Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Make it Progresso!"...

Traveling through Southern Texas, I couldn't help but take the opportunity to travel south of the border. Progresso is a rural Texas town that borders a town in Mexico with the same name. Once I crossed over, I was able to view and endless array of dental offices, liquor stores and pharmacies selling perscription drugs over the counter. Either the Mexicans are obsessed with dental hygene and cheap booze or they are very good at drawing business from Americans suffereing from a lack of decent healthcare. This place is awesome! Please enjoy these photos of Soldiers in flack jackets and machine guns guarding their border with the U.S.
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Saturday, June 21, 2008

World's. Largest. Grill. Period.

Well, I guess this ends all question as to which is bigger (The "Period." comment saw to that). The Johnsonville grill is the largest I've personally ever seen, and I accept their claim.

I took this photo at Washington DC's National Barbeque Championship, held this weekend. I did not get to taste a lot of Q, though. It was a very popular event, and the lines were verrry long. Still, we all had a lot of fun, and the Boys' and Girls' clubs hopefully made out well.
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Friday, June 20, 2008

Here we go again...

Off again! This time to rural southern Texas. I haven't flown since the airlines changes some practices like fees for checked bags, so this should be interesting.

This time I'm teaching cooperative employees how to deal with their IPTV customers, among other things. I full report to my readers will follow.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Verizon Considers Alternatives to Bring FiOS Further Out

PC Magazine is reporting that Verizon is looking for cheaper alternatives to their standard fiber to get more Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments at a further distance. A possible answer might be less fiber (!?!).

It seems that fewer strands might be the cost differentiator - if Verizon can deliver FTTH, even at slower speeds, they can reach more (rural) households than they had originally planned.

So far, Verizon has spent in excess of $20B to deploy FiOS. This is more than AT&T has spent on their U-Verse service, which delivers fiber to a neighborhood node (FTTN) and copper from then on. In addition to being cheaper, it's also considerably slower once consumers demand higher speeds (which they will).

In a related story, Verizon has announced that they intend to upgrande speeds to FiOS subscribers next week. According to the press release,

"In remarks prepared for delivery today at the NXTcomm conference here, Verizon President and Chief Operating Officer Denny Strigl announced that the company is expanding its industry-leading FiOS Internet connections of 50/20, 20/20, 20/5 and 10/2 Mbps across all of Verizon's FiOS Internet service footprint in 16 states."

Friday, June 13, 2008

All-Digital Cable Move May Spark Viewer Ire

Here's an interesting tidbit - USA today is reporting that Comcast will be pressuring 20% of it's subscribers to switch to digital. HUH!?! Isn't this the same Comcast who's been running ad after ad on TV saying exactly the opposite: "Switch to cable and you don't need to worry about the US conversion to digital in February, 2009...blah, blah, blah..."

It seems there's a lot of value in digital for the cable industry after all. With digital comes more bandwidth, more bandwidth means more stuff like more channels, more HD, etc. According to the article:
"'The whole industry is trying to figure out how to get orders of magnitude increases in HD,' says Shawn Strickland, FiOS' vice president for video solutions. 'By this holiday season, there's going to be a stark contrast between who has an HD leadership position and who's not making progress.'"
My favorite quote from the article is this one:
"There's a reason (analog customers) are still analog,' says Bruce Leichtman, president of industry analysis firm Leichtman Research. 'They just don't want more' channels and services."
Really? I would have come to an entirely different conclusion. Something like: many folks have cable because it's easy and it works, despite that they're not too keen on their cable company (charging too much and providing marginal service). They may be saying, "At least I don't need to concern myself with the hassle and cost of replacing my old TV".

All-digital cable move may spark viewer ire -

Friday, June 6, 2008

Traffic-Pumping Needs a Stompin' ?

Here's an interesting story from USA Today - Long Distance giants like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and Qwest are upset that some rural carriers are taking advantage of them. How? By using a practice they call "Traffic-Pumping" - routing urban calls to rural areas for the higher fees they generate.

Here's how it works: If a call is routed through a rural telco, the rural company has the right to (and does) charge a high fee for the call to go through their networks. By creating telephone services like adult chat in rural areas, these big companies have to pay the rural operator more for that call to go through. The problem is that these large, urban telcos want to sell unlimited long distance plans and they find it hard to make money if their customers call rural areas.

It sounds like, by doing business the way they are permitted to, rural carriers are interfering with the way the big telcos want to do business now. So they gave this "practice " a sinister-sounding name and went to the government for relief, rather than negotiate or find a new way to market their products.

Big telecoms decry high costs of 'traffic-pumping' -