Thursday, January 29, 2009

VoiceWing takes flight (out)

Verizon Communications Inc. has decided to shutter it's VoIP unit, VoiceWing, on March 31 to focus on other technologies. VoIP is still in play, but will likely be delivered and marketed differently. Verizon plans to introduce a service over their fiber optic lines, vs. just anyone with an Internet connection.

The backend services company for VoiceWing, Deltathree, has seen their stock drop and was recently delisted from the Nasdaq, which may have accelerated Verizon's decision making.

As a former customer of VoiceWing, I fond the service expensive compared to many competitive alternatives with better quality. Based on my easy decision to drop them, I can imagine others coming to the same conclusion.

Verizon to shut down Internet phone service -

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Panel to approve tax credits for rural broadband rollout

According to RCR Wireless, The Senate Finance Committee is expected to make tax credits available to wireless carriers and others in the telecom industry to rural and low-income urban areas with little or no high-speed Internet access. The credit will be given to companies that expand broadband networks.

Panel to approve tax credits for rural broadband rollout - RCR Wireless News

Friday, January 23, 2009

Gizmodo UK : Rural Broadband Overtakes Urban

Here's an interesting story out of the UK: Rural areas of the UK are better connected to broadband than their urban neighbors.

The report was authored by Ofcom, a "regulator" or telecommunications services. According to Gizmodo UK:
"The new report - The Communications Market 2008: Nations and Regions - shows that for the first time there’s a greater proportion of households with broadband in the rural parts of the UK than there are in urban areas. It calculated that 59% of households in rural areas now have broadband compared to 57% in urban areas."

I'm curious as to how this compares to the US rural vs. urban broadband market. Any comments?

Gizmodo UK : Rural Broadband Overtakes Urban

House Commerce Committee Stamps $1B for Open Access

The House Committee on Energy approved the creation of a $2.825 billion fund for the broadband industry, as one part of the economic Recovery Legislation.

Dubbed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, “The proposal aims to be technologically neutral, allowing participation by terrestrial wireless, satellite and wireline providers, subject to aggressive performance requirements and other pro-consumer policy considerations. The provisions allow any ‘eligible entity,’ to apply for a grant, including service providers, infrastructure companies or a state or unit of local government,” the bill summary states. “Approximately $1 billion would go to the deployment of wireless service — 25% to wireless voice service in unserved areas and 75% to ‘advanced wireless broadband’ in underserved areas.”
House Commerce Committee Stamps $1B for Open Access

Senate expected to pass delay of DTV conversion

In keeping with this week's theme of the big DTV switchover, The Wall Street Journal, among others, is reporting that the Senate is close to passing a delay of the February 17 switchover until June.

This is in reaction to the fact that the coupon program (2 $40 coupons for each household requesting them) has run out of money, viewers are still confused, and many stations are still not ready.

This delay is being touted as "voluntary", as stations may still keep to the previous schedule. The bill looks likely to pass.
Article -

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why wait? 1st cable company converts to all-digital

BendBroadband, a cable company in central Oregon, decided to make the move to DTV now, rather than wait for the the Feb. 17th deadline.
“'The transition to an all-digital platform puts BendBroadband in an important strategic position,' (said) BendBroadband President and CEO Amy Tykeson. 'By eliminating carriage of analog signals, we were able to reclaim more than 300 MHz of spectrum (out of 750 MHz) – nearly half – and avoid the significant cost associated with a major system rebuild.'"
(Apologies for the lame photo)
BendBroadband wraps up all-digital conversion

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tough times call for tough negotiating

I remember a class I took many years ago where the instructor claimed that "anything is negotiable". This story in the Wall Street Journal certainly supports his argument.

Tired of the high price of his cable bill, a man called his TV, phone & Internet provider, AT&T, for a better rate and was successful. As my dad would say, "let that be a lesson for you".
Cable Bill High? Phone Costs Up? Now, Let's Talk -

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Call to Action for a National Broadband Strategy

In May of last year, a group calling itself the U.S. Broadband Coalition put out a statement calling for a National Broadband Strategy. The statement suggested government action in the form of “tax incentives, grants, low cost loans, loan guarantees, universal service subsidies, efficient use of spectrum and other approaches” to stimulate increase broadband investment. It also advocates additional government programs to give all Americans computers and training in using them.

Why is this significant now? Because these goals appear to coincide with the directives of the incoming Obama administration. If congress designs it's multi-billion dollar infrastructure building/rebuilding/back-to-work efforts with the needs of rural America, we may see a major shift to increased broadband in the near term. More broadband means more devices and applications that use it, and therefore more opportunity. A veritable win-win.

The coaltion is made up of some heavy hitters: Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Intel, AT&T, Clearwire, Google, CTIA, The Wireless Association, the Fiber-to-the-Home Council and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, to name a few.

Read more:

PC World: Coalition pushes for US broadband plan

New America Foundation: A National Broadband Strategy Call to Action

Infoworld:Coalition pushes for U.S. broadband plan

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Nortel files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Beleaguered telecom infrastructure provider Nortel Networks Corp. announced plans this morning to seek protection from creditors, news that sent the company’s stock down more than 77% to 7 cents per share. RCR Wireless

Monday, January 12, 2009

Verizon to route all calls over Web

If you thought about this, it would have made perfect sense. Verizon has announced that within the next seven years, they plan to do away with copper altogether in favor of VoIP (voice-over IP service).

Once they can provide Internet access over fiber using FIOS, DSL, and other services, why not save some coin and follow the herd?
Verizon to route all calls over Web within 7 years - Los Angeles Times

UPDATE (1/14/09): A spokesman for Verizon, Eric Rabe, reported to VON magazine that the move to completely retire the copper plant and move to VoIP is "off-base".

Hang up and drive!

It's official - dialing and driving don't mix.

The National Safety Council has called for a ban on using cell phones while driving, even with a headset, and has urged all states to create laws and businesses to make new policies.

National Safety Council Urges Ban on Car Calling - Wireless Week

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Microsoft does away with the DVR

Steve Balmer, CEO of Microsoft delivered this morning's keynote to CES. His message? Besides the introduction of Windows 7 and a new partnership with Verizon Wireless, Microsoft will add new features in their Mediaroom platform that will make the DVR obsolete.

The platform is used in MS middleware for the AT&T U-Verse service as well as some others. According to Telephony Online, viewers will be able to,
"... bypass the DVR and still watch TV shows anytime they want. Called Mediaroom Anytime, service providers can offer their customers the ability to watch a TV show at any time – hopefully keeping them from going online for the content. Through Restart Anytime, consumers can view a show from the beginning regardless of when they started, what channel they were on and whether the TV was on or off. With the Live Anytime feature, users can view any previously aired shows even if they forgot to record them. And through Download Anytime, areas with lower bandwidth infrastructure can still take advantage of the download and play capabilities of Mediaroom."

CES: Microsoft does away with the DVR, partners with Verizon for search

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Dude, where's my coupon?

As reported in USA Today, all last week on many news outlets (and experienced firsthand by your humble blogger, moi), The government has run out of money - for DTV coupons. It seems that many folks have decided to keep their existing TVs and are now asking for the coupons to get the the digital signal. The problem is, the FCC allocated $1.34B for the $40 coupons and the crush of demand has been far greater. So rather than receiving a coupon for $40 off the price of the converter, folks are now getting a notice that they have been placed on a waiting list. Should the FCC receive more funding for this project, they will attempt to fulfill requests. Given the government's current need for cash, this doesn't seem all that likely (for now). Don't even get me started on why there is an expiration date on these.
TV converter coupon program's out of cash; wait list started -

Monday, January 5, 2009

1st rate Cuban Resturaunt in Florida

I'm used to traveling to places like Minnesota or North Dakota in winter, so I am very pleased to discuss my current winter travels in Vero Beach, Florida where I was taken to this wonderful gem. My first thought was that this must be a complete dive; it is, after all, crammed into the side of a filling station! Once inside, this is forgotten. The place was crowded (for good reason).

I had fresh grouper in "shrimp sauce" whatever that was. You can also see the charro rice and some of the best plantains I've had this side of the Carribian. My other four dining companions also had marvelous dishes, and much sharring ensued. As I've said many times in this forum, sometimes there is a direct inverse relationship between the best resturaunts and their exteriors. Chef Felix was also kind enough to give me a lesson on the correct preparation of plantains, somthing that until now has eluded me.

Felix's Place
40 43rd Avenue, Vero Beach, FL 32968 772 563 3317

Verizon's purchase of Altel to close Friday

According to Wireless Week, Verizon Wireless will close its acquisition of Alltel this Friday.

The merger makes Verizon the largest U.S. wireless carrier, passing AT&T by a few million subscribers. Verizon and AT&T are pulling away from Sprint Nextel, which continues to lose subscribers.

Alltel attempted to buy Sprint, but wasn’t able to fund the deal because of last year’s credit crisis, the Arkansas News said.