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Showing posts from March, 2008

Offline Google Docs Coming

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Google's word processing application will now work offline, Google says, with the new feature available over the nextfew weeks, apparently. Changes made to offline documents will synchronize automatically when users go back online.

The offline feature is enabled by the Google Gears browser plug-in, which uses JavaScript APIs to enable offline access for applications such as Google Reader.

The "work offline" feature obviously is an important feature for traveling workers.

Zoho and Transmedia, which also offer online productivity suites, have been offering offline access to their word processing applications, Zoho Writer and Glide 2.0, since last year.

Augusta to Build Own Metro Wi-Fi Network

The City of Augusta, Ga. plans to build a for-fee metro Wi-Fi network it plans to have in operation by the end of 2008. A Request for Proposal (RFP) within weeks. As the business model is everything, Augusta is using a grant from the state of Georgia worth about $500,000 to build and deploy the Wi-Fi network over a highly-populated area including the downtown business corridor, three colleges and the most-densely-populated parts of the community.

That basically takes care of the network's capital cost. The RFP is to choose an Internet Service Provider to operate, market and maintain the network

The chosen ISP will operate the network and share revenue with Augusta.

New Zealand Telecom Now is Operationally Separated

New Zealand telecom regulators last year approved Telecom New Zealand's split into separated retail, network and wholesale companies, on the BT model. On March 31, the separation has taken effect. Under the new structure, all contestants will be able to lease network access and transport services on the same terms and conditions Telecom itself pays to use network features.
If the plan works as expected, retail competitors will gain market share relatively quickly, while Telecom ultimately drops to less than half the market for mass market retail services.You might wonder "what's in it" for Telecom, as it might appear the breakup makes it easier for competitors to compete using Telecom's network. That's true, to an extent. One reason U.S. tier one telecom incumbents don't want to share their optical access infrastructure is precisely because it is so expensive an undertaking that avoiding mandatory wholesale access to those optical access facilities makes h…

U.K. ISPs Will Have to Block Pirated Content

Voluntarily or by government regulation, U.K. Internet service providers are going to become watchdogs of pirated music and video content, and likely will be required to disconnect repeat offenders.

In fact, Virgin Media will become the first U.K. ISP to crack down on customers who download music illegally, says Juliette Garside of the Telegraph. And video is a strong possibility for follow-on rules.

Record labels are lobbying for a "three strikes" regime that would allow ISPs to disconnect offenders' access service, and the U.K. government is expected next month to start the process of putting such regulations into place.

This would be the first time a British internet company has publicly moved to share responsibility for curbing piracy, using a mechanism where offenders are identified by copyright holders and that information is forwarded to Virgin and other ISPs.

Six million broadband users are estimated to download files illegally each year, costing record labels billio…

Mac Sales Stronger, PCs Slipping

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Despite evidence of slowing PC buying activity, planned purchases of Apple Macs remain relatively strong, according to a recent ChangeWave Alliance survey.

About eight percent of the 4,427 consumers surveyed by ChangeWave in late February say they'll be buying a laptop in the next 90 days, the lowest level of consumer laptop demand in the past 12 months. The same trend was seen in desktop PC purchases, with just six percent saying they'll be buying one, also a low for the year, says ChangeWave.

That trend also is reflected among enteprise and business buyers. In February, only 73 percent of 2,204 corporate respondents said their company plans on buying laptops in the next quarter, down 4-pts from a year ago. Plans to buy desktop machines were down five percentage points from the same month a year ago.

On the other hand, looking at the next three months, Apple remains the leader among consumers who plan to buy a laptop. Some 31 percent of those who say they will buy a machine indi…

iPhone, Smart Phone, Phone: Big Difference in Behavior

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It's starting to become clear that putting smart phones in the hands of users will cause their behaviors to change in ways that are helpful if a service provider cares about new services.

It also is clear that new behaviors are encouraged when users have an easy way to navigate and don't have to worry about the charges.

That isn't necessarily to say most users require truly "unlimited" data plans. Plans that allow them to make use of Web applications and features without worrying about the cost are what is important.

iPhone Changes Mobile Landscape

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Six months after the iPhone’s U.S. launch, has the device changed the mobile landscape? According to M:Metrics, the mobile media authority, the answer is yes. Today, the measurement firm reports that the iPhone is already the most popular device for accessing news and information on the mobile Web, with 85 percent of iPhone users accessing news and information in the month of January.

That's important because the iPhone probably has created a whole new segment within the wireless user and wireless device universe: that of the mobile Web device.

Until recently, surveys by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, for example, have shown relatively low usage of the mobile Web. The iPhone user pattern suggests latent demand exists and will surface if only user interface and charging expectations are addressed.

“Beyond a doubt, this device is compelling consumers to interact with the mobile Web, delivering off-the-charts usage from everything to text messaging to mobile video,” says Ma…

SME Conferencing Up 50% Next 12 Months

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More than 50 percent of European small and mid-sized businesses plan to increase use of conference-calling and video-conferencing technologies over the next 12 months, a survey conducted by Skype reveals.

That finding corroborates with other data suggesting that Web-based collaboration, for example, is growing much faster than air travel, and replacement of such travel costs is a generally accepted value conferencing services provide.
A third of companies surveyed already use conference calls while a further 40 percent see the potential. Two thirds of companies already using conference calling do so at least once a week and 60 percent predict that they are likely to increase use over the next 12 months. There is a similar pattern to video-conferencing use. Despite being a relatively new feature, more than 40 percent can see the potential of video-conferencing use in business. Skype’s internal data also suggest that 30 percent of all Skype calls now involve video.There is also strong e…

Mobile Ads Still Largely Text Based

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Global mobile advertising will grow from $2.7 billion in 2007 to $19.1 billion in 2012, mainly on the strength of text-message campaigns, according to a new eMarketer report.

Mobile spending in the U.S. market will jump from $878 million in 2007 to $6.5 billion by 2012, but will be eclipsed by the more mobile-centric Asia-Pacific market by then.

U.S. mobile spending is projected to nearly double to $1.7 billion in 2008.

Because text-messaging will remain the dominant non-voice mobile service over the next several years--especially in big markets like China and India that lack 3G networks--that's where most ad dollars will flow, eMarketer argues.

Advertising linked to SMS and MMS text-messaging, mobile instant messaging, and mobile e-mail will collectively account for more than $14 billion of the $19 million total projected in 2012--up from $2.5 billion in 2007.

Display and search advertising will lag because those formats work best on higher-speed broadband networks. But $99 smart pric…

3G Data Card Sales to Quadruple

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Sales of mobile data cards are forecast by Infonetics Research to nearly quadruple between 2007 and 2011, when they will reach $2.9 billion globally.

Of course, mobile data cards could threaten some portion of the Wi-Fi hotspot market, as a logical consequence.

“Currently, mobile data services are generally too expensive for mass market adoption, but that will change with the increasingly extensive roll out of high speed HSDPA, the launch of new data plans offering increased download limits, and better subsidies for mobile data cards," says Richard Webb, Infonetics directing analyst.

There is another possibility, though. Broadband-equipped smart phones that double as access devices will become more popular. And some significant part of the Wi-Fi and data card use case is being subsumed by mobile email devices and Web-capable smart phones.

Still, it is hard to envision any scenario where "personal broadband" does not ultimately become as ubiquitous as "personal voice&q…

Why Mobile is a Better Business than Wireline or Internet

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From a service provider's point of view, the Internet has proven to be an important driver of new service revenue in the form of broadband access and dial-up access, in its day. So far, though, mobile data has been a far-better business, despite moves toward openness that will render much wireless data a business uncomfortably similar to wired data (access dominated revenues, in other words).

The reason is that mobile services have been much more a walled garden that the Internet has been, so customers have gotten used to the idea that applications cost money in a mobile context where equivalents might not, in a broader Internet context.

”It’s not lost on mobile users that they still pay for almost everything on mobile,” says John du Pre Gauntt, eMarketer senior analyst.

Analysts at Telephia, now a part of Nielsen Mobile, point out that a typical monthly charge for location-based services in $9.23. Music services might add $4.99 while weather services might cost $2.82.

That's like…

Fuze: Mobile Video Collaboration

Fuze is CallWave's new mobile-centric collaboration service, browser-based and featuring what it calls "high-definition synchronized video collaboration". Fuze offers what CallWave calls "a sophisticated audio/video collaboration experience with remote access from any computer and from 3G or Wi-Fi enabled phones."Fuze participants can use Skype as well as landline or mobile phones when participating in conferences.
The service also allows 3G or Wi-Fi connected users to view business documents like PowerPoint and videos as part of a conference call.

Additional services include high-definition audio conferencing, collaboration, voice-to-text transcription, local and long distance calling, Internet fax, visual voicemail, text and instant messaging. Many of the applications and services on an a la carte basis.Get ready for lots of mobile-related news: CTIA is coming.

Growing Interest in Mobile Transactions

A new Harris Interactive study suggests 25 percent of users with mobile Internet access now use their devices to buy goods and services online with a credit card, and nearly one in five saying they would like to someday use cell phones as a "mobile wallet," where charges would be billed directly to their mobile accounts.

In addition, ten percent of the survey participants said they would consider wire transfers and stock trading via their mobile phones.

About 16 percent of mobile phone subscribers already use mobile banking services, with 60 percent of these people using the services at least once a week, Harris Interactive says.

About 35 percent of respondents say they are "open" to checking bank account balances and transferring funds using their mobile devices. A third of those surveyed also said they would like to receive text message alerts from their financial institutions.

The survey also found that smart phone users exhibit this behavior more than other mobile …

Cox Mobile Broadband?

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In the recent U.S. 700 Mhz auctions, Cox Communications won 14 Block A and eight Block B licenses in areas where it also has cable TV systems. Cox hasn't said what it might do with those assets, but the most logical choice are local mobile broadband networks that allow Cox customers to unify fixed and wireless mobility access, at least within a metro area.

Long term, it remains to be seen how effective such combined access will prove to be, compared to services that additionally add national access.

There is at least some evidence most consumers do not value mobile broadband all that highly, when they already have fixed broadband. And lots of users who do value mobile broadband are business travelers who really need national access, and in some cases international access that Cox won't be able to provide.

NTT, AT&T Join Undersea Cable Group

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The Trans-Pacific Express Consortium has signed two new members, AT&T and NTT Communications, says CommsDay reporter Tony Chan. The two new consortium members join Verizon Business, China Telecom, China Netcom, China Unicom, Chunghwa Telecom and Korea Telecom as members of the TPE consortium.

As a result of its joining the TPE consortium, at&t now has access to two out of three major trans-Pacific cables being built. The company also is part of the Asia-America Gateway system linking South Asia to the United States.

The current trans-Pacific capacity market is dominated by two operators, Tata Communications, who owns the TGN-Pacific, and Pacific Crossing.

As has been the case within the U.S. long-haul market, there is growing discussion of the wisdom of fiber swaps, capacity swaps and other mechanisms such as participation in multiple new undersea cable consortia as a way of enhancing network reliability.

Within the U.S. market, for example, carriers gain a measure of addtional s…

IPTV: Signs of Changing Behavior, Maybe

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There's some important new evidence that U.K. customers who change to IPTV from conventional terrestrial TV do change their behavior in ways that boost average revenue per user, say researchers at Point Topic.

There's countervailing evidence that U.S. consumers are not so inclined.

The ability to time shift TV viewing often leads to customers using pay-per-view as well, Point Topic says.

For example, one top-ten operator has found that around a third of its IPTV subscribers buy three or four pay-per-view items per month. Since the implication is that this exceeds the buy rate for non-IPTV users, there is some potential lift in average revenue per user.

High definition TV is the other potential behavioral change. Subscribers may be willing to pay more for HDTV than for standard-definition programming, again with positive ARPU impact.

ABI Research, on other hand, does not find that U.S. consumers are changing their on-demand habits.

About 66 percent of respondents say they subscribe t…

New Google White Spaces Proposal

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Google now is proposing a new way of avoiding over-the-air interference for devices it and othe companies propose be run on vacated TV frequencies.
Google has told the the Federal Communications Commission it can produce an enhanced system to prevent interference between unlicensed devices operating in slices of local spectrum not used by over-the-air TV broadcasters, and licensed broadcasters actually operational in a local market.According to dailywireless.org, that could mean 22 to 44 6-MHz slices of spectrum in markets as large as Los Angeles or as small as Juneau, Ak.
The FCC currently is testing equipment to see if, in fact, white space spectrum can be used by low-power data devices without causing interference to television broadcasts on adjacent or non-adjacent frequencies.Supporters of the "white space" initiative include Dell, Intel Corp, Hewlett-Packard Co. and Philips Electronics and Google.
The idea, as you might guess, is opposed by U.S. broadcasters and makers o…

Bandwidth Demand: Increasing Faster than Moore's Law

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The thing about technological change is that lots can change underfoot without people really noticing it. And then some point is reached where the accumulated weight of those changes causes a tipping point. And we might be watching for such a tipping point in business broadband.

You'd be hard pressed to find much widespread evidence of the trend if you look at what small businesses are buying, but if one looks at enterprises, "T1 and DS0 already starting to go away," says Pieter Poll, Qwest chief technology officer. "More and more people are preferring metro Ethernet at the high end, so low-speed private line revenue and demand is decreasing."

At some point that will start to be a bigger, or more noticeable trend within the smaller and mid-sized business market as well, simply because the bandwidth intensity of modern business and consumer applications is increasing.

Average 2007 IP traffic was over 9,000 terrabytes a day in the consumer segment, for public Intern…

Safari for PCs

As part of a recent update of my Apple iTunes software for my Windows-driven PC, I discovered that the Safari browser also was available. I suppose I didn't realize Apple was working on PC versions of Safari. I haven't had time to play with it yet.

Google's New Terrain

With the bulk of the U.S. auction for new 700-MHz spectrum now over, some observers note that Google was a big winner, though it didn't win any spectrum. Well, that's true, but so are nearly all potential or existing application or device providers.

In fact, it might be worth noting that Google's apparent strategy--to extract regulatory concessions without winning actual spectrum--illustrates the nature of the business environment Google now is entering.

Simply, to the extent that Google's financial interests now require involvement in regulated industries, it has to play the regulatory game, as do all major media and communications industries and contestants.

In the communications and "electronic media" industries, government decisions literally can create the potential for an industry to exist at all, and then dramatically affect its profit potential.

Obviously, scarce spectrum has to be allocated, either terrestrially or in space. But "smaller" deci…

Palm Centro: Major Shift to Smart Phones, Data

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Smart phones do indeed drive consumer purchases of data plans, new data from Palm suggests. Palm reports that 95 percent of new Centro buyers signed up for a data plan.

More than 70 percent of Centro buyers also appear to be upgrading to a smart phone for the first time, Palm says.

Keep that up for a long enough period of time and mobile providers will discover that most users have data plans and smart phones.

Which is just what they plan.

Apple Sales Explode: It's a Cloud Computing Effect

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Among the conclusions one might draw from the explosion of Apple market share in the U.S. PC market--in February 2008 Macs got 14 percent unit share and 25 percent dollar share--is that the "Web" really is becoming a computing utility. The results are drawn from a survey of buyers by NPD Group.

As more things can be done "in the cloud," the operating system of the access device matters less. To use an analogy, we aren't yet to the point of simple mobile phones, where most features except for subscriber identity are properties of the network.

We more nearly are in a position analogous to smart phones, however, where some important functionality resides locally, and much is in the network.

If you like, think about PC use pre-Web or pre-local area networks. Initially, with the exception of connection to a printer, a wide area network connection was not necessary to derive value from a PC. Later, as more PCs appeared in the workplace, it became necessary to connect PC…

700 MHz: No Big Surprise

As most observers probably would have bet, Verizon won the C block while at&t won hundreds of local licenses to augment the 700 MHz spectrum it already owns. Those two developments arguably were the most-likely outcomes all along.

EchoStar, though, won enough E block spectrum to create a nearly-national footprint as well. What it plans to do with that spectrum isn't so clear at this point. There isn't enough spectrum in that block to run WiMAX or probably even Long Term Evolution protocols with any kind of loading.

Many argue that slice of spectrum is best suited to mobile video delivery.

31% Smart Phone Sales by 2013

The market for smartphones will grow from around 10 percent of the total handset market in 2007 to 31 percent of the market in 2013, say researchers at ABI Research.

Fueling he growth: carrier interest in boosting data revenues and the migration of advanced “smart” operating systems down into middle tier devices.

Mobile Walled Garden? No Way

Mobile phone owners already are partially outside mobile operator content walled gardens, a new survey by ABI Research suggests. And there is no reason to believe this trend is not a permanent feature of the mobile content and applications business.

The 14 percent of respondents who said they use their phone to watch video was split nearly evenly between those who watch video from websites such as YouTube (35 percent), from their own carrier’s video offering (31 percent), and from video they sideload onto their mobile devices (28 percent).

The leading source of music files on a mobile phone was ripped CDs and sideloading onto the phone (48 percent of mobile-music listening respondents), while over one third of music-listening respondents (35 percent) purchased music through their carriers.

As an example, today’s mobile consumer is more likely to watch a video from YouTube on his or her phone than a video from the carrier’s own service, but is more than twice as likely to get ringtones fr…

Email Overload?

Are business users drowning in unwanted email or not? Some observers argue they are, and also say the overload is harming productivity. A typical analysis might be that a half hour a day is wasted when people have to deal with unwanted email. Over an eight-hour working day, that's 1/16 of total time at work. For a person earning $100,000, that's an annual loss of $6,250.

The countervailing view is that managing email is no more a "time waster" than socializing around the office, and might have positive value to the extent that all business is social, and that relationship building and maintenance of those relationships.

Granted, email can be chore if a user feels compelled to respond to every message. But there's no reason to respond to most messages, some would argue. Instead, email is part of a flow of communications and information that streams past a person, providing context on what other people one works with think is important.

Recognizing the pattern is the…

Online Content Use Up, Across All Age Groups

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Online content is getting more attention from users in every age category, says Burst Media.

Overall, 59.6 percent of respondents to a recent survey report they are visiting more Web sites in a typical week than they were one year ago, say researchers at Burst Media. And the trend holds in all age segments.

In fact, 62.8 percent of respondents 55 years and older say they are visiting more sites today in a typical week of web surfing than they were one year ago.

Local and national news is the most popular content consumed online with half of respondents regularly seeking it out. Still, there are differences in the types of content consumed by age segments.

Among respondents 18 to 34 years of age, entertainment information (44.7 percent) is the most regularly sought online content, followed by: local or national news (40.1percent), online games (38.1 percent), shopping or product information (36.1 percent) information for work (35.0 percent), and online communities such as social networks, …

Opera Mini for Helio Ocean

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Opera's Opera Mini mobile browser now is available for the first time in the U.S.market as a mobile service provider on-deck option. Helio users can surf the Web with Opera Mini on their Ocean devices using Opera Mini that has been specially-tailored for the Ocean handset.

Available as a downloadable application from Helio's Web portal, Opera Mini is touted as providing a desktop-like experience with fast response.

Apple Seeks "Free Access to iTunes"

Apple is in discussions with leading music companies about giving customers free access to its entire iTunes music library in exchange for premium pricing of its iPod and iPhone devices, reports Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson of the Financial Times.

The “all you can eat” model, a replica of Nokia’s “comes with music” deal with Universal Music last December. Nokia reportedly will offer $80 or so to music industry partners, in exchange for the use of music assets.

Apple is said to have offered $20 per device, and also is said to be examining a subscription plan for iPhone users, as that device obviously comes with a billing arrangement.

The subscription model might allow users to keep up to 40 or 50 tracks a year, even if they later cancelled a subscription or changed devices.

As the old adage goes: "With all this ---- lying around, there has to be a horse here somewhere." In other words, there are new business models to be discovered that provide direct benefits to content owners, dev…

U.S. 700 MHz Auction Now is Ended

No further details at the moment.

Consumer Electronics Spending Decelerates

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The ChangeWave Alliance's latest survey shows a" sudden huge" pullback in consumer retail purchasing on electronics by U.S. consumers, the largest one since ChangeWave began measuring spending trends back in 2002. The February 18-25 survey of 4,427 consumers looked at a range of popular gadgets in the consumer electronics industry, including digital cameras, iPods and video game consoles. Only 19 percent of survey respondents say they'll spend more on electronics over the next 90 days compared to 33 percent who will spend less, an unprecedented sign of weakness in the consumer electronics space.

Broadband Users Generally Satisfied

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U.S. consumers generally seem to be aware of the importance of bandwidth as a determinant of their Internet experiences, says Mike Paxton, In-Stat analyst. For the most part, they also seem satisfied with their current access speeds.

Anecdotal evidence suggests many consumers are aware there is a difference between theoretical bandwidth and the actual bandwidth they get when lots of other users are on the network at the same time.

For that reason, consumers increasingly are receptive to higher-bandwidth offers, In-Stat argues. Most consumers probably are not aware that, at peak load, the average bandwidth they may be able to use is as much as an order of magnitude less than the theoretical bandwidth.

That said, more than 83 percent of respondents to a recent In-Stat consumer survey, which included a speed measurement, said they either were "very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" with their current connection.

In large part, that finding is testament to generally enhan…

High Latent Mobile Web Demand?

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If iPhone users, and a recent study of smart phone users, are any indication, there is clear and vast potential for mobile Web applications, devices and services.

And that is despite the relatively low usage of mobile Web services at the moment. "It is amazing how unaware consumers are of what is, and what is not available" in mobile, Web and other forms of communications, says Elaine Warner, Compete.com analyst.
On the other hand, there is clear potential. “We asked smart phone users what was important to them and 68 percent said Web access was really important,” says Warner. Considering that just seven percent of respondents to the Pew study say they do so on a typical day, Compete’s findings suggest there is vast untapped potential.One of the biggest struggles the mobile industry has is getting the user experience right, though Warner says the iPhone was a breakthrough. “We did a study about iPhone and found the two things people want is surfing the Web and checking their …

How Many Lines or VoIP Accounts?

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Suppliers shipped an estimated 9.8 million VoIP subscriber feature server licenses for deployment in service provider networks, according to analysts at iLocus. Those licenses generated $177.4 million in revenue, and grew
34 percent, quarter over quarter.

The growth is due to high voice over broadband activity in Europe and among cable operators in North America. In Asia-Pacific VoBB growth is still confined to Japan mostly.

Of the 9.8 million VoIP subscriber licenses sold during 4Q07, licenses for hosted business phone system (hosted PBX or hosted Centrex or key system) lines account for about 1.2 million.

The remaining 8.6 million were mainly deployed for residential VoIP or switch replacement, iLocus says.

That suggests, at least for the short term, a belief that 12 percent of overall VoIP sales by service providers are of the hosted phone system sort.

Keep in mind that such data is not so granular as we might hope. In fact, even the reported penetration of landlines is less granular th…

Google IS Online Advertising

Though total U.S. ad revenue at 17 public companies increased nine percent in 2007, online revenues grew 28 percent, says Henry Blodget, Silicon Alley Insider author. Total ad revenue for the 17 firms was $58 billion, while online revenues were $18 billion.

Offline revenue grew about $1 billion while online grew $4 billion. Google got $2.7 billion of that total, while online ad revenue at Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL grew $1.3 billion. In other words, says Blodget, Google captured twice as much revenue as its closest three competitors combined.

Google.com's U.S. revenue growth was more than twice as much the growth of ad revenue in all of the 13 offline media companies Blodget tracked.

More Online Video, More Managed P2P

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Online video sites have delivered promising stats recently, says Compete.com analyst Aniya Zaozerskaya. Netflix’s WatchNow, which allows subscribers to any Netflix plan to watch full-length movies and TV episodes online from their collection, had 69 percent more people using the service this quarter as compared to last quarter.

Veoh.com, which allows users to view and share short YouTube-like videos as well as stream full-length TV show episodes, has grown from just under 1.5 million unique visitors one year ago to over six million in February 2008.

Hulu.com, a newer site offering both full-length movies and TV shows, including the most recent in-season episodes, also is gaining traction, she says.

Assuming peer-to-peer applications are deemed lawful, and therefore not to be blocked--and that seems a certainty--managed P2P services would seem to be poised for growth.

One reason P2P chews up so much bandwidth on service provider backbones is the unmanaged way P2P traditionally operates. …

103 Million HDTV Households

Analysts at Pike & Fischer predict that up to 103 million U.S. households will be paying their multichannel video provider for some form of HD service or rental equipment by the end of 2012. And while most analyst forecasts wind up being overly-aggressive, this projection is about as grounded as a forecast could be. Since more than 90 percent of U.S. households subscribe to cable, telco or satellite-delivered television service, and since the U.S. broadcasting system is moving to an all-HDTV format in 2009, it only makes sense that most people are going to be watching at least some HDTV from the moment of transition.

And while analog tiers of service will be offered for several years after the broadcast transition, most viewers are going to switch, fairly quickly. Cable operators, of course, now are saying they will voluntarily continue to simulcast analog local station feeds until 2012.

Keep in mind that the total number of television households in the U.S. market, including Alask…

FTTH is inevitable

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No matter what posturing now occurs, cable operators and at&t someday will switch access platforms and adopt fiber-to-home as the standard wired access approach. For the sake of pleasing investors, who seem to hate investments in FTTH that are the only long-term hope for any wired access provider, lots of companies insist they do not presently need to do so, and they arguably are correct.

Other small independent providers in very-rural areas likewise will insist they cannot afford FTTH. That ultimately will be resolved either by new forms of rural or high-cost area subsidies, or by some new hybrid delivery platform using fixed wireless as the tail circuit.

None of that is relevant. Demand continues to increase, and at some point, the only sane choice for a fixed network that has to deliver a minimum of 100 Mbps worth of data bandwidth, not to mention video, is FTTH.

We might be four to eight years away from that point. The precise timing, though, isn't so important. No matter w…

Nearly-Ubiquitous Broadband

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Nearly 33 million US households will have broadband services with speeds of 10 Mbps or higher by 2012, up from 5.7 million at the end of 2007, according to Parks Associates. That's not the most important prediction, though.

Parks Associates also forecasts that 32.5 million U.S. consumers will have at least 10 Mbps broadband access service by 2012. Even that is not the most important prediction Parks makes.

No, the most significant prediction is that 75 percent of U.S. households will subscribe to broadband services by 2012. And that is significant because it will make broadband a fundamental service purchased by U.S. households, on the order of cable TV or the place once held by wired voice services.

It is worth noting that very few services ever have reached that level of penetration. Cable TV, mobile phones and wired phones alone could have claimed such distinction. By 2012, if Parks Associates is correct, only for the fourth time in history will any service have achieved such near…

Growing Business Social Networking

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A fair number of enterprise and business users already are making use of online-based collaboration tools, says Compass Intelligence. This table shows the percentage of respondents in a recent 351-respondent survey that say they now are using one or more online collaboration tools for business in February 2008.

Respondents were most likely to say that they were not currently using these capabilities, as one possibly would suspect. But most say they are interested in using them for business purposes, if their company offered it to them.

For the time being it seems professionals are using online collaboration tools without the explicit blessing of their IT staffs.

In other words, millions of professionals and other knowledge workers that want to connect, interact and transact using business-based social Web tools.

IDT: A Company in Transition

"IDT is a company in transition," says IDT Corp. CEO Jim Courter. No kidding. Basically, IDT is harvesting the cash flow from its declining U.S. calling card business and consumer phone services division and investing in a somewhat bewildering collection of other businesses.

In fact, IDT Corporation now describes itself multinational holding company. IDT Telecom, the original company business, represents most of IDT's revenue. IDT Telecom sells prepaid and rechargeable calling cards, offers consumer local and long distance service, prepaid wireless phone services and wholesale carrier services.

IDT Energy, which operates an energy services company in New York State. IDT Carmel is a receivables portfolio management and collection businesses.

American Shale Oil Corporation is in the U.S. oil shale business.

IDT Local Media includes CTM Brochure Display, a brochure distribution company and the WMET-AM radio station in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

IDT Internet Mobile Gr…

Verizon Expands 7 Mbps DSL Service

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Verizon now has activated 7 Mbps DSL service in 12 Eastern states and the District of Columbia. The new service more than doubles the speed of Verizon's current fastest offer and costs as little as $39.99 a month when ordered with an annual service plan.Customers in Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia can get the higher speeds now.
Verizon expects the 7 Mbps service to be available to more than two million homes and small businesses in 22 states and the District of Columbia by the end of 2008.In a bit to provide more value as well, Verizon offers an optional security suite; 4 gigabytes of online email storage; and premium tech support for routers, network cards, video cards, sound cards, CD/DVD reader-writer, hard drives, flash memory systems, printers, scanners, gaming consoles and firewalls.
Verizon also offers entertainment services from Disney Connectio…

Mobile Data Networks Face New Strain

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Jonathan Christensen eBay Skype division general manager, says “the phone is dead," arguing that VoIP over mobiles will accelerate the trend. Agree or disagree, mobile network operators,will face issues other than loss of lucrative long distance calling revenues and bandwidth consumption, as the "VoIP over mobile" trend gathers speed.

As it turns out, says Mike Schabel, Alcatel-Lucent general manager, bandwidth consumption isn't the only problem mobile networks face, and in some ways may not be the key problem posed by IP applications.

Consider Session Initiation Protocol. As SIP applications start to represent more of any mobile user’s total usage, the problems become evident. Ignoring for a moment the revenue implications, SIP-based applications present previously-unacknowledged issues. The reason is that although SIP-based voice and communications are not a terribly big consumer of bandwidth, they are a huge consumer of radio network signaling resources. And it is…

Necessity Drives Strategy at Qwest, Other Firms

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Service provider strategy sometimes is dictated by necessity, and to the extent that service providers large and small now face different "necessities," there is an increasing divergence in strategy. Over time, in other words, service providers will "look" different from each other where in the past they all had resembled each other to a striking degree.

Consider Qwest, one of the three former "Baby Bells." Qwest always had a customer geography significantly more rural than the other original seven Bell Operating Companies. But when SBC gobbled up Telesis, Ameritech, AT&T and BellSouth to form at&t; while Verizon was formed from the former Bell Atlantic, NYNEX, GTE and MCI, the differences grew.

Both at&t and Verizon have the leading mobile assets and much-larger scale than any other contestants in the marketplace. Qwest is far smaller, does not own a national wireless network and faces much-larger challenges in the fiber-to-customer area becaus…

at&t to Raise Text Messaging Rates

It appears at&t Wireless will be raising the prices it charges for casual sending and receiving of tex messages, though "bucket" prices remain unchanged. Effective at the end of March, the charge for text messages not part of a messaging bucket will be 20 cents.

For most of us, that means the buckets make even more sense. For light users, the move just shows how data services are becoming the revenue model for mobile services, with voice gradually declining in importance.

WiMAX Segmentation

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One of the unresolved questions about WiMAX networks in the U.S. market is whether a sizable new business can be created around devices other than cell phones and smart phones.

And there is at least some reason to believe an opportunity exists, though pricing might be an issue.

Analysts at Compete Inc. recently asked consumers shopping online for consumer electronics devices about their interest in connecting devices to the Internet.

More than 50 percent of laptop and GPS shoppers were very interested in devices that enable enhanced connectivity using an open access network.

A follow-up question revealed that consumers are also willing to pay for this connectivity, with about 25 percent willing to pay over $50 at the time of purchase to include this feature, Compete suggests.

Recurring costs are the bigger issue, though. It isn't clear how many users will be happy to pay recurring connection fees if the option to use their in-home Wi-Fi networks is available for no incremental cost. Up…

Sprint Mogul to Use Rev A Broadband

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Sprint is releasing a software update for the Mogul phone, made by HTC Corp. of Taiwan, that will enable the phone to connect at Rev. A speeds.

Downloads speeds should be 600 kilobits per second to 1,400 kbps, up from a range of 400 kbps to 700 kbps with Rev. 0.

It will be capable of uploads of 350 to 500 kbps, up from 50 kbps to 70 kbps.

Traffic Shaping Enhances User Welfare

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To protect all users of shared access resources from service degradation, it makes sense to charge a congestion premium or use traffic management techniques, say researchers at the Phoenix Center. When congestion-causing applications degrade the experience of other users, the most efficient traffic management actions would be targeted at applications that cause congestion externalities and not upon all applications generally, say George S. Ford, PhD, Thomas M. Koutsky, Esq.and Lawrence J. Spiwak, Esq., Phoenix Center analysts.

Ironically, service providers tend to do too little to reduce the harmful effects of negative externalities caused by network congestion, they say. So those who argue that the Federal Communications Commission needs to impose prohibitions against network management practices because broadband providers will always be “too aggressive” in clamping down on uses of their network have it precisely backward, the researchers argue.

"It is socially desirable to charg…

Apple Won't Block VoIP Apps Using Wi-Fi

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CEO Steve Jobs says Apple will not block third-party development of VOIP applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch, as long as the applications run over Wi-Fi. That's an obviously politically astute move given Apple's relationship with mobile providers who aren't keen on the idea.Nevertheless, the idea might allow everybody to get a bit more experience with "dual mode" service, using a widely-deployed handset, without a lot of expensive bets on particular devices, interfaces or marketing.

Mobile Content Habit Grows

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Mobile phones for lots more than just talking, especially by Millenials, according to a recent study by the Deloitte Development-Harrison Group.
Nearly 90 percent of 13-to-24-year-old Internet users surveyed said they sent text messages frequently or occasionally. Slightly more respondents overall said they used their handsets as cameras than said they used them for texting.The intensity of usage of just about any data-oriented application drops in older demographics, as you might expect.

Ubiquitous Wireless Broadband: New Possibilities

As new WiMAX and 700-MHz broadband networks are built, two different sorts of new user behaviors will emerge. The abiliy users have to access Web-based data and applications anywhere, at any time, over wired and wireless networks, is going to allow business users to rely on network-based applications in a way unthinkable at present.

“Cloud computing” or "network computing" will move applications and data storage away from the desktop or laptop to remote servers accessed using high-speed networks. That's going to change enterprise data center strategies in profound ways.

It will make possible lighter, more portable access devices on the PC side, and might also drive the emergence of even-more-powerful portable devices on the handheld side, as business users start to rely on network-based resources where they now rely on their own hard disc drives.

The other potential development is that the range of consumer behaviors related to wireless broadband data might emerge.

"Our…

Apple, RM Battle Shapes Up

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Apple took 28 percent share of the fast growing U.S. converged device (smart phone) market in the fourth quarter of 2007, behind Research in Motion’s 41percent, but a long way ahead of third placed Palm at nine percent, say Canalys researchers.

Apple also finished ahead of all Windows Mobile device vendors combined, whose share was 21 percent in the quarter.

Globally, converged device shipments rose 60 percent to hit 115 million in 2007. U.S. sales doubled.

Nokia remained the global market leader, shipping 60.5 million smart phones, while RIM shipments grew 112 percent to 12.2 million.
Globally, Symbian operating system devices had 67 percent share, followed by Microsoft on 13 percent and RIM with 10 percent.

Apple claims that nearly 70 percent of all mobile Internet traffic is generated by iPhone users. Executives at Google, meanwhile, have confirmed the basis thesis: iPhone users surf the Web way beyond anything seen up to this point.

On the other hand, RIM points out that nearly two thir…

DirecTV Awaits Satellite Launch

Satellite launches always are dangerous things. But, should the DirecTV 11 broadcast satellite be launched successfully on March 12, DirecTV will be able to provide 150 national high-definition channels and will be capable of supporting spot beams carrying 1,500 local high-definition channels, typically useful for beaming retransmitted local broadcast station signals back into the local markets.

In February 2007 a Zenit-3SL rocket on the Sea Launch platform, the same one DirecTV is using, exploded on the platform. It happens from time to time.

The odds of a Sea Launch satellite launch will fail are about one in 8.5. Of roughly 25 attempts to date, the company has experienced a failure rate of 12 percent. That's no particular slam on Sea Launch. Launch failures have been part of the industry's reality since the beginning.

Enterprise Users Get their iPhone

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Starting in June, Apple iPhones will be able to receive push email, calendar and contact information from Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange server. Apple has licensed Exchange ActiveSync from Microsoft and is building it right into the iPhone, so that iPhone will connect out-of-the-box to Microsoft Exchange Servers 2003 and 2007 for secure over-the-air push email, contacts, calendars and global address lists.

The iPhone 2.0 software provides a configuration utility that allows IT administrators to easily and quickly set up many iPhones, including password policies, VPN setting, installing certificates, email server settings and more.

Once the configuration is defined it can be easily and securely delivered via web link or email to the user. To install, all the user has to do is authenticate with a user ID or password, download the configuration and tap install. Once installed, the user will have access to all their corporate IT services.

Built-in Exchange ActiveSync support also enables se…