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Posts from August 2009

Southwest Airlines To Have WiFi Fleetwide in 2010

In a bold move, Southwest Airlines has promised to go fleet wide with the installation of Row44's In-Flight WiFi service which competes with AirCell's one year young GoGo service that is installed on the likes of Delta, American Airlines and fleet wide on Virgin America.

The difference between the two competing services is based on how the planes IP transponders talk to the Internet. Aircell uses a technology that connects to ground stations. Row 44 uses KU band satellites.

As an "A" List flyer on Southwest, lately I've switched over to Virgin America for short hops and cross country flights because of the GoGo service being on board. The deployment of Row 44's technology will sure get me back on board Southwest more often.

Google Android Leader Says Yes to VoIP

It looks like VoIP is really starting to go mainstream and while Apple plays footsie with the regulators, Google is coming out full bore embracing VoIP on the Android.

A quick read of the official Google blog says so. But other than SiPDroid and a Gizmo client attempt, nothing really is there yet that does the trick over WiFi.

The other thing is 3G. As noted earlier, 3G voice is good if you want to be standing still, but in motion, it leaves a lot to be desired. That's why in my view alot of this is part of the game of getting ready for LTE by saying..."look here. We're ready for you..."

AT&T Considering VoIP on 3G

Opening up 3G to VoIP? It sure may happen. And, when it does, AT&T's network will see even more usage. While today's network is being stretched, pulled and splintered in so many directions, tomorrow's network from AT&T, all ONE network for everything from voice, to video and to of course data will be far more robust. Well at least that's the plan I would bet.

The public revealing yesterday that AT&T has made Apple restrict VoIP from 3G on the iPhone may also cause the FCC and the FTC to have to start looking at every agreement between handset manufacturers and carriers as closely as the FCC tests devices.

Just yesterday while in Austria, with a T-Mobile Austrian SIM inserted into my Nokia E71 I was able to make VoIP calls over 3G. No blocks on the calls. Nothing special in my set up. Just boot up the app and dial away.

Unfortunately, as I've said to others, VoIP over 3G doesn't really work well. If I'm standing still it worked fine. But driving. No way. The signal wavers like a tree blowing in the wind. It wasn't the carrier. Nor was it the phone. It was the network. And it's not the networks fault. You see, 3G data networks are not geared for voice (or video) even when they're data packets. They are geared to move data as data. So, sure the voice apps work but for phone calls, in motion, I wouldn't count on it until LTE or WiMax happens.

So if AT&T agrees to let apps like Skype, Truphone and the likes of iSIP work over 3G, my feeling is they'll all be good if you're standing still. But if you're driving at 220 Km/h like I was yesterday, just try having a 3G call. I don't think so...even if it was hands free all the way.

Apple iPhone Bug Isn't Truphone's Problem

I'm posting is a Public Service Announcement but also since Truphone is my agency's client we felt the important thing to do is get the right information out as far and wide as possible.

This afternoon this afternoon Truphone sent an emailout to its customers explaining that Truphone knows of a bug issue with the Apple iPhone that has existed since the launch of the 3.0 OS in June 2009.

The issue has been widely reported on sites including Mobile Crunch and theiphoneblog. The problem, as was outlined in the email, impacts all applications on a the iPhone, not just the Truphone application. With that said, the bug seems to have affected very few people that Truphone is aware of.

The bug is manifested by applications either disappearing entirely or by attaching themselves to others, so for example you may open a game and a different app opens.

To date there is no official fix for this from Apple, but many people find that a reboot or synch with their PC will often solve the issue.

Unfortunately a publication ran a story today shortly after the email was sent out to customers because the reporter is also a customer who had received the email. The story stated that the Apple iPhone bug had ‘taken Truphone users off air’ – this was not, and is not, true –and the publication has since rephrased the headline to something more appropriate, but not before various websites re-printed the story with the original headline and many people Twittered about it.

We would like to reassure all customers that Truphone is working as usual and is most definitely not ‘off air’.

Anyone wishing to take advantage of the Truphone service on the iPhone can continue to do so. It is still available for download in the App Store and is still offering great cost savings on international calling and Instant Messaging across multiple communities including Skype, Google Talk, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and AIM.

Why AT&T Killed Google Voice

A very interesting opinion piece in today's Wall Street Journal is entitled why AT&T Killed Google Voice, and it was written, not by a reporter but by a hedge fund manager.

I happen to agree with the majority of it, especially the points he makes in italics with my comments in CAPS:

• End phone exclusivity. Any device should work on any network. Data flows freely.-THIS SMACKS OF GOOGLE AND THEIR LOBBYING WORK.

• Transition away from "owning" airwaves. As we've seen with license-free bandwidth via Wi-Fi networking, we can share the airwaves without interfering with each other. Let new carriers emerge based on quality of service rather than spectrum owned. Cellphone coverage from huge cell towers will naturally migrate seamlessly into offices and even homes via Wi-Fi networking. No more dropped calls in the bathroom.-THIS IS GREAT NEWS FOR CISCO.

• End municipal exclusivity deals for cable companies. TV channels are like voice pipes, part of an era that is about to pass. A little competition for cable will help the transition to paying for shows instead of overpaying for little-watched networks. Competition brings de facto network neutrality and open access (if you don't like one service blocking apps, use another), thus one less set of artificial rules to be gamed.-THIS IS IDEAL FOR EMERGING COMPANIES WHO WANT TO BE THE NEXT BIG THING. WE HAD THIS WITH DSL PROVIDERS UNTIL THE BIG TELCOS CHOKED THEM OFF.

• Encourage faster and faster data connections to our homes and phones. It should more than double every two years. To homes, five megabits today should be 10 megabits in 2011, 25 megabits in 2013 and 100 megabits in 2017. These data-connection speeds are technically doable today, with obsolete voice and video policy holding it back.--THIS BREAKS DOWN MONOPOLY. THE CORE INFRASTRUCTURE IS THE HOLD BACK AS THAT IS STILL OWNED BY A FEW COMPANIES.

Mobile VoIP Starting to See Daylight

The road is filled with mobile VoIP and FMC companies. For a few years we heard how EQO was going to change the world and now you can't even download their software, while others like Challenger, Vyke and WiFi Mobile all made claims that they would change the way we talk but pretty much ended up being clones of two companies, Truphone and Gizmo, both of who early on figured out how to work best on Nokia N and E Series 60 devices and then expanded to more.

Former client now acquired by Counterpath, BridgePort Networks made a good run at Fixed Mobile Convergence and was very much way ahead of its time by a few years, as the carriers and mobile operators all said "like it, but don't see it yet."

Well the "yet" is about to be now, and as Om Malik points out in his post of yesterday, the mobile network operators are opening up more and more to VoIP starting with O2 in Germany but also with over the weekend mention by Verizon Wireless as part of their LTE trials.

Clearly this is good news for client Truphone, whom Om highlighted, as well as a few others who understand their role and place in the whole mobile eco-system.

Yes, the tides are turning, and part of the reason is LTE, which is going to be SIP based. All the work done to get there has not been for naught, but it takes staying power and a vision, as well as a roadmap to get there. Not simply an feature in search of a problem.

MaxRoam in a Hostel Takeover

Pat Phelan just let me know his company MaxRoam has taken over the hostel industry when it comes to travel SIMs.

As many of you know Pat is one of the most visible and hard working people in the next generation communications world and he's been busy putting a bunch of distribution deals together for his travel SIM company.

This one, is with HostelWorld, the largest aggregator of low-cost lodging for the independent traveler.

Junction Networks' OnSip Device Review Program Gets Rave Review

Michael Graves is a SIP user who loves to try out new things. As a user of client OnSip by Junction Networks and a serious SOHO blogger, it was only natural for our team to reach out to him to get some feedback about the latest effort by Junction Networks to make using their service easier and better for customers.

Michael took a good look at the device review program that OnSip's team has just launched and gives it high marks. More importantly and to underscore Graves perspective, this program means that while any SIP device can likely be connected to the OnSip service, the wizards at Junction Networks already know what works, what works best and what may be best in each customer scenario.

This is a far cry from many companies who like to say "we don't support this or that." Something I regularly hear from my bank which likes to say they don't support the Apple Macintosh. In an era of CRM, personalization and more, it's great to see a client, and any company be willing to step outside the lines of what's standard and really do something different.

This Junction Networks program is just that.

P.S. Like Mike I too use OnSip and I use it with a softphone from Counterpath called Eyebeam. And it works as promised.

We Make More and Pay More

I'm not surprised that we pay more in the USA, lots more, for mobile phone services, as CNET's Maggie Reardon writes.

We also pay more for broadband services..and we get lots less.

Our bandwidth speeds are slower than other western countries and our wireless networks don't really achieve what's possible due largely to over saturation or lack of tower placement. What's more, our in the ground broadband is lagging to, using older technology.

As Ken Rutkowski of KenRadio notes, often when we record shows when I'm international, the quality seems better, and it is. Lower latency, less echo and a better experience, even at slower speeds. That's because most nations have built one network, which is where the giants in the USA are headed. I fully expect AT&T to be on board with a one network approach in the next few years, and to lobby the U.S. government to support that approach.

What we need though is not the core to be the only solid piece. All the pieces have to be, and for that to happen it means more local government involvement, including finally crossing the line and getting more towers erected in places that will enable better wireless coverage, and more "open" tower locations.

All that will bring the costs down, and mean better service.