Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Predictions for 2005

Today's Independenthas predictions for 2005 which are common at this time of year.

Some of the highlights from the piece are:-

"The rise of broadband will lead to internet devices that can do a limited range of things (such as internet radio, or a barcode reader that can "Googlefridge" a recipe from whatever objects you scan past it)."

"3G phones will start to sell big, but video calls won't until screens get a lot bigger. Viral film clips for phones will be a huge hit, but sent by Bluetooth rather than expensive video messaging."

"Really good text-to-speech and speech-to-text programs will emerge, using the power of the fastest chips. You'll get e-mail read out on your phone, voice-mail turned into e-mails and be able to interact via Bluetooth headsets with your machine from a distance."

"Go wireless. With broadband, get a wireless router that sits between you and the link: it's harder to hack and it's easier to move the computer around. But ensure you password-protect your network and, if possible, the router."

I agree with a lot of what Charles Arthur has written, I already am a big user of Bluetooth, Broadband and VoIP. What would I add? In a similar vane to the text-to-speech comment I would say that we can look forward to more Anoto based solutions which ofer script-to-text using bluetooth and OCR. It has proved a hit with some police forces and hospitals who have had issues with training workers to use tablet pcs and keyboards.

Be interesting to see how the predictions look in 12 months time in terms of accuracy.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Now mobile phone masts can be buyilt right next to schools.

The Independent reports that Minsters give into legal ruling that health concerns should not prevent rapid riase in the number of transmitters.

Now working in the Mobile Industry I have to say that I have some interest in this. The first this that caused concern was a few months ago when the CTO of one of the UK's networks said that, he would not allow a transmitter to be built near his home or child's school.

Last week the same paper reported that some 8,000 new masts are to be erected around Britain over the next three years as the 3G system expands. Now having paid a very large sum to the Government for just such a service why should anyone be surprised that the Networks can build without formal planning permission?

If I had spent £23 billion then I would expect a little help from the guys who took my money to help me get a return on my investment. My only advice is make friends with someone who works in a senior position for one of the Networks and if you can afford it send your children to the same school as them.

Phone booths resurrected

The Wall Street Journal has a great feature on how having ripped out eight million plus phone boxes they are making a return. This time without the phone!

Now some restaurants, libraries and other businesses are slowly bringing back phone booths. The interesting snipit is that "the quest for privacy drive 98% of Americans to go to another room or outside when talking on a cell phone. Some retreat to a toilet to make calls; "few things are more irritating than having to listen to the sound of toilets flushing during an important conversation" says Sprint's wireless-phone-etiquette spokesperson.

As well as custom designed booths from Finish furniture designers costing $thousands the old fashioned cast iron red British phone booth is popular.

My only concern is that here in London the restaurant owner is likely to place such booths next to the toilet door just where we get no coverage and so we are going to have to still put up the lout who shouts on his phone when you are enjoying a meal.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Broadband wireless goes head-to-head with 3G

vnunet has yet another piece questioning 3G following a report from Analysys. What we have is someone commenting on work by another about WiMAX replacing 3G.

Now what I have a problem with is the fact that WiMAX is not likely to be available for at least another two years, even T-Mobile will have built a 3G voice network by then!

NTT DoCoMo are at present developing 4G technologies that DO use broadband wireless to improve data speeds and network coverage, nowever these are not for voice they are for value added services. Whilst I do believe in the validity of some claims for VoIP at the enterprise and techie need of the market I feel that we are a long way off mass market adoption. This being the case just how do you think you Granny is going to make a call over a broadband network?

Looking at a number of recent VoIP implementations all I can say is that a Chief Executive is happy to be without his email for a few hours or days each month but he is very upset if his phone does not work! This being the case I just dont think that we are very close to seeing the roll out of mobile voip.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Handicapping Social Networking Business Models

Stowe Boyd wrote back in March an interesting piece on Social Networking on the darwin website. Now I have been using social networks all my working life. The last few years has seen a number of these networks become on line as well as offline groups.

Whilst helping to run Digital People it became obvious that with people becoming more time poor there needed to be somethinbg that allowed people to connect when they were ready rather than just turn up for beer and friendship.

Over the years I have attended events run by such diverse groups as Company of Friends, Ecademy, Ryze, European Technology Forum, TEN and MIT Club of Great Britain. I agree that the issue is "who's paying and who's invited?" Without such knowledge now am I to know if my membership of the network is worthwhile or just another marketing pitch.

When Ecademy went online it became an interesting place, then as it grew an could no longer fund itself via corporate sponsorship it changed to a model that was chargeable but still allowed basic members to interact with the community. Now with falling renewals the owners have decided that Power layers with those that pay and the more you pay the more power you have! Thus in doing so the Management have removed all content that does not fit with their own views and repeat offenders are asked to leave the community.

LinkedIn has been a very good tool for my business over the last year, allowing me to build bridges with organisations I have lost contact with. However the cost is that I find myself in the middle of a number of chains from people I have no understanding of seeking to do business with contacts who I am sure would not like to be snowed under with such requests. The network is more business than social and so is excellent in joining up people but it does not have an area where you can enter into a discussion and thus "find" new connections based on the strenght of your intellect and experience.

I guess that what is needed is to join a few of these and play an active part, if you find them useful then pay something towards the cost of running the service. This payment does not have to be cash it could be content or services!

However whatever it is that you decide to do do not stand and watch interact.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Remembering we all need downtime

Tony Hallet writes an interesting feature on how "Advances in mobile and wireless technology can please employers by leading to improved productivity but are too many staff unwisely working longer hours, the victims of 'connectivity creep?"

This is something that has concerned me for the last few months, as someone who runs a small consultancy I am aware that clients buy into what we do not just because of price bvut also because of speed of responce. People work for me rather than large firms because I do not want them to be in the office all day and night. However I am coming across a number of intelligent people who have allowed themselves to be dictated to by the firms email system via their Blackberry.

I do not think that a smart device is a smart idea! Giving somebody something that allows them to work anyplace anytime is not a responsible act. What is needed is for everyone to respect the time and space of those who the interact with. The most effective people I work with use technology as a tool rather than always reply to every email, text message, voicemail as soon as they receive them evem when it annoys me that it is so.

I would be interested to see if its a cultural thing, with Italians and French executives not "suffering" the same connection issues as their English and American co-workers.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Accenture tells us that we are humans to

Lucy Kellaway in the FT today reveals the latest dvd from accenture. She like me asks just why have they decided to release short storries on ten employees to the entire company?

The UK Managing Director says that it helps build teams if they understand each other. The PR Speak is "These short stories were wonderful, and to know they are about people we work with made that much more enjoyable."

Perhaps with accenture needing to once again restock on new staff they are trying to show that the company is diverse and does understand work life balance. If so I am not sure if it will help attract experience staff to move to accenture. In the UK I am confident that it would be a turn off with people affraid that they would be asked to feature in the next video if they revealed any personal issue. (Now if I were cynical I could say that such shorts would reduce the calls to personnel asking for personal time.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

From the spoken to the written word has a feature on Spinvox about how voicemail may be at an end with the launch of technology that turns speach to text. The technology does not delete the original voicemail and so if the conversion to text is not always accurate you can finally listen to the message.

This is the Unified Messaging as outlined by Orange's Futurology team some five years ago. They also told of "speaking emails" where your inbox would be delivered to subscribers by the silkie voice Wildfire Siren as seen on the Annova website. Oh happy memories of rosie futures from the boom times.

The problem is that I look at my phone and see that I have a number of missed calls from those who would not leave voicemail. The other problem is do I wish to pay for the delivery of voicespam from my network and others who want to tell me of "excellent new offers". How can I profile my service so that only those on a set list are able to have voicemail converted to text and all others are left for me to access when I am ready?

It is services such as this that networks can lock in users, but the issue has to be how much will I pay for such a service? If I am already on a higher user tarrif and a committed user is it not better to give the service away free as part of my service knowing that it will lift the number of minutes I use and voice is the most profitable service for my network.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Telephones should be used for talking

The FT says that telephones are for talking and all the other flashy data services are just that. It is also something that the networks have acknowledged in as much as they are tarrifing third generation services lower than those of existing ones in an effort to speed the upgrade.

I a discussion last night about wireless we agreed that voice is the one service that you have to provide on a allways on basis. A chief executive can cope without access to his email or his corporate accounting systems he cannot function without a telephone. The other issue about complex communication systems is that they are an ecology that is interdependent so that when a network plugs in a new component they are quite likey to knock out a number of services because they do not understand cause and effect. This is why we have had to wait so long for the launch of 3G.

As someone who has spent all his working life in wireless telecoms I can remember back to the point almost 20 years ago when Racal and BT launched mobile phones and the evolution seen until today we have come to a point when advance sees us having to regress in order to progress rather than Darwinian evolution.

I for one am looking forward to the next few months as the Networks balance the two systems and discover what the consumer will pay for as an individual and as a business.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Mobile Operators hunt for content to make 3G work

The International Herald Tribune wrote a good feature on just what 3G looks like from an America's point of view. The Feature has a piece on can Mobile operators become media players? which acts as a good conter piece that allows us to see the cons of launching 3G.

Whilst in The Sunday Times has a road test of Vodafone's 3G service in which the reviewer talks about his experience with the Sony Ericsson V800 handset which he likes compared to his first experience. The interesting thing is that he does not point out that in order to get consumers to switch Vodafone are offering a 20% discount on its current tarrif. When signing up for 500 minutes you get it coists £40 per month on the 3G plan and £50 on the 2G plan, plus you get some free downloads so that you can experience just what the improvements are when using 3G.

As for me well I am giving up on T-Mobile over the next few weeks and moving over to Orange so that I can have a 3G experience in terms of voice.


Monday, November 08, 2004

Is T-Mobile playing with your brain

BBC Five Live report has had access to BBC 3's analysis of UMTS masts. The key discovery is that T-Mobile used the clause in its current mast contracts to install the new technology without consultation.

Last week over cocktails another Network executive was talking about how they have a group of unhappy former employees who are trying to tell all about 3G mast deployment. They are confident that teh story will be a non-starter because the stakeholders do not want to publish the fact that they are broadcasting higher level microwaves.

Perhaps if we become neoconservatives and are born again the churches will not have to seek income by renting out tower sites in the belfry? Or perhaps if we are to become born again we should be happy that those seeking religion will benefit from a few rays!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Home phones face uncertain future

BBC NEWS Technology is running a report on the latrest research from Nokia on mobile phones replacing fixed residential lines. The only time that people are using their Home phone is for when they intend to have a longer call, with mobiles used for shorter calls.

Whilst this is interesting what is more so is the fact that last nights newsnight (also on the BBC) had a short feature on VoIP with the head of BT Retail as well as the Founder of Skype explaining how very soon all calls would be vertually free thanks to new technology. Whilst a very basic primer from there Business Correspondent it was a usefull wake-up call for all those middle class new kunkies who cannot sleep on a Friday night!

Having worked with VoIP as my telephone service for the last 18 months I do see that potentially we could all become users but I don't see the fast take-up spoken of by BT. I think that VoIP could become the same replacement of traditional communications that the FAX was in relation to the Stamp. Some will use it but many others are happy with the current system and thus unlikely to change just for the sake of a few pennies saved on calls.

Just a thought but somehow I think that we are not going to see the brave new world for quite sometime, just look at the speed that 3G has been started for more evidence.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Heathcare Standards

For the last two years my sister has been fighting with a brain tummor. For most of this year she has been undergoing chemotherapy in an attempt to finish off the part of the tummor that was unable to be cut out.

Over the Summer she did well but as the seasons turned so has her health. At the end of September she was notified that they intended to stop paying sick pay and she was going to be pensioned off. Now what this means is that she will be paid a lower sum than the half salary she is on and when she is terminal no need to pay her husband death benefit. Now in the private sector that is fine you have a free market, BUT my sister is a civil servant! As such she has always worked for the government, first as a nurse and now as an administrator in the prision service. The Civil Service had decided that her pension fund was not funded and so she has been forced to make additional payments for the last five years since returning to work.

This weekend my sister has been admitted into hospital with an infection that has caused here to feel unwell. As its the weekend the usual hospital does not have a bed available and so she has been put up in the local hospital on a medical ward. This means that rather than treatment by specialists she is being looked after nurses who have little understanding of her treatment. My brother in law is with my sister as much as possible as a contractor that means no pay! More importantly as my sister at present cannot speak, the tummor is growing on her frontal lobe, it is her husband and daughters who can help her. I spent this afternoon with them today and I although angre that hospitals cannot cope thanks to cronic underinvestment but also saw what a real family and love is all about.

And do you know what it is not about money, its about time and space, must go time to put my youngest to bed with a story and hot chocolate.

Friday, October 15, 2004

You Can't always get what you want

Andy Gill'sreview of RL Burnside's latest album made me interested in finding out more. So I went off to HMV locally to see if they had it in stock, no joy. The assistant asked if I wanted to order the album and then had to appologise because her system would not allow her to do so. The same for Virgin, WHSmiths and Borders.

This also made me think as all these stores had a TOP 20 Albums listed but none were the same. The Assistant at WHSmith told me that it was not the official list but rather an internal one...perhaps thats why they are not selling much at present. The good news is that I have been able to buy the album online and the disk is in transit because Mr Burnside you see is not mainstream and as he is in his 80's The Music Download sites don't have his music available. Here is the thing FAT POSSUM has been working hard to promote this Album and so they have got the reviews to get not just me asking to buy it; but the stores have decided that its too much of a risk to stock.

Thank good for the internet shop which along with Google allowed me to trackdown what I wanted.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Could BT's "Broadband Voice" service be a winner

Phones without borders shouts Michael Pollitt in The Independent. In a well written feature on BTs consumer play for VOIP he has not just bought the PR hype for the service but he has done some foot work in terms of just how and why you might wish to use your broadband line as a second telephone line.

My only issue is that he does not undertake any real analysis of just who may use the service and how that may effect the fortunes of not just BT but its rivals. Convergence is the watch word of all those at present in the telecoms space or the fact that the time taken to deploy such a service will make the roll out of cable television seam rapid. My opinion is that the real sticking point is that most are lazy when it comes to changing providers and cost today is not much of an issue thanks to price plans such as BT Together.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Wireless Security - Mobile Security: One Size Does Not Fit All

Mark Long has writen an interesting feature over at Wireless Newsfactor about the problems of security.

At present wireless devices are limited on there bandwidth unless they use the battery draining WiFi. Thus the security needed to protect data is limited to password protect, and lets face it thats not great as the number of passwords anyone has is limited to their ability to remember them.

You cannot use a VPN as that congests the already limited bandwidth faster than a month of Supersizing at McDonalds!

How ever as we become more mobile we need to become more security aware, the same thing happens with money when we leave our house. What is needed is not more smart devices just smart users. I remember a conversation a few years ago with a headhunter who was not overly concerned about the fact that he had left his Palm in the back of a taxi on the way over to my office. It was only after I asked if any of the documents relating to the assignment he was conducting for me were on the device that he became concerned and even then he said they were of little use to onthers. Needless to say he and I have not done business since.

When I first started using mobiles thay had a pin number, that was needed to un-lock the handset so that you could make calls. As more people got mobiles in an effort to make it easier for users we no longer see pin numbers. Hence when a phone is lost the lucky finder can read all you messages and copy your numbers, but the network can disable the sim so that no calls are made from it!

What is the best way forward for security? Get smarter users with dummer devices!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Let me take you by the hand

Just been talking to one of those I met at the Symbian exhibition earlier this week who thanked me for helping navigate the show.

They said that in most of the shows they attended time is short and what is needed is someone who can scout the exhibits and arrange meetings with people who understand the product they are premoting rather than hijacked by hospitality girls harvesting business cards and handing out freebees. Is this not the function of the event organisor?

If you want me to give up time in my busy diary don't you have to facilitate a great experience. The fall in the market has ment that the bloated show has ended (only downside is that the level of goodies have fallen) and so it does not take too long to scout the site. Does it need better PR from the exhibitors to promote the features and benefits of their clients?

Would you be prepaired to pay for a show guide who walked you to your meetings and insured that you got face time with the relivant people on the stands?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Symbian Developer Event

Spent the afternoon at the Symbian Event and this year saw some real signs that Mobile Developers are able to launch without the Network Owners.

One of those that impressed is Cognima and if you view the Blog on their site my smiling face is shown. Cognima offer a solution that makes MMS messages very easy to load/send without pushing too many buttons. After catching up with them I bumped into a senior exec from one of the Networks who said that they needed something to make Picture Messaging easier. So guess who I introduced?

Nokia and Sony Ericsson had more people around them than others showing off just what can be done with their new handsets,

Monday, October 04, 2004

Giving cellular the blues

|BT Pulls the plug on Bluephone cannot be good news for companies like Norwood Systems who have spent the last five years pushing Bluetooth for in building substition of GSM. I am sure that with those involved in the Alliance will make Convergence work. But I think that 21st Century Networks will take a long time to work rather than the rapid delivery that BT hopes will come about. The problem is the legacy network needs to be supported and serviced and unlike television BT has not said that they will switch off the non-IP telephony. Without the forced adoption of new technology by customers then the arrival of converged telephony is going to be a long time coming.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

I'm not as scarry as it looks Posted by Hello

Mobile Phone Backlash

Harry Eyres writes in this weekends Financial Times about how we have addicted ourselves to mobile phones. In a well writen piece he argues that the disadvatages outweigh their advantages. This is something that I have thought about a lot since the family holiday this year having left my handset in England whilst sitting on the beach in Italy.

Stephen Pritchard writes in The Independent about Mobile Offices: what happened to the future? In which he outlines how the phone firms are still playing catch up with the Futurologists. His focus is on how email on our phones could be available now and with 90% penetration of phones we should like the Japanese be using handsets over computers.

So who is to be believed on Mobile penetration and habits?

Kevin Spacey told the BBC in a recent radio interview that he feels that audiences need to learn how to behave and those who refuse to turn off their phones "shouldn't come" to the theatre. Her told of an incident at the National where the actor asked the audience member whose phone had gone off six times to leave the theatre. I do think that we have some responsibility to respect the environment we are in and opt for voice mail rather than take a call.

Friday, September 17, 2004

My New Toy

Yesterday with 20 minutes to kill between meetings I decided to go window shopping in Tottenham Court Road. Looking into the Sony Shop and I spy the new Network Walkman has arrived.

I hand over my card and am presented with my latest Sony gadget. Once I get home and everyone has updated me on their day at school I finally have time to myself and unpack my new toy. After 10 minutes setting up SonicStage I can finally load up my machine, two hours later I have downloaded 700 songs onto my tiny music machine, but is bedtime and I have an early start.

Never before has the MetLine felt so acceptable as this morning I stand waiting for the tube happily lost in my youth listening to The Jam. Now at lunch I sit checking emails and doing some surfing with Joan Armatrading.

So far have to say that this beats my iPOD experience. My little silver jukebox has all I want on it at the moment, over the weekend I will discover how to do more than just listen to my music so that I can "inform" the iBores just how they have made a mistake.

Best early birthday present I have had in many a year ;-)

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Sun Blog Sparks Novell Purchase Rumor

So Blogs might be bad for business!Following on from my post yesterday about Businesses and Weblogs this story on how Invester relations can be demaged when one of the senior execs writes what he thinks.

So if this is the standard by which others will be judged then Blogs and business will only be possible by the laywers and PR people. However we do see a large number of staff at Microsoft maintain their personal blogs. Last year we even had a contractor fired by Microsoft for photoblogging the delivery of new G5 Macs because it was an embarasement.

I still think that done well the Blog has a place within the communications strategy of a business just the same as online forums have in the delivery of customer support. One company that does seem to have done a good job at online communication with all its stajeholders is SAP, althought posting something once a month does not qualify as blogging in my book!


Wednesday, August 04, 2004

10 Companies That Missed Blog Opportunities

B.L. Ochman's weblog has an interesting take on businesses that miss the opportunity to Blog. This is something that I have been trying to understand for the last year, having read an interesting feature in the Harvard Business Review.

I have spoken to a number of senior PR types about how they plan to use Blogs all of whom say that they run their own site but do not do so for clients, the issue being one of how to get paid for such activity. Now one of the things I like about blogginbg is that micro publishing lets all of us attempt to be a thought leader. But (yes there had to be a but) the introduction of some professional writers can make a difference. Just look at how the Feature (a mobile telecoms site sponsored by Nokia ) does now that it has paid writers contributing. The other benefit is that with the readers ability to interact the copy becomes self policing, you remove the editor from the process but the use of a blog to push a product limits it effectiveness. The introduction of business into the Blogging world has to be a benefit because as a hobby we are faced with hobby sites, just look at what happened to George Micheal's site when he allowed anyone to post!

Monday, July 19, 2004

Ester Dyson Be my friend? Only on my turf

Ester Dyson's latest column is about here continuing use of online networks and how they could be improved.

I also am a member of LinkedIn the network she refers to and have to say that a number of contacts say that following a bombardment of requests they have withdrawn from the group. A number of others who I have introduced have also failed to see the benefits of the network but joining the network but not joining the group in that they have not invited in their own network so that all may benefit from the potential business opportunities.

The interesting view is just how can you grow such communities looking at others a number have failed in that they chase size over quality. A few years ago I helped run Digital People which was an active face-to-face community that met once a month, it failed to dvelop an online presence and with the declining markets its members found that they were time pressured and so no longer attended events. After a year of low attendance the group folded under a pile of debts. Looking at ecademy you see the community is debating the same things but the names have changed. Those that paid membership last year are not seeing great value and thus are pulling out to be replace by fresh faces hoping that Power Membership can help develop their new businesses.

How do little black books work in the connected world?

Summer Holidays are here

My three girls have started there summer holidays, and boy do I know it.

We have a broken PC, Broken Play Station and we've lost the remote control! Its only day one and boy am I looking forward to September.

The sun has once again come out and so now we are happy playing in the garden. This week we have trips to buy new school uniform and shoes and a visit to the movies to see Spiderman. Then its off to see The Mummy at the British Museum.

Unlike my time we have booked the girls into Summer School as well as 2 weeks in Italy so we have planned as much of their holiday time as possible. The problem is that in doing so we are creating children who expect to be entertained rather than capable of entertaining themselves, I am not sure if this is a good idea.

Do we need to give children time and space to develop social skills or are we creating demanding dependents who will never have the skills needed to stand on their own and interact?

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Mobile Lifestyle

Nokia have been trying hard to re-build it's brand. As part of this campaign they have contributed to the Creative Business suplement of the FT. I particularly like..

"Mobiles restored our sense of connection and community, and provided a "social lifeline" in an increasingly fragmented, busy and isolating world. Imagine if we didn't have mobile phones. Could we stay in touch with family and friends so easily? I'm sure I'm not the only one that makes personal calls on my mobile as I walk to get my lunch or hop in a taxi to a meeting. Mobiles facilitate chatting and gossip, which actually stimulates the production of endorphins, relieves stress and boosts the immune system!"

Can I spot the sales pitch... "With the rapidly improving quality of camera phone technology, there is an increasing desire to share, keep and display the digital images stored on your phone. The combination of text messages, voice-mails and pictures make up a digital scrap book of your life. And you can now purchase PC-based software that enables you to use these snippets of your everyday life, organise, display, share them, just as you do with a digital camera.

Today's mobile phones have pushed the limits of multimedia functionality, going beyond internet connectivity and built-in cameras to video functions, electronic funds transfer and more. Multimedia usage is set to experience mass-market adoption with the widespread availability of third-generation mobile phones from most of the major mobile operator networks"

Over at Fast Company Christian Lindholm is pushing Lifeblog as the tool for "Kodak Moments"

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Seeing the simple things in technology

OK for the last few weeks I have been working with Destiny Wireless who ar the UK Agents for Anoto. They have a digital pen, think of it as a fat biro with a camera in that films as you write on special paper. Using the pen means that all sorts of people who work outside can put what they do into a computer using either a USB "ink well" or a bluetooth phone.

The great thing about this techjnology is that those who were techno phobes are now attached to the System. It also means that people like Nurses can up date patient records without having to carry a laptop or learn to use a PDA.

The only problem is that when you show the technology to a potential customer you then have to get them to focus on the one thing that is important to them when it come to using the pen. Customers see so many applications for it the get blinded by what is a great technology. I am sure that over the next few months we will start to see more and more people use digital pens to interact with people rather than hide behine computer sceens.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Why does broadband matter?

Today's Independent has an Analysis of how those that live in rural Britain can join the high speed net via WiMax.

The writer once again complains about BT not making it easy for the little guy to pick off customers on the basis of price. Then he focuses on what WiMax might do i.e. surve a number of people with above broadband speeds using point-to-multipoint systems just like broadcast radio. Rather than installing a modem inside the house engineers now fit a satelite dish on the outside of the building, sound familar?

The problem is one of cost and at present there are no standards with which to work to.

Now what do we want to give those who live outside of towns and cities broadband for when they cannot pay the commercial price?

I think it is because once we enable those in the poorest communities with the best technology we help everyone improve. I heard a radio program last week on how the village in Wales that got electricity for the first time last year has been catching up with the rest of the country. It is not until you see how those who have not had something behave that you get an understanding of the things that we use everyday and no longer appricate!

Friday, May 14, 2004

A bad week for the Gadget freek.

Had to return my Clie to Sony as the battery went down and needs replacing. Only good news is that the Support function is excellent with a pick up time agreed and updates with the progress of my repair and expected return date.

Then the Power adapter for my laptop was binned because the cable was torn. Invested in a new one and so everything is fine now.

Been using a SonyEricsson Chat Pen from Destiny Wireless. I like the functionality but not happy that have to go back to old handset to allow the pen to work. SonyEricsson no longer support bluetooth functionality and so have to switch sim between two handsets. Not a great idea as now have text messages on both... If only my PDA worked then could store the messages on there. Well will have TH55 back very soon!

Friday, April 23, 2004

Mobile users - selfish and unrepentant - touches a point.

Over the last few weeks driving the kids around I have had a number of near misses with fools in BMWs using the Phone whilst driving. Just why does the Goverment pass a laws if the police cannot / will not then enforce?

Perhaps what we need is more Gatzo Camera's that photograph all those driving whilst using the phone! I remember a story a few months ago about a German driver who drove through a Speed trap three times because he was no speeding and was fined for not waring his seat belt! If they can do it for seat belts then they must be able to do it phone users.

What is needed is a change in attitude similar to that of 20 years ago over drink driving. At present what we have is car drivers who are not seen as doing anything wrong when driving through the a busy high street whilst using the phone.

I have worked in the mobile industry for 19 years and all of that time I have used a car kit and limited the time I am on the phone in the car if I do use it. The reason for this is easy driving and talking on the phone is dangerous!

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Peter Cochrane one time CTO of BT says that we have fallen behind on the Broadband Superhighway. This is like George Bush say that the war on terror was a mistake in Iraq.

The fact that we are behind is due to the fact BT did not invest when he was part of the executive team! I know that he was not in favour of the 3G investment made by BT but as a long time executive he should have been capable of outlining the invest needed to enable the network.

The other missed opportunity would have been for Tony Blair and Co to have taken the assets of all the bankrupted CLECs that dug up Britain to lay Fiber networks and hand it over to Ofcom to run. But as we don't have a socialist government we find ourselves now almost out of the game. With the expansion of the European Union now underway we are unlikely to get funding for rural broadband schemes as thoes countries that are joining are poorer than us. This will result in the Baltic States being given a hand up at Britains expense in terms of technology infrastruction investments. Once the infrastructure is in place expect to see the bright young things all moving into Lativa where they will have access to well educated staff and first rate technology for a fraction of the cost of a Regus serviced office.

Broadband Britain is important not just now but also later I have 3 young children all who have grown up with the Internet. Thanks to Broadband they have been able to experience it wirelessly. I had hoped that by the time they had entered secondary education they would have increased the wireless coverage to cover metropolitan zones and as students they were given access free of charge in the same way as they get Library access today. Without the investment made at the end of the 90's we find ourselves look at ever longer delays which will see us fall back faster than a British Male in the Olympic Marathon on the Superhighway!

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

This years Wireless LAN Event demonstrated just what a difference a day makes!

At Last year we had every wannaby in technology at the event pitching ideas for Hotspots. Over the last two days we have had people talking about the services available from Wireless Broadband. Andrew Greenhaigh from Intel kicked off the conference with a Keynot that had Guy Kewney concerned about there plans to control the WISP market by launching RoamPoint.

The new CEO of BTOpenzone, Chris Clark sees the appointment of a Sales and Marketing Guy who is looking to cut deals and build revenues rather than the land grab that was BTOpenzone since launch. The Press Briefing was interesting in that BT are looking more at Mobile Office for Enterprise customers, could the old dog have learnt a new trick?

The First Day wrapped up with an interesting demo of VoWLAN with Raju Gulabani Founder of TeleSym showing just how advanced the software is advancing in waking up a former work mate on the West Coast of the US using a SIP client on his laptop and also dialing his landline number. Then the Man from Motorola whoes team is building BTOpenzone also showed converged handsets that have GSM and WiFi for Corporate users talking about Seamless Wireless. Finally before The Cloud sponsored Drinks Party we had a panel debate with Niklas Zennström of Skype the star talking about the Enterprise benefits of VoWLAN and how it can now be done on a PocketPC.

Wednesday saw the Wireless Innovations Seminar which had excellent presentations from IPWireless follow Flarion present on what they see the future as in terms of Mobile Data. Both these presenter were realistic in that they are half way along a lvery long road and even with $160M war chests they may not make it! These guys know what data is all about, something that the Network Operators don't seam to understand BUT do they know the difference between Wireless and Mobile!

My impression is that WiFi has come out of the hype curve and the intelligent guys are talking about the services it enables rather than the market potential of HotSpots! Lets see what the next 12 months brings to the Wireless LAN community, connectivty on the Train (could be the way to make EuroTunnel profitable)?

Finally LastMile Communications is looking to launch a low power transceiver technology that is fitted inside lap posts and street furniture that allows roadside telemetrics which would deliver location based infomation into the car dependent on speed etc. The network will also be used by the emergency services to improve traffic flow and manage accidents.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

The web belongs to us is an interesting feature on how technology alters networking.

I have said in other places that I am not a friend of Plaxo which I see as a very lazy tool for those who are at the edge of my network and who don't know me but have got hold of one of my email addresses. The majority of these shaddy individuals seam to be a pain in that they continually wish to spam me with request that I am just not interested in!

Now some bright guys in Cambridge have developed something that Dyson calls "personal digital identity" which will not only keep your contact details up tp date it will also aid you manage your life, in that it will assist manage your relationships with all those in your address book. This could be the breakthrough needed to remove spam by forming a network that then polices its users actions.

I for one intend to pay the £24 subscription and see if it will aid me stay in touch for work, family and friends.
Going Backwards to Go Forwards

After five years of using a PDA last Chrismas I gave away my top of the range iPAQ as it was just sitting in a draw not being used becasue I was running arround town with my laptop and smartphone. Well this weekend I have re-entered the PDA world and bought a Sony Clie TH55 having selected a standard phone over my smartphone six weeks ago.

This is my first Palm powered PDA and I have to say that I am impressed in most of the software. The only things that could be better are the email and sync, it has proved a bit of a problem to set up the mail so that it syncs with my Outlook file and my other PDA's synch as soon as they connected with my PC. Otherwise I am very happy with my new device. Thanks to my memorystick I now have access to 8 albums of music when stuck on the tube, can view details quickly when travelling and the ability to improve note taking when needed.

Perhaps the Clie will become less of a gadget and more of a valuable tool, which will deffinately get the approval of my partner!

Friday, March 26, 2004

Digital radio needs to make more noise says the FT. One of the early drivers towards Digital Radio writes on why it's important that BOTH Commercial Broadcasters and the BBC need to convince the public to switch on to digital. I have been a user for 4 years now first with a Wavefinder which worked through my PC and now with a Roberts. The service has seen its highs and lows but in preference I use my digital radio over my traditional set, listening to 4-5 hours a day work permitting.

The Sunday Times has a fair review of what is wrong with the current state of digital radio. I just hope that the Broadcasters have learnt from the iTV false start and get there act together, if they don't then Radio could follow Record Companies towards extinction!

Digital Radio is important not just for the fact that it improves the sound quality, what is also important is that it also allows data to be transmitted. This means that the user can "see" station information and track details they can also interact. Thus the next generation of Digital Radio should see some genuine inovation in the way that we use the radio.

Thursday, March 25, 2004 - THE BOY WHOSE SKIN FELL OFF I am watching this and feeling very small!

Having seen him at the start "full of life" and then move closer to death as a result of his skin cancer makes me realise what like is about a lot more than what most of us do. This is what public service broadcast is all about!

Perhaps this is what they should ask the great and good up for the top job at the BBC what they think we should be watching that makes us change the way we behave!
Speed Networking is somethis that interests me. Over the last 6 years running my own business what has become important were the relationships built slowly over time. I have been a member of Trusted Business Networks and found that it has been a waste of time with a number of false leads which took so much time that membership was pointless!

Like speed dating can you build a business relationship quickly over a warm beer?

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Been looking at the future of Mobile Data Services for the last few days on behalf of a client.

Read some many different reports from other consultants and research groups that even SIX shots of espresso cannot cure my thumping brain. Interesting to see how over the last two years the potential for mobile data has fallen rather than increased as we have seen the network operators lower there investment in 3G. Last week at CeBIT saw a number of software companies pushing video over radio. (Not a surprise to see that these guys are having problems raising funds or finding customers!)

So what will the new service NOT be?

Watching Eastenders on your Nokia sitting on the Tube.
Playing Prince of Persia against a guy in Brazil on your Sony Ericsson when you should be working
Reading the latest Chicklit ebook on your Siemens
Filling your order at

What could you be doing next year with your phone?

Navigating around Lisbon on your short break with your phone.
Paying for your Pizza using your phone rather than Visa.
IM on the run using Push-2-Talk.
Flirting with the "fit one" in the bar even though you cannot see exactly who they are.

What needs to be done to move the vision towards the now?

The handset makers need to build better batteries so when we start using these services we can be mobile rather than wired into the power network.
Networks who have real Customer Service, that will set up our phone over the air so that we may use the services easily and quickly.
A sense that we are paying the economic price rather than being ripped off.

Finally what those of us who work in the mobile work need to understand just what those guys in the street will use and pay for.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

A brief introduction.

I am approaching the big 40 live with my Partner at the edge of the Met Line with our 3 daughters.

My first job was with an American technology company 19 years ago where I got the bug for geekdom. I also discovered that what matters is your ability not your job title something that at times has caused me difficulty with clients.

After a winding journey I run my own consulting firm with eight associates spread from Boston to Latvia. We work only in the Mobile space helping network owners, equipment manufacturers and software firms to understand just what the difference is between wireless and mobile and how they could make money.

The thumbnail over I will be back to express my views on all things technology.