2017 has been a good year

Things have quietened down on the front. When I was at Timico is used to write quite prolifically (2,748 published posts and 11,426 approved comments) and then after “semi-retiring” I continued with a view to making the blog a money maker. It was possible to make money through the vehicle – sponsorship for workshop, dinners and for themed weeks but hard work and I wasn’t that bothered. So I throttled back.

One thing led to another and I ended up setting up Netaxis Solutions UK. This has been done in conjunction with Netaxis in Belgium. Netaxis as some of you may already know are a Systems Integrator who boast most of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 telcos in Benelux as customers together with a number of major international players.

The company has got off to a good start and 2018 is looking as if it will build on this.We haven’t got a very sophisticated marketing function. In fact we haven’t got a marketing function. Were primarily a bunch of engineers doing stuff. However this will change. Instead of writing more for I’m likely to concentrate on building up a Netaxis blog. They have tons of things to say. Really interesting things if you are a telco. 

For the moment I’m keeping my powder dry but look out for do look out for snippets as they appear – more likely to see them on LinkedIn and than here but that is fine. I’m quite impressed with how LinkedIn has emerged as a business tool. I seem to have two communities of friends in the work sphere. The internet plumbing side all talk on Facebook and really don’t have anything to do with sales there unless it is B2C. However LinkedIn is it for the telco business.

In one sense to work it properly you need to work sites like LinkedIn on a full time basis. We can’t do that and if we did I don’t think we could cope with the level of interest it might generate at this stage. Without really doing any marketing we are pretty much flat out. Indeed we have engineering vacancies if you are interested (inc this one for a carrier presales eng).

Our business is a niche but it is a huge niche. It’s odd to compare it with my non telecom business interests (JoeFest & Anne’s Vans) and my creative writing at How can a person get excited about telco nuts and bolts and internet plumbing ( Both involve deep technicals that are only of interest to a limited few. Funny really considering our whole world relies on them working smoothly. Life is short. You have to do  stuff.

Anyway this is a bit of a rambling way to getting to the point which is to wish you and yours an extremely good Christmas break. Come back fat and refreshed for the new year at which point you can pay for it all:)

Ciao amigos…

Business business applications UC voip webrtc

How WebRTC will deliver contextual communication and AI in the contact centre

Contextual communication, AI and chatbots are on track to revolutionise the way we communicate, prompting experts to herald the dawn of a major communications revolution. What about the contact centre, and how does WebRTC underpin this shift towards improved customer engagement?

More than just chatbots

Most of us have already grown accustomed to talking more and more with machines. Consumers have been given a taste of this new era of communication with the likes of Siri and Alexa, but we’re starting to see this new technology make its mark in the business world. Some contact centres, for instance, are starting to use chatbots to deal with common queries and complaints based on database suggestions.  We’ve also witnessed a number of councils using a form of AI as a virtual agent to deal with front line requests. As the number of interactions increases, we can expect to see robots like this learning rapidly and becoming more sophisticated.

However, the impact of AI and machine learning is greater than just for improving chatbots. If we look at the bigger story we can see there is another innovation gaining a foothold in the industry: contextual communication. Made possible by open web technologies like WebRTC, it enables context to be added to every communication to make customer interactions more efficient, personalised and engaged. These contextual communications applications mesh together pertinent information in real-time from CRMs and other databases. The end result is the ability to deal with customer enquiries via web video, chat box or through a mobile app.

The value of context

This is where AI can make a dramatic impact. Determining the right information and communication “context” to serve, informed by a wealth of data, leads to better decision making throughout sales or customer service processes. This ultimately leads to a greater customer experience and applies equally to customer-facing chatbots as it does to virtual assistants. Imagine a VA that could recommend the next course of action for a customer service agent or salesperson to take. Then, move it a stage further and consider that cognitive interactions will understand accents, sentiment and context. This will enable even greater personalisation and decision-making capabilities – a far cry from today’s annoying automated services.

This is how the future of enterprise communications is shaping up –  making communication “transparent”, so it’s integral and inherent in applications, and augmenting it with context. What does it mean for ITSPs? We can start with differentiated propositions offering huge productivity and efficiency gains – and a more natural communications experience for customers.

Join us next week to learn more

We’ll be discussing these impacts and more at the ITSPA WebRTC Workshop next Thursday 28th September, Central London. Both Tref and I will be keen to hear your views on contextual communication and how it can drive new revenue opportunities for ITSPs in the coming years. If you are in London and want to come along, register here – it’s free – using the member’s registration.

Other WebRTC content on this blog.

Business webrtc

WebRTC coming of age

WebRTC coming of age

Three years ago we hosted a WebRTC workshop and back then the promise was there to be seen but the reality seemed a long way off. Now we’re teaming up again with ITSPA to take a fresh look at WebRTC – where is it now and what real applications are out there? One of our guest speakers, Rob Pickering, is a big WebRTC advocate and in fact his company, IPCortex, did the UK’s first public demonstration of a call between a web browser and the PSTN using WebRTC at their 10th birthday party, back in 2012. I know, because I was there and witnessed it!

Now I think it’s fair to say that WebRTC has really come of age and Rob will be bringing us up to date.  Standards are now firm and Apple recently announced it will support WebRTC for the first time bringing browser support to the brink of ubiquity. All of this has made it easier to realise the full benefits and mass deployment of WebRTC.  Rob believes this will mean a disruptive impact on the way people communicate, for good.

The sort of stuff we’re going to see are where developers remove any complexity and barriers to smooth communication by embedding audio, visual, chat, file and desktop sharing directly into web pages, browsers and even IoT and mobile platforms without plugins. People can just start communicating from the same space they’re already doing a task. We’re calling this “contextual communication” – a phrase you’re going to hear a lot of in the industry in coming months and years.

Developers are already building applications that solve the challenge of siloed non-unified platforms and distracting “context switches” – the design point being to deliver the internal efficiencies they know that businesses need, while also enriching the experience for external contacts – whether they’re contractors or customers.

Looking at some of the examples around call centre empathy, right through to private healthcare consultation – and of course day to day business communication – I think we’re really only now starting to reimagine the ways in which we can transform and open up communications. WebRTC will be the enabler of the way we communicate in the future and ITSPs especially would do well to get involved, now.

Join Rob Pickering, CEO at IPCortex and others from Genband, Oracle, Sonus Networks, Netaxis at the WebRTC Workshop and find out how ITSPs can use WebRTC to make money, on Thursday 28th September, Central London. If you are in London and want to come along just register here – it’s free – just use the member’s registration.

Business webrtc

WebRTC Workshop – how ITSPs can use WebRTC to make money

WebRTC Workshop – how ITSPs can use WebRTC to make money itspa voip security workshop has once again teamed up with ITSPA to provide you with relevant workshop content. The last time we looked at WebRTC was a good three years ago. At that time all most of us could say was “uhuh”. We saw functionality that we had been used to in the SIP world for years. We could see the promise but there were too many things yet to be solved.

So where is WebRTC now? Applications are beginning to emerge and the vendor infrastructure is mature enough to consider the technology mainstream. WebRTC has progressed. It’s about time we took another look at the subject.

On Thursday 28th we have a workshop that will cover all relevant aspects of WebRTC technology.

We start with our friend Rob Pickering, CEO of IPCortex who is going to bring us up to date with the standard and support for WebRTC.

We have vendor presentations from Genband, Oracle, Quobis, Sonus and IPCortex together with Netaxis.

Normally I’m not much of a one for vendor presentations. however in this case they are very useful and will cover two things. Firstly they will give us a heads up on what we can do with their products and secondly look at real world applications/case studies.

We will finish off with a panel discussion on how Service Providers might incorporate WebRTC solutions into their offerings.

The plan for afterwards is beer and curry which is very generously being sponsored by GenbandOracleSonus Networks,  Netaxis and IP Cortex. If you want to come please register.

Let me know if you want to stay for the meal afterwards as I will need to sort numbers. Finally I’d like to thank Osborne Clarke for their usual very generous providing of the venue and refreshments. They are a great supporter of ITSPA.

Other WebRTC content on this blog.

Business voip

Hot news from the white hot world of Telecoms Technology :)

Feeling funky with my headlines today

gnTel choose Oracle Netaxis. I like this. I’ve replicated the press release here which is something I don’t normally do as I normally only do original stuff and I used not to want Google to penalise me in SEO rankings for plagiarising. However I’m not all that bothered about that kind of thang anymore so I don’t care if they do.

The bit I wanted to highlight was where it says “gnTel also chose NetAxis Solutions, an Oracle professional services partner, with deep technology competencies and experience, to design and implement their new service infrastructure.”

This is why me and Netaxis got together. Netaxis are a bunch of engineers with seriously good engineering capabilities. OK the press release is Oracle big company PR speak blurb but that’s by the by really. Oracle happen to be Netaxis’ biggest vendor partner as well so it is good that we are able to jointly shout about some good news like this.

2017 is a really busy year for us and it looks set to continue. The PR refers to NFV and cloud. This is where the action is all moving to. All our own software products, and there are many, are available to run in Virtual Environments. The telco world, especially that of big telcos, is not quick to move into new technology. They are wary, fearful. It’s why new smaller companies can win business from them. However the big telcos are now looking at moving into new fluffy white areas and I think we are well placed to have a bit of the action.

If you are a telco, however large or small we have something for you. If you are interested in Hosted VoIP platform integration – Session Border Controllers – Provisioning and Self Care – API Orchestration &  Service Creation – Fixed Mobile Convergence  – Network Monitoring and Call Tracing – SIP Call Simulator – Session Routing Engine – VoIP Fraud Management – Video Communications & Unified Messaging (lifted from my email signature) get in touch.

Ciao amigos. Press Release below.

REDWOOD SHORES, Calif., June 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — gnTel, a fast growing cloud-based telecom service provider to small and medium sized businesses in the Netherlands, has selected Oracle Communications technology to better scale their operations and lay the groundwork for the evolution of their network to NFV.  Replacing their existing solution, gnTel will use Oracle Communications Session Border Controller (OCSBC) running on Acme Packet 4600 purpose-built hardware platforms to immediately create a new scalable access and peering infrastructure for their customers. This solution will allow gnTel to not only jumpstart their services but because of the close interworking between physical and virtualized OCSBC instances, and a flexible licensing scheme, also preserve this investment while they migrate to NFV.

Oracle Communications Session Border Controller is one of the industry’s leading border control solution that operates with most major IP-PBX, unified communications, and application server providers – reducing risks associated with commercial production level installations. Available on both purpose-built physical and commercial-off-the-shelf virtualized platforms, and coupled with a perpetual network-wide licensing scheme, OCSBC provides maximum flexibility to operators.

gnTel also chose NetAxis Solutions, an Oracle professional services partner, with deep technology competencies and experience, to design and implement their new service infrastructure.

“At gnTel, we recognize the fast pace of technology evolution in the telecom industry. We wanted to invest in a proven solution from a company that brings together expertise in cloud, virtualization, IT, and telecommunications,” said Onno Speekenbrink, gnTel. “Oracle’s solution and NetAxis Solution’s implementation will position us well for future growth.”

“Oracle’s cloud-ready session delivery solutions coupled with their extensive interoperability with third-party equipment and with our network monitoring software makes it simple for us to size, configure, deploy, and maintain the complex multi-vendor solution that gnTel requested,” said Bart van de Kar, NetAxis. “This project will further cement our expertise and relationship with Oracle.”

“In today’s marketplace, operators are looking for long-term, cost-effective and verified solutions that can improve their agility, streamline operations and accelerate time to market,” said Doug Suriano, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Communications. “Oracle Communications SBC provides CSPs, such as gnTel, the unconstrained flexibility that supports their efforts now and in the future.”

To learn more about Oracle Communications solutions, please connect on Twitter @OracleComms and at, or visit

To learn more about NetAxis Solutions, please visit

For further information about gnTel please visit


Business voip

ITSPA Summer Forum Update

Jeff Pulver – the hottest ticket in town

As of this morning there are seven places left for the ITSPA Summer Forum (sponsored by Netaxis Solutions – that fine telecommunications infrastructure company). The Summer Forum is one of the highlights of the ITSPA calendar and we can expect a pretty packed house.

This is especially true this year as our guest keynote speaker is my friend Jeff Pulver who has very kindly agreed to fly over from the good old US of A to talk to us about his MoNage conference. Monage is all about AI, Chatbots and the internet of things. If you are clueless about this you might want to think about coming along. As I said we have seven places left, officially, although I suspect that if more wanted to come we would make room for them.

After all it’s not often you get the chance to hear Jeff speak. For those of you who weren’t around in the early days of SIP/VoIP Jeff became famous as a VoIP Pioneer with his Voice on the Net (VON) conferences. Jeff also founded the world’s first global ITSP, Free World Dialup, and was the founder of the company we all now know as Vonage. He has been around.

If you are in London and want to come along just register here – it’s free – just use the members’ registration.

Oh and there is an evening meal which is fully booked but at which the dress code is Hawaiian shirt. So if you see some of us colourfully dressed you will know why.

Btw if you are an ITSP and not already a member you should seriously consider joining ITSPA. Apart from fantastic networking events that give you the opportunity to mingle with others in the industry they have a whole host of benefits – check it out here.

Ciao amigos


Business security

SME’s inaction on cybersecurity is bad for business

simon chandler

SME cybersecurity – should they care?

Small retailers and businesses aren’t doing enough on cybersecurity. This, at least, is what emerges from a survey published recently from domain provider 123 Reg, who canvassed 13,000 online retailers and discovered that 10% of them aren’t taking any steps whatsoever to protect their customers’ personal data.

This is a worrying figure, and while 10% isn’t perhaps a massive percentage on its own, the survey also found that 50% of e-commerce owners admit to not being prepared for an attack and to not having a recovery plan in the event of a breach.

While such findings are already disconcerting enough in simple terms of cyber and data security, they’re also troubling for another reason, which is that they reveal how smaller online retailers are jeopardising their businesses and their trustworthiness by neglecting the security of their websites and platforms.

This isn’t something suggested only by 123 Reg’s recent survey, but also by other research. For example, in June 2016, Barclaycard conducted their own survey on SME cybersecurity, learning that only 20% of small and medium enterprises held up online security as a top business priority. This was despite the fact that 48% had knowingly been the victim of a cyberattack and the fact that 54% were concerned about hacking.

And this stands in marked contrast to larger enterprises. Larger businesses take cybersecurity more seriously and invest more in it, with the latest Thales Data Threat Report revealing that 73% of large international corporations will be increasing their security spending this year. Similarly, the report also shows that 88% are highly concerned about data security, while a similar Zurich Insurance survey of SMEs from last year found that only 8% rank cybercrime as the top risk to their business.

Of course, larger companies are targeted in more high profile ways than their smaller counterparts, yet what should be unsettling for SMEs is that attacks against them are on the increase. In 2016, smaller businesses were hit by some 230,000 attacks, while the percentage of breaches targeting SMEs grew from 18% in 2011 to 43% in 2015.

One way of interpreting such growth is that, as cybercrime grows and becomes almost ‘professionalised’, cybercriminals are increasingly realising that smaller retailers are a soft target. And as the surveys mentioned above indicate, this is because SMEs aren’t devoting enough attention to the security of their websites, servers, networks and platforms.

As a result of this inattention, 74% of SMEs suffered an information security breach in 2015, according to Government figures. And this proportion is likely to grow, especially in light of how an August 2016 survey from Close Brothers revealed that 63% of SMEs have actually decided not to invest in improved online security in light of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

Somewhat luckily, SMEs lack the kind of visibility that would result in breaches being widely reported in the media. However, if attacks against them do indeed continue increasing, and if the public become increasingly aware of these attacks, then trust in smaller online businesses and retailers will be damaged.

And as the notorious TalkTalk hack from October 2015 plainly revealed, a violation of customer data wouldn’t result only in a loss of trust, but also in a loss of customers. And for smaller retailers and businesses eager to hold onto as many of their customers as possible, such losses would be very damaging.

It would result in small and independent retailers losing even more custom to giant online outlets such as Amazon and eBay, in the process strengthening even further the stranglehold such larger companies have on digital spending and shopping. At the moment, a whopping 55% of all online product searches are made on Amazon (at least in the US), and this share will only increase if SMEs continue being too inactive on cybersecurity.

This is why, even with smaller budgets, SMEs must take greater action to strengthen their data and cyber security. More of them need to adopt such measures as multifactor authentication for important company accounts, drawing up contingency plans for cyberattacks, conducting regular tests and assessments of the strength of their cybersecurity, and tightening physical and online access to sources of sensitive information.

By taking such steps, and perhaps by going so far as to employ dedicated information security officers where possible, SMEs will be in a much better position to guard themselves against the rising tide of cybercrime.

Yet more generally, they’ll be in a much better position to guard their businesses, their reputations, and their relationships with their customers. And given that they make up 99% [PDF] of all UK businesses, they’ll also be better placed to protect the British economy at a time when it needs more than ever to grow.

This is a guest post by Simon Chandler, News Editor of Choose, a consumer price comparison and information site covering broadband and personal finance services. Simon wrote the post a few weeks ago and I’ve been a delinquent in sticking it up. I don’t typically take guest posts from sites who are doing it for their own SEO benefit but in fairness to Choose they supply good quality copy and I wish them well with it.

Business voip

Proud winners again – Oracle style

Netaxis win Prestigious Oracle Award

Totally thrilled to tell you that last week, at the Oracle Industry Connect event in sunny Orlando Florida, Netaxis Solutions were presented with a prestigious Oracle Award for services to the industry. Or something like that 🙂

Oracle are important business partners for Netaxis. We use their Session Border Controllers in many customer solutions. The business was originally built around these products. We have moved on to some extent in that much of our business these days hinges around products we have developed ourselves – network monitoring, provisioning, anti fraud etc etc but Oracle are still important.

So it’s nice to have an award you can stick in the company reception, or on the internet more like. In fact blog posts like this are just the point of these awards. Something you can write about, boast about.

It isn’t without justification. Netaxis, a relatively small Belgian company but one with expansion plans (enter moi stage left), are going places. We have an unique skillset in the telecoms industry, especially for a company our size (30ish engineers). There ain’t many companies around who do the Systems Integration but also can develop the missing bits of the systems being integrated. That’s really how our product suite has been built up – customers have asked for features and we developed them. Quickly.

As I write this I’m sat in our company Annual Review (still jet lagged). We have 54 customers in 7 countries. These are all Telco customers. I’m quite impressed, considering the company is only 6 years old. It shows there is something there. Something Netaxis has that is interesting.

What is really interesting, and this comes from the fact that we deal with so many Tier 1 telcos, is the fact that there is a lot of mobile network development going on at the moment that is based on global standards: 3GPP and IMS/LTE. These standards are very constraining. They have to be in order to make the network work. This in turn makes it difficult for operators to differentiate themselves. Although these standards expose APIs few companies using these APIs.

That’s where Netaxis come in. Our own products make it easy for network operators to differentiate themselves. We are API based. This also makes it easier for operators to design cheaper to run, lower cost networks.

It’s an exciting to be involved. In case you didn’t spot it I have a joint venture with Netaxis in the UK.  I am going to unashamedly discussing Netaxis and their capabilities on this blog. Not really any different to what I did with Timico. Only interesting stuff of course. No boring stuff.

Anyway we won a Prestigious Oracle  Award. In Orlando, Florida. Good eh? The pic is of us three Netaxis boys, me, Alessandro and Bart, flanked by Oracle high ups. That’s a Welsh-Irish/Italian/Dutchman working for a Belgian company.

Ciao amigos…

PS this pic is the only one in which you will see me wearing long trousers in Florida.

PPS was sad to hear from the Uber driver to the airport that tourism is the main industry of Florida. This is obvious. The sad thing is that it used to be orange growing. A far simpler existence, if less lucrative.

Business voip

Mobile World Congress 2017

Report from Mobile World Congress 2017

It’s been a busy few weeks with some highlights, not the least of which being our exit from Timico shareholding. It brings to an end what was a great journey. We started Timico in April 2004. I kind of retired after ten years or so but remained a shareholder. It now feels as if the project has finally come to an end. Obviously Timico continue its journey but whilst I retain a fondness for the company it feels good to be able to move on.

Last week I was in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2017 supporting Netaxis. I’ve always been a bit sceptical about the business case for exhibitors at these big huge trade shows. They are so big you wonder how anyone can find anything. My justification for going was to meet partners. All the big infrastructure players (Oracle, Sonus, Genband, Broadsoft et al) have a presence there so it is a useful spot to arrange to meet all of these folks, even though it can be a 20 minute walk between meetings!

However I did come across a real example of the customer acquisition process. I was sat on my own at the Netaxis booth, just resting my feet really, when someone wandered by and stopped in front of me to read our spiel. I looked at him, he looked at me. I sat there passively. He came up to me and we started to chat. I realised I was having to move into elevator pitch mode which I did reasonably well I think.

We were just approaching the top floor in the elevator when Jean Seb came back to the booth. Jean Seb is the designer of our Nemo VoIP Network Monitoring tool. I casually handed the pitch over to Jean Seb and joined in where relevant. The prospect, a US based telco, was suitably impressed and we now have a lead to follow up. Don’t you just love it when it goes well like that?:)

The easiest way to do MWC is to just find a comfy seat and sit there. Everyone you know will swing by at sometime. I was sitting on a sofa at the Genband stand chatting to old SIP Forum pal Professor Alan Johnston, one of the original authors of the SIP protocol when a steady stream of people we knew walked by. Why have a booth when you can borrow someone else’s:).

I also took the opportunity to catch up over breakfast with Jeff Pulver who I hadn’t seen for years but who was in Barca to speak at a different gig.

The best bit about MWC are the evenings. These make the trip that much more exhausting but are the fun bits. If I tell you that my normal bedtime is 10pm but that the earliest I got to bed in Barcelona was 1.30am it will help you to understand. On my last night we ended up at “Swedish Beers” with Curtis Peterson of RingCentral and Adam Beaumont for AQL. Adam has been a long term sponsor of the event which as far as I can see has nothing to do with Sweden or Swedish Beers. The beer did flow voluminously and a good time was had by all. I later found out from Facebook that Alan Johnston was there at the same time. It was so packed we didn’t see each other.

So that’s it. Name dropping over. We are now well and truly into March and the third month of being for Netaxis Solutions UK. Watch this space…

Business Mobile voip

Who is going to Mobile World Congress next month?

Showcasing Fixed Mobile Convergence Mobile World Congress 2017

Fixed Mobile Convergence Mobile World Congress. If you are thinking of going to Mobile World Congress in Barca next month let me know and we can hook up. I’ll be there with Netaxis where we will be showcasing a load of nifty stuff including our Fixed Mobile Convergence server PIE.

Netaxis Solutions provides innovative Fixed Mobile Convergence solutions for mobile network operators. Grow your fixed line business and make your mobile offering more sticky and vice versa. Our PIE server provides customer self care and provisioning, is a bridge between Fixed and Mobile networks and provides an interface to all mainstream hosted VoIP platforms.

This Fixed Mobile proposition is a very simple solution. Our PIE server acts as a gateway between the fixed and mobile worlds and lets ITSPs easily integrate their own platforms with your networks. You do need a mobile network or a relationship with one.

If you have a mobile network then this is a serious proposition especially if you are a fixed or mobile wholesaler. Attract new ITSP business partners/resellers by allowing them to offer their customers the ability to integrate mobile solutions with their own hosted service. Works with all the main Vendors: Broadsoft, Cisco, Skype For Business et al and we can easily adapt it to others.

Come and talk to us about it at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona between February 27th and March 2nd. You can find us on our stand 7G71 in Hall 7.

See live demos at the booth of products and services that will help you run your networks more efficiently.

  • Nemo – Network Monitoring & Call Tracing
  • PIE – SelfCare Provisioning & Fixed-Mobile Convergence
  • Engo – Voice Fraud Management
  • Dory – SIP Call Simulator
  • SRE – Session Routing Engine
  • Vivo – Video Communication & Unified Messaging Platform

Mobile World Congress is the world’s largest gathering of the mobile industry. I won’t be manning the stand specifically but I can arrange to meet you there and/or go for a beer. Just let me know. You can email me at [email protected] (I’m still working on this).

Business Mobile Net UC

Announcing Netaxis Solutions UK

Netaxis Solutions UK

Thought I’d share some news with y’all. Last week we set up Netaxis Solutions UK, This is a joint venture between me and Netaxis in Belgium, a business I worked with last year on a consultative basis.

Quite exciting really. Netaxis are an engineering based company that partners with telecoms network operators.They are very successful in their space For me it’s a step back into the core of technology rather than the retail world of Timico, which is what took up the best part of the last decade or so.

I say telecoms operators but the game has changed massively since the word telecoms was first coined. It’s almost a redundant term but there isn’t one that has come along to replace it. At least not one that people readily identify with. The word communications provider is a little wishy washy and Internet Telephony Service Provider doesn’t tell the whole story.

The reality is that in providing services to end users (business or consumer) a network operator has to be able to grasp a huge range of technological capabilities. Some choose to specialise in Over The Top fields such as video conferencing or VoIP services. These might be quite big markets in their own right but such companies rely on partners to provide the network.

Operators of networks themselves can’t do everything. They too have to partner. Netaxis is such a partner. We began life as a systems integrator but gradually began to add our own technological capabilities and IP based on requests of the customers of our SI services. This has resulted in the development of a broad and still evolving set of capabilities that includes network monitoring, call simulation and VoIP network stress testing, anti-fraud software and services, routing engines, Fixed Mobile Convergence servers,provisioning servers, video capability and WebRTC function integration.

Add to this IMS core network design and development skills and you have a pretty powerful mix of capabilities that makes us well placed to help network operators in the UK move ahead in what can be bewildering waters.

Netaxis still offer a range of services and solutions from industry players such as Oracle, Genband, Broadsoft, Audiocodes et al but our pitch is that we are vendor independent and can work with anyone.

I’m not really a sales person but I plan to market Netaxis in the UK through some tried and tested methods. Customers need to see the value of working with technology partners. We aim to do this be expanding on the number of workshops and seminars during the course of 2017 to include subjects that might not be particularly sexy but should be of interest to service providers and network operators in our game. Whilst at Timico I kept independent – the same is going to apply here.

In the second half of 2016 I held a successful fraud workshop and a working lunch (finished at 6.15pm!) where we discussed VoIP call simulation techniques and uses. Look out for event announcements in the near future. Note that these are going to be events. They may even have Netaxis competitors in attendance. I’m not in the game of trying to sell people things they don’t need or want. I want an easy life:). I am betting though that you will want something we have.  I want people to come and say to me “Iike the look of that left handed server Tref” or “hmm wouldn’t mind trying out Netaxis’ call simulator” etc etc.

What I also want is to make it easy to do business with Netaxis. Push that door and I hope you will find it swings open. Time will tell but in the meantime wish me luck and feel free to ask me questions on life the universe and Netaxis Solutions UK. I trust 2017 is going to be a great year for us all.

PS I decided I was too young to stop working 🙂 What did it for me was two weeks I had set aside for jury service that was cancelled at the last minute. I had nothing in the diary and there is a limit to how many holidays you can go on. I needed motivation and with Netaxis Solutions UK I now have the motivation.

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.

broadband Business

Interview with Matthew Hare of Gigaclear

The business of rural fibre

Gigaclear CEO Matthew Hare is a pal of mine. In this little chat Matthew gives his opinion on the future of fibre broadband in the UK.

Tell us about Gigaclear, how and why you started the company.

I started the company in December 2010 aiming to deliver brilliant broadband to rural areas that were crying out for something better. The business model was and is to build and operate new ultrafast, pure Fibre-To- The-Premises (FTTP) broadband networks in rural communities where the existing fixed network infrastructure underperforms.

The aim was to give these communities faster and more reliable broadband than is available anywhere else in the UK. Using FTTP technology, properties served by Gigaclear in rural parts of the UK can experience speeds of up to 1Gbps, up to 33 times faster than the UK average. Once built, the futureproof network can keep up with the increasing demand for better, faster broadband to meet the connection needs of a modern, digital society.

Gigaclear was established to serve a gap in the market. Many of the areas that you operate in are regarded as not being commercially viable by other Internet Service Providers. How can Gigaclear reach rural areas, where other ISPs have failed?

We are not like most other ISPs where most of the business is focussed on city networks. Gigaclear specialises in building new networks to connect rural areas. Our whole business is designed to deliver an ultrafast, FTTP Internet service to these rural areas. As a result, the techniques and tools that we use to build our networks are all optimised for rural environments. If you asked me if BT could do what we do, I would say ‘of course’. There’s nothing secret about it. The question isn’t ‘can BT do what we do?’, but where investing in upgrading rural broadband networks sits in the company’s long list of priorities.

What level of commercial risk is Gigaclear taking to do this?

There are two risks that we consider. The first is whether we can build the network for the cost that we assume we can build it for. The second is assessing the interest – the demand – for better broadband from customers.

When you move in and do up your new home you may find some hidden surprises when you take off the wallpaper and start work. The same goes for building a new fibre network. While we try to minimise risk, there is always a possibility of bumps along the way. For example, a section of highway verge is private land, rather than owned by the local highway authority, or plastic water mains are not where they should be on the left of the road, but oar on the right, which causes problems for our contractors when digging. Resolving these and many other issues can all hold up a project and add cost.

We also need to accurately judge potential customer demand. It can be problematic when other service providers choose to overbuild us. This isn’t just frustrating for us – if another ISP builds over our network, it’s also often a waste of taxpayers’ money.

In your opinion, what can the Government do to support the rollout of better broadband in rural areas today?

The Government needs to look at how it can lighten the regulatory overhead, without compromising safety, to accelerate work to build new networks. The elimination of the permit scheme for managing construction on rural roads would significantly cut costs. Currently, the permit scheme can significantly restrict the hours that our contractors can work, with automatic fines being incurred if they continue operations outside the permit times. When you factor in the set-up time each day before you start construction and the break-down time at the end, a contractor may choose to incur the fine rather than waste time and money shutting down operations early. But this charge doesn’t help get better broadband to anyone.

Where do you see the company in 10 years’ time?

The Digital Minister, Matt Hancock, announced last week that the Government’s vision is to deliver national communications infrastructure based on the two “F”s: Fibre and Five G. . As a business that is driven by building new pure fibre networks in rural areas, we are completely aligned with this vision. We want to see every property with at least one fibre connection and many will have two in cities. Our mission as a business is to focus on the rural areas where we specialise, connecting as many people, homes and businesses, as we can to pure fibre over the next 10 years. There are 1.5 million rural properties currently underserved and we want to reach as many as possible in that time.

In her speech, Theresa May said that it was not right that half of people living in rural areas can’t get decent broadband. What do you feel is the solution to this?

A Copper Switch Off

The country needs to have a complete copper switch off. We need to move to an environment where this is no alternative to fibre. This has two massive benefits. Firstly, operating fibre networks is significantly less expensive than copper. There is less that can go wrong from a maintenance perspective and a single fibre infrastructure can serve every type of fixed network application.

Secondly, it moves the UK to a position where information is always available to everyone. The flow of information and the ability it gives people to work, play, communicate and entertain themselves, whenever and wherever they want, will have a hugely beneficial impact on society and the economy in the future.

Commercial Investment

A complete copper switch off can be done with commercial investment from ISPs and with the support of Ofcom. There’s no doubt that it will be expensive to provide universal fibre access to certain parts of the country. As with any utility, the Government will need to decide how best to make sure there is ubiquitous access in these areas.

There must also be an appreciation that fibre broadband will not be available in extremely secluded areas. If you decide to build a new house at the top of a mountain, miles and miles away from the nearest other habitation, you will need to accept that there will be no utility access.

A Public Policy Solution

A public policy solution can be achieved in several ways. The Government could offer companies the monopoly on a certain region on the condition that it gives every property in that region a fibre connection. That company must then cross subsidise the properties at the edge of the network, further away and with a higher cost to serve with those closer to the heart of the network.

The second option is to ask the taxpayer to subsidise the properties that are not commercially viable to connect with network access; the third solution is to ask people who live off the edge of the network to pay more to have Internet access.

More Gigaclear related posts

Business voip

Differentiate your service from that of other Broadsoft users

Broadsoft provisioning server – PIE by Netaxis

Broadsoft would appear to be the leader in the hosted PBX market. The problem with this is that many Broadsoft based hosted VoIP services will have little to differentiate themselves from the competition. It is a situation reached in the mature on premise market many years ago.

Their customer portals all look the same. The features are all the same. This might be ok from a customer’s perspective but it’s quite likely that all the service providers will be able to do is compete based on price. Broadsoft is not known for its cheap licensing so the point so going to come where provider margins are going to be squeezed and squeezed.

The industry is already consolidating. The biggest problem with consolidation from a VoIP perspective is how to transfer acquired customers over to your own platform. A huge amount of project management is going to be involved with some subscribers needing to be individually managed across. The setup and feature set of the new system need to be identical to the old or you risk upsetting and losing a customer.

The proliferation of Broadsoft does to a certain extent remove this problem. The features of both platforms are likely to be identical so the migration should be straightforward.

Most service providers will not have the resources to be able to customise their customer front ends – what the customer sees when they log into their online account. This is where the Netaxis PIE server comes in. PIE makes the provisioning of new customers simpler and offers customers a differentiated, simpler User Interface. From the service provider this also comes at a cost significantly lower than the Broadsoft product.

Moreover PIE comes with multi country support so if you are planning to offer services in France and Germany (for example) then you can do so in the language native to that country.

Gimme a shout if you want to hear more about PIE or see a demo.

Ciao amigos.

Disclosure. I am doing some consultancy work for Netaxis. I wouldn’t however write something about their products and solutions if I didn’t think they were good.


Massive inflation in the UK tech sector already happening

Look out UK – weak pound driving tech sector inflation and unemployment

The news this morning about Tesco no longer stocking Marmite in its online store due to wholesale price hikes prompted a Facebook discussion on  price rises in the tech sector with pals in the industry. 

Looks to me like we are in for some serious inflation driven by the weakening of the pound. Companies are already cutting back on jobs. See the comment threads – I’ve removed names and will add more inputs as I see them:

  1. Pricing on memory and SSDs has all increased recently as disties ran out of “pre-brexit” stock. They’ll go up again shortly with the latest devaluation as well.
  2. We’re now paying 25% more for most domains, ssl certs, software licenses etc. etc.
  3. I did a quote about a month ago, thinking I was reasonably safe for a while using a USD rate of 1.2 (Was 1.34 at the time I think), as there was a lot of licensing in it. How wrong I was.
  4. Yes, we have an interesting mix. One provider where we pay a percentage of list price (which is in USD). Those quotes used to be valid for 30 days, now the quote is effectively in USD and the price we pay is converted at the time the order is placed. A different provider gave us a GBP based price book with year-on-year cost erosion. We’re unlikely to be able to …and yes, I’m having to do major upgrades based on a budget placed 18 months ago where most of the kit is from the first provider above.
  5. Subscription services paid for in $. MS365, adobe cloud, anything like that.
  6. Dell did a 15‰ across the board rise
  7. We’ve revised our USD wholesaled domains twice and might have to do so again. In April .com was £9.17+VAT, today it’s £11.67+VAT – a 22% rise.
  8. My sat phone is paid in $, so that
  9. Not just RAM/SSDs Dell/Supermicro (via Boston) are around 20-30% more expensive for the entire system unit.
  10. Virtually everything for Media Production (apart from some camera mounting kit and a few audio bits and pieces) comes from Japan or the USA, so list has gone up 10% to 14%
  11. Snom phones went up.
  12. We’ve just jacked our prices up by 25% across the board as most of our products are imported and paid for in USD.
  13. Had a meeting about buying a new fancy instrument. “We have a Euro and Dollar price, there isn’t a sterling price as it’s too unstable.”
  14. After Cisco hiked prices significantly we had to decide between massively scaling back an upgrade or not hiring a new engineer. Whoever says the impact is not losing jobs is deluded. There’s a intelligent motivated young man who is currently unemployed, who wouldn’t be if it wasn’t for the cost rises.
  15. I’m being hit with SSD price rises 🙁 At one point 120gb sandisk SSD’s were £31, last time I bought they were £40. They are now £39 on Amazon.
    Also the Wifi AP I bought in June for £108 is now £111 – THE CHEEK! 😀
  16. Our situation: we were buying for an expansion to Geneva just around the time of EUref. Only a few bits of kit were ~5% more expensive, but I could see prices going up almost daily on anything imported. Of course, having installed it all now, colocation costs abroad are obviously feeling more and more expensive. We planned our budget assuming Brexit and GBP-crash, and also our colo supplier there allows pre-pay on their customer accounts — which we did!

On a personal note my google drive costs are paid in dollars so my cloud storage costs will already have risen.

update from a vendor:

“it should be pretty common knowledge that “price rises are coming to a vendor near you”.  All components are priced in USD, most  IT and networking equipment is imported, so it’s inevitable.  There may be long term sourcing agreements that mean vendors suffer, but they will need to recover that lost margin from somewhere (meaning those customers without long term pricing agreements in GBP).  I don’t see any upsides.  Even UK manufacturers aiming to export will struggle with all their components priced in USD.  The general effect will most likely be that customers used to getting 10%, 20% more off the initial quoted price will struggle if they make an assumption that will continue.”

Business mobile connectivity

A Solution to The Fixed Mobile Convergence Dilemma.

A simple FMC redirect server could be the answer

Classically a FMC solution that works with mainstream Hosted Platforms employs SIP soft clients running on smartphones and relies on either wifi or the mobile data network for connectivity. The Netaxis solution uses the mobile voice channel offering more reliable connectivity with less drain on the handset battery.


I’ve been in the VoIP game for a good 16 years now and for much of that time convergence has been a subject of debate. The initial VoIP pitch was converging onto a single network. Then Communications Providers began converging services onto one bill. Single point of contact. One throat to choke if it goes wrong. Easy enough really.

The whole issue of Fixed Mobile Convergence has been a little thornier. Unless you own a mobile network then this is not a readily achievable goal. It’s easy enough to provide VoIP clients for mobile devices. I use CSIP Simple for example. However this just provides mobility to your fixed line and depends on the availability of good IP network connectivity. Call quality is very hit and miss and whilst I haven’t properly tested it  (probably difficult to do anyway) it certainly feels as if battery life is not as good.

Netaxis PIE redirect server

Recently I’ve been doing some work with Netaxis Solutions of Belgium. These are a neat bunch of engineers with long experience in the telecoms game. As well as having an established systems integration business (string of equipment vendor certs) they have developed a number of essential telco software services as a result of demand from their Benelux based Tier 1 and Tier 2 customers.

The software modules include: ENGO fraud management, DORY cal simulator, PIE provisioning server and NEMO network monitoring and management software.

Netaxis have now moved into Fixed Mobile Convergence by extending the capabilities of their PIE server. When used in conjunction with a softswitch platform such as Broadsoft, Microsoft or Cisco HCS PIE acts as a redirect server between the fixed and mobile networks. Tango of Luxembourg have already launched services with three others in the pilepline.

What does it look like to the end-user?

Companies can easily integrate employees mobile devices with their company phone system (be it a CP provided hosted solution or their own). Employees making calls can choose to have those calls seen as coming from their own mobile number or that of the company. Inbound calls to either fixed or mobile numbers are controlled by the hosted PBX and routed as required.

How it actually works

Mobile user can choose between 2 modes: “business” and “private” (personal).

  • In private mode handset acts just like a “normal” mobile device showing the mobile CLI.
  • In business mode mobile phone becomes a new Broadsoft (or Cisco HCS or Skype for Business) user device aka a PC client or deskphone. Calls initiated by the mobile device will be handled by Broadsoft as if they were a Broadsoft user and will show the fixed CLI associated with their user account.

Inbound calls to a Broadsoft user will initiate parallel calls to all subscribed devices for that account including the mobile device. For calls to voicemail the pertinent mailbox will be used – business voice mail for Broadsoft and mobile voice mail for private usage. For billing, business calls will generate Broadsoft Call Data Records. Private calls will generate mobile network CDRs.

Why is this important?

This proposition has several very positive business benefits for Network Operators.

  • A incentive for existing fixed customers to add mobile minutes
  • An enticement for CPs who are not yet customers

Do you need a mobile network to offer this service?

Yes you do need a mobile network. However it is a lot easier for Network Operators to offer Fixed Mobile Services on a wholesale basis with the Netaxis solution because all that is required is a simple prefix for each reseller that allows calls from their customers to be routed via the PIE server. No messing about in the core of the network

How would CP’s sell this on?

The CP can either resell mobile sims to their customers (easy and fast solution) or setup a MVNO relationship with the Network Operator and resell their own sims. In both cases no network infrastructure needs to be implemented by the CP. It is all implemented by configuring the Redirect server and the Routing of the calls inside the network.

This is a simple service that allows enormous scope for CPs to offer creative packages to their customers.


I think this product has the potential to be of huge interest to Mobile Operators worldwide. It is a simple concept that bypasses the need for heavy fixed and mobile network integration and is easy for the end user to get their brain around. Moreover it makes use of the more reliable cellular network rather than the mobile data connection.

Network Operators will see the service is a way of attracting new CP customers and to grow sales of existing partners. Business customers of CPs will see the benefit because it offers an easy way to separate work and personal use of their employees on a single mobile handset.

Business travel

Why do we bother using the Post Office?

Not very Special Delivery

Last Thursday I posted my passport at the Post Office in Peel, IoM where I am on holiday. I wanted it to get to Richard Irving safely so I paid for it to go Special Delivery, guaranteed to get there before 1pm, the next day ie Friday. Richard is taking it to the Chinese Embassy to sort out visas.

When I spoke to Rich yesterday it hadn’t arrived. It did arrive later that day. I wasn’t impressed so I went back to the Post Office to get my money back. To do this I now need to fill in a form and hand it in with my receipt. I have filled in said form. It’s a lot of hassle for £6.45 but I’m doing it as a point of principle.

Now whenever I want to send something special delivery or signed for I always think of the Post Office first. They have the product and the brand.

Next point. I ordered a printer cartridge from HP some time ago. Turns out they were out of stock so unimpressively gave me a delivery date some time in the future. That some time happened to be yesterday and I received a sms letting me know it was out for delivery.

As you now know I am in the Isle of Man and unable to be there to accept the parcel. I forgot to reschedule it yesterday and received another text saying they, DPD were trying again today. This time I clicked on the link to rearrange delivery for when I am there. The link didn’t work (note HP/DPD) but I lifted the tracking number and went in via the DPD website. I have now arranged to pick the parcel up from a local depot. Job done.

I am generally pretty impressed with DPD. I don’t think my experience with the Post Office matches this. It would have helped had I been able to make the claim online but no, I have to fill out paperwork and send it off.

We need more high street options for Special Delivery services. I will investigate next time I want to send something.


Irritated of Tonbridge Wells

Bad Stuff Business Legal ofcom Regs scams

Information, Connection and Signposting Services (ICSS) Update

ICSS update

A little while ago I was approached by someone else that shares an interest in the subject of Information, Connection and Signposting Services (the so-called ICSS), about which I have previously written on Trefor.Net.

As a brief reminder, someone will buy up all the Google Ad-words (or, I suppose, the Yahoo equivalent if they’re still a thing) for “British Gas Customer Services” and variants thereof, and show a revenue sharing phone number, such as 0844 (which can be upto 7 pence per minute plus your phone company’s access charge) which they then translate to the actual customer service number and pocket the difference.

Since I last wrote about this, the Consumer Rights Directive was transposed and the Financial Conduct Authority implemented a similar requirement to outlaw the use of “premium rate” calls when contacting a company in connection with a contract.

Firstly, some pedantry from me. The term premium rate is bandied about far too often by everyone. It has a very distinct legal meaning, which is based in the Ofcom Premium Rate Services Definition. Broadly, that means it has to be more than 7 pence per minute in terms of the Service Charge element; and as the National Telephone Numbering Plan (given force by virtue of General Condition of Entitlement 17) prohibits the use of anything above 7 pence per minute to just 087x and 09x ranges, then 084 numbers and 03 numbers are not Premium Rate by definition. Hopefully some sub-Editors for the Daily Mail shall take note. Incidentally, the numbering plan doesn’t prevent 087 being used below 7 pence per minute – in the changes to the non-geographic call services market in the summer of 2015, many operators set a service charge of 1-2 pence per minute for 0870 numbers to maintain the status quo. This means they are not “premium rate” despite the fact the next number block in sequence might be 13 pence per minute.

So, now we are all up to speed, why the renewed interest? Well, PhonepayPlus intervened in the ICSS market where the Service Charge element was over 7 pence per minute (i.e. premium rate where they have jurisdiction). They set a prior permission regime, which denoted ICSS has high risk, but then softened this to Special Conditions along with the rest of the prior permission regime in an update to the PhonepayPlus Code of Conduct. Their intervention wasn’t a smooth one, with some ICSS operators seeking a judicial review of their intervention. That will give you an idea of what the market is worth – a view supported by the growing number of entities apparently offering such a “service”. I have a list broken down by year and it has demonstrably been growing over time.

I cannot think of any direct PhonepayPlus censure of an ICSS provider; however, the Advertising Standards Authority has intervened in a couple of cases. The first brought to my attention was in 2014 whereby the ASA ruled against them on the basis it wasn’t clear it was a connection service. Interestingly, in a case in 2015, they went further, discussing that customers looking for a number for customer services wouldn’t go into detailed small print. This is heartening as it means the ASA is almost going further than PhonepayPlus and is a useful alternative body to make complaints to.

Unsurprisingly, the Fair Telecoms Campaign made a suggestion that all ICSS should be treated as Premium Rate Services (i.e. under Phonepayplus control) in their response to the Ofcom consultation on the latest Phonepayplus Code of Conduct. Ofcom dismissed this in their Statement due to a lack of consumer harm being evidenced, which is a stock Ofcom answer for “not important enough to warrant our resource or attention yet”.

That Ofcom position also correlates with me having made representations on behalf of some financial institutions who were rather aggrieved at being passed off (which is still the advice I give people – treat it as impersonation more than a telecommunications regulation issue).

So, it’s clear there’s still a problem, and potentially one that is growing. Where do we go from here?

Well, it is heartening that a Google search I have performed for a few private sector companies people may wish to call (including those I referenced in my original piece) has them in the top couple/three hits with ICSS at least being less obvious and less baiting then I recall, although they are still there. This of course doesn’t get around the natural human instinct of just dialling the number that’s there at the top, of course. However, I cannot say the same for government departments who appear to be subject to it, and, in terms of Ofcom’s statutory duties, should have them pay more attention as it presents services used by the more vulnerable in society.

I believe that the ASA has broader power and is clearly more disposed to using it in situations where ICSS is misleading. The problem here is two-fold though. First, it is a lot harder for a commercial entity to make a complaint to the ASA (something I found out when ITSPA were going to refer EE for its “shed load of data” advert a couple years ago). Secondly, there is a balance between offering a service at a premium taken willingly by lazy consumers (the economists would say “reducing their search costs”); just like being put through to a number given to you by the guys in moustaches at their 118 rates, ICSS can be argued to have a legitimate role in society.

That means we need to have a debate, which is where Ofcom should come in. They are the subject matter experts and have a wide range of powers available for them to research and intervene as they feel appropriate. So, I think my advice needs to be updated as follows;

  1. Complain to the ASA. It is easier for it to be given attention if the consumer does it as opposed to the passed off company.
  2. Be in control of your search engine results and outspend the ICSS people if needs be. I haven’t experienced it myself as it isn’t my area, but one ITSPA members tells me Google are receptive to  companies complaining they are being passed off, so that should be something done as well.
  3. Complain to Ofcom. Google “Ofcom contact us” and pray I haven’t been mischievous and bought the ad words for it and translated an 0908 number to their 0300 to fund an Aston Martin. In all seriousness, their details are here.


My experience from dealing with fraud, net neutrality and other issues that various agencies want to try and ignore is that once there’s a clear weight of evidence, in fairness to those agencies, they do start to act. So let’s get the evidence to them and break the vicious cycle of “no action because no reporting” and “no reporting because no action”.

Business voip

Amusing LinkedIn congratulatory messages

Amusing LinkedIn congratulatory messages

Started getting  load of LinkedIn congrats this week. I couldn’t understand why. It was happy anniversary in the job type stuff. I asked someone what it was for and turns out I’ve been on the ITSPA council for ten years.

Actually that is wrong. ITSPA is now, in its current form, 11 years old and I was there at the start. What’s more there was an ITSPA before ITSPA. After a year we relaunched it formally with a professional secretariat.

I must at some stage have guessed the start date and stuck that down in LinkedIn at some point. None of it really matters.

ITSPA itself has changed significantly in that ten (eleven (twelve?)) years. When we first began there were probably fewer than 10 ITSPs in the UK. I had an instance of a SIP Express Router with a free service but next to no one on it. Now we have 80 or 90 members and hold big (ish) events at posh spots in town.

In the meantime don’t stop the congrats a coming. It must be said that LinkedIn makes it really easy for people to push these messages to people by shoving them in your face every time you login to the site. This is especially the case when it come to endorsements.

I often get endorsements for skills from people who I know darn well will have no idea what that skill represents. Either thats or for such generic knowledge bases such as “Trefor really knows his stuff when it comes to telecommunications”.

Gordon Bennet.

PS I think I will give a prize for the funkiest endorsement on LinkedIn. Bring em on 🙂

Business Legal security

House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee report on Cyber Security

House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee report on Cyber Security and all that jazz

Email came through from ITSPA this morning regarding the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee report on  Cyber Security: Protection of Personal Data Online Contents

In general, the report focused on the need for increased consumer awareness of cyber security breaches and recommended that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) should have a robust system of escalating fines to sanction those who fail to report, prepare for, or learn from data breaches. It also stated that Government need to urgently address the huge amount of data that will be created by the Investigatory Powers Bill and how this will be secured from data breaches.

I’ve listed the key recommendations together with my own comments below:

  • Companies should report their cyber security and data protection strategies to the ICO

This is somewhat naive. How many companies are there in the UK? The ICO would be swamped and in anycase to have the resources to do anything with the information.

  • The ICO should have additional powers of non-consensual audit, notably for health, local government and potentially for other sectors

More red tape and you have to question the efficacy of this. I can understand auditing the public sector but private industry???

  • The Government should initiate a public awareness-raising campaign on cyber security
  1. Waste of time though. For a campaign to be effective it would have to be prolonged, permanent even, and cost a fortune.
  • It should be easier for victims of a data breach to claim compensation

Seems like a good idea if likely to be somewhat complicated and difficult to do.

  • All relevant companies should provide well-publicised guidance to customers on how they will contact customers and how to make contact to verify that communications from the company are genuine

What makes a company relevant? In principle this sounds sensible but it is red tape.

  • All telecommunications companies should take steps to ensure that compliance with data protection rules and Cyber Essentials are key criteria when selecting third party suppliers

The more I think about this is its interference in private industry.

  • Cyber security should sit with someone able to take full day-to-day responsibility and who can be fully sanctioned if the company has not taken sufficient steps to protect itself from a cyber-attack

Cost. Overhead.

  • To ensure this issue receives sufficient CEO attention before a crisis strikes, a portion of CEO compensation should be linked to effective cyber security


  • The vulnerability of the massive new data pools that will be created by the Investigatory Powers Bill needs to be urgently addressed by Government

I’ve been saying this for years but all you will get is lip service.

There you go. The UK approach to cybersecurity. I’m not saying it isn’t an important subject and that we all need to be cyber secure. I’m not sure that more rolls of red tape is the way to do it.

My thanks to the ITSPA secretariat for their contributions to this post (which is most of the post apart from my comments)

Business voip

UK telecoms revenues plummet because of England v Wales game

punters hang on to their seats not their phones

voipgThe number of calls being made by people in UK small businesses plummets during the England v Wales European footy match, according to highly respected telecoms chief Colin Duffy. In an exclusive revelation to Duffy reveals that his customers spent more time watching the game than using their phones.

The graph shows top VoIP service provider Voipfone’s call levels on a normal day compared with today.The green line is last Thursday compared with today.

Duffy goes on to say “They need to stop scheduling these games during the working day – it’s bad for business.”

If this pattern has been seen by every phone company out there, and there is no reason to believe this is not the case then some of them, incumbent BT included, will be issuing profit warnings. editor in chief Trefor Davies personally spent the whole game in the Peacock pub in Lincoln and didn’t make a single phone call which corroborates Duffy’s claim. “I didn’t see a single person make a phone call during the game” says Davies. The fact that Davies had several pints of Tribute Pale Ale had no effect on his observations, he went on to claim.

Davies has since tried calling his wife on her mobile to see when she will be returning from her girly day out at a spa. He has warmed up the chilli con carne and the rice is now on the go. He has not been able to contact the first Mrs Davies since she presumably began celebrating the England victory in the football.

Davies, who is Welsh has been unavailable for further comment and is now contemplating opening a bottle of red wine while he waits. It will be down to whether he wants to risk the wrath of Mrs Davies when she returns from her day out. What the heck…

Business scams

Takeaway messages from telecoms fraud workshop

Telecoms fraud workshop learnings

We covered a lot of ground in yesterday’s telecoms fraud workshop. A big thanks to everyone who made it and to sponsors Netaxis and Gamma. I don’t think there was a singe person in the room who didn’t contribute in some way and I’m sure everyone got something out of it.

A special thanks to the speakers Colin Duffy of Voipfone, Ben O’Leary from Gamma, DS Nick Kemsley of the City of London Police, independent fraud expert Dave Morrow and Manuel Basilavecchia of Netaxis.

Much was discussed in the three hours but the key points can easily be summarised here:

  1. If carriers were able to stop international settlement payments for known fraudulent traffic to premium rate numbers the problem would disappear overnight. “Apparently this is not possible”. Nobody could really say why.
  2. Fraud mitigation systems need to be automated and work in real time or as near to real time as possible. Most fraudulent “attacks are over in a short period of time. Manual systems that rely on human intervention take too long. This may result in “false positives” where genuine traffic is blocked but it is better this way than for end users to be hit with big bills.
  3. There has been plenty of work done that would help people model their automated (and non automated for that matter) systems. Get in touch if you want me to point you in the right direction.
  4. Criminals use automated processes that work their way through number ranges until they find an unblocked series to use as targets for their fraudulent calls. An automated system should be able to anticipate fraudulent activity by seeing calls from one destination working their way through such number ranges. \


I’m not going to go through the types of fraud involved. Much has been written before on this blog if you want a read. I’ve made it easy for you by providing a link to telecoms fraud posts.

Click on the link for Dave Morrow’s white paper on Missing Trader Intra Community Fraud.

Business voip

VoIP monitoring tools for a world where SIP trunks outnumber ISDN

VoIP monitoring tools for the 21st century.

I’m doing some work with a company called Netaxis Solutions who amongst other things provide a suite of VoIP monitoring tools for network operators/Internet Telephony Service Providers. This post highlights how the operational requirements of ITSPs change as they grow. Customers get more demanding and it becomes increasingly important to up the game when it comes to support.

Communications providers use all sorts of tools to run their networks these days. Many of them are open source, particularly in the ISP game. ISPs almost run their business on free software.

The downside of this is that you have to have enough engineering resource support and manage these tools. This is fine when a business is small and the small team of network engineers is both netops, dev and support.

When a business grows and evolves into distinct functional departments, as we all hope ours will, the game changes. Not only does the larger organisation tend to have fewer generalists who can do everything and hence support every bit of open source software they have grown up with. The growing business tends to have demands put upon it by its customer base that applies stress to an organisation and forces it to change. Customers of such businesses want less downtime/increased reliability, better quality and more responsive technical support.

If a business copes with this stress it has a chance to succeed and part of this success is its ability to evolve its systems to cope.  They can’t afford to have someone spending half his time trying to fix his own software build whilst at the same time helping a customer.

This evolution not only means more integrated help desk, ticketing, scheduling, provisioning and billing functions (etc). It also means a move towards automation in the network wherever possible. We are already seeing this with the advent of Software Defined Networks (notionally – do you know anyone who has implemented one?) and the automated provisioning of Wide Area Network connectivity.

The integration of voice and data networks adds to the pressures. Why is that connection poor? Is it congested? Is the link down? Is it using a low quality voice termination partner? Is there something going on in the LAN?

One key area in this new world of engineering operations is the toolset that is needed. You want to be able to tell at a glance whether there is a problem, or even when a problem is about to happen. Being able to see what is going on and respond quickly is not only going to be a way of keeping customers happy and growing your business from your existing base but it is also going to entice new customers.

In the voice world the tools required are very specific. We need to be able to properly understand what is happening to voice in a network. Whilst the technology involved is more complicated in one sense in another it helps to make life easier. We now have tools that are far more flexible than just being able to see whether a specific link is up or down as might have been the case in the old circuit switched world.

Now we can drill into problem areas in a network in a very granular way because all connections are IP enabled. Problems can be isolated to specific phone calls and specific network connections or trunks. We can employ tools that give us a very clear picture of what is happening.

Is a trunk hitting it’s headroom for simultaneous call capacity? Is the call quality deteriorating and why? What is the MOS score? Is the trunk down? We can even see whether a connection has been deteriorating over time.

Think of the peace of mind you would give a  customer if he knew that you could foresee problems and fix them before they happened. It is even a revenue opportunity. Have you thought about upgrading from xDSL to Ethernet Mr Customer. Or do you need some more SIP trunks?

You would certainly be able to make him happy by fixing his problems quickly when he calls in to complain.

There are tools available for this type of service. Vendors of Session Border Controllers provide them for example. They ain’t cheap though and an SBC user interface isn’t particularly easy to use.

Really you need to find something that does the job in a cost effective way. I’ve been doing some work with a gem of a company called Netaxis Solutions. Out of 25 people 23 or so are engineers which is one of the reasons I got interested in them. Netaxis have sponsored a number of events in the past 12 months (declaration of interest).

Netaxis are not only all nice guys but they are also a multi talented group of people who work with Tier 1 and 2 operators to provide VoIP solutions primarily for corporates such as banks and insurance companies. They have a string of VoIP vendor accreditations as long as your arm with terrific experience of deploying and managing multi site VoIP rollouts. They are kings of the SBC and the softswitch.

Over the last few years in performing this sort of work Netaxis have seen the need to develop a set of tools that help them support their customers’ networks. These tools support functions such as monitoring and reporting, call simulators and traffic generator, fraud detection and a self care and provisioning portal.

I’ve just done a quick screenshot of one of the tabs of Nemo, the monitoring tool. The picture is just sample data but you can immediately see how you could make use of the facility. A customer’s call traffic patterns will show whether they have enough capacity to service their peak needs. It would be an easy way to upsell additional SIP trunks or to help a customer see where their problem lies.

voip monitoring tools

Nemo allows you to drill into specific customer accounts, even to individual telephone extensions and check out the relevant statistics. Imaging being able to track the MOS scores over time – an easy way to anticipate problems or to see when a specific problem happened.

voip monitoring tools - mos scores

I’m not going to spend too much time itemising everything that can be done but it gives you the idea. Drop me a line if you want to know more or come and see me at the Telecoms Fraud Workshop tomorrow in London.

Business Legal Regs

Should I stay or should I go?

In out shake it all about

The EU Referendum poll on this blog is picking up momentum thanks to all the background publicity the BBC et al have been giving it. The referendum not my poll 🙂 I realise it’s an important decision but personally I’ve been turned off by al the hype and switch off anytime it appears on radio or TV.

I’m not going to tell you the numbers until shortly before the 23rd. Also I will need to sanitise it as one or two people have tried gaming the system. Thought I had the controls in place to stop it but those votes won’t count in any case.

The community in which i live and work is largely an international one. The talk is as often as not how many more tier points you need to make gold, or even the couple of steps you can make it above that. Personally I’m not prepared to spend most of my life on a plane to do that. I digress.

My point is that I’d expect most people in the internet industry to vote remain because the nature of their lives is international and not parochial to the UK. You will have to wait and see the results.

You can still vote – see the sidebar underneath the camper van hire ad (still some slots available if you want to go to a festival this summer).

The one thing that has annoyed me more than any regarding this referendum is the total bullshit brought out by some of the politicians. They are only interested in getting simple one line messages out designed to sway the waverers. This is normal politics but this politics is getting dirty. Outright deception.

All I can say is that the UK is going to be littered with the bodies of dead political careers after this summer is out. The conservative party is likely to never be the same again. The knives that over the last few years have been gripped tightly but have hitherto remained in their sheaths are now being brandished. Their steely blue blades will be bathed in blood before the druids have returned to their homes from the solstice (thought i’d get a poetic bit in:)

I don’t think you can ever get a perfect politician. They are by definition imperfect animals. They can only really attain such a status in the eyes of other politicians. Probably the best a politician can do is not be seen to have cocked up too much. Tony Blair for example will be admired by his peers for his staying power and political skills but not by many of the general public.

It’s looking like a huge cockup on the part of David Cameron. The referendum is only being held because of internal Conservative Party strife. Let hope the polls got it as wrong as they did in the last General Election and we have an emphatic win, one way or another.

If we vote for a clear remain then at least we can kill off a few political careers and get on with life. If we vote to go god knows what’s going to happen.

Business fun stuff webrtc

WebRTC: hacking apps for mental health services

WebRTC hacks for social benefit

Last week I explained how we at IPCortex were working with a social enterprise called Founders and Coders to use WebRTC to help solve some social challenges.

The plan was to introduce the ambitious FAC team (16 trainee Javascript developers), to WebRTC via a week long workshop. We’d then support them in using the IPCortex API to quickly put together proof of concept applications for other social enterprises. Afterwards, we’d demo it together at TADHack, the go-to event for devs pushing the boundaries of WebRTC.

TADHack was last weekend and I’m proud to be able to share more about the application we developed, called Confidant, and what we learned during the process.

Developing an idea

The idea we selected comes from a real life requirement brought to us by a charity and an NHS Trust. Their aim was to enhance the provision of youth mental health counselling services remotely: an idea that demonstrates the feasibility of using WebRTC to provide better access to support services. They’d use a community of volunteers on related university courses to provide supervised mentoring services – with the mentors receiving credit for professional experience gained by volunteering their time.

The original intention was to split the development team up and do several different smaller scale hacks. However, the use case for Confidant was very tangible and so well thought out that it immediately caught the team’s imagination. They were excited about making a real difference and decided they wanted to work as one team to deliver the best possible proof of concept hack in the time available.

From zero to demo in 7 days flat

By the time we got to talking about the hack we’d been working with the Founders and Coders students in the WebRTC workshop for a couple of days. I’d seen them working individually or in small groups on some basic WebRTC practical exercises, but wasn’t sure how a huge project with 16 student developers, all working to deliver one application, was going to work. To add to the challenge, they mostly work in React, a technology about which I knew nearly nothing before this week. It looked like I would be learning a lot too.

What came next was a big surprise. Just to recap, this was a team of 16 trainee developers who are about 12 weeks in on an intensive Javascript course. This was their first taste of the real time web and telecoms APIs, and I think also the first time they had worked on a project of this magnitude in a large team. They pretty much immediately, and with no externally obvious single point of leadership, organised themselves into a couple of sub-teams to analyse the requirements and map user journeys for the mentor and client respectively.

The sub teams then presented their results back and a working priority feature list and realistic plan of what was feasible in a couple of days development was quickly produced. A git repository and wiki were there from the start to share information and track issues from the requirements analysis stage. This was by far the most professional hack development process I have ever seen!

Three incredibly intense days later they presented Confidant together at TADHack (video at the bottom of this post). I had the opportunity to present with them about the whole process at the WebRTC Global Summit on Monday, and the positive feedback was overwhelming. You can read a bit more in the Prezi I created for the session.

The next step is to present the application back to the charity customer, and hopefully find some buy-in and resources to start work on taking it a minimum viable product, so that it can be deployed as a pilot to see how it works in real life.

Overall it’s been a fascinating process. We’re delighted to have had the opportunity to use WebRTC for social good and hopefully do our bit to help improve mental health services for young people.

Rob Pickering is CEO of communications company IPCortex and is a good friend of this blog.

Loads of other WebRTC posts here.

4g broadband Business

Virgin Media Broadband Problem

Virgin Media Broadband Problem s R Us

I’m having a Virgin Media broadband problem. Took a skeet on my router and no WAN IP address was present. I haven’t bothered logging a fault as their website tells me there know about it – see featured image above. It’s been down since I got back from the dentist at around 10am.

In the meantime I’ve been using my phone as a portable hotspot connected to the EE 4G network. Since I got a 20GB data bundle for £20 a month (see here for story) I am totally comfortable with hammering the 4G connection. In fact you will see below that at 40Mbps down and almost 20Mbps up  I am getting a reasonable speed out of it – faster indeed than my old 80/20 FTTC line that only ever gave me 30/7.


The only problem I have is that my SIP deskphone doesn’t work and similarly neither do our SIP DECT phones that are the “landlines”.

This is a little bit of a nuisance as I use the SIP line to make free conference calls and to call my dear old dad in the Isle of Man. Mobile operators rip you off on calls to the IoM by not only treating them as international roaming calls but also outside the EU. Landline calls are treated as UK geo.

The only easy way to find out if the problem has been fixed is by occasionally trying my landline. Otherwise it’s a nuisance switching hotspots. The connection did come back momentarily but has now disappeared again.

I can get by using the 4G line and mobile calls but you can see why it is important for larger businesses to that they have robust connectivity. If I had an office full of people it would be worth paying for a second totally separate line for resilience/redundancy.

The Virgin service status page says estimated fix time is 14.20. Who wants a bet on whether it will be fixed by then?

Business Legal

Brexit – in or out? Get your vote in now!

Have your say over Brexit

With the media frenzy now in full flow over Brexit I thought it would be a good idea to have our own opinion poll regarding whether the UK should be in or out of the EU.

This won’t be representative of the population as a whole but it may be somewhat representative of the tech community.

It’s a simple question. In or out and all you have to do is vote in the poll in the sidebar. Only one vote per person. Let’s see how we get on.

Anyone can vote and voting is anonymous. There is obviously quite a whole before the 23rd June polling day. I’m likely to be in Dublin on that day so will have to make sure I get a postal vote.

Feel free to leave a comment if you want. I think the most important thing over the next few months is to try and see  through all the hype. It’s very difficult to actually quantify the effect of leaving – what we really want to see are details. Costs. Jobs created or lost.

I doubt anyone really knows so we are being asked to vote on the basis of gut feel. Maybe you can chip in with some numbers that will stand scrutiny?

My own view is that we should probably stay in the EU. In an ideal world we would have the common market but without all the single superstate nonsense. I can see why mainland European countries might see the latter to be attractive. No more intra European wars for example.

My gut feel is that getting out of Europe would be a backward step and that we should stay and make the best of it from within the system. There you go. Have your say and vote in Brexit the poll in the sidebar on the right of this site.

Business Mobile

MWC trip prep

MWC trip prep

Getting my MWC trip prep in today before I set off tomorrow. I’ll probably do some reports from the show floor, fwiw, although the bars and restaurants may be more interesting.

A few other mobile posts here.

broadband Business

CLA calls for legal right to broadband

Broadband for all?

You need a bit of stamina in this broadband punditry game. It’s such a complex situation that it is difficult to follow everything that goes on. Yesterday the CLA (Countryside Landowners Association) called “on MPs today to press Government for a clear and unequivocal ‘Universal Service Obligation’ that means every home and business in rural England and Wales will get broadband coverage of at least 10 megabits per second by 2020.” Broadband for all!

It was only in November last year that Dave Cameron said:

“Access to the Internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain. That is why I’m announcing a giant leap in my digital mission for Britain. Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it. That’s right: we’re getting Britain – all of Britain – online, and on the way to becoming the most prosperous economy in the whole of Europe.”

Dave was talking 10Mbps USO by 2020. I think you have to accept the politicospeak that comes with the announcement as par for the course.

What does need drilling down into though is the detail which politicians rarely cover and is what gets these idealist statements bogged down in the mire of reality.

  1. First of all who pays for this? Why should BT (other broadband providers may be available) be legally obliged to shoulder the cost of running connectivity to a farmer 5 miles from the nearest green cabinet.
  2. Offering alternatives such as satellite based broadband doesn’t cut the mustard.
  3. By 2020 10Mbps will not cut the mustard either – it should be 1Gbps.

In relation to point 1 we also have to consider the competitive landscape for broadband in the UK. We claim to have the most competitive market going. This is fair enough (probably – I’ve not really looked elsewhere but I think broadband prices in the UK are very low) but this is only in the provision of services largely running over BT infrastructure. There is Virgin of course but Virgin don’t have a wholesale play and certainly (and understandably) ain’t interested in running DOCSIS to farmhouses five miles out of town. Competition isn’t providing services to Farmer Giles.

It seems to me that the only way to do this is for UK PLC to have a state owned infrastructure company that just runs fibre to rural areas places that need it. This entity doesn’t sell services to end users. It just supplies connectivity to service providers.

It may be that this connectivity is just backhaul in many areas which is often the seed required for communities to look after themselves. We need lots of B4RNs. Maybe we need B4RN to spread to every bit of the country. There is nothing to stop the BTs, Skys and Virgins of this world from selling Over The Top services that use someone else’s underlying connectivity.

Having a state owned infrastructure provider won’t sit very well with this government. In fact it doesn’t sit very well with me either really – I don’t trust governments to do things efficiently and well if only because they get themselves entangled in their own red tape. Could Openreach be that state owned infrastructure supplier?

I think the penny is very slowly starting to drop in the minds of the powers that be but it has a long way to go before the light comes on.

There you go. Rant over for now. Check out yesterday’s post on the lack of UK national broadband vision.

PS note new image of cow. I’ve been using one from @Cyberdoyle’s farm for ages. Thought I’d have a change:)

broadband Business

UK national lack of broadband vision

B4RL turns out to be a good source and the lack of UK broadband vision

Last year I created the B4RL Facebook page. B4RL stands for Broadband 4 Rural Lincolnshire. Seemed to me we needed one aka B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North) and B4RDS (Broadband for Rural Devon and Somerset). B4RN is by now world famous and B4RDS is becoming a place for heated discussion with people who have very clear views on the availability (or lack of) of connectivity.

I occasionally get contacted by people local to me looking for help getting connectivity to their communities. Usually the brick wall is backhaul cost. Lincolnshire folk don’t generally seem to be particularly demonstrative when it comes to broadband. It’s usually constrained to social media outcries when their broadband stops working, as the technology periodically tends to do.

B4RL however has turned out to be a good place to follow relevant news in the broadband space because a number of stalwarts post to the timeline on a regular basis.

This morning it’s all about The Culture, Media and Sport Committee visit to Russell’s Water Village, as part of its inquiry on “Establishing world-class connectivity throughout the UK”. The visit has already met with a hiccup as you can see from the tweet:

This week has also seen a link to an article in the Telegraph on the best and worst places to get broadband in the UK. Amazingly my home town Lincoln comes near the top. That’ll be my 200Mbps Virgin connection driving up the average.

best and worst broadbandThe difference between the best and the worst is really marked though. What’s more  we have to consider that to get an average a lot of people must be seeing far worse speeds. Also this probably doesn’t recognise that many households won’t be getting broadband of any sort.

There are lots more good articles on B4RL. What I really wanted to get to was the issue of what is to be done about broadband access and speeds and why we need to do anything..

There is a valid argument that nobody yet needs a 1Gbps connection aka the services of B4RN, Gigaclear et al. I doubt that I ever use my 200Mbps to the full. It may be argued that over and above a certain speed (say 10Mbps per person) what is more important is the contention/congestion on the service provider’s network. That’s as may be but the real point is that as a nation that needs to compete and be innovative in the big bad technology ruled world we need to have that cutting edge.

Commercial websites have evidence that shows how revenues increase with faster page load times. Amazon claim a 1% increase in revenue for every 100 milliseconds improvement in page loading time. Yahoo increased traffic by 9% for every 400 milliseconds improvement. Google say that “Slowing down the search results page by 100 to 400 milliseconds has a measurable impact on the number of searches per user of -0.2% to -0.6%”.

This is one of the reasons why large content providers are members of Internet Exchange Points like LONAP where their traffic gets the benefit of faster connectivity.

It may be about speed in the headlines but behind all the hype it’s about money.

The same logic can be applied to broadband connectivity. I found this Forbes article from 2012 that claimed that GDP increases by 0.3% with a doubling of broadband growth. Now I’m sure that there will be lots of caveats and conditions associated with this but the general message seems to be clear.

The problem is that this isn’t a BT or a Virgin issue. Apart from the fact that B4RN and Gigaclear have shown that it is very much doable to provide 1Gbps to the home economically (£30 a month for a 1Gig connection – I’d say that’s hugely competitive).

BT’s job is to generate value for its shareholders and not to underpin the economy. This is a we the people issue. Why should the UK wait for BT to decide that there is indeed a business case in providing FTTH, which is what we are talking about. Fibre all the way to your house.

UK GDP at the end of 2015 was around £1,787 Billion. Last year Ofcom told us that the average UK broadband speed had grown to 22.8Mbps by the end of November 2014. If everyone was getting 1Gbps that would be over x 25 growth or, if for the sake of a number we use the Forbes 0.3% figure, a 1.5% growth in GDP.That would take GDP to £1,814bn or a growth of £27Bn which is funnily enough roughly what the Caio Report in 2008 said that rolling out nationally FTTH would cost. Bear in mind this figure would be based on BT type overheads and costs.

Compare this to the £15.5 to £19.5Bn annual increase in GDP by 2040 quoted for the H2S train project for an investment of around £50Bn.

I don’t have a problem with investing for the future. The government’s problem is that it can’t see how an investment in digital infrastructure would generate growth. It can’t work out the numbers. A capital project such as HS2 has an established business model that bean counters can bet their brains around. The brave new digital world is a mystery to most of them. They aren’t necessarily to blame as it’s new for everyone. What is lacking however is vision.

There is something else lacking. If you talk to the folk at B4RN they won’t touch government money with a barge pole. This is partly out of bitter experience.  When they were starting they were ignored by the establishment in favour of BT when it came to the distribution of funds. BT being seen to be a “safer” pair of hands. It is also because government money comes so wrapped in red tape that accessing it is seen as too much effort to get to.

So somehow the MPS on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee visiting Russell’s Water today need to be provided with a message they can take back to Westminster. A message that says “raise your game UK”. Let’s be seen by the world as being visionaries and not just by a few people in government trying to spin a story.

The CartoDB  website is useful if you are looking for data on your local broadband speeds.