Archive for October, 2009

Telecom well-represented among ‘100-oldest domains’

This one is more interesting than anything: Via Digg today, a list of the 100 “oldest” domain registrations. Quite a few telecom entrants — some still in existence, but several ghosts of companies past — made the list. Click through for a trip down memory lane. more

Biller beware: iPhone gets app transaction engine

The operator advantage of having the sole billing relationship with mobile subscribers is slowly but surely slipping away.

The latest salvo: Apple is now allowing so-called “in-app” transactions, which means that developers can now charge subscribers for services directly from within an app, enabling so-called freemium and other innovative billing relationships with customers.

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VZW unleashes device offensive

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VOD, NYSE:VZ) is taking on AT&T (NYSE:T), cable companies and anyone else that might stand in its way in a series of confirmed and rumored announcements today. Most notable has been the bevy of device announcements coming from VZW and others that suggest the carrier fully intends to become a smartphone force to be reckoned with. more

Can the Interent save seniors?

A new study from the Phoenix Center says regular Internet usage can decrease depression in retired senior citizens by 20% and potentially save milliions in health care costs. The Phoenix Center, a non-profit policy research center, is pushing for broadband initiatives to include senior citizens, only 62% of whom use the Internet, according to The Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Enabling senior citizens to stay in touch with family and friends electronically is a no-brainer. If millions of U.S. citizens who aren’t senior citizens enjoy staying in touch with friends - and finding old friends - via Facebook, why wouldn’t grandparents and great-aunts and uncles enjoy the same thing? Especially when they have more time on their hands than those still in the workplace. Young people too busy to call an elderly relative might have time for a quick text or other kind of electronic message.

Internet usage also provides the ability to stay more mentally active and more up-to-date on world issues, which can prolong life and help ward off the various forms of dementia that set in as we age.

Unfortunately, enabling senior citizens to use the Internet isn’t as easy as making sure they have access to PCs and broadband access - and those things are challenging in and of themselves. The level of support seniors require, especially as they move into their 70s and 80s, as more people do today, is vastly different from what the rest of the population needs. Basic issues around computer usage can prevent successful Web surfing, much less use of email or more advanced programming. Things that even my generation takes for granted - the ability to type and to understand computer speak - are things that can stump an older crowd.

I’ve often told the story of my mom, who got her first computer at age 65 and, after two days of using it, called me to tell me she had to take it back to the story because she’d gotten a message that her computer had performed an “illegal procedure.” At the time, that was Microsoft-speak for a Windows problem, but to my mom, “illegal” had one meaning and one meaning only.

Now I’m not trying to say that old folks can’t use computers, so please don’t jump to that conclusion. According to the Phoenix Center, I’m one of the old people - although I still work so I wouldn’t qualify for their study.

What I am trying to say is that the goals set forth here - enabling seniors to stay electronically connected and mentally stimulated via the Internet - are very worthy, but fraught with challenges that shouldn’t be overlooked.

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Google growth engine revving up again

With Google’s strong earnings report yesterday also comes the specter of more investment and more potential monetization of Google properties, an increasing number of which fall squarely in telecom/mobile markets. more

Mass. blesses 3 stimulus projects, none private

The Massachussetts governor’s office has endorsed three recipients to receive federal broadband stimulus funds. Though some of those efforts involve private partners, none of the three applications were filed by private companies. more

Nokia still backing venture with Siemens

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo was upfront today about the reasons for the increasingly poor performance Nokia Siemens Networks. While the economy, competition and even the fluctuation in currency were factors, “It is clear that NSN has lost market share,” Kallasvuo said after announcing Nokia’s Q3 earnings.

NSN reported revenue declines of 21% year-over-year in the 3rd quarter, and 28% drop in profits, which forced its parents to take write downs. Nokia wrote off 908 million Euros (US $1.35 billion), increasing its 3rd quarter loss to Euro 1.11 billion (US $1.66 billion). Siemens (NYSE:SI) hasn’t reported its 3rd quarter numbers yet, but according to the Dow Jones Newswires, its write down could be as high as $1.6 billion Euros (US $2.4 billion).

Despite NSN’s poor performance and declining market share, Kallasvuo said both Nokia and Siemens still have faith in the venture. “Let me be clear,” he said. “We continue to support NSN’s efforts to improve its performance. Both shareholders have continued to make the necessary capital available to NSN, so that NSN can meet the product and services needs of the leading operators around the world.”

Last summer, NSN CEO Simon Beresford-Wylie announced his retirement, turning the reins over to NSN head of services Rajeev Suri, who in a recent interview said he plans to push NSN more in the direction of professional and managed services and software while still maintaining a strong infrastructure portfolio. For Q3, services accounted for 47% of NSN’s total revenues.

Will Android devices take Nokia down?

Smartphone competition continued to take a toll on Nokia (NYSE:NOK) in the third quarter as the handset maker’s market share declined to 30.9% from 34% in Q2. Competition won’t let up going forward either, and it is primarily coming from the same source – devices built on Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system. more

Shazam explodes; is mobile music access or acquisition best?

Popular music discovery application Shazam passed the 50 million user milestone today, an increase of 15 million users since February. The app, available in more than 150 countries, lets users tag and identify songs by holding their handset to the source, and then gives the option of purchasing or sharing the identified song. Shazam also announced an undisclosed strategic investment from the iFund, a $100 million fund started by Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. more

Are RLECs giving up on broadband stimulus?

Tier-two and tier-three carriers may be giving up on the federal broadband stimulus program, according to one broadband equipment vendor CEO.

Several such carriers, such as CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) and Windstream (NYSE:WIN), did not apply for stimulus funds due to the requirements attached, such as network neutrality and data disclosure. (Frontier Communications applied, but only in one state.) But some industry observers expected those carriers to try applying in later rounds once changes in the qualification process were made. Windstream, for example, said last month that it was working to convince federal administrators to change those rules.

However, as federal agencies have held their ground on net neutrality and other issues lately, carriers may have lost confidence in their prospects for changing policy.

“Some of those [tier-two and tier-three] carriers have no intent [to apply] at this point in time; they may not qualify for whatever reason,” said Tom Stanton, CEO of Adtran (NASDAQ:ADTN), during the equipment vendor’s earnings call today. “Those carriers that we’re in discussions with are talking about how they’re going to move forward with broadband expansion outside of the stimulus plan.”

Stanton’s comments came in response to a question about whether RLECs that had previously put broadband spending on hold while they evaluated their stimulus prospects might now increase spending. “The answer is yes,” Stanton said. “Some of those players went on a diet going into this year, and definitely in the first half of this year, trying to see how they would position themselves for broadband spend.”

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Windstream today said the company has not ruled out applying in round two: “It depends on how the rules are structured for the second round. We are waiting to participate in the agencies’ upcoming RFI process (request for information).”

UPDATE 10/15: Geoff Burke at Calix responded this way:

About 40% 0f U.S. tier 2 and 3 service providers are already our customers. To date, we’ve seen about a quarter of our U.S. customers apply for Stimulus funds in round one. Those who chose not to apply fall into four categories:
1) Those who did not qualify based on the definitions set forth in the NOFA
2) Those who feared the strings attached to the funds
3) Those who couldn’t wait for competitive reasons
4) Those who are already executing on all cylinders and saw the Stimulus as a distraction

For the first two groups, many are still waiting on the fence to see how dramatically the rules change in the next NOFA – this includes some very large ILECs. For the service providers in the third and fourth groups, they continue to charge ahead with broadband expansion and upgrade plans, and in some cases have hastened their expansion and upgrade plans to counteract potential Stimulus-funded incursions into their service territories.

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