Category Archives: mobile-network

Telecommunications as Networking Application: VoIP

Published by:

Telecommunications as Networking Application: VoIP

Much of the jargon around the US’s broadband decline focuses on the unrealized goals of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 or on the need for improved telecommunications regulation.  Bunk!  Just as journalism will survive the decline of the news print business, telecommunications service will survive the the Telecommunications business where functional integration has limited voice service innovations.

VoIP is the demonstration of telecommunication or voice as just another application that has emerged from our networking activity.  Quality of “voice over IP” or VoIP continues to improve with options to connect using mobile devices either using a 3G data connection or a Wi-Fi access point. Note no need for complex hardware or QoS systems from large infrstracture companies that drive costs up on the operator voice connections.

The following video from is an excellent overview of the players offering telecommunication applications on IP connections and even proves the quality of  VoIP calls regardless of the air interface used.


The two applications offering highest variety of options are Truphone and a new entrant in the market, Vopium.  Both work over the 3G data network and Wi-Fi connections.  Truphone was the 1st VoIP application to offer an iPhone and Touch client.  Both Vopium and Truphone offer Android clients which allow voice or IM with Skype contacts in addition to contacts on their own service.

Of the ones I’ve tried the quality and options nod definitely goes to these two companies.

Here Comes Everyone Offering Wireless Services

Published by:

MVNOs have been tried by major brands like ESPN and Disney.  ISPs have attempted to extend into wireless service like Earthlink and Time Warner.  All these efforts meeting with eventual or dazzling failure.

Then there are the regional carriers like MetroPCS and Cricket who attract subscribers with low cost unlimited talk time.  But what about a utility holding company?  Can a group of power companies be successful where major brands and ISPs have failed?

Southern Linc began as an operation to by wholesale wireless service to support the employees of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power and Mississippi Power using the iDen network (Nextel) and it’s two-way radio communications also known as chirp and push-to-talk.  In the mid1990sSouthern Company who owns these electric companies established it’s own wireless service as a move to create profit in what is for many companies a cost center: employee communications services.

Southern Linc supported its own employees and also made the service available to other businesses starting in 1996.  Recently, the company has extended its  service beyond push-to-talk plans to include cell phone and texting for consumers.  The company plans to grow its 260,000 subscriber base covering southeast Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Florida Panhandle by offering service to rural areas not serviced by the Tier 1 and Tier 2 carriers.

Regional coverage has been one focus for wireless carriers meeting with more mixed results than the disasters of ESPN, Amp’d and Disney.  Southern Linc provides all the basic wireless service plans one would find from any other carrier including, Family Plans,  post-paid plans, pre-paid plans and business plans.

A group of electric companies offering an additional utility service has a logic to it.  And their ability to provide service in areas where the economics for larger carriers are weak due to limited subscriber base makes Southern Linc look like a strong contender as a different approach to an MVNO.

Sierra Wireless Acquires Cradlepoint

Published by:

Congratulations to my new favorite tech gadget company Cradlepoint for today’s acquisition bySierra Wireless. Sierra Wireless expands their product offerings from wireless data cards and embedded modules which provide connectivity to mobile networks from PCs.

My Cradlepoint PHS-300 also called a “Personal Wi-Fi Hotspot” is used to connect my Nokia N95 GSM device to the faster EVDO Rev A network. Rev A uplink connection is a zippy 1.8 MBs, in contrast to the GSM carriers in the US who top out at 700 kbs. The N95’s Wi-Fi radio makes this solution possible. Many mobile devices are beginning to ship with a set of three radios: CDMA or GSM, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It’s liberating to choose the best network for connectivity and have the compatibility problem solved by a Wi-Fi bridge. Adding mobility to the solution, the PHS-300 is battery-powered with a battery-life of 2 hours.

Cradlepoint PHS-300

Pat Phelan telecom distruptor and entrepreneur of CubicTelecom first alerted me to the Cradlepoint as the right solution for capturing and streaming video over US CDMA networks.

The deal is good news for Cradlepoint and good news for Sierra Wireless who now face stiff competition from Qualcomm’s Gobi in the embedded mobile broadband connectivity market. Cradlepoint is well positioned to continue innovating with SWIP’s resources and SWIR expands it’s product suite.

When asked about continued support of USB modems which compete with SWIR like the Novatel I own, Gary Oliverio, vp of marketing, said,

Our mission is to make sure we support as many handsets and modems as we can…we’ll be the Mobile Broadband Router division of SWIR, and will remain intact as an organization. Of course, we’ll continue to innovate with new clever products, features, and ideas!

The current list of supported cards and devices is as follows.

Compatible Cards

  • Sprint: Novatel U727, Novatel U720, Sierra 595U, Franklin CDU-550, Franklin CDU-680 & EX720-with adapter
  • Verizon: Pantech UM150, Novatel 720U, Sierra 595U & V740-with adapter
  • AT&T: AT&T USBConnect 881, Sierra AirCard 881U & Option GT Max 3.6 Express (with adapter)

Compatible Phones

  • Sprint: LG Musiq,Motorola RAZR V3c, Motorola RAZR2, Motorola Q (Not Q9c), Palm 700w, Palm 700p, Palm 755p, RIM Blackberry 8703e, RIM Blackberry 8830, Samsung A920, Samsung i830, Sanyo Katana 2, Sanyo M1
  • Verizon: LG VX7200, LG VX8000, Motorola RAZR V3c, Palm 700p, RIM Blackberry 8703e
  • AT&T: Motorola RAZR v3xx, Motorola Q v9h, Samsung SGH-A707, Samsung Blackjack

The PHS-300 was the perfect solution for increasing upload speeds by using the EVDO Rev A network and enhances the quality of streamed video as I produced during CTIA last week. The last remaining piece to the puzzle is use of an external mic. This solution is being addressed by Nokia and I’m hoping to report on it very soon.

Check out the press release for the details – Sierra Wireless Announces Acquisition of Cradlepoint, Inc. (pdf)

CTIA 2008 with Social Media Sizzle

Published by:

In less than a week, CTIA 2008 kicks off in Las Vegas. The conference is self-proclaimed as the largest wireless conference in the world. Some might argue that “the conference formally known as 3GSM” is bigger. I’m not sure. What I can say for sure is that the big boys from the wireless industry are getting together in the desert, and this uptight overly formalized event needs a big dose of Social Media.

CTIA is an organization primarily representing the America’s carriers by a bevy of lobbyists and lawyers. It isn’t the free wheeling environment of SXSW, and certainly not the event where social media practitioners preach to the converted. All of which I believe makes it the idea event to go all out with social media and indy production. So, next week in Las Vegas Bena Roberts, founder and chief editor of the awesome blog GoMo News and I, as the newly appointed US Editor for GoMo will bring a compelling social media experience to the conference.

We kick off with an invitation only party Sunday night, March 30th at the Hard Rock Cafe to unveil our mobile video broadcast studio. An RV brightly marked will cruise up to the Las Vegas Conference Center and pick up our interviewees who will be whisked away from the saturated towers serving the CC. We’ll set up to stream from the RV and go live with a variety of pioneering people and innovative companies along side the big brands that fuel mobile content and services.

Watch GoMo News for all the up to date information on where and how to watch the broadcasts. The Sprint EDVO Rev. A network with it’s 1.8MB upload capability will provide the bandwidth we need and a couple of Nokia N95s will be the video capture devices. How are we using N95s on a CDMA network? I’ll reveal that during the week. In addition, Flixwagon is a sponsor of GoMo News on Wheels! and will be used as the service to stream from the device, store the videos and alert Twitterfollowers or Flixwagon fans that a new video is LIVE.

The interviews and product demos are designed to be informative and conversational. Our audience will be invited to join in with their own questions through chat during the broadcast. We want to encourage respectful participation and exchange. Ask your own questions, and I’ll pass along as many as I can. As a preview, Tuesday, April 1st between 9:15 and 9:30 AM I’m interviewing Louis Libin, who serves as Chairman, Political Conventions Communications Committee. The Committee is responsible for coordinating all the wireless users for the Democratic and Republican Presidentials Conventions and events surrounding the conventions. The users include the broadcasters, Law Enforcement, the organizing committees and others.

We start March 30th approximately 9PM Mountain Daylight Time, MDT, (GMT -7). See you there.

We are grateful to GoMo News on Wheels! sponsors: Flixwagon, mPulse, MCN, and Smaato. And to the GoMo News Blender sponsor JumpTap.

Eric Schmidt confirms Google 700 MHz bid

Published by:

While speaking at The Progress and Freedom Foundation Aspen Summit on August 21, 2007, Eric Schmidt states that Google plans to make good on their 700 MHz bid of 4.6 Billion with a caveat. He explains that the FCC’s final language will be “important.” The principles that the FCC embraced need to be reflected in the actual rules when they are published. At about 30 minutes, you’ll hear the confirmation. In addition, Schmidt seems to indicate Google is collaborating with others on their bid.


He also explains the power of the same features highlighted by John Stratton, CMO of Verizon Wireless that the combination of phone, camera, data network and GPS makes the advertising delivered to mobile subscribers enormously valuable.

Nokia votes “No Confidence” in their US marketing team

Published by:

Nokia launched the newest edition to it’s N Series lineup, the N95, for European 3G networks last year. A non 3G device also called the N95 was available in the US and much tauted during theiPhone launch as an answer to Apple’s ground breaking mobile device. Many Nokia fanboys and fangirls explained how the N95 was superior including it’s 3G speed. And similar statements were made by Nokian’s themselves. The truth is that the N95 as presented in the US also worked on the slower Edge data network. Now, the FCC has approved a variant of Nokia’s N95 which will work on ATT’s US 3G HSDPA network with a clever new name, N95-3. The launch party is set, but there will be no lines of eager enthusiasts as was witnessed with the iPhone, because the launch of this new US market device will occur in London.

It’s unclear why Nokia would not launch this device from a US city. They have Flagship stores in New York and Chicago where a launch event could be staged. Apparently, they feel that a launch in London will receive more attention. For that to be true, Nokia must also believe that their US marketing team (they do have one right?) isn’t up to the job. Ouch! Of course, Nokia doesn’t have much success to point to in the US market as they’ve missed every major trend for handsets here. Nokia has the growing reputation of not listening to the market, but who can argue with their 35% global market share?

History of Nokia Failures in the US Market

Clamshell Design

It has been very clear since the mid 1990s with the popularity of the Motorola StarTac that US consumers are in love with the clamshell form factor. I owned one. And who didn’t recognize the StarTac influence on Motorola’s more recent phenom phone, the Razr. Nokia’s response to the StarTac was belligerent with their CEO proclaiming that the candy bar form was superior and Nokia would never make clamshells. Their response to the Razr on the other hand was the N76. It comes very late as the Razr craze has ended and somehow Nokia known for utilitarian design managed to make a Razr look clunky.

Motorola StarTacMotorola Razr Nokia N73 mobile phone

QWERTY Keyboard

Another trend in the US market has been the desire for QWERTY thumb keyboards used to compose email, and driven in large part by the success of Blackberry. Nokia avoided QWERTY in favor of the phone dialpad keys despite the success of Blackberry and Treo which dominated the early US smartphone market. Only recently has Nokia acquiesced on this feature with the E62, a stripped down version of the E61i.

3G on US Frequencies

Nokia’s N95 debuted in Europe early 2007, and it looks as though they plan to make the US holiday season with a US 3G HSPDA model of the N95. The issue here is that 3G frequencies in the US and Europe are different. In Europe, 3G operates at 2100 MHz and in the US the frequenices are (ATT) 1900, 950 and (T-mobile) 1700 MHz. So a 3G phone isn’t a 3G phone everywhere. The fact that the promise of WCDMA was suppose to be global interoperability apparently died a cruel death on the sword of competitive advantage. But that’s a story for another time. The bottom line is that Nokia releases phones on European frequencies about a year before they appear in the US market.

Incoming CEO OPK declarations

Despite Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo’s declarations during his initial press conferences in 2006, as the new CEO of Nokia, results haven’t demonstrated Nokia’s focus on the US market. In fact, Nokia handset sales in North America from Q1 2006 to Q1 2007 fell by 50%. This also the period during which Nokia exited it’s CDMA handset business.

CDMA Devices

One reality of the US market is the coexistence of two network technologies, GSM and CDMA. CDMA networks used by Verizon Wireless and Sprint were the first to market with 3G speed and services. Nokia has an institutional dysfunction with the implications of serving CDMA carriers. First, their abhorrence with customizing devices per operator requirements, and second, their long-standing licensing war with Qualcomm. This dysfunction caused Nokia to exit the partnership they built with Sharp to deliver CDMA devices for the US

Some have suggested that Nokia’s abandoning the higher margin US CDMA market for low margin entry handsets in India and China was a serious miscalculation. But as I’ve said, the dysfunction on this point is institutional. A member of S60’s marketing team explained about two weeks ago that the narrative inside Nokia for the US market goes something like this: We have 800 million customers outside the US and only 4 customers inside the US.

Obviously, this isn’t a true statement. There are many European Nokia devices that are imported to the US, along with newly enabled direct sales, new channels forming like, and of course, the 4 referenced by the narrative, the US wireless carriers. However, trapped inside their narrative, Nokia does not appear able to evaluate the US market objectively. Perhaps Nokia should just fold up tents and exit.

iPhone Launch

The iPhone is listed as a Nokia failure in the US market, because given the long advance notice and the media buildup to Apple’s iPhone launch, Nokia marketing in the US fell flat. There was no competitive response that has registered here from the company. The best competitive response has come from the Nokia enthusiast blogosphere. Even the blogosphere missed the mark.

A feature by feature comparison of the N95 to the iPhone is nonsense. There was much made of the iPhone’s lack of 3G support which – I love irony – is astonishing given the US version of the N95 was also not 3G. And contrary to many reports from Europe, the US has a number of 3G devices. It’s just that they aren’t made by Nokia.

Given all these failures in the US market, and the focus of Nokia on the N95 as their competitive response to the iPhone, why isn’t the US 3G HSDPA version launched from a US city?

Apparently, Nokia has scheduled it’s annual Launch Event, and it’s in London on August 29th. The Launch website is intentionally cryptic and game like – hint, hint. So whether it’s convenience or tradition or short-sightedness, check the tubes in two days for the story on what Nokia reveals. Even, a simul-launch, events in both London and New York, would have been a good idea. Nokia does have a US marketing team, don’t they? It’s truly difficult to tell.

What was new at BREW 2007: into the new

Published by:

The BREW Conference is traditionally focused on developers. Past events brought together operators, handset makers and developers working with Qualcomm’s BREW platform for the delivery of content, namely games and other applications. There were several new aspects to the conference in 2007 that distinquish it from previous years. A clear signal of the change in the conference and for BREW, itself, was the choice of Keynote speakers, notably H3 and Time Warner Music.

BREW and GSM Operators

The addition of GSM operators this year was a first for the conference. You might wonder what the attraction for a GSM operator would be in a platform designed to deliver applications to CDMA subscribers. The answer is found in Qualcomm’s move 18 months ago to break BREW into three components: UiOne, DeliveryOne, and QPoint.

UiOne has been deployed by O2, Telecom Italia and apparently there is a deal in the works between Qualcomm and Three for use of the platform (no official announcement, yet). In Europe, the UI is determined and controlled by the handset manufacturers, but UiOne places that critical aspect of the user experience back into the operator’s domain. UiOne allows for customization through theme development as illustrated by Alltel Wireless’ Celltop application. The availability of the scripting language TrigML from UiOne’s SDK makes the UI extensible. Third party theme development, enhanced discovery and web services delivery are simplified which is very attractive to operators regardless of their underlying network technologies.

Welcome Media/Content Providers

Also, a new addition to the conference this year was the participation of media companies like keynote presenter Time Warner Music (TWM). This is foreshadowing to the future of BREW plus MediaFLO. A number of other media companies were present as attendees changing the BREW audience and definitely the conference session lineup with broader coverage than in past years. The BREW Conference has been technology centric, but with the expansion of participants new topics arose focused on solutions over technology and seamless user experience as the path to monetization.