Each month, we collect miscellaneous happenings, studies, trends or observations that you might have missed. This month’s tidbits include our "You Made It" awards, a new home networking paper, updated broadband statistics, the battles between US Telcos and municipalities over broadband, a motion recognition phone, our discovery of Picasa and a non-traditional approach to security.
Our "You made it!" Awards: 2Wire and Ucentric
We're always delighted when companies we've been tracking and writing about for a long time make it to the big leagues. There are two of those this month -- 2Wire and Ucentric -- to whom we want to offer our hearty congratulations!
We wrote about 2Wire in the very first issue of this newsletter almost five years ago [see A View From The Valley (BBHR 4/9/2000) ( www.broadbandhomecentral.com/report/backissues/Report0004.html#link4 )]. At that time we wrote that CEO Brian Hinman's impressive track record made this a company worth tracking. As a result of 2Wire's joint venture with SBC, Brian is now not only CEO of 2Wire but has also assumed the role of president, SBC Media Solutions. ( www.2wire.com )
We wrote about our first visit and interview with Ucentric somewhat later [see Fulfilling the Vision of the Broadband Home -- A Visit with Ucentric Systems (BBHR 11/14/2001) ( www.broadbandhomecentral.com/report/backissues/Report0111_5.html )]. Ucentric has gone thru some changes in the interim, including having Michael Collette assume the CEO position, but the essence of their direction has remained on whole home converged services and the personal video recorder which makes audio and video available on demand at any stereo or TV in the home. Congratulations Ucentric, on your acquisition by Motorola. ( www.ucentric.com )
Home Networking White Paper
The DSL Forum has released a new white paper which is designed to be used by consumers. It can be downloaded at The ABC’s of Home Networking ( www.dslforum.org/PressRoom/ABCs_home_networking_final.pdf ). Promotional materials say "it provides a simple, clear overview of the options and components of today’s home network." ( www.dslforum.com )
New Online and Broadband Statistics
China now has over 94 million Internet users according to a January 20, 2005 release from the Associated Press. It indicates that, as in the US, "Teenagers are rapidly turning off the television, and firing up their computers."
33% of U.S. homes will have high speed Internet by the end of 2005, according to Broadband Daily. This is up from a figure of 29% at the end of 2004. Cable will lead telcos in net high-speed subscriber gains, while alternative broadband technologies such as satellite and Wi-Fi will continue to make inroads. ( www.broadband-daily.com )
In the UK, broadband has overtaken dial-up. The BBC News online edition carried a story about how broadband in the UK ( news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4099457.stm ) "really took off in 2004". The article indicated that enthusiasm for broadband is unlikely to dampen any time soon and that experts predict that by the end of 2005 the numbers will have risen to more than eight million users, or more than 30% of homes. The key factors cited in generating the enthusiastic growth were falling prices and a huge marketing push. In December 2004, BT announced that it was making a new broadband connection every 10 seconds.
US Telcos vs. Municipalities Over Broadband
Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Indiana have all passed legislation which strictly limits the ability of municipalities to offer free broadband service to their residents. While we haven't followed all the ins and outs of this legislation, something seems amiss in a law that prevents a municipality from offering broadband service simply by having a carrier tell the state authorities that, within nine months, it would be offering a similar service. If an entity simply states that they plan to offer service within 9 months of the formal request for feedback, then the municipality is required to wait until the end of that 9 months before they determine that the telecom company did not provide the service. There appear to be no repercussions if the carrier fails to deliver on their promise nor are there any minimum coverage requirements.
Someone's Waving Their Phone Around In The Air? It's must be a Samsung!
This one belongs in the "I couldn't have made this up" category. Samsung announced that they have developed a motion recognition wireless phone. "The SCH-S310 allows users to dial a phone number by waving the handset in the air in the shape of digits and symbols instead of pressing a keypad and can delete unwanted text messages by simply shaking the handset up and down. The handset is expected to launch in March 2005."
It has been quite a while since we have raved about an application, but Google's Picasa 2.0 software really does what it promises. It is intuitive and "makes it easy and fun to view, organize, edit and share the digital photos on your PC." And best of all Picasa is free and easily downloadable ( www.picasa.com ) from Google. We had missed Google's July 2004 acquisition of Picasa. Picasa has had a technology partnership with Google's Blogger service since last May, to make publishing digital photos with Blogger faster and easier. It's not clear yet what the business proposition will be with Picasa -- but leave it to Google to figure it out.
Security Solutions -- Paintbrush Not Included
In all we've written about Wi-Fi networking, we had not yet come across the unique security solution mentioned in the December 28, 2004 issue of Information Week. They wrote about the latest anti-intrusion tool from a company called Force Field Wireless. The company says its DefendAir Radio Shield latex paint can dramatically reduce wireless signal leakage from a room or building. The paint contains copper filings and an aluminum compound, which, when spread evenly on a wall, reflects signals in frequencies from 100 MHz to 5 GHz. The product is not without drawbacks, however: in addition to blocking Wi-Fi radio signals, it also blocks mobile-phone signals. Definitely not the solution for any home that has discontinued wireline phone service!