Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, June 26, 1997. These sessions are normally scheduled for noon-1 PM Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4) every Thursday.
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Since the chat itself happens at a rapid pace, it's often difficult to note interesting facts in particular URLs as they appear on-line. Here's a place to take a more leisurely look. I've rearranged some of the pieces to try to capture the various threads of discussion (which sometimes get lost in the rush of live chat).
Please send email with your follow-on questions and comments, and suggestions for topics we should focus on in future sessions. So long as the volume of email responses is manageable, I'll post the most pertinent ones here for all to see.
John Straw -- I'm John Straw, VP Sales at MailTel.
Richard Seltzer -- John, is Mailtel the same thing as Acorn Communications?
(I saw a presentation by Sue Rudd to GTE last week.)
John Straw -- Yes, we use MailTel so everyone does not confuse us with Acorn the computer co...
James Ciociolo -- Hello, I'm Jim Ciociolo, VP WW Sales, NetCentric Corp
John Straw -- Hi Jim, you guys did great with PSI, press releases all over the place...
Cimarron Boozer -- Hello. I'm Cimarron Boozer, VP Internet Products for FaxNet Corporation, a provider of enhanced fax services.
Richard Seltzer -- Welcome Jim (from NetCentric) and Cimarron
As soon as we have a few more people connected, I'd like you to tell us about your product offerings -- from a user/business perspective.
Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- Hi! I'm Barbara Hartley Seltzer. I thought that the Internet phone was still a future feature, but Rich reminded me we heard a demo two years ago.
Ed Jaros -- Good Afternoon (morning) everyone!
Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Ed. Good to see you again.
Ed Jaros -- Glad I could make it. This will be a great discussion. Lots to talk about.
Bill Dunlap -- Hi all -- Bill Dunlap from Euro-Marketing. Very interested in the telephony products and all the new technologies to create community (perhaps Internet teleconferencing?).
Dave Cedrone -- Hi all, Dave Cedrone, Digital - ISP Program. I'm interested in Internet Telephony solutions for the ISP Marketplace
Ben Bauer -- Hi, Just dropping in...
Kathleen Gilroy -- I own OTTER, Inc, a company that develops distance learning programs.
Richard Seltzer -- Dave Sciuto -- Glad to see that you have connected. I know that you do a weekly radio talk show about Internet-related topics. Have you tried to use Internet phone or FAX capabilities in conjunction with your show?
DaveSciuto -- Richard, no we haven't. We have, although used, and continue to use CUSeeMe on a regular basis.
Richard Seltzer -- Bob@Cottage -- Glad to see that you have joined us. You deal with many small businesses that are getting started on the Web. Are any of them using Internet telephony/FAX regularly today? If so, are they doing anything interesting or creative to work these capabilities into their business models?
Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- My business concentrates on the local community. I offer customers without internet involvement advertising and business replies via fax through a local fax server program that I wrote. It simply forwards email responses to my local fax server which in turn faxes to the client fax machine @.10 per page.
Richard Seltzer -- Let's get started. Keep in mind that in this strange medium, you don't have to "wait your turn." What you type appears whenever you send the message. So it can seem a bit chaotic. That will mostly get straightened out in the transcript. John, Jim, and Boozer could you quickly give us a sketch of what your companies do in the area of Internet telephony and FAX?
Richard Seltzer -- Barbara -- I believe that there's a wide range
(I'm hoping to hear more about that today.) And I also believe that the level of quality that the large telecomms provide today is not necessarily what ordinary folks want or need. I'm interested in "just enough quality" -- good enough to understand what's going on and have a good conversation. I don't need to pay exorbitant long-distance prices just to hear a pin drop.
Bill Dunlap -- Hi Richard - actually I'm not in Paris now, but the U.S. on an extended trip, to look for applications of the Internet that Europeans could use in their online business, in their multilingual environment. Last week I was blown away by http://www.placeware.com's auditorium (vocal and written). Now for telephony.
Bill Dunlap -- This may be a dumb question, but I have to ask it. I've been sending faxes over the Internet for over a year, using Faxaway. $0.10/page in the U.S., $0.35/page to Europe. How is your Net-faxing different, in usage and in pricing?
Ed Jaros -- Cimarron - Would the fax be sent through the net and forwarded to the service where it picks up a local fax forwarding service? Main savings being line charges?
Richard Seltzer -- Cimarron, Could you please clarify? Today, with a FAX/modem I can send FAXes from my PC. Don't you mean that with your product I could send them over the Internet without incurring long distance charges? If that is the case, what am I charged? And how does what you do differ from the Netcentric approach?
Cimarron Boozer -- The "fax" is sent over the Internet to our switch(es), where it is sent over the public network. There are big cost savings, especially if the originator is located outside of North America (USA).
Ed Jaros -- So at the end it is still sent over local phone lines but the long distance/ overseas charges are saved?
Cimarron Boozer -- "Broadcast" is a great use of Internet faxing technology. Just about all broadcasting done today is what I call "non-customized"; the same pages, with maybe a cover page difference. FaxNet's client is specifically designed to handle 'custom' broadcasts, i.e., using a Word mailmerge to send completely personallized, integrated documents to hundreds or thousands of recipients.
Cimarron Boozer -- Currently, messages can either go over the "public" Internet, through VPNs/WANs, or whatever; but all the protocols used currently for forwarding fax data are IP-based. Their is currently no 'standard' for inter-exchange of fax data, since the market is fairly new.
Richard Seltzer -- Cimarron -- the "broadcast" sounds like a particularly valuable feature. If I understand you correctly, I could send a FAX to hundreds of users simultaneously, with one "call." It also sounds like the three of you don't compete but rather complement one another. Am I missing something?
Richard Seltzer -- Cimarron, Jim and John -- Is it common that the messages go out over the public Internet and then are switched to ordinary FAX and phone? Or is this part of FAXnet's value-added? Are you all setting up your own switches worldwide, or are you partnering on this?
Cimarron Boozer -- Richard -- the quality of the fax is equivalent to that sent directly from the PC modem board; the benefits are cost, reliability of delivery (we can retry multiple times, etc), and broadcast -- we have hundreds of ports, you only have one on your PC (or a few on a fax server). Vis-a-vis NetCentric, we are focused on fax service -- NetCentric is primarily selling their technology/platforms to ISPs (I'll let Jim C. expand on this!)
Richard Seltzer -- Jim -- I'm not sure what you mean by "inside
Please explain. I was under the impression that someone could send a FAX using your method and it would be delivered to any FAX machine anywhere, without incurring long distance charges. I also was under the impression that this is a shared application -- that it could sit on a LAN and anyone connected could use it, or an ISP could run it, making it available as a value added service for all their customers. Is that correct?
James Ciociolo -- Richard, Our servers are generally located within the network providers POP and the "sender" either can use our Faxstorm client, Winfax or browsers to send and receive faxes.
Richard Seltzer -- Jim -- If the user has a choice of clients, what's the advantage of the Faxstorm client? And what does the user typically get charged by the ISP?
James Ciociolo -- The whole notion of using the net for applications like fax break down to using the internet backbone to transport the fax and using the local loop to deliver it to the last mile. So, for example an internet fax sent from Boston to Tokyo would use a local loop connection to connect to a NetCentric POPserver, the local(Boston) POPserver would route the fax to the POPserver in Tokyo and then deliver the fax via the local PSTN (pub tel lines)
James Ciociolo -- Richard, What we are trying to do is change the typical fax users everyday experience. This is to avoid standing in line for the fax machine. Desktop faxing is not new, but doing it over the Inet and having the ability for the user to "check their fax status" using the web is our little value add.
James Ciociolo -- Richard, We're not a fax service company like our friends at Faxnet. We're a software company. Our ISP partners are doing the deployments.
Ed Jaros -- James - Thanks for the quick explanation. How are docs sent. File format or ASCII or do I need a special program for it? Or do I send it to your local number here which transports it via Net to the local exchange at my end destination?
Richard Seltzer -- Jim -- So you are setting up POP servers in Tokyo and all over the world. And it sounds like FAXnet is setting up local switches all over the world. is that head-to-head competition? Or what's the differentiator?
Richard Seltzer -- John -- In terms of positioning -- in terms of the user -- am I right in understanding that your product lets me hear my email from any telephone anywhere? and/or receive it on any FAX machine anywhere?
John Straw -- Richard, that is totally correct, full text to speech, and courtesy of Netcentric, full faxing of emails... Most importantly we believe that filtering of email before it hits your phone/pager/fax machine is mission critical - get rid of the CYA mail....
Richard Seltzer -- Jim and John -- Interesting. I didn't realize there was a tie-in between Mailtel and Netcentric.
John Straw -- Yes, we decided that our main focus was messaging not fax so we picked Netcentric as our fax partner. The Winfax deal they did with Symantec secured it for us....Jim still hasn't bought me a drink though...
Ed Jaros -- Richard - I've seen (heard) a demo on an Internet e-mail reader although I'm not sure what product it was. Neat stuff. Very computerized voice but it got the message across.
Cimarron Boozer -- We've heard that the entire desktop-to-fax (over the Internet) market is $5 million; incredibly tiny! My question for everyone is -- why? What are the barriers? It seems like such a great thing -- why isn't everyone doing it?
Cimarron Boozer -- Faxaway's model is to send ASCII email (or attachments); FaxNet lets you print from your application. The major difference is that we provide WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) for all the documents you fax -- a single page or a multiple recipient mailmerge. Our pricing is going to be similar to Faxaways.
Richard Seltzer -- Kathleen -- We're focusing on Internet telephone
capabilities -- that allow you to connect long distance with out paying long distance charges. I could easily imagine incorporating such capabilities into a distributed training program (to cut costs and also to integrate talking to folks with the other training-related activities that could appear on your computer screen.) Have you experimented with any of that?
Richard Seltzer -- Jim -- That's an interesting point about the billing. How close is that to being a simple package for sale to ISPs?
James Ciociolo -- NetCentric is focusing a great deal of engineering on a metering protocol called MSIX. Check it out at MSIX.org. This protocol will provide other IP applications to be metered and measured so that network providers can create QOS and billable services for voice, video, fax and document conferencing apps.
Richard Seltzer -- Jim -- could you please explain some of the alphabet soup. I must admit that I'm non-technical. I look at this stuff from a business and user perspective.
James Ciociolo -- Richard- QOS = quality of service POP= point of presence
James Ciociolo -- Richard, Network providers will not deploy services that they can't bill for. The technology is cool but if they can't bill their customers for usage they cant create service offerings. That's why metering protocols such as MSIX are so important to the network providers as it provides them a means to measure minutes or transactions and bill for it.
Richard Seltzer -- Jim -- That's an interesting point about the billing. How close is that to being a simple package for sale to ISPs? Meanwhile, though, aren't there lots of packages/products intended for running by the end user, without the ISP needing to get involved? And even those haven't really taken off. Can you account for that?
James Ciociolo -- Richard, We have billing for fax now and thru the MSIX org have 20 other application partners working with us to enable their app's to be measurable and metered for billing. check out http://www.msix.org
Dave Cedrone -- Too many questions Richard. ISP's look to IP Telephony as a value added service to differentiate their offering and generate a new revenue stream. There are a few models, Internet telephony is allows calls to be carried over the 'Net - no guaranteed QOS but lowest cost. Alternatively, ISP can build out private nets to guarantee QOS (higher cost), third model is phone over Intranets (corporate)
James Ciociolo -- Dave, I think that any application that currently rides over the PSTN (voice mail, fax, voice response) all fit into the IP telephony bucket. I see video mail, document conferencing with real time audio and video conferencing as hot areas to watch.
Richard Seltzer -- Dave -- good question. I'd like to be able to inventory the kinds of telephony related capabilities that are out there and how they interrelate and which are aimed at end users and which at ISPs or corporate intranets. Anything you could do to provide a quick taxonomy -- either now on the fly or as a followup message would be greatly appreciated.
Cimarron Boozer -- Dave -- I think the key differentiator is "real time" (e.g., Internet Phone, Video Conferencing, Shared Whiteboard, etc.) and non-real-time -- or store and forward (email with any type of attachment, fax, etc.) My opinion is that true 'real time' application use over the public Internet is a holy grail that internet phone, fax and others are still pursuing. There is lots of technology, but nothing has really proved its mettle (yet).
Dave Cedrone -- I'm learning Richard, not many answers yet. IP FAX seems to be the clear leader, less of a QOS issue than real time services. IP Phone is coming on as gateways enable PC to Phone and Phone to phone - expands the potential market. WEB integration with IP Phone enables customer service applications (clear value here). Unified messaging (email, FAXmail, Voicemail pager notification seems interesting for the mobile worker, as does 1# call routing. These app's seem further out on the timeline although I'm curious about other folks perspective. Collaboration services (whiteboards with IP Phone) I suspect are seeing limited scale use as yet. Internet Roaming is another interesting technology for mobile workers.
Richard Seltzer -- Dave -- Thanks for the answer. Could you please followup (probably by email) with a few quick definitions for those of us who are technical-vocabulary handicapped. (Maybe I should try to sit down with you for half an hour and try to sort it out and then write it up.)
Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- All of this technology seems to be pointed at the large companies. Is there anything out there for the individual lone user at home?
Richard Seltzer -- Barb -- Your question is like Dave's. We need to sort out what is available. Some offering are aimed at end users, others for companies and ISPs. It feels like this is a large and potentially very valuable topic. I want to continue this next week. And I'd really appreciate email messages between now and next week trying to sort out what is what and how the pieces relate to one another. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll include such messages with the transcript.
James Ciociolo -- Bill, rates in the US seem to be in the .10c to .15c range for point to point and broadcast. Over the pond faxing is currently in the $1.00 plus range but stay tuned. Rates are going to fall as ISP's build out their POPserver backbones.
Ed Jaros -- Richard - I worked for
Pitney Bowes in their fax division for almost 2 years. The main cost to
fax surprisingly was labor. Faxing from the desktop was a significant labor
savings but the simplicity was still the thing that keeps stand alone machines
in the forefront.
I tried hooking up a few of my clients with a program called hydrafax but it turned out to be a nightmare and people didn't trust it. Something about seeing your page go that gives you peace of mind.
Cimarron Boozer -- Ed - I'd like to follow up on the issues you raised. Ease of use (does it work!) and simplicity. And the psychological issue of "did it really get faxed?" All store-and-forward approaches (including ours) have that problem; you must check the status, get an email back, or some other mechanism to make sure the fax gets to the target. With a 'real' fax machine, you hear the tones, etc., and get a warm and fuzzy. What can we do to solve this?
Ed Jaros -- Cimarron- Have you tried tying in to some of the larger fax companies line cannon and PB. Default # carries the fax to your local switch/ faxes through the net/ and delivers thru your switch on the other end to the # they dialed to send the fax all seemless to the person faxing. Simple but it has to be sent instantly to the other side so when they sit back down at thier desk they can call their customer knowing they got the fax.
Richard Seltzer -- Jim -- It feels like there are a couple of issues with regard to firewalls. Digital has an enormous internal telephone network. Could we use Netcentric capabilities to replace that entire internal phone network? (That wouldn't be a firewall issue)? And is there any reasonably secure way to set up such a network so we could do external phone calls without compromising the security of the data part of our network? We're talking about enormous savings. What barriers do you come up against when talking to internal telecomm folks at companies like Digital?
Cimarron Boozer -- Richard - the firewall issue is much greater with 'real time' apps like internet phone. With fax, you can use store and forward -- both FaxNet and NetCentric clients can work with existing firewalls.
James Ciociolo -- Richard, You have to work thru the technical issues to address the intranet firewall security stuff. We've spent a lot of time on this problem.
Cimarron Boozer -- Richard -- If I knew the magic niche I would be out right now marketing to it ;-) I *do* know that our PR firm loves the customization of our client! We'll let you know!
Dave Cedrone -- I suspect the apps that have the greatest measureable cost impact and require the least behavioral change will happen first on the widest scale. Internet FAX (from traditional FAX machines vs PC's) is a good example. Internet phone (phone to phone via gateways or PC to phone) is next. Some of the other applications may take a vertical integration approach (WEB/Call Center Integration) as a customer service enhancement - offload as much as possible to the web site but still offer human interaction. I suspect we need to create more fully integrated solutions for the higher end technology than to expect mass adoption models.
James Ciociolo -- Richard, Another factor is that the typical Fortune 200 company spends around 15 to 20 million per year on fax. Cost savings are the buzz word of the 90's. CFO's like to save $'s. Desktop Iinternet faxing can be a big cost saver.
Richard Seltzer -- Jim -- Yes, the savings could be enormous. So why hasn't it taken off yet? Can you name a single Fortune 200 company that has committed to using the Internet for phone or FAX on a large scale? I can't understand why not.
James Ciociolo -- Richard, Nothing like this happens fast. (eg: ATM on the desktop) However, I can tell you that the F200 is really interested in Internet Fax and they will be demanding it from their network providers in the next 6 to 9 months. Up till now none of the major carriers have deployed and only one major backbone provider (PSInet) has deployed. You have to have patience in this market but once it takes off --hold on.
Ed Jaros -- here are some Gallup studies on Fax in fortune companies that some may find interesting: http://www.pitneybowes.com/pbi/prodsoftware/fax/fax_stats.htm
Cimarron Boozer -- Richard -
I agree that human nature (or habit) is the problem in adapting apps like
internet fax. This may change quickly, however, due to:
- the widespread adoption of Win 95 PCs
- increased comfort by users with apps such as Word, etc.
- connectivity to the Internet (everywhere)
Most important, users need to be educated that they *can* now take advantage of these capabilities. Amazingly, most people don't know that they have the capability afforded by NetCentric, Faxaway, FaxNet and others... We have a way to go!
James Ciociolo -- Cimarron, I agree 100% with your answer.
Richard Seltzer -- I'm still puzzled by the slowness of adoption. Vocaltec's Internet Phone has been around for over two years. Do you think that this will follow the route of The Chasm -- with a niche strategy. If so, what niches make good sense? If not, why not? And what's the alternative? Can we expect to see the major telecomm's doing an about-face and embracing rather than fighting this technology?
Richard Seltzer -- Cimarron -- The phenomenon that people don't understand that they can take advantage of these capabilities -- absolutely true, and absolutely incomprehensible. We are deluged with advertising for ten cents a minute long distance rates at a time when zero long distance is possible. Doesn't make sense to me. I do believe it may take a niche -- one tiny narrow application area where the benefit is overwhelmingly obvious, and then from there it takes off. But what niche?
Ed Jaros -- Richard - I still see most people puzzled by the Internet. Looking to sell them on a related idea is like putting the cart before the horse in many cases.
Cimarron Boozer -- Richard - My sense is that the major telecoms have too much on their plate right now. Internet phone, fax, and other 'value added' services are low on the priority list (although they certainly are looking). They're too busy worrying about acquisitions, market share, long distance, and regulatory changes...
Cimarron Boozer -- Cimarron Boozer, FaxNet Corporation, email: email@example.com http://www.faxnet.net
Ed Jaros -- Thanks for the discusion. Interesting topics and direction. See y'all next week. Ed@Jaros.com
Francois Menard -- This is Francois of Mediatrix
Richard Seltzer -- Francois (from Mediatrix) -- Sorry. We're just winding down now. The chat normally runs from noon to 1 PM Eastern Daylight Time and it's 1 PM now. We'll be continuing the topic next Thursday at the same time. Meanwhile please check for the transcript of this week's session which I'll be posting in a day or two. Check http://www.samizdat.com/#chat
Barbara Hartley Seltzer -- I've learned a lot this session. Thanks. See you next week.
James Ciociolo -- James Ciociolo NetCentric Corp firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.netcentric.com
Dave Cedrone -- Dave Cedrone Digital Equipment Corp. email@example.com
James Ciociolo -- Richard and all, Thanks for the opportunity to join this chat session. Talk with you all next week. Jim
Richard Seltzer -- Jeff Black -- Sorry you weren't able to connect until the very end. Hope you'll be able to join us next week, when we'll continue this topic. Please send email with questions and comments for inclusion with the transcript. firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Seltzer -- As usual, I'll post the transcript within a couple days. Check http://www.samizdat.com/#chat Please send email with your followup comments and insights and suggestions, for inclusion with the transcript. email@example.com
Richard Seltzer -- Thanks to all for your participation. Hope
you can join us
again next week, same time, same place. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org And please spread the word. This is a topic that really need to get fully aired -- we need to get the word of keystroke going here.
Richard, a few quick notes on the Internet Telephony discussion. I'll try to catch up with the conversation when I return from vacation.
Internet Telephony as a term can cover a broad range of possible services. My limited research so far has led to the following topics that I would include under the umbrella of Internet Telephony. I'm sure there are many more that will be added to this list as we continue your Chat sessions:
IP Phone: This describes telephone service over an IP infrastructure. This could include IP Phone over a dedicated network - in effect a VAN, IP Phone over a private enterprise infrastructure (Intranet), and IP Phone over the Internet. The services provided over these different infrastructures would vary in cost and Quality of Service based upon the ability to dedicate network capacity to phone as an application Vs sharing the capacity with a range of services (e.g. email, web, file transfer...).
IP FAX: Similar issues to IP Phone in terms of the network infrastructure used to deliver the service. IP FAX is more forgiving of QOS issues than is a real time service such as phone.
Unified Messaging: The integration in a common mailbox system of email, voicemail, FAX. Paging notification of message receipt is often a function of Unified Messaging. Other features of this service include: Pager delivery of short message email's and text to speech for telephone delivery of email's.
WEB Based Call Center Integration: This provides for a telephone interface from a WEB page to connect the WEB user with a live person in a Call Center. Such a capability can be used to provide value added customer service and Help Desk applications. This capability can be further extended to include video conferencing and document sharing to further enhance the WEB Service experience.
Routing: Routing can be thought of both for inbound and outbound calls. Inbound a user can connect to a "foreign ISP" ISP (the user has no subscription relationship) via a local telephone call, can be authenticated by the users "home" ISP, and can have full Internet Access for the cost of a local call plus a roaming fee. This is a cost saving alternative over long distance dialing. Roaming can be enhanced with Tunneling to allow roaming back to a users Intranet through a secure connection through a firewall.
Outbound Roaming in my terminology refers to the ability to locate a user with a single telphone number that can route a call based on user instructions - also know as Follow-me-Routing. This is more of a telephony service than an IP Network service but could be combined with IP Phone IP FAX and Unified Messaging into a comprehensive mobile worker solution.
Collaboration: White board and application sharing are another category of tools that can be combined with Phone, or Videoconferencing to create innovative solutions based on the combination of the Internet and Telephony Service capabilities.
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