July 23, 2007

Pulver’s Problem

(In case you do not see the reasoning behind the title, in Mathematics there is something called Hilbert’s Problems that set the tone for most of the 20th Century mathematics.)

During a recent session titled “Where are the VoIP Services?” a frustrated Jeff Pulver admonished the industry for sheepishly pursuing the PSTN services and not offering services that take “advantage of the IP based platform presented to them to deliver innovative services.” He further elaborates that traditional model (and by extension the current model pursued by current set of VoIP players) requires long development and deployment cycle. He thinks that IP based platform can reduce this dramatically. He is even willing to provide initial financial support for those who have ideas along this line. In a follow-up comment, he states that he is looking for real fresh ideas and faces who are not already involved in executing their ideas. Given the intellectual challenge and financial incentive, you may have started to polish up a proposal. If so I would like to share some of my thoughts with you. I may not help you to get Jeff’s attention, let alone get his help to turn your proposal into reality. But I feel that the following points will help you not to fall into the same trap as the current set of players.

  1. Truly understand what it means to say “Intelligence at the end.” One of the implication is that the service provider model is going to lead you astray and you will end up “one of them”.
  2. Focus on the end user experience.
  3. Allow the end user to use your service (feature?) along with other providers. This means that the CPE device is the fulcrum and not your server.
  4. With many providing service, “feature interaction” is a serious problem. Strong arm approach may be a tempting approach. But don’t. A better approach may be to resolve them by requiring a rich user interface.
  5. Do not consider PSTN as something to be excluded. Indeed you are better off considering PSTN to be a “subnetwork” that is part of the Internet.
  6. Enhance PSTN by supplementing it with message oriented signaling. This means PSTN is also “VoIP”.

Good luck!

Posted by aswath at July 23, 2007 04:33 PM
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These are all great points for any would-be start-up to follow...including those who are interested in getting my attention. :)

Posted by: Jeff Pulver at July 23, 2007 05:38 PM

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