Posts tagged Calls

Mobile Calls Are The New Conversions: 7 Tips For SEMs

Are you seeing depressing plateaus, or even declines, in your year-over-year conversion numbers? The fact is that a huge portion of search activity is moving to mobile. Soon, mobile activity will account for over 50% of searches. The problem is that the mobile conversions don’t follow the…



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Netflix Calls Out Verizon For Charging For Crappy Streaming, Part Deux

Netflix knows sure knows how to get a rise out of Internet service providers: Since mid-May, the streaming video service has been posting an error notice to Verizon subscribers blaming the network for slow delivery of its online videos. Verizon issued a cease-and-desist order and demanded lists of Netflix customers who might have seen this message.

The streaming provider’s response? Don’t blame us for your crappy network.

The letter from Netflix General Counsel David Hyman (.PDF) starts out cordially enough:

Your interpretation mischaracterizes our messaging. The message you cite to in your letter merely lets our consumers know that the Verizon network is crowded.… The message is part of our ongoing transparency efforts.

Basically, Netflix said that the error message was merely part of a transparency test, which is set to end June 16. Whether that was always the plan or merely a last-minute decision to (somewhat) appease the ISP isn’t clear, though it’s very likely the latter.

Still, Netflix couldn’t resist throwing in a few barbs:

In fact, it is my understanding that Verizon actually upsells customers to higher speed packages based on improved access to video services, including Netflix…. To ensure that these customers get the level of service they pay you for, it is your responsibility to make sure your network, including your interconnection points, have sufficient capacity to accommodate the data requests made by those customers.

Translation: You’re charging people for service you aren’t providing, and somehow calling Netflix on that? That’s just not cool.

Then things took a turn for the hilarious.

To try to shift blame to us for performance issues arising from interconnection congestion is like blaming drivers on a bridge for traffic jams when you’re the one who decided to leave three lanes closed during rush hour.

In addition, the streaming company criticized Verizon’s refusal to join Open Connect, the peering and caching program Netflix established to allow ISPs to connect right to the service directly instead of going through third-party content delivery networks. Participants include Frontier, British Telecom, TDC, Clearwire, Telus, Bell Canada, Virgin, Cablevision, Google Fiber and others. Notably Verizon and Comcast are both missing from the list. 

You have chosen not to participate in the Open Connect Program, but instead have allowed your network connection to Netflix to degrade until we agreed to pay for augmented interconnection. We brought the data right to your doorstep…all you had to do was open your door. 

Meanwhile, Netflix flatly ignored Verizon’s demand for the subscriber list. No word yet on the broadband provider’s next course of action, but we’re getting the popcorn ready for the next act in this little play. Because it’s quite likely that Verizon’s rebuttal will be swift and fierce. Unfortunately, as the drama continues on, viewers are the ones who are losing.

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With OS X Yosemite, You Can Send And Receive Texts And Phone Calls From Your Mac


 

Today Apple announced OS X Yosemite, the latest version of its Mac software. The developer preview is available today, and it will be released free to everyone in the fall.  

One of the biggest changes affects how iPhone users send and receive text messages from users who don’t have iMessage, as well as changing how users can make and receive phone calls.

With OS X Yosemite, users will be able to send and receive text messages and phone calls directly from their Macs.

Historically, iPhone users have only been able to make and receive text messages and phone calls direct from their iPhones—text messages from Android or Windows devices are shown in green text bubbles, whereas iMessages from iPhones, iPads and Macs appear as blue text bubbles. iMessages travel to Macs, while ordinary SMS text messages haven’t to date. This update changes that, bringing all text messages to Apple’s desktop systems.

“Green bubble friends, they have inferior devices,” senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi said on stage at WWDC when he announced the new text and phone call features. The audience—largely composed of Apple developers inclined to think well of the company’s products—broke out in applause and laughter.

Not laughing: Users who have switched from iPhones to Android smartphones, only to find their text messages have gone missing. It’s not clear if Apple’s latest updates do anything for people in that situation.

Image via Apple

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Meet VoLTE, The Future Of Phone Calls

If you haven’t already, soon you’re going to be hearing a lot about a new standard for making mobile phone calls: VoLTE. It stands for “voice over LTE,” but what it really means is that before long, your voice calls are going to be transmitted across the airwaves using the same technology the Internet pioneered for data. 

VoLTE, an acronym sure to be coming soon to a mobile-phone advertisement near you, promises two immediate potential benefits to consumers: clearer calls with fewer dropouts and the ability to use voice and data services simultaneously (which some, but not all, carriers offer already). For the carriers, it means more efficient use of their allocated radio spectrum, meaning they can serve more customers without additional network investments.

(What VoLTE almost certainly won’t do is lower your phone bill, as carriers have a habit of charging more for network improvements that actually save them money.)

To understand how VoLTE is supposed to manage all these improvements, you have to understand why traditional LTE couldn’t carry voice.

Circuit Switched Vs. Packet Switched

LTE is the current gold standard for mobile data (it stands for “long term evolution”), although you may know it better as “4G.” LTE makes it possible to download or stream Internet video far faster than its predecessor 3G networks—but as it stands, LTE doesn’t carry voice calls. Instead, carriers with LTE fall back to older 2G and 3G networks for calls.

Voice over LTE will change that.

LTE’s speed advantage stems from the way it handles data. 3G network standards like UMTS and CDMA basically open a dedicated channel between nodes to handle voice, text and data, a technique called “circuit switching.” This is a simple, but fairly expensive practice in network terms; it’s as if you got a dedicated lane for your morning commute that no one else could use. Great for you; terrible for everyone else.

LTE, by contrast, is based on an Internet technology called packet switching. In such networks, a sender divides up any sort of data—email, Web pages, a Netflix stream—into small packets of equal size, each of which carries an “address label” bearing its ultimate destination. The sender tosses these packets onto the network, where they’re directed toward their destination at every juncture, or “node.” They ultimately all meet up at their destination, where they’re reassembled and delivered to the recipient.

This is a lot more like your actual morning commute, in which you have to share the road with everyone else heading somewhere. Like your commute, packet switching sounds a bit haphazard, and it can be—but it’s also a fantastically efficient, flexible and robust way of transmitting information. Until now, though, it wasn’t any use for mobile voice calls, which still require circuits (and circuit switching).

When LTE debuted in the U.S., carriers had to figure out how to make voice calls work while pushing out 4G smartphones to customers. Most carriers adopted a stopgap measure called “circuit-switch fallback” in which LTE handles all data connections, but phones call back to the 3G network when you make a call. VoLTE effectively obsoletes this hybrid technology.

VoIP vs. VoLTE

You might look at your smartphone and say, “Hey, I can already make voice calls over my data connection! I have Skype and Google Hangouts!” It is true, you can indeed make voice calls using your data connection with these apps, which are referred in the cellular industry as “over-the-top” (OTT) services because they supersede a carrier’s own voice and messaging services.

You may be using LTE to make voice calls with these apps, but you’re not using VoLTE. Services like Skype, Hangouts, WebEx or Fuze are what is called Voice Over Internet Protocol—VoIP. These services work on your 3G or 4G LTE devices because they use your data connection through the Internet, not the traditional voice network from the carriers.

As U.S. cellular carriers networks evolve, VoLTE will compete with more directly with OTT services like Skype.

Benefits Of VoLTE

T-Mobile is one of the first cellular carriers in the United States to institute VoLTE phone calls on a limited range of smartphones, starting in Seattle. In an announcement last week, T-Mobile chief technology officer Neville Ray described the technology behind the company’s VoLTE offering:

If you’re like me and love digging into the underlying science, here’s how it works. (If this doesn’t interest you, feel free to skip this bit.) VoLTE calls will be carried over IP [Internet protocol, or packet switching] on our LTE network instead of a circuit-switched path on our 4G HSPA+ network. This is advantageous because your phone stays on our wicked fast LTE network to make a call. The tricky bit in all this is the smooth mobility between our various radio layers. Enhanced Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (eSRVCC) is a new LTE Advanced function and we’re excited to be the first to deploy it in the U.S. All of this basically helps ensure that your capable phone won’t drop a call if you leave an LTE area and it switches to 4G HSPA+ or 2G coverage.

Technologies like Enhanced Single Radio Voice Call Continuity are fancy terms used to described the central tenet of VoLTE. For the first time, voice and data will be living together in harmony on the same radio layer, meaning that smartphones won’t need to displace back to 3G or a different spectrum frequency to handle both capabilities.

What this means is that, as LTE is expanded in the U.S., old 3G networks like CDMA or HSPA+ will wither away. Verizon said last year that it will begin phasing out its 3G network at the start of 2014 and other U.S. carriers are planning similar rollbacks. The future of voice and data in the U.S. is LTE (and future advancements, like LTE Advanced), and carriers see no need to maintain costly old infrastructure.

The cellular operators are just starting their marketing campaigns around the evolution of LTE. T-Mobile claims what it calls “HD Voice” (clear voice calls over cellular) and Verizon claims to be rolling out what it calls XLTE, which is basically just extra spectrum for its existing LTE network to operate. Sprint’s Spark network isn’t an advance of LTE either, just a new mode of how it aggregates its various spectrum and varieties of LTE (TD-LTE and FD-LTE) into a more efficient package than its previous 4G offerings. 

Smartphone manufacturers will benefit by the ability to trim how many radio receivers they place in smartphones. Instead of needing to support disparate networks with a variety of chipsets, they can just rollout phones with chipsets directed at specific carrier spectrum requirements. 

For consumers, the benefit is harder to see. VoLTE will fix the unwelcome problem of not being able to use voice and data on a phone at the same time for some carriers, and calls may be clearer and less prone to be dropped going forward. VoLTE is an important evolutionary step in mobile computing, but it’s still possible that many consumers will hardly notice the change.  

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Killer Conversation Analytics: 29% of Calls Result in Conversions [Infographic]

Earlier this week, Log My Calls released our search marketing Q1 inbound call report. We analyzed millions of […]

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McKay Allen

Inbound Marketing Manager at LogMyCalls

McKay Allen is the Inbound Marketing Manager at LogMyCalls. He has spoken at SMX, Social Media Strategies Summit and elsewhere. He hosts a weekly webinar series where he has interviewed over 100 marketing experts. Download his most recent White Paper 5 Ways to Prove Marketing ROI with Call Tracking

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Hey Google Hangouts, Skype Now Offers Free Screen Sharing And Group Calls, Too

Skype is liberating group calls and screen sharing for all users, which are two powerful additions that should please businesspeople and enterprises everywhere.

Group calls had long been available to Skype Premium customers on Mac, Windows and even Xbox One, but now it’s rolling out to anyone using those systems—free of charge.

Microsoft GM of consumer marketing Phillip Snalune said free group calls will eventually roll out to people using mobile devices and other systems, but for now, it’s just available for Windows, Mac and Xbox One users. It’s a solid start, however, especially when you consider Microsoft was likely feeling pressure from Google Hangouts, which is also free, but doesn’t need to be downloaded like Skype. Of course, Google Hangouts also works on mobile devices, which Skype is still working on.

Skype also made screen sharing free for all group video calls, which is a key for businesses that collaborate remotely. So even as it looks to compete against popular consumer-oriented tools like Google Hangouts, Skype’s focus on appeasing the enterprise shows that Microsoft still knows where its bread is buttered.

Image by Joe Shlabotnik from Flickr via Creative Commons license

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WhatsApp Will Add Voice Calls This Year

WhatsApp, the world’s most popular messaging service that was purchased last week by Facebook to the tune of $19 billion, will add voice calls to its service later this year. The company’s CEO Jan Koum confirmed the news on Monday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

WhatsApp boasts 450 million users worldwide, and according to market researcher Ovum, the service made roughly $120 billion last year from text messaging alone.

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Link Network Buzzea Calls Google Penalty ‘Abusive’

It’s been a few weeks since Google’s Matt Cutts publicly announced the demise of the link networks (remember Backlinks.com and Anglo Rank?). But Cutts revealed via Twitter the latest recipient of a penalty is French link network Buzzea.

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