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Showing posts from September, 2013

A New Era of Computing and Communications: A Decade in the Making

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Sometimes big changes occur so gradually we aren’t aware the changes are significant. Back in 2008, for example, IDC predicted the information technology industry was at the very
beginning of what IDC called a "hyper-disruption” of the business, something that happens "once every 20 years to 25 years."
Simply, IDC predicted, rightly, a shift to computing built on mobile devices and apps, cloud services, mobile broadband networks, big data analytics, and social technologies. That would supersede the current era, which many of us would have a hard time naming, though it is clear we had eras lead by mainframe, minicomputer and then PC devices.
More recently, the Internet has been a bigger factor, and mobile has clearly emerged as an important device form factor.
Collectively, IDC refers to this next era of computing as the "third platform." By about 2020, when the information technology industry generates $5 trillion in spending, over $1.3 trillion more than it do…

Video Makes "Pricing by Value" Difficult

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Video entertainment is going to pose a huge challenge for ISPs using every type of business model, from simple “best effort” access to providers of managed services. Sheer volume is the problem for providers of best effort access; but revenue per bit is the issue for some managed service providers.
The revenue per bit problem is easy to describe. Assume an ISP sells a triple-play package for a $130 a month retail price, where each component--voice, Internet access and entertainment video--is priced equally (an implied price of $43 for each component).
Ignore other cost of service elements, such as marketing and content acquisition fees. In term of network usage, that would make sense if each constituent service “consumed” roughly equivalent amounts of capacity, or if retail charging was based relatively directly on consumed bandwidth, and not “perceived value.”
Of course, retail pricing is to some extent based on perceived value. Any service provider would have trouble pricing a servic…

Provo, Utah Residents Get Google Fiber 1-Gbps Service in October 2013

The point here is not so much that one U.S. community gets a symmetrical gigabit access service for $70 a month. The broader impliction is that Google Fiber is resetting retail price expectations for gigabit access services. 

That, in turn, is going to eventually reset consumer expectations for access services of lesser bandwidth as well. 

EPB, the Chattanooga, Tenn. supplier of 1-Gbps service, has dropped its gigabit service rate from $300 a month to $70 a month, a reaction to the price umbrella Google Fiber apparently is creating.

EPB also converted all existing customers with 100 and 250 megabit-per-second services to the the gigabit speed.
Separately, Utopia, which operates a wholesale gigabit network in about 10 Utah cities, also says its retail ISP partners have dropped prices for gigabit access from about $300 a month to $65 a month to $85 a month.
To the extent that Google Fiber aimed to reset expectations about access speeds and prices, Google Fiber seems to be succeeding.

Exposing Network Features to Create Revenue is Hard, AT&T Seems to Find

AT&T Adworks is one example of how a service provider can monetize what it knows about its customers, providing insight to third party business partners. Virtually nobody thinks that is an easy new business to create. 

And AT&T might be shifting attention elsewhere (connected car and other machine to machine initiatives, for example), as rumors of job cuts at the business unit are heard.

That doesn't mean mobile service providers will not achieve success at some point, and to some extent. But  AT&T's present efforts to make available data allowing advertisers to target users on mobile, TV and other devices, is not getting traction. 

To be sure, few initiatives of this type--exposing network features to third party business partners--are getting too much traction, though there was much hope five years ago. 

To be sure, we are early in the potential development of this hoped-for trend. But service providers have relatively little to show for the effort, so far. 

On the ot…

Competing with "Free" Remains an Issue

How to ”compete with free" is a major question in the Internet era, where many goods--especially of the non-tangible sort-- can be replicated and produced with low marginal cost.

For communications service providers, the issue has arisen mostly in conjunction with low cost or “free” services such as Skype or WhatsApp that supply voice or messaging services “at no incremental cost,” once a user has suitable devices and Internet access.

That has lead many to say the economics of abundance makes new revenue models possible. Some would say “abundance,” a relative term, makes new models essential, in at least some cases. But the implications are startling.

The basic idea is that transistors, storage, computation and bandwidth are so abundant the cost of their use is a price very close to zero. The corollary is that businesses based on the use of such resources can be viewed differently from businesses where inputs are expensive.

In other words, businesses based on abundant inputs can

Does Wireless Charging Cause RF Interference?

USB-based device chargers can create noise that interferes with touchscreen operation especially when the chargers omit noise suppression features. So with the advent of wireless charging, one wonders whether noise will be added to the communication channels used by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices.
It appears that such corded charging creates noise in the 100 kHz to 1 MHz range, and should therefore not cause problems with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices.
But what about wireless charging? Granted, charging systems work by creating localized magnetic fields, which should not, in principle, interfere with radio frequency signals. But three major approaches to wireless charging (radio charging, inductive charging and resonance charging) do use radio frequencies.
Radio charging, intended to reach low-power devices operating within a 10-meter (30 feet) radius from the transmitter, is seen as a way to recharge batteries in medical implants, hearing aids, watches and entertainment devices.
The transmit…

Competing with "Free" Remains an Issue

How to ”compete with free" is a major question in the Internet era, where many goods--especially of the non-tangible sort-- can be replicated and produced with low marginal cost.
For communications service providers, the issue has arisen mostly in conjunction with low cost or “free” services such as Skype or WhatsApp that supply voice or messaging services “at no incremental cost,” once a user has suitable devices and Internet access.
That has lead many to say the economics of abundance makes new revenue models possible. Some would say “abundance,” a relative term, makes new models essential, in at least some cases. But the implications are startling.
The basic idea is that transistors, storage, computation and bandwidth are so abundant the cost of their use is a price very close to zero. The corollary is that businesses based on the use of such resources can be viewed differently from businesses where inputs are expensive.
In other words, businesses based on abundant inputs can

Intel TV Seeking Partners?

Intel TV, Intel's Web-based streaming video service, was supposed, to launch by the end of 2013. Most observers have guessed that Intel would not make that deadline, in part because Intel has been slow to announce the key content deals that would anchor its service, namely the channels subscribers tend to expect when they buy any video entertainment service from a cable, satellite or telco TV provider.

Now there is a report that Intel is looking for partners, presumably partners with customer bases or existing programming rights that could be leveraged. 

But Intel also faces Sony Corp., Google and Apple, all of which have their own plans or interest in launching such a service.

The problem attackers will have, when trying to disrupt the traditional TV business, is that if the content owners control the value proposition, disruption is not possible unless those content owners agree to be disrupted.
In other words, it is the content that provides the value, not so much the delivery ne…