Friday, May 30, 2008

D6 Interview: Kevin Martin and Lowell McAdam on Communications Technologies in the United States

Yesterday at the Wall Street Journal D6 (All Things Digital #6) Conference, Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg interviewed FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam on a wide range of topics including network neutrality, broadband, infrastructure, universal connectivity, competitive technologies, open access, cell phone technologies and contracts, etc in the United States.

Two excellent interview videos (each a little over six minutes) are embedded below and are well worth watching/listening to.

Part 1 Video:

Part 2 Video:

Akamai Report: The State of the Internet Q1 2008

Akamai has published their first quarterly “State of the Internet” report for the January to March (1st quarter) 2008 time period. The company will continue to publish these quarterly reports using data gathered across Akamai’s global server network about attack traffic and broadband adoption, as well as trends seen in this data over time. The report will also aggregate publicly available news and information about notable events seen throughout the quarter, including Denial of Service attacks, Web site hacks, and network events.

Akamai is headquartered in Cambrige, Massachusetts with hardware distributed around the world that, according to their Wikipedia definition, transparently mirrors web content (usually media objects such as audio, graphics, animation, video) stored on customer servers. Though the domain name is the same, the IP address points to an Akamai server rather than the customer's server. The Akamai server is automatically picked depending on the type of content and the user's network location. In addition to image caching, Akamai provides services which accelerate dynamic and personalized content, J2EE-compliant applications, and streaming media to the extent that such services frame a localized perspective.

Here's some interesting highlights from the 2008 Q1 report:

  • During the first quarter, Akamai observed attack traffic originating from 125 unique countries around the world.
  • China and the United States were the two largest attack traffic sources, accounting for some 30% of this traffic in total.
  • Akamai observed attack traffic targeted at 23 unique network ports.
  • Many of the ports that saw the highest levels of attack traffic were targeted by worms, viruses, and bots that spread across the Internet several years ago.
  • From a global perspective, South Korea had the highest measured levels of “high broadband” (>5 Mbps) connectivity.
  • In the United States, Delaware topped the list, with over 60% of connections to Akamai occurring at 5 Mbps or greater.
  • At the other end of the bandwidth spectrum, Rwanda and the Solomon Islands topped the list of slowest countries, with 95% or more of the connections to Akamai from both countries occurring at below 256 Kbps.
  • In the United States, Washington State and Virginia turned in the highest percentages of sub-256 Kbps connections. However, in contrast to the international measurements, these states only saw 21% and 18% of connections below 256 Kbps respectively.
  • A number of major network “events” occurred during the first quarter that impacted millions of Internet users.
    • Cable cuts in the Mediterranean Sea severed Internet connectivity between the Middle East and Europe, drastically slowing communications.
    • Cogent’s de-peering of Telia impacted Internet communications for selected Internet users in the United States and Europe for a two-week period.
    • A routing change by Pakistan Telecom that spread across the Internet essentially took YouTube, a popular Internet video sharing site, offline for several hours.
There is a lot of good information in this free report - you can download it in PDF format here.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Passive Optical Networks (PONs) Podcast

Mike Q and I recorded "Passive Optical Networks (PONs)" last night. Below are the show note questions. You can listen directly by turning up your speakers and clicking here.

If you have iTunes installed you can get this one, listen to others, and subscribe to our podcasts by following this link. If you don't have iTunes and want to listen to other podcasts and read full sets of shownotes using your web browser, follow this link.

Intro: In this podcast we take a look at modern fiber delivery systems.

Podcast Questions

Mike: Passive Optical Networks use Fiber – could you talk a little but about Fiber to the Premise or Home (FTTP or H)

Mike: So what exactly is a Fiber P2P Network?

Mike: OK, so what’s a PON?

Mike: What are the PON Architectural Choices?

Mike: What is Centralized Splitting?

Mike: What is Distributed/Cascaded Splitting?

Mike: What are some of the Protocols and Standards used with PONs?

Mike: What are the Outside Plant Components?

Mike: What’s an ONT?

Mike: Are Technicians typically terminating fiber in the field?

Component and Technology Pictures:

Verizon PON FiOS Splitter: 1 Fiber In -> 32 Fibers Out!

Verizon PON FiOS Splitter with Cover Removed:
Optical Splitting is done by fusing fibers

Verizon PON FiOS 1->32 Splitter Detail

Verizon PON FiOS 1->32 Fiber Detail
- Note Fibers Are Numbered

Verizon FiOS CO Hindged Panel Showing WDM Modules

Verizon FiOS Fiber Distribution Hub (FDH)

Verizon FiOS Optical Network Terminal (ONT)
- Cover Closed

Verizon FiOS Optical Network Terminal (ONT)
- Cover Open

Reference List:

FiOS: Our Future
James Armstrong, Chris Cote, Stan McCoy, James Todd
STCC Verizon NextStep Class of 2008

Passive Optical Network Splitter
Lawrence Graham, Mike Thompson, Jodi Lewandowski, Jeremy Dillensneider, Stephen Booher
STCC Verizon NextStep Class of 2006

FTTH Explained: Delivering efficient customer bandwidth and enhanced services
Michael Kunigonis, Product Line Manager: Access Corning Cable Systems

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

One Billion Web Video Viewers Predicted by 2013

ABI Research has an interesting new study out that forecasts at least one billion in 2013 viewers will access video via the web - this is approximately four times the number of viewers who currently use the web t watch video. Here's a quote from ABI Senior Analyst Cesar Bachelet:

The rapid expansion of broadband video creates opportunities across a number of market sectors..... A wide variety of actors aim to gain a share of this fast-growing market: not only content owners such as the BBC and NBC Universal, and Internet portals such as AOL and Yahoo!, but also a range of new entrants including user-generated content sites such as YouTube and Dailymotion, broadband video sites such as CinemaNow and Lovefilm, and Internet TV providers such as Apple and Zattoo.”

Technologies discusses include content distribution networks that cache content closer to the user, peer-to-peer networks which leverage users’ PCs, and hybrid networks which combine these two approaches. This is serious business for service providers - how should they react? Bachelet recommends the following:

Pay-TV providers should refrain from knee-jerk responses, or adopting defensive measures aimed at discouraging consumers from using those services. That would only produce resentment from subscribers and likely defections from their services.

He recommends an “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach, in an attempt to turn the threat into an opportunity. Here's more:

Particularly for those who own broadband infrastructure, PC-based services can be an ideal complement to their core business. They can offer access to content via this increasingly popular alternative platform. They also can offer content beyond that available through traditional channels, and they can reach a new set of subscribers.

We've seen the Internet flip some industries upside down - the one that first comes to my mind is the newspaper business which has been cut out of significant advertising and classified revenue by sites like Craigslist. We'll see if the Pay-TV people can turn this coming threat into an opportunity.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Run a Speed Test and Support Broadband Reform in the U. S.

I've written here frequently about the broadband divide in the United States - poor availability, low relative (to much of the rest of the world) speeds where you can get it and high cost. A recent post by Mike Q referencing a piece from E-Business titled The Sad State of the United States Broadband Industry describes broadband services in our country:

Although the Internet was started here, the U.S. can't seem to catch up with other developed nations when it comes to giving citizens access to high-speed connections.

For the second year running, the U.S. ranked 15th among the 30 members of the
Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development in terms of broadband availability. Denmark ranked first again in the annual OECD survey, followed by a host of European and Asian nations. Indeed, while the number of Americans with access to broadband service rose 20 percent last year, to nearly 70 million people, the most in the OECD, that amounted to just 23 of every 100 residents. By contrast, the top five countries in the OECD ranking all sport per-capita penetration rates of better than 30 percent.

Lack of modern definition and policy by the FCC, the antiquated Telecommunications Act of 1996, politics, business decisions...... lots of variables have resulted in many of our global competitors like Korea, Sweden, and Japan passing us by. FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps recently admitted:

America's record in expanding broadband communication is so poor that it should be viewed as an outrage by every consumer and businessperson in the country.

So..... what can we as individuals do? Last year published the first-ever state-by-state report on Internet connection speed [PDF] and they are currently collecting data for a 2008 report. You can help by running a short (< 60 seconds) speed test - your data will be included in the SpeedMatters 2008 report. Here's a link to the test:

I'll be writing more about this over the summer.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Summer 2008 "See How Paperless I Can Become" Project

I'm not sure about you but the bag I lug around seems to get heavier and heavier - I have a tendency to blame my notebook computer for much of the weight so today I took a look at what was in my bag. It is loaded with folders full of paper. Here's a shot of what I pulled out this morning - I don't have a scale handy but I'm guessing there is at least ten pounds of paper here.

A quick scan of what's in the picture indicates I could lighten up about 90 percent of the pile - around 9 pounds - if I moved the stuff I've printed out to various electronic forms to read, annotate and file.

If I make an effort could I go without paper? Maybe. I currently carry an iPhone, an Amazon Kindle and a 13 inch MacBook. I think I've got a nice combination that I can conscientiously work with to lighten my paper load.

Here's specs on the three along with how I think I can use each:

  • 4.8 ounces.
  • Goes in my shirt pocket, not my bag.
  • Use for email and web browsing when not near a PC.
  • Also on the fly viewing of email attached Word documents, spreadsheets, PDF's, etc.
  • 5.1 pounds.
  • the power adapter weighs .71 pounds.
  • I also carry an optical mouse that weighs 5.2 ounces.
  • Use for email, web browsing, document editing, podcasting etc when convenient.
Amazon Kindle
  • 10.3 ounces
  • Use primarily for for document reading, limited web browsing and I can even check my email using the Kindle in a pinch
  • Also use to read my daily subscription to the Boston Globe
Power adapters and cables for the iPhone and Kindle add another 6 or so ounces - adding the major electronic devices up I come up with about 7 pounds in my bag. I also carry a composition book for taking handwritten notes and a bunch of pens and pencils, a laser pointer/slide clicker, 3 or 4 thumb drives, etc adding maybe another pound. Some things I cannot get electronically (at least not yet), including many of the magazines/journals I read - they add another half a pound or so. Summing it all up I'm looking at about 9 pounds without any extra paper documents and....... I could stop blaming my notebook computer - not bad!

I'll write about my project progress every once in a while over the summer and will be sure to include a picture or two.

Monday, May 19, 2008

My Travels with the iPhone and the Kindle Combination

Last Friday I had a meeting with Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) Video Arts and Technology Program students, faculty and administrators. BMCC has an NSF project grant titled "Creating Career Pathways for Women and Minorities in Digital Video Technology" – an exciting project with lots of excellent results!.

As usual, I drove early in the morning to New Haven, CT and took the train from New Haven to Grand Central Station . In the past I've lugged a notebook computer with me for work on the train and have brought lots of "hard copy" with me including reports to review, periodicals to read, etc. This trip I decided to ditch the notebook and piles of heavy paper and travel light - carrying just the iPhone and the Kindle.

Prior to leaving I converted a number of documents I needed to review to Amazon Kindle (.azw) format. Amazon provides a free conversion service for registered Kindle users for Microsoft Word (.doc), Web page (.html and .htm) and Adobe Acrobat PDF (.pdf) file formats using a unique email address. Amazon replies by email with a link to each of the the converted azw files and the user pulls the files off and transfers them to their Kindle using a USB cable. Here's a diagram outlining the free conversion service procedure:

I had a relaxing two hour train ride from New Haven to Grand Central, getting lots of work related reading done using the Kindle. I was especially happy to have a 208 (!) page document I needed to read converted and on the Kindle. Not only did I save lugging 208 pages of paper - I probably saved a small tree!

My meeting in New York went great - the group I met with had several relevant documents that I asked them to email me as attachments so I could read on the train ride back. They ended up sending me the 4 large Word documents as attachments that I received on my iPhone. I then forwarded the documents to a pay conversion service Amazon provides that delivered converted azw files wirelessly to the Kindle for 10 cents each. Here's a diagram outlining the paid conversion service procedure:
[FYI: Don't think you can spam my Kindle now that you know my free and not-free Kindle conversion email addresses - I have to authorize all conversion receiving email addresses!]

Overall an excellent experience - it was neat to move files around from one device to another while traveling 50-60 miles per hour on the train and then read them on a high resolution E Ink Kindle screen. I ended up getting just as much work done without the laptop with the added bonus of no eye strain.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Microsoft Yahoo Round Two?

According to the New York Times, Microsoft has proposed a complex new collaborative deal with Yahoo that would not involve a full takeover of Yahoo by Microsoft. Microsoft had made an offer of $47.5 billion to outright take over Yahoo that was withdrawn a couple of weeks ago.

From the New York Times piece and in a statement released by Microsoft today - the company said it was “considering and has raised with Yahoo an alternative that would involve a transaction with Yahoo but not an acquisition of all of Yahoo.” Microsoft provided no additional details.

Here's more from the New York Times:

“Microsoft is not proposing to make a new bid to acquire all of Yahoo at this time, but reserves the right to reconsider that alternative depending on future developments and discussions that may take place with Yahoo or discussions with shareholders of Yahoo or Microsoft or with other third parties,” the company said.

It looks like Microsoft is scrambling, trying to head off a partnership deal currently in the works between Yahoo and Google, expected to be announced as early as this week.

Read the full New York Times piece here.

Cable Companies Selling More Broadband Than Telcos

Last week the Leichtman Research Group published a study that included the nineteen largest cable and telephone broadband providers in the United States. The survey, representing 94% of the current U.S. broadband market, revealed some interesting findings:

  • The top broadband providers account for 64.1 million subscribers.
  • Cable companies have about 34.7 million broadband subscribers.
  • Telephone companies have about 29.5 million subscribers.

And even more interesting:

  • The top cable companies added 1.2 million subscribers, representing 54% of the net broadband additions for the quarter versus the top telephone companies
  • This is the first quarter since 3Q 2004 that cable added more broadband subscribers than telephone providers.
  • Overall, broadband additions in 1Q 2008 amounted to 75% of those in 1Q 2007 – with cable having 84% as many additions as a year ago, and Telcos 67%.
  • The top cable broadband providers now have a 54% share of the overall market, with a 5.2 million subscriber advantage over the telephone companies.
Cable broadband subscriber rates are growing at a more rapid rate than the telcos. The cable companies have built a network that has always been easier to upgrade and offer broadband services on. Telcos are stuck with having to provision lines for ADSL by removing bridge taps and loading coils on copper wire lines that, in some of the older cities, are approaching 100 years old. The telcos have also had to deal with distance limitations and have struggled with cramming ADSL equipment into remote terminals in the field - there is only so much room in those roadside boxes and if they don't have space for you, you don't get a connection. Here's more from the Leichtman Research Group:

added a net of just 4,000 subscribers to its copper-based DSL service in the first quarter. It gained 262,000 customers for its fiber-based (FiOS) service during the same period.

Is the low hanging ADSL fruit picked over? The ADSL push by the telcos may be coming to an end - at least for some of the providers.

See the Leichtman Research Group study for details.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How The RIAA Catches Campus Music Pirates

The Chronicle of Higher Education, one of the most respected academic publications, published an interesting piece yesterday titled How It Does It: The RIAA Explains How It Catches Alleged Music Pirates. In the piece, Catherine Rampell interviews an unnamed Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) representative who describes how the association tracks and catches alleged campus music pirates. Here's a step by step summary of the process as listed in the Chronicle piece:

Step 1: The RIAA maintains a list of songs whose distribution rights are owned by the RIAA's member organizations. It has given that list to Media Sentry, a company it hired to search for online pirates.

Step 2: Media Sentry runs copies of the LimeWire program and performs searches for those copyrighted song titles, one by one, to see if any are being offered by people whose computers are connected to the LimeWire network.

- If you have ever run Limewire and done searches on popular music titles, you know a simple search typically gives hundreds of "hits".

Step 3: The Limewire search listing allows the searcher to manually right-click on any song entry and choose "browse host" to see all of the songs that a given file sharer is offering to others for download.

Step 4: The listing also allows the searcher to see the IP address of the listed file sharers.

So, by doing a simple Limewire search, Media Sentry gets a list of all songs being shared by a user at a specific IP address. Here's how the rest of the process works:

Step 5: Media Sentry uses online databases like or to find out which IP addresses are registered to each Internet-service provider.

Step 6: Using this information, Media Sentry determines which traders are located at colleges or universities.

Step 7: Media Sentry compares digital fingerprints, called hashes, of know copyright song files and those being shared.

- This can be done by Media Sentry without actually downloading the suspected song, it can be done using only a TCP/IP "handshake".

- It is possible to change the hash and in cases where this is suspected, Media Sentry will actually download the song and use Audible Magic software to compare sound waves of the offered audio file against those of the song it may be infringing upon.

Step 7: Media Sentry forwards this information to the RIAA.

The process is so simple it's even something I could do! The advantage companies like Media Sentry provide is automation and speed - fast servers and custom applications can scan large numbers of Limewire traders automatically. How does the RIAA typically continue?

Step 8: A full-time RIAA employee reviews each case to make sure the claim is legitimate and that the alleged pirate is in the United States. If this is the case, the RIAA delivers a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice, asking the college to remove infringing content from its network.

According to the Chronicle's RIAA source, Media Sentry does not perform these kinds of automated investigations on traders associated with commercial ISP's (like Verizon or Comcast) - all notices received by commercial Internet-service providers are processed manually by the RIAA.

Be sure to read the entire Chronicle piece linked here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Pew / Internet Study: Writing, Technology and Teens

On April 24, The Pew Internet & American Life Project published a very interesting document titled Writing, Technology and Teens. The study looks at teen "writing" in the classroom and the use of web based tools like text messaging, email and social networks. It's a good-sized 71 page report that I found personally interesting. I've had the privilege of watching my two daughters (16 and 12 now) grow up in a connected online environment, communicating with friends using various online tools and have made many of the same observations reported in the Pew study:

Teens write a lot, but they do not think of their emails, instant and text messages as writing. This disconnect matters because teens believe good writing is an essential skill for success and that more writing instruction at school would help them.

Here's more from Pew:

Teenagers’ lives are filled with writing. All teens write for school, and 93% of teens say they write for their own pleasure. Most notably, the vast majority of teens have eagerly embraced written communication with their peers as they share messages on their social network pages, in emails and instant messages online, and through fast-paced thumb choreography on their cell phones. Parents believe that their children write more as teens than they did at that age.

You may have seen Librarian of Congress James Billington's recent comments and concerns about “the slow destruction of the basic unit of human thought — the sentence." Obviously Billington does not care much for these new ways to communicate.

Take a look at the Pew study - it's a little long but an easy read...... and...... I'll TTYL:)

Monday, May 12, 2008

ICT, Semiconductors, Photonics and The Bats of Austin

On July 28-31 we'll be holding our annual National Center for Telecommunications Technologies (NCTT) summer Information and Communications Technology (ICT) conference in Austin, TX. Our National Science Foundation sponsored conference will run as it always has, with lots of great technical ICT sessions and the opportunity for faculty, staff and industry people to connect, learn from each other and have some fun. We are currently formatting the agenda, but here is teaser describing a few of this year's ICT sessions:

ICT Education: International Collaboration
The CNIT department of City College of San Francisco has been approached by several sister educational institutions in foreign countries (Brazil, France and the Netherlands) to establish collaborations at the level of students and faculty. One project has been implemented, while the others are still at the planning stage. The presentation will draw lessons from these pilots and show how these exchanges can bring benefits to both parties.

Ethical Hacking: Hijacking GMail Accounts
Gmail and other online services require a login, but how secure is it? Students will perform two attacks against Gmail--stealing authentication cookies with Hamster, and stealing passwords with a man-in-the-middle attack.

Computer Forensics Advanced Technology Education
View the crime and review the evidence. Connect the pieces.

It's All Fun and Games...And Then Students Learn
This engaging presentation will demonstrate games for learning from simple games for teaching topics like algebra to first-person games teaching algebra and other topics. Games and simulations for teaching math, science and other STEM disciplines will be explored.

Our conferences have always offered opportunities to participate in and learn about leading efforts to advance ICT technical training in the US - this summer it will be even better. In addition, NCTT attendees will have the opportunity to connect and attend technical sessions with two of our sister National Science Foundation centers - MATEC Networks and OPTEC. Here's more info on these Centers:

MATEC Networks, another National Science Foundation Resource Center like NCTT, is focused on the advancement of semiconductor, automated manufacturing, and electronics education.

OP-TEC (The National Center for Optics and Photonics Education) is a National Science Foundation Center that is building a secondary-to-post-secondary “pipeline” of highly qualified and strongly motivated students and empowering community colleges to meet the urgent need for technicians in optics and photonics.

We'll also have a little time to see Austin in the evenings and will definitely get downtown to see the 1 million (or so) bats come out from under the Congress Bridge at sundown:

We're almost full so - if you want to go - you will have to move fast - register here. Join us in Austin if you can!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Virtual Worlds in the Workplace

NCTT has recently purchased a Second Life Island and we are in the process of partitioning and building out the sixteen acres of virtual space.

We'll formally announce the island on July 28 at our summer conference in Austin. We believe virtual world use will continue to grow - especially as the price of fuel continues to rise and travel costs grow.

Here's a few interesting virtual world quotes from an online Special Report at BUSINESSWEEK.COM:

  • IBM uses different virtual worlds for a range of activities, including project collaboration and welcoming new employees.
  • On any given day, more than 50% of employees at Sun Microsystems work remotely.
  • A group of Xerox researchers from across the globe meets in Second Life each week to explore how they can use virtual worlds in various areas of their business. One idea is to use these spaces to demonstrate new technologies to customers.
  • When Cisco held a summit for international partners in Honolulu in April, it wanted to include participants who couldn't be there in person. So it held a virtual summit in conjunction with the physical one.
  • Architect Jon Brouchoud has used Second Life for about two years to help clients of his Wisconsin-based firm Crescendo Design visualize what their homes might look like.
  • Some health-care professionals see virtual worlds as a way to help train doctors and nurses in a setting that doesn't jeopardize patient safety. The spaces can also be used to train drug salespeople in a realistically busy setting, with patients and nurses bustling about.
  • Retailers are using virtual worlds to experiment with different configurations for new or existing stores. The software also lets consumer product manufacturers gauge customer reactions to new promotional displays or to the relocation of their favorite products.
Colleges that have lots of commuter students (like community colleges) have an incredible opportunity to offer classes, in part, using virtual worlds like Second Life. AT NCTT we look forward to offering our partners space on our island. For more information on how you can participate write to me via email at or say hello "in-world" on Second Life using "Gordo Book".

And....... know you read here....... HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY MOM!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

WiMax Sprint / Clearwire / Comcast / Time Warner Deal Announced

Earlier this week I wrote about it and yesterday Sprint Nextel and Clearwire Corporation announced the combination of wireless broadband divisions to form a single $14.5 billion company that will keep the name Clearwire. Also participating and throwing in a combined $3.2 billion are Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Trilogy Equity Partners. Trilogy is run by John Stanton, a wireless veteran who made billions when he sold VoiceStream and Western Wireless.

Back in 2006, Mike Q and I did a podcast on WiMax, Clearwire and Clearwire's Founder Chairman Craig McCaw. Here's what we said about Clearwire back in September 2006:

Craig McCaw is a visionary, who has had an uncanny ability to predict the future of technology. WiMAX has the potential to do for broadband access what cell phones have done for telephony - replacing cable and DSL services, providing universal Internet access just about anywhere - especially for suburban and rural blackout areas.

Just like in the early 1980's Clearwire's Craig O. McCaw has been buying up licensed radio spectrum. You may not have heard of Craig but in the early 80's he recognized local cell permits being sold by the the FCC were greatly undervalued and he started bidding cellular phone licenses. He did his buying under the radar screen of the telcos and, by the time they recognized what he was doing it was basically too late - Craig had already purchased and owned licenses in most of the major markets.

Today - Clearwire, under Craig's direction, has quietly purchased enough licensed radio spectrum to build a national WiMAX network.

Craig McCaw and Clearwire have the spectrum, the money, the partners, superior wireless broadband technology when compared to services like 3G and the experience to make this work..... think about it..... Intel makes the WiMax radio components for computers, Google creates applications that can use WiMax services, Comcast, Time Warner and Brighthouse bundle WiMax products and services and market to their customers.... ..

According to an AP post yesterday:

The new company plans to make its service available to 120 million to 140 million people in the U.S. by the end of 2010, although company officials acknowledged they'll need to raise or borrow up to $2.3 billion more to make that happen. Alternatively, they said they could shrink the size of the network.

The deal has been approved by all companies but still must be approved by Clearwire shareholders and regulators. It is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

To read show notes and listen to Mike Q and my 17 minute and 20 second podcast (Sept 2006) titled WiMax - Why Not?, click here. Listen to it directly in your web browser by clicking here. If you have iTunes installed you can subscribe to our podcasts by clicking here.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Will The Cable Companies Build a Mobile Broadband Network?

Scott Moritz wrote an interesting piece at CNNMoney/Fortune titled Comcast pins hopes on a mobile future. Cable companies Comcast and Time Warner have been negotiating with Sprint, Clearwire, Intel, and Google to launch a joint effort to build a national WiMax network. I've written here in the past about WiMax and the relationships Clearwire, Sprint and Google were building and it makes sense to see the cable companies looking at providing broadband wireless services.

We're seeing some interesting customer movement in the industry - another Fortune piece from May 1 describes Comcast's first quarter earnings, here's a couple of interesting quotes from that piece:

  • Comcast lost 57,000 basic video subscribers, but added 494,000 digital cable subscribers.
  • The company said 65% of video subscribers now have digital service, up from 55% a year ago, and 43% have so-called advanced services like digital video recorders or high-definition TV, up from 38% last year.
  • The company also added 492,000 high-speed Internet users and 639,000 Comcast Digital Voice phone customers.
What's happening? We've got the telcos like Verizon and AT&T chasing new video customers and the cable companies like Comcast and Time Warner chasing new voice customers. Both AT&T and Verizon sell 3G wireless services - it makes sense for the cable companies to add a wireless product and it makes a lot os sense to partner with existing wireless providers like Clearwire and Sprint. JPMorgan analyst Jon Chaplin is quoted in the earlierFortune piece: By creating a joint WiMax venture, "it would cost them a fraction of what it would cost them to build out" their own network or to buy Sprint outright.

Keep watching - the deal could happen as early as this week.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Corporate Mac Attack

The May 12 issue of Business Week Magazine has an interesting cover story titled The Mac in the Gray Flannel Suit. The story discusses how Apple computers are moving into the corporate market and has some interesting stats - here's a few listed:

  • Mac computer sales have risen 51% over last year. This is three time the PC industry rate.
  • Combining Mac, iPod and iPhone, Apple sales have risen from $5.2 billion in 2002 to $24 billion in 2007.
  • Apple stock shares have risen 2,300% over the past 5 years
  • Apple has predicted a 33% second quarter revenue increase, even in the face of economic slowdown.
  • The Yankee Group, after surveying 250 companies, found that 87% have at least one Apple computer in their office. This compares to 48% two years ago.
  • The average price of a Mac is $1,526.
  • The average price of a PC is $963.
Macs are hitting the corporate world for a number of reasons - here's the top 5 according to the Business Week story:
  1. Consumer Clout - more business people are looking at a Mac as a PC alternative.
  2. Snazzy Software - Mac's operating system, OS X, is (according to many) superior to Microsoft Windows in lots of ways. Many also believe OS X is less vulnerable to hackers and viruses.
  3. Web Computing - many believe (including myself) that desktop applications installed on hard drives (like Microsoft Office) will eventually be replaced by applications that run on the web.
  4. Vista Debacle - Only 10% of the corporate world has adopted Windows Vista. This has created an opportunity for Apple.
  5. Recruitment - Mac popularity on campus is rising. 42% of students surveyed by the Student Monitor say they want a Mac. This is up from 8% in 2003.
From an academic perspective I find Number 5, the recruitment item, most interesting. Are our classrooms and labs ready? Eric Well, managing partner for the Student Monitor says "Many of today's technology decision makers will ultimately be replaced by Mac users."

Pick up the latest copy of Business Week Magazine and read the entire article. For all of us in the academic world..... if we haven't yet...... it's time to start looking at including Macs in our curriculum.