Archive for December, 2006

Fun Holiday Stuff

Sunday, December 31st, 2006

The “5 things” meme was fine and dandy, but if you want to really know about me…

What Veggie Tales character are you?


Bob
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What American accent do you have?

Your Result: The Midland

“You have a Midland accent” is just another way of saying “you don’t have an accent.” You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

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The South
The Inland North
Boston
The Northeast
North Central
Philadelphia
What American accent do you have?
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What Kind of Reader Are You?

Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You’re probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people’s grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
Non-Reader
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You are 70% Okie’

Dang, youre pretty Oklahoman. You definetily border this state Your’e probly Texas or Kansas. Don’t worry, property is cheap so you can move here with relative ease.

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Top Ten Mobility Stories of 2006

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

Over the past three weeks, we’ve counted down the top ten mobility stories of the year. Here they are summarized in one place for your easy reference.

Disappointments:

#10: 802.20 Standards

There was a lot of discussion this year about the 802.20 standards, making it a big story for 2006. Unfortunately, there still aren’t any standards. As I discussed in June, the main reason is politics.

#9: The (Apple) iPhone

As the year draws to a close, rumors once again abound of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) bringing an iPhone to market. The latest guesstimates are that the phone will be launched in the first half of 2007.

#8: Origami/UMPC

In March of this year, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) formally announced a new class of computing device, the Ultra Mobile Personal Computer (UMPC). The formal announcement followed weeks of intense buzz marketing using the product’s “secret” code name of Origami. And then folks figured out that the UMPC wasn’t nearly as revolutionary as everyone had hoped.

#7: .mobi

Get this. A company is formed whose investors include Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), Google (ASDAQ:GOOG), GSM Association, Hutchison (HKG:0013), Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Nokia (NYSE:NOK), Orascom Telecom (CAI:ORTE), Samsung Electronics (SEO:005930), Syniverse (NYSE:SVR), T-Mobile (NYSE:DT), Telefónica Móviles (NYSE:TEF), TIM (NYSE:TI) and Vodafone (NYSE:VOD). This company’s goal is to provide “the critical link between the mobile operator, Internet services and the users to make their mobile devices the Internet and communication tool of choice.” Seems like this company, with it’s investors, would understand the space and be able to make a real impact towards that goal.

#6: 3’s X-Series

In November, 3, the global mobile operator, announced what was perceived to be a radical new approach to mobile services. But none of this is as revolutionary as some of the capabilities that are starting to appear that really leverage the context of the mobile user in ways that have been impossible in the pre-mobile Internet era. What 3’s X-series represents is “just” the Internet taken mobile. What context-relevance represents is the full mobility revolution.

Disruptions:

#5: Mobile Revenue Passes Wireline

According to Philip Redman, research vice president at Gartner Inc., service revenues from wireless services will exceed those from fixed lines by the end of this year. Gartner estimates that 3 billion of the world’s 6.5 billion people will be mobilites by 2010. What makes this truly amazing is that less than 10% of the world’s population has ever made a telephone call, and now, within just a few years, nearly half will be mobile users.

#4: Motorola Inc., QUALCOMM Inc., and Nokia Corporation Acquisitions

This was a banner year of big acquisitions by major mobility technology vendors, demonstrating that several aspects of the mobility revolution are reaching critical periods of growth and maturity.

#3: Sprint/Cable JV Launches

With better technology, more attractive offers, and positive momentum on all fronts, all the Cable/Sprint (NYSE: S) partnership has to fear is irrational price wars from the Big Bells (unfortunately we’ve seen it before). Keep an eye on this one. Things could get very interesting!

#2: AWS Auction

The AWS auction could usher in a competitive environment for multi-megabit mobile bandwidth at a price point that encourages broad adoption and that truly drives towards broadbandwidth being built into every electronic product (just as microprocessors have been built into everything).

#1: Sprint Announces WiMax Network

Sprint Nextel Corp.’s (NYSE: S) announcement isn’t about just another wireless telecom network. It’s about unleashing the Mobility Revolution. It’s about building a nationwide network that’s fast enough to support virtually any application, that has enough spectrum to support broad market adoption, and that’s cost effective enough to build into virtually every product that today has a microprocessor built in.

The #1 Biggest Story of 2006: Sprint Announces WiMax Network

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

On Thursday, I claimed that this year’s AWS auction was “big news” because it promises, within a few years time, the potential for multi-megabit mobile services at an attractive price point. I mentioned that several large carriers had gained 10MHz or 20MHz blocks of spectrum representing 2 – 5 GHz-MPops each. The only bad news was that it would likely take years for these carriers to clear the spectrum and start building the networks to launch meaningful services.

Therefore, my #1 big news story for 2006 is that such a network is already being built!

In August, Sprint (NYSE: S) (obvious disclosure: Sprint is my employer) announced that it was building a nationwide WiMax network using its spectrum in the 2.5GHz BRS band. The network will be operational in the first markets by year end 2007 with full commercial launch in 2008 and will have 100M Pops covered by year end 2008.

How big of an impact can this new network have? Sprint typically has several times as much BRS spectrum in each of its markets as the 10-20MHz the AWS bidders won, and Sprint’s total nationwide BRS footprint is also a multiple of the GHz-MPops spectrum holdings gained by any of the AWS winners. Sprint has had this spectrum for years and has already been working to clear it.

Telecom consultant Derek Kerton put it this way in a recent InfoWorld article, “”The Sprint announcement is the coolest and wildest and most risky gambit we’ve seen in the wireless industry in quite some time. They said,’We have an asset that nobody else has, and if we’re successful, we’ll have a sustainable advantage that nobody can match for years to come.”

Some have estimated that WiMax costs as little as one-tenth the cost to deliver of current 3G technologies, and the chipsets are expected to be close in cost to the WiFi chipsets that are now being built into a wide array of consumer electronics products. One of the biggest supporters of WiMax is Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) and Intel participated with Sprint in the August announcement, promising to promote the integration of WiMax into many products.

And that’s what makes this story so exciting.

Sprint’s WiMax announcement isn’t about just another wireless telecom network. It’s about unleashing the Mobility Revolution. It’s about building a nationwide network that’s fast enough to support virtually any application, that has enough spectrum to support broad market adoption, and that’s cost effective enough to build into virtually every product that today has a microprocessor built in.

Why should your PC be tied to a fixed DSL modem when WiMax will be mobile and will deliver more bandwidth? Why should your iPod be tethered to your PC when WiMax will be mobile and will be as fast as your USB cable? Why should your car have a DVD player when WiMax can stream videos and provide an infinite virtual library of mobile video choices? Why should your backpack carry ten books, when your eBook will likely have the bandwidth to access the entire Library of Congress over a WiMax connection?

Add on to the incredible power of WiMax price-performance the mobility benefits of contextual relevance, and suddenly the way we interact with the world around us will radically change. What we see, what we hear, what we read, and what we do will all become dramatically more relevant because our mobile devices will know where we are, who we’re with, what’s on our calendar, what the weather is like, how the traffic is, and perhaps our heart rate, skin temperature, blood pressure, and who knows what else we will choose to give our mobile devices access to.

Welcome to the revolution. Power Up!

Recent Research: December 2006

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Research is good. Free highlights from expensive research reports are great. Here are some recent headlines:

Blog Tagged

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Raimo at ThinkMobile blog tagged me a couple of days ago.  Being the crazy holiday season, I just now noticed.  Raimo’s list inspired my first two points below.

So, here are five things you don’t know about me:

1. I worked one summer in Finland, but not for Nokia.

2. My middle name is Spaid.  I was named after my grandfather, Carl Spaid, who happened to be a President of United Telephone in the 1940s.

3. I competed in four events in the British Universities Athletics Championships one year.  (And even scored for my university in a very unlikely event!)

4. Two of the schools I attended were burnt down by arsonists (and they were NOT in a high crime area).

5. I briefly served as “technology editor” for Success Magazine.

Tag you’re it: Mauricio Freitas, Mike Bates, Padmasree Warrior, Sean Boisen, and Oliver Starr

 

 

#2: Biggest Stories of 2006: AWS auction

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

FCC Logo - Return to the FCC Home PageBetween August 9 and September 18, the FCC held “Auction 66” for a total of 90MHz of Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum in the 1.7GHz and 2.1GHz bands. One-hundred and four bidders won 1087 licenses raising over $13 billion for the U.S. treasury.

The biggest dollar bidder was T-Mobile, spending $4.2B for a nationwide footprint it has announced it will use to finally roll-out 3G services. Two other big winners, MetroPCS and Leap Wireless, are likely to use their newly won spectrum for fairly traditional services – expanding their disruptively-priced voice services into new territories. T-Mobile, MetroPCS, and Leap may all increase competitive pressure in already competitive markets.

But, the real opportunity lies in new data services using new technologies. Verizon Wireless, Cingular, and SpectrumCo (Sprint, Comcast, and other cable partners) (obvious disclosure: Sprint is my employer) all were big winners who didn’t have immediate voice or 3G data needs and could be eyeing fourth generation technologies, such as WiMax for their new airwaves.

To get a sense of the potential market impact of these players, Verizon Wireless picked up 3.8GHz-MPops (Gigahertz x Million POPs covered), Cingular picked up 2.4GHz-MPops, and SpectrumCo 5.3GHz-MPops. Since the AWS auction was in blocks of 10-20MHz, this represents lots of people covered with 10-20MHz for each of these carriers. The actual performance and cost associated with building a network using this spectrum will vary dramatically depending on the technology chosen. However, it is quite feasible that this spectrum could be used by any of these carriers to deliver multi-megabit connectivity speeds at a fraction of the cost per bit of today’s 3G networks.

In other words, the AWS auction could usher in a competitive environment for multi-megabit mobile bandwidth at a price point that encourages broad adoption and that truly drives towards broadbandwidth being built into every electronic product (just as microprocessors have been built into everything).

This is “big news” and it’s exciting news.

But… Don’t expect this competitive market to develop overnight. The spectrum that was auctioned has been used for many years for other applications (mostly government). Before the winning carriers can build their new networks using this spectrum they will need to work with the current users to “clear the spectrum” – moving the existing applications off to some other solution. This can easily take years to complete (especially when government entities are involved).

That doesn’t make this event any less exciting! If we could only achieve those benefits faster…

Business Models: December 2006

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

As the Mobility Era matures, obviously a key question will be “how to make money?”. There are plenty of opinions on the best answer to this question. The below is very inclusive and I provide no editorial functions, so don’t take from my selections, ordering, headlines, etc. any indications of the interests or plans of my employer (if you do, you’ll undoubtedly be disappointed when they don’t play out):

#3: Biggest Stories of 2006: Sprint-Cable JV launches

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

The battle lines are forming.

One school of thought says that most consumers will end up buying their communications and entertainment in a bundle from one company. This belief apparently is spurring the $ multi-billion buildouts of fiber to the neighborhood or home by Verizon, AT&T, and BellSouth. Without these assets, the Big Bells struggle to compete with the Cable companies in delivering both very high speed Internet (above DSL speeds) and a package of television services.

Of course, the cable companies haven’t always been an obvious threat to the Big Bells’ monopoly positions. Over the past 10 years, $billions have been spent by the cable companies to upgrade their plant to support digital television services to compete effectively against the direct-to-home satellite companies and to support two-way high-speed (very high speed) Internet services. Those upgrades also positioned them well to offer “digital voice” services – local and long distance telephone service (directly positioned against the Big Bells’ cash cow) using Voice over IP technology. And, those efforts have been very successful; Cable established a strong lead over the Big Bells in broadband Internet that only price wars have been able to erode, and the Cable Cos. are rapidly taking share in telephone service.

But, the one area where the Big Bells have a clear, almost insurmountable lead, is in mobile services. In case you haven’t figured it out, in my opinion, mobility is a big deal. In fact, I’d argue that we’re entering an era where the value of mobility (driven by availability and contextual relevance) trumps the value of more commodity bandwidth and HD channel lineups anyday.

So, it was real news and big news at the end of 2005 when the Cable companies, with the stroke of a pen, eliminated their mobile deficiency through a partnership with Sprint (obvious disclosure: Sprint is my employer). Sprint similarly sees the Big Bells as an entrenched enemy. Sprint is #3 in wireless voice services behind Verizon’s Verizon Wireless division and AT&T and BellSouth’s Cingular joint venture. Sprint is also #3 in business long distance IP services behind AT&T and Verizon Business (formerly MCI). But unlike the Big Bells, Sprint lacks wires into the home (or most businesses) to offer the full bundle that many believe will drive consumer decisions moving forward. The partnership between Sprint and the big Cable companies is a natural matching of strength with strength to neutralize a mutual competitor’s advantage.

It was even bigger and more real news when word started leaking out this November, that those Cable companies had actually started offering wireless as part of a quadruple play. So, as the Big Bells spend years and $billions to perform huge market-by-market infrastructure upgrades, the Cable companies can pick and choose in which markets they want to launch some promotions, some catchy ads, and start taking share from the Big Bells in yet another of their core areas.

With better technology, more attractive offers, and positive momentum on all fronts, all the Cable/Sprint partnership has to fear is irrational price wars from the Big Bells (unfortunately we’ve seen it before). Keep an eye on this one. Things could get very interesting!

Big Bell Dogma: December 2006

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

As we work to build mobility into every product, service, and process, our greatest inhibitor is the mindset represented by those who defend the tethering of products and processes to specific places. This mindset is fueled by the investments that have been made that establish power in the companies, departments, and individuals that stand in the way of mobilizing our lives and our businesses. These investments are not always in hard assets, but often are investments of time and experience to establish intellectual and relational assets. We should expect our assault on these “fixed” ways to be defended to the death. Here are recent examples:

Complete list here.

(For more context, read the Mobile Declaration of Independence.)

Merry Mobile Christmas

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

My family happily endures my gadget fascination and even makes it easy for me to “influence” their gift selections. (So, don’t blame them that you now have to put up with my raving over cool new goodies…) Here’s a sampling of my favorite mobility-revolution-influenced gifts:

5-day Wireless Weather Forecaster This product is awesome. Unlike the Microsoft SPOT watch, which tries to do too much with a challenging user interface, this single purpose device using Ambient technology is very well designed. Right out of the box, the product figures out where it is and displays the appropriate time and weather forecast (although you can easily select other nearby cities). Although it is small (about 5″ x 5″ and very thin), it is very easy to read. Although it’s designed for stationary use, it’s small size and battery power also make it well suited to portability or mobility. I love products with bandwidth built in, and this one accomplishes it very well.

Casio Atomic Waveceptor Watch Now that you know that I love products with bandwidth built in, you’re probably not surprised that, over the years, I’ve tended to collect “atomic watches” – those wrist timepieces that get a signal from the official atomic clock in Ft. Collins, Colorado to stay accurate forever. Well, another thing to know about me is that I love a bargain, so I’m a regular at woot.com. So, what better combination than an atomic watch at a bargain price from the latest woot-off?

Cellular Docking Station As much as I love my mobile phone, sometimes, holding a good old, full sized handset up to my head just seems to feel more natural. And sure, my cellphone has a speakerphone capability built in, but I don’t think I’d really use it in a meeting setting. Enter the Cellular Docking Station. Mine was ordered from AJPrindle.com, and that hasn’t been the most pain-free experience (no manual, wrong cables, no response to customer service e-mails, etc.) so I’m hoping folks can find a better source, but I do like the capabilities, and so far the performance has been up to expectations (no this won’t improve your coverage or call quality…). So, I’ll chalk it up as another win for my family in the cool gift category!

Mini Digicolor Binary Although technically not mobility-centric, a good understanding of the binary number system never hurt anybody. And since I’m also a fan of puzzles, this fun game was also a hit. (BTW – Steve Spangler is another favorite website. If you know anyone that loves science, this is the place to find really cool gifts!)

I look forward to hearing about all of your cool mobility gifts! (My birthday’s not that far away, so I’m looking for hints to drop…)