Each month, we collect miscellaneous happenings, studies, trends or observations you might have missed. This month we feature the combination of 3G and broadband, used for two very different purposes, the quest for PVR differentiation and a quote from FCC Chair Kevin Martin on "net neutrality".
Different Technologies--Same Conflicts
Consumers think "free" is always the best price. Service providers don't see it that way. The conflict becomes visible when consumers share their DSL or cable broadband service with their neighbors. Service providers view these customers as "abusers" and threaten to cut off service.
As 3G gets deployed and users want to share those facilities, the situation starts looking like what we've experienced in the fixed-line world. Networking Pipeline, Broadband Reports and others have reported that 3G sharing now has mobile service providers reacting.
New products which facilitate 3G sharing have been developed by companies including D-Link, Kyocera, Motorola and Linksys. The products share the 3G connection over Wi-Fi thru a wireless router that which incorporates a slot for plugging in your EV-DO card. Verizon has reportedly issued warnings to 100 subscribers of its EV-DO BroadbandAccess service, whom they suspect are sharing their service. Sprint is said to be cracking down as well.
This should be no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, particularly in the US. When the marketing claim is "unlimited use", but the economic reality doesn't allow that, conflict between enthusiastic users and service providers is the inevitable outcome. It's probably hopeless to expect service providers to temper their claims with some economic reality.
Research In Motion (RIM) president and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said it well at Globalcomm: he warned carriers to be cautious regarding plans for unlimited wireless data: "No matter how you slice it, bandwidth is not free,"
Expanding Mobile Coverage Indoors
Devices like the D-Link 3G Mobile Router take a 3G connection and distribute it to other devices (likely to be PCs).
UbiquiSys Ltd has turned that on its head in their 3G HSDPA ZoneGate home access point system. The product is designed to expand mobile indoor coverage and capacity of 3G, to provide new service opportunities in the home/SOHO markets. The ZoneGate system uses a small plug-and-play device that relies on a user's broadband connection to pass both signalling and call traffic between the locally connected mobile phone and the operatorís network. Based on technology from picoChip, it connects to existing W-CMDA phones and "uses the customerís existing broadband connection - DSL, cable or other - to carry traffic between the mobile phone and the cellular operatorís network." ( www.ubiquisys.com ) ( www.picochip.com )
Kevin Martin Said It Well
Although we were not at Globalcomm, we read (in CBS Marketwatch) what Kevin Martin was quoted as saying about "net neutrality": "Consumers need to be able to access all the content that's available over the Internet without being impeded by the access provider. But at the same time, we recognized that the people that are deploying these networks may offer differentiated speeds and differentiated products to the consumer. ... And if you offer different tiers of speeds, a consumer chooses the lowest tier, and he wants to access content that would require higher speeds than he has purchased, he's not being blocked from access. He just hasn't purchased the speed that's necessary." That sounds right to us. ( cbs.marketwatch.com )
All PVRs Not Created Equal
TiVo has been conducting a campaign to differentiate itself from plain vanilla PVRs. One of their new introductions is "Guru Guides", which provide program recommendations from magazines including Sports Illustrated, Vanity Fair, Billboard, Car and Driver, and Entertainment Weekly. A selected title will be automatically recorded every 2 weeks.
TiVo had previously unveiled Product Watch, which allows subscribers to view commercials from approximately 70 different advertisers. ( www.tivo.com )