Of all the do-it-yourself (DIY) projects I’ll tackle in the house, electricity and plumbing are off the table. With regard to the former, I like electricity — a lot — but have a healthy respect for 120 volts and a rudimentary understanding of my own limits. Likewise, plumbing is something where the risk of error is exponentially greater than that I might encounter in, say, hanging a door. The worst I can do there is hang it out of plumb, which results mostly in shooting yet another afternoon trying to correct it. By contrast, even the most minor of a plumbing error can wreak untold (and, possibly, unnoticed-until-it’s-too-late) damage.
Home security might be a third one to add to the list. Now, to be sure, I have never attempted it, though I did work with my installer to devise an utterly ridiculously redundant system (at one point, he raised an eyebrow and said, “Mister, if someone wants to get you badly enough, there’s nothing I can do; we’re just trying to send the run-of-the-mill guys next door”). But, until recently, Verizon offered a service whereby users could pay a nominal fee and control their doors and windows and locks and lights remotely. Except now Verizon has discontinued the offering. Which of course begs the question, why I am writing about something that you can no longer buy? Read more
It was pretty much inevitable that in the wake of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down most of the FCC’s Open Internet (a.k.a. Net Neutrality) rules that accusations would begin flying around that broadband providers are throttling traffic. This week, the first accusation surfaced, which was vehemently disputed by the alleged perpetrator.
Specifically, a blogger claims that Verizon has been throttling Amazon Web Services (AWS, Amazon’s cloud services product) and Netflix. The accusation stemmed from the blogger (and his boss) experiencing a slowdown in their Verizon FiOS Internet service both at work and at home. You can read his blog linked above for more specifics on his allegations, and his speed and other tests conducted in connection with his accusation of traffic throttling. He also has a screenshot of an online chat with a Verizon customer service representative that he claims further supports the accusation that Verizon is limiting bandwidth to AWS and Netflix. As this article notes, however, this last piece of evidence is not necessarily reliable: it’s not as though a customer service representative is the person who will know whether Verizon has made such a serious decision as to throttle traffic and is authorized to let the world know about it via an online chat. Read more
I missed an opportunity last week to mark my 100th post to the New Edge with something spectacular. Instead, I wrote about cloud computing.
But since this post commences my “second hundred” I’ll reach back to my high school days to illustrate a conundrum that faces consumers as society becomes more deeply entrenched in the “Internet of things.”
Rumor has it that a wealthy donor once approached my high school and offered to underwrite the construction of a swimming pool. Concerned about liability issues, the school declined. When the donor persisted and asked why locking the building after hours would not suffice, the administration, aware of its students’ proclivity for surmounting security measures, replied, “In our school, there is no such thing as a ‘lock’” (I won’t share the details here, but I once participated in an effort that rivaled Spy vs. Spy in a quest to obtain a ring of keys). Read more
Anyone who is keeping count may have noticed that I am linking to a lot of Wall Street Journal articles lately. That is because I spent some expiring frequent flier miles on a subscription. When it runs out, I might revert to citing Sports Illustrated Kids.
Last Wednesday’s Journal featured an article titled, “Meet the Man Who Really Runs the Internet” (for now, we’ll give the Al Gore jokes a rest). The half-page interview featured Andy Jassy, head of Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) division, which sells computing power and cloud services. AWS recently landed a $600 million contract with the CIA, and while Jassy would not disclose how that amount compares to the total volume of AWS sales, he noted that it certainly enhanced the credibility of cloud services, generally.
Some market analysts estimate that the AWS is ringing up about $4 billion in annual sales; Jassy did not dispute reports of his predictions that the cloud division could one day eclipse Amazon’s $60 billion retail business. IBM, Microsoft, and Google are also jumping on the cloud bandwagon, indicating the potential for exponential growth of this sector. Read more
Intel’s efforts to break into the over-the-top video market with its own product may be fading away. Reports surfaced last week that Verizon was in talks to acquire all or part of Intel’s OTT operation. This kind of development is not surprising, as there were doubts about Intel’s ability to obtain sufficient content, and rumors circulated that Intel was talking not only to Verizon, but also to companies like Samsung and Amazon.
Verizon’s interest in the Intel product makes sense, as its OTT-kiosk combination service, Redbox Instant, went live earlier this spring. Verizon’s combination of content, broadband infrastructure and rental kiosks give it what are perhaps some unique advantages in the tough video OTT space. According to one report, Verizon and Outerwall (formerly known as Coinstar), its partner in the Redbox Instant project, plan to increase brand awareness efforts to the Redbox Instant service in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Meanwhile, Amazon, which had also been rumored to be in talks with Intel, has reportedly pushed back the release date of its planned OTT box, possibly past the holiday season and into 2014. Given the Amazon Prime video OTT service and the popularity of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader, which is increasingly evolving into a media player, Amazon is also poised to enhance its position in the OTT market. The exact impacts of the Intel deal will likely be better understood before the end of the year.
Verizon’s Enterprise Solutions Division has launched a new service that will facilitate the instantaneous transfer of patient medical monitoring data to the cloud, where it can be monitored by health care professionals between face-to-face appointments.
Verizon’s Converged Health Management service will wirelessly transmit data from home monitoring devices to a secure server that resides in Verizon’s cloud, where it can be accessed and analyzed by the user’s physician.
While the cloud service is currently able to collect data from blood pressure cuffs, weight scales, pulse oximeters (for measuring oxygen saturation) and glucose meters, additional devices are expected to be added over time.
By facilitating the flow of data between patient and doctor, Converged Health Management offers the promise of higher quality health care. “Patient outcomes are often the result of what individuals do when they are away from their care providers,” said Verizon chief medical officer Dr. Peter Tippett. “[Converged Health Management] allows the patient and physician to review a dashboard, and the clinician can prioritize how their patients are doing.”
The service also provides positive motivation to users—patients may receive money-saving coupons and personalized healthy lifestyle suggestions.
Officially classified as a medical device, Converged Health Management received FDA approval in August.
Verizon Communications last week announced the launch of a new 500 Mbps downstream, 100 Bbps upstream FiOS Internet speed tier. The speed won’t come cheap, however: the company announced that the standalone price for the service will be $299.99 per month.
The price drops somewhat when bundled with other Verizon FiOS TV or FiOS Digital Voice services. For example, the combined price for 500 Mbps broadband and FiOS TV Prime is $320 per month, and the triple play of the new broadband service, FiOS TV Prime and FiOS Digital Voice will cost $340 per month. In addition, the tier prices drop by $5 per month when the customer signs a two-year contract.
For the time being, at least, all Verizon FiOS Internet services are uncapped and unmetered.
This service is considerably more expensive than Google Fiber’s 1 Gbps service offering in Kansas City, which is priced at $70 per month. However, it is roughly comparable to Comcast’s 300 Mbps, $300/month offering.
The 500 Mbps service will not be available to all current FiOS customers–the company expects it to be offered to at least 70% of its FiOS customers by year-end 2014. FiOS currently passes an estimated 18 million homes in 12 states plus the District of Columbia.