Posted on January 6, 2012
Today’s sixteen minute audio interview is with William Koos, Jr. who is the Chief Executive Officer of KTS Wireless. For the past 30 years his company has been a specialty-maker of high performance radios for both military and commercial markets. Presently, KTS produces the only TV Band White Space transceiver certified by the Federal Communications Commission.
“Billy” discusses the earlier trials that KTS did with White Spaces under experimental licenses. He also shares his thoughts regarding how the White Spaces market will evolve in both the United States and abroad.
One of his conclusions is that municipal Wi-Fi markets will benefit considerably from TV Band White Spaces. He reasons that the FCC envisions White Space technology as encompassing the best of both licensed and unlicensed networks. While they will be able to provide the interference protection of licensed networks they simultaneously offer the innovative free-market access characteristic of licensed-exempt networks. Read more…
Posted on November 3, 2011
Driving to the YMCA the morning after Halloween for a workout and to drop-off surplus candy, I pondered goals for the remaining work week. Earlier I read the (almost) daily New York Times “Disunion” article coinciding with the four-year Sesquicentennial of the Civil War. It occurred to me that a 150 year-old bureaucratic ghost is haunting the Federal Communications Commission.
One hundred and fifty years ago next month the United States military took deliveries of its first repeating rifles. Manufactured by the Spencer Repeating Rifle Company of Boston, each seven shot weapon could fire at least three-times as many bullets per minute as the most proficient soldier armed with the standard muzzle-loading weapon.
Nonetheless, until the end of the war more than four years later, Union armies standardized on single shot muzzle-loaders like the Springfield and Enfield. By the end of the war only 65,000 Spencers were issued as compared to over a million muzzle-loaders. It was probably the war’s biggest mistake because it unnecessarily prolonged the fighting. Read more…
Posted on September 20, 2011
Just last month Columbia Business School professor, Jonathan Knee wrote in Atlantic Magazine.
“Netflix…engenders fierce (customer) loyalty…even beating-out reigning champion Apple, among 528 other brands…Most observers expect the company to have over 30 million subscribers by the end of the year. Netflix is the rare aggregator…which (excels) in customer service and (product perfection) by harnessing customer feedback.”
Since Knee’s month-old accolades, Netflix management announced (1) a 50% reduction in projected third quarter subscriber growth, (2) an apology for prompting a million customers to abandon the service in response to price changes, and (3) a formal division of company’s services into (a) streamed video and (b) postal delivered DVDs. Read more…
Posted on June 9, 2011
This past weekend I decided to rent a movie from Amazon-Video-on-Demand. The service is available via my TiVo, which makes it easy to watch the movies on my TV-set instead of a computer. I’ve done it about a dozen times before. Except when it was a new service, the experience has been generally satisfactory.
But, not this last time.
Unfortunately my TiVo simply gave me an error message. So, like most of us, I shrugged my shoulders and repeated the selection process. TiVo threw-up on me a second time.
Frowning, I proceeded to TiVo’s troubleshooting instructions which suggested I check “Network and Settings”. After a few button-clicks, I learned that TiVo was receiving a “marginal” (35%) Wi-Fi signal from the router in my home office in the adjacent room. My current TiVo uses Wi-Fi to access the Internet to keep its program guide up-to-date and fetch movies from Amazon-Video-on-Demand. Older models typically used dial-up telephone lines which makes the Amazon service problematic. Read more…
Posted on May 11, 2011
Over two years ago we posted a video showing how to connect laptop computers to TVs thereby enabling users to watch Internet Videos on the big screen. Now a number of “connected” appliances ranging from Blu-ray players to new model television sets get more publicity. But since they only enable limited over-the-top viewing, the computer-to-TV connection probably remains the most popular configuration because it imposes no restrictions.
Nonetheless, nearly all rely on home Wi-Fi networks to transport Internet Video from the router to the “connected” appliance. And therein lies the rub, as documented by a Media Post article last week. The journalist complains that Wi-Fi is simply unreliable. As he puts it, “The vagaries of Wi-Fi are a blind spot for over-the-top video…I suspect that millions of families…struggle with this…I stopped counting how many times my…AppleTV, Roku, or GoogleTV boxes seize-up as they wait for the stream to catch-up.” Read more…
Posted on April 25, 2011
Last Friday’s (4/22/2011) New York Times features another article disclosing the increasingly bitter clash between TV broadcasters and the cellular telephone industry.
Smartphone and tablet computer users increasingly complain of dropped calls, maps loading too slowly, and frustrating “Cannot Open Page” messages. Not only are smartphones proliferating into the mainstream, but owners are using Internet features much more often. Furthermore, tablet computers such as the iPad are at an earlier stage of a similar growth trajectory. Their bigger screens are certain to intensify Wireless Internet bandwidth demands.
Consequently, the cellular telephone industry is pressuring the FCC make 120 MHz of TV band spectrum available, preferably in the top end where smaller antennas operate efficiently. In response the Commission Chairman advocates an initiative permitting TV stations to voluntarily offer their channel spectrum for sale in government auction. Participating stations would share auction proceeds but could continue over-the-air broadcasts by leasing spectrum from stations withholding bandwidth. The 2009 shift to digital broadcasting technically enables such sharing in a manner undetectable by casual TV viewers. The FCC has also proposed spectrum fees on broadcasters, which historically received their licenses at no charge. Read more…
Posted on April 19, 2011
Increasingly owners of smartphones, laptops, and tablet computers want the ability to stay constantly connected to the Internet. The desire particularly applies to device owners using them for work because the units are essential tools for earning a living. Ideally, they want an ever-present electromagnetic-field encircling the globe, tuned to their radios and antennas. Furthermore, they seek to avoid a disparity of log-ins and billing statements, instead preferring that field access be spontaneous and that support be available from a single vendor.
One company attempting to provide such a unifying service is Silicon Valley based iPass whose revenues approximate $160 million annually. It has achieved mixed success partly because it is difficult to assemble enough disparate Wi-Fi hot spots and other networks to adequately cover enough places where mobile workers are likely to roam. Read more…
Posted on April 14, 2011
Earlier this week (April 12th) the House Subcommittee on Communications held hearings about a FCC proposal to permit local TV stations to auction-off part of their spectrum and share the proceeds with the Federal Government. Generally, broadcasters oppose the initiative while nearly everyone else favors it.
An Intel representative went so far as to testify that the auctions should not be voluntary, but mandatory owing to the pressing need for bandwidth in mobile applications. The FCC’s chief of engineering and technology, Julius Knapp, provided supporting data. He predicted 55 million tablet computers will be sold worldwide this year making a $35 billion industry that didn’t even exist two years ago. He similarly noted that online shopping more than doubled to $4 billion in 2010 compared to $1.9 billion in 2009. Knapp predicted a spectrum crunch in which demand will exceed supply by early 2014 if nothing is done. He warned the consequences would be more dropped calls and higher prices for mobile service. Read more…