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Showing posts from September, 2007

Telcos and Web Communications: Who Wins?

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Attention might not be the basis for every revenue model, but it clearly underpins most media businesses. It might underpin other businesses as well, including communications.

So note changes in how and where people in France are spending their "communications" time. Since 2000, attention and time spent have been shifting towards Web-based applications and pursuits, and away from telephone-based communications. To be more precise, 53 percent of "communications" or more might be said to originate in some Web related activity, not a classic "pick up the phone" activity.

Time isn't exactly money, so attention and usage do not translate immediately into revenue. But attention sooner or later will create the possibility of revenue. And if this sort of shift in how people communicate continues, revenue opportunities and potential inevitably will shift.

That doesn't mean revenue-generating endpoints such as mobile phones, other communicating devices or &qu…

SlingPlayer for Symbian Phones

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The SlingPlayer for Symbian S60 phones is out of beta and now available for sale. The software allows a selection of Nokia phones to stream television from any Slingbox.

SlingPlayer works on U.S. models of the Nokia E65, N75, and N95. It works on in the Nokia E65, N73, and 6120 handsets elsewhere. It already is available for Windows Mobile devices.

The Symbian software will cost $30 in the U.S., C$35 in Canada, and £20 in the U.K. market. The fee might be waived for U.S. Nokia N95 buyers. A free 30-day trial version will be made available. The Symbian SlingPlayer joins versions already available for Windows Mobile and Palm OS products, as well as Windows and Mac computers.

Still missing from the list of supported devices is the BlackBerry, although that undoubtedly is in the works. Of course, one sort of questions why, in a rhetorical I sense. Obviously Sling would want access to the large installed base of BlackBerries.

The issue is that the BlackBerry really isn't a very good media…

Xohm: No Contract, No Subsidy, No Termination Fees, No Obligation

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Sprint says Xohm WiMAX customers will not have to sign contracts and won't charge any termination of service fees either. Users will buy their own air interface cards without Sprint subsidizing the hardware. The whole message: "You don’t owe me anything, I don’t owe you anything."

Well, not quite. Users might just be offered subscription plans whose cost declines over time as the length of the relationship grows. Nice. Reward a customer for loyalty. Of course, Sprint also knows that customers with long tenure are the most profitable customers it has. So there is more margin to shave to keep those customers happy.

Xohm is expected to operate at aobut 2 Mbps to 4Mbps downstream and 1 Mbpt to 2 Mbps upstream. Pricing probably will be set about about $30 or $35 a month.

It is a small step, but one of many being taken throughout the wireless ecosystem to bring more user freedom.

Vonage Doesn't Have to Pay $58 Million, 5.5% of Revenue to Verizon: Appeals Court

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At least, not yet. The U.S. Court of Appeals says the U.S. District Court has to take another look at one of the three Verizon patents Vonage is said to have violated, though it upheld two of the three decisions as originally made.

Further, the Court of Appeals vacated the entire award of $58 million in damages and the 5.5 percent royalty. The Court of Appeals sent the case to the U.S. District Court and directed that the court retry those aspects of the original case.

Vonage has work-arounds in place, and argues none of the patents should have been granted in the first place, though it seems unlikely to an untrained observer that Vonage can get the courts to agree.

Still, it is a partial victory. Perhaps the damage award and royalty payments will be lowered, ultimately. And, at this point, a partial victory is about the best news Vonage has had on the patent front this year.

Mobility, SaaS, Laszlo, Google, et al

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As work and workers become more mobile, enterprises are starting to use more Web-delivered applications. As that starts to happen, Web-based desktops and productivity suites are going to make more sense. Enter Laszlo and the Laszlo Webtop, referred to as a Web 2.0 Desktop. Laszlo Webtop has developed bundled solutions for three target markets: service providers, enterprises and developers.

Laszlo Webtop for Service Providers comes bundled with Laszlo Mail and Contacts and supports customized Web portals. Laszlo Webtop for Enterprises comes bundled with Contacts and optional Laszlo Mail.

Meanwhile, the Laszlo Webtop SDK for Developers offering is a software development kit allowing developers build their own Webtop solutions compliant with the Webtop.

This just makes sense. If one is going to build a distributed applications architecture assuming broadband access, then assuming a Web-based desktop also makes sense.

Vonage Loses Sprint Lawsuit, Has to Pay $69.5 Million

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A federal jury has ordered Vonage Holdings Corp. to pay $69.5 million in damages for infringing on six telecommunications patents owned by competitor Sprint Nextel Corp.

Vonage also will have to pay a 5 percent royalty on future revenues. If neither this decision nor Vonage's Verizon patent infringement decisions are overturned, 10.5 percent of Vonage's recurring revenue will have to be paid out in damages to Verizon and Sprint together.

The upfront damage awards are hefty enough. The recurring 10.5 percent of gross revenue that will be lost might be more significant.

Vonage says it would appeal the decision but would also begin developing technological workarounds that it said would skirt the disputed technology.

Earlier this year Vonage also was ordered to pay Verizon $58 million in damages plus 5.5 percent royalties on future revenues. That decision also is under appeal.

Between the distractions (getting the work-arounds into place; the cost of further appeals), vigorous compet…

Global Voice Traffic Keeps Growing

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Despite all the new ways people can talk to each other, and all the other ways people can communicate using text, global voice traffic keeps growing at a steady rate, according to TeleGeography.

Friendvox Will Unify IM Boxes: No Download

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I realize there are other ways to federate instant messaging clients. But it will be nice to do so without adding one more client. Hopefully this Facebook app will install and work as simply as most other Facebook apps. Sept. 28 is the expected launch.

MySpace Mobile Phone Coming....Sort Of

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Social networking Web site MySpace is launching free, advertising-supported cell phone sites next week as part of a wider bid by parent News Corp. to attract advertising for mobile Web sites, according to the Associated Press.

Fox Interactive Media, which oversees News Corp.'s Internet properties, said it also plans to roll out versions of FoxSports.com, the gaming site IGN, AskMen and its local TV affiliates in the coming months that will work on cell phones that can access the Internet.

The company already offers subscription-based versions of MySpace through at&t and Helio wireless services. Those versions include special features integrated into specific handsets, such as uploading cell phone photos directly to a user's profile page.

The new version reportedly will work on all U.S. mobile carrier networks and will allow users to send and receive messages and friend requests, comment on pictures, post bulletins, update blogs, and find and search for friends.

So I suppose we…

iPhone Wins with Software Defined Radio

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Software defined radios--software that emulates all the functions of one or more radio transceivers--have been talked about for at least a decade, and at least one company--Vanu--has had its SDR approved for U.S. use by the Federal Communications Commission. The attractions are many: mobile communications becomes an application any device can be given; dedicated firmware and hardware are unnecessary; multiple radios can be made available to any single device; smaller radios are possible.

An SDR could mean a global mobile device, able to work in Japan, on GSM or CDMA networks, with Wi-Fi or other wireless networks. Some users would love it. Mobile carriers have to be ambivalent. Sure, you'd like to sell a true "global phone." But then you also lose control of the end user and the device. Any truly global phone necessarily works with any mobile provider's network, as well as with Wi-Fi and potentially other wireless platforms--such as WiMAX--as well.

On the other hand, …

Now This is a Smart Move

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T-Mobile has rolled out the BlackBerry Curve 83200 with Wi-Fi support, so the device can be used with T-Mobile's Hotspot@Home system or on public hotspots. As part of that plan, the Curve can be used for unlimited calling from the home or public Wi-Fi zones. That costs an extra $10 a month.

The in-home router T-Mobile sells is optimized for voice and costs about $50 but there is a rebate, we understand.

Dual-mode service with limited or unappealing handsets is a main reason why femtocells, which place no restrictions on end user handset choice beyond the limitations of handsets any given carrier will support, have seemed to me a wiser choice for fixed-mobile consumer applications. Giving Curve Wi-Fi is smart.

Internet Phobia?

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BT wants to find out why some people, even living in homes with broadband connections, resist using the Internet. About 39 percent of U.K. households do not have Web access. Fear of technology might be one reason, BT theorizes.

To acquaint them with online life, four subjects have been given a broadband link, a laptop, webcam and a digital camera. A two-month training plan has also been developed that will introduce them to what they can do on the Internet.

Writ large, that's one way to deal with any lingering short term "digital divide." Long term, I don't think there's a problem. There used to be a joke several decades ago in the U.S. cable TV industry about "resisters." Basically, the punch line is that the "resisters" are dying. There was a clear shift in the character of demand for television that now has fully established itself, as tough as it might have been to get the new behavior established in the first place.

The same thing is going t…

Boomers Buy More than 1/3 of all Music

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The trick is to get them to buy digital downloads or music subscriptions as well as CDs, which they buy in great quantities. More than 70 percent of the 76 million baby boomers in the U.S. report buying music in the past year, making it the most important buying segment for CDs and an increasingly important market for digital downloads, according to Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry analyst for The NPD Group.

Baby boomers born between 1941 and 1964 now account for a third of all music sales. About 68 percent buy CDs. About 26 percent purchase both digital music and CDs, while just six percent purchase only digital music downloads.

Nearly 40 percent of boomers report that they regularly visit the music retailers or the music section of retail stores.

NPD believes more attention to the boomer segment could yield $700 million to $1 billion in potential incremental sales of both CDs and digital downloads from baby boomers.

Nothing personal: Just don't put them on iPod billboards!! Tha…

SK Telecom to Carry Helio

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SK Telecom says it will invest up to an additional $270 million to support Helio, effectively signaling that Earthlink will not be investing further in the joint venture. So the issue is how Earthlink can exit the joint venture.

No Contract, No Locking, Nobody

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Sprint CEO Gary Forsee says Sprint is thinking about expanding the test area for an unlimited calling plan that doesn’t require customers to sign a contract. That's something Leap Wireless and MetroPCS already offer. Nokia meanwhile appears poised to start selling unlocked N95 series really-smart phones imminently. So far, no carriers seem willing to do both.

Of course, there are good financial reasons why carriers like contracts and locked phones. The former provides a more predictable revenue stream and the latter ensures lower churn. Apple doesn't like unlocking either, as it now participates in the recurring revenue stream.

At least some users would benefit from unlocking and contractless service. Anybody buying a Nokia N95, for example, is spending enough on a device that the portable computer (it seems too limiting to call it a phone) clearly is more important than any network.

Of course, the carriers increasingly will find themselves in the position of angering power user…

Google Will Buy 30% of Servers in 2010

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In 2010, say analysts at the Gartner Group, Google alone will consume 30 percent of all the world’s servers. That's three out of 10 of all servers manufacturing globally that year. That's some serious scale! And explains why Google buys so much optical bandwidth, and is investing in its own cable.

Google to Build Own Trans-Pacific Cable Network?

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Up to this point, it has been local telcos, mobile providers, newspaper publishers and others in the media business who have had to ponder what Google might be up to. Trans-oceanic fiber providers might be next. Google apparently is planning to lay its own multi-terabit undersea communications cable across the Pacific Ocean, to be lit in 2009, according to Communications Day.

The Unity cable has been under development for several months. As envisioned, Google will join with other carriers to build the new multi-terabit cable. Google would get access to a fiber pair at build cost.

Partners haven't been announced, but rumors indicate Telekom Malaysia and Verizon, each involved in rival new cables, won't be part of the Google consortium.

There's not necessarily any broader agenda beyond securing low cost bandwidth on a major and growing oceanic crossing. Aside from that, the new capacity helps Google peer directly with Internet Service Providers in Asia.

Google's move stil…

Metro Bandwidth Still Worth Investing In: Zayo

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Demand for metro bandwidth still is a good reason to create a company focused on layer one and layer two metro access, say the founders of Zayo Bandwidth, a regional provider of fiber-based access and metro transport. Zayo has acquired PPL Telcom, a 4,600 fiber-route-mile network based in Allentown, Penn. serving areas throughout the Northeast, and Memphis Networx, a 200 fiber-route-mile network serving the greater Memphis, Tenn. area.

In addition, Zayo Bandwidth has signed definitive agreements to acquire Indianapolis, Ind.-based Indiana Fiber Works (IFW) and Minneapolis, Minn.-based Onvoy, Inc. which are expected to be finalized in the third and fourth quarters of 2007, respectively. Combined, the four companies represent $125 million of annual revenue and 8,400 route miles of fiber.

Led by industry veterans Dan Caruso and John Scarano, both formerly with ICG Communications and Level 3 Communications, Zayo Bandwidth has secured access to $225 million from leading venture capital firm…

"Steve Jobs Was Right"

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"Steve Jobs was right," says at&t VP Ralph de la Vega. Right about slashing the price of the iPhone sooner than att&t would typically have done. AT&T Inc., owner of the biggest U.S. mobile phone service, said the increase in sales of the iPhone has been "significant" since maker Apple Inc. cut the price by a third. How much?

at&t appears also to have been at least partly right about the iPhone's impact. Sprint and Verizon executives both acknowdledge at least a temporary increase in churn immediately after iPhone hit the market, and again after the recent price reduction.

Perhaps of more lasting significance is the ability of iPhone users to use Wi-Fi for connectivity in place of the EDGE network. Though it is doubtful many users will settle for a single "do everything device" that primarily connects only when within range of Wi-Fi networks, it will be interesting to watch whether there is a developing market for devices used primarily…

Orange Gets iPhone in France

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France Telecom's Orange has sealed the iPhone deal, it appears. France Telecom CEO Didier Lombard says the iPhone would be distributed in France "before Christmas, probably in November." Orange does not appear likely to subsidize the handset.

Address Books for Landlines?

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Embarq is adding an address book feature to its home phones, allowing people to look up an entry and dial it by speaking a name into the handset.

Embarq also is testing a text-messaging function for home phones in some markets. When a text message is sent to a land-line number, the home phone rings, converts the message into audio, and plays it back. The land-line phone user can reply with an audio message or press a button to send a standard text response.

You have to admire Embarq's efforts to add features to landlines that are standard for mobiles. You also have to wonder how well address books, which are personal, and text messages, also personal, are going to translate into a "public" setting, which most landline phones represent.

One-person households won't have that problem, of course. "Public" and "personal" are the same, in such cases. But it will be an interesting test.

Sprint Launches Airave Femtocell Service

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I happen to live in one of the neighborhoods in Denver where Sprint is rolling out its new Airave femtocell network, and i do have mobile service with Sprint (I also use Verizon, T-Mobile and at&t). That doesn't necessarily mean I am going to test it or use it, but I can. The service also is available in some parts of Indianapolis.

Make no mistake: this is a landline replacement service. In my case the incremental cost of the femtocell service, offset by the abandonment of my landline, would save $20 a month or so. That might be an interesting number for lots of consumers.

It makes possible unlimited incoming, outgoing, and long distance calls using any handset Sprint sells and supports. As I have argued before, handset freedom will be vitally important in the fixed-mobile convergence space. Dual-mode phones don't make as much sense to me, for precisely that reason.

Airave vastly improves indoor mobile coverage (something desperately needed in my neigborhood. All you have t…

T-Mobile Sells iPhone in German Market

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T-Mobile will sell Apple's iPhone in Germany for 399 euros ($558) each. Service plans weren't immediately announced. As in the United States, where Apple picked at&t as its exclusive network services provider, customers in Germany will have to sign up for two years to buy and use the 8-gigabyte version of the phone-iPod-Web appliance.

In the U.K. market, where O2 has a five-year exclusive on service for the iPhone. And a pattern seems to be developing in terms of the business model.

Estimates of how much revenue O2 is going to share with Apple vary between 10 percent to 40 per cent and it is likely both figures are correct. The delta is what Apple gets paid based on the degree of churn the device can induce.

Apple might get 10 percent of revenue when an existing O2 customer gets an iPhone, but Apple might get the heftier percentage when a customer switches service providers and becomes an O2 customer.

at&t pays Apple $3 a month when one of its existing customers buys an i…

3G GPhone?

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Now that Adsense for Mobile is launched in 13 markets, the next issue is whether, or when, Google will launch a branded handset, and whether it actually will bid to own its own U.S. mobile broadband network.

DigiTimes says Google is pondering both EDGE and 3G versions of its branded handset. And DigiTimes says it has been told Google might opt for 3G. A switch from EDGE likely would push back the introduction into the first half of next year instead of this year.

High Tech Computer is said to be the manufacturing contractor for the Gphone.

3G would make lots of sense for a device so Web browsing centric.

No Wireline in This at&t Bundle

In a nod to new market realities, at&t is offering a package of wireless calling and residential high-speed Internet without wireline voice as a mandatory part of the package. at&t will launch the program in seven cities.

Bought separately, the wireless plan would cost about $40 while the 1.5 Mbps DSL would cost about $20. The advantage today is avoidance of the need to buy a wireline voice connection to get the DSL service as a stand alone. It's a half step to full naked DSL.

The $60 a month package is aimed at younger users and college students, and
includes 450 wireless minutes of "any time" wireless use plus 5,000 minutes on nights and weekends, plus free calls to other AT&T mobile customers. Customers also can roll over unused "any time" minutes.

The digital subscriber line service operates at a 1.5 Mbps rate downstream. The same plan is offered for $65 in the former BellSouth territory.

Later this year, AT&T plans to offer a naked DSL connecti…

telx|vision: Anthony Sticha, Interview at Cbx 2007

Build For Your Kids, Not Your Father

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A recent survey by CIO Insight suggests chief information officers use (or think they ought to say they use) Internet video, wikis, blogs, really simple syndication, podcasts and social networking. Twitter and Second Life don't get nearly the same levels of use.

iPhone for O2: Zero Margin for Carrier

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Mobile operator O2 (Telefonica) reportedly has won the right to sell the Apple iPhone in the U.K. market. It may ultimately regret the victory, as the Guardian reports O2 is giving Apple 40 percent of service revenues.

The other U.K. mobile operators reportedly backed away from the deal as the O2 business arrangement essentially is a guaranteed money loser. O2 of course is gambling it can leverage the deal to take share from its U.K. competitors.

As part of the deal, Carphone Warehouse will act as an authorized retailer for O2 as well. Apple apparently retains control of device pricing.

The deal is part of a number of potential destabilizing developments in the mobile business. It isn't simply who is in the networks business. It also is where value and hence profit are to be made in the mobile ecosystem. Apple thinks it is the phone. Google might think it is the ability to create targeted advertising. Other players, such as satellite TV providers, might see value in the ability to cr…

Verizon FiOS Getting Ready to Blow Down Doors

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Readers of ComputerWorld might not be "typical" U.S. consumers. Neither might members of the ChangeWave Alliance, as both will skew much more heavily into the technological savvy end of the customer spectrum. But there's growing evidence that at least for these lead elements of the technology-buying and influencing market, Verizon's FiOS is poised to take significant share.

Not that "satisfaction" is any guarantee of loyalty, but FiOS customers seem significantly happier than Comcast cable modem customers, for example. And on the "I'm going to switch" front, limited FiOS availability, like limited iPhone stock, has depressed sales. That will change, if ChangeWave member sentiments are any indication.

In fact, of users who say they are going to change video providers, the percentage of users who say they intend to switch to FiOS or another fiber-to-customer service is 300 percent higher than the percentage of users that say they will switch to …

DT Gets iPhone?

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T-Mobile appears to be the exclusive carrier for the iPhone in Germany next week. Apple reportedly has a revenue sharing deal similar to that with at&t, in which Apple collects a portion of the monthly subscription fees. Pricing will reportedly be set at 399 Euros ($554) for an 8GB model. It isn't clear whether 3G support is forthcoming.

Pantech Duo for at&t

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Touch screen smart phones aren't universally desired. So at&t is introducing a dual-sliding phone like the Helio Ocean, but using the Windows Mobile 6 operating system. The Pantech Duo uses the 3G network, , a sleek-looking dual-slider that zips along on their 3G HSDPA network, has a 1.3-megapixel camera, and can do push email.

Samsung Croix for Vodafone

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As expected, the iPhone is changing smart phone design, pushing devices in the direction of more capability as media players. That ultimately will have repercussions for enterprise information technology managers as well, since business users are going to want to use such devices.

The Samsung F700V Croix will be introduced by Vodafone as an "iPhone killer" when Apple's device is introduced in European markets.

The Croix features a 3.2-inch touchscreen and 3G access using HSDPA running at a 3.6Mbps peak download rate. It has front and rear cameras for video calling and capture. The Croix should play AAC and MP3 songs as well as H.264, MPEG-4, and Real videos.

The device closely resembles the minimalist design of Apple's iPhone. A single navigation button near the bottom of the phone resembles the single button on Apple's iPhone, while rounded corners and a rectangular shape give the Ultra Smart F700 an iPhone-like appearance. The device includes a slide-out keyboa…

Credit Facebook for Force.com

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Force.com is an on-demand application development platform that will extend Salesforce.com's subscriber base far beyond traditional business software users sometime in 2008. And you can bet Facebook's success as an applications platform had something to do with the decision.

Force.com will give customers, developers and independent software vendors the ability to create custom applications and user interfaces that can be accessed from desktop PCs, iPhones or retail kiosks using the Salesforce.com service. That's the advantage from the end user perspective.

For developers and hosts, there are other advantages, such as ability to create and support new applications without the need for new Web servers and data center facilities. The new platform will operate in much more of an on-demand basis, as a result.

Visualforce uses HTML, AJAX and Flex programming languages.

New Sprint Handsets Q4

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Sprint Nextel Corp. will deliver four new wireless handhelds by year's end, including the HTC Touch, featuring touch-screen capabilities similar to Apple Inc.'s iPhone.

The Palm Centro features a full keyboard and touch-screen navigation, while the BlackBerry Pearl 8130 has its SureType keypad of both numeric and alphabetic keys interspersed. The fourth phone is the LG Rumor, featuring a typical phone touch pad and a separate slide QWERTY keyboard.

The Touch allows users to "sweep their finger up the display to launch an animated, three-dimensional interface comprising three screens: Contacts, Media and Applications."

HTC Touch also relies on Windows Mobile 6 Professional as the operating system and most likely will be a quad-band device supporting GSM, GPRS, EDGE and EVDO-A, plus Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi.

There's a sort of odd disquiet out there right now in the VoIP world. It's almost as though VoIP has become something like broadband access. One exp…

ISP Subscriber Growth Favors Tier One Providers

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Not that anybody should be surprised by the latest ISP subscriber figures, but large tier one telco and cable providers are racking up more market share while independent mass market providers are losing share. The one countervailing trend is that providers focused on the small and mid-sized business, such as Covad, continue to grow.

For those of you familiar with the SME space, it is, always has been and always will be a fertile segment for independent providers of all sorts. The latest ISP figures only confirm that observation, again.

Massive Email Outage in the Works?

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NTP, a patent holding company based in Arlington, Va., is suing Verizon, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA for infringing several of its patents, all of which are related to the delivery of e-mail to mobile devices. You might remember that NTP wrung $612.5 million out of Research in Motion for doing so.

In its new round of suits, NTP claims mobile carriers mobile email services also violate those patents.

NTP wants an injunction to stop the infringing actions. Injunction. As in "you will stop delivering email now and then we will go to court to figure out whether you really are infringing or not. Injunction. As in massive North American email outage.

Five of the eight patents NTP claims are being infringed were the subject of NTP's 2001 patent suit against Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry. In November 2002, a jury found that RIM infringed upon NTP's patents.

In 2006 RIM agreed to pay NTP to settle the case.

Lots of Detail for a Phone That Doesn't Exist...

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...and which some doubt makes sense. Still, there's growing evidence that mobile software developers are working on services and tools they hope will be packaged with a wireless operating system under wraps at Googleplex and they've been sworn to secrecy, says Business Week reporter Olga Kharif.

Among them: Plusmo, a Santa Clara (Calif.) company that pulls together blogs and news items and sends them to cell phones. Nuance Communications, a Burlington (Mass.) maker of speech-recognition software used in mobile directory assistance services.

Another startup said to be working with Google is 3Jam, a software maker in Menlo Park, Calif., that lets users send text messages to groups of friends.

Google's platform is said to consist of an operating system, mobile versions of Google's existing software, and built-in developer tools. Google is expected to offer an open application programming interface as well.

Since talk of the gPhone emerged, developers whisper that other com…

Skype Worm Attacking Windows PCs

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A computer virus called “w32/Ramex.A” is affecting users of Skype for Windows. Users whose computers are infected with this virus will send a chat message to other Skype users asking them to click on a web link that can infect the computer of the person who receives the message.

“The chat message, of which there are several versions, is cleverly written and may appear to be a legitimate chat message, which may fool some users into clicking on the link," Skype says.

“Skype has been in contact with the leading antivirus software companies about this worm, and we know that they are updating their software to effectively stop this worm and as well as its side effects. Currently, F-Secure, Kaspersky Lab and Symantec have already updated their antivirus products to detect and remove the worm.

The rest of you, watch out!!!

Will Verizon Get Handsets Right?

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So the rumor is that Verizon doesn't want to support the Google Phone. It also didn't want to support the iPhone. It isn't going to get future N series Nokia devices. So maybe Samsung or BlackBerry are working on a Verizon exclusive. That at least would explain Verizon's reluctance. Granted, Verizon would be loathe to share revenue in the way the new handset partners prefer. But there is a danger here.

It isn't so clear customers are, or can be made, loyal to a network. No network is an expression of a user's identity or personality. Handsets are. Users just want networks to work. Beyond there, why is there any reason for loyalty?

Some networks work better than others, for all sorts of reasons. I happen to be using at&t, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile for various applications and devices. All have some shadow areas. In-building coverage is a problem for all of them. Customer service is radically better from all of them, compared to a few years ago.

T-Mobile…

Is Voice the Killer App for IMS?

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You have seen this story before: a new service rolls out and providers look for the "killer app." Then it turns out the killer app is something people already do, but the innovation allows them to do it in a new way, or maybe a better way.

To some extent, voice is a bit of that sort of thing for broadband Internet access, as email was something approaching a killer app for dial-up Internet access. Though the initial "killer app" for broadband was fast Internet access, voice becomes a very important incremental value.

"We are seeing a pattern in Europe of VoIP being delivered by companies that control the broadband infrastructure," notes Stephan Beckert, TeleGeography analyst. "It's an add-on feature to broadband."

So what is the killer app for fixed-mobile services? It's voice again, allowing legacy providers to hang on to more of their fixed-line business than otherwise; allowing mobile providers to displace landline traffic with mobile; …

Voice Mashups Disruptive or Not?

Iotum recently shifted gears and decided to take advantage of Facebook APIs to create a conference call app inside Facebook. Many of you know what Skype has been doing in the area of encouraging third party development around its client. And of course Microsoft has made clear its intention to place communications within the context of every expression of its desktop productivity suite.

Some people would argue this move to voice as an attribute of every application spells the death of traditional "communications as a service." So far, of course, there is no evidence of this, though there is plenty of movement within the service industry. Neither is there any evidence that people communicate less when they have the new tools; the reverse typically being the case.

So far, at any rate, one would have to say that the advent of voice as an application, as an inherent attribute of other experiences and activities, simply is creating incremental revenue opportunities and end user ut…

iPhone Sales Hit One Million

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So there's no question Apple will hit its target of one million sold by the end of September. Apple sold its millionth iPhone last Sunday, just 74 days after the combination cell phone-iPod went on sale and less than a week after its price was cut by a third. Some observers speculate that iPhone sales have sagged of late. We shall see.

Dylan is out of boot camp...

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Headed for South Carolina to do a year's intensive training in nuclear engineering, then up to Annapolis to finish up his aeronautical engineering degree. Then aviation training. Then he has to land his jet on a carrier deck and get it right the first time (one chance only). Anybody who doesn't washes out of the pilot corp immediately. About 40 percent fail to get the tailhook down on one of the three guy wires and it's all over.

Disruption? Maybe Not.

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Lots of companies and lots of people have been at the "telecom disruption" game for quite some time, beginning way back with the Carterfone decision and MCI's assault on the long distance calling market. We have had Internet service providers, competitive local exchange carriers, hosted service providers, application providers, instant messaging providers, portals, VoIP providers, cable companies, satellite providers and others attacking one part or another of the global telecom value chain.

Through it all, global communications service revenue has kept climbing. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find any year when that didn't happen. Perhaps the issue is not disruption at all, but rather transformation. There will be new spaces created, and a rearrangement of older spaces. But nothing has stopped global revenue from climbing, year after year.

Of course, all the analysts could be wrong. Some cataclysm could yet await. But it sure doesn't appear to be something…

Another Outage for BlackBerry

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U.S. Internet-based users of the Research in Motion BlackBerry service might have noticed, and might still be noticing odd behavior from their handhelds. Like, no mail parts of Friday, and then huge dumps of what you thought was archived mail thereafter. If so, it might be because RIM had another outage of some significance last Friday, Sept. 7. That's two significant outages this year.

All of us may someday lament the fact that no service we now enjoy and rely upon has the ruggedness and uptime of the old public switched network.

Apple iPhone Price Cut is, Oddly, About the Buzz

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Equity analysts and presumably some investors are said to be quite unhappy about the $200 price reduction on the eight gigabyte vesion of the iPhone, which now sell for $399, $200 less than the price consumers paid just three months ago when the iPhone launched on June 29. "Leaving margin on the table" is the problem.

Apple announced a credit of $100 for early buyers after the price reduction. The credit is a bit unusual. The timing of the price cut is quite unusual. Apple has in the past waited as much as a year to drop prices on a device.

Some say the move is a significant strategic and tactical misstep. Maybe. But Apple once again gets huge buzz, refocusing attention a couple months after the splashy launch. Lower than anticipated sales is unlikely to be a drive, as the company stands by its initial projection of one million sales by the end of the quarter.

It might sell twice as many. Nobody knows yet. Undoubtedly some thought was given beforehand to the customer irritati…

Microsoft Vista Service Pack Near Beta

As a follow-up to his email sent to Microsoft execs about Vista issues, Alec Saunders says: "Coincident with my note to Microsoft about Windows Vista quality yesterday, Microsoft let it be known that Vista SP1 would be going into beta in a couple of weeks, and surprise surprise, a substantial focus is on quality."

"Following the email I sent, two Microsoft senior execs responded yesterday — Steven Sinofsky who runs with the Windows platform organization, and Jeff Raikes, President of the Business Division. Among the many things in Raikes' mails was a question about how well I liked Office 2007, a product that I absolutely love. When I told him that, he observed that Sinofsky was the VP in charge of shipping Office 2007, and that he was applying many of the same methodologies to Windows Vista."

"Sinofsky gently chided me for having rose colored glasses, observing that PnP in Windows 95 routinely fried his network cards. Perhaps, he was saying, Windows Vist…

Mitel Inter-Tel Merger: Dan York is Available

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Maybe LinkedIn or Plaxo is useful for such things, though I prefer Facebook. So if you can help Dan, contact him at Facebook. His last day at Mitel is September 21. Here's what he's thinking:

"What's next? I'm not sure, to be honest, as there are several pathways. I'd love to run back up to the crow's nest and perform that kind of analysis, investigation, exploration/communication or evangelism for a company in the IP telephony and unified communications space, especially with a focus on social networking and social media.

I think its a great fit with my technical, strategic, marketing and communication skills - and I think sites like Facebook will have a profound effect on our communication. I'd love to help explore and guide people through that space. Having said that, I definitely recognize that those roles are few and far between. I may look into something focused in the VOIP security space, where I've obviously got some great depth and expe…

Microsoft iPhone Competitor?

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Since every other manufacturer of handhelds has been scrambling to create new devices that can compete with Apple's iPhone, it is only logical that Microsoft will do so as well. SoMindy Mount, corporate vice president and CFO for Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices Division, says it's not "unreasonable" to think that Microsoft will integrate photo, music, and touchscreen features into a Windows Mobile product in the future.

Microsoft's idea with Windows Mobile has been to move everyday business capabilities, such as accessing e-mail, from the PC to the mobile device. However, "Being able to do pictures and music is something that consumers are going to want, so it's a natural thing for us to want in our product road map," she says.

Has Muni Wi-Fi Missed the Window?

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Municipal Wi-Fi arguably had a market window within which it had to get traction or lose out to cable companies and especially telcos. With EarthLink now backing out of the remaining deals it originally negotiated, that window could slam shut. That isn't to say there might not be some niches it could fill, but they will be smaller niches.

The higher end part of the fully mobile market will be able to buy fourth generation mobile services, broadband based on 700 MHz spectrum, WiMAX and 3G broadband services. The tethered part of the market will simply find cable modem, Digital Subscriber Line and fiber to home services too attractive to ignore as well. The out of office portion of the market increasingly can use T-Mobile hotspots, hotel Wi-Fi and airport Wi-Fi.

Clearwire and satellite broadband are going to make more sense in most rural markets, though independent ISPs continue to offer basic tethered access using Wi-Fi technologies adapted for more focused line of sight deployment…

Who Will Create the "Conference in a Pocket" Phone?

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The rumored Google Phone will have to carve out a niche beyond "smart phone" or "feature phone" to get any serious traction. Perhaps it can create a new dual-mode position, since nobody really has that one nailed down yet. It might be a stretch to create a position based on "location based services," since it is doubtful most people will understand that.

But some new developments elsewhere suggest it might ultimately be possible for somebody to capture a new "conference in my pocket" position. Webex now has created an iPhone compatible PCNow capability, opening a bit of a wedge for conferencing. And iotum says it will develop a conference app running on BlackBerry and Facebook.

The point is not simply the size of the niche, but the ability to create a buyer reason to use one service or terminal instead of others. There are lots of devices that handle email. But BlackBerry created and "owns" the "email in your pocket" mental ni…

Voice From Inside Facebook

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Pat Phelan points out that there are perhaps nine voice applications users can launch from inside Facebook, including GrandCentral, RebMe by Rebtel, Phonebook by Jangl, MyPhone by Jaxtr, SkypeMe, One Minute Friend, Yakpack, Sitofono and the new conferencing application for Facebook released by iotum.

Corning FTTH Advance

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Corning is introducing a new line of extremely bendable optical fiber cable based on its nanoStructures technology platform. The change in physical media might not seem so significant, as the new design allows cabled fiber to be bent around very tight corners with virtually no signal loss. So think about the way signals now are zipped around offices and homes. Coaxial cable (augmented by category 5 wiring for some fiber to customer installs) for homes and category 5 for offices. Up to this point, one reason for those choices is that optical media wouldn't bend enough to be useful as a drop media.

That doesn't alleviate the need for optical-to-electrical conversion, but could allow the conversion right at the end user device instead of some other demarcation point. In most cases it still will make sense to convert optical to electrical at a side of home network interface, for cost reasons alone. But designers will have lots more latitude in high-rise living units, where O/E conv…