XConnect's recently announced plan for a trial HD voice peering federation marks a significant advance in the move to HD communication. The trial, to take place between April and June of this year, will directly connect providers offering HD voice services. That will let them pass HD calls, which provide audio quality superior to that of conventional PSTN phone calls, to one another rather than just among their own customers. The trial thus represents an effort to start building a critical mass of HD-capable voice subscribers. As such, it is as much a commercial effort as a technical one.
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TechCrunch reported this morning that Google has bought Gizmo5 for $30 million. Gizmo5 is a SIP-based Internet phone service that competes with Skype. Such an acquisition would make sense, given the already-close relationship between Google's Voice service and Gizmo5. One little-noticed effect of that relationship is that the combined services already allow free inbound and outbound calling to and from the PSTN via Internet-connected PCs with headsets. A formal acquisition would presumably make such calling even easier.
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More than eight years after signing up its first residential phone customer, Vonage is finally becoming a real VoIP company. Despite being the name most associated in the public mind with VoIP, Vonage actually has spent most of its time pretending to be a conventional phone company. It offered little that AT&T didn't, except a slightly lower price. Recently, however, it has belatedly begun adding other ways to use its service which take advantage of VoIP's unique capabilities. The latest additions are applications for iPhone and BlackBerry phones.
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Vonage's newly announced iPhone application is a great money maker even before its launch. Simply announcing that the application had won App Store approval sent the Internet telephony pioneer's stock up 36 percent. The problem is, no one knows what the app will do. The company is saying nothing about it "for competitive reasons." But whatever it ends up doing, it will likely be far from earthshaking.
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