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Posts from September 2011

Is Google Going To Become a Mobile Operator?

Conflicting reports are out there about Google becoming a mobile operator, at least in Spain. Or maybe not.

While creating a company branded SIM, buying minutes and data makes sense, and Spain, like France and the UK are MVNO hotbeds, it is an interesting move or experiment if true. That said, Google relies on carriers to sell Androids and will also rely on them for the sale of 3G/4G Chrome notebooks with built in data. Starting an MVNO would put them at odds with their distribution networks. While the networks may want to wholesale to Google, it likely wouldn't be well received by the retail side of the carriers.



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Let The (Litigation) Games Begin

While 2012 will be an Olympic year in sports, it's also shaping up to be an olympic like year in the courts with the FCC and the nation's wireless, wireline and cable operators all competing for medal.

Between the recent FCC Net Neutrality decision, and the AT&T-T-Mobile battle that everyone from Sprint to at least seven states are opposing, and where the Department of Justice is leading the charge, 2012 looks like a great year to be a regulatory attorney.


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Video For E911-Not Anytime Soon

The FCC wants text messaging and video to be part of E911 as a way to aid dispatchers and provide emergency respoders like police, fire and paramedics with a better idea of what they are up against. For many companies developing those tools that make the information richer and provide the delivery this will be a boon. But, on the USA leading LTE carrier it may not work very well.

Over the past few months I've tested and tried various devices that are LTE capable on the Verizon Wireless network with the current desktop and mobile releases of software such as Skype and Bria in an attempt to make video calls. At each turn I've been stymied at using Video over LTE. I've gone so far as to have conversations via Verizon Wireless' Executive Support Team (they call with a 949 area code) and was last told that two way video is not possible on the current LTE network. The trials were tested using the Samsung Galaxy 10.1, an HTC Thunderbolt and my Samsung Mobile Hotspot.  

According to some techies I know the blocking is due to the double NAT making video calling based on SIP and other protocols a challenge. My tests though on ClearWire's Mobile WiMax network yield a far different result, as does the tests on T-Mobile's GSM/HSDPA+ network where video works fine but the real availability of HSDPA+ is limitd. Tests on AT&T proved possible, however their network varies by market, as over saturation of users impacts the upload.  Given the speeds on LTE which is built for video and the price being paid one has to wonder why Verizon Wireless is not allowing two-way video.

Well, the answer may be in my past. Ten years ago we worked with Metricom, the company behind Ricochet, the first mobile data network that actually worked well. For those new to the wireless data game Ricochet provided the equivilant of wireless ISDN. In markets it was deployed it worked, and worked well. It was early and those who used it were loving it. Unfortunately mismanagement and leadership challenges hurt it, and it went away, caught up in the eventual MCI fiasco, as MCI was an investor. When we were working with Ricochet we had a series of sponsored events running around San Diego and rather than attend each event with some video software, web cams and laptops we had a virtual view of the activities. There was only one problem. Video created a very heavy load on the radios and too much of it was a concern from the engineers. My guess is Verizon Wireless' engineers have the same concern as LTE, like it's predecessor technology is still impacted by it's upstream return path, called "backhaul."

So given these technology and financial hurdles it all makes the FCC's vision, while correct, as not being something we'll see any time soon, as the carriers aren't really investing in the network to enable it. They're investing in the networks to do what will make them money. Video comms will not make them money as the over the top plays like Skype, Tango, GoogleTalk are where the money will go.

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IT Expo-My Thoughts

I won't dwell on the negatives that some already have shared privately because for the most part I enjoyed the two days I spent at IT Expo in Austin this past week. But as someone who wants to see the event grow here are some suggestions:

1) Get more launches at the event. Comapnies there missed the opportunity to launch new products, companies and services. It's a great vehicle and StartUp Camp again proved that.

2) Get more media. The show is full of companies who have things to say. Unfortunately other than the same usual suspects there's a severe lack of "press" and analysts there. Those that are there get the heads up and insight which means everyone else whose not there has to work with second hand information or the companies need to spend double to triple the time to educate them.

3) Be more thematic. Some of the conferences overlap and that weakens attendance. Trim down the number of panels, or make the panels longer with more participants so the audiences are bigger.

4) StartUp Camp-There should be one EVERY DAY...It's the future, it's the most attended event and it's the most fun.

5) Video-every session should be recorded for future use. A lot of gems come out of the mouths of speakers and panelists. 

6) Trade show floor--standards. Too many booths lack creative looks. It devalues those who spend money to be there. 

7) RTLS-Real Time Location Tracking--who is where, what's where. The technology is there.

8) Use of Introme from -a great way to connect to trade show attendees.

Now with all that said, another great job by Rich, Dave and all the partners they work with and yes, Austin is a much better place than Los Angeles for the trade show.


Next year, I will have a WINE DINNER there. 

See Today What An iPhone Will be On Sprint's Network-No Hacking Required

Image representing Sprint Nextel as depicted i...Image via CrunchBase

If you ever wondered what the iPhone would be like on Sprint's 3G network, the opportunity has been there all along and you don't have to try to hack one that was designed to work on Verizon Wireless' network either.

About a year ago ZTE, the Chinese supplier of dongles, data cards and pocketspots (MiFi's) came out with a device for Sprint called the Peel. The device which is really a pocket hotspot allows you to slip in an Apple iPod touch and connect to the Sprint data network.

From what I can tell, the price on the Peel with a simple month to month data only contract is FREE via Amazon so if you have a second or third generation iPod touch kicking around and want to see what an iPhone experience is like on Sprint before they reportedly add the iPhone 5 to their line up in October, grab on for a penny and then sign up for the ZTE PEEL $29.99 monthly service plan from Sprint that allows for up to 1 GB of 3G data on the Sprint network. Then, if you like what you see, you may want to get in line for an iPhone 5.

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We are over conferenced. This week alone I will be at two, maybe three events and could be at more.

TechCrunch Disrupt starts on Monday in San Francisco, CA

Demo starts on Monday night in Santa Clara, CA-Attending

IT Expo and a medley of co-conferences all start on Tuesday in Austin, TX-Attending/Moderating

StartupCamp is Wednesday in Austin, TX-Attending

The WLSA and BioCom along with Mintz Levin on Wednesday have aTown Hall Meeting to discuss the FDA and Mobile Devices.-Wish I could be there but can't be in two places at once (Where did i leave that Multiplicity technology?)

Twilio is holding their conference the week of September 19 in San Francisco-Skipping but wish I had the time to go.

Gigaom holds an expanded two day Mobilize on September 26 and 27 in San Francisco-Attending and it's almost SOLD OUT!!!

Yes- this month, I'm over conferenced. Next month-well, I'll be over-traveled. I feel a vacation coming in the middle of all that travel. 

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Video Conferencing Goes Mobile---Maybe

Image representing SightSpeed as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase

I'm more and more hooked on video calling. Why? Well as someone who works from home, hotels and pretty much, anywhere, I like to see people. Having been at the early stages of video calling back first with SightSpeed whom I served as an adviser to and as the agency of record for leading up to their acquisition by Logitech, video calling has changed and will continue to evolve. Skype, with it's video capabilities, Google having Hangouts, Citrix Online's updated GoToMeeting with HD/Faces and of course the primal FaceTime from Apple.

Now we are seeing more and more uptake of devices like the Apple iPad, Android based Samsung Galaxy Tab (including the stunning 10.1" model that works on 4G via Verizon). With built in webcams faster processors, gorgeous and brighter screens that are better today than desktop monitors were just ten years ago and they work MOBILE. But the networks are not really ready, no way. No how.

Right now we're seeing the move towards 4G and just as we have seen the issues with AT&T's anemic network, where congestion caused by lack of towers, underpowered backhaul and a total abandonment of the obvious solution-Fixed Mobile Convergence based Wi-Fi offload which would have helped keep data consumption down. As Visage Mobile points out on their blog the rise in wireless cost is going to initially be a barrier to mobile video calling.

The rise of mobile videoconferencing and the elimination of unlimited data plans could impact efforts to control corporate wireless spend. Users that are already data hogs will become even hungrier should they begin engaging in mobile videoconferences.

It will be up to companies to address the issue with their mobile usage policies and strategies. Weighing the pros and cons of mobile videoconferences should help mobility managers decide if it's something that could benefit the organization.

It's not at all coincidental that the mobile operators began to eliminate unlimited data plans when smart phones reached a point of adoption saturation. This all leads to the need for even greater compression technologies that work with live, real time communications. It also make me think that more and more companies like Microsoft, Google and Apple need to become carriers or equity partners in carriers because the time is now for more new technologies to be adopted but the pricing strategies and data cap constraints are going to get in their way. Something has to change otherwise we'll be facing a period of technology stagnation while only the rich get to enjoy the new technologies, and thus video conferncing on mobiles is more of a maybe than a yes right now.


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