Monday, July 31, 2006

Net neutrality in Italy

The Net neutrality topic is spreading everywhere, also in Italy and in a non-technological news site ( in Italian).

We've already experienced, with our SIP-based Abbeyphone platform, several problems of "anisotropic" networks (traffic from A to B is more subject to delays and packet losses than from B to A) and of insufficient bandwidth dimensioning of certain Italian service providers.

Moreover, there are several ISPs that offer a customized ADSL router or a IAD with VoIP support... Which blocks all the "clear" SIP packets or, worse, it messes up the SIP headers so that your SIP UA would be useless. That's why we decided to make profitable use of our tunneling capabilities in the event of a malformed SIP response...
Call it sneaky, if you want :-)

I understand the fact that a SP has the right to offer a traffic-specialized connection package (link in italian), that is to say "pay X for normal connection, but if you want ultra fast connection on certain services you are going to pay Y" but I don't see the point of blocking other services. As a consequence of this scenario, providers of poor bundled service will experience customer exodus to other, more "libertarian" providers.

Personally, I am scared of what could happen when IPTV will spread to the mass market...

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Video (consumer) is the future?

Somehow confirming my naive thoughts on video-on-demand and personal tv future, skype founders are at work on a software for distributing tv shows and other form of video over the web. Thanks slashdot for the news.

This adds to the "basket of posts" (an imaginary product that stores interesting news and tries to gather a common trend among apparently cluttered news):

The curious thing is that most of VoIP folks are moving on IPTV.

But the question is: who's got the technology tools to build something disruptive?

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Garbage - Version 2.0

I remember a fantastic CD by Garbage, called Version 2.0.
It's a memorable collection of noisy yet attractive music I've lost the interest on some months ago. But it reminds me of a fantastic period of my life.
I just found myself with that very CD at hand, and I started mumbling... Version 2.0 and the Internet.

All this started with a Web 2.0 conference held in Frisco in 2004.
Then, a lot of rumors about the need of a new version of the Internet access has started.

Dick spoke about Identity 2.0
Iotum spoke about Voice 2.0
Shawn Conahan spoke about Phone Call 2.0
Then Luca added some hints, speaking about Communication 2.0

There are some very good ideas in the WWW (some are cited here), but a lot of companies, startups, well-known enterprises in every field which somehow is related to Internet and communication technologies, are looking forward to building something 2.0.

My only concern is that a lot of them are going to bring just...

Revenues 2 0.

That could be a technological bubble we have to be scared of.

Sorry for the pun :-)

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Saturday, July 15, 2006

About Sneaky and Clever communications

I am sorry I couldn't give answers to the questions that Phoneboy poses about being sneaky or clever, about evading a network security mechanism this way or the other.

On the other hand, I feel pleased that I couldn't reply earlier: the news related to skype protocol being cracked can help disambiguate the questions.

One of the points that Phoneboy arises is the firewall traversal method. I think (naively, since I'm not a security admin) that the strategy itself is neither sneaky nor clever. It is just a way to get out of there. To keep offering a service (both Skype and Abbeyphone are free) to those poor fellows that connect from a badly configured network-"badly" is highly subjective here :-)

The main difference is was that Skype protocol is not known, but its greedy strategy is (or, at least, can be easily observed). Therefore, there is was no "easy" way to prevent it from scanning the network. What Skype does, is to hunt for a way out, no matter how much CPU it will devoure.
Conversely, Abbeyphone VOW client just attempts to connect to port: 80, 443, and 25. It tries to connect to our servers (our server is, so net-admins can block it very easily) using TCP connections. Then, our client tries to connect to the web proxy (if any) by means of WPAD. HTTP proxy connections will work if the proxy allows the use of "CONNECT" http command (i.e. it is not "full" HTTP tunneling)
Abbeyphone VOW client attempts these steps just once, without being aggressive. Moreover, what's travelling in the TCP packet is just SIP and RTP, so it is "easily" identifiable.

What I see as an advantage is that the net-admin does not need to open any more port than 80 or 443) to communicate with a SIP-standard service. The net-admin is safe by using abbeyphone (and other hosted SIP platforms as well, of course!) because access is somehow regulated.
The main advantage of having a "SIP walled garden" is that you prevent SPIT and spoofs. I agree that security at the network level is one of our main concerns, but we shall think of security even at the platform/application level.
I've been talking recently with some representatives of a large corporate, who were interested in the abbeyphone hosted platform as a corporate sponsored skype-replacement, which will solve the problem of skype overloading their network... Moreover, a discount policy can be applied to employees...

(I think we should produce some techspec about our tunneling strategies, it seems to be more reassuring to everybody if we describe the working principle...)

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Skype's intrusive nature

In this recent post about Sightspeed, phoneboy stressed the fact that Skype has an advantage: it can "sneak" into enterprises.

Sincerely, I don't see the point in "sneaking": like doing things unseen, it conveys an image of "burglars of the net". Wouldn't be a better choice not to "sneak", but to try openly what the netadmins allow you to do?
Our end-to-end platform (abbeyphone VOW) follows successfully this strategy: firstly, try to connect on a standard SIP connection. If it doesn't work, try to build a TCP tunnel over ports 80 and 443. Try to connect via http proxy, by means of WPAD.
Crystal clear, no "tricks", no "sneaking out": it preserves the network environment security, by passing the network hurdles and still giving full access to the abbeyphone services.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Sitebell. The doorbell of your site

As you can see in the Table of Content sidebar (on the right hand side), I've published my website doorbell. The Sitebell.
Click on the image below, a new page pops up with a button. Click on it and start chatting with me, I'll receive your call on my deskphone all working days from 9:30 to 12:30 and from 15:00 to 17:00 CET.

Sitebell is an application of abbeyphone VOW technologies.
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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Abbeyphone for Libero is out!

To demonstrate the flexibility of our Voice Over Web components, take a look at It is a co-branded webtelephony service with Libero (the most important landing portal in Italy) style and theme.

Rates are quite competitive (especially the Wind mobile terminations), and a bouquet of promotions is to be released soon.

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