Archive for April, 2008

As good as being there

BT was an early supporter of Cisco’s TelePresence capabilities and today the company announced it had demonstrated the ability to support intercompany TelePresence connections, regardless of who the service provider is. According to BT and Cisco, the capability will be commercially available later this year.

This is obviously the next step in the process of making telepresence more viable for a broader range of customers. It comes on the heels of AT&T’s announcementlast week of its network-based telepresence offering.

The momentum is clearly building here, but I think it’s also important to remember that Cisco is not the only player in this space. As my colleague Dawn Bushaus noted earlier this year, there are a number of companies active in this space who are eager to work with service providers.

When I wrote about AT&T and Cisco, and the ability to interconnect TelePresence sites in the network, without dedicated connections, I immediately heard from Teliris, which has been providing its customers with a fully-managed, end-to-end service since 2001, and according to the company, guaranteeing 99% reliability that ensure each meeting takes place on time and for the length of time that is needed.

The point here is that we are seeing momentum building in the telepresence space and while Cisco is driving a lot of that momentum, it is not the only horse in the race. Smaller service providers have options as well.

And for this market to truly take off, there will need to be interoperability among equipment providers. That’s a thornier issuefor companies such as Cisco and HP, who believe in their own ability to dominate a market. As Dawn writes today, however, there are market forces pushing in this direction yet many challenges lie ahead.

From the service providers’ standpoint, lack of interoperability means hitching your star to one vendors’ platform for a managed in-network service, and that carries its own risk, particularly for smaller service providers who may not be able to attract the attention of very large vendors .

Movies’ most universal remote

Consumers clearly still have mixed feelings about watching full-length features films on their mobile handsets, but the market for using the mobile handset as a universal remote to search for and buy that movie has yet to really be explored. A partnership between CinemaNow and uVuMobile, announced today, aims to change that. The combination of the digital entertainment company and a mobility software and services company will bring about a WAP service allowing consumers to view movie trailers and remotely download the full-length movie to the PC or TV back home. more

Alltel’s My Circle gets bigger

Alltel continues to surprise. On the two-year anniversary of My Circle, Alltel introduced what amounts to the first loyalty program in wireless. If you remain on the My Circle program for two years you get to add another contact to your plan. Those who signed up for the plan two years ago get an 11thnumber to which they can make unlimited calls. Those who stick around for another 2 years, get a 12th, etc. more

Apple considered an MVNO for iPhone

For those of you who think Apple’s iPhone deal with AT&T looked an awful lot like an MVNO relationship, there’s a reason. Several blogs (MacNN and AppleInsider, to name two) dug through a recently published patent application Apple filed in 2006 and discovered that Apple was considering some kind of hyper-virtual operator business model, in which it would connect to any of multiple different operators on the fly, depending on who could offer the best rates at any given moment.

On one end would be an Apple server that tracked each iPhone user’s location in real time. On the other end would be a gaggle of network operators Apple had resale agreements with. Each would set determined rates for specific regions andfor specific times, and the Apple server would sort through that data selecting the cheapest rate at the time for the customers. Apple also made provisions for customers selecting their own operator and accompanying rate plan based on the same data, allowing them to change operators depending on the time of day or region.

That’s all fairly complicated since the typical MVNO signs a network deal with one operator and sticks to it. There is precedence among the large resellers like Tracfone, which sign multiple operator agreements, but I doubt they have the capability to switch between operators on the fly based on real-time pricing info. While those capabilities may be in Apple’s hands right now, the carriers probably aren’t equipped just yet, said Alex Besen, who heads the Washingtonmobile data consultancy The Besen Group. “Not yet,” Besen said. “As they move toward next-generation networks, they will.”

So will this MVNO model ever appear? It’s doubtful. Apple seems to be doing pretty well with its partnership deals at the moment. And if open access really takes off in the next few years, there may not even be reason to consider it.

Divergence: The Next Hot Industry Buzzword

Remember when convergence was all the rage? Wireless, wireline — everything was going to blend together like a giant fruit smoothie. Your mobile phone was going to be your remote control; your cousin was going to be your spouse. Convergence was the ultimate industry metabuzzword. Well-respected industry trade publications even used it in their tag lines.

So why isn’t financial reality catching up with our fanciful dreams and marketing presentations? more

What will Dorman do?

The former CEO of a struggling operator is now taking over the board of a struggling vendor. It’s probably crossedmore than a few of your minds that Dave Dorman played none too small a role in SBC’s acquisition of AT&T, which eventually took his former company’s venerable monikerbefore he retired. Now as chairman of Motorola, he’ll oversee Moto’ssplit into two entities: one focused solely on handsets and the other on a diverse array of carrier, enterprise, government and consumer equipment. more

MVNO epidemic continues

The industry has claimed another two MVNO casualties. Micro-MVNO-enabler Sonopia has let go of all of its U.S. staff, according to MEOW! Blog, and last week Movida, an IDT-backed Cisneros Group-backed MVNO targeted at Spanish speakers, went bankrupt.

Let’s face it the MVNO market looks pathetic. more

CTIA: John Edwards makes headlines, but not about wireless

How ironic. The news of greatest import to come out of CTIA Wireless had absolutely nothing to do with wireless. After his keynote speech with fellow former presidential candidate Fred Thompson, John Edwards told reporters that he would not accept the vice presidential nomination if offered by Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

CTIA: embedding Qualcomm

LAS VEGAS–Qualcomm isn’t just about phones anymore. It’s also powering the radio connections of future laptops. According to the chipset maker, “several” laptop makers, including Dell,are incorporating Qualcomm’s data device UMTS and EV-DO radio chips into their PCs and plan to ship them in 2008. What’s more T-Mobile International, Verizon Wireless , Vodafone and Telefonica have either certified said laptops or will complete certification this month. more

CTIA: Below the ‘Surface’ with AT&T

AT&T today announced it would be the first commercial customer using Microsoft’s ‘Surface’ technology, which lets users touch, grab and manipulate data on screens. The technology isn’t used in AT&T mobile phones, but in a new table-top kiosk to be deployed in AT&T retail stores.

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