BUSINESS ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB: where "word of keystroke" begins

July 17, 1997 -- Internet telephony and FAX


Transcript of the live chat session that took place Thursday, July 17, 1997. These sessions are normally scheduled for 12 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.


Threads (reconstructed after the fact):


Today's participants


Introductions

Richard Seltzer -- We're here to talk today to talk about Internet telephony and FAX. The discussion should get started at 12 noon Eastern Daylight Time (GMT -4). As you come on-line, please introduce yourselves and let us know your interests.

Sudha Jamthe -- Hello Richard, How are you?

JEFF -- Hi Richard, Jeff Black here...

Richard Seltzer -- Hi, Sudha and Jeff. Jeff, how is your database project coming along? Did you speak to the folks at Acunet? Did you speak to folks at Mainspring?

Richard Seltzer -- It will be interesting to see what kind of participation we get today. I think it's a compelling topic. But here we are in the heart of summer, with many folks on vacation.

JEFF -- Richard, Mainspring (Yes), Acunet (Not Yet) The internet database is going great. We are now getting 120 responses per second across the internet. Not Bad :-)

Richard Seltzer -- Jeff -- 120 responses per second? And that's before you
go "public"? Not bad. And when is the date for your "grand opening"? Or do you need major sponsorship before then? And if it's sponsorship that you need, are you looking for money? or for a fast well-connected site?

Sudha Jamthe -- Richard: Hurricane electric has re-opened their talk to let us have a database and some space. Its still a new concept to have a modular design without each ISP feeling they are losing us to the other. Hi Jeff! How are you.

JEFF -- Sudha, Could not be better... Life is Great!

Sudha Jamthe -- Hi Jeff. Sorry I thought you were Jeff Foust, who I knew :)
What do you do?

JEFF -- I track every domain on the internet, what type of software they are using (Web Servers, Mail, etc.) and who their ISP is. Plus a whole lot more...

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Hello all this is Bob in Waxahachie Texas, an independent network consultant.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, Bob.

Laurent Thérond -- Hi there!

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome Wayne, gj and Shasta, please introduce yourselves and let us know about your interests.

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome, James Keller. I see from your email address that you are at Harvard. Are you connected with that program which just sent out the call for papers about the Internet and communications policy?

Jim Nolan -- Hi to all from hot muggy Ottawa

Sudha Jamthe -- Hi Jim

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome Jim in Ottawa (hot and muggy? not the typical image of Canada) Have you used Internet phone or FAX for business or personal use? Do you know of any interesting applications? 


iChannel (database marketing services)

Richard Seltzer -- Sudha -- Jeff Black works for Digital, in the Internet Business Group. We've been bouncing ideas back and forth for years. Now he has a very interesting new venture, iChannel, (on his own) providing interesting and valuable stats about the Web. I believe the URL is http://www.imi.com.It's still in start-up mode. Mostly descriptions and teasers. But he has a great database that he's been letting a few select folks sample.

Sudha Jamthe -- Richard:Thanks for the URL.I'll check it out.

Laurent Thérond -- JEFF> Did you create a kind of Webcrawler for that or do you use agents-based technology?

JEFF -- Laurent, I have 9 specialized types of crawlers now... Agent Technology won't work for my type of application.

Sudha Jamthe -- Jeff: Interesting to track all domains on the web. Apart from academic interests who is particularly interested in these stats regularly? Espcially tracking the hardware and software used?

Richard Seltzer -- Sudha -- I'd suspect that anyone with a hardware or software product that relates to the Internet and anyone in the ISP business, and also anyone shopping for an ISP for business purposes would want to take a look at those stats of Jeff's.

Sudha Jamthe -- Jeff: How do you track what mail people use? Or is it the SNMP on the ISP or site itself? I am interested in the actual mail client people use in a service called Coo!a where we deliver web sites to people and we track it individually.

Sudha Jamthe -- Richard: You mean, like a market research of what the market is actually using? interesting. Jeff: Do you have metrics sorting this by demographics? What are the othe criteria?

Laurent Thérond -- JEFF> Did you put a bit of Java in your strategy? I had this kind of idea to create a relation between High Tech companies and their stock market performance.

JEFF -- Sudha, The telcos want to know where which businesses are on line, while the Cable company want to know which residences have dedicated lines (can you say, "cable modems"). Companies like Digital, Sun and HP want to know who is using what hw and whos hw is slow. The software companies want to know whois is using what type of applications. And everyone (like Netscape, etc.) want to know how many copies of their application a site has installed vs. what they are paying for. etc. etc. 


Any way to search the Web to find sites that use Internet Telephony?

JEFF -- Richard, Is there now a standard for Internet Telephony within a web page (ie. can you examine a web page's HTML and identify which pages use it)? If so, I can run a quick report to see how many pages contain launching points to telephony applications.

Richard Seltzer -- Jeff -- Interesting question. I don't know how to identify if a Web page is set up to launch an Internet telephony application. I'm hoping that one of our telephony experts will connect today (Alan Kotok or Anil Kapoor or Richard Smith among others). If not, I'll send that question out in a followup email. yes, it would be great to be able to do a quick survey of sites with such launch points.

JEFF -- Can anyone tell me what extension Vocaltec uses? (Eg. .voc)?

Richard Seltzer -- Bob@Cottage -- You seem very knowledgeable about Internet phone kinds of things. Do you know if there is a standard? Or at the very least some finite set of extensions (like .voc) that would be found on Web pages set up to launch Internet phone kinds of applications?

Bob@CottageMicro.Com -- Richard -- rather than an extension - it would be an application ( client or plugin - or Java ) that would process voice and direct it to your multi media hardware or phone. Unfortunitely the standards are being developed by various companies and are far from "standard". One extension I do know of is .RA that's the streaming audio file that Real Audio produces. They do have developer API software available.

JEFF -- Richard, There are 3,340 pages on the internet with links to vocaltec voice files... That seems low for some reason. 


Current status of Internet telephony

Sudha Jamthe -- Richard: I missed the last two week's chat and looked at the transcript. Theres lots in this topic that has taken it for so many weeks. Do you think Internet telephony and voice on the internet in genral is picking up on the whole?

Richard Seltzer -- Sudha, I believe that Internet telephony is getting relatively mature from a technology point of view. But there don't seem to be many users. That's the conundrum. I'm still looking for interesting applications -- other than just saving on long-distance charges. The list of call center links which Bob sent last week and which is with the transcript is a great start. But what other creative uses do we see out there that businesses could and should adopt on a large scale?

Richard Seltzer -- By chance, someone forwarded to me today a call for papers
announcement from Harvard THE IMPACT OF THE INTERNET ON COMMUNICATIONS POLICY for an event scheduled for this December. I posted it with last week's transcript at http://www.samizdat.com/chat48.html#callforpapers
It reads more like an editorial essay than a call for papers. It does an excellent job of summarizing the major policy issues related to Internet telephony etc.

Laurent Thérond -- I think all this (as ever) is a matter of bandwidth. Motorola's Space Project is certainly going to be a major factor in any kind of Internet telephony and telecommunications in general.

Richard Seltzer -- Laurent welcome. Last time you connected with us you were in Paris. Now I understand you work in Boston (State St. Bank). What is Motorola's Space Project? (I must admit that I haven't heard of it.)

Laurent Thérond -- Some very simple applications as PowWow do a great job and make me think that more serious developments will occur.

Richard Seltzer -- Laurent -- You stumped me again. What is Pow Wow? What is it used for? Do you have a URL? And what is the Motorola Space Project?

Sudha Jamthe -- Laurent: Sorry to sound so ignorant, but what does Pow Wow do? I am also interested in hearing about Motorola Space Project

Laurent Thérond -- Yes, Richard. Last time was quiet awhile ago... October 1996 I think. Motorola has decided to launch more than 250 satellites to start its Iridium Project. If they succeed they will get a worldwide coverage for Internet access, telephony, and personal communications devices.

Richard Seltzer -- Laurent -- You're introducing me to a whole new vocabulary -- Iridium Project. Okay. Is that separate from and competing with Bill Gates' enormous satellite project? And what's their projected start date for having services available to the public? And what kind of speeds are they talking about?

Laurent Thérond -- Well, PowWow is a small application. It allows you to chat over the Internet -- of course ;-) -- and it also allows you to really talk through the Net. The software is free because it was developed by a funny group of people who live in the mountain of Utha. However, it compares easily to Net Meeting or Cool Talk.

JEFF -- Laurent, Doesn't Motorola's project call for access speed up to, but not to exceed 80kb.sec? (Similar to Bill's low orbit satellite project)

Richard Seltzer -- Laurent and Jeff -- If the speed is only 80K, and it's likely to take several years at a minimum to get the satellites in place, that sounds like a losing combination. Within a few years much higher speeds will be available at very low price in many parts of the world. Also 80kb still seems slow for real-time streaming apps like phone and video. What's the business proposition? What's their target market/niche?

Richard Seltzer -- Laurent -- Who does Pow Wow? What's the URL? When you say "chat", do you mean voice chat? How does it differ from Internet Phone and other such stuff from Vocaltec?

Laurent Thérond -- Motorola's project is quite different. It should allow a basic transfer rate equal to 800 Kbps downward and upward. Gavin never starts something without perfect planning. They already launched 50 (I believe so) of the 250 satellites required by the project. Technology used in those satellites is a well kept secret. But, we shouldn't forget that Motorola knows quiet a bit transfering bits.

Sudha Jamthe -- Laurent: Thanks. Can you give a URL where we can find Pow Wow? So, its a voice based chat software?

Laurent Thérond -- Sorry, sorry, sorry... PowWow can be reviewed at http://www.tribal.com.

Laurent Thérond -- PowWow is both text-based and voice-based. It includes the traditional white board feature, a conferencing mode, and a Web cruising capability that is quiet interesting to teach people how to use the Net. 


Voice recognition

Richard Seltzer -- Laurent -- Sounds like you are deeply involved in this telephony stuff. Is that an offshoot of your work at State St. Bank? Are there potential banking applications? Or is this a personal interest?

Laurent Thérond -- The telephony issue is not related to my job at State Street. But we do work on telephony and voice recognition applications for business purposes. A global organization can save a great deal of money using that kind of opportunities.

Richard Seltzer -- Laurent -- Interesting. Yes, voice recognition does tie in well with telephony. And someone sent a followup message last week (I believe it was Richard Smith) with a URL for a voice recognition demo. The pointer is in last week's transcript.

Laurent Thérond -- Richard> I studied quiet a bit currently available products. Voice recognition associated with telephony is still a veri immature technology.

JEFF -- Richard, Have you seen the "WildFire" Voice Recognition demo yet?
They are more of a traditional VR system that is now using the internet to move traveling user's profiles around from city to city. Great stuff.

Richard Seltzer -- Jeff -- WildFire. That's another one I haven't heard of. What's the URL?

JEFF -- Richard, The demo page for WildFire is http://www.wildfire.com. Try it out. I demonstated it, via my account, during my keynote at Telecom 97 last month. It went over well...

JEFF -- Richard, Yes, WildFire has about 10 companies licensed for their
technology and they are offering this today. I gave them the idea to expand to the web (order taking) and also mentioned the possibility of setting up Internet Faxes (also for a fee).
Laurent Thérond -- The fact is that marketing is always ahead of product availability. Some people think it's a good way to cost effectively probe a market.

Richard Seltzer -- Laurent -- Yes, sometimes marketing is ahead of product availability. But many times the product is available before ordinary users are ready to understand and apply it. (Hence the theme of Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore). I believe that in the case of Internet telephony the technology is far ahead of the marketing. I believe that far more could be done today with what's available already.

Laurent Thérond -- Richard> You are right on this point. But it doesn't apply to Voice Recognition. There is no standard at this time because major telcommunications companies didn't think about promoting this new way of communicating -- not yet. When a market become commercial and competitive, standards are set to allow everyone to contribute and profit. 


Perspective from Argentina

Richard Seltzer -- Welcome Javier Fainzaig. From your email address it looks like you are in Argentina. Do you use the Internet for phone or FAX? I'd suspect it could save a lot in phone bills for international calls. But on the other hand, is the bandwidth from Argentina good enough today to take advantage of applications such as that?

Javier Fainzaig -- Hi all, I´m Javier from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have a music site where we give information and sell CD´s. I use to red the transcription of the chat´s because is hard for me follow it in english. All the Internet phone sounds great but, untill now I don´t see for whom is this business; Is it just for the telco´s?. Who will give and who are giving the gateways to the PBXes, i.e. who will make the bill?. And for example if I want to make a call to Bariloche (a city 1.000 km. far from BS.AS.) could happen that finally I use a Japanese Gateway and pay much more for the call? (sorry for my english)

Richard Seltzer -- Javier -- In the US, Internet access is very inexpensive compared to telephone charges. We typically pay a flat rate of about $19.95 to $29.95 per month for unlimited Internet access -- regardless of what we do. And we connect to the Internet with a local phone call (for which we are charged nothing above the base monthly rate.) So if we can use the Internet to make long distance phone calls throughout the world, there's immediate enormous savings. Plus the Internet way of doing things opens the possibility of interesting new phone-related applications tied to a Web site (for instance, as part of a help-desk or call-center). I'm sure things are much more complicated and expensive today in Argentina -- not just because of limited bandwidth, but also because of how you are charged. But hopefully, the the current mode of operation in the US will spread to your part of the world. I believe that international competitive pressure will push business models in that direction. 


Call-back services

JEFF -- Richard, Has anyone setup a "Call Back Service" in the U.S. for
people outside the U.S. to use? This would allow people in Germany to call people in Italy (via the US) at more than 1/3 the direct dial price.

Laurent Thérond -- JEFF> I know more than 50 companies which offer that kind of services.

Richard Seltzer -- Jeff -- Call-back sounds like a neat idea. In other words, I'd send email or fill out a Web form and a sales or service person would call me back -- either with a standard phone or an Internet phone. I like that idea. (I wish Bill Dunlap from Euromarketing were here today to field that one.) Sounds like at the very least the differential between European phone rates and US ones is saved. (Actually, that technique could also be used inside a company -- whenever someone in a country with high rates wants to talk to someone in a country with lower rates.

Richard Seltzer -- Laurent -- Do you have a list of those 50 companies that use a telephone call-back service? or can you provide a URL for such a list? Thanks.

Javier Fainzaig -- Richard: In Argentina was very common to use a Call Back Service" in the U.S. until the new private telco´s get the prices of the international calls much cheaper but the local calls are much much and much expensive.

Laurent Thérond -- Richard> I don't have a list but a search on Altavista using "callback", "phone", "call", "international" and "save" as keywords should get you a good number of URLs.

Richard Seltzer -- Javier -- for Call Back Service from Argentina, do you use the Internet? email? some Web page application?

Javier Fainzaig -- Richard -- No I just call a number in USA, it call me back and so on. Do you know if may I use any Internet service to do that?

Richard Seltzer -- Javier -- the simplest way to use the Internet in that case would be to send the person an email asking for a call back. But companies could certainly set up their Web pages to make that kind of thing easier -- especially when you don't know the name of the person you want to reach.

Laurent Thérond -- Richard> Callback systems don't work that way. I will send you an E-mail. 


Automating concalls

JEFF -- Richard, In the U.S. the Web should also be used to automate concall. Simply fill out the web form, include the time, number of ports and the duration of the call and the system will place all the calls. (Don't forget your credit card)... Given the number of calls, the Service would get big breaks on per minute call.

Richard Seltzer -- Jeff -- You're coming up with some great ideas today. Do you know any company that uses the Internet to help set up traditional telephone con calls? It sounds like such a natural. (I'd like to be able to do that at Digital). But I haven't seen it in operation. 


Wrapup

Richard Seltzer -- All -- time is going very fast. We need to decide what to focus on next week. I thought that we were reaching the end of the line with Internet telephony -- but now I've been bombarded with a series of excellent new ideas. Do we want to continue this for another week? If not, what are the other topics that are foremost in your mind right now?

Richard Seltzer -- All -- other possibilities for next week include
1) value-added services from ISPs (including Internet telephony and commerce and database access and RealAudio, etc. -- everything beyond basic dial-tone and Web hosting). What's happening? What's available and from who? What's the benefit of doing that with an ISP rather than doing it yourself? etc.
2) start talking about Internet applications in various industries, perhaps starting with health care
3) changing business models for publishers/content providers. Does the subscription model work? What about advertising? What other alternatives are there? Is anybody making money from selling content on the Internet today?

Do any of these topics grab you? If you don't have time to post your response, please send me email seltzer@samizdat.com

JEFF -- Richard, Remember, Next Week is Internet World... Might be bad for lots of people.

Richard Seltzer -- Jeff -- Yes, Internet World in Chicago. I won't be going to that, so I will have a regular chat session next week. But it's hard to predict participation -- not just because of that, but also because of vacations.

Sudha Jamthe -- Richard: item 3 about models for publishers sounds very interesting to me.

Javier Fainzaig -- Richard -- item 1 & 3 sounds very good to me.

JEFF -- Richard, Yes, Value-added Services from ISPs is a good topic. Talking about companies that use "remote hosting facilities", instead of (or in addition to) a dedicated connections.

Laurent Thérond -- Richard> All of these subjects are great! ;-) I vote for 2).

Sudha Jamthe -- Laurent: Bye. Nice talking to you. We learned a lot.

Richard Seltzer -- All -- please before you signoff, post your email addresses and URLs (don't count on the software to have caught that). And be sure to send me email with your followup comments and questions and pointers and suggestions for topics.
seltzer@samizdat.com I'll add them to the edited transcript which I hope to post in the next couple days. Please check http://www.samizdat.com/#chat

JEFF -- Great talking to you all... Bye for now... Jeff (JBlack@imi.com)

Sudha Jamthe -- Bye all. Thanks Richard. See you all next week.

Richard Seltzer -- Thanks to all for your participation. Please be sure to let me know your preferences for the next topic. (At this point, I don't see any votes for continuation of telephony.)


Followup

International callback services

From: lrtherond@statestreet.com Date: Thu, 17 Jul 97 15:30:04 -0400

Just a few words. International Callback Systems generally work that way: you dial a phone number, you hang off, your provider system calls you back, you hang up and dial the number you want to call.

When is it cheaper than regular phone services? Well, if you are in France and you want to call Japan. Your provider is certainly located in the United States. Your first call is free since you hang off after the first ring. You will pay a bit less than a call to Japan from the United States + a call to France from the United States. It's generally less expensive than a call to Japan from France.

On the other hand, if you want to call Italy from France, you won't save any money using that kind of solution. (Unites States -> France + United States -> Italy is more expensive than France -> Italy). The point is that callback companies buy their minutes of communication from the big three (AT&T, Sprint, MCI). They get better rates because they buy a lot of minutes at a time. They succeed because the big three are short minded and extremely sales driven. Indeed when AT&T, Sprint and MCI sell to those guys they challenge their own long distance and international services.

Laurent.

PS -- As far as I know the only use of the Internet for call-back services is to allow customers to view their billing statement online. (This, of course, doesn't apply to Internet Fax Services.)

PPS -- I don't think Internet telephony is really ready (not yet) for prime time. The Internet lacks bandwidth and it's impossible to guarantee service levels. E.g., I use PowWow. Sometimes I can talk with someone on the other side of the country without any problem and sometimes communications lines are so overused that I cannot even call someone in Boston.Moreover, you should consider this fact: when I was in France, connected through a T1, at 4 p.m., it was impossible to view even a single United States located Web site....


Questions regarding ISP value-added services

From: "Snyder, Carol J." <cjsnyder@snyderinfo.com> Date: Wed, 23 Jul 1997 11:31:22 -0400

Terrific topic, Richard!

I hope to be there... (QUESTION BELOW...)

When I'm looking for myself and my business...(as well as my clients) I consider:

1) Specialized platform? (e.g. NT to run Cold Fusion3.0) Capability for middleware products...for web database connectivity

2) Technical Features (do they offer CGI already-made scripts? JavaScript samples)

3) Great Online Handbook (so I can get the answers myself!)

4) Technical Support in "English" for my clients

5) Training Availability

Carol


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