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Showing posts from January, 2009

What iPhone Has Done for AT&T

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If surveys of ChangeWave Research members are any indication, the Apple iPhone has paid big dividends for AT&T, essentially allowing it to overcome a perceived “satisfaction” and “dropped calls” gap compared to Verizon Wireless.

But there also are signs the “Apple effect” might be waning, as stated buyer intentions are trending back in Verizon’s favor, possibly suggesting a saturation of the obvious iPhone market as Verizon brings functional substitutes to market. 
The December 9-15, 2008 survey of 3,800 respondents shows a very-close market share between AT&T, with 31-percent share, and Veizon with 30-percent share. As you might expect, Sprint Nextel has not yet fully solved its churn problem, showing a 10-percent share decline since the last survey, with T-Mobile unchanged at 10-percent share.
But Verizon handily leads all the others in customer satisfaction. Some 49 percent of Verizon customers say they are very satisfied with their provider. About 30 percent say they are very…

Mobile Revenue Sources Shift to Data

Mobile data revenues are becoming a significant portion of overall service provider gross revenues, an important measure of diversification as voice continues to lose its status as revenue driver for the global mobility industry.

For a typical European operator, text messaging accounted for up to 80 percent of non-voice revenues in previous years, say researchers at Informa Telecoms & Media. But other data services are starting to show as a more-signficant revenue source. Operators such as Vodafone are seeing non-SMS services generating up to half of non-voice revenues, for example, Informa says.

Non-voice revenues totaled $157 billion in 2007, according to Informa Telecoms & Media, up from $116 billion in 2006. In the second quarter 2008 non-voice revenues surpassed $50 billion for the first time in any quarter. For 2008 as a whole they are expected to exceed $200 billion.

Revenues are heavily skewed toward emerging markets. Asia Pacific captured 39 percent of global data revenu…

More PC Entrants in Smart Phone Business?

What's the difference between a smart phone and a standard PC? Not much, more PC vendors are hoping. Computer makers Acer and Dell are said to be developing high-end mobile phones to complement their successful laptop and desktop computer portfolios. Such a move would not only help to sustain growth during the recession, but also put them in a better position to counter the growing threat of rival Apple.

As successful as they have been, a move into the smart phone arena will be challenging, as other suppliers have found when entering the mobile device business for the first time. Not many "PC" suppliers have found the success Apple has had in the MP3 music player and smart phone markets. In fact, failure is more common than success.

Dell and Acer may be bolstered by the reasonable success Hewlett Packard has had with its iPAQ smart phone for reassurance. And Microsoft is an almost-perennial candidate for doing so.

They likely are more emboldened by HTC's success, though…

Consumer Sentiment Shift?

The important thing about the recession is to look for signs of change, for evidence of a bottoming, as the recession now has been formally working its way through the economy for 14 months. Though it is not definitive by any means, a shift in consumer sentiment already might be occurring. 

According to the latest ChangeWave survey of U.S. consumers, conducted January 5-9, there were signs that consumer spending may finally be stabilizing.  While overall spending still looks terrible, ChangeWave notes, the 90-day outlook is not quite as "horrible" as it was in the December 2008 survey. 
Fifty-seven percent of U.S. respondents said they'll spend less during the next 90 days than they did a year ago, but that's three points better than in the December survey. Another 13 percent said they'll spend more -- two points better than previously. 
Respondents were also queried on their current impressions of the economy and, once again, while things look bad, they don't a…

AT&T Wireline Revenue Now Led by Video

Here's what some might consider the key take-away from AT&T's fourth quarter results: "Despite the economic environment, we grew revenues in 2008, and I expect 2009 will be another year of overall revenue growth and solid progress for our company," says Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and chief executive officer.
There are other noteworthy take-aways, though. The video business now is leading wireline revenue growth at AT&T. It doesn't appear AT&T is doing as well as Verizon is in the broadband access area, though one must infer that from the "non-reporting" of digital subscriber line customer performance. 
Revenue growth was driven by 13.2 percent wireless gains and a 14.2 percent increase in wireline IP data, which include AT&T U-verse services and business offerings such as VPNs and managed Internet services.
Verizon can say the same, as it reported record growth in video and data services. Verizon added 303,000 net new FiOS TV cus…

Data = 44% of Verizon Wireline Revenues

The most-interesting tidbit from Verizon's fourth-quarter earnings was the news that wireline data revenues now are 43.6 percent of total wireline revenues. That of course is significant because Verizon and other telcos are working to replace slipping wireline voice revenues as their revenue mainstay.
And though wireless obviously is important, the landline results show the contributions broadband services can make for wireline providers, exclusive of wireless services. 
Wireline data revenues of $5.2 billion in the fourth quarter 2008 represented an increase of 10.9 percent compared with the fourth quarter 2007.  
Total broadband connections were 8.7 million, a net increase of 214,000 over the third quarter 2008.  This includes a decrease of 68,000 DSL-based Verizon High Speed Internet connections, which was more than offset by the increase in FiOS Internet customers.  The 8.7 million is an increase of 8.2 percent year over year. 
Broadband and TV products now account for more than 3…

Verizon: Strong 4th Quarter

Observers watching intently for some sign of how the recession is affecting communications services have a major new data point. Verizon Communications has reported what happened in its fourth quarter, and revenue growth accelerated.  There is lots more data required, but so far, the recession has not had a negative effect on Verizon. 
In fact, Verizon Communications continued to grow sales of broadband, wireless and strategic business services in the fourth quarter 2008. Verizon's total operating revenues grew 3.4 percent in the fourth quarter 2008, increasing to $24.6 billion from $23.8 billion in the fourth quarter 2007.  
After adjusting for the spinoff of non-strategic local exchange and related wireline business assets early in 2008, this represents an increase of 4.6 percent. 
Wireless organic growth totaled 1.4 million net customer additions. Verizon Wireless also continued to have low churn of 1.35 percent churn among all customers, and 1.05 percent among the company's r…

Conferencing Apps Lead UC Deployments?

Conferencing applications seem to be lead unified communications applications, according to a survey of IT professionals surveyed on behalf of CDW Corp. 
CDW's poll found rich media conferencing strategies are emerging as a dominant approach to UC. Some 39 percent of respondents report their organizations are choosing that approach over telephony-centric approaches (32 percent), email-centric (18 percent) and instant messaging and presence approaches (11 percent). 
While the survey found that only six percent of organizations report their UC deployments are complete, it also uncovered gathering momentum for UC adoption, with 20 percent of organizations actively implementing UC and 33 percent actively planning for implementation. 
Seventy percent of organizations currently in the UC planning and implementation phases expect to complete their adoption within two years. 
Sixty-one percent of respondents identified increased productivity and 56 percent identified operating cost reductions…

Wireless Substitution, Cable Digital Voice Cost U.S. Telcos $23 Billion a Year

In-Stat researchers estimate North American cable operator digital voice service revenues will hit just under $10 billion during 2009, from an installed base of 23 million cable telephony households.

Cable telephony subscriber growth continues to be strong, with almost eight million new subscribers added around the world in 2008, says In-Stat. Growth in North America has been particularly strong.

Globally, cable telephony service revenues represented about $12.6 billion in 2008, up from $10.7 billion in 2007.

Total worldwide cable telephony subscribers reached 37 million by the end of 2008, and will rise to over 64 million by 2012, In-Stat projects.

So something on the order of $9 billion in annual revenue seems to be earned by U.S. cable operators in voice revenues that used to be provided by U.S. telcos. In fact, the revenue loss for telcos is greater, since most customers switch to cable for the lower prices.

If one assumes a 20-percent average discount, that's a loss of nearly $11 …

Rethinking Communications, in 7 Parts

Stealth and Partners Not Seeing Downturn

House Broadband Stimulus Bill Fails to Define "Open Access"

As sometimes happens, some lawmakers have proposed legislation possibly specifying policies they cannot define. In approving $2.9 billion for network build-outs in rural and underserved areas, the House Energy and Commerce Committee insisted that the funding comply with the Federal Communications Commission's statement of "Internet Freedoms" contained in FCC 05-151.

The House bill also calls for grant awards to be made for broadband networks using "an open access" framework that complies with the FCC 05-151 principles. The term ‘‘open access’’ is to be defined by the Federal Communications Commission not later than 45 days after the date of enactment of the law.

Those principles include the right of consumers to access the lawful Internet content of their choice and run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.

Consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network and
are further e…

More Surprising News on Small Business IT Spending in 2009

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Though it is possible decision-makers have changed their minds since late November, as of that period, nearly a third of 2,000 U.S. IT decision-makers in businesses of all sizes said they expected their 2009 budgets would increase over 2008 levels, according to research from Compass Intelligence. 

If respondents follow through with their stated intentions, U.S. IT spending will grow more than four percent by the end of 2009, with growth rising through 2013, Compass Intelligence says.
Growth will tend to stem from small and mid-sized companies and less from enterprise businesses. While the total U.S. IT market will grow 4.1 percent in 2009, enterprise spending will account for just 2.8 percent of spending growth.
About a third of respondents expect to spend more, about a third expect to spend the same amounts as in 2008 while a third expect budgets to shrink. We might add that this is not an atypical finding. 
However, 2009 ICT revenues will not come easy and are likely to be earned after …

63% of Mobile Subs Are On Family Plans

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Family Plans, offering a shared bucket of usage that multiples devices can share, have to  be judged one of the more important marketing innovations yet devised by the mobile industry.
About 63 percent of respondents to a recent survey conducted on behalf of Sprint Nextel said they were on such plans. Another 15 percent said they would consider joining such a plan. About 22 percent said they were not interested. 
Among the 22 percent of users are single people, who, by defintion, do not have family members to share buckets of usage with. 

Aside from that innovation, only the abolition of the difference between "local" and "long distance" calling rates had comparable impact on subscribership.

33% of Wireless Users Say Mobile is "Only Phone I Need"

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About a third of mobile users surveyed by Sprint Nextel say a mobile is the only phone they will ever need. About 76 percent say they would consider going "mobile only" because it is "more cost effective." 
Presumably that translates more or less directly with the notion that cutting a landline reduces cost. Still, there are indications that unified communications could be a problem solver as well.
About 36 percent say it is more convenient to receive calls on one line. About 33 percent of respondents say it more convenient to manage a single voice mail account.

15% or 40%? WiMAX Share Could Hinge on Capital Markets

Whether WiMAX winds up being a 15-percent share or a 40-percent share of market might hinge on developments in the credit markets, in particular as it affects the fortunes of smaller and independent providers, says Paul Obsitnik, BridgeWave SVP.

Most observers think Clearwire is going to get the funding it requires, one way or the other. But “if credit markets stay frozen for 18 to 24 months,” it could be another matter. Of course, we might all agree that if that happens, we are all going to have problems bigger than WiMAX availability.

“If I had to bet, I’d say LTE will be the market share leader,” says Obsitnik, a prediction just about anybody would admit is the likely outcome, given the embrace Long Term Evolution has gotten by the global GSM mobile industry and even users of CDMA platforms.

“But WiMAX will have a good chunk of the fourth-generation business,” Obsitnik says.
“On WiMAX side, the big challenge is that it is difficult to build that much infrastructure very fast.”

But Obsti…

Truphone Now Available for Android G1

"Truphone Anywhere," an application for Android-enabled mobile handsets, is available now as a download on the Android Market in the U.K. and the U.S. markets.

A German version of Truphone Anywhere for Android is available and will be the first native language multi-communications application in the Android Market in Germany and Austria when it launches in March.

"Truphone Anywhere for Android" allows customers to take advantage of Truphone’s low international call rates, in addition to the cost of a local call.

Truphone customers can also easily instant-message their friends across a variety of networks including MSN, Yahoo!, Google Talk and Twitter from within one Android application. Customers can also call friends anywhere in the world on Google Talk for the price of a local call, and similarly will soon will be able to instant-message and call their friends on Skype.

Truphone is now available on Android, the Apple iPhone, the Apple iPod touch, Blackberry and Noki…

Excel Offers Roadmap for Communications Service Providers, says Jaduka

Commodity voice now is part of a broader communications environment more focused on voice and communications as an attribute of many other experiences and applications, says Jaduka CEO Pete Pattullo. 
In part, that means creating the ability for direct integration of communications into business processes, even though stand-alone versions of voice will continue to be important. One example is how voice can be used to improve the efficiency of package deliveries. 
"We have a customer that delivers packages for which there must be a signature," says Pattullo. "So the company calls ahead, just before a delivery, to make sure packages can be delivered the first time, without return visits."
Application providers have to step up and create easy ways to "drag and drop" voice and communications features into existing applications. But app providers cannot do all the work, he says. The analogy is Microsoft Excel, where a tool allows end users to create their own cus…

Business VoIP: Lots of Hybrid Deployments

Only 34 percent of businesses with VoIP use it exclusively, and have no TDM infrastructure, according to analysts ar Research and Markets. VoIP is expected to be used by 74 percent of all U.S. businesses by 2012, Research and Markets projects.

Global Bandwidth: Video, Video, Video

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Hibernia Atlantic CEo Bjarni Thorvardarson says trans-Atlantic routes now are driven by "video, video, video."
He's got that right. About 78 percent of global traffic now consists mostly of video, according to TeleGeography. 
Voice represents about one percent of traffic. And that illustrates a problem network services providers face. The one percent of traffic underpins the business model, while most of the video contributes little, if anything, beyond driving broadband access package upgrades.

More Use of Mobiles for International Long Distance

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Participants on a Pacific Telecommunications panel on voice peering agreed that mobile termination rates are under pressure. That is one reason why more people now are using their mobiles to originate international long distance calls, as TeleGeography analyst Stephan Beckart says. 
Asked about the notion that many forms of voice will move to some "no incremental charge" basis, panelists from Orange, Sparkle and Rogers Communications agreed that regulators are unlikely to disallow cost recovery that the termination regime now permits and requires. 
There still are costs to terminate calls, and those costs will have to be recovered. What remains unclear, though, is whether the incidence of those cost recovery mechanisms will remain where they presently are. It is possible that broadband connections might emerge as the replacement, in some cases. 


Are Telcos Losing Revenue Because of Low-Quality Voice?

Telcos are losing some voice revenue because existing voice quality is poor, says Andrew Odlyzko, University of Minnesota Digital Technology Center director. Despite growing volumes, “toll quality voice is lousy quality, especially for women’s voices," he says. Likewise, "wireless voice is horrible; it has been selected to be the lowest quality one can have that people wouldn’t reject.”
There is room for higher-quality voice as a premium service, Odlyzko maintains. As others have argued, Skype provides an example of quality "better than toll." 
The problem is that many examples of higher quality voice are hard to separate from other variables that also might illustrate what the specific value proposition is. Skype, with good microphones and on a good broadband connection, can sound better than toll. But such connections also provide other sources of value, such as the ability to talk internationally for "no incremental cost."
What cannot easily be tested is …

Microsoft to Sell Comcast Stake

Microsoft has decided to sell its 7.3 percent stake in Comcast. Microsoft had owned 150,935,575 Class A common stock in the cable operator.

Microsoft made its $1 billion investment in Comcast in 1997, when Microsoft had interest in becoming a major player in the cable set-top box business. Some observers familiar, even casually, with cable operator strategy would have argued even then that the effort was unlikely to bear much fruit.

As anxious as some operators might have been to gain a stamp of legitimacy in the coming wave of Internet-based or interactive content, cable executives when speaking to other cable executives would have insisted they had no intention of "letting Microsoft take our business." In those pre-Google days, it was Microsoft cable operators worried most about, in terms of digital-savvy outsiders with the skills and credibility to siphon off the leading edge of interactive attention, if not business.

Apparently Microsoft long ago realized its hoped-for stra…

New Buyer Concerns in Undersea Market

Latency, not to overstretch too much, is becoming for some customers the first requirement for a connectivity provider, followed in very close order by physical diversity, though in some cases jitter performance might rank among the top three requirements, ranking perhaps even before bandwidth. Such concerns are paramount for many financial and media firms, as you might guess.

So a touted feature of Hibernia Atlantic's new Amsterdam and its 37 POPs in North America is latency performance. The new route completely bypasses London’s common congested terrestrial fiber routes. Latency on the new Amsterdam-to-Boston route is now 74 milliseconds, making this the fastest available route, the company says. It also offers the fastest route between Amsterdam and Dublin, Ireland.

By using its northern cable, Hibernia’s new network bypasses London’s traditional backhaul by offering a diverse express route that shaves two milliseconds off the latency on the existing London-to-Amsterdam route.

“…

Rural Access: More Capacity Than One Might Think

The popular sterotype is that rural America does not have broadband and that service providers refuse to offer it. Like all stereotypes, there is a grain of truth. Rural America is a tough place to provide communications services.
But a new survey of 146 members of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, 100 percent reported they offer broadband access. In 2000, 58 percent of surveyed members offered broadband service, so there has been substantial progress.
That does not mean every rural cooperative or service provider now offers broadband, or offers access at all the speeds it might desire. It does indicate that rural citizens increasingly are getting broadband and other new services despite the challenges. 
Higher speeds arguably are a good thing, of course, and might benefit from some changes in the way universal service and related mechanisms are structured.  But there is some mix of "demand" and "supply" drivers in rural, as well as urban, marke…

Wholesale Business: Perception and Reality Might Not Match

At the risk of appearing foolish, I have been writing a lot recently about the need to maintain some rigor in assessing the likely impact of the recession on communications service provider revenues, growth rates and profits. There is a natural tendency to panic and over-react when virtually everyone around you "feels so bad."
The emotion is real, and strains are real. But there is some amount of evidence that consumer and small business buyers, for example, have not been reducing their buying of services. So it might be noteworthy that, at the Pacific Telecommunications Council annual conference,  Stealth Communications CEO Shrihari Pandit says neither carrier nor enterprise customers, in aggregate, have reduced spending with Stealth in 2008. In fact, revenues have grown all year. 
That isn't to say every company, every customer segment or every industry segment can say the same. It is to point out that in times when emotion tends to cloud decision making, it is more impo…

Sprint Gives Boost to Pre-Paid: Unintended Consequences?

As it has done in the post-paid market with its "Simply Everything" package, Sprint Nextel Corp. now is attempting to create new value-price positions for itself now in the pre-paid market. The operator has said it will offer a $50 unlimited plan for its Boost Mobile service on the iDEN network. 

Keep in mind that the new plan will include a data plan bundle with unlimited data, talk, messaging, and push-to-talk service for only $50 per month. The iDEN network won't support 3G or 4G speeds, but many users will be intrigued by the value and price point. 
AT&T  and Verizon Wireless are  currently offering $100 unlimited plans, by way of comparison. 
The $50 plan might help Sprint bring some users back to the Nextel iDEN network. It also puts Sprint firmly in the ring 
with Leap Wireless International and MetroPCS  in the low-cost wireless game. But one never can discount the potential impact in other areas. 
True, it is a "Boost" product, not a "Nextel" …

$6 Billion Boost for Rural Broadband?

The U.S. House of Representatives version of a stimulus plan includes $6 billion dollars in grants for broadband deployment. The Senate will have its own economic recovery package, but the Fiber to the Home Council believes that the proposal is a good indication of where Congress is headed on the issue of broadband.
The responsibility for awarding the broadband grants would be divided between the Agriculture Department's Rural Utilities Service and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration in the Department of Commerce.   The RUS money ($2.825 billion) would bolster the agency's current program of grants, loans and loan-guarantees to extend broadband infrastructure into largely unserved rural areas, and would not require that the services provide connection speeds higher than what typically passes for broadband today. The NTIA money (also $2.825 billion) will consist of new grant programs for the development of broadband and wireless services in unserved and …

Consumer Wireless Spending Now Exceeds Wireline

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Since 2007, Americans have been spending more for mobile than for landline telephone services, according to a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2007, 55 percent of all consumer telephone expenditures were for wireless service, the latest year for which official figures are available. Landlines accounted for 43 percent, with the remaining two percent going for other services, such as pagers and phone cards.

It marked the first time that cellphones had topped landlines in annual consumer spending, as monitored by BLS.

In 2003, consumers spent 65 percent of their communications budget on landline voice. But the share for landlines dropped rapidly in subsequent years. Landline share fell to 60 percent in 2004, 54 percent in 2005, and 50 percent in 2006, before the latest slip to 43 percent in 2007.

The typical U.S. consumer spent $1,110 on telephone services in 2007, with $608 going for cellphones, $482 for landlines and $20 for other services. the BLS study obviously do…

More Mobile Broadband Subs than Fixed in 2011

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Worldwide wireline broadband subscribers reached 287 million in 2007. But mobile broadband subscribers ultimately will surpass fixed broadband, for obvious reasons.
Fixed broadband, like fixed voice, is a service sold to places. Mobile broadband, like mobile voice, is sold to persons. There generally are more people than dwellings. 
By about 2011, it is possible that cellular mobile broadband subscribers will catch up, or overtake, wireline broadband subscribers, with an expected total mobile subscriber base passing 5 billion by 2011, say analysts at Infonetics Research.

End of the Internet"

There's probably no shortage of people who decry the "end of the Internet as we know it."

Some think it is a good thing, in the sense of the Internet becoming a utility like electricity. "The biggest take-away from last week’s Consumer Electronics Show is that every device in our lives is rapidly becoming a computer connected to the Internet," says Edgelings CEO Tom Hayes. "That new reality means the Internet will soon transition from the conspicuous to the unconscious; from something you go “onto” to something you never go off of-and in fact hardly even think about."

Others worry or lament the emergence of "private," traffic-shaped," managed or other forms of IP networks. There are public policy issues, to be sure.

But IP networks are more than the Internet, and the Internet itself is changing. And there is a paradox here. Ask anybody in the communications policy community whether the Telecommunications Act of 1996 succeeded and you'…

U.K. Broadband: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

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Samuel Clemens once quipped that 'there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." So the U.K. Office of Communications says real-world end-user average peak throughput is about half the "advertised" broadband speed users pay for. 
On the other hand, Ofcom also notes that average speeds run between 81 percent to 85 percent of the "advertised" speed. 
In fact, subscribers on services promising 2 Mbps or less get those speeds about 91 percent of the time. Since most broadband subscribers in the U.K. are on lower-speed tiers of service, the national average speed delivered is about 85 percent of the maximum line speed.
So whether performance is "good" or "bad" is a statistical matter, depending on whether peak throughput at the peak congestion hours are examined, compared to average performance across each day, week or month. "Peak" performance also hinges on matters beyond a service provider's direct control, …

$10 iPhone Tethering?

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The rumor that AT&T is considering both Apple iPhone tethering (allowing it to act as a PC modem) and an incremental $10 charge over a standard data plan, would be a smart move, in the right direction. 
Since AT&T expects virtually all consumer devices to be capable of wireless broadband connection, some of us already have been figuring out what that means, cost-wise, for the devices we support, keeping in mind that some of us support a whole family's requirements.
It is self-evident that this future will have a tough time becoming material reality if present pricing for mobile broadband remains where it is. There is no way most parents would be willing to pay $30 to $60 per connected device to participate in such a world, where a dozen to scores of devices might plausibly need to be connected. 
The only way this idea really becomes a mass option is to create unified data access plans built on the notion of family plans, where all devices and people can share one bucket of ac…

Windows 7: Faster, Longer, Fewer

"Windows 7 should boot more quickly, have longer battery life and fewer alerts,"says Steve Ballmer, Microsoft Corp. CEO. That would be nice. All three are present annoyances.

AT&T Mobility Bundles PC

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Dell  and AT&T Mobility have launched a limited-time offer (ending Jan. 31, 2009) bundling 3G service with a PC, requiring a two-year contract to AT&T "LaptopConnect" costing $60 a month. 

The offer extends the common mobile phone offers that bundle discounted handsets with service to mobile PC service. The Dell Inspiron Mini 9 will cost $99 after a $350 mail-in rebate. 
Orders can be placed on Dell.com.
There are several obvious implications, some pertaining to service provider strategy and revenues, some pertaining to public policy issues. The service provider angle is that, as handset subsidies have boosted mobile subscriptions, so PC subsidies will boost use of mobile PC data plans. 
The public policy angle is that, to the extent there are users who want to use the Internet, but do not own PCs, this sort of bundling addresses their needs. To the extent there remains a gap between desire to use the Internet, and the means to do so, programs of this sort will address t…

Frogs at the Bottom of Wells

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Inevitably, all of us are paying quite close attention to all things economic these days. Just as inevitably, we journalists and bloggers cannot resist writing about it, and what it means for all manner of things, ranging from penetration rates of various devices, services and applications to levels of industry spending.

Crowd sourcing, as valuable as it is, also can be dangerous, though. The reason is the well known tendency people, and therefore markets, have to overshoot on both the upward and downward sides of any trend.

So one easily can take a poll of industry participants (largely on the sell side) and find dire opinions about the state of service provider spending (and therefore buying). Keep in mind an analogy: the frog sitting at the bottom of a well, and asked to describe "the sky."

By definition, all of us have limited visibility. None of us can see the whole sky.

And our view is obscured in several obvious ways. The overwhelming amount of spending in any country or …

Boucher Replaces Markey: Expect Changes

Congressman Edward Markey, a key proponent of net neutrality, will leave his position on the committee that deals with telecommunications regulation to chair the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment. He will be replaced by Congressman Rick Boucher, who takes on the chairmanship of the Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

It is worth noting when key communications regulators change seats, since regulators are a primary force in the creation of permissible business models and the potential profitability of communications business models. If his past actions are any indication, "net neutrality" is going to get a lot less attention, rural broadband much more.

Boucher is likely to support plans to tie universal service support to broadband, not voice. That could have positive investment implications for rural telcos and even for some tier one providers. Qwest, for example, has large ru…

Using "Password Manager"

I've been testing a password manager program, "Password Manager," created by Large Software (www.largesoftware.com), which earlier released PC Tune-Up. Now, some of you may not think a password manager is a useful thing, so you can skip to another post. Personally, I live on the Web for professional reasons, and there no longer is any easy way for me to remember all my user names and passwords.

Some of you may be diligent about storing all your user names and passwords someplace, but that gets to be a chore, not to mention a security risk. Those of us who travel need our identities with us on the road. Retrieving them from a secret location in our offices or homes is not a convenient option. Sticky notes are worse.

Password Manager encrypts each saved password and also protects the program by offering a master password, keeping all the information stored protected and secure. For obvious reasons I have not tested that particular feature. I also use fingerprint readers to p…

Flat Consumer Electronics Revenue Growth: CEA Predicts

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During the 2001 through 2004 period, when the U.S. economy went through, and then came out of, the "Internet and telecom bubble," household telephone expenditures held constant at 2.3 percent of all household expenditures, a rate constant from 1996 through 2004. Only in one year--2002--was spending different, and in that year, household expenditures rose to 2.4 percent.
That might be the sort of year 2009 is for the consumer electronics industry. Or at leaset, that appears to be what the Consumer Electronics Association believes will happen in 2009.
The consumer electronics industry is projected to generate $171 billion in U.S. shipment revenues in 2009, according to the semi-annual industry forecast released by the Consumer Electronics Association. That would be a decline of about $1 billion from the estimated $172 billion CEA estimates the industry earned in 2008.
“The CE industry is resilient but not immune from the business cycle," says CEA CEO Gary Shapiro. The essen…

50% Mobile Broadband Penetration by 2013?

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The actual extent of mobile broadband usage in five years time is quite a jump ball. The conventional wisdom--undoubtedly correct--is that mobile broadband is growing, even if we might be a bit ahead of the game to call it "mainstream" at the moment.

If one assumes a smartphone sale is farily linearly a predictor of the sale of a data plan, increasingly of the broadband sort, then at the moment sales volume in the U.S. market is something on the order of 20 million units a year, but scaling smartly.

Of course, though we normally assume the sale of a smartphone comes with an activated data plan, that might not always be the case, as some of the market is of the "replacement" sort. Also, smartphones are not the only driver of mobile broadband. Of late, PC cards have been substantial contributors.

So the big change in market receptivity is the expansion of mobile broadband from the "mobile email" and "mobile PC" to "mobile Web" user cases.

I…

A Bold Forecast for U.S. Mobile Broadband

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“By 2013, there will be over 140 million U.S. consumers paying for mobile broadband, which will extend video, communication, networking, and support services to all sorts of devices,” said Kurt Scherf, vice president, principal analyst, Parks Associates.

That's a bold forecast. But not outlandish if "mobile Web" gets traction as "mobile email" and "mobile PC" segments did.

Global revenues from mobile data services are set to exceed $200 billion this year for the first time, according to Informa Telecoms & Media. Total mobile data revenues were approximately $157 billion in 2007.

Mobile operators now generate approximately one fifth of their revenue from data services.Informa Telecoms & Media estimates that non-SMS data contributed $17.48 billion of revenue in the first quarter of 2008, accounting for 35.6 percent of total data revenues.

Tech Support on Installing a Husband

Dear Tech Support, 

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a distinct slow down in overall system performance, particularly in the flowerand jewelry applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0. In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, suchas:Romance 9.5 andPersonal Attention 6.5, and then installed undesirable programs such asNBA 5.0,NFL 3.0 andGolf Clubs 4.1.

Also Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and Housecleaning 2.6 simply crashesthe system. Please note that I have tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail. 

What can I do? 

Signed, Desperate. 

DEAR DESPERATE:

First, keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while Husband 1.0 is an operating system. Please enter command: ithoughtyoulovedme.html and try to downloadTears 6.2 and do not forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update. If that application works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the application…

Broadband: This Doesn't Look Like a Problem

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There continues to be concern expressed about the "lack" of broadband adoption in the U.S. market in some quarters. This illustration of the current and expected state of affairs for a number of nations byAnalysysMason does not suggest there actually is a problem. 
The United States appears to be in the mainstream of penetration rates.

The Next Big Thing in Wireless Packaging

In the U.S. mobile business, there have been at least two major marketing concepts with huge impact on consumer adoption: "Digital One Rate," which erased the distinction between "local" and "domestic long distance," and "family plans," which principally are responsible for extending mobile penetration to most members of a family. 

The next big innovation? At some point, "data one rate combined with a family plan." The reason? Mobile broadband growth will be retarded until the data access equivalent of a family plan can be bought. Sprint already has taken a step in this direction by offering an "Everything Data" plan supporting two lines with Web and e-mail connectivity plus 1,500 minutes of shared voice services for $130. 
In fact, it is likely one can carry the concept just a bit further and create "data one rate family plans" that simply allow some consumers to buy a single broadband plan that supports all family m…

More Enterprises Disconnect Locations

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The number of enterprises disconnecting network locations reached its highest level in six years during 2008, according to new research by Vertical Systems Group. In a survey of U.S.-based enterprise network managers, 14 percent reported that they had eliminated one or more network locations without adding or moving others. This figure compares to only nine percent from a survey conducted a year ago.
For the most recent survey, 41percent of respondents reported both additions and eliminations, while 16percent added locations without any eliminations. About 29 percent reported no change.
"The pace of network site additions stalled in the second half of 2008, and a significant number of networks are shrinking as compared to a year ago," said Rick Malone, principal at Vertical Systems Group. "Economic uncertainty and business slowdowns are forcing unplanned network reconfigurations, particularly within hard-hit industries like retail and financial. Location eliminations p…

More At-Work Video Viewing, Nielsen Says

Though some studies continue to suggest that most online video is viewed at home, there also is growing evidence that at-work viewing is up as well. Among online TV viewers, almost nine out of 10 watch online broadcasts at home, according to the Conference Board. 
But a new study by Nielsen Online suggests people spend more time streaming video during weekday working hours than do so on weekends or at home on workday evenings. About 96 percent of at-work Web visitors in October 2008 were using a broadband connection. 
Since most online video is viewed on a PC, and with many employees spending nearly eight hours a day at their computers, workdays are prime time for online video viewing, Nielsen suggests. Nielsen says that 65 percent of online video viewers stream content between 9am to 5pm Monday through Friday, compared to 51 percent of online video viewers who log on between 6am and  8pm on weekends, or 43 percent on workday evenings between 8 pm and 11 pm.

BT to Get Universal Service Relief

In a major sign of the changing times, it appears Ofcom, the U.K. communications regulator, finally is ready to release BT, the former monopoly provider, from its universal service obligations, which now require BT to run a phone line to every home in the country, as well as provide payphones and other basic services available at a reasonable cost.

Office of Communications Minister Stephen Carter is expected to propose that the legal requirement for BT to provide a phone line to every UK home become a "shared" responsibility whose costs will be borne collectively by all wired or wireless service providers.

Under the proposed new rules, universal service support will be provided by virtually every provider, whether wireless or wireline, and the support will be for universal broadband service, rather than narrowband voice, as has been the case in the past.

Today, BT has sole responsibility for supplying a phone line to every U.K. home. Current estimates are that this costs BT be…

Net-Connected TV Theme at CES

Net-connected HDTVs and applications look to be one of the more-prominent themes from this year's Consumer Electronics show. 
Samsung Electronics Co.and Yahoo! Inc. have announced a new Internet-based service to Samsung televisions available in the spring of 2009. Select models in Samsung’s 2009 flat-panel HDTV line-up will be powered by the Yahoo Widget Engine, which enables TV watchers to interact with " TV Widgets"  that bring Web-based content, information and community features to the TV.
Select models in Samsung’s 2009 flat-panel HDTV lines will support the new TV Widget service, called “Internet@TV - Content Service.” The service allows users to engage in a variety of experiences that traditionally could only be enjoyed on a PC.  That includes functions such as tracking a stock portfolio, reading headline news, browsing through videos, sharing photos or communicating with friends. Users can access the service by connecting the HDTV to a home network via the built-in …

There has to be a Pony in Here Somewhere

As the old story goes, a kid was found whooping and hollaring in the stable when mucking out the stalls. When asked why, the child says “With all this **** around, there must be a pony in here somewhere.” 
One wonders if Internet service providers might just want to whoop and hollar at some point about net-connected TVs and online video in a broader sense, despite the obvious business model challenges the applications now provide. 
The number of online video viewers will grow from 563 million at the end of 2008 to 941 million by 2013, according to ABI Research. Ways to watch online video on standard TVs will be a key enabler of that growth, which explains why firms such as Cisco, not in the past associated with such consumer technology, will be entering the market for devices that allow watching of online video on standard TVs, rather than PC screens. 
While today’s consumer is most likely to watch online video on the PC screen, over time more and more consumers will watch over-the-top v…