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Posts from December 2008

Taking Stock of My Accounts

Over the past 20 months my travel has swelled from now and then to almost every week. It used to be I would worry about how I was going to go so far away and still stay in touch. But that's all changed. Over the past few years I've amassed both knowledge and a ton of accounts that let me stay in touch. Ok, I admit I'm very connected. Maybe too, connected. As a result I've sat down and looked at what I have that helps me stay connected in the hopes that you too can stay connected too:

Landlines

Two-AT&T

VoIP

AT&T CallVantage (2 Lines)

Junction Networks OnSip

Televolution PhoneGnome

Inphonex Unlimited Calling to my SNOM 380s

Skype via a Phillips Desk Phone

PhoneFusion Fusion One

A Jazinga Box connected to OnSip

Softclients

Gizmo5

Skype

Bria on PCs

EyeBeam on Macs

Truphone on Nokias, iPhone and iPod Touch

Direct InBound Numbers

UK

Skype

VoIP User

France

Gizmo Project

Skype

Spain

CallCentric

USA

AT&T CallVantage (3)

Skype (3)

Gizmo Project (1)

Junction Networks (1)

InPhonex (1)

CallCentric (1)

GrandCentral (1)

Mobile Phones USA

Verizon Wireless Blackberry Storm

AT&T Nokia N95 (on a GoPhone Pay As You Go SIM)

AT&T Nokia N95 8GB 3G

AT&T iPhone 3G

T-Mobile Blackberry Curve

T-Mobile Google Android G1

Mobile UK

T-Mobile Nokia E90 or E71 using a Pay As You Go SIM

3 SkypePhone2 (two of them for the company's use) On Pay As You Go SIM

Mobile Internet Devices

Sony Mylo (2)

Nokia N810

Nokia N800

Nokia N770

Apple iPod Touch

Mobile France

Transatel Le France Mobile Pay As You Go

Mobile Spain

Yoigo Pay As You Go SIM

Telefonica Pay As You Go SIM

Mobile Portugal

Vodafone Pay As You go SIM

Global Roaming

MaxRoam SIM

Wireless Data

Mobile Calling Services

MobiVox

TruphoneAnywhere

3G Cards

3 UK only 3G USB Modem on Pay As You Go SIM

AT&T 3G on a Novatel Wireless 950 HSUPA 3G USB Modem

Two Sprint EVDO Rev A on a Novatel Modem (one used with Cradlepoint to share broadband at meetings)

Two Verizon Wireless EVDO cards used by team members

AT&T 3G inside the Flybook PC

WiFi Access

T-Mobile HotSpot Service

Boingo Global Roaming (2 Accounts)

Boingo Mobile (3 Accounts)

StarBucks Gold WiFi Access

iPass Mobile

DeviceScape logon client Easy WiFi

Digital Camera

Panasonic with EyeFi WiFi SD Card

What does this all mean? It means I pay a lot to stay connected. I'm the exception, not the rule. As a global nomad I've figured how, for a price, to stay very connected and reachable. I've also figured out how to patch together my own network of connectivity in the countries I frequently visit the most. By taking advantage of SIP DIDs, local access numbers, call through services and using WiFI based calling, I use very little local minutes when I roam internationally on a a local SIM, listen to voice mail, return calls, etc. What's more, using local Data SIMs on a Pay As You Go basis means great connectivity at low prices. Add in services from T-Mobile and Boingo and that means my WiFi bills are low. In hotels many that I stay in offer free WiFi or in Europe discounted plans for frequent guests with rock solid Internet Access. I travel with my own travel routers (Apple Airport Express and Asus Travel Router) which means multiple devices over one connection.

I doubt everyone needs as much connectivity as I tend to have, but when you need to be connected on the road, pretty much I've figured it out.


Me and My Kindle

I'm a Kindle fan. Ever since pal Jeff Belk turned me on to his one day flying from Las Vegas to San Diego I've been hooked. I have some regrets though. When I was in Europe I couldn't update it and that was a bummer. I only wish it had WiFi in addition to the Whisper Network from Amazon and Sprint.

But that one hurdle aside, I've become a Kindle fan because not only does it let me read books without carrying them, I can also read business magazines and newspapers while traveling without the added weight.

Larry Golob of the GIPS team penned a piece yesterday about the Kindle and brought up a very interesting point near the end where he wrote:

At Global IP Solutions, we are seeing significant interest from customers developing real time voice and video applications for the mobile market. Maybe we will soon see a Kindle with real-time voice and video for those unable to attend their book club in person.

This is in alignment with my divergence concept written about after Telco 2.0 last April. Basically, you take a device which is designed to do one thing exceptionally well and add in additional, and complimentary, functionality. Larry's suggestion of adding voice to the Kindle is a dead on the mark application of my suggestion.

From my perspective, the Kindle can be a lot more than it is today and my guess is that it will be more than what it is in the very near future.


Amtrak-Take Note

As the economy sours and as we all become more ecological or "green" one of the trends that we're seeing on both coasts here in the USA is the increase in ridership of trains, both commuter and long haul.

Growing up on the east coast I regularly took the Metroliner between Philadelphia and New York City for meetings or to see my girlfriend at the time who lived in Manhattan. Here on the west coast the Amtrak Surfliner is a regular mode for me to get to Los Angeles or Santa Barbara or the Capital Corridor train from Sacramento to San Francisco or San Jose. I also take the train from SF sometimes depending where meetings are in Silicon Valley vs. always driving.

So this story out of Japan is very timely. You see, with an increase in ridership on trains, comes an increase in business riders. That means there is the need for WiFi on trains, especially since the coverage for 3G along the rails is so spotty here.

I've had first had experience on the Heathrow Connect via T-Mobile in London. It works. 15 minutes of high speed travel and connectivity from Heathrow Airport to Paddington Station. The sheer feeling of clearing out my inbox, changing a lunch reservation or reconfirming a meeting is so relaxing. But so is making a Skype call or even a SightSpeed video call from the moving train.

The folks at Amtrak should take note. Some WiFi operator or mobile operator likely wants the business. Hopefully they give it to them because staying connected on the trains means more business and business traveler for Amtrak.


Push That Banner, Make a Call

On the surface this is taking a page out of client iFByPhone's playbook, a company out of the Netherlands has created PushCall. With their latest offering, PushCall makes it passible to click on a banner ad and make a call.

What makes so much of this possible is the same kind of Adobe Flash audio that is powering things like TringMe and now GizmoCall.

The difference between services like iFByPhone and Pushcall is what is going on behind the scenes. Web based companies want more than just click and connect. That's the difference between a neat idea, and a real business model.


Drinking My Own Kool Aid

Yesterday my flight from Paris to Newark was delayed by almost three hours. That meant the connection to my American Airlines flight to Dallas would never be made, so at Orly I logged on to their hotspot using Boingo and looked at options.

There weren't any. So I went to AA.com and changed my flight to Wednesday morning and booked a room at the Newark Airport Marriott. Even though the airline knew I did this and was willing to offer a room at another hotel, I wanted to stay at the closest and most convenient property to the airport as a 750 AM flight means getting up early and dealing with jet lag, plus I know what kind of connectivity I'll get at the Marriott, as it's a Boingo roaming location.

When I got to the room I used my own Apple Airport Express, connected it to the iBahn cable, and started using Truphone to make calls.

Nothing was complicated and everything worked.

Now only if they can cure jetlag.

Vonage Death Watch Starts at Fierce

Doug Mohney has penned an excellent piece about what will hasten the death spiral of Vonage. His well timed editorial, based largely around the announcement by Verizon to rollout a real VoIP service called Digital Voice (wow what a creative brand name) is well in keeping with my rationale as to why the consumer VoIP pioneer is on the ropes.

Mohney rightfully points out that triple and quad play plans from both the telcos (AT&T, Verizon and Qwest) as well as the efforts from the cable MSO's will put Vonage in a stranglehold as the customers begin to say, "oh, heck, the pricing is better to switch," or as the incentives to switch over become far too attractive.

Vonage has no play at this point, unless they move into some sort of wireless offering to compliment their land line. Though I've heard rumors that they are considering it, given the economic climate, their lack of credit worthiness and the debt already over their head, I'd say "that dog don't hunt" either.