Carl Ford : 4G: For Generations to Come
Carl Ford

Fascinating WebRTC Demos from WebRTC Expo

WebRTC has been described as the most disruptive communications technology of the decade. It has also been described as overhyped. Well, I...

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Restoration Hardware's E-commerce Fighting Formula

A Tasteful Blend of Starbucks and Apple Retail Experiences designed to make customers fall in loveApple has the most valuable retail real...

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Thoughts on ThinkGeek Customer Service

I’m on the phone with ThinkGeek because I purchased something which they shipped incorrectly. I tried email and didn’t get a...

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The Interworking Function (IWF) part of the Diameter Signaling Controller (DSC) now takes center stage

Diameter Signaling Controllers (DSCs) are the general term used to describe products that enable load balancing and scaling of Diameter signaling...

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New T-Mobile Pay as You Go LTE Pricing Changes Everything

Until recently, if you wanted a real data plan on a major carrier while using your cell phone, you were forced...

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How Sony May be Fighting to Unleak its Information

The recent attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment is about as scary as it gets as emails which insulted the company’s hired talent...

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4 Tips for the Busy Executive

I have a couple of prospective clients that keep delaying projects. One really wants to do the project but the people...

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ATT vs. Telefonica The Long Tail Effect of Apple's App Store

August 10, 2009

Having received the quarterly reports of Apple, ATT and Telefonica, I was very curious about the reasons that Telefonica was not basking in Apple's glory like ATT was.

The iPhone 3GS has added about another 1M new subscribers to the ATT network and if my calculations are correct they have about 10% of the US population on the iPhone.  

So if the apps are so kewl why is Telefonica not enjoying the same results.

A few reasons have been pointed out to me, some ring true and some do not.  The first one is that app store has many apps that are not available in Spanish.  Particularly the cooler (kewlr?) ones that rush to market to get ahead of the game do not make it on to App Store in a user friendly manner.
So the app store is not as powerful a weapon for Telefonica which interestingly enough impacts word of mouth, if you have to translate the app your are using to another person is it that interesting?

Secondly comes the issue of GSM countries versus the US.  In the UK Telefonica offers the iPhone to English speakers versus their O2 subsidiary, but the sales are not astronomical. It may be that ATT is in the backward nation of the US of A, where wireless has been starved for a working wireless Internet.  In Europe the ability to browse the Interenet from your cell phone is not as unusual thanks to GPRS, so the wow factor of mobile browsing is negated.

Also comes the fact that the exclusivity is leaky in Europe.  T-Mobile has the phone in the Germany as does O2 (even if its not sold directly their its supported) and a lot of ATT phones made it to Europe when Apple sold them only the US orginally.  An article in a German Trade magazine suggests that about 25% of the market is being supplied via other contracts.

Then comes the reality of smartphones, the blackberry, Nokia's N series and other smart devices were more readily available as a choice in the lands where GSM offered the customer the ability to bring their phones of choice to the GSM standard.  A closed network smartphone looks like a step back to people who are used to buying their phones and selecting the carrier independently.  Its hard to sell the cool of a proprietary service in Europe.

Finally comes price and the price points from Telefonica may not work in world where the cool distinction is marginalized by the factors above.

I bring this up for a few very specific reasons.  It may be that the iPhone does not have the same wow factor for other countries. In Japan, the iPhone has very little marketshare.  The wow factor their is the wrist action, which in the land of the Nintendo's Wii, NTT's Docomo and Softbank's mobile games is not that compelling.  I don't have exact prove of this but the sales numbers seem to indicated that where the wireless Internet has been available the longest, there is where iPhone sales are least.
















Gerry Purdy's Newsletter

August 7, 2009

I was reading Gerry Purdy's newsletter and he was talking about the cell phone as a hub for your networking needs. Its a good read and I encourage my readers to keep informed with Gerry as well.

His analysis is that the expectation that we will have two services plans is not as logical as the carriers would like to expect. 

His point is that the netbook and data plans that are going to be on the 4G networks are not going to maintain the loyalty that carriers like.  (In full disclosure I have added a fourth carrier to support my MiFi habit)

So are my existing carriers happy I went to the another one?  It will be in their nature to slam for the voice into some sort of bundle or have us maintain on a data plan that supports voice.

Up until now tethered services have required a PHD to figure out how to connect your Blackberry or data capable cell phone to a computer as a wireless modem.  But with Bluetooth it should be relatively easy and according to our friend Anton Wahlman in the US  the modem capability is now supported for about $30 a month from both ATT and Verizon (PS T-Mobile offers limited but free use)

So as the data plan wars heat up we should expect to see carriers willing to blend their 3G and 4G networks.

Right now Sprint does a nice job in giving dual mode access between their networks.

In a private conversation with a major vendor of LTE we discussed the carriers desires to keep the data on the 4G and milk the voice out of 3G.
While its what the carrier wants its not clear how it fits into the consumers choice.

Expect that for the next few years the deals will be varied and hard to compare.

Tags: 3G, 4G, ATT, Anton Wahlman, Blackberry, Bluetooth, Gerry Purdy, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, wireless modems. Frost & Sullivan



















FanFare Software Interview with David Gehringer

August 5, 2009

David Gehringer, the VP of market for Fanfare Software allowed me to interview him earlier in the week.  Fanfare Software is a leader in system and device testing, designed to simplify system and device testing for all team members, maximizing productivity throughout the quality workflow. 

Virtualization has been a real cost savings to the carriers and the concept of a virtual test bed caught my curiousity.

CF: How long as Fanfare Software been in business and when did you join it?

DG: Fanfare was founded in April 2004, actually April 1st, which is good for a laugh.  We shipped the first product in early 2006, which was the same year I joined.

CF: You work on helping with the roll out strategy of new devices with the technology, who is your customer at that point, the carrier or the vendor? 

DG: We focus on the testing side of technology, specifically making automation a reality.  While we started with manufactures, we are now finding half of our customers to be the carriers themselves.   While the magnitude of the problems differ between the two, they are both roughly testing in a similar manner. 



CF: How have roll out cycles changed and what is your expectation in the future?
DG: Yes, from a macro perspective, the time to tests has eclipsed the time to develop.   I think in the next five years those companies that are successful will reverse that trend.   This is simply due to the fact the developers have been getting tools that accelerate their development capabilities and speed, and yet today testers are still using manual and dated scripting techniques.  Testing tools, while late, are helping testers get the productivity tools they need to stay abreast of development. 

CF: With the switch to 4G OFDM and MIMO will be a major part of the testing, How does the change impact the metrics? 

DG: I would be willing to say it will add many more metrics, but the core quality metrics will remain, QoS, latency, drops, resiliency, and reliability.   What it does mean is the hetrogenious lab just got bigger.   I need all the hard line gear, as well as wireless equipment, and possibly actual handsets.   The need for simplicity and automation will grow out of this.  A typical wireless lab setup can take 2 hours for a single test, that has got to change.

CF: Give us a feel for your customers and are their differences based on location?

DG: In North America, I still feel the testers are not given their due, and must work to prove themselves.  Frankly this is an opportunity and time is now to show they contribute to the company and are not just a necessary cost center; the IT department did the same transformation in the late 90s.   I will contrast that with Europe where testing in an established profession, with actual curriculum in colleges focusing on testing.  Asia has a mix of both NA and European testing stature based on specific countries. 

CF: Can you explain a Virtual Test bed strategy?


Sprint Open Developer Conference

August 5, 2009

Who is driving the Next Bus Verizon Wireless or Apple?

August 4, 2009

Last week while Verizon Wireless was trying to draw the attention of the developer community, the press was all a buzz about their relationship with Apple.

The problem is two fold.  The first is that ATT is the only one allowed to sell 3G iPhones with Apple. The second is that LTE is going to take Verizon a while to get out there. 

Mind you, I think Verizon Wireless could do more with what they have today.  The sad reality is Verizon is still a more Apple friendly company than ATT when it comes to the USB dongles. 

Verizon Wireless has Apple software and does not refer their customers to the device manufacturer.  Personally, my Verizon MiFi works well with my MAC and the Verizon software is Apple friendly. 

So what makes it so important that the iTablet be a Verizon exclusive, and what is the implication if the LTE network is only available in limited areas.

Verizon wants to stop the migration to the iPhone, but the question is does the iTablet represent the same market or a different market?

If Steve Jobs announces the iTablet in January what is foot print that VZW will be able to offer or will it have an EVDO to LTE upgrade offer embedded in the deal?

Should be interesting to see how the marketing moves.

Tags: 3G, ATT, Apple, EVDO, ITablet, LTE, MiFi, USB Dongels, Verizon Wireless, iPhone

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Clearwire adds 10 new '4G' markets in old pre-WiMAX cities

August 3, 2009

In what seems to be now a standard practice, the folks at Clearwire are launching markets by first making them available on their coverage map page, followed by "official" launches a month or so later. We are not sure of what the difference is -- to us, a market is "officially" live when you start charging money for services.

Anyway, even though you can order services now, those new markets we told you about on Saturday will "officially" be open for business Sept. 1, according to a press release from Clearwire today. Here's the direct info from the press release:

Clearwire Communications, LLC, an operating subsidiary of Clearwire Corporation, (NASDAQ: CLWR) today announced the official launch day of CLEARâ„¢ 4G service in Boise, Idaho; Bellingham, Wash.; and eight markets throughout Texas, including: Abilene, Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Lubbock, Midland/Odessa, Killeen/Temple, Waco and Wichita Falls will occur on September 1, 2009. CLEAR offers the first super fast mobile Internet service that works as fast on the go as it does at home.




The Apple Google war may make ATT the Victim.

August 3, 2009

While the California Titans get into a contest of wills, ATT's congressional nemesis is looking to add to the battle.

I have to say it's pretty amazing to me what Congress focuses on, but the letters from the FCC inquiring about GoogleVoice make clear that this is going to be dragged into the bigger discussion.

First of all lets talk about the letters.  The FCC's letter to Apple
Apple letter 7 31 09.pdf wants to see if ATT drove the decision or had any influence.  I think Craig Moffett is right to suggest that if that were the case, it would be more courtesy than control.

Though as a former President of a major phone company used to say, If you leave a telco witness up long enough they will confess to anything.

Now the ATT letter AT&T Letter 7 31 09.pdf gets into the general distrust and expands the discussion to ask about blocking applications as well.

Finally the Google letter Google letter 7 31 09.pdf ends with concern as to whether Android has similar strategies as Apple.

Embedded in the documents are a bunch of questions about Rural Services and Network Neutrality to the ATT & Apple relationship.  Particularly when taken into consideration of the Markey Bill.  It has brought to the attention of the Congress that the Stimulus may leave the unserved and underserved with a network that does not have sexy devices like the iPhone on it, which is not what their constiuents want to hear. 

The people want device freedom, and Congress may give it to them.

On the business side of the equation the resignation of Eric Schmidt from the Apple board is probably long overdue.  The companies have been expanding the Ven Diagram of overlap with Android, Chrome, MobileMe, Safari, etc.

While the two companies could have been the best hope for a level playing field of interoperability, we are probably not going to see either side be their better selves for a while.

Adobe and Oracle (Java) are two other companies that may have a desire to contribute to the discussion.


Tags: Adobe, Android, Apple, ATT, Congress, Craig Moffet, Eric Schmidt, Google, GoogleVoice, iPhone, JAVA, Markey, Oracle, Steve Jobs

























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.




Tags: Apple, Boost, CNBC, Clearwire, Ericsson, Palm, PalmPre, Richard Branson, Sprint, Virgin Mobile, WSJ, iPhone






















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.



Tags: China Mobile, Jim Basilie, John Stratton, Masayoshi Son, RIM, Softbank, Verizon, Vodafone

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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



Tags: 4G, Billing, Brew, GPS, Java, Jim Basilie, John Stratton, LBS, Lowell McAdam, RIM, SDK