Interview with James Mustarde


Marc: This is Marc Tobias with James Mustarde. You’re the marketing director for Twisted Pair in Seattle, Washington. First of all tell us what is Twisted Pair?

James: Twisted Pair is a software company that produces a software application called WAVE, which is a communications interoperability platform.

Marc: And what’s its connection with WAVE Connections?

James: Well WAVE Connections is powered by WAVE. WAVE Connections is a service that uses the fundamental WAVE application.

Marc: Okay. And how long have you been around?

James: Just over ten years in fact.

Marc: And you serve both corporate commercial, and military users?

James: Correct. History is really around military and government communications operations and in the last few years we’ve expanded quite significantly into the commercial space.

Marc: Okay. So, I’m in Europe and I’ve got colleagues in America, in Europe, and Asia, and I’m talking to them on my smartphone as a conventional walkie-talkie like we used to use. In my state, we developed a digital trunk radio system to incorporate all law enforcement across South Dakota. This system is really a virtual radio system in the cloud.

James: Correct, it’s a push-to-talk service that uses IP instead of a dedicated private proprietary radio network.

Marc: Right, so I’m a radio guy. I grew up with radio. So let’s talk about the differences between a conventional radio system versus radio, what I call, radio over IP, which is really what it is and essentially, you don’t need any spectrum because you’re using all the cellular carrier spectrum to replace discrete frequencies or channels, and there is no licensing. There’sno spectrum allocation issues. There’s no handset issues. It’s secure. You’re using.

James: We natively encrypt to AES-256.

Marc: Right, which is good enough

James: Good enough.

Marc: And is there any impact on performance whether you encrypt or do not encrypt because there’s an option to do that?

James: There is, we don’t recommend to people, do not encrypt. It’s natively AES-256, you know we have customers in the defense and government space that add their own special encryption to the front end.

Marc: Right of course. So you’re using this. There is a lot of law enforcement now, they’re starting to employ radio over IP.

James: Correct.

Marc: Especially, I believe up in Canada they’re looking at it, they’re actually using it.

James: We have customers in Canada.

Marc: How do they like it?

James: They love it.

Marc: So essentially, this is a free other than subscription service. This is a free push-to-talk communication service for any number of users on a dedicated channel that you set up anywhere in the world.

James: So WAVE Connections as a service has two components. There is a free service for five users, one channel, which really gives people the taste, the flavor of what this service is about.

Marc: It’s leader right now.

James: It’s a leader, exactly. And there is the business user service, which is really aimed at the serious business communications user, the once-unlimited channels, unlimited users, and so on and so forth.

Marc: Okay, and right now the price per user is like 24.95 a month, is that correct?

James: Yeah. That’s where we are at the moment.

Marc: That’s paid, but that’s not your enterprise system.

James: That’s not the enterprise system. There is a third tier that we will be introducing later this year, which is really intended at larger organizations that want to introduce their enterprise telephony, their radio systems, their enterprise application-type networks into WAVE Connections to truly expand the footprint of those.

Marc: So, will they have to provide their own service or you provide them?

James: No it’s a cloud service. So basically.

Marc: So it’s still a cloud service.

James: Correct. It’s still a cloud service. What we’re simply saying is whatever you have from an enterprise perspective you can add that into your WAVE Connections service and extend those traditional communication systems into WAVE Connections.

Marc: Okay, last year I was at the Microsoft GSOC in Redmond, one of three that they operate in the world to control all their campuses, all their security.

James: Correct, network.

Marc: And we used a radio system that was linked into their software so that we picked up a walkie-talkie in Redmond and talked to Hyderabad, India to control their center and into England. That’s your system?

James: We work with Microsoft because they have different types of radio systems around the world as you mentioned. They’ve global security operations around the world, managed security, physical security for all of their people and their premises and they have fail-over capabilities so if one GSOC is shut down for whatever reasons or requires to go offline, then those radio networks and therefore those security operations could be managed from a different location that requires radio interoperability.

Marc: Yeah.

James: And so that’s what we provide for them.

Marc: And that’s really an important point. When I spoke with your folks last week especially for the military, you’re providing interoperability with all the different platforms.

James: Correct.

Marc: And so essentially they can replace their discrete radio systems with smart ruggedized smart phones that all the kids are used to using and they can talk across all the platforms Windows, iPhone, iOS, Android, and desktop.

James: Essentially yes, what we’re saying is the network, the platform, the device becomes almost ambiguous. We don’t care, WAVE Connections doesn’t care. You can have a smartphone running iOS talking to a smartphone, an Android smartphone, they could be talking to a radio network, they could be communicating with enterprise telephony or they could be communicating with people who might use a Microsoft application like Lync or SharePoint.

Marc: Right.

James: WAVE Connections doesn’t really care where the audience originates network; so long as you’re connected to the network, we don’t care.

Marc: And you can do this on a 2G, 2.5G Edge connection, 3G, 4G networks.

James: So we’re recommending 3G, 4G and above. The reason that we are so well established and popular with government and military customers with our WAVE hat on is that we can go much lower than that, but from a connection service today than 3G. 4G is really you know the way you want to be acknowledged.

Marc: But the reality is if I’m sitting on a cruise ship for example that generally has edges about the fastest you’re going to get on a microcell site on a cruise ship routing through MTN, there is no problem with that connectivity, and I can take my Blackberry or my Android or my iPhone it works great on my iPad and everything is interoperable and we can talk and you can put any number of users, program any number of users into what I call a talk group.

James: Correct, there are no theoretical limits to the number of users that you can have on a chat. I mean like anything the more people that you have on a channel the harder it is for an individual to be able to monitor, but generally speaking, there is no limit.

Marc: Okay and what’s the latency? With two-way radio, it’s instant. I let off my push-to-talk button, we’re done. There is no storing forward. There’s no delays because you’re not, it’s point to point. Is there a significant delay with cloud based radio?

James: No. I mean there is no such thing as no latency in radio because the signal actually has to go from one point to another.

Marc: At the speed of light one doesn’t notice it. In your service, you notice it.

James: There is a very, very, very small degree of latency that typically is determined by the number of hops that you may have to go across networks.

Marc: Right.

James: But for I would say the vast majority of users it’s not noticeable.

Marc: Nextel is shutting down IDENT within the next two years probably or a lot sooner than that.

James: They’re already shutting down towers.

Marc: First of all is IDENT, are they gone?

James: No, they’re not gone at all. You know, they have a new version of IDENT, but the basic fact is that IDENT is a proprietary single network operation operating on a select number of devices with contracts and the pricing structure that is attractive to some people, but not to others.

Marc: When I talked to Sprint, they said they’re discontinuing push-to-talk service. Is this correct or are they really keeping it?

James: They are discontinuing it using IDENT. They are rolling out push-to-talk service.

Marc: With radio over IP?

James: With, using their CDMA network. So they are.

Marc: Same difference.

James: Yeah, so they are not doing radio over IP although they have made some noises to suggest that they would offer radio integration on a carrier push-to-talk service in the future.

Marc: So is your company prepared to migrate Nextel users who are going to be looking for global radio over IP services opposed, Nextel is in like seven countries.

James: Right.

Marc: But mainly Canada and America. If you, with global operations for businesses, your company is ideally suited to move into that space that’s taken up right now by Nextel. I’m assuming that’s in the business plan.

James: I mean yes you’re kind of really nailed it. We don’t care what the transport is, we don’t care of the carrier, we don’t care whether it’s a Wi-Fi network in a hotel in Dubai or whether it’s a, you know, a 3G or 4G network in South Africa. Wherever there is access to the network, you can have real-time push-to-talk with presence and mapping on any device.

Marc: Do you think that in the future this is the way radio systems are going especially because of spectrum shortages?

James: We don’t believe the radio systems are going to run out of usefulness any time soon, but we certainly believe that IP is a tremendous enabler to extend the value and the capability of radio networks.

Marc: Can I get into your system regardless of how I get to the network? If I’m on Wi-Fi it doesn’t matter.

James: That’s just access.

Marc: However I get to you, it doesn’t matter.

James: We don’t care.

Marc: What options are coming? Because I was told by your technical people that there’s new software that’s coming.

James: So WAVE Connections, we talked a little bit about the business user, which will allow radio integration, and I’m sorry, that’s enterprise user. The enterprise application will allow 2-way radio integration to the network, so you can imagine if you’re an existing mobile workforce manager who has guys out in the field, teams out in the field that are using maybe Nexedge radio systems, ICOM radio systems, Moto TRBO radio systems, they would like to add the audio and the talking capability of those workforce, the mobile workers into their WAVE Connections services, we will enable that in any enterprise environment. Same for enterprise telephony picking up the phone and making a phone call into a WAVE Connections channel in order to talk to a group of users or if you were sitting at a SharePoint desktop or maybe a Lync desktop for your collaboration or unified communications being allowed to select from that desktop environment talk group channels so that you can talk to people.

Marc: Are you looking to tie in to Facebook, Google+ or any other social media, have you looked at that?

James: You know it’s software. I mean it’s amazing what you can do. I think the important thing is that we’re very serious about this mobile workforce communications. You know there are applications today that allow this sort of social network centric communications, “We’re at the mall, let’s meet up, we’re going to go out, let’s do this.” WAVE Connections is really aimed at business users who absolutely want to guarantee communications with their mobile workforce and to some extent that social media-enabled side of it is probably on that radar, probably doesn’t make sense to them, but from a technological standpoint, there is no reason why the underlying software for WAVE Connections which is WAVE can’t be imported to Facebook in some way to provide a social interaction.

Marc: Yeah. I see that already Google+ is tied in to Facebook and there are several of them doing that now. It’s tough to compete with Skype and all the others.

James: Well these are point to point you know. Skype, they’re point to point and we’re talking about one to many, which is really what a push-to-talk environment is all about and we’ve had discussions and conversations to provide such capability in the past and you know it’s not something that we believe is being required or being asked for by any large organization.

Marc: Do you think the carriers, the cellular carriers around the world are going to start adopting your technology?

James: We have certainly had and continue to have a number of discussions with carriers who are looking for an over the top type of service.

Marc: Because everybody, you know, I grew up with push-to-talk and for me, it’s an incredibly convenient, the folks that haven’t used it, I don’t think they understand it because it’s an instantaneous, you know, “John I need to do this. Bob, okay,” whatever. I don’t need to make a phone call. I don’t need to bother you with your phone ringing, I don’t need, you know, everybody’s got unlimited plans now so it doesn’t matter. There are no toll calls. They don’t exist in America, but push-to-talk and that’s why Nextel has survived with their service so long. It’s 30 years, when Motorola developed it because it is incredibly convenient and it’s efficient and so I think when people get introduced to the concept of push-to-talk without having to carry a separate radio that I would suspect in a lot of business environments would be incredibly popular.

James: We recently spent quite a lot of time at field service type conferences and exhibitions where we have had long and deep discussions with organizations that have a lot of field workers, in the hospitality space, in the utility space, in transportation, and being able to add a push-to-talk to a single device that also provides mapping and tasking software and so forth, is a huge potential benefit.

Marc: Oh, yeah, huge.

James: Huge, especially if some of their radio networks and IDENT is an example is becoming obsolete. So they’re looking to take the next step that says “I want a single device.” You know you see iPads in the cockpits of aircraft these days. Why does the pilot have to get off the airplane to be able to go to a radio room to be able to speak to Mother, you know, 6000 miles away when he could literally push-to-talk from his iPad that interfaces whatever radio networks are provisioned for him in an airport situation.

Marc: Well, I’m just thinking AIRINC if you’re familiar with that. They’ve been around for about 40 years. We actually had them tied in to state police radio in South Dakota because we needed to talk to aircraft in an emergency. This was an ideal use for AIRINC pilots because all of AIRINC pilots were linked together on all air crafts. It’s a private network and so for dispatch operations especially for flight attendants, for pilots, this is much more convenient. It’s also, have you talked or explored the possibility for emergency notifications?

James: You know we have potential business dealings, existing business dealings with lots of public safety and alerting and type situations. We work with police departments around the country because they want to supplement two-way radio systems. We’re working with obviously the military that wants to project commander control throughout the world especially on very thin very skinny networks, the sharp, pointy end, if you like and then we’re talking to large commercial organizations, airports and airlines for example that have footprint all over the globe and they’re currently limited by circuits, maybe fixed circuits, they pay a lot of money for. Wouldn’t it be great if they could just connect all of those remote facilities over an IP network without having to have dedicated infrastructure which costs an awful lot of money.

Marc: That’s right and why not let the public carriers replace private infrastructure, which is really what’s been happening, anyway.

James: Yeah, and the consumerization of these devices makes, you know, devices like this, and your iPad, incredibly affordable. It’s almost you know pointless to deny that this is the way ahead. I mean it’s just.

Marc: When I began my conversation with all your technical people in a briefing, this was my point. This is rather obvious. Why would I want to spend two thousand dollars on a Motorola radio or other brands or Harris or whatever when I can do the same thing with my little computer in my hand that has radio built into it.

James: Right.

Marc: And has a telephone. Last question, are you familiar with Tetra?

James: Yes.

Marc: How do you compete with Tetra?

James: Well Tetra is a digital radio system just like P25.

Marc: Right, that’s correct.

James: So and you know there are plenty of opportunities in Europe to say, “Let’s extend Tetra or let’s do more than Tetra provides.” Tetra is a single function radio system just like P25 or any other radio system. Wouldn’t it be great if we could do Tetra voice on an IP device and extend the reach of Tetra to people who don’t have a handset, don’t need a handset or to users who are on a completely different radio system altogether?

Marc: Where’s your biggest installation or implementation?

James: The United States Military are by far and away, our largest customers without question. Special operations, government communications, all the people who rely upon instant reliable secure communications anywhere in the world love our technology.

Marc: But does that mean that they have to rely on cellular carriers for cloud based services or do they have to provide their own?

James: They can do both.

Marc: They can do both.

James: Yeah. As I said before, we don’t care what the transport is. Depending on the level of security that is required or is perceived to be required, this can be provisioned over a private network. WAVE Connections is our cloud offering. The very same capability can be provided over a private network. You know we don’t, the technology doesn’t care.

Marc: So James what haven’t I asked you? What have I missed?

James: You know, I think you’ve done a great job in covering, I mean I think what people should understand is that WAVE Connections is a technology, a service that’s aimed at people who are serious about their business connectivity. It’s not intended to be a lightweight, push-to-talk, social network driven system. It is a service that delivers, you know, secure communication.

Marc: On any system.

James: On any system.

Marc: Which is really cool because whether I’m on a CDMA-based system in America or a GSM network overseas, it doesn’t matter.

James: It does not matter at all.

Marc: And you were on Amtrak coming down this morning.

James: I was on Amtrak coming down. I was talking on the network to my colleagues back in Seattle. They could see where I was. I actually had to remind them that they didn’t have to ask me if I had got into Vancouver yet because I was right smack there on the middle of the mapping function.

Marc: And that’s the last thing that I actually didn’t cover. Built into your software is geographic mapping.

James: Yeah, I mean on any device that is GPS enabled, we can use that GPS information to show users on the network exactly where those people are which is fabulous for field service management because you know that truckload of concrete better be on the way to the pour because we can see exactly where you are and so you know excuses that you’re stuck in traffic twenty miles away when really you’re having a cup of coffee, don’t work anymore.

Marc: And what about logging, is your company keeping logs of all the traffic or do they have the capability of recording the conversations if a customer would want that?

James: So at the moment, we’re not keeping logs. What we’re doing is we understand you know the proxies that they are open so forth so we understand usage and so forth, but at the moment we’re not recording. A later version with the service will provide a recording. So at the moment we do presence so we know who’s on the channel and we know who spoke. So if you want to look at your presence tab you can say that I see that was Fred that just called me a couple of seconds ago and spoke. Future versions will actually have the option to record what he was saying on that channel. So you can instantaneous update yourself and say, “I missed that, what did he say, okay, great. Thanks very much.”

Marc: So you have a caller ID on mobile calls, and,

James: Yeah, we know who, anybody who’s logged into the system, you have to have a log-in ID to access the system and so once you’re logged into the system the system knows who you are. We can tell anybody who’s on different channels, who’s on the channel, the last time they spoke, and of course based on GPS, where they are located.

Marc: Yeah, I was just thinking because you’re from England. The financial services authority has now mandated, for example, that if stock brokers have used your system, it would all have to be recorded.

James: So because it’s software, there’s nothing stopping people you know, at that capability from an on-premise perspective. We have plenty of customers who essentially deliver the same kind of thing, but because it’s provisioned on-premise, it’s on their own service that they can do all of that themselves. WAVE Connections today doesn’t allow users to provide all that recording, but that’s just capability down the road.

Marc: Yeah. James, thank you very much.

James: Thank you very much.

[End of Audio] Duration: 23 minutes 31 seconds

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