Viodi View – 02/16/15

Value Added Business Services Drive New Revenue

A picture of the entrance to ITS Fiber's business office.
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“An all-star line-up of speakers that was assembled,” said Jeff Leslie, CEO of ITS Fiber. He was referring to this week’s event, Beyond Fiber and Into the Data Center and he was right, as all the speakers delivered great insight. As we discovered, what ITS Fiber is doing is even beyond the data center. Many operators are well-positioned like ITS Fiber is, to use their combination of fiber, data center and local presence to create a mix of high-margin, high-value services that are difficult for larger, out-of-town competitors to match.

Future issues of the Viodi View and ViodiTV will feature insight from this one-plus day conference. In the meantime,

click here to read an overview of the aim of the conference.

Cyber Insurance in Less Than 5 Minutes

Interview with Rudy Johnson of R.V. Insurance at the Seminole Inn in Indiantown, Florida.
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“Cyber insurance has made great strides in the last 20 years and we now have a mainstream product,” explains Rudy Johnson, president of R.V. Johnson Insurance. In the above video, filmed at the historic Seminole Inn in Indiantown, Florida, Johnson describes an application form that, for companies with less than $100M in revenue, is only one page long and can be completed in less than five minutes. Given the myriad of cyber risks faced by the small business owner, this sort of protection seems like a no-brainer.

Click here to view and read more.

Cyber Security – A Necessity and A Potential Competitive Advantage – The Webinar

A security camera depicting the import of cyber security.
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One of the sessions that we had to defer at last week’s event was a conversation with Jeff England of Silver Star Communications. England has been the voice of the industry at the FCC and NTIA regarding cybersecturity. Fortunately, we have an opportunity to catch up with Jeff online in a webinar format on March 20th.

Learn more and register here.

73 Magic Management Words Plus Two – A Brief Review

73 Magic Management Words+2 book review.
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One of the special goodies in the goody bags (sounds like a kid’s party), was Everett Christensen’s book, 73 Management Words+2. Everett, owner of Christensen Communications an independent operator in Madalia, Minnesota, reports that he has been giving these books out to business customers as a leave behind and that not only do people appreciate them, they purchase additional copies. I recently edited my video review of his book for Everett for use on his forthcoming website.

Click here to get a sneak peek of the video that will appear on his web site.

Wholesale CLEC & MVNO without Infrastructure Additions

Fritz Hendricks talks about the process for an operator to become a wholesale CLEC.
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Expanding outside an ILEC’s traditional service area without having to pay for upfront infrastructure is what Fritz Hendricks and Chris Brown of Onvoy discuss in the above interview, filmed at the 2014 Minnesota Telecom Alliance Convention. As Hendricks points out, this capability provides operators a potential for revenue growth. It also provides a low-risk way to edge out into areas outside their traditional wired service boundaries without major upfront investment.

Click here to read more and view the video

[Note: registration for the MNTA 2015 Annual Convention & Tradeshow is now open]

Managing Change – Staying Relevant

Alan Plott disucsses managing change at the 2015 Wireless Symposium.
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Radio took 38 years to reach 50 million listener penetration, while the application Angry Birds took 13 days to reach the same number of players. Alan Plott, Sr. Vice President of Operations for NetAmerica Alliance, made this point, in the above interview, to illustrate how change, thanks to technology, has accelerated over the decades. Plott summarizes his 2015 Wireless Symposium keynote speech, which focused on how organizations need to manage change, if they are to stay relevant.

Click here to read more and to view.

Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

  • @AjitPaiFCC (pdf) – “Will taxpayers subsidize a big corporation’s spectrum auction scheme? On abuse of the FCC’s small business program.”
  • Since broadband is now 25/3 Mbs, will lower speed offerings escape regulation? Does the 332 page book of Net Neutrality rules explain?
  • Interesting Freedom of Information Act (pdf) request to the FCC regarding further study of the competitive effects of statewide franchising. Initial review by these researchers suggest even threat of competition from adjacent overbuilders helps reduce price of basic service, while making no difference with extended basic. They point out that more study is required and, hence, their FOIA request.
  • The Drone Tractor – autonomous farm machinery is getting closer to full commercialization as Kinze will be building upon its program that found select farmers in the Fall of 2014 completing their harvest with the help of self-driving implements. This trend could have a huge impact on farmer productivity.

The Korner – Avocado of Things

An image of the MERA booth at CES 2015 featuring Avocados from Mexico.
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Avocados from Mexico had one of the clever commercials of the 2015 Superbowl. That they are marketing direct to the consumer isn’t a big surprise given that they were part of the MERA booth at International CES2015 last month. What might even be more clever and innovative are the kiosks they will be rolling out in groceries stores.

Bill Timm, VP of Business Development for MERA USA, the company that behind the technology for these points of presences, explains how these kiosks communicate to apps via integrated Bluetooth beacons. The sorts of things they will communicate include customers recipes and, potentially, special offers.

This unique application points to the way the Internet of Things offers the potential to create direct relationships between producer and consumer.

Viodi View – 1/30/15

FCC AWS-3 Auction Ends; Raises Record $44.9 Billion! by Alan Weissberger

A photo of a typical cell tower.
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has just closed its auction of AWS-3 wireless spectrum licenses, raising a record $44.9 billion in the process. The Wall Street Journal reports that this is the largest amount of money the FCC has ever collected from a spectrum auction, and is more than double what was earned in 2008 during the much publicized 700MHz auction.

Click here to read more.

To License or Not to License – the $62 Billion Question

An image of Mike  Bergmann of CEA along with an image of  the CEA unlicensed spectrum report.
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Unlicensed spectrum adds $62 Billion in annual Incremental Retail Sales Value to the U.S. economy according to a study led by CEA Sr. Director, Technology & Standards, Mike Bergman.This $62B annual amount, which FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel suggests could be as high as $140B, is an interesting juxtaposition to the one-time fee of the AWS-3 auction, referenced above. There is also an argument to be made that any money that flows into the government coffers will eventually be paid for by the consumer, as, to paraphrase President Reagan, businesses don’t pay spectrum auction fees, they just pass them on.

Click here to read more and view the video.

From Wired to Wireless – One Operator’s Story

Lee Chambers of Sandhill Telephone Cooperative is depicted in this image.
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“We didn’t even have towers. We had no idea how to get into the wireless business,” said Lee Chambers, CEO of Sandhill Telephone Cooperative. In the above interview, he explains how this incumbent local exchange carrier built a wireless network within an 18 month period. This LTE data-centric network has allowed Sandhill to reach out beyond their traditional boundaries and serve customers; many who only had access to the Internet through dial-up or satellite.

Click here to read more and view the video.

Defining a New Global Network by Steve Gleave, SVP, Metaswitch Networks

A man holding tablet over an image of a global network.
Image Courtesy of Metaswitch Networks

[Editor’s Note: The following blog post, originally published on the Metaswitch Networks Blog, provides a glimpse of what Mr. Gleave will be discussing at the event Viodi is producing with ITS Fiber. ITS Fiber is an independent operator that made the transition from copper-based rural telco to one that provides business services via an all-underground fiber network that connects to their state-of-the-art data center. Thanks Metaswitch for your support of this upcoming event!]

Communications network infrastructure is on a path to become more software-centric: virtual network functions running on commodity hardware, in the cloud. Intelligent software, separated from hardware, driven by the double-header of both network functions virtualization (NFV) and software defined networking (SDN).

Click here to read more.

 Beyond Fiber and Into the Data Center

An image showing the interior of ITS Fiber's Data Center.
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There is still time to register for this event, hosted by independent operator, ITS Fiber in Florida on February 10th and 11th. In case you can’t make it, three of the sessions will be simulcast, so you can participate from the comfort of your computer or phone. Click the links below to register for the following sessions:

Thanks Calix for your support of the transition from CO to Data Center tour.

Thanks IIS Group for your support of the  transition from CO to Data Center tour.

The Metaswitch Networks logo is what this image represents.

Thanks to Calix, IIS Group and Metaswitch for their support of this event!


Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

  • Ironic, the same day Google announces they are skipping over San Jose to provide FTTH and a day before the FCC’s redefinition of broadband to 25 Mbs/3 Mbs, the Silicon Valley ILEC that passes by my household lets me know that they can offer me…”High Speed Internet Basic gives you up to 768Kbps download speeds and up to 384Kbps upload speeds.”
  • At the /29/2015 meeting, FCC Chairman Wheeler “Would be great if there were an Uber for 911.”  Hmmm, I wonder what sort of local/state/federal power struggle that would cause?
  •  “Like to see Congress … factor in the value of unlicensed spectrum, thus giving it an incentive to help create more of it.”

The Autonomous Korner –  Ensuring the Insurance of the Autonomous Future

Michael J Scrudata of Munich RE discusses insurance and the autonomous automobile.
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That a representative of an insurance company of insurance companies was at International CES2015 to learn about autonomous vehicles and their impact on the transportation of tomorrow is an indicator that the automation of transport is well on its way. In the above interview, Michael Scrudato of Munich RE, points out that autonomous vehicles offer the potential for significant societal benefits, including the reduction in deaths, injury and associated emotional damage from car crashes.

Scrudato explains that they have looked at this market for the past 12 to 18 months, as auto insurance represents about half the U.S. property and casualty insurance industry. From an insurance standpoint, he suggests that they expect insurance regulation will continue to be on a state-by-state basis. The big question is when will autonomy be practical. Whenever that date is, it sounds like the insurance industry will be ready.

Click here to view.

While we are on the topic….

  • The most interesting thing about this article about driverless car testing in North Dakota is the idea of an autonomous, north-south highway through our nation’s heartland.
  • $2,700 is the potential net benefit per Canadian household (>5% of household consumption) according to a recent report (pdf) co-authored by CAVCOE (The Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence). This report, although focused on Canada, is something that U.S. local, state and federal officials involved in city planning, transportation, economic development – really anyone interested in the impact of automated transport on society – should thoroughly read.

FCC AWS-3 Auction Ends; Raises Record $44.9 Billion!

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has just closed its auction of AWS-3 wireless spectrum licenses, raising a record $44.9 billion in the process. The Wall Street Journal reports (on line subscription required) that this is the largest amount of money the FCC has ever collected from a spectrum auction, and is more than double what was earned in 2008 during the much publicized 700MHz auction.

[Reference: Has the 700 MHz Auction Been a Failure?]

The auction was comprised of over 1,600 different licenses.  The FCC said it will announce the auction results within the next few business days.

The AWS-3 spectrum cover frequencies in the 1700MHz and 2100MHz blocks, but they do not overlap with the AWS-1 spectrum that a number of carriers (most notably T-Mobile and Verizon) already use. AWS-3 spectrum is good at carrying large amounts of data and is well suited for cities, where wireless data use is soaring. Winners of the auction will likely use the new spectrum to bolster their existing wireless networks with greater capacity (except for Dish Networks which has been accumulating spectrum but hasn’t deployed a wireless network yet).

Seventy companies participated in this AWS auction, including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Dish, but the FCC hasn’t yet released how much each company bid. The auction’s aggressive bidding surprised analysts who thought it would be a quiet affair dominated by AT&T and Verizon. Anonymous results show multiple bidders fought hard for coveted licenses in markets like New York and Los Angeles, which commanded the largest sums. As of the auction close, the four main licenses for the New York region alone totaled about $6.2 billion.

Analysts estimate the bulk of the auction proceeds came from AT&T and Verizon, each of which might have spent $15 billion to $20 billion on bids. It’s possible that both carriers bid around each other since the AWS-3 band plan made it possible for two carriers to land 20 MHz of spectrum. Other major bidders likely were T-Mobile and Dish Network.

The paired blocks have earned the largest bids in many markets. The J Block license for New York City alone has pulled in nearly $3 billion.

The aggressive bidding highlights the enormous scale needed to compete in the U.S. wireless market, a reality that makes it hard for rivals to challenge the market’s leaders. AT&T and Verizon control most of the industry’s most lucrative customers and the bulk of its revenue and profits, which gives them enormous financial firepower in such auctions.

While big markets like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago drew the highest bids, smaller markets including Portland, Maine, and Louisville, Ky., received bids over $20 million. One license in American Samoa commanded the lowest bid, at $2,800.

On Wednesday, January 28, 2015, the FCC said Blocks G, H, I and J garnered no bids or withdrawals during Round 337. Since no proactive activity waivers had been placed and the reserve price has already been met, the Commission closed bidding on those blocks: G Block (1755-1760/2155-2160 MHz), H Block (1760-1765/2160-2165 MHz), I Block (1765-1770/2165-2170 MHz), and J Block(1770-1780/2170-2180 MHz). H, I and J are broken up into 176 licenses each based on economic areas (EA) and G is broken up into 734 licenses based on cellular market areas (CMA).

Viodi View – 01/16/15

The Chicken & Egg Spectrum Auction

Carri Bennet at the Wireless Symposium
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Overload; one word to describe everything going on regarding the activity surrounding telecommunications regulation and policy in Washington D.C. Carri Bennet and Jill Canfield, two very knowledgable people on these topics drove home the point of how complicated telecom policy is when they described where the FCC stands with next year’s auction for 600 MHz spectrum. Fortunately, I had a chance to spend a few minutes with Carri after her presentation at the Wireless Symposium and have her give a thumbnail for this release of spectrum that could be a critical piece to helping bringing broadband to unserved remote rural areas.

Click here to learn more.

Cybersecurity – A Necessity and A Potential Competitive Advantage

Even more important than the policy and regulatory turmoil in the Beltway is the war with the fanatics who will use any means possible to enslave or eliminate the rest of us. And, as we know, their terror goes beyond physical weapons as the Internet allows these thugs new opportunities to impose their twisted will. It will take a united front of citizens, business and government to stand against these evil forces.

A security key pad is just an outward view of the importance of having excellent internal controls.
Click here to view

Silver Star Communications has been a leader and on the forefront of working with government to fight this war. Jeff England, CFO of SIlver Star Communications is relatively new to the telecom industry, coming to it from a firm that dealt with cybersecurity audits. He has been representing the Silver Star and, by extension, independent operators through his work with the NIST and the FCC. His perspective is sought out because he brings a broader perspective to cybersecurity as compared to the typical IT representation. England explains that cybersecurity is about “risk management” and that, “The NIST Framework provides a bridge between the technology and leadership and where an entity stands on risk.”

England believes there is an opportunity for service providers to use cybersecurity as a competitive advantage. Operators attending the event Viodi is producing in conjunction with ITS Fiber will get a chance to learn Jeff’s thoughts on this topic.

Learn more at:

Thanks Calix for your support of the transition from CO to Data Center tour.

Thanks IIS Group for your support of the  transition from CO to Data Center tour.

Thanks to Calix, IIS Group and Metaswitch for their support of this event!



Gigabit Broadband – Better than Indoor Plumbing

An image of Star Valley, Wyoming, home of Silver Star Communications.
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Speaking of Silver Star Communications, the Governor of Wyoming recognized Silver Star Communications in his state of the state address last Wednesday for their efforts in expanding broadband in the Cowboy State. Late last year, we caught up with Representative Marti Halverson who spoke of the importance of Silver Star to the region she represents. In doing so, she relates an amusing story about a misconception one reporter had about the Equality State.

Click here to read more and to view.

Wireless Symposium – A Training Boot Camp for CES

Images of the 2015 Wireless Symposium are shown.
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One of the best things about the Wireless Symposium, that was held in conjunction with International CES 2015, was the opportunity to meet with old and new friends. In this video, Steve Pastorkovich, VP of Training and Development for NTCA and Tanya Sullivan, CEO of RWA, explain that the Wireless Symposium, co-produced by their organizations, is a great way to ease into CES.

Click here to read more and to view.

Wireless – A Common Connection Before and During International CES 2015 – Part 1

An image from the Wireless Symposium at CES
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The Internet of things has transformed International CES 2015 into the show of everything. In 2015, CES continued its expansion in way that is similar to how electronics are increasingly making dumb objects into smart sensors, controllers and indicators. Wireless connections were clearly a key building block for connecting the multitude of devices seen at this enormous conference.

Click here to read more and to view.

The Internet of Tasty Things – #CES2015 – Part 2

Ken Pyle drinking a very tasty beer at the PicoBrew booth.
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Despite filming 35 video interviews and being at CES and its associated conferences and other events from Sunday to Wednesday, I was in the main convention center for about an hour and a half. That’s the nature of CES; there is too much to see over too wide an area. In some ways it may be easier to get the big picture by staying home and reading and watching coverage. Of course, one wouldn’t be able to see a blue-tooth shoe that gives directions, shoot a basketball that tells you how to improve your shot or taste a craft beer from an Internet-connected, personal brewing machine.

Click here to read more and to view.

[A big thank you to Calix for its support in making the above part 1 and 2 CES highlights a reality! Click here to check out their CES photo collage.]

The Korner – Paving the Way to an Autonomous Future

Alain Kornhauser discusses the future of the autonomous vehicle.
Alain Kornhauser discusses the future of the autonomous vehicle – Click to View

Apollo 11 is a distant memory in the rear view mirror of life for those old enough to remember the glory days of America’s space program. It was a privilege then to meet someone who was involved with that historic program. Space, however, was not the final frontier for Dr. Alain Kornhauser, a Princeton Professor, as, in the decades since, he has been looking forward to how technology could help the transport challenges here on earth.

In the above interview, filmed at International CES 2015, Kornhauser discusses how decades of theory are rapidly turning to reality, as new features are making cars safer and setting the stage for full autonomy; as Kornhauser says, “At some point, they [cars] become so good, that they chauffeur us.”

To the naysayers, he suggests that the,

“Technology will pay for itself through the insurance savings….It will essentially allow the consumer to have the technology for free, as long as they continue to pay the insurance premiums.”

He points out that the technology is following cost curves that are similar to consumer electronics and will follow trends similar to Moore’s Law; hence, one of the reasons CES has become such an important conference for automakers.

Click here to read the complete summary and view the interview.

Sprint to Shut Down WiMAX Service ~Nov 6, 2015


At long last, Sprint has confirmed it will be turning off of its WiMAX service on or around November 6th, 2015.  That’s a little over 1 year for owners of WiMAX mobile devices (including laptops with WiMax cards/dongles) to switch to LTE .  WiMAX mobile devices will still work in 3G mode after that, but one doesn’t buy a 4G device or interface to use it in 3G mode, especially after a few years of ownership.

The time frame for the shutdown was originally reported by a blog on Android Central this past weekend, which cited an internal Sprint memo detailing the company’s network plans. Yesterday, Sprint spokeswoman Adrienne Norton confirmed the date to FierceWireless.

In April, Sprint said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it would “cease using WiMAX technology  by the end of 2015.” As part of that effort, Sprint said it identified  approximately 6,000 “redundant sites that we expect to decommission and  terminate the underlying leases.”

This author long ago forecast the demise of mobile WiMAX, because no other major wireless telcos or mobile device makers (except Samsung) were supporting it.  In a September 2006 blog post, we asked “Will the Real “Mobile WiMAX” please stand up!”

What’s Cooking Now in Sprint’s Wireless Broadband Kitchen:

Sprint says it already has built its 4G LTE network to serve more than 255 million people, with more on the way, making it easy for customers to take advantage of all the great features on smartphones.

In addition to Sprint’s all-new 3G network and its 4G LTE network, Sprint is deploying Sprint Spark, a technology designed to greatly improve the performance of video and other bandwidth-intensive applications, including new generations of online gaming, virtual reality and advanced cloud services. It enables stutter-free video chat on-the-go and mobile gaming that leaves lag behind. Sprint Spark is an enhanced LTE service that’s built for data and designed to deliver average wireless speeds of 6-15Mbps and peak wireless speeds of 50-60Mbps today on capable devices, with increasing speed potential over time. Sprint plans to reach 100 million Americans by year-end with the service.

Beginning Oct. 10, the Sprint Business Share Plan will again double the data, now delivering 240GB to 800GB of data to business customers with 50 to 100 lines.  The latest promotion, running through Oct. 31, 2014, provides businesses double the data for $50 to $150 less per month than a similar promotion from AT&T.

The Road Ahead will be Very Bumpy:

A recent SEC regulatory filing confirms mass layoffs at Sprint.  With its latest round of layoffs and cost-cutting, it will be difficult for the smaller size company to expand and upgrade it’s LTE infrastructure and continue on the M2M/IoT path it had set for itself over four years ago.

Viodi View – 08/22/14

Image of a future car  courtesy of Michael Robinson and ED Design.
Image courtesy of Michael Robinson and ED Design.

It’s obvious by the look on their faces, that people could be thinking that this guy is from another planet. This is the feeling I have when talking about my latest obsession, the autonomous vehicle. The obsession first manifested itself in the fictional story of what life will be like for today’s youth in the year 2040 thanks to self-driving vehicles. That story has been a spring-board to various discussions with experts on the topic, such as the recent discussion we had with someone who is an expert in both the legal and engineering aspects of vehicle autonomy. Read his thoughts on the winding road to vehicle autonomy in The Korner, below.

V2V & Spectrum Auction Round-Up

Depiction of V2V in urban area - image courtesy of U.S. D.O.T.
Depiction of V2V in urban area – image courtesy of U.S. D.O.T.

As written,  Implementation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Begin Implementation of Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications Technology could have an impact on service providers, as it asks about the FCC’s proposal to share the 5.85 to 5.925 GHz band between Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) radios (which are projected to be embedded in V2V-enabled vehicles, starting as early as the 2015 model year) and other WiFi devices. The NHTSA’s report on the topic outlines some of the potential safety benefits from such a network and, starting on page 92, goes into depth on spectrum utilization.

At the same time that the NHTSA is proposing rules of the road for vehicle to vehicle communications and potentially paving the way for an autonomous transport future, the FCC issued rules on how the broadcast auction spectrum will work. In an article in CED Magazine, respected telecom policy expert Jeffrey Krause suggests TV White Spaces and wireless microphone users will be the losers based on the FCC’s almost 500 page ruling.

As  was suggested in the article accompanying our interview with SocialMesh advocates, Devabhaktuni Srikrishna and Rajeev Krishnamoorthy, it  is not too late for Congress to step in and take a holistic view of spectrum to ensure maximum value for this public good; which might not mean direct dollars into the U.S. Treasury. This will require a big picture view  that embraces seemingly disparate use-cases, such as V2V and wireless broadband access. More on the bigger picture in the next issue of the Viodi View.

Better Driving Through Metadata

A picture of the 2015 Corvette Stingray along with  the metadata of its drive.
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Great racing athletes are able to visualize their every move giving them a mental picture for how they should perform. For the rest of us, Chevrolet may have the answer in the form of its Performance Data Recorder (PDR) in the 2015 Corvette Stingray, which is notable as it is the first telematics system to be included in a production car. Although not available in this version, the transmission of real-time metadata to other vehicles is the very sort of thing that would be at the heart of an aforementioned V2V network.

Click here to read more and to view the video.

Building Blocks – Adding Value to the Internet of Things

A demonstration of the Mobile Internet of Things is provided by CableLabs at their booth at The Cable Show 2014.
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Cable companies as value-add providers of data from the disparate Internet of Things is on display in CableLabs’ demonstration at The Cable Show 2014. Clarke Stevens explains how the prototype they created allows consumers to view the location of public transit buses on an app; an app that can live on multiple devices, including TVs, smart phones and tablets.

Click here to read more and to view the video.

The Heat Is On & Helping Monitor the House

Ken Pyle interviews Rob Riordan at the International CES 2014.
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Heat sensing with personal devices is about to take off, according to an articlethis week’s in the Wall Street Journal. Rob Riordan, EVP and director of corporate development for Nsight, talks about using thermal technology to add more accurate detection to their home monitoring service. We caught up with Riordan at International CES 2014, where he talks about the success Nsight has had in offering home monitoring services to its Wisconsin customers.

Click here to read more and to view the video.

Video Editing Challenges

One must click on the "About" option to see this menu. Although this shows only the "Disable GPU for this product" box marked, it may be that "Disable GPU Option for all products" may need to be selected as well.
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Anyone interested in video editing; particularly with the latest release of Sony’s Vegas software, should read this 3-part series on the challenges faced by this author in editing with the latest version of this professional video editing software package. To read the rest of the story, click on the following links.

Click here to read more.

Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

The Korner – Autonomous Vehicles and the Law

Ken Pyle interviews autonomous car expert, Brian Walker Smith.
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The advent of self-driving vehicles will have a profound impact on the way communities develop; particularly if the service model, as already coming into play with companies like Uber, Lyft and others, turns out to be the predominate way of transporting people.

As one MIT study suggests, a shared, self-driving vehicle approach could mean only 1/3 as many vehicles would be needed as compared to one where humans are behind the wheel; which has huge implications for the way cities are designed. And the autonomous vehicle’s reach won’t be limited to the urban areas, as fully autonomous vehicles are already operating in various mining operations.

In this interview, legal and transportation professor, Bryant Walker Smith, talks about the challenges as we transition from human directed vehicles to fully autonomous vehicles. As he points out, there will be tensions between local and national interests. He likens it to the early days of broadband and implies that the road from here to fully autonomous vehicles will be a one with some potential forks and paths not yet imagined.

Click here to read more and to view the interview.

Broadband TV Conference- Part 3: The Problem and Solution for WiFi Delivered Video Content -Why Can't We Watch Any Content, on Any Device in Any Room in the Home?

Introduction and Backgrounder:

The number of mobile devices in the home is exploding. Most “Pay TV” operators (like Comcast Xfinity, Verizon FioS, and AT&T U-Verse) are supporting multiple screen viewing as part of their “TV Everywhere” services. The content is mostly OTT VoD, video clips, or real time sporting events available by subscription (e.g. MLB.TV, or ESPN3) that’s played on mobile devices, gaming consoles and even connected TVs.

In almost all cases, the in-home WiFi network delivers the streaming video content to the “second screen.”   Mobile devices will not likely use 3G/4G wireless access to watch videos, because that would consume a good chunk of the wireless subscribers monthly data plan.  Some second screens, like the Kindle Fire and iPod Touch, only use WiFi for wireless communications.  Furthermore, there is no charge for WiFi home video distribution (other than the OTT subscriptions the user has with the video streaming provider, e.g. MLB.TV, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu+, Apple TV, etc).

[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”250px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]Note 1:  The U-verse Wireless Receiver is a wireless STB which is connected to the TV using an HDMI, component, composite or coaxial cable. It uses the WiFi home network to connect to a WiFi Access Point (AP) that plugs into the U-verse Residential Gateway via an Ethernet cable. The WiFI AP is also a “video bridge,” in that it extracts the TV content (SD/HD/apps) from the Residential Gateway, decodes it into the correct format, and delivers that content wirelessly over the in-home Wi-Fi network to the U-verse Wireless Receiver which plugs into the TV. The quality of SD/HDTV videos is expected to be a lot better than OTT video streaming, so would be adversely effected by any WiFi home network performance degradation.[/dropshadowbox]Most Wi-Fi home network implementations are optimized for best effort, peak data rate streaming. However, video is very sensitive to packet loss, latency and jitter, which results in artifacts on the consumers’ second screens (How many times have you noticed the OTT video picture freezing or sharply degrading in quality? Or loss of lip synch?). In addition, whole-home WiFi coverage and a consistent signal become mandatory for a good “user quality of experience.” Consumers will generally have their mobile devices, notebook PCs, STBs and TVs located in various nooks and corners of the home. They expect consistent video and audio quality whenever they’re watching videos on any screen in the home (or even in the back yard).

In addition to OTT streaming via WiFi in the home to notebook PCs and mobile devices, WiFi is sometimes used for delivering broadcast and on demand pay TV content. For example AT&T offers a “Wireless U-Verse receiver” for watching SD and HD TV plus apps that are included in the residential subscriber’s U-Verse TV package or bundle.1

Fundamental Problem with WiFi Delivery of Video Content in the Home:

Consumers have been led to believe they can watch any video content on any TV/device, in any room of the home. AT&T has been advertising this claim repeatedly in their TV commercials for U-Verse TV (Have you seen the one where the Dallas Maverick’s Mark Cuban invites players into his house to watch live basketball games on his tablet?). Google reports that 77% of consumers use mobile devices while watching TV each day. Touch screen mobile devices were said to have superior User Interfaces (UI’s) for search and socializing. Therefore, many people use them for watching and sharing videos while at home.

Ideally, video reception quality should not vary much depending on location in the home, but it does. AirTies claims the user experience is not nearly up to expectations when watching WiFi delivered video content within the home.  They say the primary bottleneck is poor WiFi performance – even with the latest IEEE 802.11ac silicon in the sending/ receiving WiFi enabled equipment/devices.

AirTies Presentation Overview:

Ozgur Yildirim, Vice President and General Manager – North America Business Unit- AirTies discussed this topic during his Broadband TV session on June 4. 2014.

Ozgur’s excellent presentation included actual measurements in a typical home. He also discussed network level limitations of WiFi, including: range performance, capacity impact of mobile devices,  interference from neighbors and streaming from DVR to 2nd TV. Finally, Ozgur presented a WiFi mesh-network home network solution to the problems inclusive of range extender/ boosters and other WiFi network enhancements. AirTies currently sells such a home network to Service Provider customers in Europe (see Comment and Analysis section below for further details on AirTies).

The primary problems with WiFi distribution of video and audio content is that it’s difficult for the WiFi signal to penetrate walls or reach corners within a typical home. That was supposed to be fixed with IEEE 802.11n and now 802.11ac, but not according to Mr. Yildirim.  Here’s why:

  1. In conventional WiFi, all wireless traffic to/from the Internet or between clients goes over a single WiFi Access Point (AP) which is embedded in a WiFi router, Video Bridge, or Residential Gateway. For “n” devices in the home, there are “n” point-to-point wireless links to the WiFi AP, which creates a star topology.
  2. WiFi capacity degrades logarithmically over distance and walls (RF signals at 5GHz – used by 802.11ac- are prone to absorption by walls which effectively reduce signal levels (i.e. results in a lower S/N ratio at the receiver).
  3. The slowest WiFi link pulls down the entire WiFi network capacity, which is shared amongst all the devices accessing that wireless network. Therefore, there is less effective bandwidth to distribute to mobile devices and personal digital recorders within the home as you add/use slower devices.
  4. Your neighbor’s WiFi signal was said to “consume air time,” which is something we hadn’t heard before! Ozgur provided this explanation via email after the conference:

“WiFi uses “Carrier Sense Multiple Access” (CSMA) – only one user can transmit at any one time, while others must wait. Since they all ‘share’ time and bandwidth this way, one ‘bad apple’ device taking too long will hurt all others. ‘Airtime’ is also shared with neighbors on the same channel. There are only three channels in 2.4 GHz – if you have more than two neighbors with WiFi home networks you share channels with them.”

Actual Tests of WiFi Home Network Performance under Various Conditions:

In an actual wireless home networking test in Istanbul, Turkey (headquarters of AirTies), sharing the WiFi aggregate bandwidth between three devices was said to reduce aggregate bandwidth/ total capacity by 65%. With a single device in the room, the WiFi capacity was measured to be 800M b/sec. When an iPad 4 (2X2 MIMO IEEE 802.11n), MacBook (3X3 MIMO IEEE 802.11ac), bridge (3X3 MIMO IEEE 802.11ac) the aggregate capacity dropped to 292 M b/sec in the same room.

Ozgur said that “much worse results would be obtained if the iPad was removed from the room.”  Ozgur provided this explanation via email to clarify that last statement:

“The iPad represents the legacy “slow” 802.11n client in the configuration described. It pulls down the entire network capacity- even within the same room. Recall that the single 802.11ac client got 800Mb/sec of WiFi capacity. If we were to put two 802.11ac clients in the same room, each client would 400Mb/sec. But when the iPad is introduced as a legacy (802.11n) client that does not support 802.11ac, the total WiFi capacity went down to 290Mb/sec.”

“Moving the iPad to a far location (with respect to the AP) in the home results in that (relatively slow) legacy client will get significantly slower due to poor WiFi reception. This results in the iPad taking much longer time to send packets which means much less time is left over for faster 802.11ac clients to access the home WiFi network.”

Worse, when moving one device upstairs, the total capacity was reduced to 92%, with an effective bit rate of only 68 Mb/sec. Wi-Fi link speed at the edge was said to be critical for performance in this case.

Almost as bad is “device-to-device” streaming performance -say from a Personal Digital Recorder/Network Attached Storage (PDR/NAS) to an iPad or other second screen.  That reduces total WiFi capacity by 40% to only 320M b/sec. With three devices in the same room the capacity drops to 175M b/sec. If the PVR (using 3X3 MIMO and 802.11ac) is moved upstairs, it drops to 38M b/sec.  [Remember, that total WiFi capacity is shared by all devices using that wireless network.]

A Solution for Mutli-Screen Video Streaming over WiFi Home Networks:

AirTies solution is a WiFi Mesh home network, which enables streaming video to multiple screens with much better video quality. That was said to outperform conventional Wi-Fi (with the star topology described above) by up to 10X. That WiFi Mesh configuration, along with conventional WiFi, is illustrated in the figure below:

An image of AirTies Mesh network configuration.
Image courtesy of AirTies

It connects each WiFi device/node to a WiFi AP and routes IP packets over the best path available at the time. Mobile WiFi devices connect to the closest AP at maximum capacity speed.

In conclusion, Ozgur said that such a “Wireless mesh network enables an ideal user experience. You can watch any content on any device, in any room, with premium (perceived) video quality.”

Comment and Analysis:

AirTies sells their technology to OEM partners, including several European telco TV providers. One of their products is called the Air 4641- a dual pack Wireless Digital Bridge “to optimize wireless video delivery throughout the home.” They also sell other products and solutions, such as a “wireless extender” which extends a WiFi home network’s coverage range and cleans up wireless signals (i.e. increases the signal to noise ratio).

This past March at TV Connect 2014, the company demonstrated HEVC adaptive bit rate video streaming, delivered over the public Internet to STBs, with Envivio (a provider of software-based video processing and delivery solutions) and Octoshape (a leader in cloud based OTT video streaming technology).

In contrast to the WiFi mesh network solution proposed by AirTies, a WiFi semiconductor company named Quantenna Communications Inc. published a white paper in March 2013, titled “Right Wi-Fi® Technology for Multi-Media Distribution.” It details and recommends how to get the best performance from 5 GHz IEEE 802.11ac for multi-media/video distribution within the home without using a mesh network topology. There’s no mention of a mesh network topology.

We thought this excerpt was especially noteworthy:

“For mobile devices, power is the most important, next is cost and lastly performance. In contrast, for whole home video distribution and general access points, higher performance connectivity with continuous error free distribution is a must. Error free video in the presence of interference cannot be compromised.”


The Evolution of Wireless Home Networks, by Ece Gelal, Eren Soyak, Ozgur Yildirim of Airties

Interview with Burak Onat, AirTies Product Manager (multicast live video streaming demo with Octoshape)

End Note:  Please contact the author if you wish to pursue a consulting arrangement related to any of the topics summarized in the three Viodi View articles, or discussed at the BroadbandTV Conference last week in Santa Clara, CA.  Thanks.


Viodi View – 06/09/14

Wayne Gretzky’s quote of, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been,” has become an oft-used metaphor in presentations in the telecom world. An important point, not mentioned in his quote, is to be aware of the external factors that could the alter the path of that puck (e.g. like the really fast skater you don’t see). Competition can come from any sector these days, as disparate industries look more and more alike, thanks to the Internet and the principles of the Internet.

Google’s Potential End Game – Transport and Organize the World’s People, Not Just Information

The garage is no longer needed to house a car with a vehicle-on-demand service.
The garage is no longer needed to house a car with a vehicle-on-demand service.

On the surface, autonomous vehicles seem way beyond Google’s core business, so it is easy to discount their efforts in this space, given all the barriers they face from incumbents, regulators and entrenched consumer behavior. Still, they have an advantage of a fresh approach without the legacy that other providers have. For instance, looking at autonomous transport as a service business (as opposed to the traditional box business of the vehicle market), yields $30B+ in profitable revenue with only 5% market share, while providing consumers a lower-cost, higher quality and safer transport option.

It is not to hard to imagine Google creating a Smart Transport Community contest, like they did with Google Fiber. A pilot program to a mid-size city would only require 1,700 vehicles, which is not much more than 100-250 they are planning on developing for testing purposes. As a service business, there are many analogies to broadband (including net neutrality or, perhaps, “road neutrality”).

This article, which is probably too long for the web, touches upon the salient points of what it will take to make an autonomous transport service a reality, including:

Although this seems way outside a broadband operator’s sweet spot, it probably makes sense to imagine the impact of Autonomous Vehicles on their broadband networks and their customers. In the meantime, let’s fast-forward 25+ years and imagine what life might be like for the next generation.

It’s 8:07 am and my next door neighbor, cheapskate Charlie, has been waiting outside his door for a few minutes for his ride, which is guaranteed to be at his house within a 10 minute window. He looks at his garage and is reminded that he will soon be renting it as storage space to his neighbor, Rich……

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Marching Toward a Gigabit

Ken Pyle interviews Terry Nidiffer of GCI regarding their plans for 1 Gb/s.
Click to View

“What would you do with a gigabit,” is what GCI is asking of its customers in anticipation of a 2015 roll out of gigabit services via its DOCSIS 3.0 plant. Announced in late March, GCI will be the first operator offering gigabit in the 49th state. GCI’s Vice President of Product Management, Terry Nidiffer, reinforces the idea of a “halo effect” of offering gigabit services, as they have seen approximately 300% uptake on their top-end offerings since their announcement of the higher speed services.

Click here to read more and view the associated video.

Congressional leaders ask FCC to Streamline Wireless Broadband Infrastructure Deployments by Alan Weissberger

Cell Tower
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On May 29th, House Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) wrote to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler to streamline the approval process for upgrading existing wireless facilities.  The letter asks Mr. Wheeler for clarification of Section 6409(a) – the spectrum provisions of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. 

Click here to read more.

Meeker: Mobile is King of Internet Access and Content by Alan Weissberger

1cast application on the Gphone
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Mary Meeker of KPCB puts out an Internet Trends report every year that is chock 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.

Click here to read more.

Technology Outlook: The Cable Show 2014 by Kshitij Kumar

An image of the Imagine Cafe at the 2014 Cable Show.
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The Cable Show 2014 was back in Los Angeles this year – which usually allows for a larger contingent of content folks to attend given the proximity of Hollywood. This year saw a good mix of technology folks rubbing shoulders with content-types but it almost felt like two shows in parallel – one set of tracks attended mostly by the techies of the industry and the other attended mostly by the content folks.

Click here to read some of the more interesting themes of the show.

Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

The Korner – Better Officiating Through Technology – Because It’s the Cup

Jim Jachetta of VidOvation shows a goal cam, which includes camera, battery and 60 GHz wireless transmitter.
Click to View

Often, it is important to know where the puck has been; particularly when millions of dollars are riding on an accurate call.

In this interview, Jim Jachetta of VidOvation discusses how his company worked with NHL to create an in-goal camera system to help remote officials determine whether a puck crossed the goal. The “puck cam” that Jachetta describes has an integrated 720p camera, a battery and a 60 GHz wireless transmitter.

What makes this application particularly interesting is that VidOvation is transmitting uncompressed video using 1.5 GHz of the 7 GHz available band within the 60 GHz band.  Although this application only needs to go about 50 meters (to the top of an arena’s ceiling), Jachetta explains that, with the right antennas, the 60 GHz frequency band has application for point-to-point transport to buildings of up to one (1) kilometer.

He explains that 10 to 15 kilometers can be achieved with the higher frequency bands of 70, 80 and 90 GHz. This gets particularly interesting for service providers as these bands offer the potential to serve as the equivalent of wireless extensions of their fiber networks.

Click here to read more and to view the video.

All-IP Network Transition Plan at FCC's Jan 30th Open Commission Meeting


[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”raised” width=”270px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ][/dropshadowbox]During his January 8th speech at the Computer History Museum (CHM) , FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told the CHM audience that the U.S. was in a transition to a “4th Network Revolution” that would be led by a transition to an “all-IP” network.   The 4th Network is actually a multi-faceted revolution based on  IP based packet communications (for voice, data and video) replacing digital circuit switching and analog transmission. Communications protocols are moving from circuit-switched Time-division Multiplexing (or TDM) to IP packet switching.  At the same time, 3G and 4G wireless access networks are increasingly prevalent, empowering consumers to connect at the place and time of their choosing.

Wheeler said, “The transition to an all-IP network is important in its own right, but it also is important because it demonstrates that the Commission (FCC) will adapt its regulatory approach to the networks and markets of the 21st century.”

The FCC Chairman then said that no one would use a network without being able to make a 911 phone call (to report emergencies and seek help from law enforcement). That implies that the all-IP network must support 911 calls in a consistent manner.

From the FCC Web site, an image of FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler
FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler (image courtesy of

Wheeler told the CHM audience:

“The best way to speed technology transitions is to incent network innovation while preserving the enduring values that consumers and businesses have come to expect. Those values are all familiar: public safety, interconnection, competition, consumer protection and, of course, universal access. They are familiar, and they are fundamental.”

Continuing, he said: “At the January 30th Commission meeting, we will invite proposals for a series of experiments utilizing all-IP networks. We hope and expect that many proposed experiments, wired and wireless, will be forthcoming. Those experiments will allow the networks, their users, the FCC and the public to assess the impact and potential of all-IP networks on consumers, customers and businesses in all parts of our country, including rural America.”

All-IP Network Topic at the FCC’s January 30th Open Commission Meeting:

The all-IP network transition will be the number one agenda item at the FCC’s January 30th Open Commission Meeting  Advancing Technology Transitions While Protecting Network Values is all about the transition to an all-IP network.  “The Commission will consider a Report and Order, Notice of Proposed Rule making, and Notice of Inquiry that invites diverse technology transitions experiments to examine how to best accelerate technology transitions by preserving and enhancing the values consumers have come to expect from communication networks.”

In a November 19, 2013 blog post Wheeler provided an overview of the all-IP network migration.  He wrote: “The way forward is to encourage technological change while preserving the attributes of network services that customers have come to expect – that set of values we have begun to call the Network Compact.”

Wheeler noted various FCC Commissioner comments in that blog post:

  • “Commissioner Pai said that the FCC should ‘Embrace the future by expediting the IP Transition.’
  • Commissioner Rosenworcel told us that, ‘As we develop a new policy framework for IP networks, we must keep in mind the four enduring values that have always informed communications law — public safety, universal access, competition, and consumer protection.’
  • Commissioner Clyburn has called upon the Commission, ‘To carefully examine and collect data on the impact of technology transitions on consumers, public safety and competition.’”

AT&T Petition and FCC Technology Transitions Task Force are encouraging trials:

On November 7, 2012, AT&T petitioned the FCC to “Launch a Proceeding Concerning the TDM-to-IP Transition,” GN Docket No. 12-353 (AT&T Wire Center Trials Petition).

That document requested the FCC to “open a new proceeding to conduct, for a number of select wire centers, trial runs for a transition from legacy to next-generation services, including the retirement of TDM facilities and offerings” and that “the Commission should also seek public comment on how best to implement specific regulatory reforms within those wire centers on a trial basis.”

AT&T requested that the FCC consider conducting trials where certain equipment and services are retired and IP-based services are offered. These geographically limited trial runs, conducted after a public comment period on how they should be carried out, would help “guide the Commission’s nationwide efforts to facilitate the IP transition.” Such an approach, AT&T notes, will “enable the Commission to consider, from the ground up and on a competitively neutral basis, what, if any, legacy regulation remains appropriate after the IP transition.”

AT&T has set a date of 2020 to retire its TDM network and has been upgrading its IP-based service capabilities in its wireline markets via Project Velocity IP (VIP).  AT&T presented a progress report on the Project VIP at the June 2013 IEEE ComSocSCV meeting.  It can be read on pages 3-4 of this article: Telco Tours & Seminars Top ComSoc-SCV Activities.

Technology Transitions Policy Task Force” which was tasked to move forward with real-world trials to obtain data that will be helpful to the Commission. The goal of any trials would be to gather a factual record to help determine what policies are appropriate to promote investment and innovation, while protecting consumers, promoting competition, and ensuring that emerging all-Internet Protocol (IP) networks remain resilient.   The FCC task force is seeking public comment on several potential trials relating to the ongoing transitions from copper to fiber, from wireline to wireless, and from time-division multiplexing (TDM) to IP based packet switched networks.

Technology Trials Proposed:

The FCC task force has proposed the following trials related to the all-IP network transition:

  • VoIP Interconnection
  • Public Safety – NG911
  • Wireline to Wireless
  • Geographic All-IP Trials
  • Additional trials: numbering and related data bases, copper-to-fiber transition, retirement of copper?

 The US Telecom Association was very supportive of such trials as well as the previously referenced AT&T petition. In comments submitted on January 28, 2013, the trade organization wrote:

“The idea that the Commission should conduct real-world trials in order to better inform itself as to the technological and policy implications of the IP-transition is a way the Commission can continue its commitment to data-driven policy making. The Commission itself has urged carriers to ‘begin planning for the transition to IP-to-IP interconnection’ and the Commission-guided trials urged by AT&T would facilitate this effort.”

“In particular, the AT&T Petition offers an opportunity for the Commission and state regulators to conduct informative, but geographically limited, trial runs for regulatory reform in discrete wire centers. AT&T correctly notes that such an approach will enable the Commission to consider, from the ground up and on a competitively neutral basis, what, if any, legacy regulation remains appropriate after the IP transition.”

US Telecom’s comments can be read here.

Important Unanswered Issues for an all-IP network:

Transition to an “all-IP” network implies retiring the PSTN/POTs, TDM/circuit switching and all wireless networks other than 4G with VoIP over LTE. That is a huge undertaking that will be incredibly disruptive and take many years, if not decades, in our opinion.  Here are just a few points to ponder about this monumental transition:

  • Telcos and MSOs must universally deploy broadband for wireline VoIP to be ubiquitous. Currently, they make their deployment/build out decisions strategically- based on reasonable ROI.  Not every area in the U.S. has or will have wired broadband as a result.
  • Many rural areas have little or no wireless coverage and certainly not 4G-LTE.  What happens to people who live in those areas, e.g. Arnold, CA?
  • Even if wired or wireless broadband is available in many regions, there is likely to be only one or two network providers at most.  Hence, there is little or no choice in service which is effectively a monopoly. Santa Clara, CA is in the heart of Silicon Valley, yet we now have only two choices for wired broadband – AT&T or Comcast.
  • There is currently no Universal Service Fund/Lifeline or discounted rate (for low income folks) for VoIP service.  Lifeline service is ONLY available for the PSTN/POTS.
  • If an individual or family doesn’t want or can’t afford high speed Internet and/or broadband TV service, then it will most likely be uneconomical for the Telco/MSO to ONLY provide VoIP service over broadband access. This is the case for many poor people and older Americans!
  • Battery backup is required for an all-IP network to make emergency phone calls when power is lost.  There is a substantial monthly charge for a battery backup box for AT&T’s U-Verse VoIP service. An AT&T subscriber must also have battery backup power for the Wi-Fi gateway to enable your AT&T U-verse services to function during a power outage.
  • There will be a huge impact on business customers that use digital circuit switched networks if the proposed all-IP changes happen soon in the affected areas or “wire centers.” What if a company’s main or branch office site(s) are located in an all-IP wire center coverage area?  In that case, the business customer would have to give up it’s digital PBXs or hosted ISDN PRI voice trunks and move to SIP trunks–even though the company is not nearly ready for a total enterprise-wide transition to an IP voice network.
  • What happens to faxes, which are still overwhelmingly based on the analog PSTN and not IP fax? The death of fax has been predicted for over a decade, yet it is still alive and kicking!
  • There will be a huge impact on business customers that use digital circuit switched networks if the proposed all-IP changes happen soon in the affected areas or “wire centers.” What if a company’s main or branch office site(s) are located in an all-IP wire center coverage area?  In that case, the business customer would have to give up it’s digital PBXs or hosted ISDN PRI voice trunks and move to SIP trunks–even though the company is not nearly ready for a total enterprise-wide transition to an IP voice network.
  • The transition from the classic PSTN to an all IP infrastructure will mandate the end of Signaling System 7 and the entire infrastructure that supports it. This is a substantial undertaking, the consequences of which are not fully understood. Can SS7-based functions be replicated on a broadband IP-based network? What would be the equivalent of a “voice grade” circuit? Is a SIP connection a functional equivalent for the key functionalities of SS7 switches? What about SMS/texts?
  •  The telephone numbering system provides a way for callers served by virtually any service provided in the world to reach one another. What will replace that system has yet to be determined. It surely won’t be an IP address which is often dynamic and allocated for temporarily reaching IP endpoints.
  •  Interconnection and Inter-operability between IP and TDM networks is a work in progress-for both voice and data.
  •  Quality of Service/Reliability/Resiliency is largely unknown with an all IP network, which would need to scale to replace and reach all PSTN/TDM endpoints. What would constitute an “outage,” and how should “outage” data be collected and evaluated? Here again, the battery back-up on power fail would need to be made mandatory and low cost or no cost to consumers and enterprises.

For sure, the above issues will challenge equipment vendors, regulators, business and consumers. We think the transition from PSTN/TDM/digital circuit switched to an all-IP packet network will take much, much longer than many expect.

Viodi View – 12/18/13

Ken Pyle and Jade Worobec playing brain tug-of-war.
Click to view

Another year, another 200+ videos published on Viodi and other web sites. A few of the videos from 2013 that will be etched in my memory will be those dealing with technologies that sense brain waves to control something. Two of the these videos were published earlier this year. Scroll to the Korner to see the third video that almost wasn’t, thanks to an interruption of this reporter’s brain waves.

The Best Service Is No Service

Ken Pyle interviews Jerry McKenna of CableOne at the 2013 Independent Show.
Click to view

“The best service is no service,” explains Cable One’s Senior Vice President-Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Jerry McKenna. McKenna discusses why his company won the Cable Fax Independent Operator Award for 2013.  Quick and proactive resolution of problems is a key reason they won the award.

Click here to read more and watch our interview with the well-respected McKenna, who will be retiring at the end of the year.

7 Tips for Sales Success

Ken Pyle interviews Kristi Westbrock of CTC at the 2013 MTA Convention.
Click to view

“We all need to be on top of our sales game,” said Kristi Westbrock, Director, HR, Sales & Marketing for CTC. Speaking at the 2013 MTA Annual Convention, she points out that it is important for everyone in a company to have an appreciation for selling. For CTC, this translates into their front line employees being technology experts.

Click here to view.

Pent Up Demand for Broadband Operator Deals

Dinner at the 2013 ACA Summit. One of the sponsors was the Pat Thompson Company.
Click to view

“It’s always been difficult for the smaller operator to get funding,” said Pat Thompson of Pat Thomson Company. In this regard, Thompson, who is a long-time ACA board member, points out the importance of ACA’s efforts to get Washington to provide regulatory relief. She points out that, thanks in part to regulatory burden, cable systems in some small towns have been shuttered and, as a result, broadband is not available to those locales.

Click here to view.

Reducing Barriers to Broadband Rights of Way

A picture of conduit for fiber optic cable being laid in a city street.
Click to view

In recent comments to the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Task Force on Communications and Technology, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai suggested that state legislatures need to be proactive in reducing and removing barriers for over-the-top business of all types, such as the examples he provides in telemedicine and transportation. Pai stated that, “States should be proactive in reducing regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment.” Attorney Michael Keeling provides an example of the proactive removal of an infrastructure barrier by a state legislature in this interview.

Click here to read more and to view.

FCC Delays Reverse Auction till 2015; Spectrum Aggregation & Ownership Limits? by Alan Weissberger

An image of a radio tower.
Click to read more

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has delayed the “Broadcast Television Spectrum Incentive Auction” until 2015.  FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler published a blog post Friday announcing the delay, saying he hopes the auction will take place in mid-2015.  The FCC had set a goal of completing the auction in 2014 and we thought this would be the top priority for the new FCC Chairman.

Click here to read more.

Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

  • auction pause gives Congress chance to reevaluate how best to utilize What’s Wrong With the Wi-Fi?
  • ACI study suggests failure to change rules cost 1/2 $trillion in lost consumer welfare.
  • Disappointed my retransmission for spectrum suggestion hasn’t yet make it into Congresswoman’s Eshoo’s Video CHOICE act, but 2014 seems like it could be a year for changes to the way spectrum is managed. Along those lines, stay tuned for a video in the new year about Social Mesh Networking.
  • While its smaller neighbor to the north is proud of its high-speed municipal WiFi network, San Jose may soon have a pilot project that improves SiliconValley lighting, reduces copper theft and provides wireless broadband via Smart Poles. Philips is referenced as the potential corporate partner, but this seems like it could be of interest for @Verizon, @ATT, @Google and @Comcast as well.
  • In this article, Greg McCurry, formerly of broadband operator Santel and now president and CEO of Independent Community Bankers of South Dakota, makes the argument that local banks are critical to the vitality of rural communities. The importance of of local institutions to economic development is something we have heard this repeatedly in our travels.
  • Samsung’s Chris Kermoian talks about their strategy to create an app ecosystem that works across all their platforms in this video interview from CONNECTIONS at CTIA.
  • Last minute gift idea for the person who needs a beverage holder; particular suited for tailgating. Fun thing is that this clever tool is from someone who works for an independent broadband provider.
  • Congratulations to Roger Bindl for his award at the 2013 Wildwood Film Festival in the category of Best Documentary Film for Hopping for Brew.

The Korner – In the Zone – Part 3

Ken Pyle interviews Jade Worobec at NeuroSky and discusses brain wave technology.
Click to view and read more

As the saying goes, there is always a silver lining to every bad situation. It was hard to see that silver lining when I realized that I had failed to record the audio in my CES interview with NeuroSky.  The silver lining was that the retake video was even more fun as we were able to shoot it in a controlled environment (NeuroSky’s office, instead of the trade show floor) and try more of the brain wave controlled devices than we were able to at CES.

Having tried a couple of different incarnations, brain wave sensing technology really seems to work. The logical next step will be integration of this technology with wearable heads up display technology (e.g. Google Glass or Contact Lenses).

Using one’s mind becomes the ultimate in a user interface. As an example, NueroSky has a game/movie, MyndPlay, whereby scenes are chosen based on the game player’s mood. Although this reporter didn’t get a chance to use that smart phone based application, he did get to try a brain wave powered, tug-a-war type game that proved to be extremely fun.

Click here to read more and watch the video.

The above video was part of our CES 2013 coverage. We will be back at CES next month. Please drop us a note if there is anything in particular that you think we should cover.

Until we meet again in 2014, peace be with you and your family.