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July 2009

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A Kinder Way to Interpret the Sprint's Numbers

July 29, 2009

The Wall Street Journal was pretty hard on Sprint as was the Kahuna on CNBC. 

However the reality is the losses to the iPhone are proportionately less than Verizon has suffered.  It may be for a few reasons.  First of all Sprint may have a good understanding that its customers base is price sensitive.  

The long tail of the iPhone is only a long tail for a specific segment of the market. 

The prepaid services of Boost and Virgin Mobile are probably a case of eating your own young, but it seems to be keeping them in the same tent.  However this migration impacts the profit margin harder.

The acquistion of Virgin Mobile also represents an impact on the botton line, since being the supplier was more profitable than being the service.

Richard Branson like so many other entrepreneurs has found telecom to be as bad a market as the airline industry, which may be why his efforts for green technology are not particularly network oriented.

On the other side of the equation the eating of their young via Clearwire and the outsourcing to Ericsson indicate a desire to get to the right price points to compete in the market.  I think there are opportunities for continued consolidation and Sprint may find new growth in wholesale services and machine to machine markets.  Remember its Sprints WhisperNet that supports the Amazon Kindle. 

Additionally, Sprint's relationship with Ericsson may provide a more logical migration strategy to LTE from CDMA.

So this may be downside of the U for Sprint may be near.

























If ATT has Apple, and Sprint has PalmPre, VZ & RIM

July 28, 2009

The Q&A with John Stratton and Jim Basilie shows a mutual knowledge of companies that are clearly working together.

Basillie, the CoCEO of RIM, makes it clear that he thinks that Verizon is the leader in mulitmedia services.

Stratton, makes it clear they are AppWorld (RIM's App Store) friendly in their development.

In the midst of this discussion a Joint Venture between, China Mobile,  Softbank, Verizon and Vodafone aimed at Widgets.

The annoucment of the JV which they call JIL (Joint Innovation Lab) is aimed at providing a community of 1B paying subscribers.  

Masayoshi Son, video is about the mobile computing power that is going to increase 1,000 times.  So the handset is no longer a mobile phone, the key all the rich media of music, video, etc.  

He personally is seeing his pc use decline he has moved entirely to a mobile device.  "Let's change the future together."

By being be part of JIL, you have can have Asian and European distribution.





















Verizon WIreless says the Future is Open

July 28, 2009

Lowell McAdam, President & CEO of Verizon Wireless open the conference talking about the future is open.

Here they are talking about being the carrier of choice for apps.  Verizon Wireless mission is to win the application developers need for a reliable network and they see a vision where HD video fits comfortably in the platform that LTE provides. 

Speaking about the SUN Java conference, McAdam shared the view that developers think beyond the traditional view of cell phone.

Billing and network services such as location are being offered in the Network API that is being rolled out here, today.

John Stratton EVP & CMO, then shared the reset of development with Verizon.  

He made clear that the move was to Java while still supporting the history of Brew.  However, Java is a platform with an open community and the goal is to support all sorts of developers.  The Verizon plan is to provide over 70% of the revenue to the developer and to provide the ability to launch on their app store in 14 days.

The App store is not aimed at an SDK but a toolset that brings the Verizon's support services to the application



















Straight Shooters

July 28, 2009

The U.S. Army has used technology as its weapon for decades.  Today technology plays a vital part in military success--from gathering top-secret information to manufacturing efficient arms.  
Many military technological applications need broadband service to operate, such as radio communication, video surveillance, and security.  The military must ensure that its communications infrastructure can operate in a large coverage area--such as a battlefield--and is efficiently communicative among its soldiers.  However, finding the right technology was a challenge.
The Army attempted to deal with this issue by developing the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), a program that evolved from a loosely associated group of radio replacement programs to an integrated effort to network multiple weapon system platforms and forward combat units at the last tactical mile. It aimed to create software-programmable tactical radios that would provide soldiers with voice, data and video communications as well as interoperability across the battle space.  The JTRS needed to use a network of wide bandwidth that would also be compatible with the existing waveforms in use by the Department of Defense.  The Army began testing the $6.8 billion JTRS program in June 2003, but the project was set back by several financial obstacles and failed to carry through.  The JTRS was restructured in 2005 to offer other types of warfighter applications using the Global Information Grid (GIG).
Then in December 2006, Motorola began producing the MicroTCA.  The MicroTCA provides a scalable, low-cost network-centric paradigm for effective connectivity between soldiers.  In addition, the MicroTCA is ruggedized in order to cope with the harsh climate of the battlefield.  In October 2006, Motorola, Intel, and Hybricon developed a ruggedized MicroTCA-based WiMAX demonstration platform at MILCOM, an international conference for military communications.  Combined, the MicroTCA and WiMAX network offered open standards-based subsystems on many different mobile platforms integrated into a high-performance network, physically fit for a military environment.


Verizon Developer Community Conference

July 28, 2009

I am in San Jose for the Verizon Developer Community Conference,  It should be an interesting an event, they have brought their execs here to speak to folks in California.  One thing I expect to here is the need for LTE for future applications.

I am going to be listening for the way that people react to the ideas Verizon has for their network app store that is independent of a device, and their vision for a network API that is not independent of the carrier.

My friend Andy Abramson recently highlighted the Gizmo5 to Google Voice which can also support Skype connection.  For the end user, this is great stuff the more you can make a free call the better.

From the view of a network operator, the question is why are these types of applications compelling?  Is the price the only thing that matters? Or is the value connectivity something that should be enabled on their network.

I will be very interested to hear the conversations at the event.











Ericsson Powers US Up During the Low Down

July 27, 2009

The Wall Street Journal has it right in pointing out that Ericsson has positioned itself well in the US Market.  The acquistion of the Nortel assets, its selection by Verizon as an LTE supplier and its deal with managing Sprint's network has evolved into a dominating force.  And it comes at a time when transitions are going to be lengthened. 

My personal perspective on the acquisitions and mergers is that they never go through a comprehensive integration without a year of positioning.  Leaders become lurkers, Lurkers become darlings and systems that looked synergistic die on the product management life cycle. 

However, this is a good time to be assimilating the products of Nortel since the purchasers are moving at a steady pace toward something in the long term.  Verizon had a 21% decline in profit and is betting on LTE like it bet on FIOS.  It may be that the best hope for Verizon is in the soon to be released Apple Netbook.
However, the bleeding

Assessments and Evaluations are going to be a big part of the rest of the year as the network operators look to manage capex costs to match the slow market.

Craig Moffet correctly pointed out that Verizon is good at playing the share gain and their acquistion of Alltel was the best part of wireless growth.




























Now That CDMA is in the Ericsson Portfolio of Patents?

July 25, 2009

Very different press about Ericsson being acquired by Nortel, then when Nokia Siemens Networks "won" the bid a month ago.

NSN was talking integration, had customers talking about synergies of support and you got the general sense that the deal was about customer acquisition and enabling a smooth transition. I think NSN, even in the loss,  may have benefited from the early win as well with the customer base.  They looked like they were about service and kept a lot of good will.

This time, the customer is being acquired and so are the patents for CDMA, a technology that is not normally of interest to Ericsson, since its portfolio with CDMA is not as strong as its GSM/UMTS patents.

As we head toward Release 9 of the 3GPP standards effort, it will be interesting to see if some of CDMA creeps back in. 3GPP crushed CDMA in previous releases forcing Qualcomm to end its efforts.  However CDMA has been credited with Verizon's success in the past and it maybe they are willing to regret the termination of CDMA now that Ericsson is no longer an antagonist.

The acquistion also has implications for Sprint and the cable operators since they partner and the cable operators like Ericsson's view of service delivery strategies.

My normal rule of thumb is any acquisition takes a year to digest. Now this calls into question the Avaya deal.  So we will stay tuned to discussion.









New marketing message comes through loud and 'Clear' in Vegas

July 23, 2009

Our quick impression from a full day and a half spent inside the Clearwire bubble, at the company's "official" market-launching event in Las Vegas on July 21: The nascent national WiMAX-providing company seems well past its sometimes-confusing stumbles of 2008 and into full execution mode, showing it can put on a confident, coherent local event even as its overall marketing, pricing and demographic messages remain somewhat a work in progress.



The ability to stage a fairly seamless, fun and informative day on the small stage of Las Vegas still doesn't answer how Clearwire will fare when it takes on the bigger challenges of market launches in places like Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia, which still lie ahead on the company's ambitious 2009 rollout schedule. But embedded within the Vegas-flavored parts of Tuesday's proceedings were some new, strong marketing messages, which, if coupled with continued execution on the networking side of things, should bring cheer to Clearwire investors, partners and customers as the WiMAX express rolls onward.

While we'll dive deeper into some of the proceedings and interviews we conducted during the event in later posts and reports, Clearwire followers should remember the line "more for less," which we heard quite often Tuesday and will likely hear again and again at subsequent launches. Until now, a big problem with Clearwire's WiMAX offering has been that the company itself didn't know how to best position it -- how exactly do you best pitch a service that delivers wireline-like broadband with the mobility of a cell phone? Before the Vegas event, you could and often would get different answers depending on which Clearwire executive you spoke to.

Tuesday, several different executives all seemed to be "on message" with the cost-saving idea, making it pretty obvious to anyone listening that Clearwire's promise was mainly about giving you more of what you need -- mainly Internet access -- for less.







Are you Looking for Working? Can you help with BTOP?

July 23, 2009

I volunteered to help the NTIA with its broadband Stimulus evaluation, but before I get a chance to look at them, three of 4GWE speakers are working with various states for build out strategies. 

One of them told me he was only going to bid on ten and that has since doubled because the states have approached him.

This is to the point where he needs more people to write the proposals make the calls do the work, so he asked if I wanted to get involved.

Since I had volunteered already, I did not want to.  Some of the states he is applying for I know of other proposals.  Hmmn, I wonder if unserved can go to overserved in a year.  

Standard thought is that when three competitors exist real competition exists.
I have never understood if they would count a comprehensive view of data, video, voice as a single competitor or not. 

After a long delay the stimulus may be having the desired effect. even if it is just on paper so far.  I expect the monies for CAPex are going to be 2010 2Q.

On paper most of these proposals make a lot of sense to me, One of our speakers is augmenting a state I work in with some localized NAPs to connect regional fiber rings that are too isolated and do not support the communities connnectivity.  A few states made deals in the buildout era for fiber by the highway that is not supporting the local communities.  An analogy would be a highway with no off ramps. (Is I66 a good example?)

Lets see how the process continues, but I have to say after waiting for Washington to get the act (bill?) together, this is coming along nicely.




















Review of the Clearwire Guerrila Marketing Campaign

July 23, 2009

It's not a phone, it's the Internet.

I went to Las Vegas to attend the market launch by Clearwire.

The launch is reaching out to a population of 1.7 Million in a 638 mile area.  The launch today continues the road show by Clearwire as they open up new areas around the country.  The obvious goal is to keep the bandwagon going.  The momentum is certainly heading that way, the stock (NASDAQ: CLWR) has doubled since last year and the company is expanding their rollout strategy.  However, the goal is not upgrading existing customers, but to get new customers.  It's an uphill battle that requires putting Gorilla Marketing to work. 

On Local TV:  Clearwire embraced the town of Las Vegas by having the mayor cut the cat 5 cord and donating 20 WiMAX netbooks to the Virtual High School. Taking a shot at Verizon, Clearwire's commercial features cupcakes with sprinkles, like the sprinkles of the Verizon add, except here the sprinkles shower down from the sky beyond the Skittle showers of commercials gone by. The event ended with 500 balloons containing gifts of service and other gifts being dropped on to the local audience.

Street Warfare: The truck is green, with glass panels surrounding two rooms.  A living room area and complete with laptop and HD Screen, the second room resembles an office which includes a chair, a desk and of course a laptop.  As the truck is driven around Las Vegas, Clearwire employees work in the living room and the office.  On the body of the truck is the statement declaring this is not a truck it's a mobile office.







The Internet as a Bundle

July 22, 2009

I have posted in the Newsletter about the Clearwire launch yesterday, but I was struck by the conversations with the company employees.  They were using the Internet service with their own preferences,

One of them always had a device open with them in the car to listen to their choice in music via Internet Radio.

The other was using an iTouch to watch his slingbox and commenting on the fact that the video was smooth and unblocked.

Another was a Hulu user who was talking about getting a great stream of video to his home TV.

And of course they all used Skype.

Bottom line it was not a triple play. There service is access to the Interet and the bundle is what you choose to do on it.

Pretty straight forward and suggests a very focused business plan.

If you are not trying to run a three services to the same place, can you build the one service cheaper?

I think operationally the answer is yes. 

















Samsung Selling Mondi MID for Clear WiMAX, $449 Unlocked

July 22, 2009

When we told you this morning that the Samsung Mondi MID was going to be available soon, we didn't know that soon means now! After chatting with Samsung's Kim Titus, he told us the device is available now in an unlocked format directly from Samsung for $449 ($454.94 with shipping). And on Aug. 1, Titus said the Mondi will also be available in Clear stores and Best Buy locations in all live Clearwire markets (Baltimore, Portland, Ore., Atlanta and Las Vegas), at the $449 unlocked price as well as a $349 option with a two-year Clear contract.

We played around with the device a bit at the Clearwire Las Vegas launch event, and were impressed how well the touch-screen and software keyboard works. There is a hard keyboard too.

Clearing the Way to Las Vegas Clearwire Launch

July 20, 2009

Our speakers from Clearwire have invited us to this weeks launch in Las Vegas.

While I am looking forward to hearing them speak at 4gwe.  They are excited about the opportunity now in front of them.  Some analysts were afraid of a price war, but in Clearwire's case they are clearly ready, willing and able where available.

The stock (Nasdaq: CLWR) is on an up swing making the write downs of the past a brillant move for their investors.  Recent announcements from Comcast about reselling the service is also good for their bottom line. 

I will be reporting more form Las Vegas so stay tuned.



CrowdSourcing gets an Open Source

July 20, 2009

A friend pointed out to me the release of Reuter's Handbook of Journalism
He was seeing this as a blow against paid content.  I am still trying to get my arms around what will happen in the paid content world.  I can make a case for a few models, but the thing I believe the most in is that revenues for specific content go down, while diving down to specific demographics of the audience will get a higher premium.

But the story here is more interesting if we think of Reuter's making an attempt to put some structure in the way user generated content is presented.

We can look at the release of this document as an attempt to set a standard for journalism for all.  In effect doing crowdsourcing in a set way.

Recent events in Iran showed the power of the mobile devices to deliver the message of what is happening on the street.  Not everything that happened was to the positive when it came to cell phones.

However, if Reuters is able to influence the market of would be journalists, they in effect have crowdsourced reporting and given themselves an advantage in editing and selecting of content in a more timely manner.

And that's been Reuter's history is to be the first with the information.

From a business perspective information has a shelf life that impacts the market, the quicker you have corraborated valuable information the more likely you can make a good choice from a business perspective.




















Thinking About the Digits

July 17, 2009

I had a meeting yesterday talking about my favorite topic.  Identity.

From the discussion of identity all sorts of issues swirl around in my brain, federation, interconnection and interoperability, the principles of end to end on the Internet and even IPv6.

My bell head really shows up when it comes to URIs.  I just dont agree that I am going to be able to search for the person I want in this modern world without somehow using a phone number.

I am going to the doctor today, and in looking for his number on the web, I was struck by how many sites wanted to tell me about the doctor without actually getting me to him. 

I don't want to look like an old man that says "when I want your opinion, I will give it to you", but please help me know that you and I are talking about the same doctor.  Give me an identifier that helps me call if I want to.

While Search is alive and well directory is still a mess on the Internet and I am actively looking to improve it.

I believe that phone numbers are better than email in pushing out information in public.  You give out an email and you worry about who is using it and how cheap it is to get to you.  You give out a phone number and you know it will cost them to call you, so you trust it will be for a good purpose.

Plus you are used to being public about your phone number, or you paid extra for not being listed.  Email's spam problem got so bad, people use social networks as their only email.

Mind you I am open networker so my perspective is skewed, but here is the best anecdotal evidence I have.  My daughter wont let me see her on facebook, but she knows I need to have her phone number. 

Clearly the dynamics are changing, but I think a phone number is the best identifier to share publicly.

















Apple vs. Palm Part 2.0

July 16, 2009

It's official Apple has proven themselves to be just one more brick in the walled garden.

Apple provided their equivalent of the Carterphone decision was needed when they blocked the PalmPre from using Itunes.  In other words, it was okay to let people on windows use it, but not for them to have it.

Very interesting.

We are definitely in a new phase.  This reminds me of when all the wanna-bes wanted to attach to AIM and both sides had teams of developers.
Eventually of course the problem was no longer that interesting.

Legally, Apple has the right to do what it wants.  Its a free software package.

The questions is does that show them as a good partner to the companies who look to make revenue from the downloads.

Is this an opportunity for Limewire to support the legitimate revenue models?
It should be interesting to see what happens.













It's Time to Develop Again

July 16, 2009

Carriers are dealing with a saturated marketplace that makes it hard for the innovative to make headway.  A price war seems like the most logical answer to some friends of mine and in fact, some companies like Clearwire have been leading the battle on both fronts.  However their innovation strategy is to be an enabler and not focus of solutions.

In my continuing conversations with my fellows, the web apps are always the most interesting to talk about, but video is something worth seeing.  So far the apps have been more about the specific applications and I am not sure they match up to the way we normally live.

But Video is different.  Its more natural in my mind and its a logical place to embedded new applications.  Unlike a phone where to expect an interaction almost always interferes with proper use, Video and external controls are not normally next to each other anymore.

So we have the expectation of interacting beyond DTMF.

As I listened to a VC friend yesterday I was struck by his expectations for mobile video. 

The Video he wants expects on mobile is interesting.  Unlike voice where the expectation is you move the phone to side and out of sight.  He is looking for the display and the control to be better blended.

I was thinking of a video kindle when he talked.  But candidly the kindle's interface except for turning pages is primitive at best.

All of this is from the adoption of ATSC 2.0 and the adoption of the H.264 codec including Scalable Video Coding [SVC].

Today's Radvision Webinar I moderated is a good place to start looking at what is possible.  We are definitely going down a new direction in Video and its worth your time to understand the paradigm is about to shift.



















The Smart Approach: WiMAX Goes to College

July 15, 2009

A university campus prides in its cohesiveness, in its connectivity.  Campuses have always organized programs to bring their students together socially.  Now universities want to unify their students technologically.
In the past, students were able to connect to the Internet in various locations on campus via Wi-Fi--usually in the library, the cafeteria, the dorms, and several other isolated spots.  In an age of online communications, the Internet connection has become vital to a university's makeup. 

The 4GWE Newsletter will come out today: Me vs. GigaOM?

July 15, 2009

I hope you are a subscriber...Turns out I have taken a contrarian view from our friend's at Gigaom.  The second paragraph in particular is mind boggling to me.

The App Store is just the latest game changer to come out of Apple's Cupertino labs, and it has been a smashing success. The company today announced that 1.5 billion applications have been downloaded, with the latest 500 million downloads coming since just April. Approximately 65,000 apps are available for more than 40 million App Store-capable devices (the various forms of the iPhone and iPod Touch), and 98 percent of iPhone users have downloaded at least one app. AdMob founder Omar Hamoui thinks the App Store will be a $5 billion business in two years, though it looks like a relatively small number of apps will capture the lion's share of that revenue -- of course, like any consumer industry, advertising helps (subscription required). Some even think the iPhone is the hottest gaming platform out there; the rate at which downloads are growing would excite any investor:

This is just so much KewlAid, I dont know where to start.

First of all, lets segment this a bit better.  I would say the story here is not the store but the device.  After a lunch meeting a friend ask me the advice of should he buy and Iphone or and ITouch.  I told the the Itouch was the answer. 

Apple has made the best handheld game on the market, and if you have to you can justify having it by buying it as a phone.  A pansy way out of having spending the big bucks on a pocketgame.

But when you go the app store what you discover is that of the 65,000 apps the long tail is very long and the good stuff that takes real advantage of the game function is less than 2% (Anyone want to help really quantify this?).

I have called the rest technocrud, but candidly that is giving crud a bad name.

Opportunistic applications are better equated to viruses.  And let me tell you some of them are really annoying.

So if the AppStore turns into a $5Billion dollar business, I will be looking at the Jim Carrey Riddler role in Batman 2 as prophetic.

If you have the ability to deliver things on the Internet why in the world would you allow yourself to be constrained by an app store.

I do give Josh credit for his predictive powers  Two years ago, I predicted Apple would be bigger than Google.



















Someone with a Clue!

July 14, 2009

Thats the normal address on the NANOG list when a particular companies IP network is behaving badly with another internetworked company.  Its not always associated with facilities.  As a matter of fact more often its more virtual.  Routing Tables, Email systems, etc. 

Going through my emails today, I was thinking about how the 4G Wireless Internet would be portrayed on this mailing list.

I have been asked to start writing about the security risks of 4G. 
The opportunity for spoofers on a 4G network should generate some interesting problems and some good articles in 2600

I think the first issue to discuss is the question about how IP SEC fits into the mix of 4G.  See security on a 4G network is easy to set up for the end points that want to exclude, but when you want to hitch a ride it may be the use of OFDM generates some interesting ways to spoof on modulation. 

One more layer to apply IP SEC to in a system of layers upon layers.  So often everyone points to IP SEC and then tries to avoid actually implementing it.  It will be interesting to see if a lower layer security strategy will stay in the IP SEC space or become a proprietary lightweight tunnel.
















Peter MacKinnon, President of LG Nortel Gives us Perspective

July 13, 2009

I read an recent press release from LG Nortel and thought we might gain some understand by interviewing Peter MacKinnon, the Chairman of LG Nortel Ltd, and President of the LG Nortel BU.

 

[CF] Is the LG Nortel relationship an entity that exists regardless of the turmoil at the parent company?

[PM] LG-Nortel is a profitable, standalone business and has not filed for creditor protection. The company is solvent with a strong balance sheet, >1000 employee base, enjoys a leading position in building customer network solutions in Korea (across several product portfolios) and has generated positive cash flow from operations since its inception in November of 2005.

Given Nortel's filing for creditor protection and the ongoing business environment, Nortel has decided its intention to seek a buyer for its majority stake (50% + 1 share) in LG-Nortel, the company's Korean joint venture with LG Electronics.



Ericsson Do You know What You Got? Sprint!

July 10, 2009

As usual, I have to start by admitting that I am a Dan Hesse fan and my bell head nature feels for the team at Sprint.

The people who made this deal viable are long gone.  When the taffy pull of Sprint and Embarq first occurred Dan went with Embarq.  While I have no first hand insight, I remember my divestiture experience and all my ATT friends looking forward to being free of that local loop. 

Sprint's network since the split has been an interesting mix of fixed line, Internet and Wireless.  In theory it had the efficiency of the network behind it to make the company a lean mean fighting machine, but as my Dad used to say you think your are breaking up and in reality its a Taffy Pull.

Sprint and Embarq had OSS overlap and the company suffering from the digestion of Nextel could not find a strategy that equated to customer service.

Now we are going to see Ericsson manage the network, but the real question is what is the migration plan?  I would assume iDEN is out for sure and the relationship with Clearwire should make for even more interesting navigation for Ericsson.

If Ericsson pulls this off it may also indicate some opportunities beyond the US market.  Ericsson has been a lead integrator for Telefonica / 02 and it may be the Sprint asset gains some new relationships that way. 

However the market has been hard on Ericsson, it used to be you could go into the executive offices of most Latin American PTTs and find swedish being spoken, thats how embedded Ericsson was.  Today the question will be how does the commitment to 4G impact the Ericsson / Sprint network plans.

We are lucky to have keynotes at 4GWE from both Clearwire and Sprint that can hopefully give us the insight we need as we watch the rollout continue.













Widget Wonders & Apps Trap

July 10, 2009

Finally some sense out of someone about the App Store.

Today's Journal calls Malcolm Gladwell out on his favorable view of the ability to charge for content thanks to the app store. 

Shaw Wu from Kaufman Brothers points out that at best the store is generating 1% of the revenue for the hardware.

My friend Dave Jodoin says it well about apps in general we have a long way to go.

If you asked me which is more important to build a widget or an app, I would vote for a widget that connects to you through the cloud rather than an app that traps you on a device.

As a primer lets define our terms this way.

An app needs to communicate with the OS
A widget just needs to communicate with the web

If you follow this logically this race to the app store that is going on is just one more blue tulip bulb (holy cow now entry in wikipedia for this) in a world that should have benefited form experience by this time.

Widgets I believe make so much more sense on so many more levels and yet its the weak sister right now.

And when Google announces its heading toward an OS that makes the problems worse. (more on this with another blog).


























Devices What Catches your Eye!

July 9, 2009

I walked over to Best Buy with Rich Tehrani, as a result of the 99 cent promo for a Compaq netbook with Sprint service.  Counting the floor model which had to be initialized while we talked, they had 2 in the place and no one seemed that particularly interested in selling them. 

"Tell me about the service?", was responded to with that the Mobile department. 

"So is the chip embedded or do you need to use the USB?"  once again the mobile department.

Saw a mobile person I am on break was the reply.

Ah, the joys of Retail.

But the engine is selling machines's Asus just reported a 49% increase in sales over last month which 34% Year of Year.

And i get the alert that T-Mobile was pre-selling the next Gphone.  Which I obviously need.

Its embarassing watching Rich try to like my Gphone.  He just got the iPhone 3GS and it is improvement and he loves it.  I pointed out that his VZ device was his prior method of surfing and he told me the Iphone had taken over for him.

For me the Gphone is still the right tool.  My big issue is getting my data from my gmail account and the synchronization between my contact needs in gmail and gphone is pretty good.

Mind you I could give you a list of improvements I want.
Support for .vcf on the Gphone, better dialing functions from email (like Peter Kalmstrom did for Skype), better linkage to the calendering function as well.

But given i am now on a mac, gave up on mac as a trusted place to put the address book, I feel safer in the cloud then on the device and that makes Google my choice.

In the anecdotal observation mode, I still have yet to find a MobileMe advocate.  Power users on the iphone are still all about the device.

Mind you the tools continue to improve on the iPhone, the latest commercial with the video edit I think is a good sales tool for the youtube fanatics of this world.

After all its a visual world, and when LTE comes along i think that will be the story.


























The Russians are Here: The Russians are Here!: MagicJack

July 8, 2009

With Obama in Moscow, the media I listened to talked alot about rebooting the relationship.  While the politics of the countries play out, communication as usual is going beyond the borders.

MagicJack is a great example.  SJ Labs is the SIP Client behind the business of MagicJack.  Give MagicJack credit for the business plan.  It fits a nice model and enables an online strategy that supports network services like voice mail.

Anecdotally, I sat with a Vonage booth sales woman.  I asked her how many sales a day she made and how often the people were overseas.  Her answer was 90% of the time the customer was taking the device overseas.

We talked about the Packet8 and their price point and their quality as a worthy competitor.  Most of her customers are unaware of the packet8 solution.

Likewise codec strategies have had the benefit of Andrei Sviridendo, Spirit DSP has been supporting solutions from Skype and other major Voice on the Web solutions.













Rural Broadband : All There is to Know About RUS and NTIA

July 7, 2009

Just last week, the Obama Administration published some of the criteria for its broadband stimulus money-doling.  This event followed President Obama's signage of the  of 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act(ARRA), which allocated $7.2 billion to the US Departments of Agriculture and Commerce to improve broadband development in rural and remote areas of the US.  The Rural Utilities Service (RUS)-a subsidiary of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)-and the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA)-a subsidiary of the US Department of Commerce (USDC)-were entrusted with the responsibility of handing out the money to appropriate applicants.  Here is a simple, yet comprehensive guide to the who, what, and where of this major government windfall.



The ARRA provides over $28 million toward Rural Community Development. 

Should Skype be redesigned?

July 7, 2009

A friend caught me this morning and wanted to talk about the Skype IPO next year. A few months back I had been trying to get near the discussion because some from friends who had money in hand.

Ebay thinks that the IPO is the right strategy according to reports, but when I was trying to talk to them, the Intellectual property still owned by Niklas and Janus and embedded in Skype seemed to be a stumbling block.

Now in the past Skype has been clever in acquiring their own path to success.  The acquistion of Camino Networks was allowed them to go beyond Global IP Sound.

So how do they go around themselves?

Henning Schluzrinne did a great analysis of this question with his team in 2005. 

Personally, I think they have to come to terms with the patent before the IPO, but stranger IPOs have been in the market that got past these kind of issues.

Perhaps this is a sleeping dog, with 15 Million subs if they were compared to voice service providers they should do better than the 2.6 Billion previously evaluated.

However customer goodwill is not the same as salvage cost, so maybe Skype will be compared to an Oracle or Microsoft?



















LG Nortel OY!

July 6, 2009

I never know what to make out of a partnerships, so the announcement out of Finland that K&K is the partner for LG Nortel fiber optics left me asking more questions.

First of all the positive side.  Nortel Enterprise has a strong history in optics and their solutions were part of a rebirth strategy shared with some friends earlier in the year.

But clearly the decision by K&K is more about support of the existing than growth of the new. 

LG Nortel  is more case of what a strange taffy pull it is to extract telecom strategies.  The primary value of Nortel in the mix is in reaching out to carrier enterprise sales with the LG Nortel product line.  Given the Nokia Siemens deal, I am not sure how the LG channel will work. 

It may be that the K&K, part of Lagercrantz) deal is part of the overall trend.  Then again, it may be time for LG to rethink its relationship with Nortel, or become a buyer for the fiber part (which would make my Adtran / Digium strategy even more logical).















Scenario Planning; If You Build It Will They Come?

July 6, 2009

"A sales guy is usually the last guy to call a downturn", is the quote from Dave Vellequette of JDS Uniphase in today's Journal as they discuss the value of scenario planning in a recession.

I think all the carriers are busy doing their own efforts nows.  With over 5 Million additional subscribers to ATT as a result of the Iphone here are some scenarios I will be thinking of at 4GWE.  Verizon is certainly wishing it had better understood the impact of the exclusivity on their bottom line, and the desire to partner with Apple with LTE is a big part of the aggressiveness implementation.

1) Best Case for T!  Nothing changes for Apple and ATT but the widgets start to add value to a general marketplace.  I am still not sure I can make the distinction between a widget and an application, but as Google's Android and Palm advocate widgets I think the scenario will be slower growth.  Its still the coolest phone in town, but its limitations are easy to exploit.  Multiprocessing and more web friendly strategies all work for me.

2.  Retail WiMAX! So what?  Clearwire has been agressive with its build outs, but the WiMAX certification process is going to yield some products that are going to be looking for a general consumer spend.  What is the scenario that impacts the planning?  What should be the competitive analysis that drives the discussion.

3. Price Floors!  We have bundled pricing as our strategies, when a competitor starts to impact you what can you do to stop the bleeding.  Ericsson / Sony, HTC, LG, Nokia, RIM, and Samsung are all great at making the same phone (only different) for various partnerships.  However, Apple, Google and Palm are doing exclusive deals (We may have to think about Google differently then all of them going forward).  So how do you fight the coolest release.  The reaction to the Apple/ATT launch was very weak by T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon.  What should be the next strategy.  Apple certainly knew how to steal the thunder from the Palm Pre launch.  Other than price what works?  What holds the customer in place?

4. MID way!  The case can be made that the device of future is not a phone, I am now starting to watch how many people are in keyboard mode rather than in voice mode.  I have even seen someone trying to text while the speakerphone of the cell was on (does this work on your device?).  If you look at Intel / Nokia and a few others they will tell you the story is not about a phone but a computer, (Hence the session at 4GWE)  I am not sure when this move happens.  Samsung has a WIMAX netbook, but everything else is still adjuct with a USB.  I think there is a price point that will hit the market right for this and then comes the most interesting question.  Will the carriers enable VoIP?

All of these are game changers that can have a huge impact on the bottom line and all of them require contingencies.  I have also left out the possibilities of major mergers, and the world wide impact.











Wireless Termination: Neutral Tandem

July 2, 2009

Investor's Daily did talked about Neutral Tandem today.

The article was interesting because their biggest customers are the wireless carriers that are not affiliated with the ILEC (is that term getting old and I should just say ATT & Verizon?). 

So T-Mobile and Sprint/Nextel are using them as place to interconnect.  One to the biggest values is the way the tandem configuration works.  We can make the case that Neutral Tandem is a virtualization service to reach the most of the jurisdictions.

Friends are at Neutral Tandem who use to work with me and they have gained some of the brillant people formerly at Vonage, Comcast and Nominum. 

TNDM is the ticker and if you are into this kind of thing, IBD likes them as a stock.  They compare them to Neustar which is interesting. The general view is that cable operators may prefer this methodology of interconnection going forward, and who knows combined with the wireless operators may find a way to cease paying the incumbents for termination.







EU Price Rationalization

July 2, 2009

If all politics is local this one indicates the issues local to Europe.  Europe is about to go on holiday.  As a matter of fact for the northern climates July is the month, the southern go in August. So the law to reduce the cost of roaming for both SMS and Voice will be loved by all starting now. Which is why it went into effect yesterday.

Charges for roaming in Europe have been high regardless of whether you are roaming on the service provider that you already have in your home country.  O2/Telefonica, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone are brands that span across Europe but, charges when you leave your own country do not take into account your affiliation.   I feel for the EU dealing with providing legislative advice to their member countries.  Its not like the US where the EU has any ability to mandate local law.  The EU has allowed the mergers and acquistions by o2/Telifonica, Vodafone, Orange, DT, etc of the Eastern bloc carriers without making these kind of demands initially.  Then again the #1 tax payer in the new members is telecom so maybe their just was not enough clout.

Viviane Reding at the ECC has been a long time advocate about the high prices of carriers, and is very Skype friendly as she as held them up to make her points about the traditional carriers.

The biggest change will be the way that consumers see their bills because the prices are rounded up to minutes but on seconds.  The large carriers say they have already complied with the law but the commission says it intend to continue the analysis and may add future guidelines next year.


Of course the issue right now may not be SMS or Voice but the web, and with revenues in decline the migration to LTE for many of the carriers may face some financial challenges.








TerreStar to Launch

July 1, 2009

At 4GWE, Ari Virtanen will be talking about designing solutions for carriers and vendors in the marketplace.  One such design win was with TerreStar to provide a dual mode satelitte / cellular phone which I have posted about previously.

Today is the launch of "the bird" Good Luck to TerreStar, I am looking forward to seeing their service in operaton.

FCCESQ

July 1, 2009

Okay, First of all I admit I am a fan, but a frustrated one.

Chairman Genachowski announced his staff.  Men and Women (many Harvard trained) that are willing to give themselves to public service.  Thank you all.

So why I am frustrated.  I have been rooting for some IAB, IETF types to be the mix. No Offense to lawyers but changing law to support changes in communication in theory could benefit from some of the best thinkers about where the Internet is going and where it should go.

I am aware of some of the best Interent engineers on the planet's willingness to come work for this administration.  So it was with a frustrated sigh that I read the bios of the chairman's staff.  I wish you all well, but please let some of the brillant minds that are expanding and supporting the Internet be more central to your views of what you are regulating.

The rules of Interconnection and taxation that have driven telecom for centuries are being usurped by the ability to interoperate based on Internet - working meet points and almost universal ethernet structure.  The Universal Service I worked to support in my youth is drawing to a close and the age of a new universal service (called the Internet) should not be judged on the existing service models.

My hope for you all is that the new laws you offer are based on a goal for service in the future and not a restriction of power we have seen in the past.









How I Spent My Summer Stimulus

July 1, 2009

Today's the day the NTIA explains the Stimulus package for unserved and underserved networks to be augmented, developed, etc.

It was the ability to understand the funding that has helped RUS in the Dept. of Agriculture put the dollars out there which has given Alvarion a boost with companies like Connected Nation, Digital Bridge and Open Range.

Now the question is where will the NTIA dollars be spent.  There are some tricky considerations that have yet to be explained.  The dollars are in effect CapEx.  Even with a quick adoption the OpEx is probably going to add to the costs. Then of course comes the analysis of the criteria and whether you can be disqualified. Some strategies get the backbone services dispersed into the parts of the states that are underserved via strategies that utilize existing networks and make the equivalent of aggregation points, others are for dealing with loop problems.  I am hoping that all of these strategies are based on first hand knowledge of the problems.  Mark Hewitt and John Reynolds have been offering some interesting strategies to specific states that are worth considering.  For one state that I am very familiar with their strategy fixes alot of known problems. Tom Evslin is involved on behalf of Vermont.  The issues within the states are very different.

Other friends, like Rob Mazer who is coming to 4GWE to speak about the Stimulus, are more carrier centric and will have plans that will span beyond a state jurisdiction. 

Larry Strickling who has been key to getting these dollars in place, is now in the position of overseeing the plan.  I know he has the vision, now its time for the execution.  Since the dollars are suppose to be earmarked just on September 10th, it's going to be a busy summer.