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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

xG Technology finally launches mVoIP..... Well, sort of.

According to this news release, xG has started operating a network with mobile VoIP capability in Daytona Beach in Florida. There's been a flurry of news recently about new wireless technologies being rolled out (like China's TD-SCDMA), so it's good to have some confirmation that xMax is finally out of the starting blocks. [And another mysterious one is just emerging too]

A few months ago, in its last results, the company promised a November launch, and so it looks like they've just managed to sneak in before the beginning of December.

I'll certainly agree that xG deserves some congratulation on reaching the milestone of deploying its technology in a real-world environment. It's a small company and has undoubtedly encountered many setbacks and unexpected technical and useability glitches along the way.

But on the other hand, I have to say this is a fairly tenuous use of the word 'launch', which appears to be used more to satisfy its detractors by hitting its self-imposed November deadline, than in the way the telecoms industry would usually interpret it. "The first soft launch customers will begin populating the network shortly in anticipation of the retail launch" is a bit woolly. I wouldn't say that first installation = launch. It's perhaps more equivalent to laying a foundation stone.

Compare and contrast with the Brough's description of the status of China's TD-SCDMA "trials": "under the name 'application trials,' experimental TD-SCDMA networks began running in four cities in 2005. It took longer than expected to get the system running, however, since April 2007, these “trials” have been extended to ten cities and have been substantially enlarged to what I might call “deployment scale.” . (Also discussed here)

It's also interesting to see what xG isn't saying in its new release:

  • No new specific deadlines on commercial launch, that might hold it hostage on timing in the future. The phrase "continuing to pay particular attention to the quality of service for voice" is quite telling. [by coincidence I am listening to a technical conference presentation on VoIP QoS as I write this. Put simply - it's challenging & time-consuming, and needs tools like dedicated test & measurement gear]
  • No outlandish claims of orders-of-magnitude improvements in performance or capacity, just a fairly loose marketing-ese comment of "longer range, more power efficient"
  • No mention of the service provider deploying the network - notably the mysterious Far Reach. It's pretty unusual for a vendor to announce a launch rather than an operator, so I suspect it may be an in-house operated network rather than that of a customer operator. The use of the term 'customer' to refer to end-user in the text perhaps also indicates direct sales from xG rather than via a service provider.
  • No more assertions that it is the first mobile VoIP solution provider, when plenty of others are now in that space.

Overall, it looks like an important step for xG, but I still think it's a long way off large-scale rollouts and the exact nature of any competitive differentiation (technical or cost) is unclear. As the technology is still proprietary it will need to have significant clear & measurable advantages for operators to consider it. Really, xG needs to push it somehow to become a standard.

Given the final paragraph includes the line "we are now afforded the occasion to address the multiple other opportunities, both wired and wireless, which have presented themselves" I'm wondering whether the company is finally realising that mobile VoIP is the hardest and most competitive place to start, and is going to look at less-challenging applications as a priority.


Beer Is Life said...


That was a nicely balanced blog. However xG is not the only ones who left out a few key factors - you did too. The elephant in the room is that xG Technology have all the signs of being a scam: Impossible claims, No demonstable technology, Founders that have been sued for Fraud in the past, Delays upon delays, Directors taking home $70k a MONTH of investors money, advisors that have been bribed with shares...the list of doubts and suspicions is a long one and xG don;t seem to be able to come up with any answers.

Phil said...

The fact that this comment was written well over a year ago and STILL there are virtually no signs of life from xG Technology says you were on the right track.