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Rich Tehrani
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Technology

Mobility as Strategic Advantage

November 20, 2007

It is obvious that mobile device proliferation has had a dramatic increase in productivity for knowledge workers worldwide. In addition it is well known the US government and military functions more effectively because it relies on Blackberrys.   It goes without saying that the individual mobility needs of a users varies widely as some mobile workers need optimal web access while others primarily need e-mail access and others may need specific applications.   It is also well known that every mobile device today from Blackberry to iPhone consists of numerous design tradeoffs weighing size, keyboard, connection speed, processor speed and more.   The next point worth considering is consumer choice. For example, if using the best device makes users most productive, then having the greatest access to devices means the best potential fit of personal needs and device which in turn means the most potential productivity. After all, if a user needs access to the best browser, they need a device with sufficient resolution to allow for this.   As different users have different device preferences and needs, it seems obvious that having one dozen devices to choose from is better –from a productivity standpoint – than having four.   If we can agree that having the greatest access to mobile devices can make users most productive then we must further acknowledge that if a country such as the United States has access to the greatest variety of mobile devices it will in turn have a competitive advantage in the world market.   Unfortunately the opposite is true and I was reminded of just how far behind the US is when it comes to mobile phone choice as I read this MSNBC/Forbes article titled Coolest cell phones you can't get in the U.S.   While this article is focused more on consumer-friendly phones, the situation in the business phone market is similar and U.S.

Don’t Vote Until You read This

November 20, 2007

I am unhappy to hear that 24 House Republicans are delving into the FCC’s plan to regulate the cable companies more closely. FCC Chairman Martin is acting in the best interest of consumers by fostering competition in the cable industry and in doing so will likely lower consumer costs and allow more competition in the market.   While it is true that increased video competition is coming from phone companies and consumers can stream video over the internet, any support the FCC can give to increase the pace of video competition is good for all cable customers.   While House Republicans are in the information gathering phase at the moment, comments from Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, regarding her concern about the FCC moving away from light-touch regulation seems to show more concern for cable company shareholders than the citizens of the United States.   Recently I mentioned it would make more sense for the FCC to mandate network neutrality rather than get into the nitty gritty of regulating individual cable channels. I still think in the long run this direction makes the most sense.   However I must commend Chairman Martin for taking on cable companies and much of the government in an effort to increase the rate of competition in the cable business and subsequently help consumers.   I recommend voters keep an eye on the politicians and the party they represent in this dialogue and use this information when making voting decisions in the future.   See Also:   WSJ: FCC's Cable Plans Draw Fire

Ma Google

November 19, 2007

What will the communications market look like in ten years I wonder? It may be difficult to forecast incredible change and disruptive technologies but it is relatively easy to predict what will happen based on what we know today.   For example:   1)      We see more video being transmitted over broadband networks. 2)      Google is rolling out new services on a daily basis and using advertising to support many of them. 3)      AT&T and Verizon are not huge fans of the search leader as they are envious of the companies using their pipes to transmit services which make money for Google. 4)      The government does not seem to care that much about network neutrality.   So with these four points in mind let’s look at what needs to take place for Google to continue operating in a hostile service provider environment:   They need access to consumers directly.   It is that simple really. If the service providers continue to be the gatekeepers to Google the company risks its future. It is tough to see the US government stepping in and enforcing net neutrality at this point so this means Google must have a network -- and quickly -- to ensure it has a seat at the service provider table.   Of course Google does not want the messiness associated with becoming a service provider but they just have no choice but to protect themselves.   Many people have written me recently saying there is no way that Google will buy Sprint in response to a recent article on the matter.

Mobile Advertising Grows to $16.5 Billion

November 18, 2007

I was perusing some articles on mobile advertising recently and was absolutely stunned at how big some analysts think this market will be. According to this TMCnet article, Strategy Analytics predicts the global market for mobile advertising is slated to reach $14 billion by 2011.   ABI Research predicts the global market for mobile marketing and advertising will reach $3 billion by the end of 2007, and expand to $19 billion in 2011.   If we take the mid-way point between the estimates, the mobile ad market will be $16.5 billion in 2011. To put this in real-world terms it means that one-billion users will generate about $16 apiece.   It would seem to achieve this grand vision things will have to drastically change in the way we interact with mobile devices. One would imagine the path we are on at the moment cannot possibly get us to these numbers.   So as sit here looking at the gargantuan estimates above, I just wonder what would have to change to make these numbers achievable.

China and the Busy Weekend

November 17, 2007

It has been a busy weekend so far and it is about half-way over and I didn’t even get a chance to blog. Believe it or not there hasn’t been too much blog-worthy material and writing for the sake of writing makes no sense.   So after spending about thirty minutes focusing on something exciting to share I thought it better to refer you to a couple of MSNBC articles which could be of interest.   Believe me I would like to provide some insight on these stories but I am devoid of strong opinions worth sharing at the moment. Oh Well… Tomorrow is another day.   Both of these focus on telecom in China. I hope you find them interesting.   ·        Apple, China Mobile discuss China iPhone ·        China tests Mt. Everest cell station

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.

Vonage Loses Again

November 16, 2007

Outsourced Personal Assistant

November 15, 2007

Some years back at TMC, we installed a large flat screen TV in one of our conference rooms and the person handling the job was ANDY OnCall. At the time I was not aware that ANDY OnCall was actually a franchise and the person installing our TV was not Andy at all. I was surprised but in the end it didn’t really matter as the TV did get installed.   I started thinking of this experience as I have started to see a wave of new offshore personal assistant services pop up in India and elsewhere. Obviously when you outsource a personal assistant it becomes a lot less personal but does it matter if the job still gets done?   The services being provided by firms such as Brickwork and GetFriday are things you could hire an administrative assistant in the US to do… Book plane tickets, research the competition, or really anything else.   Not all customers are happy with these services based in India and subsequently at least one company has launched a similar serviced staffed by US college students.   This trend is just another example of how technology boosts productivity and allows tasks to be outsourced on a quite granular level.   Check out this New York Times article for more. Photo courtesy of the NY Times.

How does he do it?

November 14, 2007

U.S. House Passes E911 Bill

November 14, 2007

As many of you know, in 1997 TMC decided to launch Internet Telephony Magazine because we saw the power of IP communications changing the communications worldwide. Over the past years we have seen this in action as entire network backbones have been rebuilt from circuit-switched to packet-switched.   Yesterday’s news regarding the House passing an E911 bill which not only accommodates IP but leverages it, gives me great personal joy as it shows the power of IP communications will now transcend the consumer and business space and change the way the nation’s emergency networks function.   I further expect other countries to follow suit meaning increased safety for the world population.   I commend US politicians for seeing the value of Internet Protocol and leveraging it in a manner which will no doubt save many lives over the years.
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