Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Verizon/FairPoint Just About A Done Deal in ME, VT and NH

Well, it looks like another one of my 2008 predictions has bit the dust and this just a little over three weeks after the Patriots loss in the Super Bowl!

Yesterday, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved the Verizon sale to FairPoint Communications. The New Hampshire PUC voted 2-1 with some attached conditions that include the creation of a trust fund for future retiree's health benefits. According to WMUR in New Hampshire, FairPoint will also be establishing a call center in Littleton and a data center in Manchester and will not be able to move them without state approval. One other condition requires FairPoint to notify the state whenever the companies debt rating is downgraded.

Both Maine and Vermont have already approved the $2.35 billion deal. FairPoint currently services approximately 300,000 phone lines in 18 states and the Verizon deal will add an additional 1.7 million lines. The sale will eliminate $1.7 billion in Verizon debt and provide the company with a $600 million tax write off.

According to WMUR, PUC Commissioner Graham Morrison dissented, saying:

.... he couldn't agree that the settlement can "provide a reasonable basis to conclude that FairPoint will not become insolvent, or otherwise be unable to meet its service commitments. ... I am equally concerned and dismayed that the technology plan offered is not consistent with the state's best interests and need to be a competitive global participant in the business and education market in the coming years.

A FairPoint press release yesterday stated:

FairPoint and Verizon are in the process of reviewing today’s written order for any additional provisions or changes not covered in the previously announced stipulation with the staff of the New Hampshire PUC.

The decision can be appealed by opponents who must request a rehearing within 30 days but to me, it looks like this is a done deal.

Verizon has been installing FiOS is parts of Southern New Hampshire so it will be interesting to see how those customers that have fiber coming into their homes will be handled.

Will these decisions come back to haunt these three states? Time will tell.

Monday, February 25, 2008

FCC Public Discussion at Harvard Today

There is a special public meeting of the Federal Communications Commission at Harvard Law School today. Discussion will focus around Internet users rights to use the bandwidth they are paying for to download and upload as they please versus the carriers rights to limit and control network usage. Both Comcast and Verizon Wireless have been on the hot seat recently with accusations made by different customers. Comcast, in particular, has been accused of controlling traffic by some. In an interview with the Associated Press on Friday, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said "I'm concerned about Comcast limiting the ability of people to go anywhere they want to on the free Internet. and that's what the hearing is about." Comcast has denied allegations.

Verizon Wireless has been in the hot seat for denying an abortion rights group access to its mobile network last September. The group wanted to use the network for a national text messaging campaign. Verizon has recently admitted denying access was a mistake.

Congressman Ed Markey, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, will be attending. On February 13, Markey filed a bill titled The Internet Freedom Preservation Act (H.R. 5353), a bill that would:

.... establish broadband policy and direct the Federal Communications Commission to conduct a proceeding and public broadband summits to assess competition, consumer protection, and consumer choice issues relating to broadband Internet access services, and for other purposes.

Here's a piece from a Markey press release:

The goal of this bipartisan legislation is to assure consumers, content providers, and high tech innovators that the historic, open architecture nature of the Internet will be preserved and fostered. H.R. 5353 is designed to assess and promote Internet freedom for consumers and content providers. Internet freedom generally embodies the notion that consumers and content providers should be free to send, receive, access and use the lawful applications, content, and services of their choice on broadband networks, possess the effective right to attach and use non-harmful devices to use in conjunction with their broadband services, and that content providers not be subjected to unreasonably discriminatory practices by broadband network providers.

And more from the same Markey press release:

The bill tasks the FCC with the job of conducting an assessment of broadband practices and consumer rights. Finally, it requires the FCC to hold eight broadband summits around the nation and to report back to Congress on its findings and any recommendations for further action.

I've written in the past about Markey's commitment in this area and support his efforts.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Make Your iPhone Work Like a Palm Pilot?

The Unofficial Apple Weblog has posted a video showing an iPhone running the Palm OS. The application was created by StyleTap - a Toronto company that's been producing Palm emulators for Windows Mobile devices. According to StyleTap, the software that runs on the iPhone "is NOT a product, nor is its presence here a commitment of any kind, express or implied, that StyleTap Inc. will ever release an official version of StyleTap CrossPlatform for Apple iPhone or iPod touch."

Here's a short video demonstrating the application:

One of my passions is saltwater fishing and one of my all-time favorite Palm applications is Tide Tool - it's great to see it running in the video - I want it for my iPhone!

700 MHz Spectrum Auction Update - Could Next Week be the Last Week?

Bidding round 102 came to a close yesterday afternoon with $19,524,595,900 (last week the auction finished at $19,450,389,100 - it is slowing) in total provisionally winning bids. Things have slowed considerably with only 40 new bids placed in round 102. For reference, on Thursday, each round averaged about 50 new bids.

Most active in the final round yesterday were E-Block licenses in the Bismark, North Dakota and Rapid City, South Dakota areas along with B-Block licenses in the southeastern United States.

The public safety D-Block still has not had a bid since the first round and will end up being re-auctioned by the FCC.

This may end up being the last week (an FCC decision but I'm thinking so). After the auction is closed the FCC will announce the winners.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Kindle, Amazon and Good Customer Service

A buddy, John W. from New York, purchased a Kindle and received it on January 16. John sent along the following email to me on January 17 with his first impressions:

The Kindle came at lunch time yesterday. Usual detritus in the shipping carton - Gevalia coffee maker ad, etc. They even sent me a free demo Schick razor! LOL. Kindle packaged well. Comes in clamshell type white carton that obviously cost some money.

The unit itself is amazing. After charging it up and turning on the wireless, I got full signal and the Kindle auto populated my owner information and downloaded the titles I had pre-purchased. The leather cover gets a bad rap. It is black leather, with a grey suede interior and leather tabs to hold the Kindle in place. It locks a small tab in place on the back to hold it in. People on-line are complaining because it appears flimsy, but if one takes time to read the directions, it works quite well. An elastic strap is attached to hold the cover closed when not in use. One person in one of the forums even fashioned his own replacement from a modified Moleskin reporters notebook. Ahh, creative minds...............

As for the eInk. Wow. It is totally not what you expect and truly looks like paper. Jeff Bezos has mentioned that the Kindle is white because he wants people to forget they are using it while reading and he is right on. I read one short work of fiction last night and I immediately got used to it. The sticking point is the cover, you have to do some jockeying to get comfortable with it.

I used the NowNow service to ask a question. NowNow comes with every Kindle, you can send a question to an actual team of people and get a real answer. Mine came back in like 10 minutes. I asked if there are any keyboard shortcuts for Kindle, and I got 2 messages back with lists. :) Now, that is service!

The only drawback is the time I waited to get it. I ordered 12/5 and got 1/16. I hear that the eInk displays are in short supply, therefore limiting Amazon. Well, anyway, I guess that is a good thing.

I truly love this device.
I will send you more thoughts as I play with it.....

Overall a pretty good first impression by John. Last night (February 19) he sent me another update:

I have been working 10-11 hr days. Let me tell you how much I love my Kindle. I have a second one waiting at home for me now. My first unit developed a thin line (width of a hair) on the e-ink display when I page forward, so Amazon sent me a new one to replace it. Now, that is customer service! You go on their help page and click on "Call me back ..... really!", enter your telephone number and they call right back! Amazing technology.

I've read 10-12 books on it so far - I am a fiction addict and I absolutely love it! I will write more as I have time....

Excellent first impressions and excellent customer service - I want one!

Thanks John!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Analog Cellular Technology "Sunsetted" Today

Today both AT&T and Verizon shut off their analog networks based on an FCC decision way back in 2002 tto "analog sunset" Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS) networks. AMPS, first generation cellular technology developed in the early 1980's, requires separate frequency channels for each phone conversation and is extremely bandwidth hungry.

Both Verizon and AT&T gave up front notification and worked with analog customers for years to get them switched over (almost all were years ago) so the shut down will have negligible effect. There may still be a few AMPS networks out there in this country after today - shutdown is optional and some small rural carriers may have not shut down today. Eventually they all will.

You may have read around the first of the year about General Motor's OnStar systems and how the OnStar network was converting to CDMA based communications on January 1, 2008. Here's a quote from InfoWorld on the InStar conversaion:

Some users of wireless roadside assistance have also been left behind in the transition......... The automaker didn't wait for the Feb. 18 deadline but instead shut down its analog service on Jan. 1. In a statement on the transition last year, GM said about 90 percent of its subscribers' cars had CDMA or could be converted to use it. Others would lose their OnStar service. The wholly owned subsidiary of GM said last October it had about 5 million subscribers.

Residential and business alarm systems have been preparing for the shut down for a while also. Here's more from the InfoWorld piece:

....... AMPS isn't only used for cell phones. Many alarm companies use the system to alert police or fire departments to emergencies at homes or businesses. About three years ago, the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) industry group took a survey which revealed that just under 1 million of the approximately 30 million monitored home and business alarm systems used an analog cellular network, said AICC chairman Louis Fiore. About 850,000 of them used the system only as a backup in case the phone line was cut, he said.

In the end, faster and more efficient digital systems took over with AMPS becoming too expensive to support and maintain.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

FCC 700 MHz Auction Update - Feb. 16

I'm feeling better after a week with the flu - all I can say is next year I'm getting a flu shot!

I've been watching the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 700 MHz auction fairly closely since it started on January 24. The 81st round finished yesterday (Friday - Feb. 15, 2008) afternoon - here's an update from the FCC auction site:

  • Bidding Rounds to Date: 81
  • Bid totals to Date: $19,450,389,100
  • Activity is slowing with selected licenses in the B-block and E-block sections receiving most of the new bids.
  • There has not been a C-Block bid on the U.S. 50 state package since it passed the FCC reserve price on Thursday, January 31. The current bid is still $4,713,823,000.
  • The public safety D-Block has not had a bid in 80 consecutive rounds and is stuck at $472,042,000, still well below the $1.3 Billion reserve price set by the FCC.
Some personal observations and opinions:
  • The FCC will likely be ending the auction soon. Before they do they'll probably increase the frequency of the bidding rounds to move things along - they've done this with prior spectrum auctions.
  • Will C-Block bidding heat up in the final rounds? Most experts are saying no. I'm wondering if there may be a deep pocket bidder patiently waiting.
  • The public safety D-Block is the FCC's biggest problem right now - the FCC will have to re-auction and the public-private partnership model I wrote about last month is looking like an interesting possibility.
Bidding is closed for the holiday weekend with round 82 starting Tuesday (Feb. 19, 2008) morning.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Social Networking Thinker You Should Know

I've been sick with the flu the last couple of days and, as a result, have had an opportunity to catch up with a number of my favorite bloggers. Jim McGee, over at McGee’s Musings wrote an excellent post yesterday titled Thinkers you should know - danah boyd. Danah is a Ph.D. candidate at the Berkeley School of Information and her research focuses on understanding social networks and their interplay with youth culture. In a 14 minute interview with Discover Magazine, she discusses how kids use technology, where mobile phones are going and the Facebook versus MySpace "smackdown".

Here's a link to the video at Discover Magazine <- click here to watch.

The interview is excellent and highly recommended. Here's how Jim finishes his post: her insights are worth factoring into your thinking about Enterprise 2.0. If nothing else, she’ll help you understand your future work force. I'll take it a step further and say she'll help you understand your children, your grandchildren...... and, if you are faculty, your current and future students,

Jevon MacDonald, who blogs at http://socialwrite.com, wrote an interesting reply to Jim's post on the FASTForwardBlog: Danah’s work has been incredibly important. Anyone wanting to really understand the social underpinnings of Enterprise 2.0 (social computing in general) should spend a week just reading everything Danah has written.

Danah blogs at http://www.danah.org - watch the video and take some time (maybe not a week but an hour or so) to take a look at her work if you get a chance.

Thanks Jim for your post. Oh yes - I'll be getting to the technical follow-up piece on Internet Traffic Shaping as soon as I feel better!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Subscribing to RSS Feeds

Blogs, podcasts, videos - you name it - are being distributed today using RSS feeds. Scott St Onge, National Center for Telecommunications Technologies (NCTT: www.nctt.org) webmaster and John Reynolds, NCTT consultant, have put up a nice 6 minute video on YouTube showing how to setup a subscription - click the play button below to watch.

RSS feeds are excellent ways to keep up with news, technology and hobbies. Get one of the free aggregators (my.yahoo.com or igoogle.com are the two most popular ones) and start subscribing. When you do be sure to subscribe to our NCTT YouTube channel and of course subscribe to this blog!:) We'll be posting lots more!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Traffic Shaping: BitTorrent and P2PTV

Lately there's been a lot of press about Internet Service Provider (ISP) traffic shaping with much of the discussion focused on BitTorrent based applications. Let's take a look at BitTorrent and how it is being used to distribute large files on the Internet. I'll use content from a Free Press piece published last fall to describe the steps involved for a user to start using BitTorrent:

Step 1: A user first downloads a program known as a BitTorrent client. Popular bit torrent clients (there are many) include uTorrent, BitComet and ABC. Once a BitTorrent client is installed the user can then share and download files.

Step 2
: Once the client is installed, users can then search for interesting content. The user then finds a “torrent,” which is a miniscule file that serves to point a user’s computer in the direction of that file’s location. The torrent contains data that identify the file or files to be downloaded and a tracker notifying the computer coordinating such file distribution (many also utilize a trackerless system in which each connected computer acts as a tracker) that another user is interested in obtaining the file. All the rest of the BitTorrent users currently downloading or possessing the file (through keeping their application open, known as “seeding”) help transmit small portions of the overall file to the requesting user.

Step 3
: As the user begins to acquire portions of the overall file, their computer redistributes the content to other users also requesting the file. The BitTorrent protocol differs from traditional point to point P2P networks where a central server distributes the information to each user, thereby putting all the strain on a single source.

Since it was released in 2001, BitTorrent has been the focus of some bad press because it can be used to illegally distribute copyrighted content. Things are changing though - BitTorrent applications also allow original content creators to not incur the entire cost of hardware, hosting and bandwidth - potentially providing huge savings to networks selling video content, record companies selling music, companies selling software.

One of my favorite BitTorrent "like" applications is Joost. Joost uses Peer-to-Peer television (P2PTV) to legally distribute content. We've all watched video streams (YouTube is a good example) where the video is streamed off a server - nice but relatively low resolution. Joost (requires an install of a separate application and does not run in a web browser) uses P2PTV to deliver high resolution video by having each client running it propagate the stream to more downstream clients. This moves the distribution costs from the channel owner to the user.

Later this week I'll write about technology that can be used to shape this kind of traffic on a network.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Are We Ready for Globalized Personal Databases?

Flipping through the paper today I came across an Associated Press article titled Accidental Overdose Killed Heath Ledger. Heath was the talented 28 year old actor who passed away from an accidental overdose last month. According to the New York medical examiner's office, Heath died of of "acute intoxication" from the combination of two strong painkillers, two anti-anxiety medicines and two sleeping aids.

The AP article goes on to discuss how no one doctor would have prescribed all six of those medications because of the cumulative effects those medications would have if they were all taken at the same time. Reading a little further, I learned that three of the medications were actually prescribed and filled in Europe, where he had been recently filming. Could his accidental death have been prevented?

The first place my mind went was technology - it would be relatively simple to create a system that monitors prescriptions and it is being done in a number of states. According to the U.S. DEA Office of Diversion Control, as of December 2007, 35 states had enacted legislation which required prescription monitoring programs: 26 of those programs are currently operating and 9 are in the start-up phase.
Fourteen additional states are in the process of proposing, preparing, or considering legislation.

The DEA is also currently encouraging a national prescription management program. In 2005, President Bush signed the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act of 2005 (NASPER). NASPER is a grant program for states to create prescription drug monitoring databases and enhance existing ones. NASPER requires states to be capable of sharing information and prescription data among states. According to the DEA website, advantages of a national program may include an enhanced ability to identify and track prescription transactions across state lines. This is particularly important given the growing trend of filling prescriptions through mail order and Internet pharmacies.

Could a fully functioning national system have saved Heath Ledger? How about a fully functioning international system? If I could opt into a system like this would I surrender a piece of my privacy?

Later this month I'll be speaking at a futures conference in Dallas on globalization. My preparation to this point has focused around workforce and technology along with some politics and economics..... I'll be adding medical databases.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Broadband Divide: NTIA Broadband in America Report

An interesting report was released last week by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The report is titled Networked Nation: Broadband in America, 2007 and outlines "how the Administration’s technology, regulatory and fiscal policies have stimulated innovation and competition, and encouraged investment in the U.S. broadband market contributing to significantly increased accessibility of broadband services".

Here's more from a January 31 NTIA press release announcing the report:

Four years ago, President Bush established a national goal of universal, affordable broadband access for all Americans. Since then, the United States has witnessed remarkable results in the growth of the broadband marketplace and the proliferation of broadband platforms and service options. The existing data indicate that broadband is available to the vast majority of U.S. households:

  • According to the FCC’s 2006 data, broadband service was available in 99 percent of the nation’s zip codes, encompassing 99 percent of the nation’s population;

  • Since President Bush took office, the total number of broadband lines in the United States has grown by more than 1,100 percent from almost 6.8 million lines in December 2000, to 82.5 million in December 2006, according to the most recent FCC data.

  • By December 2006, 91.5 percent of ZIP codes had three or more competing service providers and more than 50 percent of the nation’s ZIP codes had six or more competitors.
Here's a couple of contradictory points from a Speed matters blog discussing the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s high speed Internet rankings:

Just 22.1 percent of Americans have high speed connections, compared to more than 34 percent in Denmark, the top-ranked country.

The U.S. fares no better when it comes to the speed of Internet connections and the growth of high speed Internet access, coming in 19th place in both categories, behind nations like New Zealand, Portugal, and Luxembourg.

I've written in the past about how the Federal Communications Commission defines broadband in the United States - here's a quote from the FCC website:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) generally defines broadband service as data transmission speeds exceeding 200 kilobits per second (Kbps), or 200,000 bits per second, in at least one direction: downstream (from the Internet to your computer) or upstream (from your computer to the Internet)."

I've also written in the past about how the FCC currently collects broadband data. Here's a piece from a press release by House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet Chairman Ed Markey describing the current FCC broadband data collection methods:

"...the fact that current data collection methods used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are inadequate and highly flawed. Currently, the FCC counts a single broadband subscriber in a 5-digit zip code as indicating the entire zip code has broadband availability, even if the sole subscriber is a business and not a residential consumer. This can lead to highly inaccurate and overly generous notions of actual broadband availability and use, particularly in rural areas where zip codes are quite large."

The NTIA included the following in the report conclusion:

The U.S. Government is taking action to improve its data collection tools to obtain more granular information that will provide a more detailed view into these issues.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! - Some Questions and Some Options

On Sunday. February 3, 2008 (yes, Super Bowl Sunday) Yahoo! and the future of the Internet on the Official Google Blog page.

Drummond, never one to hold back, raises some questions regarding Microsoft's Yahoo! offer.
He starts by saying the openness of the Internet is what made Google -- and Yahoo! -- possible. And goes on to say that, because of the openness, good ideas spread quickly and users benefit from the constant innovation an open system provides. According to Drummond, this is what has made the Internet a popular and exciting place. He also asks a few questions:

Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC?

Could the acquisition of Yahoo! allow Microsoft -- despite its legacy of serious legal and regulatory offenses -- to extend unfair practices from browsers and operating systems to the Internet?

Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors' email, IM, and web-based services?

Three very interesting questions depending on your position, perspective and opinion. Personally, I am amazed with Google's innovation - I use and encourage others to use their applications and would hate to see things slow down. Read Drummond's complete post (it's short) if you can.

Let's look at where Yahoo! is on this. The company has not had a good history with either Microsoft or Google and the offer has put them in a difficult spot. Most experts are saying if Yahoo! does not take the deal with Microsoft the company will have to form some kind of partnership with Google - most likely agreeing to have Google run their search engine and take revenue generated from ad clicks. Another option for Yahoo! would be to go private with a leveraged buyout. In an Associated Press Article titled Microsoft bid backs Yahoo into a corner , Stifel Nicolaus analyst George Askew is quoted, saying this option (leveraged buyout) would involve Yahoo! going into about $20 Billion of debt and having to layoff approximately 4,500 (31%) of their current employees. Neither of these appears to be a good option for Yahoo!

Where's Microsoft on this? They want Yahoo! to the point where the company may end up raising the bid on the current $41 Billion offer. Microsoft also may be financing a portion of the deal if it goes through which would be the first time the company has taken a loan to buy a another company.

Yahoo! may not have any other options at this time - other companies that may have the money (Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc.) do not appear to be interested at this time...... In the same AP Article, investment banker Peter Falvey from Revolution Partners is quoted:

At the end of the day, I don't think they (Yahoo!) are going to be able to turn down Microsoft.

Yahoo!'s board has a difficult decision to make.

Monday, February 4, 2008

New England the Day After

Since maybe week 6 of the NFL season (right around when the Red Sox won the World Series) we've experienced a blur of analysis, hype and confidence regarding the New England Patriots. The past two weeks especially were non-stop leading up to the Super Bowl. Plans were being made for a Duck Boat Victory Parade in Boston on Tuesday with concern about the streets being clogged and people not being able to get to the polls to vote on Super Tuesday. The Boston Globe was pre-selling a book titled 19-0: The Historic Championship Season of New England's Unbeatable Patriots. Radio talk stations, newspapers, TV sports commentary, web discussion forums - all were non-stop about how dominant the Patriots would be in the game......

The aftermath..... I think there are a few lessons here for my kids and myself:

Overconfidence - Whether the Patriots players were guilty of it or not - many writers, broadcasters and fans were. Not good. If you start to believe hype it's eventually going to get you.

Preparation - The Giants were better prepared and played a better game.

Ignoring the Hype - Not listening to the majority - Giants once again.

Not Quiting and Believing in Yourself - of course the Giants!

And, with regards to the Patriots team - losing with dignity and respect for themselves and the other team. From what I have seen there have been no temper tantrums by the players or coaches and only praise for the Giants and the way they played the game.

I listened to a great interview with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, last week on WEEI radio. One particular quote sticks in my head and I'll likely remember it and be using it for a long time "With every crisis comes opportunity if it is managed right".

Is losing a football game a crisis in today's world? It's certainly not for me or the people I'm in contact with every day. It probably is for Robert Kraft and the Patriots organization though. Are the best lessons still to come in New England? Time will tell.

I'll get back to writing about technology tomorrow.

Read Show Notes and listen to Mike Q and my latest Podcast titled The FCC 700 MHz Spectrum Auction linked here.
Listen directly in your web browser by clicking here.
Podcasts also free on iTunes.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

FCC 700 MHz Auction Update - Feb. 2

The 26th round finished yesterday (Friday - Feb. 1, 2008) afternoon - here's a quick update from the FCC auction site:

  • Bidding Rounds to Date: 26
  • Bid totals to Date: $18,554,080,600
  • The A and B-Blocks have been getting most of the attention lately:
    • The Los Angeles A-Block leads the A's with a current bid of $580,268,000.
    • The Chicago B-Block leads the B's with a current bid of $892,400,000.
  • There has not been a C-Block 50 state package bid since it passed the FCC reserve price on Thursday. The current C-Block 50 state package bid is $4,713,823,000.
  • The public safety D-Block has not had a bid in 25 consecutive rounds and is stuck at $472,042,000, well below the $1.3 Billion reserve price set by the FCC.
  • E-Block bidding has been slow with the New York City E-Block leading at $178,897,000.
  • 23 licenses had not registered a bid at the end of round 26, 19 of these 23 are in the E-Block.
Some personal observations and opinions:
  • It looks (to me anyways) like the C-Block bidding may be done. Since the FCC reserve price of $4.6 Billion has been passed, the open-access that Google wanted is assured. We won't know who the winning bidders are until after the auctions have closed but I'd say Google is the current leading C-Block bidder.
  • Right now it does not look like the D-Block will meet the $1.3 Billion reserve price and will end up being re-auctioned by the FCC.
  • A number of E-Block licenses will not meet minimum bids and will also be re-auctioned.
  • The FCC had set an original goal of $10 Billion for the auction. With current bids totaling over $18 Billion, it appears the auction (from the FCC's perspective) will be a success.
Bidding is closed for the weekend with round 27 starting Monday (Feb. 4, 2008) morning.

Read Show Notes and listen to Mike Q and my latest Podcast titled The FCC 700 MHz Spectrum Auction linked here.
Listen directly in your web browser by clicking here.
Podcasts also free on iTunes.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Some Quick Thoughts About Microsoft's Offer to Buy Yahoo!

By now most have heard about Microsoft's proposal toYahoo!'s board of directors to buy Yahoo! at $31 per share (Yahoo! closed yesterday at $19.18). Here's a piece from the letter Steve Ballmer sent to the Yahoo! board:

Together, Microsoft and Yahoo! can offer a credible alternative for consumers, advertisers, and publishers. Synergies of this combination fall into four areas:
-- Scale economics:  This combination enables synergies related to scale
economics of the advertising platform where today there is only one
competitor at scale. This includes synergies across both search and
non-search related advertising that will strengthen the value
proposition to both advertisers and publishers. Additionally, the
combination allows us to consolidate capital spending.

Expanded R&D capacity: The combined talent of our engineering
resources can be focused on R&D priorities such as a single search
index and single advertising platform. Together we can unleash new
levels of innovation, delivering enhanced user experiences,
breakthroughs in search, and new advertising platform capabilities.
Many of these breakthroughs are a function of an engineering scale that
today neither of our companies has on its own.

Operational efficiencies: Eliminating redundant infrastructure and
duplicative operating costs will improve the financial performance of
the combined entity.

Emerging user experiences: Our combined ability to focus engineering
resources that drive innovation in emerging scenarios such as video,
mobile services, online commerce, social media, and social platforms is
greatly enhanced.
There's been rumors of this merger for the past couple of years so it comes as no big surprise to many. It's also no secret this is a direct move to try and head off Google. Each Yahoo shareholder will be able to choose whether to receive consideration in cash or in Microsoft common stock.

Microsoft is ready to move fast on this - we'll see what Yahoo does.