It’s no secret that the Telcos have major pull in Congress. Review any representative’s list of top campaign donors and you are more likely then not to find them at the top. It’s also no secret that AT&T and Verizon see a perfect world where they control all of the public airwaves. We’ve heard endless hand ringing in Congress about how bad wireless service is directly connected to too little spectrum in the control of carriers.
What they don’t mention is as much as half of the licensed spectrum in held major markets by the top two carriers isn’t even being used. There’s also no mention of repurposing any of that fallow spectrum for broadband like is being proposed for broadcast bands. Even if spectrum was lacking, increasing tower density can overcome virtually all capacity problems. None of this makes much sense unless we understand that the real issue isn’t the need for more spectrum to provide better service. It’s to gain control of the wireless last mile and effectively end competition.
Acting in the public interest to facilitate better service is not what this debate is about. After gaining control of more than half of the fixed line right of ways to the last mile, the two major telco’s slowed infrastructure improvements to a snails pace. That’s created an America with substandard broadband at some of the highest prices in the world. They have the same plan for wireless. By controlling all of the spectrum and consolidating into two companies, the non competitive broadband duopoly will be extended into the wireless space.
The House of Representatives wants to take control of spectrum auctions. They want us to believe that the FCC is acting to slowly to resolve that the completely fabricated “spectrum crisis”. According to former FCC chair Reed Hundt, the bill would end competition: (more…)
While Microsoft isn’t exactly hurting, the company has had very mixed success entering new markets for some time. In fact, without the OS and Office cash cows, it’s failures would have torpedoed most companies. One thing Ballmer and company do seem to have is tenacity. That tenacity can be seen in action with Windows Phone.
Windows Phone is a well executed smart handset platform that came to market a little to late. It’s also lacks any real advantage over the established Apple and Android platforms. Add to that the obstacle a its licensing fee and there’s not much to make Windows Phone compelling to potential manufacturing partners. That gives Android a price advantage while Apple holds the overpriced designer label space. Microsoft has tried to remove that disadvantage by patent trolling Android manufacturers, with mixed success. There are also rumors that the company could acquire the ailing Nokia, likely giving Windows Phone a stable hardware partner. None of this will open any shelf space for MS as long as devices are joined at the hip to service plans that are sold exclusively by carriers.
That brings us to Skype. The VoIP company that Ebay notoriously overpaid for, was acquired for far less by Microsoft last year.The company is currently testing an app that will add the mostly free to talk service to Windows Phone 8. Tight integration of Skype into the Windows Phone OS has the potential to accelerate the end of by the minute mobile voice plans forever. That is assuming the carriers cooperate. While the mobile hardware space continues to become more crowded, the carrier space is not with incumbents scrambling to consolidate. Despite what we keep being told, mobile data is enormously profitable. That profitability is eclipsed by the margins on voice by the minute and messaging. Without major changes in the wireless connection business, Skype will do nothing to improve Windows Phone’s fortunes. (more…)
Death of a zombie business model? Wireless carriers begin to see revenues slide as smartphone users shift to VoIP and Internet messaging apps. I’m surprised it’s taken so long to happen.
Beyond the cloud as we know it. VC’s bet big on Big Data. Huge profit potential, but also a potential can of worms in terms of privacy and intellectual property issues.
New TV channels arrive as streams? Arrested Development returns as a stream only series.
Life after Netflix: Starz toys with the idea of offering a la carte TVoIP subscriptions.
New form factor that could be a game changer? Android on a Stick.
Yahoo spins off internal Hadoop group. Open Source Hortenworks is born.
FCC’s wireless competition report shows no real progress. Is anyone surprised?
Skype unleashes development platform
AOL announces yet another re-org. Wasn’t Arianna Huffington supposed to fix everything?
Douglas Rushkoff has championed the idea that the current corporate-controlled internet is far from the open commons we pretend it is.
“If we have a dream of how social media could restore peer-to-peer commerce, culture, and government, and if the current Internet is too tightly controlled to allow for it, why not build the kind of network and mechanisms to realize it?” Rushkoff asks.
Sounds daunting. And expensive, right? Wrong.
Funded primarily by the personal savings of group members and a grant from the National Science Foundation, residents of Jalalabad have built the FabFi network: an open-source system that uses common building materials and off-the-shelf electronics to transmit wireless ethernet signals across distances of up to several miles.
They are building a node in war torn Afganistan for $60 + cost of electronics and the electronics are nothing but COTS stuff. Linksys 54WGRT type stuff, nothing exotic. Same thing is happening in several cities in Kenya. Its about high time we here in the US get off our duff and simply accomplish the same thing.
The tools are not lacking either –
While we like to give the impression that building fabfi consists of simply pointing a couple wifi routers at each other and calling it a day, there’s an enormous amount of development that goes into creating that illusion. The current fabfi system does first-order integration with dozens of open-source projects, including:
And with every day we’re adding new tweaks to improve stability and performance that require testing in the UoN Fablab development network.
So the question is, what is our excuse? We don’t even need to stick with b or g class transmission. Most could afford to pay for a class n node for electronics. That provides a several order of magnitude increase in transmission rates. The essential need would be one of proper access for line of sight presence and a backhaul point to get on the Web.
Notable links –