Viodi View – 03/28/14

A Sneak Peak Innovation Trailer

The ViodiTV app is on display in this image.
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Innovating by improving business processes was a recurring theme of this week’s Minnesota Telecom Alliance Convention and Tradeshow in Minneapolis. The cloud and web applications are driving many of the efficiency improvements for not only operators, but their suppliers and consultants.  A few of the stories from MTA are in this issue, while others will be revealed in future issues of the Viodi View. In the meantime, check out this trailer video for the ViodiTV channel that appeared on the convention hotels.

Click here to view.


Social Media – It Takes a Team

Rosie Berg of Pinnacle discusses the importance of the team in creating and maintaining a social media presence.
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Rosie Berg of Pinnacle, a publisher of directories and web applications, pointed out in her MTA presentation that it takes a team to keep up with social media. She provided an overview of the many online tools that are available for an operator to stay in contact with its prospects and customers. One take-away, in a conversation with her after her presentation, is that social media channels are increasingly important for customer service, even if the dirty laundry is sometimes exposed.  Read the Korner below, for my first-hand experience with the importance of a well-monitored and responsive social media strategy.

Click here to view the interview with Berg.


The Gigabit “Halo Effect”

David Seda of Calix discusses the role of software in transforming an operator's way of doing business.
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There is this thing called a halo effect,” said David Seda, Vice President of Marketing for Calix. Seda says that customers perceive operators which offer gigabit services as being cutting-edge. As such, gigabit service is lifting the perceived value of operators’ other services. Seda also talks about the increasing importance of software in transforming the network from a pipe to a broadband ecosystem where the operator can rapidly address customers’ needs; needs that the customers sometimes don’t even know they have.

Click here to view.


Stanford President John Hennessy Educating SBU Alumni on Broad Range of Topics (Stanford = Silicon Valley) by Alan Weissberger

Stanford president John Hennessy and fellow Stony Brook alum, Alan Weissberger at the March 2014 Stony Brook Alumni Northern California Chapter meeting.
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Stanford president, John Hennessy, treated the Stony Brook University Alumni audience to an enlightening seminar on many diverse and interesting topics that spanned education, technology and the value of liberal arts/ reading classic literature. Not only was his presentation crystal clear and very informative, but his relaxed style and down to earth discourse made it most enjoyable as well.

Click here to view.


AT&T Outlines SDN/NFV Focus Areas for Domain 2.0 Initiative by Alan Weissberger

AT&T''s vision of a user-defined cloud experience.
Image courtesy of AT&T

As previously reported, AT&T’s future Domain 2.0 network infrastructure must be open, simple, scalable and secure, according to John Donovan, AT&T’s senior executive vice president of technology and network operations. But what does that really mean?  And what are the research initiatives that are guiding AT&T’s transition to SDN/NFV? What is particularly intriguing is the idea that AT&T’s 4,600 central offices and the power to create a cloud-based network around those points of presence.

Click here to read more.


NTT Com Leads all Network Providers in Deployment of SDN/OpenFlow; NFV Coming Soon by Alan Weissberger

NTT-Com plans to extend SDN to control its entire WAN, including Cloud as depicted in the illustration
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While AT&T has gotten a much press for its announced plans to use Software Defined Networking (SDN) to revamp its core network, another large global carrier has been quietly deploying SDN/OpenFlow for almost two years and soon plans to launch Network Function Virtualization (NFV) into its WAN. NTT Communications (NTT-Com) is using an “SDN overlay” to connect 12 of its cloud data centers (including one’s in China and Germany scheduled for launch this year) located on three different continents.

Click to read more.


Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

  • @AjitPaiFCC Norman Borlaug, the man who saved more lives than anyone in history, would have turned 100 yesterday.
  • @MattatACA @RepAnnaEshoo To Speak At #ACA Annual Washington Summit | #AmericanCableAssociation http://www.americancable.org/node/4713 
  • The Viacom negotations are getting down to the wire. Messages on many independent operators’ web sites expressing their concerns, including this excerpt, “While we are restricted from talking about specific rates, Viacom demanded a rate increase that is 40 times the rate of inflation over last year’s fees for the same channels you get today!”
  • This is a big deal, as with the power of the independent operators and their local operations, Sprint’s network has the potential to have a reach that extends virtually everywhere.
  • #cornpalace in Mitchell, SD just mentioned on #TheBlacklist here is what it looked like when I visited this Midwestern landmark.
  • Here are some pictures from this week’s MTA Convention

The Korner – From Social Media to Shelbots

Amy and Sarah of Suitable Technologies demonstrate a mobile telepresence solution.
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The @Viodi Twitter handle is supposed to be for industry-relevant items, but sometimes it is used for things that are seemingly a bit off-topic. Traveling home from MTA and inspired by Rosie Berg of Pinnacle, I figured that Twitter might be the easiest way to draw attention to what looked to be a potential log-jam at American Airlines MSP gate. With only two agents and about 25 people in line, it was clear they needed help.

This incident triggered a thought on how one of the more interesting demonstrations at International CES 2014 could be used to improved customer support when the kiosks and computer systems just don’t seem to work and when a human touch is needed. The above video provides a clue as to the potential use of a technology that is intended to eliminate travel and how it could be be used to help customer support.

Click here to view the video and read the entire article.

A PRIMO Event – A Good Idea for Independent Telcos

Playing Telecom Jeopardy at the PRIMO Conference

A grassroots marketing organization; something the cable industry has done a great job with through their organization, CTAM, but it something that has not taken root in the independent telco industry in the same way. Thus, I was excited to learn more about and to be able to participate in the PRIMO (Public Relations Independent Marketing Organization) marketing event last week.

PRIMO is a group of independent telco marketers from the Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma area who meet twice a year to teach each other marketing and customer service best practices. I came away impressed with the camaraderie of this group and what an effective way this forum is for generating and understanding best marketing practices.

A very interactive day and a half, their winter meeting included a keynote speaker who provided sage advice and interactive exercises as to how to handle difficult situations and difficult people; very useful skills for marketing people who are the drivers of a telco’s approach to interacting with customers. It was an honor to speak at this event on the topic of TV advertising, especially as it related to independent telcos.

As part of my research on the topic, I perused the web sites of all of the telco attendees. Each site gave me an idea or two as to new ways to communicate with a telco’s customers. Better communication was one of the themes of a session led by Jackie Petersen of Rainbow Telephone. She split the attendees into groups and they competed to find new channels of communication to their respective communities.

Taylor Summers gave a very detailed and practical presentation of his experience with a relatively new communications provider. Amber Eggleston of TCA gave the success story of a net book promotion (almost 10% penetration in 4 months) by an independent telco. Troy Stickels of Glenwood Telephone/Telecommunications explained how they got into the computer repair business almost by accident and now they have multiple offices across 12 counties and do everything from computer sales and repair to IT consulting; essentially becoming the IT department for area small businesses. It was pointed out that a lucrative moneymaker is performing FDIC, mandated IT audit for local banks.

Steve Miller of Golden Belt Telephone demonstrated an online application whereby a farmer can monitor his irrigation network. If there is a failure of some sort, the farmer can get a text message on their blackberry. Miller anticipates this will drive demand for smart phones on their wireless network. He reported that rising rural crime rates are also driving their residential and business security monitoring business. He entertained the crowd by showing the real time capability of their online security access by calling a friend at the friend’s liquor store and putting him on “camera” for the audience to see and hear how this system is making this establishment more secure.

Finally, Christine Phelps of Sunflower Broadband explained their strategy for selling broadband usage and how they have tiered broadband not only by speed, but by megabytes per month. A key part of her message was education, education, education of the customer when dealing with this sensitive topic.

She also gave some great tips on producing local content. They have been doing this for 25 years and this experience has given them some great ideas and has made them the news leader (measured by set-top views thanks to software from Navic, a Microsoft company) in their market. With their relationship with the Lawrence World Journal, they truly have transformed themselves into an integrated media company that crosses print, online and television, which, was the central thesis of my talk as to what an independent telco has to do if they are to be successful in local content and local advertising. 

Viodi View – 11/09/2009

Minneapolis was the no nonsense setting for last week’s OPASTCO Technical and Marketing Symposium. What I like about this particular conference is its intimate nature and the way it mixes marketing and technical topics making them relevant for both management and staff. The theme of this conference was, “Tools to compete in the global economy.”

Chris Purdy of PTCI explained the configuration tool that his company developed that lets customers create custom bundles and see the savings of various options. Similarly, Anita Fledderman of Enhanced Telecommunications explained how their “You Pick” bundle, which allows the customer to decide how many of their six services they want to bundle, has helped grow revenue and service penetration. The number of services per subscriber increased thanks to this tool and the revenue per sub went from 2 to 3.75 while the total average revenue went from $60 to $95 per month. 


click here to watch the videoMarketing, Monetizing, & Technical Sides of Video

Michael Koons of Cisco discusses how service velocity is an increasingly important factor in a telco’s ability to remain competitive. He also talks of how the video headend is morphing into a video data center. Michael touched on these points and more as a keynote speaker at OPASTCO’s 2009 Tech and Marketing Symposium. 


Cisco is a ____ company? Strong push into data centers by Alan Weissberger

With all the recent announcements, we wonder what kind of a company Cisco has evolved into? They seem to want to provide a solution to every conceivable IT market segment. This morning I heard a KCBS radio commercial about Cisco delivering movies over a private network in a dentist’s office. Later today, I read in the NY Times that Cisco and EMC have formed a joint venture to pursue the data center market for large business.  Click here to read the rest of Alan's analysis.   


click here to watch the videoI will miss the presentations at TelcoTV next week, but, fortunately, we have some sneak previews of a couple of the speakers who will be on the panel, Conquering the Home: Life Beyond the NID: “Connected Home Gateways.

Z-Wave Applications and More

Ken Lowe of Sigma Designs will be speaking at TelcoTV next week on the panel, “Connected Home Gateways”. Unfortunately, we will miss that panel, but fortunately, we did catch up with him at Parks Associates’ Connections Conference last June. In this video interview, he discusses the role of Z-Wave; integration of Z-Wave into residential gateways will make it even easier for telcos to participate in the home control market.  Click here to watch the video.


click to watch the videoHome Networking, Over the Top and Off-Air – New Ways to Add Value

Old friend and frequent Viodi View sponsor, Entone’s Steve McKay will be a panelist at TelcoTV next week on the panel, “Connected Home Gateways”. In this video interview, shot at Parks Associates Connections Conference last June, McKay talks about what Entone is seeing with over the top services, as well as hybrid models that combine over the top and off-air, broadcast signals. He suggests that the cable operators may be at a bit of a disadvantage with their large embedded base of set-top boxes that won’t support some of these new services. He also talks about the power of the home network to simplify and reduce the number of set-tops in the home.  Click to watch.


The Korner: Inspired Inbound Marketing  

click to watch the videoAt OPASTCO’s Tech and Marketing Symposium, Mike Volpe of Hubspot provided an inspiring talk regarding how companies can effectively use social media tools.  Volpe suggest that marketers need to think like publishers, instead of advertisers. The implication is that companies need to be content producers, which is something consistent with what Viodi has been saying about telcos and why they should be involved in local content production. He stressed the importance of opening up your media to multiple social networking platforms.

Pamela White, of ANPI, provided a real-life example of how the techniques that Volpe recommended improved ANPI’s marketing efficiency. In a somewhat ironic twist, White and I met via cross-linking of Twitter accounts and the OPASTCO Tech and Marketing Symposium was the first opportunity we had to meet in person.

Volpe’s remarks inspired us to clean up some of the subtle issues that have plagued the Viodi.com and Viodi.TV web sites. Our enthusiasm for making these changes may have caused a temporary outage on ViodiTV. At least we backed up the database and have the videos spread throughout the web. Click here to watch the video interview with Volpe and White.

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

Intel referred to it as "this year’s most significant collaboration in our respective industries." The Intel-Nokia strategic partnership will "align and shape the next generation of mobile computing." But it was very difficult to extract any tangible take always from the press conference announcing the partnership. That’s because no specific products were identified and no time frames were given to see the results of this highly acclaimed collaboration.
 
To a large extent, the press conference was a lot of hand waving and gesturing, without providing anything of substance that we might expect from such an important strategic relationship. This is the third time in the last decade that Intel and Nokia have announced a partnership, with the previous two attempts not producing much if anything at all. So the industry might have a right to be skeptical this time. Nonetheless, it certainly sounded exciting. 
 
Anand Chandrasekher, Sr VP and GM of Intel’s Ultra Mobility Group stated, "The leaders in both computing and communications are coming together to accelerate innovation while driving exciting new revenue opportunities. Intel and Nokia are joining forces to announce a long term strategic relationship that will align and shape the next generation of mobile computing."
 
We are all aware that smart phones and intelligent hand held devices contain powerful processors and need mobile broadband capability to unleash "the tremendous power and potential to reshape our lives." With many different wireless communications options, most of us expect that "the future will bring even more ways to be connected- a future full of different possibilities." Yet that kind of talk dominated the prepared remarks of Intel and Nokia during the conference. 
 
Nokia told us more of what we already know: "The Internet continues to evolve and touch every aspect of our daily lives. Today, there are more Internet users (at 1.6B) than there are fixed phone lines (at 1.3B). There are over 64B web sites exist and more are added every day. And the Internet continues to grow in every aspect. New applications will drive the need for more powerful compute engines and faster (mobile) broadband wireless access, Consumers looking for mobile devices to do more, e.g. sensors, new apps, new materials, new device design and form factors (e.g. netbooks MIDs). We need to extend computing platforms, build on common open platforms and explore new architectures."
 
Anand told us that Intel would continue to "relentlessly focus on driving down the cost and power requirements (of new devices), while delivering continuing performance improvements." Should we have expected something different? We were also told more of the obvious, "Mobile devices require high bandwidth- mobile broadband communications and ubiquitous Internet connectivity at a reasonable cost. Users should expect a rich experience, any time, anywhere. New and exciting services across a range of devices, including new ones the companies will be defining together."
 
So what’s really new? There are three aspects of the partnership, which is not limited to just hardware and Research and Development:
 
  1. Intel and Nokia will collaborate on several open source initiatives, most importantly Mobile Linux. Nokia pointed out that "Hardware and software are decoupled these days. Mobile Linux is an important part of the new converged mobile computing world." We would expect Intel and Nokia joint software development to be centered on two open source projects:
  • Moblin, originally an Intel project but now run by the Linux Foundation.
  • Maemo, a Nokia implementation created for an Internet tablet.
  1. Intel is licensing 3G HSPA modem technology from Nokia, complementing its own WiFi and WiMAX silicon. (Note that two years ago, Intel licensed an HSPA module from Nokia for use in notebooks. This technology transfer is intended for Intel to offer HSPA silicon for mobile hand held devices).
  1. Intel and Nokia have entered into "a long term strategic partnership to develop a new class of mobile computing devices." Those future mobile computing devices will be based on Intel architecture defined chip sets and will "leverage each company’s expertise." 
And what about Mobile WiMAX? Don’t expect anything from the partnership. In response to a question on further WiMAX co-development, Anand replied, " This announcement has no effect on WiMAX one way or another. We are still committed to it. In this announcement, we are expanding our wireless portfolio to be able to implement Nokia’s 3G HSPA technology."
 
–>This implies that Intel will no longer debunk HSPA technology in favor of Mobile WiMAX and suggest that network operators leapfrog 3G and move to Mobile WiMAX instead.
 
When a questioner pointed out that Nokia now had licensed 3G-HSPA to five different companies, Intel and Nokia responded as follows.
 
Intel: "3G HSPA technology has been licensed to build into future mobile offerings. No comments on products or timing. Nokia and Intel’s vision is very similar- bringing communications and computing together. This is not an exclusive agreement."
 
Nokia: "3G HSPA is what’s on the market today (implying Mobile Wimax is NOT really on the market). Nokia is licensing its 3G-HSPA-modem technology as widely as possible within the industry.”
 
When asked if Intel had made any other inroads in the mobile phone business (which the company has tried to crack for years, but has not succeeded), Anand replied, "Intel is not public on any wins in the mobile phone arena except for LG." Then when asked what type of LG device would be forthcoming, Anand would not comment on the specific LG device that will have "Intel inside." 
 
Author’s Note:  This was surprising, considering that Intel had previously touted the LG MID (with Ericsson HSPA module) as the highlight of this year’s Barcelona MWC.

 

The stonewalling continued in response to other very reasonable questions about partnership deliverables:
 
Question from Bloomberg News: “There have been a lot of announcements about visions of the future. Intel has tried to get into the mobile communication business for a number of years, yet they have not succeeded. There’s still a degree of skepticism until we know when the first Intel powered mobile device will be out there. Can you tell us?”
 
Intel: "We will work together on strategic technology collaboration which spans three areas: Intel Architecture defined chip sets for future mobile computing devices, mobile and MIMO collaboration to deliver a very rich software environment for applications and user experience, Intel licensing of Nokia’s 3G HSPA technology   No products announcements at this time- not for today’s discussion."
 
Question: "Do you expect the Atom family (Intel’s lower power micro-processors) or x86 family to be embedded in future mobile computing devices?"
 
Intel: "No comment on brands or usage."
 
Nokia: "Premature to say how we will apply the technology at this stage."
 
How will the Mobile Computing Industry be affected as a result of this partnership?
  1. Could these mobile devices, with open source operating systems like mobile Linux, cause MSFT to lose its software domination of the computing world? Could this mean the end of Wintel dominance of the computing industry?   Mobile Linux- one of the three focus areas for Intel-Nokia partnership – is a direct competitor of MSFT’s Windows Mobile. As people increasingly use mobile computing devices to do things that would have required a PC a few years ago, MSFT is likely to lose ground.   Mobile computing devices, e.g. smart phones, MIDs, all-in-one gadgets, etc are already replacing a lot of things we do today on PCs. This trend will likely accelerate as mobile computing replaces desktop computing.  
  2. Does this announcement negatively impact Mobile WiMAX, which already has been severely criticized for the lack of mobile devices with native mode air interfaces? After all the Intel talk about WiMAX MIDs, we are still waiting for those devices to hit the market in a big way. Will "the Internet in your pocket," be based on 3G-HSPA, rather than Mobile WiMAX?
An anonymous Intel employee provided his read on the partnership:
"This announcement does not change any of Intel’s plans on WiMAX which are solid going forward. Intel has not been a major player in Smart Phones/MIDs and we want to get into that space with the Intel Atom® Processor so this one part of this strategy. Also most smart phones shipping today at least have 2G/2.5G and many also 3G. So this licensing deal help fill a gap in our wireless technology portfolio. 
It also allows us to provide WiMAX solutions to Nokia once more networks get deployed and they want their mobile devices to have WiMAX support as well. So by no means does this negatively affect our WiMAX strategy. It only opens new doors for us with a large customer like Nokia."
  1. When will the new mobile computing devices hit the market? They will need to come quickly, if they are to compete with all the new smart phones from Apple, RIM, and Palm. We hear there will also be MIDs coming soon from Samsung and various Taiwanese companies. Previous Intel – Nokia partnerships, e.g. HSPA modules for notebooks, have not been successful so the industry is skeptical that this one will succeed. We would expect to see Intel-Nokia mobile computing devices on the market in less than one year and perhaps as early as this Christmas.
References:
Intel and Nokia Announce Strategic Relationship to Shape Next Era of Mobile Computing Innovation
 
Intel makes stab in the dark with Nokia deal  

http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/42977/118/ 

Intel- Nokia Partnership Facing Market Challenges

http://www.informationweek.com/news/hardware/handheld/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=218100945

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).

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.  

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

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.

TIA’s negative outlook is significant, because its report has always been a flag waving signal of hope for the telecom industry- even in years like 2002 and 2003, when there wasn’t much to cheer about. TIA’s annual global forecast report usually manages to find a silver lining somewhere in the world that shows an upward growth trajectory. TIA is optimistic about mobile data services (especially when compared to equipment sales). They think that some growth lies ahead, but not really until 2011.  Global telecom revenue is predicted to grow 1.2 percent in 2010, 6.4 percent in 2011 and 7.9 percent in 2012.

"Broadband will be a driver for recovery in all areas, from healthcare IT to smart grid technology, public safety networks to education, as well as for businesses and consumers," said Grant Seiffert, TIA President. "While TIA was instrumental in obtaining the $7.2 billion for broadband, other funding for energy, health IT and R&D will also spur recovery, especially in reviving some of the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost recently. The sum of increased productivity and revenue amongst all other industry segments whose growth broadband deployment contributes to is often underrated and perhaps immeasurable."

Growing demand for high-volume data applications is driving all segments, say the independent, unbiased analysts at Wilkofsky Gruen Associates who help to develop the Market Review & Forecast. Despite the recession, TIA predicts that wireless and business data revenue will grow by 73 percent during the next four years to $110 billion in 2012 from $64 billion in 2008.

Further analysis shows that economic recovery during 2011-12 will be driven by pent-up demand for equipment upgrades. Growth in data traffic will strain network capacity and stimulate investment; availability of financing will fuel investment; and broadband growth will expand the platform for VoIP and IPTV.

Recognizing that comprehensive market intelligence is more critical than ever for ICT companies positioning themselves to survive — and thrive – when the economy begins to rebound, TIA is offering an interactive version of the Market Review & Forecast as part of the new TIA Market Intelligence Service. TelecomTV is collaborating with TIA in offering the new online service, augmented by value-adds such as news updates, webinars, industry analyses and more.

The report is optimistic on WiMAX for broadband fixed wireless access, especially in rural areas of the U.S. where DSL and cable modems are not available. In answer to a question I had during the press briefing, the speaker identified WiMAX as the largest beneficiary of the growth in fixed broadband access (vs mesh WiFi or proprietary technologies). TIA believes that WiMAX will make initial inroads in rural areas — areas where subscribers are beyond 18,000 wire feet of a central office or public network access node. TIA also thinks that there is no competition for Mobile WiMAX in the U.S., because of the time to market lead it has over LTE.

Quoting from a Press Copy of the report, TIA states:

"WiMAX still faces strong competition from entrenched fixed-broadband technologies such as DSL and cable modems and from emerging 3G technologies in the mobile segment. With respect to fixed broadband, WiMAX will likely make initial inroads in rural areas where DSL and cable modems are not available — areas where subscribers are beyond 18,000 wire feet of a central office or node. If WiMAX becomes established in rural areas, it may then seek to expand to areas already served by DSL or cable, using the experience of direct broadcast satellite (DBS) as a guide. DBS initially penetrated rural areas not served by cable television and only later began marketing its services head-to-head against cable in urban and suburban areas.

There is currently no competition for mobile WiMAX, as the widespread deployment of alternative 4G technologies is still years away. Verizon has announced it will be using LTE as its 4G technology, has accelerated its testing and expects to have initial deployment of the technology by the end of 2009."

TIA’s 2009 ICT Market Review & Forecast includes:

-Detailed activities and metrics from prior years
-Projections, trends and anticipated performance for short-term (upcoming year) and mid-term (3-5 years out)
-The target audience includes equipment manufacturers, service providers, software vendors, content providers and the media.

-Sectors covered in the publication include:

 

  • Landline
  • Wireless
  • Enterprise
  • Network equipment
  • Broadband
  • VoIP
  • Data transport
  • Internet access 

For further information and to purchase the report, please contact:

Mike Snyder, PR Manager

Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)

2500 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 300

Arlington, VA 22201

W: 703.907.7723; M: 703.869.3968; F: 703.907.7727

msnyder@tiaonline.org

 

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

On the need for government intervention in the free market to protect competition and encourage innovation

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.
 
To set the stage for the current recessionary economy, Gary began by chronicling the history of the U.S. antitrust movement. From its beginnings in the 1870s (a time when big business controlled the railroads), through Teddy and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Thurmond Arnold and others, there has been an ebb and flow of power and control between the federal government in Washington and big business (e.g. monopolies) or Wall Street investment firms. Starting about thirty years ago, conservatives forced an overhaul of competition policy that has loosened business rules for everything from selling products to buying competitors. In the free market era of the 1990s, big business and investment banks certainly had the upper hand. To a large extent, that is what has caused the global financial meltdown and enabled companies like Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, Oracle, and Google to become so powerful. We were surprised to learn that expensive medical care and non-generic prescription drugs are the result of a lack of anti-trust enforcement.
 
Mr Reback firmly believes that in a high-tech world, U.S. government “hands off” policies actually slow innovation, hurt consumers, and entrench big companies at the expense of entrepreneurs.   In particular, Gary calls for increased government scrutiny of high tech firms monopolistic practices. He argues that monopolies have the power to raise prices by restricting output, supply and competition. As a result, the economy weakens, unemployment increases, and innovation is pressured.
 
We take it for granted now, but many of the advances in semiconductors and software were the result of a few dominant lawsuits against big companies. 
 
In the late 1950’s, AT&T was forced by the U.S. government to license the transistor. William Shockley, one of the co-inventors of the transistor, licensed it from AT&T to form Shockley Labs, which later begat Fairchild Semiconductor, which in turn begat Intel, AMD, and National Semiconductor. The early years of the semiconductor industry in Santa Clara Valley (it was not called Silicon Valley till the mid 1970s) was therefore, a direct result of the lawsuit against AT&T. For more on those early years, please see the article by this author:
 
 
In the early 1970s, concerned about possible anti-trust legislation, IBM was forced to unbundle software from hardware. This created a whole new independent software industry, which had not existed before. Software had previously been bundled with mainframes and minicomputers made by the same computer manufacturer.
 
Merger enforcement is perhaps the biggest business issue of our time, according to Reback. What do we do with companies too big to fail? How about Citibank Group, for example? If it had not been for the repeal of the Glass Steagall act in 1999, Citi would not have been able to acquire Smith Barney, Solomon Brothers and other investment firms. Hence they would not have gotten too big to fail.   Better to have government carefully scrutinize the mergers and acquisitions and/or break up large companies before they become too big to fail! One has to wonder if certain tech companies, like Oracle and Cisco have become too dominant in their industry or even too big to fail because of acquisitions that occurred without anti-trust scrutiny. For example, Oracle has done over 40 mergers after it acquired People Soft and now has proposed to acquire Sun Microsystems.
 
Is Google the next Microsoft? Yes, in terms of its dominance over web search software, in comparison to Microsoft control over desktop and notebook PC software. No, in at least two other important ways: 
  1. Google created technology that people liked and it worked well. 
  2. The company was also more customer friendly with a more congenial corporate culture and image.
Author’s Note: the next battle between these software titans will be in mobile OS market- Android platform from Google vs Windows Mobile from Microsoft.
 
Gary believes that Google’s big search competition will come from social networking sites (e.g. Twitter and Facebook), rather then from traditional search engines from Yahoo or Microsoft. He also noted that potential anti-trust action was enough for Google to call off its plans to put adverts on Yahoo’s search result pages.
 
Was the European Union’s (EU) huge fine against Intel Corp justified? Just one day before this talk- on May 13th– EU regulators slapped a record 1.06 billion euro ($1.45 billion) fine on Intel for antitrust violations and ordered it to halt illegal efforts to squeeze out arch-foe AMD. This fine was levied after an 8 year EU investigation of the company. "Intel has harmed millions of European consumers by deliberately acting to keep competitors out of the market for computer chips for many years," EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes told a news conference.
 
Should Intel have known better to refrain from engaging in unfair trade practices? Most definitely yes, according to Gary. Intel was actually a U.S. government witness in the huge anti-trust suit against Microsoft in 1998. The plaintiffs (US Department of Justice and 20 states) alleged that Microsoft abused monopoly power on Intel-based PCs in its handling of operating system and web browser sales. The issue central to the case was whether Microsoft was allowed to bundle its flagship Internet Explorer web browser software with its Microsoft Windows operating system. Bundling them together is alleged to have been responsible for Microsoft’s victory in the browser wars, especially over arch rival Netscape (which seemed by this author to be a superior web browser). Didn’t Intel learn anything from the trial and the verdict against Microsoft regarding unfair competitive practices? Gary response, "Of course, Intel says it is innocent of the charges and never broke the law, so perhaps the company will be exonerated after the EU Commission decision is reviewed by the European courts."
Opinion: We suggest the reader to ask the question to an Intel executive or lawyer.
 
In summing up, Reback opined that “anti-trust action failures” in the health care and banking industries have contributed to unreasonably high medical costs and a financial meltdown. Meanwhile, heightened scrutiny over acquisitions (e.g. Oracle’s) would result in a stronger U.S. economy by encouraging more competition and invigorating innovation and the start up culture. 
 
 
Bio: Gary Reback is one of the nation’s most prominent antitrust attorneys. He has been named one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers” in America by the National Law Journal and is quoted regularly by major media. His book Free the Market! is a memoir of Reback’s titanic legal battles—involving top companies such as Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and AT&T—and a persuasive argument for measured government intervention in the free market to foster competition.   Gary is currently of counsel with Carr & Ferrell LLP. He is a very friendly and easy to get a long with person, in this author’s opinion.
 
 
 

WiMAX in smart meter sets the stage for "open standards" based smart grids

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.

Grid Net’s meter went on sale to select utility customers this March, and though Bell declined to state the current price, said that within a year and a half he expects the price to drop low enough to undercut any of the meters on the market that use proprietary technology. Bell says he has four major deals in the works and contends that his smart meter will eventually be cheaper than proprietary systems on the market (this is a key benefit of "open-standards").

Because WiMAX operates over licensed wireless spectrum, Grid Net founder Ray Bell claims it’s far more reliable and secure than unlicensed wireless networks (e.g. WiFi) — a particularly important feature for smart grid deployments. The meters could use national WiMAX networks (e.g. Clearwire or from regional carriers) or WiMAX networks that would be built and owned by a utility.

http://www.reuters.com/article/earthToTech/idUS330459661220090504

GigaOm states, "but if the smart grid really will follow the lessons of the Internet, open standards will be a key driver."

http://gigaom.com/2009/05/04/how-wimax-can-retool-the-power-grid/

The use of WiMAX for grids is not a new concept.  In January 2005, we wrote that:

WiMAX MAY BE USED TO ACCESS GRID COMPUTER SITES

http://www.on-demandenterprise.com/features/wimax_may_be_used_to_access_grid_computer_sites_07-29-2008_08_10_22.html

The basic premise was that fixed WiMAX could be effectively used to extend a carrier’s long haul network for access to a grid computer network.  We are now seeing WiMAX used in emerging smart power grid networks, but the concept is the same.  We think WiMAX has a lot of potential and promise for interconnecting PCs and meters, and other instruments over smart power grids.

50K WiMAX Subscribers in India Before the Spectrum Auction- Number to Exceed 13 Million by 2013

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.

Tata Communications Internet Services (TCISL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of TCL, is investing substantially for its WiMAX rollout to ensure that it gets a headstart in the acquisition of subscribers. The company, with a WiMAX capex outlay of $500 million for three years ending FY12, has put in place around 1,400 base stations across 140 cities. This makes it the largest WiMax network in the world, according to TCISL COO Prateek Pashine.   TCISL has procured its WiMax equipment from Telsima Corp, a company recently acquired by Harris Stratex Networks. TCISL is obtaining customer premise equipment (CPE) from Taiwan-based networking and communications equipment firm Universal Scientific Industrial (USI).

On the much-delayed spectrum auctions, Mr Pashine said the industry was eagerly looking forward to offering services in the 2.2-to-2.3 Ghz band, which will be auctioned later this year (if you believe the Indian IT Ministry). “The postponement has delayed customer acquisition and rollout of services and revenues associated with that,” he said.   For our posts on the often delayed India spectrum auctions, please see:

Will it Ever Happen? India May Delay 3G Auction, Raise Prices

The follow on comments imply that the auction will not be held till 2010! That is great cause for concern for the broadband wireless industry in India, in our opinion.

 

For further details on TCL’s WiMAX network, please see: TCL ropes in 50k for WiMax broadband

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Infotech/TCL-ropes-in-50k-for-WiMax-broadband/articleshow/4461142.cms


 

Separately, market research firms Maravedis and Tonse predict WiMAX Subscribers in India will Exceed 13 Million by 2013. A new report concludes that deployment of 3G and WiMAX will generate a reasonable user base over the next 5 year period, before noticeable LTE deployments begin to make an impact in India. Maravedis, in partnership with leading Indian telecom market research and analysis firm Tonse Telecom, just released the 3rd Edition of “India Wireless Broadband and WiMAX Market Analysis and Forecasts, 2009-2013.”

“Despite delayed spectrum auctions that are impeding a tremendous economic driver, 3G/BWA/WiMAX network activity is already on a roll,” said Sridhar Pai, co-author of the report and Tonse Telecom CEO. “For the severely underserved Indian broadband market, demand for wireless broadband connectivity continues across all sectors: retail, SOHO, SMEs and large enterprises alike,” he continued.

According to the report, the big push will be seen post-spectrum auctions. “However, aided by pre-allocation in the 2.5GHz band, incumbents are already developing massive national rollout plans for both 3G and WiMAX. Expect significant pan-India deployments from other successful auction bidders,” said Maravedis CEO Adlane Fellah.

While the global economy is lying dormant, demand for telecommunications services in India continues to fuel significant growth in the sector. “We estimate that in 2008, approximately 10,000 BWA/WiMAX base station sectors were deployed in total. Currently there are about 300,000 BWA/WiMAX subscribers already using these services,” Pai noted.

“Wireless CAPEX has already reached US$ sub-100 levels per line, thereby confirming the primary transport technology will be wireless,” added Fellah.

Key Findings of the report:

  • Internet access is still the big broadband driver in India, with wireless broadband becoming the clear option owing to economics and ease of deployment.
  • BWA operators have yet to resolve many service quality issues.
  • India is expected to see the world’s lowest end-to-end cost for WiMAX services, with costs driven down faster than in any other market.
  •  Computer penetration is still very low and the Indian telecom sector operates in a volume-driven market.
  •  Innovative business models such as public-private partnerships will emerge, together with low cost devices and a vibrant ecosystem.

Here is a relevent quote from the report:

“While there has been some talk about delayed auctions for BWA/WIMAX, potentially leading to a closing of the window for WiMAX and thereby operators having to wait for LTE, we think this is unlikely. The broadband market is far underserved and has already been delayed. There is a sizeable market opportunity now that needs to be met and BWA/WiMAX is capable of doing so. It will take some time before LTE stabilizes and the device economics play out to deliver mass-market volumes. We believe that the 3G/WiMAX streams will be deployed and generate a reasonable user base over the next 5 year period before noticeable LTE deployments begin to make an impact in these emerging markets.

Meanwhile, for those operators who seized the day with whatever slim bands were available in 3.3GHz, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Reliance and Tata Communications, who launched their BWA/WiMAX services in multiple locations, showed what could be done with innovation and radio optimization, combined with passive infrastructure sharing and aggressive marketing in a market where latent demand stifled expansion and traditional wire-line data was just not delivering.  The entire 3.3GHz experience reaffirmed that the fundamental business case for fixed wireless in India is real and immediate.”

For more information, please visit: http://www.maravedis-bwa.com/