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Posts from November 2011

VoIP Grows, Wireline Loses

Network World is reporting that the wireline customer base in the USA is shrinking while VoIP service is increasing, but there view is that VoIP has peaked and that cord cutting, with more and more customers moving to wireless is the trend. Not much new in that thinking except for one key factor.

E911. Until E911 on mobile functions exactly like it does on a wireline, the large scale defection won't really occur.

Their second observation I agree with. It's the market that's opening widely in the business and enterprise market. It's one of the core reasons why Comcast purchased/acquired/bailed out (take you pick) NGT, one of the largest, if not the largest reseller of Level3 and why companies like, M5 Networks, client Telesphere and others are actively working to grow their customer bases.

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Skype (and Microsoft) Making Moves in the UK/EU To Stop Operators Blocking of Skype

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...Image via CrunchBase

Skype is going to the regulator OFCOM in the UK to ask them to have some of the mobile operators in the UK to stop blocking Skype calls over 3G. While 3 in the UK doesn't stop Skype calling over 3G, and actually had a service that worked much like Verizon' Wireless' here in the USA based on the iSkoot technology initially, calling over 3G/4G has been more of a crapshoot for Skype users in most countries. The problem is even worse for those who choose to use prepaid.

As two media outlets report that Ofcom and the EU regulators are looking at mandating the removal of those blockages to help with innovation. 

My view is this. Microsoft is viewing the mobile operators with more favor these days. Already they have global initiatives underway with AT&T, Verizon, Vodafone, Orange, Telefonica and Deutche Telekom (with more to follow) to be the channel of distribution for Microsoft products and services--this is everything from XBox, Kinnect, Office365, to the enterprise services. Skype will eventually a part of that same effort, if it isn't already. This two pronged effort is all geared to make sure the Skype's peer to peer and presence technology, not simply Skype itself works over the data side of the carriers.

Always remember, that when it comes to Microsoft, there's more to what they are doing. So while everyone is looking left, at their actions, it's really what they're doing quietly on the right that matters.

I like the moves they're making and see it as a good thing long term for consumers and business people across the UK and EU.

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Huawei Media Pad - MultiTasking The Way It Should Be

I'm not giving up on Apple. No way. But what I do like about Android is the true multi-tasking that it offers. Lately, I've been using my Androids and iPads more for multimedia and less for work. Being home helps, of course vs. the 32 days of business travel I did between mid-October through mid-November, but being home has given me the opportunity to test out connectivity between my various BlueTooth and Bonjour enabled devices.

One of the devices is the not yet available in the USA Huawei Media Pad which runs Android Honeycomb (3.2). It's a major upgrade from my Huawei IDEOS 7, but lacks the GSM phone capabilities that the IDEOS 7 has as the Media Pad is a data centric device much like the iPad. What I like about it most is the form factor. It's 1/3 smaller than the iPad and light. Given I plan to have some tailored suits and sport coats made in the new year, I'll have the tailor shape the inside pocket for it and use it as a modern day FiloFax or DayRunner with it's easy integration with Exchange via Touchdown for Tablets (beta) from NitroDesk.

Skype and Counterpath's Bria for SIP and GrooveIP for GoogleVoice makes it an ideal communications device, and apps like Spotify, Pandora (despite the bugs), XiiaLive and Radio Tunes Pro I can get all the music and radio I need, and just like my iPad which I use to stream to my Apple TV and connected speakers, the MediaPad and the Jawbone Jambox is a killer combination of music portablility on the go via BlueTooth (though 128K audio does have a buffer issue but that's BlueTooth not the MediaPad's limitation)

With it's HDMI output port and a cable this can connect to my monitors and widescreens as another playback or steaming video device. Since it's 1080p natively you get really true HD playback so again, it's a great media device, so I can put up with the lack of the real phone capabilites that I have in my Samsung Galaxy Tab P-1000 (and soon a Tab Plus.)

The size makes it a nice toss in the travel bag form factor, and with a good headset, a solid VoIP provider or Skype, I can still be in touch with all whom I need to be. 

Net net--options beyond iPad abound, and while the iPad apps and capabilities still win out for me, the Media Pad is an ideal device for the entertainment junkie, and like the Kindle Fire is a very good lean back device when I want to be AFK (away from the Keyboard) and in front of the TV and still be staying connected. 

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Samsung Google Galaxy Nexus - The Phone for Internationalists

I won't go into reviewing in depth the Samsung Google Nexus as enough other reviews are out there, but what I will say is if you're a Google centric person, where you make extensive use of Google Apps, Mail, Calendar, Picasa and all that Google has to, then this is the Android phone for you. 

First off an unlocked Google Galaxy Nexus is an ideal phone for anyone going international. It's pentaband so you get 850, 900, 1700, 1900 & 2100 MHZ which means you can use it all over the world. Here in the USA you may want to opt for T-Mobile's pay as you go, or AT&T's GoPhone plan or pay monthly plan and use it as little or as much you need to as your "other phone." Or put it on a subscription plan as your main phone and get blazing fast speeds a managable data plan rates. Another option is TRU from client Truphone, where you get to roam here in the USA on T-Mobile and on Vodafone in the UK. Both have fast networks and both are perfect for this phone as you can have numbers in both places that work so, so well. You can also use local pay as you go SIM's and manage them with a plethora of APN setting apps that are available in the Market (most times you don't have too though.)

Hidden inside the phone's settings is the Android's ability to place and receive Internet calls. Another feature is the native ability to configure your SIP accounts to place or receive calls over the Internet. This is a huge plus for those who already have SIP based VoIP service. I quickly configured mine and presto the calls were coming in and going out. Unfortunately, it's not as configurable as client CounterPath's Bria is but for those who want to SIPley (pun intended) connect, Android offers that feature.

Using Touchdown as my Exchange client solves the issues found with the native mail, calendar and address book.

Tieing in GoogleVoice of course is standard. You simply use that and your calls look like they are coming from your regular number. With this feature it really doesn't matter which phone I'm calling from, and with conditional call forwarding for when I'm busy, not available or not answering, the calls all ring everywhere. But it's the native Google/ Google Voice integration that makes the phone so sweet. That and the lightness of being that it is. Superlight in weight, the Galaxy Nexus clearly makes my Verizon HTC Thunderbolt feel like a brick. The way this phone behaves I'll certainly be thinking about grabbing the Verizon version for coverage here in the U.S.A.

Does the Google Galaxy Nexus with Android 4.0 beat my Apple 4S out as my favorite phone? No. but with all the features packed in the Samsung Google Galaxy Nexus one has to give the GSM version SERIOUS consideration as your other phone if you are locked to an unlockable AT&T iPhone (I'm not) as the benefits in the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwhich OS make it a serious contender for the Internationalist who needs more than just a phone. 

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AT&T/T-Mobile Deal Move-Negotiation Tactic

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...Image via Wikipedia

AT&T and T-Mobile have been playing chicken with the opposition regarding their wireless merger for sometime, so yesterday's move to pull their application from FCC review is simply both a negotiation tactic and a way to prevent potential shareholder litigation. Clearly the AT&T lawyers and accountants had a strong say in this.

The Next WebThe Verge, GigaOm and Bloomberg all have additional insight.

In the old days, one would have thought that AT&T was trying to curtail comment by having the news come out the day before a four day weekend for many. But in this era of instant Internet led journalism, with a story this big, none of that matters. As I wrote yesterday, you can expect there to be various manuevers over the next series of months to make the deal happen surrounding 

1. Spectrum

2. Customers

3. Markets


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FCC Review of AT&T/T-Mobile Merger-Short Term Loss, Long Term Gains

Stone Cold Steve Austin at the 2010 Comic Con ...Image via Wikipedia

To be upfront and transparent, my view is the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile will eventually happen and all the details will get worked out between all the waring factions. Will the merger look the same as the way it did when announced. In the words of former WWE Superstar wrestler, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin--"HELL NO."

And it won't look that way because between the lawsuits from Sprint, the Department of Justice and now this review being mandated by the FCC, at each layer some chunks of the deal will be taken off the table between AT&T and T-Mobile, especially with regard to three key items:

1. Spectrum


3. Markets

What will occur is what happened back in the late 80s and 90s during era of cable consolidation and system swaps, making for more contiguous markets and system areas being formed, along with larger and larger cable companies. As the WSJ references already assets being offloaded by AT&T and T-Mobile are beginning to be discussed.

Then there is the question of who else will get into to the mix. The likely companies:

1. Google/Sprint

2. Microsoft and "Friends" including the cable guys in #3

3. A Cable Consortium (Cox, Cablevision, Comcast, TimeWarner, Charter, BrightHouse)

4. Vodafone (if the divest their interest in Verizon Wireless)

5. Telefonica

6. Orange

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First eFax, Now eVoice

Commercializing and combining some technology, the people behind eFax/jFax, J2 Communications, have slickly pulled together eVoice, a new unified calling service. Basically, this is a decendent, though not related to Webley that was introduced in the late 90s if you look at it seriously, so it's not really, new new. With eVoice goes J2 is chasing after the same crowd of customers as companies that are already in the space like Phone.comRingCentral and Grasshopper

Webley, from its humble beginnings always had the auto attendant, call routing, IVR, voicemail and find me follow-me natively, so what eVoice has isn't so breakthrough. But what they do have behind them is [email protected] and J2 knows how to market, understands how to use online and offline media. 

While I don't think that eVoice will be the only company to go to traditional media with short form infomercials,  online web ads and email marketing, their already installed user base of SOHO and independent reps will love the simplicity of the service. Besides, six months free service is a great deal for those folks who need to look bigger than they really are.


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Why We Lag In Broadband

The more I travel internationally and across the USA the more aware I am of why we lag, and why our broadband access to the Internet is challenging. In the USA we really have a patchwork of connectivity ranging from ISPs, to cable operators and the telcos all connecting their version of broadband to the Internet. That's why we lag in rapid deployment of faster Internet, or have pockets of the country with amazinging, blazingly fast service like FIOS, inconsistent AT&T uVerse experience, it depends where you are speeds and consistency with Comcast, or nothing buy negatives from Time Warner users.

In most other countries I find there's the national telco, such as BT, France Telecom, Telefonica, Portugal Telecom, etc. who build out the Internet, then let others ride on it. The difference, one experience. Take for example in France. My winemaker friends have broadband over DSL from both Wanadoo from Orange and SFR from Vivendi. Both have built out networks across France, but at some point the connectivity interconnects, and the result is I have a very high quality experience over ADSL that no one in the USA really every experiences. Soon, the wine village of Montpeyroux will even have fiber to the home, a far cry sooner than I'll see that from my cable company here in San Diego County.

If the USA's FCC and President Obama is really serious about better Internet access so schools, homes and business all begin to advance, we'll take a national look at improving things, build out one consistent experience and make the 'Net just work right. Sure, smaller countries make it easier, but we can do it too. We just have to want to take things seriously.

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Here Comes Android's Ice Cream Sandwich

This post was supposed to be about the hassles of Android but with the looming arrival of Ice Cream Sandwich I figured I'd just point out the issues and explain what may be changing. Right now I have Android devices running the following Android Operating Systems:

Android 2.1 -Huawei IDEOS 7" Tablet (Unlocked)

Android 2.2 -Samsung Galaxy Tab P-1000 (Unlocked)

Android 2.2 -HTC Thundebolt 4G/LTE (Verizon Wireless)

Android 2.3 Google Android Nexus (Unlocked)

Android 3.1 Samsung Galaxy Tab 4G/LTE (Verizon Wireless)

Android 3.x Motorola Xoom Tablet 4G/LTE (Verizon Wireless) offline WiFi Only for now

Android 3.2 Huawei Media Pad (Unlocked)

I have all these devices simply because so many of our clients have been developing, or are thinking about developing software for Android, and because in many ways being aware of what is out there does actually help me, and my team, in our work with the mobile media. In many ways from a multimedia bleeding edge development standpoint I find more "invention" going on in the Android world vs. iOS, but when it comes to my preferred set of devices, the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch always seem to win out--simply because it all works the same way.

With Android some apps I have on 2.x are not at all found on 3.x. There's a constant string of UPDATES but to Android's credit, they had the "here are all your apps, which do you want on this new device before Apple did. But as a result of the need to always update this and that, Android feels more like Windows, while Apple's iOS feels more like the Mac in experince.

With the looming arrival of Ice Cream Sandwich, it looks like the unified experience between devices will be there. I'm just hoping that the 4.0 release is backwards compatible and I can get everything I own in the Android world on the same OS. I'm not holding my breathe because between carrier version and manfacturers versions of Android, nothing is ever quite the same.


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