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Posts from December 2009

Are You Buying More Than You Need?

Gizmodo has a very interesting piece today about consumer Internet connectivity in the USA from the major providers. In the post they point out how the broadband providers are overselling higher priced services to consumer by exaggerating what kind of pipe someone needs to download, connect or use services.

First off, we're beginning to see the strands of sending party pays billing taking hold. mask it as they want to, the ISPs are slowly moving to that kind of pricing model. Secondly, what we're seeing is the tiered pricing models that have been long written about online. The heavier user of fatter pipe is going to pay more on average per month than the occasional downloader, and that's really how the pricing is built today. The fuzzy logic being applied is if you're downloading one movie, you're downloading more. Hence you should pay more.

Currently we're not seeing any hybrid models, other than with mobile Pay As You Go Data, where you pay what you consume, and if your consumption patterns change, you can pay more (or less.)

This is where bandwidth speeds and access vs. download and upload by megabyte pricing is out of whack. As more and more moves to the cloud, consumption becomes thiner. As the ability to sideload becomes more readily available, costs to the user (and in reality the ISP) should drop as the on-net, non toll road traffic (your broadband ISP) is eliminated.

Sideloading is like FedEx, they get the data to you, but with less handling.

These broadband pricing models are flawed, but not only for the reasons Gizmodo cites, but because the whole way we are communicating now (far more cloud based, far less end point data intensive.) Yes, we're moving more data, but things like voice and even video conferencing are really small bundles compared to fat data like that which the operators move on a daily basis just to run their business. The whole model of Smart Grids and P2P technology are beginning to cross. Far more efficient ways for data to go from point a to point b are emerging. What's more, as more sits on the cloud, and as more of that is shared, there becomes less need to "download" and "upload" because the work product is sitting up there, not down here. Upload once. Work many.

When that model can be better embraced, using a toll or permission level model, then you have the right pricing schemes. Until then, we are all likely all dining at the buffet, not really getting an al a carte offering from any broadband provider.

Apple Tablet-Questions

The buzz is building around the Google Phone and the potential of Apple finally bringing out a Tablet.

My questions about the tablet are simply this:

1) Will you handle Voice Apps (Skype, Truphone, iCall) the way the iPod Touch and iPhone already do? I mean, don't you want to TELL someone what yu just read, watched or heard?

2) Will it have a front facing camera which the iPod touch and iPhone currently do not have capable of delivering an HD video stream, as well as a back side camera? This will do more for multimedia, for Skype and for SightSpeed faster than anything seen to date if it does.

3) Will it have built in 3G or 4G? It sure needs it to be like the Kindle.

4) Will it work with a BlueTooth or some Apple created wireless keyboard, headset and more?

5) Can it "talk" wirelessly to an Cinema display and be the info/multimedia hub, allowing those who use it to toss away so many other devices (phone, iPod and yes Kindle--remember there already is a Kindle app for the iPhone/iPod touch...

Oh, the possibilities this device could have, when left to Steve Jobs' my. Yes, I do want one....

RIM Has A Problem

Last night around 7 PM or so I caught a tweet that made me check my Blackberry. Yes indeed, there must be an outage. Then another tweet came in. Then another, and another.

All the while RIM was silent.

This is not the first time that Research In Motion was off the air and I don't mean the devices. But the reason is simple. All the people who work there use RIM devices so like the rest of the RIM user base in the Americas they couldn't be reached. What was also down was perhaps the most important aspect of the Blackberry, the app simply called Messenger. RIM's Blackberry Messenger is a blend of Instant Messaging and SMS. It works across networks and is as fast as any communications tool. It is also part of everyone's BlackBerry Data Plan, if one has installed it. So in the world of Mission Critical apps, the Blackberry Messenger plays that role.

Unfortunately, RIM's reaction time, and its statements to what I think is at least the third major outage this year has been the opposite to what a company that excels in speed should be. Here's why:

1) No real answer has been given overnight, other than confirming what everyone already has figured out

2) There isn't any official statement on the press page

3) The home page to their web site says nothing at all about the outage, not even a "We're Sorry"

4) RIM lacks a front person who communicates to the social communications world. They have zero interface with their most important constituency, the users

Sites like Crackberry and other blogs and Forums are full of loyal and very patient users, and no product is without the risk of a black out, but every time RIM goes silent they magnify the problem.

Since we no longer live in a world where tomorrow is soon enough to provide an answer, RIM needs to bring the same kind of responsiveness when it comes to letting their users know when things go wrong that their users already experience in communications. Anything short of that, they're missing what makes them what they are.

Silicon Valley Xmas Wish List Report For 2009

The great thing about the Internet is that you can get connected to just about everyone these days. Well this afternoon, my old friend Nick called me via his new SIP connection. It seems the new 100 meg fiber line to his winter abode has finally been connected, giving him even faster access. That means the wants and desires of so many of our world's less mature types will now be received and read faster.

Well, before we spoke, I had to make sure the usual claus of non disclosure was not in effect for holiday consulting, as it is always in the spirit of good cheer, good tidings and good wishes. This saint of a man said "of course," and he then quickly shared some of the requests he's received this year from the venture capitalists, investors and directors of many of our world's leading technology companies.

He also said he'd be dashing off in the snow a few days early this year to keep his schedule in it seems some of the requests seem to be kind of demanding......

For Google he revealed they've asked for more ads. It seems they're not done yet with buying, and they need more clicks to drive the cash. As if Google needs any more "yelp" I replied. Oh, I meant help. He promised to do his part to save the trees, by seeing what newspapers could be closed, where broadband could be enabled and to lower the price of mobile phones to under 100 with Android for all good people of the earth. With that triple play, he mused, he figured they could continue to stay ahead of dear bada Bing.

For Cisco they asked for more sales of more of the same. My reply, does Cisco ever do anything that doesn't sell more routers and switches? He promised that their holiday stocking would be full of orders of increased demand, especially from some folks in Dallas and Atlanta who it seems have been wishing and praying for more of that as well.

When we got to AT&T it became hard to hear. Every time he said their name the signal got flakey. To him it sounded like I had been visiting the bar, but in many more places. We decided that their wish this year was for some much needed bandwidth along with backhaul, but most of all the big request from them this year had to be for graduates from a leading university that teaches both advertising and the law, as they seem to not have any of those already. He said something about stopping off at Northwestern...on his way to the South as they seem to have a few of those this year.

For Verizon the request was for updated GPS devices. With all those maps they keep using, someone figures eventually their execs will get lost and end up in the new AT&T HQ not the old one that is now their HQ.

From Skype he revealed was the requests was for new faces in management. With some recent giant size departures and new investors its time for some new blood in new roles and some troops to be shaken up.

From Apple the request was an easy one. It was for simply, more Jobs.

For Yahoo....everything.

At that point my friend Nick said he had to feed the deer. He been keen to reduce the gas, and he's been using the new low carbon emission feed. What's more he told me that his suit's color this year may again be red, but his donning a green cap and his guide deer Rudy will have a green light.

And with that we said, to all, a good night.

Congressman Sets Realistic Broadband Speed Goals

Congressman Rick Boucher of Virginia is my kind of elected official. He wants us all to have 50 megs down and 20 megs up of broadband.

And as the post on DSL Reports mentions, with Docsis 3.0 coming to a cable box near you rather soon, those speeds are more than attainable. In my Sacramento California house we have 50/50 (up and down) from SureWest via FTTP and the difference between regular cable modem that we had before with Comcast and what we now have is striking. The key is not so much the speed, but the clear drop in latency, and how fast we can ping a distant server. What's more VoIP and Video calling become amazingly bright in tonal quality.

Boucher's goal isn't unattainable. It also means that we'll see a rise in push back, most likely from AT&T as their in ground network isn't quite ready for this yet, while Verizon's is.

Do you think we'll see a similar "whose network is faster" from Verizon vs. AT&T for wireline Internet connectivity, just like we have seen for wireless?

The 21st Century Phone

Give Charlie Stross a read on his well authored post on his blog, Charlie's Diary.

My take is simply this. If you have GoogleVoice in calling party pays environment, you can eliminate a large monthly base mobile bill for unlimited minutes, because every call is received back to you after being triggered by the data side of the phone. So put your money into a data plan instead.

By reading this, I'd say the mobile operators now have more to worry about than Apple does with Google Voice. The GooglePhone, as a 3G data device will allow Google to manage the entire calling experience. The only issue will be when the user goes outside of a 3G area.

Startup Time at IT Expo

While the holiday season is getting into full swing it is hard to believe that we're now less than a month away from the Winter Edition of IT Expo. To me it only feels like yesterday when Rich Tehrani and his team put on one of the best telecom events they ever have in Los Angeles back in September. That event, which clearly filled the giant hole that was left when VON was shuttered and then sold by their investors, who exercised their rights to take the company away from their founder, and VoIP's fearless leader/visionary, Jeff Pulver.

Well, beyond the usual cast of characters at IT Expo this year in Miami Beach, we'll see a steady stream of additional events that will continue to show why attending is so important. I've already booked flights, hotels and am contemplating a wine dinner, if I can find a BYOB establishment. I'm looking forward to the second edition of the 4G Wireless Evolution event, hosted by VON Alum, and longtime friend, Carl Ford, as that's the future, because in all practicality, VoIP is really the here and now. Tangental to that is the M2M event that Carl is also into in a big way as well.

Another event of course is Jon Arnold's SmartGrid summit. SmartGrids will be in our changing environmental era, one of the most important topics in the new decade, so Jon's work in this area certainly has to be part of the knowledge base in that transformation.--Now only if he would stop using that as his excuse for not blogging about VoIP....

But what I'm most excited about personally is the newest event that's being put on by pal Larry Lisser. It's Startup Camp. According to Larry, "over 10 startups applying to present with more on the way we hope. And as hoped, they are all quite early stage."

Larry's also collaborating very closely with "Mr. Mashup" Thomas Howe on a number of things, including a cross-over voice app contest that promises to be quite fun. Given how every Mashup is like a startup, Thomas brings keen insight to the game as well, especially from the developer's perspective.

So if you're par of a startup, this is an The IT Expo Startup Camp is really going to be, the "place to be." Knowing Larry as I do from what he did with Mobivox, literally turning the company around, and getting them on the kind of footing that led to their sale, his "startup" expertise comes from being hands on, so being a start up and applying to be one of the presenters will bring all kinds of visibility leading up to, during and after the event as Larry has put together several initiatives to expose the entrepreneurs behind them by profiling online, having them speak and also of course network at the event. Much like DEMO or GigaOm's LaunchPad, not every applicant makes it to the stage, but the five selected startups will clearly have the most visibility, including a free 'table' on the ITExpo show floor during the week. These five presenting startups will be announced by January 6th so time is running down. So if you're part of a true startup, now's the time to make your call and take action:

To register

Additionally here is the micro-site as part of the the TMC site