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Posts from June 2008

Way to Go Boingo

I've been a Boingo customer for a long, long time. I've also become pals with their CEO Dave Hagan whom I've had sit in on few panels that I've moderated for IT Expo and MuniWireless. Last month they became an agency client post arrival of Jeremy Pepper, who is now leading their PR efforts.

I've liked Boingo's ease of use so much that we even have two Global accounts I pay for (beyond my Boingo Mobile account that was given to many of us who attended the Mobile World Congress with Nokia.) Now with a new GoBoingo Mac client, logging on is even easier, and given some of the issues I'm seeing in some hotspots with Devicescape, likely due to the way the hotspots run by T-Mobile and AT&T keep changing log on screens, the happier I am.

The new GoBoingo client for the Mac worked great for me in Newark Airport on Friday. Instant log-on. If you're a Mac user and a Boingo customer it's something to install and use. I'll also be putting it through its paces here in Europe the next two weeks.

UPDATE: Less than a block away from my hotel is a Boingo powered hotspot that is operated by Portugal Telecom. I had no problem logging on at all. It was a snap.

But put aside the fact that they are a client of Comunicano, as I said upfront I've been a happy paid user for as long as I can remember. Why? Because their customer service team cares. During that time I've been a user I've filed reports from the field to Dave and his team whenever a technical issue has arisen. Most of these issues were the roaming partner's fault.

For example, even to this day, when on an Orange Hotspot in France via Boingo or even as a direct payee using Orange vouchers in Accor hotels like Sofitel or Pullman or Mercure, I can't send email via Entourage or Outlook since they don't support SMTP transport for Exchange users at all, and that problem has been happening for over a year or more.

I'll also never forget the Sprint call I had where the Sprint folks insisted a Mac could log on at Oakland Airport, but that the user needed Internet Explorer, something that doesn't exist for the Intel based Macs. Sprint then insisted their folks could log on from their lab...It wasn't until they went out to the Oakland Airport that Sprint's WiFi guys figured out I was right. You see, in roaming with WiFi, it's not always the aggregator who should take the heat when someone can't log on in a hotspot location. When it came to the Sprint issue Boingo's team told me what the cause was, but Sprint was in total denial until they went out and looked. That was so hilarious I had a field day with Sprint over it last September.

What I've found though most of all is that Mac users aren't forgotten by Boingo, but that most networks seem to forget that we're alive and well. That has something to do with browser authentication from what I can tell.

As Mac user who tends to update to the latest versions of things like Camino and Firefox I've learned that sometimes things don't always work as they should. Many times its the hotspot or hotel broadband operator who just doesn't want to take the time to update their software. This even happens with Microsoft products too sometimes....

Who Get's Plain Vanilla Phones

Dean Bubley has a nice thought provoking piece about branded mobile handsets vs. the plain vanilla versions. In the USA it really doesn't matter as few people really need the unlocked versions since AT&T and T-Mobile are the GSM players and if you're a happy domestic customer going global with an unlocked phone simply means buying on on eBay or from an etailer who sells them.

But for the UK and EU residents this is a big deal. Crossing borders, swapping SIMs or using a travel SIM like MaxRoam or SIM4Travel (now owned by client Truphone) is a big deal.

What we're beginning to see is carrier clout being applied in both directions (retailer and handset manufacturer) to keep more of the business on the carrier's network as long as possible. This approach will reign as long as the governments permit a closed market over the public and licensed airwaves.

Skype Updates Beta Users (But Not The Beta 4.0)

Mike Bartlett has written a very personal update to the beta users of SKype 4.0. I like the tone and direction, as it shows under Josh Silverman Skype is actually listening to users (including bloggers.)

The comment about a compact mode was my initial reaction when Josh took me through the details a few weeks back. With smaller screen devices like Mac Book Air's and the UMPC's from Asus and HP all gaining momentum with the road warrior set, the Mac and Linux team's efforts at Skype will likely be as important.

Here's to hoping that all three platforms at some point begin to run in synergy with release dates and feature sets.

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More EEE PC's On Their Way?

Engadget suggests that more Asus EEE PC's are on their way. As a happy owner of the 701 and 900 (actually two of each) I find these to be the perfect toss in the bag and carry around or leave in the car for when you need more than a Blackberry.

I'm using the Linux versions with all the free apps, but likely will make a Windows model my next purchase as I'll be able to do more mainstream stuff on it. Of course that will increase the Total Cost of Ownership too.

What's my dream machine? A Mac on the Asus or Flybook size platform.

Berninger's Post On GigaOm--A Must Read

Dan Berninger, now with Free World DialUp, Jeff Pulver's Purple Minutes foray into VoIP/SIP and all things 2.0 that was light years ahead when it started, and now more a VoIP club the way the ARRL is for Ham radio, as a proving ground for all things VoIP and SIP, has a great post to read from last week.

In the guest post on GigaOm Berninger outlines what's up with SIP and has triggered a nice discussion with the VoIP tech savvy.

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Attention Vonage READ THIS POST

This applies to whomever is really running Vonage (a company I predict will get bought by private equity in the next 18 months).

This post from Duct Tape Marketing about lifetime value of a customer is dead on the money. If you add up all the former Vonage customers who have left it likely now duplicates what they actually have. If you factor in the word of mouth value of those same customers their referrals likely add up to a large part of the cable MSO's user base.

What's more sad than Vonage losing customers to the MSOs (not that that's a bad thing) is that not one of the existing and surviving VoIP players had the ability to pick up any of the consumer based customers en masse.

WiFi To Get Certified VoIP Devices (Finally)

The WiFi Alliance is now certifying devices for VoIP over WiFi as part of a new standard 802.11r that's coming to us in the future. While this is good, it's too little too late. Earthlink tried to have VoWiFI with some devices that pals David Elgas and Steve Howe actually had built for them. While the handset worked great indoors, when I took the device out for field testing in Philadelphia and Anaheim the service sucked wind, as moving from access point to access point that was powered by the Tropos Mesh networks failed to move between nodes very cleanly, almost always dropping the calls.

This new standard is supposed to fix that, but as much as I see this as good for WiFi in the enterprise, I don't see this working in the metro area for a long time.