Thursday, May 05, 2005

VQube, the VoIP product from IISc!


Three of my colleagues at IISc, Professors K.V.S. Hari, T.V. Sreenivas and H. S. Jamadagni run their first -- and our Institute's third -- entrepreneurial venture: Esqube Communication Solutions. Their first software product, named VQube, after being beta-tested in the US and Japan, is now ready and available for download (free, trial version). Hari and I were talking about Esqube this afternoon, and here is what he told me about their new baby:

VQube allows you to use your Windows-based PC -- which should have a microphone, speakers, sound card and an internet connection -- to make telephone calls through the internet. The only restriction is that the other person should also have a PC with all these features, including VQube. It is optimized for use even on a dial-up connection; with a higher-bandwidth (broadband, for example) internet link, it is even better. It does everything that its its more established competitor (that shall not be named here!) does, and then some more!

VQube's USPs are: (a) it works even with the lowly dial-up connection, and (b) it, unlike its competitor, is a strictly peer-to-peer product.

In sum -- and in semi-geek language -- it is a peer-to-peer and low-bandwidth-friendly internet telephony product!

I would really like to give a glowing account of how VQube has really changed (transformed!) my telephony experience. The reason I cannot is that I am a linux-only person, and VQube is a Windows-only software! Needless to say, I am looking forward to VQube-LX ...

See the VQube website for more details on its capabilities that include, for example, conference calls. If you want more info, you might want to look at this Businessworld story. There are at least two bloggers who have written about VQube.

I urge you to check out VQube, and to spread the word. More importantly, if you have any suggestions for the product, do please get in touch with VQube's developers. These academics, strangely enough, are hungry for feedback!

13 Comments:

  1. Anonymous said...

    I have been following this blog for quite a long time now... and i must say much as i would like to see an indian product making its mark i dont see it happening with vcube why?
    first they want to charge for something that skype (has been named now!)has made free ..
    Then there is the network effect - most of the existing products have acquired a user base and so are more tempting for a new user...
    then for the USPs
    1. pure p2p - well no one cares if it is pure p2p or not (as long as it works)and skype is p2p when there are no firewalls and having a non p2p architecture helps in case of proxy servers
    2. if they can prove that they are so much better then skype that people will be temped to switch then i am sure people will switch but will people pay money for it -I highly doubt it. esp. when most of the voip is already as good as it gets essentially limited by internet's unreliability

    sorry for anon post - no blogger id yet

  2. Abi said...

    Hi Anonymous,

    Thanks for honoring me with a comment within two hours of posting this piece! You have made my day!

    Thanks for the more substantive business-oriented comments as well. I will certainly pass them on to Hari, and perhaps he will visit this post to give his perspective.

    As for commenting anonymously, that's okay with me. However, you can post as "other", and reveal your name, if you wish!

    Well, cheers!

  3. Anonymous said...

    vqube offers voice mail service which is far superior to skype.. and skype charges for it..
    Skype does not offer online live support.. only web support for first time users..

    There are many users on dial up who have had difficulties in having good conversation on skype..I am one of them.. and vcube works in such conditions prevelent in India!!..
    Skype's supernode concept is viral ..a machine running an application and using bandwidth resources with out owners knowledge is a virus!!Sorry to continue with anon post

  4. shashwat said...

    Hi anon.
    let me call you a2 (anonymous2)
    i am not debating the tech aspect though having worked on speex for voicemail here at iit-m i have some idea of that area too and believe me when i see a voip product based on ADPCM G.726 i am intregued as to how they are able to do it because there is a huge generation gap between g726 and todays celp based codecs like speex and gsm-amr and iLBC(one in skype) etc.
    so i am really and genuinely eager to know more about the tech aspect of this product but i am more confused by the biz model
    from their website
    "join our partner Program" - Rs.5000
    "selling VQube Prepaid cards to your customers" - you make a lot of money
    now lets see why i think these people will have big hurdles to cross
    1. indian market - you are up against falling std. and local call rates not to mention the network effect of millions of phones and cellphones providing vitually zero latency calls http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect

    2. International market - agreed isd is still costly but you will have to make sufficient number of people in US UK (and other places where indian might want to talk to ) agree to install this software esp when every one has a comparable service from aol yahoo msn skype ...
    finally your calling use of supernodes viral made me smile i think there are two reasons why
    1. http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=136729&cid=114217470
    and similar discussion on that site
    2. "with out owners knowledge" really how did you find out ;) if it is such a big secret ... in my opinion that is the idea of p2p i help you as much as i can you help me as much as you can any way the good thing is that if it is a such a bad idea it will go away om malik says "So Skype may deploy their own Supernodes, eliminating one more difference between it and other VoIP providers."
    contact me at shashwat_shah at_yahoo.com

  5. Abi said...

    One more intervention:

    I made this post to let you know of a mass-market product that has come from the work of academics (and friends!) from our Institute. After all, it is a Windows-based product for arguably the most important human urge: to be connected. It can't get any more mass-market than this!

    The idea behind my posting it is to ask you to first give it a spin and see if you like it. If you like to try out different gadgets, all I am saying is: "Hey, here is one that you might want to try; you have nothing to lose".

    As with any other mass-market gadget, the best situation is when you fall in love with VQube. If this applies to you, please let VQube people know. And, don't forget to evangelize it!

    If you like the product, but not the price, I suggest that you still recommend it to your friends, but also let VQube people know about your price-related grouse!

    If you sort of like the product, and think it can be improved further, let them know!

    If you don't like the product, again let them know, and please give them reasons!

    I am sure you see a pattern here: "these academics, strangely enough, are hungry for your feedback!".

  6. Hari said...

    Hello friendly bloggers:)

    Thanks for your comments.
    *Technology: Vqube has a suite of codecs from proprietary coders of Esqube, ILBC, and the rest of the standard, but royalty free, codecs. There are other features in Vqube which are neat and improves performance. We do know that there are other 'products', but we do it differently:)
    * Business model: Vqube supports voice mail and also has an answering machine feature. Yes, whether people will pay for it is a good question. The model will evolve as it gets used.

    Keep posting! :)
    ---
    hari

  7. Varchas said...

    I am commenting on the first comment on this blog. Skype does give 1-1 calls and conferencing free as Skype does not offer bandwidth help to any of its users. They have Super nodes that are Skype users on public. The skype user has no clue that that machine being used to route skype 1-1 calls for two other skype users who are behind NAT (some specific NAT) and firewall. It need not be only behind a proxy server. That is where VQube claims that it is a strict p2p application

  8. Satelitarna Telefonia said...

    Very interesting post. I hope that it help me a lot. I have some problems with VoIP and I'm still reading your blog. Good work.

  9. ness said...

    hi everybody

    I am first time visitor to this blog.I want to know can i connect Vqube to my PSTN telephone and use it like ordinary telephone.

    regards

  10. Anonymous said...

    hi ness,

    To Receive/Make calls on a standard telephone instrument, you have to purchase an Analog Telephone adapter from VQube

    visit: http://www.vqube.com/no_headsets.htm

  11. Anonymous said...

    Im curious how Vquube performs compared to Gtalk? And is there any free version of Vqube which works behind proxy servers?

  12. Varchas said...

    "Anonymous said...
    Im curious how Vquube performs compared to Gtalk? And is there any free version of Vqube which works behind proxy servers?"
    at present, VQube does not support proxies other than SOCKS 4. But a version is released (not for public yet) that can work behind any proxy. You may need to wait for a week. The version will be 3.0
    HTH,
    Varchas S R

  13. Varchas said...

    Sorry .. forgot commenting on your first statement.
    VQube is designed primarily for low bandwidth conditions. It is far superior to Skype or Google talk. On a good broadband, Skype and GTalk can perform better as they have the codecs from the same company GIPS and that is a wideband codec. This does not mean that VQube quality is poor. In broadband, VQube also performs extremely well.
    WRT GTalk, the network identification and peer-peer connectivity is quite poor. Skype and VQube are applications that try for peer-peer as much as possible so that the quality is better (if not peer-peer there will be unnecessary delay and packet loss)
    HTH,
    Varchas R S