Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rural Carriers object to USF Plan

Looks like there are even more objections to the FCC's newest plan for The Universal Service Fund (USF). Now the Rural Cellular Assn. has weighed in, saying that the FCC's proposed changes would "...unfairly deprive rural consumers of critical communications tools that are essential to economic growth and the safety and well-being of rural residents". Among other things, telematics (location-based services that provide emergency communications to cars) would be cut off as a result of this plan. Here's how Wireless Week reported the story:
Telematics, Rural Carriers Object to USF Plan

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This Piano is for Entertainment!

Here's an amusing sign I caught in a Sterling VA supermarket. This particular market offers an area to enjoy the prepared food that's sold there. There is a player piano that had been used in the recent past, but not so much recently.

In order to thwart customers (I assume, children, mostly) from trying to play the instrument, they have posted the following: "Piano is for entertainment only - Please do not play - Thanks".
This makes a wide-sweeping assumption that anyone "playing" the piano couldn't possibly provide entertainment - at least, not as well as the machine can reproduce music. Maybe the entertainment in question is the view of the unused (and unusuable) player piano.
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Cox Cable To Launch its Own Wireless Service

From Wireless Week: Cox is announcing that it will enter the wireless telephone business by building its own infrastructure. This isn't really as crazy as it may seem. Cox already has agreements with Sprint/Nextel to provide service in areas they don't (which should be a large percentage, at least in the beginning).

Interestingly, Cox had it's own wireless network in so. Cal and Las Vegas in the 90s, then sold it to Sprint. Comcast also has a similar story. Cox Cable To Launch its Own Wireless Service

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quarter of broadband homes to ditch DSL for mobile

From comes this story out of the UK that fully a quarter of homes will be dropping DSL in favor of mobile broadband. Could you imagine this in the US? The answer is, not with our current wireless infrastructure. Not to say that it couldn't happen here, just not now. This is interesting because Europe is ahead of the US in wireless - the key is knowing by how much time
Quarter of broadband homes to ditch DSL for mobile - Networks - Breaking Business and Technology News at

Monday, October 13, 2008

AT&T to Sell U-verse Circuit City and Wal-Mart Retail Stores is reporting that AT&T has a new business plan for selling U-Verse, it's IPTV service: they will be bundling with products such as TVs and home theater systems at consumer electronic outlets. Since U-Verse is not available everywhere (yet) this can only be offered at "selective" national retailers, currently Circuit City and Walmart.

This strategy makes a lot of sense as AT&T would like to compete with Verizon (already in Circuit City) but can go further: They have a popular wireless product in the I-Phone and now a TV content offering in U-Verse. I would not be surprised to see a future bundle that included both of these offerings, along with a new TV (or whatever).

AT&T has a heck of a brand. At one time, it was the 2nd most recognized worldwide behind Coca Cola, or so I've been told. If anyone should do this it is them.

This is a strategy I believe we will see more of; customers have consistently suggested bundling is what they want. First multiple services on one bill, now products and services together. I've mentioned on this blog how phone companies have looked to other consumer services (like PC repair) to augment their offers. Looking to involve companies with retail expertise is a logical step.

AT&T to Sell U-verse Services at Circuit City and Wal-Mart Retail Stores

Friday, October 10, 2008

Verizon Gets Its Own Geek Squad -- Tech Support -- InformationWeek

Information Week (et. al.) is reporting that Verizon, like AT&T, is getting into the electronics repair business. The service is similar to what is being offered at Best Buy with it's Geek Squad. Actually, it should compete head-to-head with Best Buy as it is essentially a resell of Circut City's Firedog service. Services range from one-time repairs from $99.99 - $249.99 to monthly protection plans starting at $4.99
Verizon Gets Its Own Geek Squad -- Tech Support -- InformationWeek

Monday, October 6, 2008

The more things change...

By now, you may have heard that Sprint intends to (again) separate its wireline and wireless businesses. Here is one of the many articles on the subject from Wireless Week: Sprint Breaks Out Wireline Biz Unit . This announcement comes on the heals of a similar decision made by AT&T to split it's businesses.

You may recall that back in the 90s Sprint had split PCS from FON with much success. Business pressures and the merger (?) with Nextel created the need to re-combine these entities. Now it seems that history has repeated itself or as the great Yogi Berra put it, "Deja-vu all over again".

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Finally! First Class BBQ

Regular readers of this blog know of my desire to find the finest barbecue wherever I travel. If I were welthy and had the time, I would travel just for fine cuisine. Sadly, I can only indulge in my habit where and when other business takes there. You can then imagine my excitement on learning that I'd be spending one night in the city that is the Mecca of BBQ, Kansas City. Now, if you knew you'ld be in KC for a single evening and also knew what you wanted to eat (ribs, of course) where would you go? Without a doubt, you'd head to the grand daddy of KC rib joints, Arthur Bryants.

Many might think that some of the other shrines to BBQ are more worthy; I don't dispute the famed excellence of Gates, Jack Stack and the like, but I've been there before. I sheepishly admit here and now that is all my trips to Kansas City before this, I've never had the pleasure of Bryants. How could a man that has a blog about barbecue (among its 3 subject categories) not visit this place?

I ordered a full rack along with a glass of the most local beer, Boulevard Pale Ale. It was more meat than I was expecting, my tasts usually going toward baby backs. Before I realized it, I was presented with a massive portion as well as a plate of fries that could have easily fed four. OK, I thought, I'll just eat 'till I'm full. Well, I'll let you know that is was so good, I consumed it all and I have the photos to prove it. The meat was a bit greasy (great for taste but would be highly scrutenized in competition) and then literally fell of the bone. They were smoky and complex. As I ate, I began to retink my own recepe.

Of the three sauces, Original was the least interesting. The hotter, less sweet version was an improvement but the ribs came alive with the sauce labeled Sweet Heat. The combination of the smokey meat with this sauce was what could truely be described as heavenly. Now that I've been to Mecca, how do I top it?
Arthur Bryants, 702 Village West Parkway, K.C., KS, 913-788-7500 (not the original location)
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All the comforts of home?

I've never before had a post on this, but sometimes when traveling to rural spots, the choices of hotels and restaurants becomes fewer and further between. Frequently, that is what makes these trips interesting; if one is forced into making different choices than one's comfort zone, it could lead to a memorable experience (positive or otherwise).

On this particular trip, I had the good fortune to find a particularly different lodging experience. Luckily it was of the (very) positive variety. The Cottage House in Council Grove Kansas is a hotel that is furnished in the style of the time it was built (1870-80s). This is the first time I've showered in a bear-claw footed tub - an experience to last a lifetime. Enjoy the photo on the left, or check out the attached photos for the room I stayed in.
The Cottage House Hotel and Motel, 25 North Neosho ~ Council Grove, KS 66846

Rural Kansas

I've just returned from an interesting trip to rural Kansas, where I met the residents of Council Grove. The town has a rich history, and claims an historic stop along the Santa Fe Trail. The nice f0lks at the local telephone cooperative are converting from their antiquated cable system to a cutting-edge IPTV system using a headend-in-the-sky (HIS) model. I was priviledged to assist them in this changeover. Click here for the photos of a town that looks restored, but really has never lost it's charm.
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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

IP PBX Comparisons

OK, I know this subject can be a little dry, but that's why it's good to cover it as quickly as possible, right? IDG Connect has a white paper comparing different models of IP PBXs looking specifically at features and services. This information comes via VoIP News.