Viodi View – 07/01/2009

Summer is here and the living is easy; at least I think that is how the song goes. Actually, summer is here and somehow I missed spring cleaning. Loose ends seem to be everywhere; web sites that are almost updated and articles not quite finished. With all of the clutter, my mind becomes blurred with visions of the way I picture things were supposed to be and the reality of what they became.


3G-HSPA, Mobile Linux and Open Source are the Big Winners in Intel-Nokia Technology Partnership by Alan Weissberger

The Intel-Nokia announcement of their joint push to work together to create a new breed of Mobile Internet Devices based on various versions of Open Source Linux, reminds me that what you see in press releases is not always what ends up being reality. Of course, we see this all of the time in the technology industry, but Alan Weissberger and several of his informed readers point out previous Intel announcements in the mobile space that haven’t quite led up to the vision of what was suggested. Another major thing missing in this announcement is Microsoft.  Click here to read Weissberger’s sharp analysis as well as astute commentary from his readers.


Connections at ConnectionsKurt Scherf of Parks Associates summarizes the 2009 Connections Conference

The Parks Associates conferences are good events for providing a glimpse of what might be in the consumer electronics’ world. In our ongoing video coverage from last month’s Connections conference event, Kurt Scherf, Vice President of Research for Parks Associates discusses how devices in the home are becoming more web-like and the on-going challenges of connecting these broadband devices.  Click here to view the video.


Via Licensing video interviewLicensing Pools with Via Licensing

I.P. (Intellectual Property, that is) rights owned by multiple parties are often one of the reasons standards take so long to move from concept to commercial reality.  In this video interview, Jason Johnson, of Via Licensing, a subsidiary of Dolby Laboratories, explains their newly formed partnership with the IEEE.  This partnership promises the expeditious creation of licensing pools, allowing standards to be commercialized much sooner than traditional approaches.  The upshot of this effort should be even faster innovation by consumer electronic companies to bring us new gizmos and widgets.  Click here to view the video.


What’s New with Vegas 9 Provegas 9 video reviewed by Roger Bindl

Matthew Brohn, Product Manager of Sony Creative Software, discusses some of the strengths of Vegas Pro video editing, and what’s new with Vegas 9… things like small footprint, direct editing of AVCHD and XDCAM, plus new effects. The video includes screen captures of real-time editing in Vegas.  Click here to view Roger’s review of Vegas 9 Pro.


People on the Move:

Congratulations to Nsight/Cellcom and for the award they received from the Femtoforum for, “Significant progress or commercial launch by a small carrier .” They won this award for their, “deployment of the world’s first IMS-based, CDMA femtocell network for consumers and enterprises.”   Rob Riordan of Cellcom was in London last week to accept the award.

As follow up to an article I wrote last year when I announced that I was involved with a stealth start-up, this is the official announcement that the referenced company is ZillionTV.


The Korner –  Loose Ends EverywhereViodiTV Revealed - the Video

Roger and I are always so busy producing content that often times the packaging around the content is somewhat unfinished. It is sort of like the last bit of molding on the remodel that just never gets installed; most guests won’t notice it, but, to the owner, will view it as an eyesore. We have a great deal of unfinished business on the Viodi View and ViodiTV web site, which may or may not be obvious to the visitor.

Despite the packaging, it is the content that matters. Roger recently put together a video to tell the story of ViodiTV. Roger is normally ruthless at cutting out extra content, but he found it difficult in this case, as we have had the good fortune to interview some really cool people and report on some really interesting stories over the past several years. This video is really a commercial for Roger’s talents, but it also provides the story of ViodiTV and our attempts to tell the stories of the Independent Telcos and their communities.  Click here to view the video.

Viodi View – 06/15/2009

The week before last, Roger Bindl and I had a chance to document innovations and innovative ideas at Parks Associates’ Connections Conference. The fun thing about the Connections Conference is that it spans different disciplines and the mix of speakers last week included folks from sectors such as telecommunications, energy, consumer electronics and entertainment. Mitch Singer, CTO of Sony Pictures and president of the DECE, was one of those speakers. He explained how the DECE is trying to make the online video experience as user friendly as DVDs.

Thanks to the Connections Conference, we may have the first video documenting a working demonstration of Qualcomm’s 600 Mb/s WiFi chipset designed for home networking of multiple high definition video signals. Home Networking was a major theme of the conference. In this issue, Alan Weissberger has a comprehensive article on home networking from a panel at a Telecom Council Meeting. Lastly, thanks to a chance encounter at the Connections Conference, I learned how to use the new camcorder capabilities of the G1 Phone.

Some Video Highlights from the Connections Conference Sponsored by Parks Associates

Hope for a Digital Media Distribution Standard

Mitch Singer, CTO of Sony Pictures

Mitch Singer, CTO & Executive Vice President New Media and Technology of Sony Pictures, who provided a keynote address at Parks’ Connections Conference, discusses the relatively new group, DECE, that is trying to bring standards to digital media distribution.  DECE, LLC is made up of content owners, service providers and consumer electronics and offers consumers the promise of media portability and ease of use, while assuring content owners that their content will be protected

A New Twist on Wireless Home Networking

Jason Ellis of Qualcomm shows the new 4 radio WiFi chipset from Qualcomm

Qualcomm announced the doubling of wireless home networking speeds with its chip technology that integrates 4×4 MIMO technology to provide throughputs of up to 600 Mb/s.  Jason Ellis of Qualcomm demonstrates this high speed solution in this brief video.

PlumChoice at Connections 2009

Fred King talks about support services at the Connections Conference

Ken Pyle interviews Fred King of PlumChoice, at CONNECTIONS 2009 in Santa Clara, CA. King explains how they work through service providers and consumer electronic manufacturers to help them help their customers. King suggests that now is a good time to provide remote support services, as people are opting for more frugal behavior and as a result are looking at fixing instead of replacing technology.

Network, Video & More on the Same Cable – HDMI 1.4

Rob Tobias explains the new HDMI 1.4 specification

Rob Tobias of Silicon Image discusses the newly announced HDMI 1.4 specification.  This new specification promises to add networking capabilities to what was traditionally a digital video specification.


Broadband Wireless and the Connected Home – Telecom Council Meeting Review by Alan Weissberger

This article covers the wireless networking aspects of the Connected Home – both inside and out. It is primarily based on the Telecom Council’s May 14, 2009 meeting titled, “The Connected Home: Services and Models.” Trends in delivery of multiple residential services, mobile broadband, home networking, and remote access to the connected home are examined. We also highlight a few related news items from Sling Media (now Echo Star) and Motorola.  Click here to read the rest of the article.


Mobility in the Spotlight at the TIECon 2009 Wireless Sessions by Alan Weissberger

TiEcon is the world’s largest conference for entrepreneurs, focusing on technology markets, entrepreneurial opportunity and innovation. Now in its 16th year, TiEcon 2009 was themed "The BOLD Entrepreneur." The record-breaking attendance of over 3,500 included entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, industry executives, analysts, engineers, and business leaders. TiEcon 2009 lived up to its entrepreneurial spirit by featuring dynamic speakers who showed how they adapted to changing conditions and create their own future, despite a very challenging economic climate. This article reviews two wireless panel sessions, which had a very pragmatic market and business focus.  Click here to read the rest of this article.


TCA Management Conference – I Survived the Tribe

I was extremely honored to participate in the TCA Management conference the week before last, where I had a chance to speak on the topic of local content. Unfortunately, I missed most of the conference, but the excellent binder of material (it was so refreshing to have materials in a traditional form) provided a good summary of the presentations that covered regulatory, marketing, finance and the stimulus.  In addition to the good material, TCA made it a fun event, as the theme was based on the television series, Survivor.


Efficient Video Production with the G1 Phone

Downtown Colorado Springs where the OPASTCO 2009 Convention will be held

I am not a big gadget person – really. I have had the G1 Phone for a couple of months and other than the electronic whoopee cushion application and the Shazam application (listens to music and identifies the song and artist), all of the applications I have downloaded from the Android Market have been ones intended to enhance productivity. So, at the Connections Conference, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the latest version of the Android software enables the recording of videos on my G1 Phone.

The video quality of the G1 can be marginal, especially in low light conditions and especially compared to the Creative or Flip camera I normally use. It cannot be beat for efficiency and ease of distributing the video either on YouTube or via email. The only thing I haven’t figured out is why the share feature doesn’t always work, which is probably just as well, as the world doesn’t need to see most of the videos I take.

The following video was shot while taking an early morning walk through downtown Colorado Springs. When I started my walk, my only plan was to get a little exercise in the brisk Colorado air. As I saw the various monuments and museums, along with the natural beauty of Pike’s Peak, I felt inspired to share what I saw with others, particularly since the upcoming OPASTCO Summer Convention finds its way to Colorado Springs next month. Additionally, I decided it would be kind of fun to present my impromptu creation during my presentation on Local Content (I didn’t).

Hopefully, we will see you in Colorado Springs at the OPASTCO event (July 25th-29th).

Broadband Wireless and the Connected Home: Telecom Council Meeting Review

Introduction

This article covers the wireless networking aspects of the Connected Home – both inside and out. It is primarily based on the Telecom Council’s[1] May 14, 2009 meeting titled, “The Connected Home: Services and Models.” Trends in delivery of multiple residential services, mobile broadband, home networking, and remote access to the connected home are examined. We also highlight a few related news items from Sling Media (now Echo Star) and Motorola. 

In advance of the meeting, the Telecom Council published the following statement:   "The PC, the TV, the Internet and the home are converging in a very real way. Real products launched into the market don’t just blur the lines between TV and PC, but in fact make it increasingly clear that any screen is fair game for any content, and the service will come from both broadcast, uni-cast, and from within the home. Of course, screens and media are just a part of the Connected Home. Media sharing, photo display, home security, fixed phones, cameras, HVAC control, entry control, family organization and communication, are all becoming inextricably entwined."

While we are skeptical that all the consumer electronics in the home will be connected to each other any time soon, we were aware that mobile devices are now remotely accessing TVs (Sling Box), and will soon be accessing video content on DVRs, and videos/photos/ images stored on a home based file server.   This trend will likely accelerate with the growth of mobile broadband networks.
 
Presentations and Discussion
 
Gabriel Sidhom, CTO of Orange Labs (South San Francisco) and VP Technology for France Telecom R&D provided Orange/FT’s perspective on delivering multiple services to the home via an integrated IP network. Orange/FT provides fixed and mobile telecom services in France, U.K., Spain, Poland, Africa and the Middle East. They see mobile broadband and IPTV growing at annual rates of 70% and 66% respectively in the countries where they provide services. 
 
A key point is that broadband growth is coming from services- both triple- play to the home, mobile data and video.
 
Rob Hull, Vice President – Business Development, British Telecom offered his views on “The Mass Market Digital Home.” Rob shared what BT had learned from the video services (e.g. broadcast digital video, VoD and PVR) they provide to residential customers:
 
  1. The mass market is considerably behind the early adopters.
  2. Selling the concept is harder then selling the box (e.g. STB).
  3. Customers expect SPs to provide excellent customer service.
  4. Don’t try to pre-empt what customer’s want.
Mr. Hull listed several requirements for Digital Home 2.0:
 
  • Access networks with sufficient speed to support all the equipment/ devices in the networked home
  • High speed home network coverage for the entire home (wireless repeaters may be needed for large home networks
  • Ubiquitous access to content: in-home on different devices; outside of the home
  • Monitoring services: energy, people, home security
  • Easy to set up and manage (considered critically important for success)
  • Inexpensive enough for mass market adoption
Gary Iosbaker, Distinguished Technologist, Hewlett Packard presented his company’s strategy and vision for the connected home and remote access to it.   A few very important industry trends:
 
  • Broadband communications has gained critical mass
  • On-line content is exploding
  • Communications and entertainment services are converging
  • Home networks are growing in number and in connected equipment devices
  • Mobile Internet- independent of access technology and devices
  • Mass customization will be required
  • Centralized home storage and connected devices will enable sharing of content and services from within or outside the home (eventually from anywhere there is an end to end broadband connection).
  • Uploads of photos, multi-media images, and videos will continue to grow very rapidly (placing new demands on upstream bandwidth)
  • New services will be created for uploading and downloading user content to/from the connected home.
Mr. Iosbaker made what was perhaps the most interesting remark during this Telecom Council meeting: remote users will access home digital storage via broadband wireless networks– on their smart phones, new gadgets, and/or notebook and netbook PCs.  Mobile WiMAX and LTE were seen driving this capability to access any home information from anywhere. 
 
This capability exists now to some degree with Slingbox remote TV access (see What’s New With Sling below). I’ve heard that a few “geek-like” users had a home network set-up whereby they were able to remotely view pre-recorded TV programs on a DVR from their mobile phones or notebook/ netbooks.
 
Chris Dobrec, Senior Director – Strategy & Business Development, Cisco talked about home networks and consumer networking gear. Home networking and entertainment has become a $3.5B business for Cisco, with their acquisitions of Linksys (WiFi routers) and Scientific Atlanta (STB). The company has announced several additional networked consumer electronics initiatives at the CES earlier this year and is advertising this theme on popular media like TV commercials . 
 
Mr. Dobrec sees a “media enabled home,” with many connected devices and equipment. These include: TVs, DVRs, PCs, game consoles, smart phones, networked audio, MP3 players, storage devices, media servers, IP cameras, and other gadgets. He says that the average number of devices on a home network is approaching a half dozen in broadband homes.  But early adopters have many more than that. Chris thinks of himself as a Home Network CTO.  He has 18 devices on his home network!
 
According to Mr. Dobrec, the devices and equipment on a home network will not only share a broadband wide area connection (as they do now via WiFi), but also they will also connect with one another. Can this really happen with the proliferation of home networking technologies? Chris says yes and Cisco will make it real! He indicated that Cisco is making home network converter boxes that have the capabilities of multi-protocol home network PHY and DL layer translation and routing. They plan to support Ethernet over twisted pair, WiFi (including 802.11n), HPNA, MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance), and BoPL (Broadband over Power Lines). Not all the technologies will be available in the same converter box, but some of these boxes are now available and being sold.
 
In conjunction with their Clearwire partnership, Cisco is developing Mobile WiMAX/ Wi-Fi devices that extend its Linksys line of home network routers. The devices, expected later this year for the CLEAR 4G Mobile WiMAX service, will be marketed to consumers, small office/home office, and small-to-midsize business users. We now expect those devices will essentially be WiFi to USB converters that require an external WiMAX modem or USB dongle to access the CLEAR network. We hope they will soon contain an integrated WiMAX radio and air interface.
 
What’s New With Sling?
 
No discussion about broadband access for the connected home would be complete without examining the Sling Box. For the last five years, this device, has allowed users to pipe all their existing cable and satellite TV channels onto the Internet and then to any computer or smart phone with a broadband connection.   In 2007, Sling Media was quietly acquired by satellite TV company EchoStar. Soon thereafter, Echostar split itself into two public companies: the Dish Networks for consumer TV business, and the Echostar Corporation, which owns Sling and is devoted to developing and licensing digital equipment for the television industry.
 
Sling also offers cable and satellite companies an easy way to get television to a variety of mobile devices without having to develop specific video services for each. Sling recently released a $29.99 application for the Apple iPhone, for example, although AT&T insisted that it work only over WiFi, and not over the carrier’s 3G network. AT&T said it feared that Sling’s streaming video could hog its bandwidth and lead to dropped calls.
 
This summer, Dish Networks plans to offer a set-top box embedded with Sling’s features to its 14 million subscribers across the country. Called the Sling Loaded HD DVR ViP 922, it will be offered to subscribers for $199.   Later, EchoStar plans to license Sling technology to other satellite and cable TV operators and consumer electronics companies. If successful, the concept of “place shifting” or “Slinging” shows to any device or PC could become a standard feature of most high-end cable TV set top boxes.
 
For more on this topic, please see:

Slipstream: From TV to the Web to Your Phone

Motorola enters embedded consumer device market with broadband wireless data cards

Manufacturers looking to take advantage of the increased speeds offered by 3G and 4G mobile broadband wireless networks such as WiMAX, HSPA and LTE can soon add off the shelf Motorola PCIe data cards into their notebooks, netbooks, portable gaming devices and other networked consumer electronics.
 
Motorola sees embedded wireless as a potential goldmine down the road. According to research firm Strategy Analytics, there will be 100 million devices with 3G or 4G technology embedded in them by 2014.
 
Gary Koerper, vice president of engine systems for Motorola Mobile Devices had a lot to say about Motorola’s new opportunity: "We see wireless broadband in consumer electronics being a tremendous growth opportunity not just for Motorola, but for the entire industry, In the next five to seven years everything you own will be connected to the Internet. As operators continue to deploy higher speed wireless networks to accommodate for growing consumer demand for mobility, there are opportunities for manufacturers and operators to roll out a wide range of low-power consumer electronics to enhance today’s mobile lifestyles. We look forward to working with the leaders in the wireless broadband ecosystem to incorporate high-speed broadband into more devices."
 
A variety of circuit cards will be offered:
 
  • The Motorola WTM1100 is an IEEE 802.16e Wave 2 compliant, single-band Half Mini-PCIe wireless network adapter that operates in the 2.5 GHz or 3.5 GHz spectrum for WiMAX connectivity.
  • The Motorola HTM1000, a 3G/2G HSPA, EDGE and GPRS Half Mini-PCIe WWAN adapter that supports HSPA data rates up to 10.1 Mbps downlink and 5.76 Mbps uplink.
  • The Motorola offers the LTM1000 single-mode LTE card, which is capable of speeds up to 100Mbps downlink and 50Mbps uplink. All three products conform to the PCIe revision 1.2 standard. 
For more information, please see this press release:
 
Conclusions:
 
Home networking with broadband Internet access should be a major growth area in the converged world of computing, communications and entertainment.  We can expect to see lots more innovation in the connected home and remote (especially mobile) access to it. But first we need media and storage servers to be present in home networks and web addressable as if they were a web server on the Internet. Watch HP for new technology in this area. 
 
The idea of multi-protocol home network routers is very enticing, given the plethora of home networking wireless and wire-line standards (WiFi, Ethernet, MoCA, BoPL, etc). We expect Cisco to be the leader in this market segment. 
 
Keep your eye on Sling technology being embedded in new set top boxes and mobile applications for smart phones.  It will be interesting to see if EchoStar can successfully license their technology to other satellite, cable TV, or telco video providers.
 
Finally, we expect Motorola’s new wireless PCIe data cards to accelerate time to market for many new mobile and wireless devices for consumers.

[1] The Telecom Council (www.telecomcouncil.com) meets regularly to discuss key business issues for telecom decision makers. Carriers and their venture capital divisions located in Silicon Valley are the principal members (the Council was formerly known as the Service Provider Forum).

 

Viodi View – 05/27/09

In this issue, Roger Bindl and Margaret Hines of Inspire Marketing report from the 2009 Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association Convention. Alan Weissberger reports on a talk given by famed anti-trust expert, Gary Reback. The comments that follow from Reback and others provide an interesting look at the changing anti-trust climate. Finally, I follow up with a brief summary of a rural-based tech company that wants to change the way telcos offer broadband services.


ViodiTV at WSTA highlightsViodiTV at WSTA 2009

This video provides highlights from the 2009 WSTA Annual Convention. This edition of ViodiTV at WSTA was sponsored by Solarus and Central Cable Contractors. Highlights include Wisconsin PSC Commissioner Mark Meyer, Daniel Hardy and Judd Genda of Axley Brynelson, Gary Evans of Hiawatha Broadband says that local content is the most important thing they do, as it puts smiles on the faces of their customers, Jerry Wilke of RTG, Rob Riordan of Nsight, Andrew Walding of CellStream, Ann Anderson of Lemonweir Valley Tel, and Matt Eversmann of Freeman Phillips LLC. The video wraps up with bagels, brunch, golf, and fish. Check ViodiTV for full interviews with Jerry Wilke on femtocells, Rob Riordan on femtocell applications, Andrew Walding on Evolving TDM to IP, and Matt Eversmann on leadership. A special thanks to Margaret Hines of Inspire Marketing for assisting with interviews.


Andrew Walding discusses how TDM evolves to IPEvolving TDM to IP by Roger Bindl

An interview with Andrew Walding, CellStream, at the WSTA 2009 Annual Convention. Andrew talks about moving from TDM voice to IP voice, and how we’re not really inventing a new wheel, but adapting it. We talk a bit on the flexibility of SIP and his favorite new application and gadget. ViodiTV at WSTA was sponsored by Solarus and Central Cable Contractors.


femtocell perspective from Jerry WilkeFemtocells?!

Margaret Hines Inspire Marketing, interviews Jerry Wilke RTG Executive Director at the 2009 WSTA annual convention on Femtocells. If not already, rural carriers will face new competition from wireless carriers and Wilke provides an example of one rural carrier who found they had lost at least one landline subscriber to a wireless carrier and its femtocell technology. ViodiTV at WSTA was produced by Roger Bindl.


Rob Riordan of Nsight Telservices discusses Femtocell applicationsFemtocell Applications with Rob Riordan by Roger Bindl

Rob Riordan, Nsight, talks about Femtocells. Margaret Hines – Inspire Marketing – interviews Rob at the WSTA 2009 Annual Convention for ViodiTV. Riordan suggests some innovative uses of femtocells, including as a sort of location detection device to remind teenagers to do their chores and homework when they arrive home from school. Beyond improving signal quality, femtocells could facilitate personalized advertisements. Riordan also discusses how femtocells combined with an IP backbone can extend wireless into applications for 1/10 the price of traditional methods. This edition was sponsored by Solarus and Central Cable Contractors.


TIA Forecasts 3.1 Percent Loss for ICT Industry in 2009- Broadband still THE growth driver for telecom by Alan Wwissberger

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), whose primary membership is network equipment vendors, has just released its annual report and outlook for the global telecommunications industry. For the first time in its 23 years of forecasting, TIA predicts a 3.1 % loss for the global ICT Industry in 2009. Further, they anticipate a 5.5 % decline for 2009 US ICT revenue. Much of this loss may be attributed to a 27 % fall in the U.S. broadband equipment market. Click here to read more.


Gary Reback: US Government Must Enforce Antitrust Laws to Encourage Innovation by Alan Weissberger

Gary Reback is one of the nation’s most prominent antitrust attorneys, best known for spearheading the efforts that led to the federal lawsuit against Microsoft. Gary spoke to an attentive and eager audience on May 14th in Santa Clara, CA. The Commonwealth Club and Yale Club of Silicon Valley sponsored his enlightening and provocative talk. Reback’s main message was that the government l’aissez faire policies, so strongly promoted by University of Chicago economists, have gone way too far. As a counter-weight, he says we need more government oversight of the private sector along with more vigilant anti-trust enforcement.  Click here to read more.


Enter a New Gateway

I recently had a chance to catch up with Robert Peterson and Jeff Christensen of Entry Point, LLC based in Idaho Falls and Salt Lake City. Entry Point is an early stage company with a gateway product capable of supporting so-called triple play services, as well as advanced broadband services such as smart meters, femtocells and home security.  Click here to read more.  

Viodi View – 05/08/09

wsta banner

 

 

 

 

 “Déjà vu’ all over again”, as Yogi Berra reportedly once said, is the term that describes today’s popular news events. The stagnant economy and, more importantly, consumer confidence seem reminiscence of the 70s. There is a definite tension in the air as we are waiting for the affects of the government spending to kick-in and wondering if the result will be stable growth, high inflation or, that ugly 70s term, stagflation.

Government spending in the form of the stimulus was the topic of many of the conversations and panels at the IP Possibilities Conference last month in San Diego. There was talk of the broadband stimulus being the first part of a national broadband strategy (see this link to Bennet & Bennet for a good summary), whereby every American has to have access to broadband capability, that will culminate in a plan that FCC must deliver to Congress by February 17, 2010 (ironic date, given it will be exactly one year after the delayed DTV transition date).


Click here to watchLooking Down Under to Stay on Top of Broadband

In this video, Steve Klein of ViodiTV sponsor Allied Telesis discusses the role of technologies such as IP and Fiber to the Home in the context of an overall national broadband plan. His comments about Australia and their plan to bring fiber everywhere are esepecially interesting.Click hereto watch the video.


A New Way at Looking at Over the Top at IP Possibilities

click here to watch this insightful video regarding over the top applicationsA big question in any discussion of broadband policy is the role of the service providers; the folks who are investing large sums on the last mile infrastructure. The question is often posed as to whether the service providers will end up being dumb pipes or something much bigger. In this video, Andrew Randall of ViodiTV sponsor Metaswitch provides a nuanced view of how independent telcos can approach applications that could be considered friend or foe, depending upon one’s viewpoint.  Clic here to watch the video.


Open Standards Smart Grid via WiMAX by Alan Weissberger

San Francisco start up software company Grid Net, is using WiMAX technology in its wireless smart meter instrument. The meter, being built by GE, uses Intel’s WiMAX chip and Grid Net software. It is said to be one of the first truly "open-standards" based approaches to building a meter. Click here to read more.


50K WiMAX Subscribers Today – > 13 Million By 2013 by Alan Weissberger

The Economic Times of India reports that Tata Communications (TCL) has signed up 50,000 subscribers for its fixed WiMAX service. TCL, earlier known as VSNL, had received WiMax spectrum in the 3.3 GHz band under its Internet Service Provider (ISP) licence with the Indian government.   Other Indian network operators- Bharti Airtel, Aircel, Sify and Reliance Communications – also own spectrum in this band.  Click here to read more.


New Apps and Smart Phones to Drive Demand for 4G Mobile Networks by Alan Weissberger

We now believe that smart phones and "all-in-one" gadgets will drive the need for more bandwidth and QOS and accelerate mobile network movement to 3.5G (EVDO, HSPA, mobile WiMAX, etc) and 4G (LTE and Advanced WiMAX- IEEE 802.16m).  Click here to read more.


Brief Kudos & Upcoming Events

  • DSL Prime – Congratulations Dave Burstein and Jenny Bourne of DSL Prime/DOCSIS Report/Fiber News on the look of their new web site. Bursteing brings an insightful view and valued information in his newsletters and web site.
  • Entone – Congratulations to Steve McKay and the folks at long time Viodi View sponsor Entone for their deal with Vudu. I had the pleasure of speaking at Entone’s User Group meeting last year and came away impressed with the organization.
  • Nokeena for making their public announcement about their streaming solution that could change the economics of content delivery networks and have a big impact in rural and less served areas.
  • Verismo Networks – Congratulations on the launch of their VuNow Internet TV platform with Act Television in Bangalore.

 


The Korner – More than Possibilities at IP Possibilities

some beautiful scenary at IP Possiblities.  Check out this overview video

With the stress of the economy and the general pressure created by our 24 hour a day, social network connected society, it is sometimes difficult to step back and, at least for me, take a moment to look at the beauty that is in our midst. The IP Possibilities Conference was a blur and I certainly didn’t take in the scenery and the cool outdoor sea breezes as much as I would have liked.

Thus, I found this video from Roger Bindl to be refreshing, as he captures, not only highlights of the conference, but some of the ambience that helped make it an enjoyable experience. Roger has become quite skilled at turning what could be a boring talking head experience and turning it a rich media production with effects and images that add value to the speakers’ words. Click here to watch his summary video of this very important conference regarding IP and broadband.  Click here to watch the video.  

Viodi View – 04/17/2009

Security is a state of mind. It can be somewhat an abstract concept until it is pierced by some criminal act. Once breached, there are constant reminders, whether in the form of taller fences or long security lines, of the vulnerability we face due to unsavory actors . We had a recent event on the southern edges of Silicon Valley that pointed to security weaknesses in the telecommunications’ infrastructure.


Could the Outage in Santa Clara County Been Prevented or Alleviated By Alan Weissberger

On Thursday April 9th, Internet, cell phone, and land-line phone service were all out of service for customers in parts of Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. Even 911 calls weren’t going through. The culprit was a gang of rogues that cut 10 AT&T fiber optic cables in 4 different locations. In this article on that disruption, Alan Weissberger makes the argument that WiMAX could have provided a level of redundancy that would have ameliorated the effects of this criminal act.  Click here to read the rest of the article. 


cyberspaceCritical Infrastructures Impacted by Cyberspace By Roger Bindl

Sami Saydjari, president of the Cyber Defense Agency, stressed the importance of maintaining a secure telecommunications infrastructure in this exclusive video interview with Roger Bindl. Bindl was the only video reporter at the Cyberspace Symposium last week in Omaha. This conference was notable in that it received national coverage, especially with regards to the vulnerability of the U.S.’ electrical grid. In this video interview, Saydjari gives his thoughts on the current state of telecom security.  Click here to view the video.


Cyberspace:  The New Battleground By Roger Bindl

In this video clip, Roger provides an overview of the Cyberspace Symposium. This first-ever symposium was important as it was a recognation that cyberspace is another potential battlefield for military planners to master, whether the threat is from terrorist groups or from rogue nations. A change of culture seems to be a common theme of many of the comments and part of this is adapting to and understanding the Web 2.0 world. Click here to view Roger’s summary video of this multi-day event.


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An example of the 1cast application on the G1 phone.News on Demand – Everywhere

News on demand – a concept that has been around for along time, but was it was just an abstract notion for me until recently. Anthony Bontranger of 1cast let me know, via a Facebook comment on my recent story about the Gphone, that this new service is now available as an application for both the G Phone and iPhone. Click here to read the rest of the post.


click here to view the postPeople on the Move: I Know that Person

MTA had a very moving video production that summarized, in pictures and soundtrack, 100 years of their association. When I saw the video at the opening event, I was impressed and wondered who did the production. I was thrilled to learn that friend and fellow video producer, Jeanne Wilber of Melrose Telephone/Diversicom/SCTV 19, was behind this production. Check out the clip here, see how many faces you recognize and purchase a copy of the DVD by clicking here.


The Korner – A Interactive White Board for $60

George Henny forwarded an interesting video a few weeks back. It was intriguing, as it left me wanting to know more about the interactive white board he had created using a Wii remote and a home grown electronics circuit. What George and his IT colleague, Wayne Jeffers devised was effectively an interactive white board that normally would cost thousands of dollars for about $60 in parts (including the Wii remote).

a low cost, interactive white boardHenny explained that he was inspired by a video from a guy named Johnny Lee who came up with the idea and developed the software. Jeffers constructed an infrared LED pen, which provides positioning information to the Wii remote. Bluetooth connects the Wii remote to a PC and create an interactive white board or a low-cost tablet PC. Henny believes this could be a cost-effective solution for schools wanting the benefits of interactive white boards and has already presented it to his local school district.

George is speaking at next week’s IP Possibilities conference in San Diego and promises to bring this set-up with him. In the meantime, you can check George out in this video and the video that is within the video.

Viodi View -04/03/2009

The first time I got serious about using a personal digital assistant was something that Atari produced some 20 years ago. This was before the term PDA was coined. I bought it because somehow I thought it would make me smarter or, at least, better organized. It did neither and it was soon relegated to the shelf to gather dust. The G1 from T-Mobile (service) /HTC (phone manufacturer) /Google (Android operating system) may finally provide the organizational nirvana I have been looking for my entire life.

The G1 phone proved to be a handy assistant in producing ViodiTV at last month’s MTA convention. Although, I haven’t looked for teleprompting sofware for it yet (that sort of application exists for other PDAs), it served as a great way to jot down notes and scripts. The fast web browsing, thanks to the 3G network, made this a very useful research tool for getting facts for our "just in time" video production. Two extremely useful applications that helped us coordinate our interviews at MTA were the integrated calendar and email; allowing us to create more video than we had in years past.


Working Together – Yesterday and Today

click here to watch our video interview with Ron LaquaA video that was very special to me is my interview with Ron Laqua of Halstad Telephone. Ron chaired the MTA Centennial committee. In this interview, I was struck with how we were part of a living history that in some way might be part of a 200th anniversary celebration. I caught up with Ron, via email, this week regarding the historic flooding along the Red River. He indicated that his town was relatively safe given the high dike walls and the standby generator that has been providing back up power this past week.

He explained that his town helped out by stuffing and distributing sandbags to farms and other towns. He pointed out that 90% of the Fargo-Moorhead population was somehow involved in fighting the flood. As Ron said, this sort of volunteerism is inspiring.  Click here to watch the video interview.


click here to watch the video interview with Brian Potter of Gardonville Telphone Cooperative AssociationIndependent WiMax

In this interview shot at MTA’s Convention, Brian Potter of Gardonville Telephone Cooperative Association discusses their rollout of WiMax services in rural Minnesota and their use of both 700 MHz and 3.7 GHz to provide fixed wireless Internet.  Click here to watch this interview.


Femtocells and Mobile Broadband Technologies by Alan Weissberger

Femtocells are another topic of hot discussion in the telecommunications world. They offer the wireless carrier the potential of off-loading backhaul traffic, while improving customer experience and potentially providing better value by allowing the cell phone to have unlimited minutes in the home environment. Alan Weissberger provides a summary of a recent conference on the topic of Femtocells in this article. Click here to read the latest on Femtocells.


Managing the Mobile Workforce using MaaS by Alan Weissberger

On April 1st, I attended a SaaS Conference talk by Jim Sheward, CEO of Fiberlink, on the topic of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS). I found it provocative and of vital interest to IT managers that are having great difficulting managing a mobile work force. Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) is the delivery of enterprise mobility infrastructure using a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform where the programs run on servers that are reached via the public Internet. Specifically, MaaS is a "cloud" based, always on, Enterprise Mobility Platform™ with cost advantages, ubiquitous mobile device connectivity capability and a real-time updating and enforcement software engine.


Asides

Congratulations to Tellytopia and SureWest for implementation of Tellytopia’s i2TV online to television platform. SureWest is a definition validation for Tellytopia’s unique approach to bringing User Generated Content to the TV. Tellytopia gave a preview of this at the panel Viodi organized at last year’s Telecom at NAB show.

We are going to miss this year’s NAB. The folks from Lightbulb Communications have another great content slate at the Telecom2009 at NAB conference they are producing.

We will be at the IP Possibilities show in San Diego, which also has a great list of speakers but overlaps with NAB. I am looking forward to moderating a panel on local content at this forum.


The Korner – Time Saver or Distraction?

Click here to watch the video of my experience with Northwest Airline's electronic boarding passOne of the reasons for holding off on the procurement of a smart phone, besides the increase in monthly subscription fee, was my tendency to become tethered – some might say addicted – to Internet access. Those who saw me at MTA Convention could attest that the G1 phone was effectively my new appendage. It is a double edge sword as the constant connectivity and access to information provides gives me more opportunity to be productive. On the other hand, the persistent availability of the Internet competes for the idle moments where I could think random thoughts that might lead to a good idea.

Worse yet, is the distraction of the Internet and email that causes me to lose focus on the task at hand.

For instance, I was able to use the G1 phone to check in while on the Minneapolis Light Rail system. Even better than checking in, I was able to receive a virtual bar code on my phone for scanning at security. I was so thrilled with this time saving step, that I emailed Roger. In between our virtual high five emails celebrating my technical prowess, I missed the stop for my terminal. It took about 5 minutes before I realized I would have to backtrack. Fortunately, I could bypass check-in and go straight to security. I simply waived my phone over the security bar code reader and made my plane with at least 5 minutes to spare.  Click here to watch my brief video on this electronic ticketing application. 

In the next part of this review, we will look at some of the productivity enhancing applications from Android market that I have been using.

WCA Panel Session: Femtocells and their consequences for Mobile Broadband Technologies

Background:

Femtocells are low power 3G/4G cellular base stations which can be thought of as wireless Access Points (AP’s). Instead of a WiFi Access Point we’re all familiar with, a femtocell could be a UMTS, CDMA/EVDO, LTE, or Mobile WiMAX Access Point, depending on the underlying mobile network technology. The bi-directional voice and data traffic is taken off the respective wireless network and placed on the Broadband Internet connection at the home or office. Femtocell suppliers claim they’ll be capable of communicating at 3G (HSDPA) and 4G (LTE, mobile WiMAX) speeds, depending on the bandwidth of the broadband Internet connection (which could be a bottleneck).
Femtocells will provide mobile handset and notebook PC coverage in a home or business with typically 2- 4 simultaneously active users. Picocells are larger APs designed for enterprise use, with higher output power, to handle more simultaneous users. No changes are required to the handset, notebook PC, or other mobile devices, [the SIM card in a mobile device might be programmed to authenticate the user].   The residential and enterprise femtocell markets have very different requirements and operators will likely target one of those market segments. Some carriers see the need for enterprise femtocells creating a bigger market opportunity than residential. With few exceptions (e.g. T- Mobile USA), femtocells are preferred to WiFi APs by mobile carriers.
Definition: Here is a link to the Wikipedia definition:
The Femto Forum is a not-for-profit membership organization founded in 2007, to promote femtocell deployment worldwide. They have published results of a comprehensive study project, which shows a positive femtocell business case:
Here is another useful web site: http://www.thinkfemtocell.com/
On March 17th 2009 the WCA Mobile SIG sponsored a panel on Femtocell technology and business models. The participants were as follows:
Moderator and Presenter: Stefan Scheinert, Principal, Scheinert Telecom
Panelists:
— Peter Walther, Product Manager, mimoOn
— Dror Nahumi, Partner, Norwest Venture Partners
— Behzad Mohebbi, CTO, Nextivity
— Tom McQuade, VP NA Sales, picoChip
— Michelle Pampin, Wireless Backhaul Specialist
Discussion:
One primary goal of femtocells is to take traffic off the mobile network, which operators have paid a substantial spectrum license fee to own and use for mobile services. With more and more voice and data traffic originating or terminating in homes or offices, this would free up spectrum for users on the move. It could permit more mobile users per cell site, OR smaller and cheaper base stations (with less output power), OR higher speeds per mobile user. However, this is all dependent on the broadband Internet connection and ISP policy regarding femtocell traffic. For example, a DSL connection would probably not provide enough bandwidth to carry traffic from multiple home or enterprise femtocell users. If the ISP is not the same as the mobile provider, it could block the traffic or at least throttle it back (e.g. Comcast and Bit Torrent). Why should the ISP give a free ride for traffic that would otherwise be on the mobile operator’s network?
Are femtocells the answer? There are several competing technologies, including:
·                    Unlicensed Mobile Access or UMA (WiFi based)- As noted earlier in this article, T Mobile is using this approach to provide VoIP over WiFi in the home, with GSM cellular voice outside. Users get dual mode handsets and calls automatically switch from one wireless medium to the other. But we suspect this might be a stop-gap measure until femtocells are ready for commercial deployment (see below).
·                    Macro Base Stations– with more output power: Seimens, Nokia, Ericsson are expected to build these higher throughput Base Stations (with up to 300 M bit/sec aggregate data rate).
·                    Repeaters– favored over femtocells when there is no high speed backhaul available, or the operators do not want to use femtocells. It was stated that LTE will likely use repeaters, rather then femtocells, due to higher speeds not supported by the broadband Internet connection. Vodafone, which has also conducted femtocell trials in a number of European countries, is said to be expanding its trials of repeaters in several European locations, although the company has admitted it would continue to evaluate both femtocells and repeaters.
Market Assessment: Norwest Venture Partners believes these different alternatives have created enough confusion to delay the femtocell market. As a result, the market has been slow to take off and difficult to justify. And even if the market for femtocells picks up, it might be difficult for a start-up to make money.
Voice over LTE: The current 3GPP release 8 specifies LTE as an all IP network, but does not include support for a voice codec. Most likely, voice will be offered via GSM or CDMA codecs, or a Skype like VoIP over LTE service. 3GPP Release 9 or 10 will specify voice codecs for use with LTE.
Here are a few critical issues/ checklist for femtocell deployment
(Source: Stefan Scheinert):
·                    Femtocell AP Box cost should be < $100
·                    Location awareness required, because Femtocells use licensed spectrum
·                    Macro network interference (from other femtocells and outside mobile network cells) requires dynamic management, i.e. an interference detector/sniffer to measure power strength of neighboring cells.
·                    Security and integrity of femtocell traffic over the Internet using the femtocell backhaul or broadband Internet connection.
·                    Plug and play with auto configuration on power up.
Author’s Opinion: Another issue (similar to WiFi free-loading) is how to ensure individual femtocells are only accessible to the homeowner or business paying the bills. Some type of automatic authentication will be required prior to use. And there is a national security issue as well- how operators can comply with regulations that allow for the interception of cell phone calls by law enforcement agencies?
Deployment of Femtocells
There are a large number of operators participating in the Femto Forum, which augurs for actual deployment in the near future. Picochip stated that they have licensed their femtocell technology to IP Access, which is working with Cisco to get femtocells deployed at AT&T. Cisco is contributing Self Organizing Network software to this femtocell initiative.   Three cities trials were said to take place in 3Q 09 with commercial deployment scheduled for 4Q09. In checking with my trusted colleague at AT&T, I was told that currently there are internal femtocell trials within the company, but nothing else has been announced.
We hear that there are many carrier field trials of femtocells, but no results have been announced. Many different variants of femtocell technologies are being trialed, according to our privileged sources. For example, T-Mobile (which has deployed VoIP over WiFi in the U.S.) has completed several trials with femtocells, and invested in the UK-based femtocell manufacturer Ubiquisys. It is said that the company plans to launch a commercial service using the technology by mid-year in Germany.
“Femtocell rollouts to date have been limited, controlled ones,” said Aditya Kaul, an ABI Research senior analyst. “Shipments at the end of 2008 were in the few hundred thousands, and at the end of 2009 should climb towards a million but will fall short.”   ABI Research expects that 2010 will see shipments climbing well above a million units. Indeed, vendors are gearing up for a big push, Kaul said. One of the industry’s main silicon suppliers, PicoChip recently announced a multi-million dollar injection of funding. Kaul said he expects that the funding will “probably be geared toward a ramp-up and that there is “a lot of similar activity behind the scenes, and new partnerships which point to preparation for a major market expansion.”
Late in 2009 or early in 2010, ABI Research said it expects an announcement of a multi-city commercial femtocell deployment by one of the major mobile operators, which may encourage other operators to follow suite.   Until now, large-scale femtocell deployments have only been simulated in computer models: real-world rollouts could pose challenges.
Price is one: ABI Research believes that although femtocell business models could be enabled at various price points, low-cost femtocells (under $100) are essential to bridge the gap between niche market and mass-market deployments.
Nonetheless, “These challenges are all valid, but none of them are show-stoppers – there’s no ‘elephant in the room’ that will pose a major obstacle to large-scale deployment,” according to Kaul. For more information, please see:
 
Recession Slows Femtocell Deployments, but Only Temporarily, According to ABI Research
There was some uncertainty expressed by the panelists, as to which network operator would actually deploy and maintain the femtocells. We think it will be the mobile operator that is offloading network traffic and providing better indoor reception to its customers. But Michelle Pampin, Wireless Backhaul Specialist, stated that it would be the provider of the broadband Internet service (who controls the QoS for the femtocell traffic that’s backhauled to the public Internet). Panel Moderator StefanScheinert told me privately that Michelle was not correct, i.e. that the mobile operator would own and sell the femtocells to end users/ enterprises.
Here’s a chart of Femtocell Deployment status in Europe:
Any WiMAX Femtocells?
 
There has been a lot of speculation about Comcast providing femtocells for its mobile WiMAX deployment (reseller agreement in Portland, OR announced and several cities have been targeted for mobile WiMAX build-outs. But at this time, there are more questions than answers.
Comcast initially said that femtocells would be part of its WiMAX strategy, but nothing was said about it when its Portland,OR WiMAX service was announced last week (reselling Clearwire’s CLEAR).   Comcast’s Sr VP for wireless and technology, Dave Williams, said in June 2008 that a key element of the Clearwire investment and partnership was to reserve 5 MHz of spectrum for WiMax femtocell deployments. That spectrum would also be available for use by any of the Clearwire consortium members, which includes Comcast, fellow cable MSOs Bright House Networks and Time Warner Cable Inc. as well as Google and Intel Corp.
“We’ll be pushing WiMax femtocells because we have a good customer base in the home — we sell HDTV, VOIP, and high-speed Internet connectivity. We want to take that experience in the home and add mobility,” Williams told Unstrung at the time. But Comcast has not said anything more about WiMAX femtocells- at least not publicly. For more on this topic, please refer to:   http://www.unstrung.com/document.asp?doc_id=173652
Conclusions and Companies to Watch:
As with so many new technologies, the jury is still out on femtocells especially for Mobile WiMAX, which has yet to establish a critical mass of subscribers. We are most concerned about the broadband Internet connection being a potential bottleneck (especially if it is DSL) and the broadband ISP blocking, metering or restricting femtocell traffic on its network. Stefan does not think the ISP will actually block femtocell traffic (note that the FCC fined Comcast for doing this). So there is a likely to be some contractual agreement between the mobile operator supplying the femtocells and the broadband ISP.
We would watch PicoChip, which appears to have leading edge femtocell technology. Please see this overview and ecosystem report:
Percello is an Israeli start-up femtocell manufacturer to also keep an eye on. They are designing a low-cost, high performance femtocell 3G W-CDMA baseband processor chip. Please refer to:

Viodi View – 03/04/2009

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Reach out from IP Possibilities with sponsored video’s by Viodi for IP Possibilities and news releases. The ePublication and Viodi View Newsletter mailing will reach over 8,000 industry professionals twice during the 2 day conference. Check here for details.


“Cherish the past and embrace the future,” was the theme of this year’s 2009 Minnesota Telecom Alliance’s Convention and Annual Meeting in Minneapolis. As usual, this uber-large, State Telephone Association tradeshow was the place to be to see independent telcos from the upper Midwest. What made this show special is that it celebrated the centennial anniversary of the association. It was both an honor and a humbling experience to participate in the festivities associated with this event and to interview past and current leaders of the Minnesota telecom industry. 


Click here to view this stimulating interview with Andy Brown of Bennet & Bennet regarding the Broadband StimulusA Stimulating Conversation on the Broadband Stimulus

A hot topic issue at the MTA Convention was the recently passed economic stimulus bill and the impact it will have on broadband deployments. After talking to a number of people at the MTA confab, the consensus about how the broadband stimulus is going to be managed is summed up best by the quote from Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman, “Nobody knows anything.”  At the MTA, we caught up with Andy Brown of Bennet and Bennet who provided an excellent summary of the package and what the broadband stimulus could mean to independent telcos in this brief video interview.


3G and LTE squeeze WiMAX- is the market window still open? by Alan Weissberger

Many pundits have declared the window of opportunity for WiMAX has closed.  Squeezed between he enhanced capability of 3G technologies (e.g. HSPA/HSPA+ for GSM) and accelerated LTE roll-outs, (notably Verizon Wireless) the claim is that WiMAX is DOA.  We disagree!  Click here to read the rest of the article [Editor’s note:  this article has received some very interesting and extensive commentary since its publication on February 21].


…..Telecom Start-ups and Supportive Carriers Recognized by Alan Weissberger

Over 20 Service Provider (SP) members of the Telecom Council of Silicon Valley announced the winners for this year’s SPIFFY awards for their innovation, execution, management, and technology at the annual SPIFFY Award ceremony.  First place winners include 4Home (congrats Brad Kayton).  To read the rest of the article, as well as Norwest Venture Partners Tim Chang’s observations on the current harsh climate for telecom start-ups and entrepreneurs, click here.


Feedback, Feedback, Feedback

We would like to hear what attendees of the MTA show thought of ViodiTV.  We listed some things we think we can improve for the next show.  We are very interested in hearing what the viewers have to say, so please comment on this post. 


The Korner – Cherishing the Past and Embracing the Future – An Independent Telecom Family

My favorite VIodiTV stories are the ones that deal with people. After all, technology in the telecom industry should be transparent and facilitate the connecting of people. As such, I was extremely excited to find out that one of the sharpest young technologists in the business, Shaun Carlson, had a family connection to the business. His father, Steve Carlson, recently retired from a long career at Dakota Supply Group.

Shaun and Steve Carlson on the Independent Telecom business - then, now and the futureI have known Shaun through his speaking engagements at various industry events. At last year’s IP Possibilities, Shaun and I became “Facebook Friends” and, as a result, formed ties that extend to our respective Churches, even though our Churches are a thousand-plus miles away from each other. I have been impressed with Shaun’s ability to be a technology bridge for his community. What impresses me most, however, is how he finds time to serve our Country via the Air National Guard, as well as be a youth leader at his Church.

So, I was thrilled to meet Shaun’s dad, Steve, at this event. Through his work at Dakota Supply Group, he helped the independent telcos and their rural communities through a career of service. While researching their web site for this post, I noticed that DSG has a special club for the children of their employees and their customers. Kids who join the club receive a membership packet, t-shirt and opportunities to participate in contests; in short; it is a good community building thing for rural communities.

This video interview with Steve and Shaun Carlson embodies the theme of MTA’s 2009 Convention of cherishing the past and embracing the future.

Telecom Council Announces SPIFFY Award Winners- Telecom Start-ups and Supportive Carriers Recognized

 Abstract

The mission of the Telecom Council of Silicon Valley is described along with the rationale for the SPIFFY awards. Notable comments from selected award presenters/ recipients are included in this summary along with Norwest Venture Partners Tim Chang’s observation on the current harsh climate for telecom start-ups and entrepreneurs.  Tim presented before the awards were announced.
 
Who is the Telecom Council of Silicon Valley?
 
The Telecom Council of Silicon Valley connects companies and individuals involved in the region’s communications technology industry with one another for business development, collaboration, and education. The Council, formerly know as the Service Provider Investment Forum, hosts events to bring together local telecom professionals- the industry’s critical mass of businesses, research, ideas, capital, and human expertise.   Their principal goal of the Council is to provide an arena to "Connect, Communicate, and Collaborate."
 
What are SPIFFY Awards?
 
The SPIFFY Awards recognize the most outstanding telecommunications start-ups in Silicon Valley, as judged by the Service Provider members of the Telecom Council of Silicon Valley.  
 
Over 20 Service Provider (SP) members of the Telecom Council of Silicon Valley announced the winners for this year’s SPIFFY awards for their innovation, execution, management, and technology at the annual SPIFFY Award ceremony. These are SP’s or their venture capital subsidiary that have a presence in Silicon Valley.   Of the 96 pre-screened telecom startups that presented at Telecom Council meetings in 2008, members of the Service Provider Forum (SPIF) chose seven winners and seven runner- ups. There was also an award given to the most successful SPIF alumni (start-up that had won an award last year).
 
Competition for these awards is stiff because all startups are screened by Telecom Council Steering Committees before they are selected to present to the SPIF or other Telecom Council forum meetings. Startups who present have already been identified as having ideas, relevance, and traction that most appeal to carrier members from around the globe.   Bling Software won awards in two different categories.
 
The winners and 2nd place finishers of the 2009 SPIFFY Awards were:
 
  • The Edison Award for Most Innovative Start-Up: 4Home, Qik.
  • Ground Breaker Award for Engineering Excellence: Morpho, Staccato Communications
  • The San Andreas Award for Most Disruptive Technology: Bling Software
  • The Fred & Ginger Award for Most Supportive Carrier: Swisscom (for the active role of their Silicon Valley-based team in the telecom innovation scene), Intellect Partners (a division of Telia Sonera).
  • Graham Bell Award for Best Communication Solution: TruTap and Amika Mobile shared this award
  • The Core Award for Best Fixed Telecom Opportunity: Brilliant Telecom, Zeugma Systems
  • Prodigy Award for the Most Successful SPiF Alumni: 2Wire, JahJah
  • The Zephyr Award for Best Mobile Opportunity: Bling Software, Avot Media
The Telecom Council looks forward to promoting ongoing innovation in the telecom value chain and reviewing over 100 telecom startups in 2009.
 
References:
Here are the url’s for the web sites of the winning companies:
 
 
Here are a few notable comments from the award presenters and recipients:
 
Adobe has been involved in mobile communications for five years. They believe it has now become mainstream and is contributing to the evolution of the web. From the company’s web site (http://www.adobe.com/mobile/): “Adobe aims to empower device manufacturers, content providers, and operators to deliver engaging experiences that run consistently across desktops, mobile phones, and consumer electronics devices by leveraging the Adobe® Flash® Platform.” They have recently folded their Mobile Division into their main corporate business.
 
BT believes that fixed line communication has become “something new again” This is due to VoIP, unified communications and intelligent services offered over fixed lines to business and residential subscribers. (BT does not have a mobile/wireless division, having abdicated that market to Vodafone in the U.K. and elsewhere).
 
Brilliant Telecom is a timing and synchronization company whose technology has been deployed by Vodafone.
 
Bling Software CEO graciously accepted both awards. The company’s embedded software is said to enable consumers to have a dynamic mobile web content experience on their cell phone screens.
 

 
Norwest Venture Partners’ Tim Chang on the outlook for telecom entrepreneurs
 
Resiliency, good timing, connections, and patience are always needed, but especially in this challenging economic environment.
 
There are pockets of strength in mobile communications:
  • Smart phone are selling well
  • Apple App Stores are doing over $1M of business each day
  • There are now 50M mobile web users in the U.S.- over ¼ of the total number of users
  • Web video usage has increased (Source Fierce Telecom)
  • While the mobile advertising market is slowing, it does have future potential
  • Mobile ARPU has increased for cellular carriers: AT&T from $50.88 to $59 from the Q1 to Q4 in 2008; VZW from $50.40 to $51.7 in the same time period.
Tim believes that cellcos will go back to metered service (vs. flat rate plans) and create tiered bundles of services for consumers.
 
Finding funding has been (and will continue to be) very hard for capital-intensive start-ups, e.g. semiconductors, network equipment, touch screens. Venture investors can’t afford to spend $60m to $100M before such companies validate their business plans with technology they can sell to OEMs. 
 
SP deployment cycles are slowing and that benefits larger companies at the expense of more nimble and quicker start-ups. Femtocells and new CPE were cited as an example. 
 
System oriented start-ups (network infrastructure equipment, modules, CPE, etc) were advised to target their products/technology to tier 2 carriers that might be more open and receptive than tier 1 carriers.
 
Strategic investors, e.g. SK Telecom might provide funds that VCs would not provide in this challenging financing environment. This is especially the case with IPOs not being an exit strategy option for start-ups.
 
VCs are pursuing a barbell investment strategy- providing seed capital to very early stage or embryonic start-ups and later rounds to mature companies in their investment portfolio. Series B and C funding rounds have been the hardest to complete, which means that many start-ups are folding operations.
 
Some promising mobile market segments include:
  • Game playing with iPhones
  • Micro transaction payment processing
  • Wireless enterprise applications and backhaul
  • Apps where content is in the “cloud” and available on demand.