Small Carriers and the IoT

Ericsson’s Loris Zaia gave his take on how the “Internet of Things” may affect small carriers in the coming years at the BroadbandVision show earlier this month. He noted that networks have to expand from connecting hundreds of millions of people as they do today, to connecting multiple billions of machines over the next several years as various devices perform more functions online. 

Cloud computing, Zaia stated, can help lower costs to make participation in this market achievable for smaller carriers. And in rural areas, where demand for spectrum may not be as intense as in more densely populated places, fixed wireless may help extend the reach of broadband over more geography.

“The business case with some of the smaller operators,” he said, “is quite frankly that it’s easier to for them to partner with some of the tier two players” to extend the reach of broadband in rural areas.” See the full interview with Zaia online

Lazy Coffee Addict Eschews Smart Brewer

There. I’ve said it. I will spend my usual week at CES next January and snicker at the smart pot. Not because I do not appreciate coffee, and not because I do not appreciate technology. I embrace both. Just not together. Even I have limits.

A recent report issued by the Consumer Electronics Associations (which hosts CES) and Parks Associates states that 20% of broadband households in the United States will acquire a connected device in the coming year. These may include light bulbs, thermostats, garage door openers and smoke detectors. Smart kitchen appliances and door locks topped the list of most popular devices.

At last year’s CES, wearable devices seemed the rage — everything from heart rate and other monitors to devices woven into baby clothing and intended to replace the walkie-talkie type monitors that, like early cordless phones, sometimes picked up (and awkwardly so) conversations from a neighbor’s house. Read more

CBS Climbs Aboard the Standalone Bandwagon

If you can’t beat ‘em, adapt—CBS announced plans last week to go after the cord-cutting market through CBS All Access, a stand-alone streaming service that will offer subscribers access to both current and archived CBS content.

“With video consumption habits changing all the time, it is very important that we continue to provide the best local news, entertainment and sports via a service like CBS All Access,” said CBS Television Stations’ president Peter Dunn. “Television stations have been the fabric of local broadcasting for 75 years, and today’s announcement is part of paving the way for the next 75.”

CBS’ announcement follows on the heels of HBO going public with plans for HBO Go, which will allow viewers the ability to access HBO programming without an HBO subscription. “We will use all measures to go after” the estimated 80 million homes that do not have HBO, said HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler in announcing HBO Go.

The actions by CBS and HBO are a response to studies showing that more and more Americans are streaming content. Research firm emarketer, for example, estimates that 45% of Americans stream television shows at least once a month.

Not coincidentally, it has also been reported that HBO’s “Game of Thrones” series is the most pirated program in television history

“Beacon” Mobile Marketing 

Investing your money in building retail stores is probably not viewed as the best bet these days. Shopping malls are not being built, and in fact, a large number are going out of business. Yet, that doesn’t mean that retailers and product manufactures are surrendering to online shopping. After all, 90% of retail sales are still made in brick-and-mortar retail stores. And, about two-thirds of shoppers use their mobile devices while shopping in retail stores.

Retailers are boosting sales in retail stores by tapping into mobile devices through the use of “Beacon Marketing.” Beacons use Bluetooth Low-Energy technology to send a signal to customers’ mobile devices when they come within range of a beacon. They can send information on sales or other promotional offers to customers in a brick-and-mortar retail store. A recently released study found that shoppers who received these messages were 19 times more likely to take a look at the product.

The technology has some promise, but it also has some limits. In most cases, customers must have the store-specific app open on their phone. However, if you have an iPhone with updated iOS 7 software on it, that isn’t necessary, though a customer needs to keep their Bluetooth function turned on and must allow any apps access to their location data. Read more

Updates (Tesla), Happenings (Amazon), Taxes (Netflix), and TVs (Apple) – A Survey of Tech Things I Care About

Astute readers of the New Edge may assume that this column is the product of a lack of imagination or an unwillingness to come up with a new, original topic. You are partially correct. The other explanation for this “What’s Happening?” (what’s happening in the sense of this being an update, not the underrated 1970’s TV show) is that I tend to follow all of the topics from previous New Edge posts and found some of the updates and happenings discussed below fascinating and thought that you may agree. Hopefully it doesn’t feel too much like a Rerun.

Amazon is going to open a brick-and-mortar store. Seriously. Think back now to my previous ruminations on how Amazon is destroying the brick-and-mortar bookstore, one of my favorite institutions that is slowing dying. Now, Amazon is planning a brick-and-mortar store of its own. It will be in New York’s Herald Square next to the famous Macy’s of Thanksgiving Day parade legend and will accept returns and probably show off the Kindle and the Fire.

This article here actually has some great data and explanations for why Amazon would do this. In short, most purchases are still made in brick-and-mortar retail stores and so there is money to be made. Bezos is no dummy. Read more

Laws That Protect Online Reviewers

Like a large number of consumers, I use online product reviews when making any major purchase – indeed they are a critical part of deciding on a contractor/plumber/etc. to perform a service/repair in my home. A study from 2013 found that 79% of consumers in the United States and Canada trust online reviews more than a personal recommendation. One interesting finding of the study was that the trust level has caused people to make buying decisions based on smaller numbers of reviews read, meaning that it takes only a few bad reviews to turn a consumer away from a business or a product.

What that adds up to is businesses taking online review much more seriously. This story highlights one man’s fight with a clothing store that allegedly gave his book bad reviews as revenge for a bad review he gave after receiving poor service. Read more

Average U.S. Broadband Speed Increases, Even as World Ranking Lags

According to a new study released by cloud services provider Akamai, the average broadband speed in the U.S. was 11.4 Mbps in the second quarter of 2014. This represents an increase of 8.9% from 1Q 2014, and a 39% increase from the same quarter a year ago.

However, despite the growth in average speed, the U.S. was unable to reclaim a spot in the world top 10. According to Akamai, the U.S. dropped out of the top 10 for the first time ever in the first quarter of 2014, and remained outside the top 10 in the second quarter.

The eastern U.S. led the way in average broadband speeds, with seven states in the top 10. At 16.2 Mbps, Delaware led all states. The other eastern states in the top 10 were Virginia, D.C., Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Three western states made the top 10: Washington, Utah and Oregon. All of the top 10 states had average speeds in excess of 12.8 Mbps.

Akamai further sought to classify customer readiness for ultra-high definition video, commonly known as 4K. In order to be considered 4K-ready, customers need an average connection speed of at least 15 Mbps. Nationwide, Akamai found that 19% of all consumers were 4K-ready. Again, Delaware was first, with 35% of customers at or above 15 Mbps, followed by Massachusetts, New Hampshire, D.C., New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, Rhode Island, Virginia and Oregon, all exceeding 23% of customers at or above 4K-ready speed.

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