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Did Bell Steal Ideas?

December 26, 2007

If you are interested in historical telephony and whether Alexander Graham Bell actually invented the telephone or “borrowed” some patent ideas, you will want to read this story.

  Excerpt:  
In "The Telephone Gambit: Chasing Alexander Graham Bell's Secret," journalist Seth Shulman argues that Bell -- aided by aggressive lawyers and a corrupt patent examiner -- got an improper peek at patent documents Gray had filed, and that Bell was erroneously credited with filing first.   Shulman believes the smoking gun is Bell's lab notebook, which was restricted by Bell's family until 1976, then digitized and made widely available in 1999.

The notebook details the false starts Bell encountered as he and assistant Thomas Watson tried transmitting sound electromagnetically over a wire. Then, after a 12-day gap in 1876 -- when Bell went to Washington to sort out patent questions about his work -- he suddenly began trying another kind of voice transmitter. That method was the one that proved successful.



OnStar Shut Down

December 24, 2007

For those cars with analog cellular cell phone OnStar connections you have until February 18, 2008 before your service will stop working. Some who have complained to GM about this problem have received a $500 gift certificate towards the purchase of a new vehicle.   What is amazing to me is the fact the electronics for the cellular connection are hard-wired into vehicles. Today, cell phones are dirt cheap and even come in the disposable variety; can you believe you need to throw away the car because the network was upgraded?  

Cars made on or around 2002 upgraded to digital cellular networks and will not be affected by the shut down. About 500,000 OnStar users have cars made prior to this time.   See Also:   AP: Users Left in Lurch by Network Shutdown

In-Flight Internet Access Update

December 24, 2007

I think I want internet access when I fly. I really do. Yes, the plane is usually a quiet time to reflect and write compelling content… Still, I can now feel comfortable flying during the business day from the west coast to east because I will not miss anything that is happening. While in the air, I can participate in decisions and stay on top of the latest news without missing anything.   JetBlue really kicked off the latest round of stories about in-flight internet access and now it seems many airlines have an internet strategy of one sort or another.   Some which fly over land have base stations and others use satellite.   According to the Wall Street Journal:  
JetBlue's LiveTV subsidiary paid the Federal Communications Commission $7 million for wireless spectrum that one test JetBlue aircraft has been using since Dec. 11 to communicate with about 100 cell towers spread across the continental United States.

Lobbyists Writing US Telecom Policy?

December 20, 2007

Net Neutrality 2.0

December 12, 2007

Should service providers be allowed to alter your web pages? The issue came up yet again when Toronto-based Rogers decided to insert messages containing sales messages in web pages they display on their customer’s browsers.   "We are concerned about these reports," Google said in an emailed statement to the Toronto Star.   "As a general principle, we believe that maintaining the Internet as a neutral platform means that carriers shouldn't be able to interfere with Web content without users' permission," the Google statement said. "We are in the process of contacting the relevant parties to bring this to a quick resolution."   Without a doubt, this is the sort of issue that begs for politicians to ensure there is network neutrality.   If service providers are allowed to display messages in web browsers, there are virtually unlimited things they can do to destroy other businesses. They could for example only show messages on Google search pages thereby giving users the incentive to switch search engines.  

They could reformat pages in such a way that they look unattractive.

NextPoint Analysis

December 11, 2007

If you meet David Walsh a partner with One Equity Partners, you immediately think banker. For those of you who may not frequent the tiny (and blisteringly cold when I was there) island of Manhattan, banker generally means investment banker. At a telecom conference you can always pick out the bankers because they dress nicer than most telecom types.   I recently had a chance to meet with Walsh and discuss the formation of NextPoint with him. Generally the “money people” are shielded from the communications and technology media as there are generally more technical people who are better at communicating with the “trade” media.

FCC Upholds Metro Competition

December 6, 2007

At yesterday’s VPF meeting a number of people had trouble believing that Verizon opening its network is an authentic move to help consumers. This is partly because the company while on the one hand was opening was on the other, petitioning the FCC to decrease deregulation -- meaning they would be able to effectively block competition in major metropolitan areas.   If accepted, the petition would have subjected 34 million Americans in broad areas surrounding Boston, Providence, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Virginia Beach to fewer choices and higher prices for telecommunications services, according to COMPTEL (News - Alert) CEO Jerry James.   But then again, the two news items are not really related. Although there is a lack of details regarding what Verizon means when it says it is opening its network, the move is for the company’s own benefit. In the end, companies do what is best for their own interests and subsequently we need to applaud Chairman Martin and the FCC for upholding the best interests of consumers and businesses by ensuring adequate competition.   See also:  

Certified WiFi Telephony

December 4, 2007

Good news for those vendors looking for 3rd-party certification of their WiFi solutions as well as companies and consumers looking for the authentic “WiFi telephony” seal so glaringly absent from the marketplace today.   Russell Shaw’s blog discusses how the WiFi Alliance has established a Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Voice Personal Initiative and discusses how you can get involved.   Why would such a seal make sense you ask? Well, not only does WiFi telephony have all the inherent challenges associated with packetized voice such as having to deal with bandwidth issues, latency and jitter… It has to deal with wireless issues as well. Examples include seamless hand-off of calls between base stations and eventually seamless hand-offs between base stations and cellular, WiMax and who knows what other sorts of wireless standards.   This new initiative should be very good for the WiFi telephony market.

NextPoint is Born

December 4, 2007

TMCnet’s Greg Galitzine announced the rumor on October 19th that NexTone and Reef Point were to merge. Today the news becomes real as the companies are combining to create NextPoint. Here are some quick facts and quotes according to the companies:  
  • Combined Companies to Deliver First Integrated Border Gateway, in Addition to Full Suite of Products Under the new NextPoint Name
 
  • Woody Ritchey Named CEO; David Walsh Named Chairman
 
  • JP Morgan Chase’s One Equity Partners Leads $20 Million Investment Round To Address Accelerating Market Demand
  “The integration of session border controllers for both fixed and mobile networks with a security gateway enabled by the merger of Reef Point and NexTone will create a powerful product family for next generation networks,” said Malcolm Wardlaw, Director, Converged Services, Intelligence and Applications, BT. “The IBG has the potential to simplify network design as well as reduce the total cost of ownership in a converged world, supporting the needs of our customers in an all-IP world.”   “The increasing demand for secured IP-based mobility services in a multi-access environment is creating a need for a new category of equipment called the multi-access convergence gateways that provides intelligent interaction with subscribers, services, and transport mechanisms,” said Stéphane Téral, Principal Analyst, Service Provider VoIP, IMS & FMC, Infonetics Research.

Podcast Interview: Oswin Eleanora, Acision

December 3, 2007

In my travels, one of the more knowledgeable players I have run across in the space of telecom – and especially wireless communications is Oswin Eleonora (Oz) the Senior VP Sales and Marketing North America for Acision. You may recall I wrote about Oz and Acision back in July of this year.   I had a chance to pick his brain again regarding Verizon’s open network announcement, the iPhone, the future of wireless, the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), Android, CDMA, GSM and more.   How will service providers differentiate themselves in the upcoming years as networks become more commoditized? Oz has the answer.
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