Meeker: Mobile is King of Internet Access and Content

Mary Meeker of KPCB puts out an Internet Trends report every year that is chocked full of interesting data on Internet, social, mobile and e-commerce trends.  In this year’s report at the Code conference in Southern California last week, Ms. Meeker said that while growth in overall Internet usage was slowing (especially in developed countries), it has increased rapidly for mobile.
Meeker said that:
  • Mobile data consumption is up 81 percent due to many more people using tablets and smartphones, especially to watch video. See graph below.
  • Mobile access now accounts for 25 percent of global web usage, up from 14 percent a year ago.  Mobile internet traffic is growing at a rate of 1.5 times that of conventional broadband.
  • Meeker sees it growing at an annual rate of 81 percent, with mobile video largely driving that growth.
  • Global mobile internet usage leaped from 14 percent to 25 percent between May 2013 and May 2014.
  • In North America, it jumped from 11 percent to 19 percent and in Europe it increased from 8 percent to 16 percent.
Mobile-Growth
Image courtesy of KPCB

Comment: This author finds it remarkable that “We now spend more time on mobile than on print and radio combined.”

In 2013, people spent 20 percent of their time on mobile devices, yet only 5 percent of the ad spending was allocated to mobile Internet access.   One would expect the latter to increase substantially in the years ahead. Meeker estimates there’s $30-billion per year to be made in mobile ads.  Therefore, advertisers, marketers, and media companies will try to get a good chunk of that ad revenue.

Meeker lists community, content, and commerce as the “Internet Trifecta.” With the ever expanding number of consumers online, there is a natural desire to connect with others through content. Marketers who provide context to the content they are creating and sharing are the ones who are able to increase connectivity within their communities of interest and grow stronger, which leads to brand loyalty.

Meeker said that there’s now clear evidence that people want to share information more privately. Mobile messaging services like WhatsApp (bought by Facebook for $19B), Tencent (QQ Instant Messenger in China) and Line (a South Korean-Japanese proprietary application for instant messaging) are growing at exponential rates — a trend that companies like Facebook and other social networking companies have noticed.

People were said to be “media junkies,” sharing articles via social media and tapping into streaming services. Apps are replacing linear TV channels as the way to consume video, with Americans aged 16 to 34 watching just 41 percent of their TV live, she said.

Google’s YouTube is also booming with consumers. “They are increasingly loving short-form video,” she said. “Consumers even love ads.” Indeed, 22 percent of video watching globally is done on mobile devices. On-demand mobile video apps, such as WatchESPN, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Go are all gaining popularity with mobile users. She says that 40 percent of Internet TV watchers are already using mobile devices (This author finds that to be incredible as most people we know do not watch Internet TV on their mobile devices except for video clips).

Meeker observed that 84 percent of mobile owners use devices while watching TV. They use them, in order of popularity for Web surfing, shopping, checking sports scores, looking up information about what they’re watching, and talking to friends/family or tweeting about the program. (That is something I certainly relate to as I do it all the time).

The country to watch is China, according to Meeker.  China has more Internet users than any other country by far – about 618 million Internet users last year. Approximately 80 percent of those only access the Internet via mobile devices. Four of the world’s 10 largest Internet companies are Chinese, up from one a year ago. [This author thinks they are Tencent, Baidu, Rakuten, and Alibaba].

In conclusion, the mobile Internet will continue to experience solid growth.  Therefore, it is imperative for Internet and e-commerce companies to develop content that resonates well with mobile audiences.


References:

1] Meeker’s Slide deck:

http://www.slideshare.net/kleinerperkins/internet-trends-2014-05-28-14-pdf

2] On-line Articles:

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/28/state-of-the-internet-still-growing-but-more-mobile-than-ever/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/internet-trends-report-2014-mary-meeker

Google Fiber – A Step Function Connectivity Improvement

A step function improvement in capability is how Milo Medin described Google’s Kansas City fiber project at the February 13th IEEE ComSoc meeting in Santa Clara. That huge improvement in customer experience is in contrast to the incremental gains of MSO [Multiple System Operator] and telco broadband networks, which have much lower access speeds.

Picture of a boom truck with a technician pulling fiber on an existing utility pole line for Google.
Image Courtesy of Google

Medin, who is VP of Access for Google, described a Gigabit/second fiber network that eliminates the bottleneck between home and the cloud, unleashing new applications and devices both in the home and, by implication, throughout a city. Google’s incremental improvements in its construction and operations, its relatively simple offering and its grass-root marketing are as important to its success as its innovative fiber and home networking technologies.

The story of Google Fiber is pretty well-known by now; Google issued an RFI a couple of years ago to which 1,100 cities responded to be the test bed for Google’s fiber to the home project. What isn’t so well-known is that the motivation for this was the middling price/bandwidth performance of the U.S. as compared to other countries. Medin, who was a key figure in the early success of cable modems through his affiliation with @Home, suggested that, instead of complaining to government, Google decided to solve the problem. The unexpected response of so many communities was a surprise to Google and, according to Medin, an indicator of a pent-up demand.

Interestingly, government turns out to be part of the reason for their success, but not in the form of subsidies or tax breaks. The techniques Google and the local city are using to streamline the permit process and literally work together is saving an estimated 2% of the build cost. Similarly, attachment of fiber to the poles is made somewhat easier because the local utility is municipally owned.

Thanks a Bunch CEQA, No Google Fiber for California

Rules and regulations are definitely shaping where and how the service will develop. Echoing testimony before Congress, Medin suggested that as long as CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] is in place in its current form, Google Fiber will be virtually non-existent in California (there is a 850 home Google FTTH project on the Stanford campus). The irony that Google’s home state will not see its fiber network anytime soon was not lost in the room full of engineers at the IEEE meeting.

Medin explained that anyone can use CEQA to initiate a lawsuit to block a development. He cited the example of the use of CEQA to delay the rollout of Uverse in San Francisco for years. A linchpin of Google’s approach is achieving scale at a fast-rate and the uncertainty caused by CEQA sinks their business case. And there is a business case, as Medin pointed out that the margins on broadband are as high as 95% for incumbent providers in urban areas.

To critics who suggest an infrastructure play is far afield for a “search” company, they should think again:

  • With YouTube and their other Google properties, Google already operates one of the world’s largest Content Delivery Networks
  • With a Fiber to the Home network, outside plant maintenance is almost zero, as compared to a traditional cable or telephone network.
  • With a gigabit connection and customized hardware, the home becomes an extension of their data centers. Although it wasn’t said in his talk, they are sure to have TR-069 or equivalent technology to allow the monitoring of devices within the home. Additionally, network managed WiFi routers integrated into each set-top will deliver a better experience than the home WiFi networks cobbled together by consumers.
Depicted is a Google optical/electrical converter (ONT) that resides in the home. What's not clear is whether or not it has built-in battery back-up.
Image Courtesy of Google

Google is taking an approach that, in some ways, is reminiscent of the old Ma Bell, whereby Google designs their own equipment. From Optical Network Terminals [ONTs] to set-top boxes, Google has created devices that maximize the customer experience [a DVR that records 8 programs at once] and minimizes operational cost. Medin indicated that Google has some of the world’s best optic engineers on staff.

Unlike the days of Ma Bell, Google can work with third-party manufacturers to build what they need, allowing them to introduce devices without the overhead burden of owning factories.

Keep It Simple Marketing

As with Google’s other offerings, they are taking a brand follows product approach to their fiber product. That is, the end service is the focus on creating an offer that provides great value and a high customer loyalty/buzz factor that will essentially market and sell itself. Like Google’s approach to their search home page, Google is keeping their offer simple. Unlike the Chinese food menu of a seemingly infinite number of tiers that traditional video and broadband operators offer, Google has only three tiers:

  • 5 Mb/s  with $300 construction charge (may be amortized at $25/month for 12 months) & no recurring charges for 7 years
  • 1 Gb/s broadband with 1 Terabyte storage For $70 per month
  • 1 Gb/s broadband with video for $120 per month with a Nexus 7 as a remote control

These three offerings probably cover 95% of the market. Amortized over 7 years, the 5 Mb/s tier exceeds the National Broadband Plan’s minimum at a very affordable rate of less than $4 per month and serves those who can least afford broadband. The $120 per month tier includes a basic level of video that many people would like. On a dollar per bit basis, the $70 provides great value to cord-cutters, while providing a superior broadband option for those who do not want to switch their existing video providers.

Further simplifying their offering is the decision they made not to offer telephone as part of their bundle. Although this decision was made for regulatory reasons, this reduces the operational complexity of their network and minimizes the staff required to run their network. With one less complex feature to offer, their network implementation is faster. They probably don’t lose much of their Total Addressable Market, given the number of people who are either wireless only or can easily pick a VoIP service (including Google Voice, which works great with a Obihai VoIP adapter).

A picture of a Google truck at a customer install. Note, the lawn sign promoting the Google Fiber project.
Image Courtesy of Google

Like what so many independent, rural operators have done with their Fiber to the Home deployments, Google is taking a grass-roots approach to marketing. Google uses a crowd-sourcing technique to determine where to build. Instead of taking a top-down approach that focus on demographics, Google split the Kansas City market into neighborhoods. When a critical mass of people commit to service in a given neighborhood, Google builds out that area creating what they call a “Fiberhood”.

Where they build is thus dependent upon the citizens of a given neighborhood. Like the way it has marketed its other Internet businesses, Google is betting on and seeding efforts to create a viral buzz about their network. One of the more interesting developments is their retail store. Although not mentioned in a recent Wall Street Journal article about Google’s rumored jump into retail, this point of presence offers a physical location to educate potential customers and the local influencers who will help sell their neighbors on the service.

And this approach seems to be working as Medin reported that in some neighborhoods 50% of the residents are committing to Google Fiber prior to build.

Just the Beginning

The Google Fiber Space retail store hints at some of the developments in the future that a gigabit network enables.
Image Courtesy of Google

A gigabit to the home with its low latency and high-speed brings the compute power of the cloud to the home; particularly when much of the content is cached locally within Kansas City. In a sense, this extends Google’s cloud platform to the home and business, such that the performance at the end point is virtually the same as what it would be in the data center. Medin hinted that 1 Gb/s is just a start. It is not too difficult to imagine the types of things that could be enabled with this sort of bandwidth, such as:

  • City-wide WiFi or some other wireless solution (Google has been received FCC authorization to experiment with various wireless approaches for access). City-wide wireless could offer a low-cost mobile/nomadic solution for its customers. It could also be important for autonomous transit options.
  • Distributed data centers – with 1 Gb/s connections, a Peer to Peer compute network (think connection of those DVRs) becomes a possibility. Why not use the computing power as well and create a virtual data center spread over hundreds of thousands of residences.
  • Like what Google has done with its Android and Chrome operating systems, the fiber network has the potential to enable applications from third-parties. It is possible that some of these apps might even come from existing telecom providers.

The Google fiber project in Kansas City is on its way to meeting its goal as a showcase of how low latency, Gigabit per second bandwidth can transform a city one neighborhood at a time. The fiber is really serving as a last mile nervous system that connects the seemingly disparate pieces to an ever-expanding Google ecosystem, which is where the change will really take place. Unfortunately for California residents, and particularly ironic for Silicon Valley residents, new Google Fiberhoods won’t be making their way to the Golden State anytime soon.

[Author’s Note: Thank you IEEE for the facilitating the excellent program that featured Medin as one of the speakers and thank you Alan Weissberger for your editing assistance].

Time Warner Cable Media joins Comcast in adding AT&T U-Verse to Ad Platform; U-Verse Survey!

Time Warner Cable Media, the cable operator’s ad sales division,  is the second MSO in recent weeks to strike a deal with AT&T  to have the latter’s U-Verse TV service linked to the cableco’s fixed scheduling network.  Specifically, AT&T’s U-Verse TV service is being incorporated into Time Warner Cable’s “fixed scheduling network grids” in 15 markets via an agreement between TWC and AT&T AdWorks. The pact gives clients access to a broader range of network options for their ads.

Time Warner Cable Media’s agreement with AT&T AdWorks, becomes effective with the 2013 broadcast year.  The markets covered under the agreement with AT&T are: Dallas; Los Angeles; Cleveland; Austin, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; Milwaukee; Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City; Green Bay, Wis., Dayton, Ohio; Raleigh, N.C.; Columbia, S.C.; Toledo, Ohio; and Louisville, Ky.

“This agreement with AT&T AdWorks simplifies the ad buying process for marketers to access consumers and grow their businesses. We relentlessly pursue new opportunities to help our clients grow their businesses,” Joan Hogan Gillman, Executive Vice President of Time Warner Cable and President of Time Warner Cable Media, said in a statement.

By “hard wiring” the network to run ads across a given designated market area with Time Warner Cable Media, AT&T “will expand our clients’ reach through one point of contact — making it a seamless process,” AT&T AdWorks president Mike Welch added.

This agreement, along with a similar pact AT&T signed with Comcast, will allow U-Verse to expand its ad reach via third-party MSO outsourcing.  AT&T had 4.34 million U-verse TV subscribers in the U.S. at the end of September, but that number is expected to increase by 1/3 in the next couple of years, according to AT&T.


“Currently, 32% of AT&Ts customers are covered by (triple play) U-Verse, which will increase by one-third to 8.5M additional customers and 43% coverage by the end of 2015.”

More details of AT&T’s U-Verse and IP DSLAM expansion plans is at:

http://viodi.com/2012/11/08/at-bring-fiber-to-commercial-buildings-cover-99-of-us-with-lte/

But the Huffington Post is very skeptical about AT&T’s $40B build-out, including the U-Verse expansion:

“On Nov. 7, 2012, AT&T announced that it would be spending $14 billion to upgrade their wireless and wireline networks. And yet, in fact, AT&T is only spending about $5 billion extra over the next three years, about 8 percent above their 2010-2011 expenditures, if that much. Moreover, on the same day, AT&T filed a petition with the FCC to remove most remaining telecom regulations, using these upgrades as a carrot.  History shows that AT&T’s broadband deployments are rarely, if ever fulfilled once the company receives the regulatory benefits.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-kushnick/atts-14-billion-bribe_b_2195439.html


According to Ad Week, there’s no overlap between the Comcast/U-Verse households and the TWC/U-Verse households, so with the two agreements (which cover some 36 markets, all told), U-Verse is effectively outsourcing much of its advertising to other MSOs, as it tries to build a larger client base across the country.

For more information, please see:

http://www.adweek.com/news/television/time-warner-cable-media-adds-u-verse-ad-sales-platform-145462


AW Comment:

I’ve been a U-Verse subscriber for 4 months now, and can’t express how satisfied I”ve been with both the TV and high speed (12Mb/sec) Internet service.  Both have been rock solid with very high quality video- both SD and HD- and no hiccups in Internet service (as was the case with ADSL Pro @2.5Mb/sec).  Yet customer support has been terrible- even for the most mundane and seemingly trivial issues.

AT&T has a new slogan when you log into their customer website:  “Rethink Possible.”  Yet AT&T has not done a RETHINK on any aspect of U-Verse customer service- from installation to billing to reporting website errors after logging in.  This fact has been confirmed by numerous U-Verse customers I’ve interviewed, in preparation for a feature article comparing U-Verse to Comcast triple play services.  We excluded both Verizon and TW Cable because they do not offer their triple play services in the SF Bay Area and so have no presence here.

I have yet to experience any technical problems with the services- no disruptions or outages.  But I fear that when I do (and it’s inevitable), it will take a very long time to diagnose the problem cause, recover and repair the service.

Please comment below or email me:  alan@viodi.com  if you have any experience with U-Verse service outages and recovery.  I will include your results (anonymously if you like) in the survey I will be publishing soon.  Many thanks!

 

Viodi View – 05/16/12

A long time ago, a friend once made the observation that frequent travel allows one to see some unusual things and meet people who either are unusual, famous or both. He said that people sometimes didn’t believe the things he had seen in his travels. Roger and I have been lucky to capture memories of our unusual encounters in our travels through the heartland via the magic of video.


Sustainable Broadband

Lawrence Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information National Telecommunications and Information Administration United States Department of Commerce
Lawrence Strickling, NTIA

In addition to the heartland, we have recently interviewed folks from inside and outside the beltway. In this interview, filmed at the 2012 Broadband Communities Summit, we caught up with Lawrence Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information NTIA United States Department of Commerce, Lawrence Strickling. Strickling faced Congressional critics Congress today as he discussed the progress and effectiveness of the NTIA’s stimulus efforts. In this brief interview, he discusses the next phase, which is about driving adoption on the completed networks, as well as finding way to expand the reach of the broadband.

Stay tuned for a related ViodiTV story about two stimulus winners who found each other and the small rural community, which will benefit from these two complementary winners.


Documonials to Inform, Inspire and Promote

email documonials@viodi.com to transform your marketing

Press and conference organizers; contact us if you need video for your web sites or conferences.


Transition Time in Tennessee

Larry Drake of the TTA
Larry Drake of the TTA

Larry Drake, Executive Director of the Tennessee Telecommunications Association, discusses the Spring Meeting held in Franklin, TN this week.  He also talks about some of the regulatory challenges and uncertainties his 18 members face.  Drake has an interesting background with a comprehensive knowledge of the telephone industry, having worked for organizations such as Bellcore and US Telecom. He also briefly provides his thoughts on the challenges of ensuring all parties adhere to standards.  Click here to view.


Battle of the Airwaves

Battle Of The Airwaves
Battle Of The Airwaves

Broadcasting is another industry that is in transition and adjusting to a world where broadband and mobility are king.  A new way for broadcasters to go over the top is described in this video that features an interview with Jack Perry, founder of Syncbak, as well as a demonstration of the nascent Syncbak service.  Available as a free app for mobile phones (iOS and Android), it has been rolled out in several markets, such as Spokane and the San Francisco Bay Area.  Click here to view the video.


The Elements of TV Everywhere

Sam Blackman of Elemental Technologies
Sam Blackman of Elemental Technologies

Transcoding of video streams to serve multiple devices via multiple networks is becoming a core element of a video solution, regardless of the type of delivery method.  As explained in this video interview with Elemental Technologies’ CEO Sam Blackman, the use of Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) is the secret sauce behind their encoding and transcoding products.

The growth of Elemental Technologies has mirrored that of Apple’s iPad, as they introduced their first product a month after the launch of the iPad. Click here to view the video interview with Blackman where he talks about the challenges and opportunities of video delivery to multiple screens.


OTN Switching Gains Market Traction- but will it replace SONET/ SDH? by Alan Weissberger

Image Courtesy of Infonetics
Image Courtesy of Infonetics

The results of Infonetics Research OTN Deployment Strategies survey show that OTN switching will play a leading and significant role in the regional and long haul networks of most, but not all carriers. “Most notable is the fact that about three-quarters of the service providers interviewed plan to deploy OTN switching (see comment below).  This sample  represents 90% of all respondent capex, which means most optical dollars will be spent by carriers with OTN switching,”  according to Andrew Shmitt,  Infonetics Principal Analyst for Optical Networks.  Click here to read more.


For communications professionals, the main event at TiECon2012 -May 18th & 19th in Santa Clara, CA- will likely be Friday morning’s Mobile panel session.  The status and dynamics of the mobile industry will be assessed along with the key technologies and applications that will impact the entire mobile ecosystem.  Emerging trends, outlook and opportunities will be identified during what promises to be a stellar session.  Click here to read more.

  • Comcast addresses my concern that Xbox app chews into monthly broadband allocation.
  • Sign of the times- Lady at hotel check-in answers “Charter” when asked what telephone company is the provider for her employer.
  • Interesting that white spaces is the second thing mentioned by Commissioner McDowell in this congratulatory note.

The Korner – Day One With the Mayor

Mayor of Wisconsin Rapids
Mayor of Wisconsin Rapids

Since election season is here, it seems appropriate that we met with the freshly elected mayor of a rural burg that is at a bit of a crossroads.  It was a chance meeting with the mayor’s uncle that led us to the post inauguration party and our introduction to the new mayor.  He graciously accommodated us and we were his first official appointment on his calendar on his first day in office.

As it turns out, Zach Vrumink is the youngest mayor in Wisconsin Rapids, WI history.  From a line of entrepreneurs, he kept up the family tradition by starting a computer and networking technology business when he was 14.  With branches in several Wisconsin cities, he is now an absentee owner and is now focusing his energy on transforming the local city government to help his area compete.

His combination of enthusiasm, common sense and experience made us think that the mayor’s office is only the start for this young man who wants to make his community and country a better place.  Click here to view the interview with him and to read Roger’s thoughts on our impromptu meeting with the new mayor.

Viodi View – 03/08/12

Spring is near and that can only mean one thing; baseball is around the corner.  In the sunny climes of Northern California, baseball has been in full swing since January; at least at the youth level.  So, what does this have to do with telecommunications companies?  Scroll to the bottom to find out the connection between the diamond and the ringtone.


Documonials to Inform, Inspire and Promote

email documonials@viodi.com to transform your marketing


TiE SV Panel on Real Time Video- Changing Social and Mobile Communications by Alan Weissberger

Video communications has become pervasive—on TVs, laptops, desktop computers, mobile devices, even appliances.  For both business and consumers, there are several questions to ponder that will determine the market trajectory for real-time video.  Click here to read Weissberger’s commentary and his reporting on this TiE SV Panel on real-time video changing social and mobile communications.


MEF Announces Carrier Ethernet 2.0 & Connection Oriented Ethernet for Private Clouds by Alan Weissberger

The last week of February marked the launch of the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF)Carrier Ethernet 2.0 (CE 2.0) and new announcements at the very informative Ethernet Technology Summit in San José, CA.  While the conference theme was “Ethernet everywhere” (with special emphasis on the Data Center), there were several presentations on Carrier Ethernet- including a market assessment/forecast as well as its potential as the WAN infrastructure to access Private Cloud services. Click here to read more.


Infonetics’ Carrier Switch & Router Forecast; “Carrier Ethernet Market is Booming” by Alan Weissberger

On February 23rd, 2012 Infonetics Research released excerpts from its fourth quarter 2011 (4Q11) Service Provider Routers and Switches vendor market share report, which analyzes the IP edge router, IP core router, and carrier Ethernet switch (CES) market segments and the manufacturers within them.  Click here to read more.


The Building to Building Singularity

Karl Rabago of Austin Energy
Karl Rabago of Austin Energy

Will we be at the singularity when the number of building-to-building conversations is greater than the number of conversations between the people in those buildings? This is the provocative question posed by Karl Rabago of Austin Energy. Rabago describes a sort of peer-to-peer smart energy management system in this wide-ranging interview at Parks Associates’ Smart Energy Summit in his employer’s namesake city.  He also disputes the idea of the importance of consumer engagement with regards to energy management.  Click here to view.

This is just one of 35 videos we will be releasing from the Parks Associates’ Smart Energy Summit.


ThreeD for DDDummies by Peter Lowten

For some years 3D TV content providers have been seeking overnight success. Heavily researched, beautifully made (mostly cartoon /animated) cinema productions have indeed captivated audiences, and stirred significant investment aimed at bringing the 3D viewing experience into the living room.  January’s CES showed how far we’ve come.

This technology review ain’t about that aspect of 3D.  Click here for this special view of 3D from the ever insightful, Mr. Lowten.


Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

  • It was fun to see our friends in Ohio again and am amazed that Roger can bring a wall to life – check out this fun video of how broadband is transforming a community and a region.
  • Looking forward to attending our first ever American Cable Association event next week in Washington D.C.  Sort of back to the future for yours truly, as my career started by working on products that served small cable operators.

The Korner – From Diamonds to Ringtone, It’s All About Community

Commendation at the San Jose City CouncilTo paraphrase former House Speaker Tip O’Neill, all communications is local.  On an NTCA webinar a couple of weeks ago, Kent Larson of CHR Solutions made a statement that reinforces this idea, when he said that, “Loops cannot be outsourced.”   He made the argument that, to some extent, parts of a telecom operators’ business can be outsourced, but the last mile network is their bedrock.

The implication is that there needs to be local employees who maintain, operate, understand and serve the needs of the community to deliver on the promise of an advanced telecommunications network.  In my travels across America, these are the people who are the community.  With the full support of their employers, they are the ones volunteering for the fire departments, school boards and city council.

Click here to read the rest of this post and the link between this picture and telecom operators.

 

Viodi View – 03/16/2011

“If you haven’t seen it, then it is new to you.”  Something like that was a tag line from NBC around a decade ago touting their summer line-up of reruns.  That was in the days before DVRs became ubiquitous and appointment television still ruled the day for the masses.  In those days, the PC might be used for gaming, but it wasn’t a mainstream way to access video programming.  Other screens such as smart phones, personal media players and tablets had come and gone (think Apple’s Newton and GO corporation and clearly were not ready for prime time at the turn of the century.

Fast-forward to today and tablets are flying off-the-shelf in numbers that are the equivalent to a top-10 MSO worth of subscribers every quarter. According to a new study from Parks Associates, 3G+ connected tablets will make up more than 68 million of the projected 126 million to be sold in 2015.  These tablets are potential screens that didn’t exist a decade ago and their RF connectivity provides the potential for bypass of the traditional land line infrastructure.

This possibility of a new sales channel is probably part of the reason that Time-Warner is getting pushback from content owners regarding the release of an iPad app that allows one to view content on his iPad from within his household.   In a sense, this isn’t new ground, in that Time-Warner had trialed a linear programming system over broadband to the PC in their San Diego system some years back (good white paper on this effort can be found here).  This earlier trial was different in that it was to a device (a PC or lap-top) that didn’t have the convenience, battery life or connectivity of a tablet.

Still, the model is changing and affiliate relationships are changing, as shown by today’s story that Netflix is considering the acquisition of original programming, so it isn’t too surprising that content owners do not want to give-away rights to something that they might be able to monetize in a new way.


Broadband – Friend or Foe

So, what will the role of OTT video ultimately be and what will the relationship of OTT and the broadband operator be?  These are just a couple of the questions we will be pondering in a panel at IP Possibilities next month in Kansas City.  This is a must-attend event for anyone interested in how IP technologies affect the independent communications service providers.  In preparation for the panel, I found this video, which sheds light from some industry leaders on the related question of whether OTT is “friend or foe.”  Even though this video is from a couple of years back, it still is relevant to next month’s conversation.  Note, Shaun Carlson is now with V3 Technologies and will be speaking at the MTA Convention in less than 2 weeks.  Click here to view.


Increased Video Traffic Necessitates AT&T to Cap DSL Internet and U-Verse by Alan Weissberger

Bandwidth caps are one way that broadband providers can ensure a return on their investment in broadband.  AT&T’s announcement of a 150/250 Gbyte DSL/Uverse cap is consistent with other providers (e.g. Comcast’s limit of 250 Gbytes).  At this point, these caps could be viewed as an  insurance policy against potential cord-cutting.  Click here to read Alan Weissberger’s look at AT&T’s announcement regarding their bandwidth caps.


Local Content – Putting Smiles on People’s Faces

Cullen McCarty of Smithville Telephone and Gary Evans of HBC Give Tips for Local Content Success.
Cullen McCarty of Smithville Telephone and Gary Evans of HBC Give Tips for Local Content Success.

One way that operators cantake advantage of over-the-top is by placing their own local content online.  In this video interview at last year’s Broadband Properties Summit, Cullen McCarty of Smithville Telephone explains how they are producing online video.  Smithville’s online video strategy proceeded its launch of its franchised video operation.  This video also features Gary Evans of HBC talking about the keys to success in local content.  Local content will be the topic of two panels I will be moderating at the 2011 Broadband Properties Summit.  Click here to view.

 


Challenges in Educating the Customer Regarding New Infrastructure

Andrew Tang of PG&E
Andrew Tang of PG&E

PG&E made the headlines of last week’s San Jose Mercury, as the California Public Utilities Commission ordered this investor-owned utility to devise ways for customers to refuse smart meters. The intent of this order is to placate critics of the meters who have expressed concerns over accuracy of these devices and the potential health effects of the radio frequency emissions.

In this first part of a two-part video interview, Andrew Tang of PG&E points out the challenge of when and how best to educate the customer on a technology that rolls out over time; similar to the challenges operators face when deploying Fiber to the Home technologies.  Ironically, just as this issue goes to press, I saw the first television commercial from PG&E regarding the benefits of Smart Meters.  Smartly, this commercial features well-respected figures not affiliated with PG&E.   Click here to view.


Some Tweets and Short Thoughts

  • Our thoughts, hearts and prayers are with our Japanese friends and readers in the wake of the horrific ongoing events. It is an amazing country, with a resilient population, who will find a way to rebuild from this tragedy.
  • Noticed that Vidyo made WSJ’s top 50 start-ups. Coincidentally, using their video conference software in a local content talk today with a group of telcos. They also power Google chat.
  • And congrats in order for my friends at RGB Networks (13) and Fusion-io (20) for also cracking the WSJ Top 50 start-up list.

The Korner – iPod as an Off-Air TV

iPod As An Off Air TV
iPod As An Off Air TV

This interesting device, from Cydle, turns a an iTouch or iPhone into a television capable of receiving off-air television signals via the ATSC-Mobile standard. In addition to the antenna and off-air tuner, this device has a battery that powers its electronics and will charge the iTouch as well.  This device should be out sometime this month.  We caught a preview of this device in this video we recorded at CES 2011.  Click here to view.

A related post from awhile ago, http://www.viodi.tv/2008/04/28/mobile-video/

Highlights of Sprint Developers Conference: Oct 26-28, 2010 Santa Clara, CA

Disclaimer Unlike all other Viodi View articles, this one will refrain from the analysis, insight, inferences and comments that this author is noted for.  Instead, that content is being provided exclusively on the IEEE ComSocSCV Discussion mail list.  Instructions for IEEE members to join are at the bottom of www.comsocscv.org

We will not offer opinions here or draw any conclusions on what we observed (and didn't see or hear) at this Conference. 

Conference Summary

I.  Paget Alves, President of Sprint Business Market Group said that Sprint would be putting more focus on business customers than in the past. In particular, Sprint would enable companies to securely connect with mobile workers..  They plan to identify industry sectors and target solutions to those vertical markets, which include: health care, retail, manufacturing, finance and professional services.  In addition, Sprint will be focused on improving two of their networks for business customers:  IP-MPLS VPNs and "4G" for mobile workers.

Investments will be in five major areas:  4G, M2M,Business Solutions, Wireless-to-Wireline convergence, and Sprint ID.

"4G" was proclaimed to be a "cut the cord" alternative for busines with video seen as the killer app.  For example, video surveillance and remote medical diagnostics are ways of coupling 4G with M2M communications.  Sprint claimed to be a leader in LBS/GPS services, but no supporting documentation was provided. 

Convergence involves seemlessly interconnecting fixed and mobile wireless networks with a global IP core network.  A fixed wireless campus network was seen as a viable replacement for a wired campus for enterprise and university customers.  Again, no details on how that wireless campus network was to be realized.  However, a Sprint employee provided me with the following information:after the conference:

Sprint is actively marketing this product today through Sprint’s Customer Network Solutions (CNS group). The concept is simple: many have found their internal 802.11 networks are overtaxed and planning expansions, sometime with 802.11n, sometimes with just more access points. Using 4G picocell technology, the CNS team can provide high speed data services in a building with between 5:1 and 10:1 less APs than WiFi. The enterprise controls the authentication of devices and the data stays local to the enterprise network (i.e. it doesn’t backhaul to Sprint/CLWR and then go back to the enterprise).

II.  Danny Bowman, President of Sprint's Solutions Group is "excited about M2M communications to improve people's live and improve enterprise productivity.  Because of the "unlimited possibilities" envisioned, Sprint has just opened a M2M Collaboration Center in Burlingame, CA.  (www.sprint.com/M2M).  30 new M2M partners will be working together to bring silicon and software solutions together.  The one that intriqued me most was a company called BodyMedia which makes a gadget that will monitor your sleep quality.

Danny highlighted the very bullish M2M market forecasts, which we have written about recently: Exponential Growth in M2M Market Dependent on Important Network Enhancements.

He said that electronic prescriptions could save the medical industry $27B and that remote patient monitoring could be a $1.1B market by 2013.  Other notable M2M examples cited were digital signage (said to revolutionize advertising) and connected vehicles including infotainment in cars.

III.  Todd Rowley, Sprint VP of 4G was very upbeat on Sprint's ability to handle the exponential increase in data traffic from smart phones, tablets, notebooks and netbooks.  While an iPhone consumes about 800M bytes per month, Todd predicted a future of 10+ G bytes per month for heavy duty wireless Internet users.  Sprint offers unlimited data to users of its "4G' network and there are no plans to impose data caps.  The Sprint 4G network will reach almost 120M people in 2010.  Sprint 4G is currently in 55 markets, which covers 63M people.  San Francisco and San Jose will be added by the end of this year.  In contrast, the Sprint 3G network covers 270 Million people.

Sprint/Clearwire together have four or five times more spectrum than their wireless telco competitors which enables them to offer more bandwidth to more 4G subscribers.  They claim 120 to 150 MHz of spectrum in each metro market served (using 2.5 GHz mobile WiMAX as the "4G" technology. vs the competition which has at most 30 to 45 MHz of spectrum (in lower frequency bands). As a result of all this spectrum, Sprint claims they can now support up to 420 M bits/sec of aggregate traffic per Cell Tower, with up to 840 M bits/sec per Tower in the future.

The following "Unique 4G Applications" were cited:

  • 2-way Video Conferencing (e.g. an X Ray being transmitted to a hospital or Doctor's office, while the Doctor's image and voice are transmitted in the other direction)
  • High Definition files, including full length videos
  • Live video surveillance
  • Simultaneous application viewing

4G M2M Applications identified were:

  • Video surveillance by the Annapolis, MD Police Dept
  • Remote diagnostics
  • Digital Signage
  • 2 -way Video Conferencing
  • WiFi Enablement
  • Resource tracing- including GPS tracking and receiving

4G was claimed to improve business productivity with new apps for vertical markets, including; virtual real estate, education, construction, health care, transportation, government and public safety, retail and insurance.

Two "personal hot spots" are the Sprint Overdrive and the Cradlepoint device.  They provide WiFi to 4G capability that enables any WiFi device or PC to access Sprint's 4G network.  The HTC Evo 4G and Samsung Epic 4G will connect to 4G if available and if not, fall back to 3G mode.  The screens on those phones were said to be "made for watching videos."

Session continutity and Location Based Services (LBS) were cited as 4G services available to app developers.

IV.  CEO Dan Hesse stated that Sprint was moving to an open platform and was planning a major initiative to help developers who create apps and content.  He said that Sprint was making six announcements at this conference:

1.  Browser based Value Added Services (VAS) powered by Openwave.  The objective is to deploy a new ecosystem of enhanced services within the browser.  Allowing developers to monetize and market application content to consumers and enterprise customers, the  Sprint Browser VAS ecosystem (from Openwave) will provide developers the tools they need to develop apps and value-added services that run in the browser.

2.  New Sprint  ID partners.   Announced earlier this month at CTIA, Sprint ID allows users to select, on one of three new Android smartphones, ID packs that feature apps, widgets, screensavers and more bundled in one convenient download. Up to five ID packs plus the My ID basic Android experience can be exploited to enable users to seamlessly move between experiences.  It gives businesses the opportunity to improve the productivity of their increasingly mobile workforces.  Mr. Hesse touted Sprint ID for the  search and aggregation of (Android based) apps.  He cited widgets, ringtones and "wallpaper" as examples and announced AOL and BodyMedia as new Sprint ID partners.

3,  Sprint Mobile Wallet was said to be the first mobile payment solution of its kind by a U.S. carrier.  Said to be an easy, secure way to buy physical and digital products using a Sprint phone, buyers use a universal PIN to make payments.  Developers can use Mobile Wallet to monetize apps out of the "walled gardens" of app stores, according to Mr. Hesse.

4.  M2M Collaboration Center in Burlingame, CA, where you can view the latest M2M technology, test new concepts/ideas and get support for commercial viability of your M2M application.  Danny Bowman's Emerging Solutions Group is dedicated to M2M and embedded solutions.  In 2011, a Command Center (a mini-NOC) will allow Sprint customers to monitor M2M devices from PCs at work or from a mobile device/ gadget.

5.  Enhanced Services Platform will provide direct access for all APIs via a single Web 2.0 interface.  It was described as a "seamless capability operating across all Sprint devices, including handsets."  3rd party value added services might include analytics, bar code scanning, and M2M prototypes.  This new platform was predicted to "make applications richer and more profitable."

6.  Communication Enablement will give 3rd party access to voice and messaging services (SMS).  A gaming console was cited as an example.   Voice and messaging continue to be among the most used services on a mobile device, yet they have seen little innovation in years.  Sprint’s goal is to enable third parties to seamlessly extend their mobile communication services using the Sprint platform. Imagine a social networking site integrating mobile communication preferences into its available features, an in-home gaming service providing in-game calling and messaging, or the ability to have mobile calling and messaging capabilities available to the individual on any connected device, even when you don’t have your device with you.

Sprint is also expanding the ecosytem for the developer community through open application distribution channels. There are brand name distributors for SMB/Enterpris (Dell, Cisco, UPS) as well as Wholesale MVNOs (Comcast, C Beyond, LEAP).

For more on these announcements, please see:  Sprint Announces New Sprint ID Partners, Sprint Mobile Wallet, Communication Enablement at 10th Annual Developer Conference   

Points to Ponder

We ask you to think why Clearwire was mostly absent from this conference and Sprint made no mention in its presentations that it was Clearwire (not Sprint) that was building out their "4G" mobile network.  This despite Sprint owning 55% of Clearwire and having 7 of 13 seats on Clearwire's Board of Directors.

You might also be curious as to why there are no 4G apps shown that take advantage of  inherent "4G" capabilities like optimized mobile video or QoS for high priority M2M communications or real time video conferencing.

And since Sprint refers to mobile WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e-2005) as "4G" we wonder if the ITU-R approved 4G RANs (LTE Advanced and IEEE 802.16m/ WiMAX 2.0) will be called 5G by Sprint?

We will leave it to the reader to figure out the these mysteries from the 2010 Sprint Developer conference.


[Editor's Note: Sprint summarized what they view as key DevCon announcements in an 11/12/10 email to conference attendees.  They are listed below for the convenience of the reader].

Appendix: Sprint DevCon Key Announcements:

Conundrum Continues: Mobile video drives mobile traffic but for how long?

Overview

With the success of smart phones, tablet PCs and game players, video continues to be the dominant form of mobile data traffic on wireless networks.  Cisco Systems predicts that mobile video will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 131% between 2009 and 2014.   Yet we constantly hear and read user complaints about poor video quality, stalling/ freezing.  Can mobile video traffic continue to climb while users are so dissatisfied with reception?   

The conundrum is that mobile video transported on 3G mobile networks cannot deliver the quality users desire, while the stand alone. broadcast mobile video networks are commercial failures with the new, standards based networks pushed off into the future.  How long can this continue without mobile video traffic falling off a cliff? 

Meanwhile, broadcast mobile video networks have yet to be profitable. Qualcomm's FloTV (AKA MediaFLO) has been a huge disappointment and the company is considering shutting it down, according to the Wall Street Journal.     Mobile-TV Push Gets Fuzzy Reception.

And, the mobile DTV network that we thought would be up and running by now is nowhere near launch.  The WSJ reports, "A group of U.S. local broadcasters, in fact, is just beginning to gear up an effort to deliver a broadcast service called Mobile DTV to U.S. markets, using transmission capacity freed up by a transition from analog to digital technology." 

Discussion:

Let's look at the market dynamics for mobile video:

1.  Poor video quality and bad reception due to cellular network congestion leads to customer dissatisfaction

 In its 2010 Mobile Minute Metrics report, Bytemobile states that mobile networks experience the most congestion at 10 p.m. when mobile video consumption peaks, causing users to have the most stalling.  In other words, it's not there when they want it most. 

"The mobile data industry is experiencing tremendous growth, with video as the key driver," said Joel Brand, VP of product management at Bytemobile. "While operators are enjoying revenue growth from data subscriptions, they are also experiencing rapid escalation of traffic, which is outpacing available network capacity and adversely affecting quality of service."   In addition to a deteriorating user experience as data traffic continues to increase, operators will have to implement stringent billing policies as way to curtail data usage, Brand said.

For more information see: Mobile Networks Falter Under Video Demand.   

The analogy of more memory and faster processors for improved performance also applies to mobile data traffic.  Apps developers and users have had no problem consuming more memory and increased processing power of speedier microprocessors.  We predict that as aggregate and individual mobile bandwidth increases, it will be consumed just as rapidly presenting the same congestion problem users now face with mobile video.  Chris  Koopmans, VP of Product Development for ByteMobile, states, "Many operators say 'the next speed will solve your problem'… the point we're trying to make here is however fast you make your network, users will consume it.  No matter how fast it is, you will always end up with congestion."  And, we totally agree with that comment!

2.  Qualcomm's FLO TV has been a commercial failure

Qualcomm built FLO TV as a broadcast network, featuring scheduled channels of programming that mobile users can tune to. It does not use the cellular networks for mobile video, unlike MobiTV.  Qualcomm's FLO TV powers mobile-TV services marketed by AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless (a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC).  After six years designing and building this network, Qualcomm has conceded that growth has been disappointing and may shut it down.  Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs, told the WSJ that Qualcomm was "considering a number of alternatives" for FLO TV. He wasn't more specific and a company spokeswoman declined to elaborate. But, he said Qualcomm is in early-stage discussions with unnamed companies about FLO TV and the radio frequencies it controls. 

The spectrum Qualcomm owns for mobile broadcasting is a distinguishing element of FLO TV. Most users of smartphones use conventional cellular networks to call up video programming, such as downloads from services like Apple Inc.'s iTunes store and streamed videos from sites such as Google Inc.'s YouTube.

The Journal reports that there are fundamental handicaps in the U.S. for mobile video.  "Unlike markets like Japan and South Korea, where mobile TV has a sizable following, many Americans are driving when they aren't at home or at work—and less able to watch TV on the go than users in countries where public transportation is more widely used."

"Here it is a little difficult," said Mark Beccue, an analyst at market-research firm ABI Research. The market-research firm estimates that 12.8 million people will subscribe to mobile TV in North America in 2010, which he expects to grow to 25.9 million in 2012 in response to factors such as a proliferation of devices with bigger screens for watching videos. By comparison, the firm's worldwide estimate calls for 178.4 million subscribers this year and 384.5 million in 2012.

So with such slow growth and no profits, will Qualcomm redeploy the spectrum they own from FLO TV to something else?  We think so.  Qualcomm has "very valuable spectrum, and now the question is are we using it well with the FLO TV service," Jacobs said at the Wall Street Journal's D Conference last month.

Qualcomm isn't the first to pursue, and drop a similar broadcast approach, according to the WSJ. Crown Castle International Corp., which had been planning a service similar to FLO TV called Modeo, in 2007 changed strategies and announced plans to sell its wireless spectrum. Later the same year, Aloha Partners LP, whose subsidiary HiWire had tested a mobile broadcast service, instead announced a deal to sell its spectrum to AT&T for $2.8 billion.

 3.  Mobile DTV standard based networks still in a holding pattern

We really thought that this standard would solve the congestion problem by providing a separate band for broadcast mobile video.   Here is what we wrote last Fall:   Will the new mobile DTV standard enable Mobile Video to succeed in 2010?

Why hasn't it been deployed yet?  The WSJ reports:  "The backers of Mobile DTV, dubbed the Open Mobile Video Coalition, is pressing ahead with plans for services that also require special chips for receiving broadcast signals, typically built into media players or included with a device called a dongle for outfitting a laptop computer to use the service."

Anne Schelle, the Open Mobile Video Coalition's Executive Director, told the Journal that its research shows that Americans are willing to pay for the right mix of locally generated programming and other content. "I don't think [Qualcomm's experience] means that consumers aren't interested in this," she said. "Consumers are highly interested."

But why is it taking so long for market liftoff?  The mobile DTV standard is almost one year old.  In my independent research, I have not found a single investor or developer for the mobile DTV standard- not even Motorola, which talked about the need for a separate mobile video broadcast channel at a conference I attended last Fall.

Significant questions about the business model for mobile DTV still need to be answered. These include whether the technology should broadly launch as a free, ad-supported service or as a subscription offering, and whether stations have the right to simulcast their normal network programming through mobile DTV. And, while wireless carrier Sprint is participating in the Washington trial, which was organized by the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), no formal deal with a carrier to implement mobile DTV technology in handsets or other devices has been reached. If these questions aren’t addressed soon, the commercial launch of mobile DTV could be delayed well into 2011 or beyond.  Will it be DOA?  Only time will tell.

4.  Most users prefer to watch video on their TV, rather than a mobile gadget!

Chris O"Brien, one of the most incisive tech reporters I've ever read had another great article in the Aug 1, 2010 San Jose Mercury that documented users strong preference for watching video on a TV (and not a mobile gadget).  "Almost 99 percent of all video is still watched by people using their televisions. While our viewing options have multiplied, our viewing preference hasn't much changed: sitting on a couch in front of a TV. In fact, we're spending more time watching more video on TV than ever before. In Silicon Valley, home of YouTube and a host of online video startups, this seems astonishing, where we believe with near-religious fervor that the future is coming faster than ever and changing everything.  It's not. Rather, this is a good lesson in how consumers' most deeply ingrained habits can slow down the pace of change. And it's a reminder of how living here can sometimes warp our sense of technology's true impact."

O'Brien: BitTorrent and the reason things are changing slower than you think

We find this article quite reassuring and on the money.  As a result, we predict that in the near future, most folks will watch Internet video on their new TV's and not on mobile gadgets and gizmos.

Conclusions:

We think something has to give and very soon.   For mobile video to be successful, it will take the initiation and success  of live and on demand videos delivered via mobile DTV networks in conjunction with more 3G network capacity  (i.e. aggregate bandwidth for users) to have a better experience watching You Tube, Hulu and other Internet Video sites on their mobile gadgets.  If this does not happen, we think that the wireless telecom industry will be in big trouble.

Viodi View – 07/09/10

Click here to watch the videoSeeing people smile at the camera is one of the most rewarding things about producing video content. Looking back on it years later, the combination of audio and video captures memories that print and photos alone cannot match. Editing the following video brought back fond recollections of past OPASTCO tradeshows and friends made at these events. Click here to watch a video montage that uses ViodiTV at OPASTCO footage to promote the OPASTCO 2010 Summer Convention. 


Thank you in advance to the following sponsors for their support of ViodiTV's coverage of the 2010 OPASTCO Summer convention.  

Click here to go to Cronin's web site.spacerClick here to go to Extreme Networks' web site.Click here to go to OmniTel Communications.


Click here to watch the videoMore than a Logoed Napkin by Roger Bindl

Roger took a slightly different approach and produced a video that touts the long-tail benefits of video sponsorship versus the traditional tradeshow sponsorships that last as long as the tradeshow. He found some clips from the archives with industry figures that I forgot we had. 


Click here to watch the video interview with Ronald Jacoby of Yahoo!Simplifying the Development of Apps for TV

Since March 2009, the Yahoo! Widgets platform has been bringing Internet applications directly to the TV. In this video interview filmed at Parks Associates’ Connections Conference, Ronald Jacoby, Senior Director and Chief Architect, Connected TV, Yahoo!, explains their reasons for developing their connected TV platform. Jacoby tells of their success at integrating this open platform into major brand televisions, which has led to the development of a range of simple to use interactive TV applications. Later in the interview, he provides a very insightful answer to my question as to whether multiple open TV platforms (e.g. Google TV) are necessary.


Click here to watch the interview.Creating a Better, More Efficient Consumer Video Experience

Creating a better consumer experience, while fixing the broken digital supply chain, are the objectives of the DECE. Mitch Singer, Chairman of the DECE anad CTO of Sony Pictures, discusses how this is an industry-wide initiative that includes participants from retail, infrastructure, content and telecommunications organizations. A key to what they are doing is the ability for content providers to be able to publish once and distribute to multiple places. This could result in significant cost savings in the digital supply chain, while allowing customers the freedom to easily discover and play media across all of their platforms where and when they want.  Click here to view.    


Cloud Computing: Impact on IT Architecture, Data Centers and the Network – Wednesday July 14, 6 to 9 PM, Santa Clara, CA

Sessions include:

  • Building Many Bridges to the Cloud
  • Cloud Data Centers and Networking Trends
  • Cloud Connectivity – offensive or defensive play?

Click here for detailed information.


Wireless Network Nearly Maxed Out-More spectrum the answer? by Alan Weissberger

That was the title of a terrific San Jose Mercury News article, Sunday June 27th by columnist Chris O'Brien.  The online version title is: We're not ready for the mobile revolution

O'Brien writes, "We are reaching capacity on our wireless networks. The gadgets we use have caused such a dramatic surge in mobile data that it is creating a bottleneck in the infrastructure needed to carry the traffic. Even worse, this is happening as smartphone innovation has made the U.S. the world's most exciting mobile market after years of lagging. Now that innovation could be put on hold while the networks catch up. That's bad for consumers, investors and the economy."

Click here to read Weissberger's analysis as well as the commentary that follows which look at the question of whether more spectrum will solve the bandwidth bottlenecks.  


Click here to watch the video interviewElectric Broadband via Fiber

Dan Strode, CEO of Ralls County Electric Cooperative in a rural part of Northern Missouri, explains the need for broadband in his service area. This need for broadband was evident from the results of the surveys Ralls County Electric Cooperative administered to its members.

Awarded a multimillion-dollar stimulus grant and loan, the 35-employee, Ralls County Electric Cooperative is building a Fiber to the Home network that will serve all of its customers. The interview continues with Bill Shreffler of Pulse Broadband. He describes the turnkey network that they are putting together for Ralls County Electric Cooperative.  Their thin fiber architecture reminds me of the passive rural video fiber networks we would occasionally deploy at E/O Networks in the 1990s.  Click here to watch our interview.


Some Tweets and Short Thoughts – twitter.com/viodi

  • Is the Cius the equivalent of the corporate iPad? Cisco's android-based, Cius business tablet in its docking station.
  • FCC Chair Genachowski to speak at OPASTCO Summer Convention. This should be interesting, especially regarding the BB Plan.
  • The Third Way: What's It All Mean? : Excellent summary of the ramifications of possible FCC Net Neutrality rules.

The Korner – Local Content – Putting Smiles on Customers' Faces

Click here to watch the interview.Local content as a way to serve the community was a common theme of a panel I moderated at the 2010 Broadband Properties Summit. As expected, Cullen McCarty of Smithville Telephone and Gary Evans of HBC provided an excellent overview of how they are helping their communities by serving up content about and by the community. What made this especially interesting is HBC has gone through several generations of equipment, while local content is a relatively new venture for Smithville.

Smithville's initial focus is to create and embed content on their web site, while HBC is a long-time veteran of programming a linear TV channel. As seen in this video, one thing these telecommunications firms have in common is that they are using local content to inform and put a smile on the faces of the people in their respective communities.  Click here to watch the interview.

Online Content Producers' Bill of Rights

Finally, after 3 years in draft mode, I decided to publish the following post.  The recently drafted "Social Network Users' Bill of Rights" reminded me of my post written so long ago, except that it is obviously more well thought out than what I scratched out one morning.  Of course, having a bunch of bright people using the latest in social media tools to draft their ideas is a big advantage in terms of coming up with a comprehensive approach to protecting user data.

Whether companies should be compelled to follow these rules because of government edict or market forces is subject to debate.  It does seem like there might be an opportunity for services to differentiate and create a more "trusted environment" by adhering to these guidelines.  The question is whether enough people, at this point, care about how their data is managed for it to make a difference?  Or, like one commentator says, will the homogenization eventually suppress innovation and, as a result, cause services that follow these guidelines to be left behind?

So, here were the ideas I had come up with a couple of years ago.  Although written with the video producer in mind and how an online video host could make its site more attractive, many of these points are applicable to all forms of social media.     

  1. Ease of Use – doesn't require a bunch of different screens and manipulations to load and tag content.
  2. Reporting & Payment – timely, accurate and easy to use reports 
  3. Trust
    1. Trust that you will get accurate and fair payments 
    2. Trust that the service will be reliable
    3. Trust that you will be able to retain your content in the event you want to move it or the service disappears
    4. Trust that the service won't sell the content without the producer's permission
  4. Wide distribution, ability to syndicate
  5. Integration onto producer's web site, myspace, etc.
  6. Choice of players (single, multiple videos…) and ability to brand player with the producer's logo and producer-determined linkage.
  7. Ability of producer to create their own channel.
  8. Upload once, but the content to gets transcoded for multiple outputs (cell phone, TV, PC, etc.)
  9. Share in advertiser revenue
  10. Be able to decide the type of advertising or, optionally, disable advertising. Be able to select the type of advertising (e.g. overlaid banner, pre, mid or post roll, etc.)
  11. Be able to charge on a Pay Per View or Subscription on Demand (variable time period).

[Note:  In the 21 dog-years since I wrote the above, Viodi has tried numerous services for managing video.  Of those, Blip.TV is probably doing the best job of meeting the above criteria.]