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Rich Tehrani
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Super WiFi

Will AT&T, T-Mobile Merger Slow Wireless Innovation?

July 25, 2011

AT&T has done an incredible job of getting special interest group after group to endorse its merger with T-Mobile, saying it will provide better broadband access for minorities, rural subscribers and just about any group of people you can think of. The broader gay community too has endorsed the merger - apparently transgender-Americans have been hoping for the day when there was one less GSM provider to choose from.

Here is how the system works - AT&T has hundreds of thousands of workers and inevitably large numbers of them in myriad groups. This in turn coupled with large contributions to various organizations and associations is rewarded with the reciprocal endorsing of anything AT&T requests.

To help grease the wheels even further, AT&T has further upped its lobbying budget by 58% according to PC Magazine.

AT&T is doing the smart thing by getting rid of its sole GSM provider allowing it better negotiating leverage in its roaming agreements with foreign carriers and gaining the ability to raise rates with one less major competitor to depress market pricing. It will also gain more leverage when negotiating with hardware and software companies.

An anti-merger video by the Free Press Action Fund

If the US government blocks the deal it will be because the remaining major companies AT&T and Verizon will have so much share that they are effectively a duopoly at about 80% - allowing them to raise prices at will.

Again, if you are an AT&T or Verizon shareholder, you likely want this merger to happen and AT&T is serving its short-term  shareholders well by seeking this transaction.

But the challenge I see is that with one less major telecom carrier in the US it becomes that much more difficult for innovative start-ups to launch, get funding and hold their breath long enough for a carrier to buy from them.

PSTN Death is Near

July 7, 2011

I vividly remember driving my car in 1999 – two years after the company where I am CEO, TMC decided to launch Internet Telephony Magazine and thinking VoIP was going to change the way communications works and eventually kill the PSTN. It seemed to me that within five years most of the world would make the transition as the cost disparity at the time was quite large between the PSTN and VoIP connections. Moreover, there were a myriad of free calling services using VoIP such as Dialpad which were ad supported, putting even more pressure on traditional telecom networks.

Within a few years the dotcom and telecom bubbles burst (we collectively said goodbye (details) to Dialpad and its competitors) and the cost for using the PSTN dropped substantially in order to better compete with IP communications alternatives.

Cell Phones Now Pose no Cancer Risk

July 5, 2011

The studies go back and forth and a few weeks ago the World Health Organization or WHO said there was an increased cancer risk as a result of cell phone use. Now, another study says the opposite is true.

The review was conducted by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) Standing Committee on Epidemiology* chaired by Professor Anthony Swerdlow from The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR). The ICNIRP committee analyzed all published studies that have examined whether there is a link between mobile phone use and the main types of brain tumour, glioma and meningioma and determined that although there is some uncertainty, there is no link between cell phone use and brain tumors in adults.

The professor and his team analyzed data from thirteen countries going back 10-20 years.

We live in a world full of radio signals - a typical tech trade show for example could have dozens if not hundreds of WiFi access points. Add to that satellite, FM and myriad other radio signals coursing through our bodies at all times and you have to wonder if the addition of one more radio emitter near our heads will have any major effect on our likelihood of getting cancer.

Super WiFi Hotspot Gives 3 Mile Range

April 19, 2011

One of the absolutely most disruptive technologies I have seen is Super WiFi and although, until now, the technology has been more theory than practice, there is a grandmother in Texas named Leticia Aguirre who has lit up a hotspot in her house with a range of three square miles – an absolutely staggering distance. Utilizing dynamic spectrum access the network shifts automatically between WiFi and a dormant digital UHF TV channel to provide the ideal coverage characteristics.

Organizations involved in this trial are Rice University, Houston nonprofit Technology for All (TFA) and the NSF who provided a grant to incorporate super WiFi into the network.

Coincidentally, this September will see the second occurrence of the world’s only Super WiFi Summit which will be cohosted by TMC where I am CEO and Crossfire Media where Carl Ford is a founding partner.

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