For those of the geeky variety, and not so, starting today McDonalds open up its WiFi to all comers. Free. With some catches.
Access is free. So general surfing will be available. According to McD’s web page (here) certain services and particular access needs may still require paying for the privilege. But I am fine with that. It is a step in the right direction.
McD’s being altruistic? Not totally. Their heart is in the right place, but their core reason is profit of course. You see McD’s has been in a battle Royale with StarBucks in the morning fast food segment going on 5 years now. Both players have toyed with the idea of going free on WiFi. Fact in some segments I believe StarBucks has already done so. Why do it? Draw customers in. Once they have you inside you might just buy a cup of coffee at a minimum or pop for a whole meal in the best of cases. Least thats the thinking.
This won’t go unnoticed of course. Figure StarBucks to counter across the board very quickly.
The real question becomes does WiFi stay viable for very long? In a strong parallel, WiFi hotspots are the 21st Century equivalent of the pay phone. Useful sure. But you are ‘parked’ till you finish your communications. Yet the growth of smartphones are anathema to that model as the CPE are tied to metrowide cellular/3g/4g services unrelated to specific locale. So WiFi services that McD’s is providing will fade just like the wall payphone at the local tavern did.
Google Voice has been making a lot of headlines lately, but not for the reasons you’d hope. The service is already running into frustrating opposition from Apple and possibly AT&T (depending on who you believe). Today, it’s getting opposition of a different kind: 3jam, a company that until now has primarily offered services that revolve around SMS messaging, is expanding to offer telephony services that will be going head to head against Google Voice.
3jam offers many of the same core features offered by Google Voice, including the ability to have one phone number ring multiple phones, as well as an online interface for managing voicemail and text messages, though there are some more advanced features that it lacks (more on that later). But it does have a few features that Google Voice doesn’t, like the ability to receive calls on Skype, AOL, and Yahoo Messenger (why waste minutes when you’re sitting in front your your computer anyway?)
Considering the nature of the service I don’t think GV will remain free on certain aspects forever either. So if you have to have it NOW then consider this alternative.
The wideband codec recently debuted as part of Skype 4.0 for Windows (with a Mac version coming in April.) With a claimed 400 million Skype users registered worldwide, the VoIP provider is apparently none too concerned about handing the competition keys to the kingdom without the usual charges.
Skype says it’s offering the licenses gratis to “establish a new industry-wide standard in speech processing,” ranging from web developers to chip manufacturers to mobile device makers.
SILK transfers audio between 8kHz to 12kHz – at least, that’s what Skype said, but we assumed it means 8Hz; thanks to all the readers who spotted the inconsistent numbers – compared with the 300Hz to 3.4kHz signals from most telephone companies. That means the conversation will sound clearer and more life-like, assuming both ends are using the codec.
Requiring SILK at both ends (and in between) will probably be the first hurdle for it to catch on with hardware manufacturers. If there’s a link in the communication chain not supporting wideband telephone, both sides get the same old lacking quality. But as Skype notes in the company blog, if you want to establish a new industry-wide standard, removing the cost is certainly a good start.
For Skype it is a good move. Now how about a new Linux upgrade while you are at it??
As part of the stimulus package, there are provisions for tax abatements for rural wireless broadband deploys. Now we have been saying here for years now that rural was ripe for wireless broadband. In fact so that they really don’t need the stimulus to make it. Anyhow here are some particulars –
The Senate Finance Committee later today is expected to make tax credits available to wireless carriers and others in the telecom industry that expand broadband networks to rural and low-income urban areas with little or no high-speed Internet access.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), a senior member of the finance panel and chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, plans to offer an amendment this afternoon that provides a 10% tax credit to service providers that invest in current generation broadband (defined as at least 5 Mbps downlink and 1Mbps uplink) infrastructure in unserved and underserved portions of the country A 20% tax credit would be available to carriers that bring next-generation broadband (100 Mbps downlink and 20 Mbps uplink) networks to those areas. However, commercial mobile wireless carriers would be eligible for the 20% tax credit if they offer broadband service at speeds of at least 3 Mbps downlink and 768 Kbps unlink in unserved and underserved locales.
The irony for somebody like Verizon is that they have been selling off anything that even smells ‘rural’. So some WISPs might have a shot at this. Fact Clearwire ought to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of this largess.
I ask that question because there is a move afoot by the Commerce Committee under Rockefeller to push the DTV rollout to sometime in June. Now think how stupid this idea is. -
So the nanny state Pols yet again meddle in affairs wringing their hands over ‘concerns for the poor’. Hmm can’t afford $10? ($50 converter – $40 Fed coupon) Rockefeller is a bigger fool that I imagined.
Update: Just announced on Fox News, 6:54pm CT. It is a done deal. The DTV transition is to be delayed for 4 months. Ok where do I go to pick up my Karnack outfit??? Johnnnyyyyy!!
Do you work for one of the Fortune 10,000? You know they are cutting back. But that does not mean that you can’t leverage them to get additional savings for yourself. Most of the majors have a employee discount benefits dept, usually run by HR. Under the scheme you can get insurance, autoglass, car purchases etc at discounted rates. Well the same goes for cell service. –
Wanna save on your Tmobile bill? Ask your company’s partnership rep if they have an employer discount available. Then you can call Tmobile Corporate Migrations at 877-453-8824 and claim your discount. In fact, if you Google that number, you can find the names of a number of companies and organizations that give their members Tmobile discounts. Perhaps you belong to one of them. (Thanks to Romeo!) (Photo: Ed Yourdon)
Now their suggestion is applicable to T-Mobile. But all the majors have an employee discounting program. So even if T-Mobile does not service your area does not mean that Verizon or AT&T does not and offers this service. Call your HR dept and ask. In these times, 10% off is money in the bank.