where people won’t bother with hard copies of anything (me excepted – I’ll be a book buyer until I pop my clogs – I am of a certain generation and won’t buy an eBook). On this basis there’ll be hardly anything left for people to open on Christmas Day – it’ll all just be brown envelopes with gift vouchers & subscription codes for downloads. The frenzied throwing of paper around the front room will become a thing of the past. Sad really.

The other snippet is that apparently with 4k video you need to be sat 8 feet away from a 10 foot diagonal screen to get the benefit. Screen tech is getting better than our own eye tech. Not sure I completely understand this one but it’s all to do with pixel counts of screens versus what your eye can interpret. Maybe someone can elaborate. Just maybe (I think that’s an advert for something – not sure what).

Whatever happens it’s going to be some time before traditional broadcast TV is replaced by streaming video – there just isn’t enough bandwidth available. Bring it on.

PS pics aren’t perfect soz – better than nothing as you can see the data.

Apps Engineer video voip

Thunderbirds are Go for Raspberry Pi

Pal Dean Elwood sent me this video. He set up embedded VoIP app developer Voxygen which is going from strength to strength. They developed the call control APIs for Telefonica’s Blue Via platform.

The video shows a mockup Thunderbird video screen just like they had in real life. The app is powered by Voxygen software running on a Raspberry Pi and talks to Blue Via for the call control and conferencing.

State information from Blue Via feeds through to the flashing eyes to say when a call is coming in or has been answered. The RaspberryPi manages another LED to say who is speaking at any given point in time.

When they recorded the Thunderbirds series the technology was of course all purely imaginary. Now it is pure simplicity.

Hardware was simply

  • Raspberry Pi
  • The ‘slice of PI/O’ board, to interface to 10 LEDs and 5 switches
  • 5 push-buttons with integrated LED
  • 5 pairs of White-LED ‘eyes’
  • A small amplifier and speaker for sound effects
  • Power supply and a few ancillary electronic components

Software was

  • Standard Pi Debian wheezy operating system
  • Application code, written in PHP 5
  • Some interfacing code in C that allows switching of LEDs and sensing of switches

Marvellous innit? Now watch the vid. Thunderbirds are go!

Apps Business media video

Google+ Hangout live stream broadcasts – wowsers

You will have been staying with your auntie on another planet if you are a regular visitor to this blog and not have noticed that I’m having a book launch on May8th (see here for details). I’ve been spamming my social media channels about it (sorry to those followers that remain 🙂 ) and I’m expecting a packed house.

Recognising that most people in the world won’t be able to come as all flights and hotels will be full (etc) together with the fact that the Morning Star will only take 100 people at a push I thought I’d stream the gig live online.

Up until recently I had intended to do this using, that being the only streaming facility I’ve used. However I was pointed in the direction of Google+ Hangout Live Stream broadcasts and boy oh boy is that a cool service.

Your Google+ account is linked to your YouTube account and at the click of a button your hangout is streamed live both in your Google+ stream and YouTube. What’s more you can embed the stream in your own website and Google records the broadcast for reuse afterwards. You can thereafter chose to make it public or private.

The beauty of this is the level of engagement you can achieve on the various social media sites – comments/discussions and shares can abound. I looked at it for my book launch but clearly this is something that businesses can use that takes a Webex style presentation session to a more powerful and public level.

You can watch my efforts in the video embedded below. It is only me playing about and the fact that I had two laptops open side by side means lots of echoey feedback. The lighting isn’t great either so the audio and the quality of the video is something you need to work on.

The nice thing about the Google setup is that you can invite several friends to participate using their phones and at anytime select their video feed to be the main one in the broadcast. You have the basic setup for a professional studio or outside broadcast, albeit a simple one. The only shame is that the Android app doesn’t have the buttons for setting up the broadcast from a handset. You seem to need to use the desktop version.

I’m going to need a volunteer or two for next Wednesday and will be testing this on site over the Bank Holiday weekend. Lemme know if you want to hook up in a hangout. I’m [email protected]. Ciao baby.

Engineer peering video

The joys of travel – #LINX77

another bout of delays on the East Coast line

Today I’m headed for LINX77 in Laandan. if you’ve never been you need to go, assuming you are in the networks game. It’s a great opportunity to meet people – network actually.

To get to Laandan I have to catch a train. Driving into Central Laandan isn’t practical. This morning I worked from home first thing and caught the 11.35 from Lincoln Central, due to connect with the 12.16 from Newark.

I had plenty of time when I got to Newark. A train pulled in. Apparently it was the 9.06, running a smidgeon late. Uhoh! I don’t know whether I’ve ever told you but me dear old mam is from Mohil, County Leitrim and one thing she has passed on to me, apart from a love of (warm) Guinness is a bit of the “luck o’ the Irish”.

Click on the header to reveal more. A train pulled in (very late)

Business Cloud competitions datacentre video

Video games killed the art of conversation – spot the game megaprize competition #TimicoDC

Timico datacentre logoWe had a hugely successful data centre opening event at Timico yesterday – 210 customers, prospective customers and business partners came along and, if I say so myself, had a great time (and were impressed 🙂 ). More on this as soon as I’ve assembled the photos etc – I’m on the move at the moment.

In the meantime I have a little prize competition for you. At the back of the lecture theatre (conf room, call it what you will – it had more than 200 odd people in it), just for fun, we had a range of “antique” video games, consoles and computers on show.

There’s a bottle of champagne1 and a mug for the first person to correctly identify all the different systems shown in the video below (Timico staff not eligible here as they will have been able to view the kit yesterday).  Note no apologies for the title of the post. It is partly true and the internet is now doing its best to finish the job.

1 I saved it specially from yesterday’s celebrations 🙂

Engineer Net video

Latest Hollywood blockbuster – assembly of video wall at new Timico NOC

Here it is, the one you have all been waiting for. After a lengthier than usual  shoot and an intensive post-shoot production period (correct me if I have my movie industry technical jargon slightly wrong) at last at online movie theatres near your desk/settee/mobile device I am pleased to announce the global launch of The Timico Videowall – The Movie”.

None of this “launch in the USA followed by a phased release in other markets” this movie is instantly available to everyone on the planet. Bring your own ice creams, beer and popcorn 1. Link here for those who don’t do flash.


1 Small print. The makers of this movie cannot accept responsibility for accidents happening whilst watching. In particular, for North American readers, any perceived inducement to indulge in high fat, high salt foodstuffs or beverages containing alcohol is purely for artistic effect.  Readers are encouraged to consult a qualified medical practitioner before blindly following the advice. Readers under the legal age for any of these activities according to the laws of their country of residence should refrain from participating. As far as we are aware this movie contains no foul language, violence or scenes of nudity that may cause offence to those of a more sensitive disposition. No advertisements are carried on this blog but it’s author cannot be held responsible for any attempt to sell you anything whilst watching the video on YouTube. Having said that if anyone wants to send money out of appreciation of the high quality production values associated with this oeuvre please contact me – details here. This movie was made without a grant from anyone and was funded entirely by private investment. Enjoy!

broadband Business internet media video

Netflix UK Launch Planned for 9th January, 2012 – Another Injection of Broadband Internet Growth

2012 is expected to be a big year for growth in broadband Internet use in the UK. We have the Olympics, para Olympics, the Queens Diamond Jubilee, Wimbledon and the West Indies, Aussies and South Africa over on cricket tour (if I was them I’d be avoiding this country next summer but hey…). Oh and let’s not forget the European football championships from 8th June til 1st July. England qualified I believe?! 🙂

There is more sport but by far the biggest Internet traffic news item for 2012 is that Netflix is coming to the UK. For the uninitiated, Netflix is a movie screening service in the USA that accounts for something like a quarter of all Internet traffic in that country.

At LINX75 today the launch was a particular subject of discussion

Business video voip voip hardware

I have seen the light, opened the door and been let in by ProTalk

Protalk SIP based door entry systemI love it when our engineers come up to me and say “want to see something interesting?”. Today one of our top VoIP engineers showed me the ProTalk IP (SIP) antivandal door entry unit.  This is a rock solid door entry system controlled by SIP video phone.

Pressing the button initiates a sip call to the number / call group of your choice, sets up a video call upon being answeredProTalk SIP door entry system from ProVu and allows the operator to open the door remotely by keying in a prearranged number.  The system will in theory work with any SIP video phone – we have tested it with the SNOM 8xx series and a number of soft clients.

It should even work on mobile SIP clients – any SIP phone that can generate a DTMF tone. At Timico it is being tested as part of the security for the new data centre but it is easy to imagine it being used in many application areas.

I could even envisage using it at home – kids forget their key and you not in the house? They push the button and you answer on your smart phone and let them in.

ProTalk is a product of ProVu communications in Huddersfield.  They are good lads and worth taking a look at.

Isn’t technology marvelous!

End User internet video

Japan Earthquake – live as it happens on the internet

Japan earthquake

I watched the news of the Japanese earthquake on iPlayer on my iPad. I watched it in bed, whilst having breakfast and then whilst in the shower (the iPad wasn’t in the actual shower cubicle). Coming out of the shower room I bumped into one of the kids  who said he had been watching it his room on his PC.

On my way in I listened to it on the car radio and then the iPad 3G connection kicked and the video started  in my bag in the boot (actually in the Jeep it is called a “trunk”). This was a bit disconcerting. The newsreader said that people on Japan had been standing in the streets in Tokyo watching the news streaming on their mobile handsets.

Coming into the office by 9am the video bandwidth usage on our network had doubled over the norm and I have iPlayer playing in the corner of the room.  We live in a totally connected world.

Our thoughts must go out to the people affected by the Earthquake. It is unbelievably amazing to be able to watch the destruction happening in real time broadcast live from a camera in a helicopter.

Business internet video

Polycom Telepresence impresses ITSPA

I’ve only seen a single screen telepresence demo before and that was on a noisy exhibition floor.  At Polycom’s City Executive Briefing Centre yesterday I was treated the to a full blown demo and boy was it impressive.  The quality was astounding.

Attendees at the ITSPA Summer Forum sat on one side of an oval conference table that was mirrored on 4 large screens in front of us. A Polycom representative (sorry didn’t catch his name) did the spiel from the other room located in Slough.

It was as if he was in the same room and he could even hear the side conversations going on on our side of the table.

broadband Engineer internet media piracy Regs video

Cisco Drives Nail in Music Industry Coffin with CRS-3?

Most people won’t have given much thought as to how their email gets from A to B or how that video arrives from YouTube.  It just comes down the broadband connection which is plugged into the router next to the phone (or somewhere like that). Right?

Well today the worlds biggest router manufacturer, Cisco, announced their latest and greatest product.  It isn’t something that you will want to plug into your phone line though because it would take up most of the living room and there wouldn’t be enough room left for the sofa.

It would also be a bit of an overkill because this router, the CRS-3, is powerful enough to handle up to 322 Terabits1 per second, which  is roughly a hundred million times faster than the average UK broadband connection speed!

End User video

Kodak and YouTube are burning up your bandwidth

Since I got my KodakZi8 in mid November I’ve been videoing – not a surprise. The statistics however are startling. In that time I have recorded around 13.3GB of HD video – all of which resides on my hard drive.

I have also uploaded 26 of these videos to YouTube with a modest 616 total views. I’m not sure what the average size of video is but a rough guesstimate is 1 minute and 100MB. This suggests that my videos on YouTube account for around 61GB of data download in around siz weeks (and 2.6GB of my own upload bandwidth). Let’s assume everyone has a YouTube account and is like me. In this case everyone will be downloading this amount of data. Ok I know they are not all doing it at this time but it certainly points to the future.

As a sanity check I looked at my own ADSL usage in December – 67GB!

Video is going to change the rules when it comes to growth in use of the internet.

Business internet media video

BBC piles the pressure on ISPs with internet TV

Channel 4 and Talk Talk have joined Project  Canvas, the BBC’s set top box standardisation effort that already includes the BBC, ITV, BT, Five.

The end goal is to connect the internet to your TV and allow programmes to be streamed over your broadband connection.  The BBC press announcement doesn’t go into schedules but it does talk about offering services that include:

Linear TV (eg Freeview, Freesat) with HD and storage (pause, rewind, record)
Video-on-demand services (eg BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 40D)
Other internet-based content or services (eg Flickr, Amazon, NHS Direct)

My only point in regurgitating this BBC news is that the time is not so very far away when consumers will have to start factoring the cost of all this downloading.  What is perceived to be a free TV programme is effectively going to become Pay As You Go and the cost of an hour’s watching will be something known to all. I can see kids being given an allocation by their parents just in the same way that they have pre paid mobile phones.

As a footnote my kids have been trying to persuade me to buy them a new 42″ flatscreen LCD TV for the “den”.  I’ve beaten off the assault by saying that we don’t actually have a source of HD video other than their own laptops and PCs.  Even this line of defence looks as if it will only be shortlived.

More TV related stuff:

Sony 4K Ultra HD TV

TV detector vans – the truth

Boring TV & better things to do.

Business UC video voip

Unified Communications and how it made my day

I’ve just had one of those life enriching experiences. I’m currently looking at back-up and storage options to enhance our own SAAS capabilities. i365, “a Seagate company”, looked as if it would fit the bill so I called them.

As I was calling I realised it was one of the numbers provided by Timico on our VoIP platform and indeed when the Michelle receptionist answered the phone her name appeared on my screen. She transferred me to Sean O’Reilly and his name also came up.

The video then kicked in and we had a video call. Sean was using our own PC Client software and we began exchanging Instant Messages.  Sean is an intensive user of the PC Client because it allows him to keep his hands free to type. His praise of the service was fullsome and it made my day.

This really is the way forward. It was a totally adhoc video call with someone I didn’t know, had never spoken to before but that will be the norm in times to come.

End User video

Video killed the radio star

I think I might have mentioned my appearances on BBC radio 🙂 . Well now I’m producing a video. Actually the video is being made by some final year students from Lincoln University media department and it is part of a series of shorts that the students are producing for Timico.

We are quite lucky to have a top level media facility such as Lincoln University on our doorstep. Their studios are the envy of the BBC- I kid you not.

To date any video I or anyone else at Timico has produced has been pretty much an experimental amateur affair. Now we are doing it properly. Each video has a production team of 4 people. I just need to get a Director’s chair with my name on it and turn up at the right time for makeup.  Of course I’m sure I’ll have a script to learn as well!

Timico is a sponsor of Lincoln University and I am not only looking forward to seeing the videos but presenting a prize at the end of the year. I’ll also show the vids when they are finished sometime in the spring.

Business UC video voip

Debate – Low Cost versus Productivity Features – what will get the ITSP industry through the recession?

I attended the ITSPA council meeting in London today. One of the topics of discussion was the content of the forthcoming ITSPA workshop in Town on  12th March (ask me for details if you don’t already have them).

We had it down as “opportunities and threats in the recession” or words to that effect. Not much detail. The debate then covered a range of subjects that might be suitable for the workshop ranging from whiz bang new video phones to just lower cost services.

What we came up with, and I think this is going to make for a highly interesting afternoon, was a debate on whether it was lower costs or new features that was going to make people buy our services and get the industry through the year or two ahead.

Personally I think it is both but I am looking forward to the debate. If anyone wants to come let me know. There is a dinner afterwards and these are normally great evenings.

Business video

And the winner is…

Scott Wroe shakes hands with Trefor Davies

After a fiercely fought video competition which brought in some imaginative entries I am pleased to announce that the winner is Scott Wroe from the Timico, Newark, marketing department. The winning video is well worth watching timicofinalscottwroe.

Congratulations also to Andy Twine of who came a close second with commendations to James Vestbirk, Jo Barker, Adam Jackson, Harry Singh, Andrew Massing, Richard Wright, Jo Smith, Andrew North, Clare Morrell, Will Curtis, Dean Bruce and Katie Nicholas who all put in a good effort.


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.

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.

Business mobile connectivity UC video voip

Nortel carrier strategy

Had a really good meeting with the Nortel Carrier team on Wednesday – I’ve not really had a chance to write it up and post before now. The meeting was held to discuss their SIP/multimedia product roadmap. The Nortel Enterprise Division has been making a lot of noise in the multimedia/Unified Comms space (SCS500 – I’ll write a piece on it soon) but I had been afraid that the Carrier side had sold its soul to Microsoft.

This turns out not to be the case. The Nortel AS5200 platform, which is the SIP platform used by Timico, has been adopted by a number of major Tier 1 operators and is benefiting from what seems to be a large amount of attention and investment. This to me is a very sensible thing for Nortel to do as the 5200 represents a leading edge platform for them – one which is streets ahead of any competition in the hosted VoIP/Unified Comms space.

Timico has been selling services on the back of the 5200 for 2 – 3 years. We are talking hosted VoIP, video, IM, presence, collaboration – perfect for small offices and homeworkers. The Nortel developments look to be adding more PBX type features that fill in some holes in the 5200’s repertoire. Whats more it seems to me that this switch is moving in the direction of becoming Nortel’s main carrier play. After all the CS2k, which gives Nortel its huge lead in the market, is a platform designed to emulate legacy services but in a much cheaper way than its DMS 100 TDM swich.

What’s more, new features such as federated presence, FMC, links to external directories and better support for SIP Trunks will keep Nortel at the forefront of the business communications space and allow tight integration with its Enterprise products – something that we haven’t seen before.

This is reinforced by the movement of Enterprise staff to the Carrier to aid the process.

Lastly but by no means least Nortel is moving the 5200 to Linux which will have a huge impact on the cost of rolling out and supporting 5200 based services and which I whole heartedly welcome.

I look forward to growing our Nortel relationship.


broadband video voip

The Bunk Inn

In my travels around the Timico empire I try to avoid staying in hotels. When I visit Twang in Newbury I stay at The Bunk Inn in Curridge. Home from home, good beer, good food and friendly staff.

The downside of the Bunk is that to make a mobile phone call you have to walk to the end of the road – the coverage is non existent. I know that in the past I have pitched this as a good point but when you want to stay in touch with home it is a different matter. There is a phone in the room but over the years I have had this ingrained feeling that in room phones = expensive hotel bills. In my globe trotting days the hotel phone bill would usually be bigger than the cost of the room. 

In the Bunk Inn this is not a problem because it provides internet access. Calling home is just a matter of firing up my PC and clicking on my Timico VoIP client. I can even have a video call.

Short and sweet – the blog entry not the phone call which was long and sweet.

Business competitions video

Video competition

Following on from a post I made in June regarding Polycom putting over a hundred videos on YouTube I have started exploring this myself.

The video at end of this post is my first post on YouTube (timicocto) where I have uploaded details of a video competition that we are running at Timico in July. The hope is that we will get some good material to post on the company website.

Ultimately we will be looking at broadcasting live and this is a step towards that goal.

I’ll report back on how it went when it is all over and done. Sorry – the competition is open to company employees only.



Business UC video voip

More petrol woes

Sorry if I keep mentioning this subject but businesses are seriously getitng hit with the price of petrol and it isn’t just transport firms.

I sat opposite a company sales director on the train to London this morning who said that his petrol costs had doubled in the last year. He was now having to micromanage the sales calls of his team so that the most efficient routes were used to minimise the travel costs. He was even about to sell his Porsche!!! :-).

In case you were wondering I was on the way to Wimbledon. My youngest son won two centre court tickets in the ballot at his tennis club and yes we had an absolutely fantastic time. Not a cheap day out though with Wimbledon towels retailing at £24 a pop (x two for bonding purposes).

The keywords you need  to know are Venus Williams, Rapahel Nadal and Andy Murray. A great tennis day out.

Business video voip

WWF, VC, HD @wembley

You might ask yourself what WWF has to do with VC and HD? In fact you are probably wondering what the acronyms actually stand for and what have they got to do with Wembley.


We are talking World Wide Fund for nature, Video Conferencing and High Definition. (I knew that do I hear you say 🙂 ) and all three were being discussed at a Polycom seminar held looking down at the magnificence that is  the pitch at Wembley Stadium.


WWF is launching a programme to help businesses cut the number of flights by 1 in 5 and as a leader in the VC game Polycom found it expedient to have representatives along to make a presentation.


Obviously Polycom is using Global Warming and the need to reduce carbon footprints as a sales tool for its VC systems but the cynics amongst you should not poo poo this as it is a perfectly valid/nay sensible thing to do. VC does help cut down on business travel and thus helps save the planet as well as reducing costs.


One of the reasons I attended was to hear what Polycom was doing with Microsoft on OCS. Turns out they make some of the handsets and are producing a couple of VC products (HDX4000 and HDX8000) that integrate with OCS (more details anon I’m sure).


What really interested we was the fact that Microsoft has 11,000 staff working on rich media collaboration, apparently more than the rest of the industry put together. One of the OCS phones doesn’t even have a keypad. Microsoft is saying that you only need your desktop. The Polycom perspective on this is that businesses haven’t gone for desktop VC because of the difficulty of maintaining dispersed resources. It’s hard to see Microsoft getting this wrong.


A number of OCS case studies were presented. Gibson guitars reduced calling costs by 75% using OCS.  Prodavka reduced phone costs by 50%


There were lots of other interesting facts being bandied around:


  • China is the second biggest market for VC behind the USA
  • The biggest issue facing adoption of VC is the ability to reserve resources. ie room booking
  • The average HD system cost is $8k cf $200k for telepresence.
  • In 2008 there will be 1500 telepresence systems sold worldwide. By 2012 this is expected to grow to 17,000.
  • Interoperability between different vendor systems is still an issue
  • 1 long haul flight is equivalent of 12 months driving from a carbon footprint perspective
  • Air travel is the fastest growing contributor of CO2 – 3% today, 25% by 2030
  • The fastest ways of reducing CO2 generation include power saving data centres, extending networks to home workers and increased usage of collaboration and content sharing tools (video and voice conferencing) as alternative to travel.
  • The M4 motorway at Slough is operating at 150% capacity
  • The average traffic speed in London is 8 mph – no increase since the horse and cart !
  • PWC avoided 1.1 million miles of travel through use of VC resulting in the saving of 198kg of CO2
  • BT has claimed £238m benefit to their business by use of VC – £100m based on travel cost benefits and the rest based on productivity improvements including reduced staff sickness
  • Nortel has saved $60k a week on travel due to telepresence with 10 systems worldwide
  • A Yougov survey in 2007 said 37% of face to face meetings were deemed unnecessary
  • If European companies cut travel by 20% there would be a saving of 22m tons of CO2 a year

Finally Polycom played some impressive videos including


Business video voip

Will petrol price itself out of the market?

I had my first £80 tank of petrol today. It seems to me that now is the time to start investing in public transport stocks.

I also has to be time to look at ways that a business can cut down on its travel spending and Unified Communications and online collaboration is the way forward. We recently had an architect approach us for a video conferencing solution so that his business could conduct video conferences with their London office. Historically they took the train and spent the day in the office. Travel time was 2 1/2 hours each way for the two Lincoln based partners. That’s ten man hours (at whatever the going rate is for an architect) plus over two hundred pounds for the trainfare.

The video conferencing solution used was Timico VoIP for Business which cost them £10 a month per site plus a few hundred pounds for high spec telephone handsets. The broadband connectivity was already in place at each end. The service will have paid for itself on it’s first day of use. That’s a serious rate of return.