Posted on October 4, 2012
Background. Recently the Wall Street Journal reported consumers are increasing complaining that phone and tablet wireless Internet fees are causing a reduction in discretionary household spending elsewhere. Even 37% of presumably well-heeled Journal readers replied to an online poll confirming monthly mobile data bills are forcing them to sacrifice other items in the household budget. The problem is particularly acute for families with children where membership plans can easily reach $300 monthly.
The two dominant carriers, Verizon and AT&T, readily concede they expect monthly bills to climb steadily higher as they adopt metered bandwidth rates. As long as wireless traffic congestion is managed by granting exclusive frequency allocations in a manner originated a century ago, carrier executives can smile at the future like a roomful of bankers fondling TARP bailout money. Yet escalating Wireless Internet access fees will not only be more costly for consumers, they also damage future growth opportunities for powerful companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Read more…
Posted on June 19, 2012
Last week’s pricing adjustment by Verizon Wireless was a significant event. Presumably as the service provider intended, most news reports were tangled explanations of the complex family-plan pricing. They failed to stress that the plan obfuscates a major increase in the cost of Wireless Internet access. The event’s true meaning might be best explained by analogy to astronomy as “Verizon’s Event Horizon.”
The boundary between a Black Hole and the rest of the universe is the “event horizon.” Nothing can cross it; not even light. Any event occurring inside a Black Hole cannot be viewed by the rest us.
Similarly, if people could live inside a Black Hole they would never see anything on the far side of the event horizon. They wouldn’t realize there’s a much larger universe beyond the boundary. If they looked at objects inside the Hole that are approaching the edge, the light spectrum of such objects would increasingly shift toward the red. Instead of comprehending that gravitational pull is causing the red shift, they would reason that “their” universe is infinitely expanding – much like the child actor who portrayed Woody Allen as a perplexed youngster in Annie Hall. Read more…
Posted on May 30, 2012
Last week a Presidential Panel urged a radical shift in spectrum management principles toward White Spaces as a means of relieving increasing traffic congestion resulting from the century-old method of exclusive frequency licenses. Inside Digital Media subscribers realize we’ve been advocating just such a change for over a year. Among the report authors for President Obama are (1) Google’s Board Chairman, Eric Schmidt (2) Microsoft’s Research & Strategy Officer, Craig Mundie, (3) Hummer Winblad Partner, Mark Gorenberg and (4) U.S. Venture Partners partner and New York Times Board Member, David E. Liddle.
Essentially the report advises the President to authorize – or even require that – those government agencies with lightly used dedicated frequency bands enable commercial users to access such channels when not in use. Future smartphones could be equipped with frequency agile transceivers capable of accessing vacant channels in authorized bands when they’re momentarily free of traffic. It’s the same principle underlying TV Band White Spaces. The entire process is transparent to the user and accomplished on-the-fly by embedded electronic intelligence cooperating between hand-held smartphones and base stations. Read more…
Posted on April 3, 2012
Wireless Internet Service Providers held their semi-annual conference in Orlando last week. A number of important industry-specific developments were announced and one was coincident.
1. Last Friday Towerstream (Ticker:TWER) filed a Form 8-K with the Securities & Exchange Commission disclosing it “signed a Wi-Fi agreement with a national wireless carrier (for) utilizing our current and future rooftop assets.” During the past two weeks the stock moved from $2.75 a share to $5.15 this morning (April 3rd).
Presently the company has an extensive WiFi network in Manhattan designed to help cellular carriers and other potential clients offload wireless Internet traffic. The purpose is to avoid customer frustration with congestion on cellular networks. Towerstream’s Manhattan footprint has about 1,500 access points. Based upon the 8-K language, the company evidently will be building similar networks in other cities, or at least making its antenna locations available to others for a fee. Read more…
Posted on March 26, 2012
A little under a year ago, we posted four reasons why Apple may decide to become a Wireless Internet Service Provider. Presently, we conclude that if Apple doesn’t do it, one or more of the other Internet-dependent giants shall, by the year 2020. Companies like Apple, Amazon, Google (YouTube), FaceBook, and Microsoft cannot permit their futures to be controlled by today’s dominant wireless carriers. Increasingly, their growth will be throttled as cellular carriers expand bandwidth-metered pricing.
The new competitors shall use (1) licensed and licensed-exempt frequencies in combination with (2) cognitive white space manipulation as a new incremental paradigm for efficient bandwidth allocation. Licensed channels may be purchased from current holders of lightly-used spectrum. One example could be Clearwire. Assuming government approval is denied, the channels Verizon is trying to buy from the Cable TV industry might be a second example. Read more…
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 December 15, 2011
Today’s podcast is a thirty minute audio interview with Rory Conaway who is the CEO of Triad Wireless Engineering. He is also the author of a constantly growing online book entitled Tales From the Tower which is an excellent source on The Wireless Internet.
Triad is a radio engineering consultancy with two basic services. One is to help equipment vendors and wireless operators bid for, and build, economical wireless communications systems, typically not involving cellular carriers. A second function is to advise equipment vendors on future designs.
Rory believes that unlicensed Wi-Fi networks are poised to handle a considerably larger-than-historical share of Internet traffic for four reasons.
Posted on December 13, 2011
As noted five years ago in this Inside Digital Media video podcast, the device is more accurately labeled a “teleputer”. (The podcast is so old it was done in Windows Media Video). George Gilder originated the concept about twenty years ago when he envisioned a hand-held unit providing convenient wireless access to a global computer network. It was kind-of the evolutionary destination implied by a popular computer industry slogan at the time, to wit, “the network is the computer.”
Each day Gilder’s concept becomes increasingly obvious to a growing proportion of iPhone users. Today everyone realizes telephone conversations are only one of many useful iPhone functions. More significantly, iPhone users are progressively learning that computer applications are becoming the unit’s raison d’etre. In short, the phone’s digital capabilities such as photography, geo-location, audio & video playback, and especially Internet access, are the defining characteristics. Applications like Skype and FaceTime portend an era when cellular telephony per se, becomes irrelevant to iPhone owners. Read more…