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Rich Tehrani
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Google in Wireless

November 16, 2007

More discussions regarding Google getting into the wireless game were sparked today by a Wall Street Journal article focusing on Google’s wireless ambitions.   In summary:  
  • Google will likely bid on the 700 MHz spectrum or lose good will in Washington
  • The company’s bid will be $4.6 billion or more.
  • Google has a test FCC license and has cell towers at its campus which it uses with Android-based phones.
  • The company has been in semi-serious discussions with Clearwire regarding building out a WiMAX network.
  • Google has invested in femtocell maker Ubiquisys
  • Everyone and their brother is on record explaining how difficult it is to build a wireless network.
  • Wall Street is enthusiastic about lending money to Google to bid at the auction
  • Google will think about bringing in partners after the auction is over and it sees what happens.
  • The company has brought on game theory experts to help it in the bidding process.
  There has been a great deal of speculation regarding the rumors of Google acquiring Sprint with many thinking the idea is farfetched. It would seem however that since Google is working on its own wireless network, they are very serious about getting into the wireless space.   As we discussed in my recent post on the matter, Google likes to build everything itself from scratch. This is just the way the company operates. However if you are going to go into the wireless business it will take years to put towers around the US and then the world.   Think about the layers of negotiation which need to take place… City by city… Neighborhood by neighborhood -- the company has to place base stations with antennas on tall buildings, water towers and hilltops as far as the eye can see.   Sure this can be done, but it will take such a long time… Let’s say five years to cover the U.S.

How Network Neutrality Solves the Cable Competition Problem

November 10, 2007

It is obvious to me the cable companies are getting the short end of the FCC stick. In fact I am not sure the FCC will be giving any sort of stick to the cable companies this Christmas. Even the lump of coal Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and Comcast were expecting may not be in the stocking – don’t they know how bad coal is for the environment?  

The cable companies are in deep trouble because FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has decided to regulate cable and in so doing ensure there is more competition. They will for example make sure access to spare channels by other content providers is done at a reasonable cost.

  There is an arcane law on the books called the 70/70 rule which is being used as the basis for the FCC to get involved in regulating this market.   The rule says that if 70% of households in the US have cable access and 70% of those that do use cable, the agency can step in and regulate it.   This is great for consumers in my opinion but is also coming at a time which is incomprehensible to me.   If you want true cable competition, it seems to make more sense to ensure network neutrality is enforced.

Google Database Patent Lawsuit

November 10, 2007

Apparently today is “Write about Google” day as I thought it worth sharing that the company is facing a patent infringement lawsuit due to the database technology the company employs. Who is suing you wonder? Northeastern University and a start-up company cofounded by an associate professor.   According to an article on boston.com, "This particular patent has to do with the fundamental database architecture, which they use to serve up every single result they serve to you," said Michael Belanger, president of Jarg Corp. in Waltham. Jarg is a privately funded developer of advanced search technology.

PR and Marketing Done Right

November 10, 2007

Oftentimes companies in the communications space ask me how they are doing compared to their competition in the areas of marketing and PR. They generally do this by asking me to take surveys about their company’s standing in the market. In addition, I often get calls from organizations on Wall Street asking about specific companies. These analysts typically want to know if target companies are worth investing in, etc.   While I am not a financial analyst myself I feel I am in a pretty good position to discuss a communications and or technology company’s standing in a market.

Encryption Vs. Recording Industry

November 8, 2007

In p2p sharing networks the latest weapon the file sharers are deploying is encryption. Sure encryption has been around for years but it seems the file sharers are now using the technology coupled with services like BitTorrent.   According to The Register, a large UK ISP says the number of encrypted files being shared has risen tenfold in the last 12 months. Obviously this is nothing to sneeze at.   As the article points out, files which are encrypted draw more attention and law enforcement agencies spend more time on these files than more theoretically innocuous ones.   As always happens in these electronic espionage wars, one side finds a new weapon and the other responds with something else more sophisticated. The record labels have found their business has turned more into a Spy vs.

ITEXPO East 2008 Brochure Available

November 8, 2007

Vonage in Settlement Talks with AT&T

November 8, 2007

Symbian CEO Disses Open Handset Alliance

November 8, 2007

Symbian may be the closest competitor to Google’s Open Handset Alliance and not surprisingly the head of Symbian had nothing flattering to say about this latest open source mobile handset initiative.   Symbian’s CEO Nigel Clifford said, There's 10, 15, 20, maybe 25 different Linux platforms out there. It sometimes appears that Linux is fragmenting faster than it unifies." He continued, “Symbian recognizes Google's commitment to ‘openness’ and sees that as a good thing, but I probably would say there is no such thing as free software."   The problem for Clifford and company is the fact that many companies already working with Symbian have become part of the OHA. What this means for Symbian long term is unknown but the competition has not put a dent in Clifford’s resolve as he said, “We're the market leader, and we aim to remain the market leader."   For more, check out this well-written piece from InfoWorld.

Picketing Steve Jobs

November 7, 2007

Apparently the proper place for striking writers to be picketing is in front of Steve Job’s house, office and perhaps anywhere else he happens to be. So says Michael Eisner according to this CNET news report.   In reality, Steve Jobs should more likely be heralded as a god as without him the content the writers produce would be distributed free through p2p networks and there would be no money to be made. At least now the studios get something that will grow over time.   Having said that we should all acknowledge that iTunes is not needed for distribution of all content. The networks have websites that make a successful business distributing programming without any help from Apple at all – Thank you very much.

Nortel is Back

November 6, 2007

Recently it is has been a mixed ride for communications companies as those relying on tier-one service providers for the majority of their growth have been battered. Case in point is Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent who each have lost over $15 billion in market capitalization in the last three months alone.   On the other hand companies like Cbeyond and ShoreTel have been fantastically well as they focus on the small business market exclusively.   Enter Nortel, who has a mix of products in its portfolio serving enterprise customers as well as service providers in the wireless and wired spaces. The company’s shares have been decelerating since early in 2004.   So Nortel’s prospects for beating earnings this quarter were less than clear. Would they have a great quarter like so many technology names with worldwide exposure or would they have a terrible quarter like both Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent?   Well the results are in and the news is very good as the Toronto-based company said it had net income of $27 million or 5 cents per share in the third quarter.
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