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Posts from May 2009

Time Warner's New Cable Broadband Terms Explained

Stacy @ GIGAOM has been keeping a watchful eye on the meandering ways of Time Warner Cable and their new user agreement. Basically she points out the flaws in it, giving it a well deserved thumbs down.

Here's who should be upset:




and just about all the VoIP operators.

Add in:






SightSpeed (Logitech)




Oh..yes, just about anyone in the business of real time and fat pipe communications. I guess that includes Google too with Wave, GoogleTalk and more.

Why should they be upset? Because we're seeing the cable TV model applied to broadband communications, something I wrote back on April 14 of this year as a follow up to Stacy's post then.

Me and My Verizon MiFi

I'll admit, I'm a gadget guy, and the kind of person who just has to have the latest and greatest, then push the limits of it to the nth degree immediately upon purchase. I did that once with my Nissan 300zx back in 1995 when I bought my Z, getting to the 350 mile mark in one weekend, then taking it to the wide open highways near Banning and Palm Desert and letting the engine and turbo chargers do their thing.

Yesterday I went to the Verizon Wireless store and bought one of the new Novatel Wireless' MiFi mobile hotspot in your pocket devices that delivers broadband everywhere you go. Before I even left the store (and after a fast installation and activation, as well as update to Verizon's new Broadband Access 7.0 software on my Asus EEE PC 1008HA) I was up and running and making phone calls. That's right. I did a fast test right inside the Verizon Wireless store and used a T-Mobile UMA based Blackberry Curve to call first my Google Voice account, then to call a friend. Both calls sounded great.

Since Helene's flight to San Diego was delayed by heavy fog and overcast skies, I used the extra time to try out the device as I sat in the Cell Phone waiting lot by Lindbergh Field and made a few more calls. Before trying any of the calls I disabled the mobile network connectivity to T-Mobile, latched on to the hotspot and saw the WiFi and UMA indicators light up. Calls. Email, IM's and even Blackberry messenger all worked fine.

Once I got home I made a few Truphone and Skype calls using my Apple iPhone and iPod touch. All worked but had variable results, making me think that location and where you are in relation to the cell tower, how much traffic is going on at that time on the data network will have impact. One call was great, the next choppy. Still though, for $59.99 having an alternative way to call with an iPod Touch and Truphone's unlimited calling as a way to listen in on Conference Calls or via Skype to do the same and be on the beach without a cell phone is a pretty neat trick.

I'll be putting the MiFi through it's paces today with my Nokia E71 and will update my first day's experience then, but for now this is an amazing device to have if you need to share Internet access with up to 5 people. It runs on battery power, can be recharged via USB from a PC and easily fits in your pocket. Sprint is also releasing a similar unit this week.

GoGo Mixed Reaction To My Virgin Voyage

Let me start off by saying that in flight WiFi can't be beat, but lousy customer service for a new product can kill it off.

This past Wednesday I boarded Virgin America flight 404 from LAX for JFK and after we crossed the 10,000 foot mark on our ascent out of Los Angeles opened up my Mac Book Air and joined the GoGo set. I was offered a code granting me free access and it was smooth sailing. Then after a few hours of flying, all of a sudden, without warning, the ability to browse just stopped. Sure I could still Twitter, use my blog posting software and even chat, but the ability to browse just stopped.

The very professional and helpful flight attendants went to the pilot, and the system was reset (it takes 15 minutes to do this) and we were back on the air, in the air. But this came at a price. I had to pay $12.95 this time. Ok, so the free ride was over. No big deal. I'd gladly pay that for the convenience factor alone. But then the fun began. No less than twice on the remaining time in the air, about three hours, did the offline situation reappear.

GoGo's Twitterer told me "We were making some changes to Gogo portal – it was free for a portion of the day which expired at approximately 11:30 am" which is fine. But to pay and have repeated interruptions just won't fly in my book. I've asked for a refund for even if I did have two thirds of the trip with connectivity, I don't think it's fair to be charged and not get full service.

I'll update this post later today, once I hear back from GoGo

UPDATE-> GOGINFLIGHT.COM came through with a credit, that was good for my next flight...THIS ONE. I'm up and online and WiFi connected.

Way to go GOGO!!

Israel-Land of Innovation

I'm representing Vringo, one of the companies whose advisory boards I sit on next week at what is shaping up to be a very talent filled conference in Los Angeles.

Dubbed, the Israel Conference, it is all about bringing the companies and technologies whom are both known and under the radar, which are looking to bring their stories to the public, gain awareness, foster relationships and more.

Given the success of so many Israeli startups in the past, such as ICQ, this event is ideal for those looking to hear first about what's new and rising, should make their way to Beverly Hills for the conference.

The speaker line up is impressive and the format is promising to be fast paced. If you find yourself in Los Angeles on June 4th, it clearly is worth attending.

Wave Goodbye to Email As We Know It

I spent a large part of the early morning here in New York City watching the demo of the developer preview for Google's new Wave.

I'll refer to Wave as transformational, as its not revolutionary, but moves work flow from asymmetrical to both symmetrical and asymmetrical universes simultaneously, changing how you work both in real time and offline time.

Google has built a "communications" object that is full of capabilities that creates hybrid communications that are going to be a blend of games, email, IM, blogging, wikis, and a lot more.

Watch the demo and see how transformational this is.

Taking a Flyer

This week I learned an old friend from my hockey era (1976-96) had passed away at the age of 44. The former Flyer, Peter Zezel was someone I first met at his first training camp. I had taken a few players to the hospital following a spirited practice one late summer day back in 1984.

Zez became a friend, and big supporter of the youth hockey program I had the good fortune to run for so many years for the Flyers. He showed up at clinics and tutored aspiring players, made appearances at key events like the Flyers Cup, and served as a role model for so many aspiring players.

Zezel was one of the true class acts to ever cross the ice at The Spectrum and was in so many ways the type of athlete that former GM Keith Allen always sought to have wear the Orange, Black and White. Zezel exuded character, and always showed class on and off the ice.

Rest in peace, Peter.

Great Coverage of HD VoIP Summit

One of the challenges of growing my business is being everywhere at once.

Sometimes its at conferences and other times its being with clients working on the next big thing. Last week when Jeff Pulver held his first HD Voice Summit i was locked away for two days and a half in San Francisco with a client working on their strategy for the second half of the year.

But, alas, there's always someone like Doug Mohney to provide insight and perspective. Thanks to Doug I don't feel like I missed the summit. Just the flight.

Emerging Market Mobile Merger

The potential merger announced last last night Bharti Airtel of India and the MTN Group of South Africa may have shocked some folks, but not me. I'm a big believer that just like with cable television and telephony here in the USA we're going to be seeing more and more consolidation in the mobile world.

The merger is totally logical as it brings together two emerging nations growing companies in parts of the world where mobile uptake is really just beginning, and where the need for more structure is needed.

(Note: In emerging markets, MTN reportedly is the largest player, with over 100,000,000 customers using their telecom services.)

A friend, who recently spent time in India going across the country revealed how complicated and complex the Indian mobile scene really is (that friend was Dean Bubley) prior to dinner in London less than two weeks ago. With this merger, we're seeing the first step to bring order into the market, as the MTN management team will provide that kind of approach. But what this also means mobile operators in the Indian Ocean boarding countries will start having the same opportunities to be acquired and consolidated ala what we've seen in the USA with Alltel being gobbled up by Verizon and with AT&T snatching up smaller GSM operators.

This global consolidation is just starting, and with so much money in the Sub Asian continent, the move to consolidate makes total sense. This also likely will signal some turf wars in India with Tata and Reliance entering the fray, while other imperialistic minded companies in Asia join in too.

Where this leaves the Vodafones, Oranges and AT&T's of the world is a good question. But one things for sure, with consolidation, innovation won't be as fast as return on investment and extracting as much money as possible tends to rule the day. This also means that the Ciscos, Alcatel-Lucents, Nokia Siemens Networks and Ericssons of the world have less customers, but bigger stakes to play, so they too have to sharpen their game as the innovation will come via the network equipment manufacturers not the network operators initially.

Get A Life! I Mean, Get a Number In Second Life

Well it seems that just like in the gaming world, where Microsoft's X Box Live has been racking up voice minutes for years, has seen Second Life roll out voice services to a point where 15 million minutes were consumed last year, at a rate of 700,000 users per month signing up. That's faster than Vonage and may be faster than Skype at this point.

With the ability to call and be called from your first life universe, basically what Linden Labs (the creators of Second Life) are doing is seeking to become a second Skype. Depending on how "open" the Second Life Universe is, if there are such things as API's it won't be long before Skype has a "Second Life" calling capability, or would that be Third Life once the IPO and make it so Skype users can call Skype 2L users directly, without ins and outs of the pre-first life PSTN network.

All joking aside, what this is about is monitization and connecting. In Second Life people want to communicate and VoIP is a proven way, ala X Box Live to do that.