AP Election Results, Ovum Expands, Free AT&T Wi-Fi, Cable Modem Usage Outstripping DSL

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David Sims
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AP Election Results, Ovum Expands, Free AT&T Wi-Fi, Cable Modem Usage Outstripping DSL

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is... you'll be surprised... Wings Over America. Yes, my favorite high school album, I downloaded it from iTunes to see how it holds up. The verdict?

The opening "Venus and Mars/Rock Show" holds up quite well, all the Beatle stuff is better now than I thought it was in high school, some songs you delete straight off the download ("Silly Love Songs," "Let 'Em In," "Go Now," et al). "Maybe I'm Amazed" is still excellent, one does forget how good guitarist Jimmy McCullough was, how forgettable Denny Laine was and how utterly unremarkably good or bad Linda's keyboards were, as well as how much better McCartney still was than most pop in the '70s... overall worth the reduced price:

The Associated Press and U.S. Cellular have launched two mobile Web sites tailored for U.S. Cellular customers across the country. The content distribution deal offers what the AP says is "a gateway to both AP's popular Mobile News Network, which provides international, national and local news, and AP Elections '08 coverage."

The AP Elections '08 and Mobile News Network WAP sites are accessible through U.S. Cellular's easyedge To Go, nWeb browser, and the newly launched Mobile Browser.

"If you're looking for news and information on your wireless phone, it should be quick and easy to find," says Alan Ferber, vice president of sales operations and chief marketing officer for U.S. Cellular.

The AP Elections '08 site is only available to U.S. Cellular customers. It is featured at the top of the U.S. Cellular browsers' "News and Weather" home page so the latest breaking political developments are more noticeable.

Jeffrey Litvack, general manager for mobile and emerging products for AP, says the Elections site "will include coverage in U.S. Cellular markets in swing states such as Missouri and North Carolina."

Founded in 1846, the AP has counted votes and declared winners every four years since Zachary Taylor was elected president in 1848.

London-based research firm Ovum has announced additions to its roster of global telecoms experts.

Mark Little joins Ovum as a principal analyst within Ovum's consumer practice, specializing in broadband multimedia content. He brings client-side experience in online media, content acquisition & delivery, and e-commerce, Ovum officials say, adding that he has worked with digital media start-ups and developers of multimedia download platforms. His previous employers include Entertainment UK and Mintel Market Intelligence.  

With eight years of experience as an industry analyst working for Yankee Group, Jonathan Doran joins Ovum as a principal analyst within Ovum's consumer practice. He will be responsible for the topic management of Ovum's Broadband Content research stream. 

Emeka Obiodu joins as a senior analyst with Ovum's mobile team. Prior to joining Ovum, Emeka was a senior analyst with Global Insight, where he managed Global Insight's consulting and research portfolio for the mobile sector, including for the mobile handset market.

Mike Sapien joins as principal analyst within Ovum's enterprise practice. With over 25 years of industry experience, including working for US carriers as well as consulting with many of the CLECs in the US, Mike leads Ovum's research & advisory services on enterprise network services and managed products in North America with a major emphasis on the Tier 1 carriers and providers.

For the handset market, William Lee joins as an analyst based in the South Korea office. Prior to Ovum, he spent six years in the Global Technical Marketing & Strategy Division in LG Electronics working with various operators around the world creating business models and technical and marketing strategies for handset launches.

Returning to Ovum is Charlie Davies who originally joined Ovum in 2000 and spent over five years managing Ovum's broadband and broadband content teams. Charlie left Ovum in 2005 to work in a senior strategy role for Cancer Research UK, focusing on strategic positioning and the use of technology in fundraising and marketing. Charlie joins as a senior analyst and is based out of Ovum's office in France.

AT&T has announced a free AT&T Wi-Fi service to current and new customers of select smart phones, including the new BlackBerry Bold, available Nov. 4.

AT&T officials claim "the nation's largest Wi-Fi network," with more than 17,000 hot spots including Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, and thousands of other locations.

The free Wi-Fi service is for customers with unlimited data plans. In addition to the BlackBerry Bold, the BlackBerry Pearl 8120 and the BlackBerry 8820 will follow later this year, AT&T officials say, adding that the company "plans to make the offer available to more mobile devices in the future."


David Christopher, chief marketing officer of AT&T's mobility business unit, said having hand sets plus "the nation's largest Wi-Fi network, it only makes sense for us to bring these together for our customers."

Free Wi-Fi access is also available with all AT&T small business broadband plans, AT&T High Speed Internet plans and with qualified AT&T LaptopConnect plans. For customers without an AT&T broadband or smart phone plan, Wi-Fi subscriptions are available for $19.99 a month.

Cable modem usage is increasing at a faster rate than DSL usage among Internet customers as dial-up use continues to decrease, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Internet Service Provider Residential Customer Satisfaction Study just released.

Now in its 11th year, the study measures customer satisfaction with high-speed and dial-up Internet service providers based on performance and reliability, cost of service, customer service, billing and offerings and promotions.

The study finds that the percentage of Internet customers who subscribe to cable modem service has increased to 41 percent in 2008 from 36 percent in 2007. DSL penetration among Internet customers has also increased to 30 percent in 2008 from 27 percent in 2007.

The share of Internet users that still subscribe to dial-up service has continued to decrease and now accounts for only 25 percent of Internet subscribers, a decline of 10 percentage points since 2007, the study finds.

"Customers now view Internet service as a necessity -- not a luxury -- and they're looking for faster products capable of handling higher bandwidth," said Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power and Associates. "As more movies, television shows and videos are being offered online, Internet users are looking for faster, higher quality connections to view content."

The study finds that the number of Internet service customers who consider themselves loyal to their provider has decreased significantly among high-speed customers to 30 percent, from 42 percent in 2007 and to 36 percent from 51 percent in 2007 among dial-up customers.

Cost savings is cited by 69 percent of high-speed Internet service customers and 40 percent of dial-up Internet customers as the main reason they would consider switching providers.

"Even when customers aren't necessarily dissatisfied with their current provider, they're willing to switch to another provider if they find a better deal," said Perazzini. "Building customer loyalty should be at the forefront of every Internet provider's 2009 initiatives."

EarthLink Net, including EarthLink and PeoplePC subscribers, ranks highest in the dial-up segment with an index score of 633 on a 1,000-point scale, performing particularly well in customer service, billing, and performance and reliability. United Online (630) and MSN (602) follow EarthLink Net in the rankings.

In the 2008 study, high-speed Internet providers are examined in four regions. In the East Region Cablevision ranks highest with a score of 650, followed by EarthLink with 643. For the South Region, with a score of 670 Road Runner (delivered by Bright House Networks) ranks highest, followed by Verizon (663).

For the North Central Region WOW! ranks highest with 702 and Cincinnati Bell takes the silver with 665, while in the West Region Cox Communications ranks highest with 641, followed by EarthLink (630) and Verizon (625).

The whole report itself is worth a read, honestly, to learn stuff like customers who use online billing experience fewer billing errors and have higher satisfaction scores compared with the average customer:

"Overall satisfaction among dial-up customers who receive online bills is 47 points higher, on average, than among those who receive only paper bills... the satisfaction scores of high-speed customers who receive online bills are 21 points higher, on average, than those who receive paper bills."

And among Internet customers, 65 percent report bundling their Internet service with one or more telecommunications services, compared with 52 percent in 2007.

The 2008 ISP Residential Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 16,933 residential customers of Internet service providers nationwide. The study was fielded in July 2008.

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