BBH Report Home Page
September 10, 2009 Provided by System Dynamics Inc.

IN THIS ISSUE:


Heard on the Net

News about People and Companies Influencing The Broadband Home

People News

Gilles Delfassy has been appointed President and CEO of ST-Ericsson, a joint venture of STMicroelectronics and Ericsson, effective November 2, 2009. ( www.stericsson.com )

Teresa Elder has joined Clearwire in a newly created role as president of strategic partnerships and wholesale. She was previously head of Vodafone, Ireland. ( www.clearwire.com )

John Gloekler has joined Gigle Semiconductor as VP of operations. Gloekler previously was CEO of G2 Microsystems. ( www.gigle.biz )

Seamus Hennessy has joined Ruckus Wireless as CFO. Hennessy was previously CFO at Aerohive.( www.ruckuswireless.com )

Dr. Tom Lookabaugh has joined Entropic Communications as its CTO. Prior positions for Lookabaugh include being CEO at PolyCipher, a cable industry joint venture for security and cryptography. ( www.entropic.com )

Andreas Melder has been appointed VP of marketing and business development at Staccato Communications. Andy was previously with Intellon. ( www.staccatocommunications.com )

Craig Miller has been appointed VP of marketing and business development at Sequans Communications. Miller was previously at NextWave Wireless. ( www.sequans.com )

Tracy Nolan has been hired as VP of retail for Cox Communications. Her responsibilities include retail operations and sales strategy for Cox's current products and emerging new wireless portfolio. She was previously COO of telecom-marketing firm ACN and also managed Frontier Cellular's stores. ( ww2.cox.com )

Mike Quigley, formerly President & COO of Alcatel, has been appointed executive chairman of the National Broadband Network Company (NBNCo) set up by the Australian government ( www.dbcde.gov.au/communications/national_broadband_network ) to deliver "superfast broadband to Australian homes and workplaces."

C.J. Singh has joined Synacor, a technology company providing Internet solutions to the ISP, advertising and media industries, as VP of Product & Engineering. Singh was previous with Yahoo and Oracle. ( www.synacor.com )

David R. Spear has become EVP, Marketing & Sales at IP Gallery Inc. Dave was previously with Cedar Point Communications. ( www.ipgallery.com )

Hervé Utheza has become President of Related Content Database (RCDb), a provider of services and a software platform for network-connected Blu-ray discs, players and other connected devices. Hervé was previously with Orb Networks.( www.rcdb.net )

Ken Wirth was appointed as President of Alcatel-Lucent's 4G/LTE Wireless Networks. ( www.alcatel-lucent.com )


Company News

Acquisitions

ActiveVideo Networks in May acquired Netherlands-based Avinity Systems and renamed it ActiveVideo Europe. Both companies use a cloud-based approach to interactive applications. ( www.activevideo.com )

ARRIS has acquired certain assets of EG Technology (EGT) for approximately $6.5 million and will employ approximately 20-25 of the existing employees. Assets acquired include EGT patents and video processing technology for digital networks. ( www.arris-i.com )

Atheros is acquiring PLC company Intellon, combining expertise in Ethernet and wireless networking with powerline networking to further drive the adoption of universal, easy-to-use, networking solutions throughout the digital home. The acquisition is being valued at approximately $244 million, or $181 million net of Intellon's cash and investments.( www.atheros.com ) ( www.intellon.com )

Ericsson is acquiring the portions of Nortel's Carrier Networks division relating to CDMA and LTE technology in North America. The purchase price is USD 1.13 b. and is subject to court and regulatory approvals. ( www.ericsson.com ) ( www.nortel.com )

Google is acquiring On2 Technologies, a developer of video compression technology. The transaction is valued at approximately $106 million. ( www.google.com ) ( www.on2.com )

Intel has completed its approximately $884 million acquisition of Wind River Systems, a maker of software for embedded systems and mobile devices. ( www.intel.com ) ( www.windriver.com )

SeaChange International has acquired Dutch video software company eventIS Group B.V. for €25.5 million (US$36.5 million). ( www.schange.com ) ( www.eventIS.nl )

Funding

Calix Networks has announced $100 million in new financing focused on expected new business from the US broadband stimulus. ( www.calix.com )

Intel Capital invested $43 million in Tokyo-based UQ Communications, a provider of WiMAX mobile services committed to provide WiMAX coverage to 90% of the country by 2012. ( www.intel.com/capital )( www.uqwimax.jp/english )

Ozmo Devices, which is pursuing the low-power wireless personal area network business, has announced completion of their series C funding of $7.5 million from existing funders including Intel Capital. ( www.ozmodevices.com )


Other News

Avail Media, an independent aggregator and provider of linear MPEG-4 IPTV content, and TV on-demand company TVN Entertainment announced the completion of their merger. The combined company,rebranded Avail-TVN, enables the distribution of linear and on-demand content to over 120 million consumers, including 34 former IP Prime affiliates. ( www.availmedia.com ) ( www.tvn.com )

Gigle Semiconductor announced their gigabit home networking chip and its adoption by Belkin for their Gigabit Powerline Networking Adapters. The Belkin product uses Gigle technology to give users an ultrafast HD entertainment network through a home’s existing electrical wiring. ( www.gigle.biz ) ( www.belkin.com )

RadioShack and AT&T have announced the launch of AT&T ConnecTech support services in more than 4,400 company-owned RadioShack stores. Under the agreement, AT&T ConnecTech will serve as a full-service tech-support team for RadioShack customers, providing such services as TV and home theater installation, PC set-up and support, and network installation. Support will be for both AT&T and non-AT&T customers in all 50 states, seven days a week. ( www.radioshack.com ) ( www.att.com ) ( connectech.att.com )

Countries

US: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was authorized to create a National Broadband Plan ( www.fcc.gov/cgb/broadband.html ) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). Blair Levin is the plan's Director. FCC members and important constituents have been participating in a series of Workshops on topics such as technology, applications and devices. More information, including archived recordings of workshops already held, can be found at the FCC's National Broadband Plan website ( www.broadband.gov ). Additional information is at the FCC's broadband blog ( blog.broadband.gov ). ( www.fcc.gov )

UK: Informitv reported that there are almost 9 million digital video recorders installed in the UK (35% of UK households); they project that within the next few years one in two homes may have a DVR. These DVRs include both subscribers to pay-TV and an increasing number of DVR devices purchased at retail. ( informitv.net )


Standards & Alliances

IEEE 802.11n is scheduled to be ratified by the IEEE standards Board tomorrow. The minutes of the July 2009 TGn Plenary said "An interesting coincidence was pointed out that the first meeting of HTSG was on Sept. 11, 2002, and the final approval by the Standards Board is scheduled for Sept. 11, 2009" -- exactly seven years from the formation of the Higher Throughput Study Group to final approval of the standard. ( www.ieee802.org/11/Reports/tgn_update.htm )

The Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition (DRSG) and the ZigBee Alliance established a formal liaison agreement for collaboration on promotion and advocacy related to development of smart grid technology policies. DRSG is the trade association for companies providing technologies, products and services in the demand response and smart grid areas and the ZigBee Alliance is an ecosystem of companies creating wireless solutions for energy management, commercial and consumer applications. ( www.drsgcoalition.org ) ( www.zigbee.org )

The AVnu Alliance was created by founders Broadcom, Cisco Systems, Harman International, Intel, Samsung and Xilinx. The companies are promoting a suite of IEEE standards for LAN bridging that extend the media capabilities of Ethernet to new automotive and professional A/V markets and tomorrow's home networks. [See the article below on AVB and AVnu.] ( www.avnu.org )

The Femto Forum and the WiMAX Forum have agreed to collaborate on the development of WiMAX Femtocell Access Point (WFAP) specifications that will address topics such as end-to-end QoS, provisioning, network entry and authentication, power optimization, and mobility management.( www.femtoforum.org ) ( www.wimaxforum.org )

HomeGrid Forum, a non-profit trade group promoting the ITU-T G.hn standardization efforts, signed a liaison agreement with the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) to promote intergroup cooperation. The G.hn standard is aimed to deliver a single unified technology for the wired home network; DLNA's interoperability guidelines are designed to unite various consumer electronics, PC and mobile device technologies and standards into a cohesive home networking environment. ( www.homegridforum.org ) ( www.dlna.org )

The Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV or "HbbTV" was launched by a consortium of European TV industry leaders. It is a pan-European initiative aimed at harmonizing the broadcast and broadband delivery of news, information and entertainment to the consumer through TVs and set-top boxes. HbbTV is based on elements of existing standards and web technologies including OIPF (Open IPTV Forum), CEA, DVB and W3C. ( www.hbbtv.org )


Briefly Noted: Updates, Observations and Trends

Each month, we collect miscellaneous happenings, studies, trends or observations you might have missed. This month's briefs focus on ad-supported online TV, the digital game market, personal hotspots, and the future of the wired phone.

Ad-Supported Online TV Market

The online TV services of the four major US television networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox) together with Hulu, the joint venture between NBC Universal, News Corporation and Disney, accounted for a combined 53% of the ad-supported online TV market in the US, according to a report from UK research firm Screen Digest. The ad-supported US online TV market generated revenues of US $448 million in 2008, according to the report, so it is still dwarfed by broadcast and cable TV ad revenues, which were $69 billion in 2008. ( www.screendigest.com )

Digital Game Market--Not Just for kids

68% of US households now play computer games or video games, according to research done for the Entertainment Software Association (ESA)by Ipsos MediaCT. Survey findings show that the average game player is 35 years old, adult gamers have been playing for 12 years on average and 42% of American homes have a video game console. Networked videogame consoles are currently the most utilized devices for bringing web video to the TV. In-Stat projects that by 2013, 10.7 million consoles will be used as web-to-TV mediation devices in the US. ( www.theESA.com ) ( www.in-stat.com )

Personal Hotspots--Who Needs Starbucks?

An increasing number of mobile service providers are offering devices that let users connect multiple Wi-Fi devices to the internet over their 3G connection. Examples include Sprint and Verizon in the US, and 3 in the UK. The devices go by various names including "personal hotspots", "mobile routers" and brandings like MiFi. The Verizon and Sprint offerings are both based on the Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200. Users no longer have to locate a hotspot to use Wi-Fi because the device creates one for them. Even if I have my hotspot, I'll still take Starbucks for the latte. ( www.novatelwireless.com )

Wireline phones--An Endangered Species?

A story in the August 13th issue of The Economist pointed out that while many articles have been addressing the imperiled status of American print newspapers, wired phones are in a much more tenuous position. The article noted that by one often-quoted calculation, the last printed newspaper in the US will arrive on a doorstep in 2043. That's a long time in the future compared to the projection that the last phone cord will be cut in 2025 if the decline of the landline continues at its current rate. ( www.economist.com )


Audio Video Bridging -- The Missing Link In Home Networking

When we visited the Broadcom suite at CES in January 2009, Senior Technical Director Yong Kim showed us their work on "Ethernet Audio Video Bridging". The demo showed how AV bridging made it possible to carry multiple high-speed media and data streams over the same Ethernet link. With standard Ethernet, TV pictures would have broken up, and audio would have stuttered; with AVB, all the streams were delivered perfectly, with no interference.

The more we thought about and researched what we had seen, the better we understood how truly important AV Bridging is to the vision of interconnecting the whole broadband home. Many new applications will work only if AVB is included in all networking technologies deployed in the home.

AVB is a high-level QoS standard designed to be applied across all networking technologies. Until now, the absence of such a standard has made it necessary to partition the home into multiple technology islands to keep various media and data streams from interfering with each other.

AVB provides the missing link required to interconnect the technology islands. When fully implemented, homes will have a unified network for data and media, enabling a wide variety of innovative applications.

AVB Connects The Islands

Different networking technologies have been applied to solve particular problems, creating separate "islands" of digital technology. One island--based on Ethernet and Wi-Fi--is used for data networking between PCs and the Internet. Another--based on HDMI--is used to connect video sources such as DVD players and set top boxes to TVs. A third--based on coaxial cable with MoCA or HomePNA--connects master DVRs to remote set top boxes. Because these streams of media and data are kept within islands where they can't interfere with each other, all the streams run at the highest quality.

Emerging applications require connections between the islands. Users would like to play PC video on their TVs, and would like to connect TVs and set top boxes to the Internet. Ethernet would be the logical way to interconnect these islands. Lacking QoS, standard Ethernet cannot keep data traffic from interfering with media streams, and cannot guarantee that audio and video will stay in synch.

The consumer electronics industry has wanted to address Ethernet's limitations for many years. John Gildred, then VP of Engineering at Pioneer Research Center USA, a division of Pioneer Electronics, described the problem in a session we organized and moderated at the FastNet Futures conference in March 2004 ( www.broadbandhomecentral.com/report/backissues/Report0404_6.html ). John said that although Ethernet operates at very high speed, it's "best efforts" only. Video transfers "break up" when other applications, such as a video download or a PC-to-PC file transfer, run simultaneously on the same Ethernet network. Until this problem is solved, Ethernet can't be used for consumer electronics video applications, such as playing a video on a DVR in one room and carrying it over Ethernet to a TV in another room.

More than five years later, AV Bridging provides the solution to the problem John laid out. It adds delivery guarantees to Ethernet, making it possible to carry media and data over Ethernet with no loss of quality. It does even more, providing a high-level mechanism for end-to-end QoS over diverse networking technologies. Once implemented broadly in home networking technologies, it will be possible to carry multiple streams of high-definition video and high-quality multichannel audio over the same network being used for high-speed data.

Yong Kim's demo showed how this works in the real world. It included several different media sources: a DVD player, an MP3 player, and an electric guitar. These media sources were all connected over a common Ethernet link to corresponding media players: a high-def TV, a digital audio player, and a guitar amplifier. At the same time, the Ethernet link was carrying a high volume of data traffic from a traffic generator (like your teenager downloading video). Yong showed us a diagram of the setup:


The audio and video in Yong's demo all played perfectly, showing that AV Bridging over Ethernet made it possible to carry intermixed media and data with perfect QoS and precise time synchronization.


The Audio/Video Bridging Task Group

The Audio/Video Bridging Task Group is devoted to providing the missing link. Formally under way for more than five years, it has undertaken to solve the most difficult remaining problem for the broadband home: making it possible for multiple digital media streams to get from any source to any destination over any combination of networking technologies with no loss in quality.

The AVB task group was originally formed as part of IEEE 802.3, which is responsible for Ethernet standards; John Gildred was one of the lead presenters in the Call For Interest ( www.ieee802.org/3/re_study/public/200407/cfi_0704_1.pdf ) in July 2004. It soon became clear that the problem was more than Ethernet, and a year later the group moved to IEEE 802.1, responsible for "bridging" -- the protocols that cross-connect between all types of devices.

Four New Standards

The AVB group is coordinating the development of four new IEEE standards, which provide precise timing, bandwidth reservation, and guaranteed low latency. These new standards, on track to be completed by 2011, will be implemented in Ethernet chips and incorporated in new consumer and professional Ethernet devices.

The new AVB protocols are independent of any particular type of Ethernet. Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps) is most common in homes today. Gigabit Ethernet (1 Gbps) has reached consumer price points, and 10 Gbps Ethernet is already on the enterprise market.

These bridging mechanisms go beyond Ethernet--they have been designed so they could be implemented with any 802-type protocol. All the newer home networking technologies (Wi-Fi, HomePlug, MoCA, HomePNA, UPA, etc.) include some form of QoS and other mechanisms designed for high-quality media transport. AVB provides a common high-level mechanism for end-to-end QoS across all these technologies.

A View From the Plumbing Architect

Michael Johas Teener ( www.johasteener.com ), Technical Director / Plumbing Architect at Broadcom, has chaired AVB throughout the effort. Mike has been dealing with these issues for a long time. As Plumbing Architect at Apple Computer, he was the chief architect of Firewire, and has been chair or editor for three IEEE 1394 standards. He joined Broadcom in 2005.

In mid-March, we interviewed Mike over the phone to learn more about AVB. We observed that DLNA uses Ethernet at its primary physical layer, and evaluates the other technologies against Ethernet. So we asked whether AVB was solving a real problem. He said "You can't build digital speaker systems because there's no way to synchronize the streams--you can't do multiple streams. There's no concept of timing in standard Ethernet. My son downloading music or playing internet games interferes with video. In addition, the content providers are pushing DLNA to have managed QoS; virtually every carrier has said they want QoS."

We asked him how soon we're likely to see AVB in products. He said "several major companies that provide silicon are part of this project. The professional AV business needs it, and will start rolling it out this year. The CE companies will come in at the higher end, the rest on an as-needed basis. There are no technical disagreements between the standards participants; little in the protocol stack needs additional work. Chips and products will be coming out quite soon, compliant with the draft standards. There will be some low-cost chips this year."

We mentioned the Broadcom demo at CES, and asked whether AVB was already incorporated in some chips. He said "Parts that have early AVB capabilities have been out for a year and a half. Chip makers usually wait until sponsor ballot to announce and one of the three major standards was just approved for sponsor ballot. AVB will become part of the 802 standard and nobody will do Ethernet chips without it. Before AVB there was nothing for applications that needed professional quality QoS to hook to; we're setting up the structure so people can hook the layer-2-specific QoS mechanisms to a common middle layer. That way there's just one piece of firmware to write."

Finally, we asked Mike about the implementation of AVB in other networking technologies. He said "We’ve had representatives from virtually every layer-2 technology participant: 802.11 has a dedicated group working on video streaming using AVB interfaces, and MoCA, HPNA and even G.hn will embrace AVB. A long list of silicon companies made a contribution to G.hn requesting that AVB be part of their assumptions. The ITU (G.hn’s sponsor) demands interoperability, and AVB solves the QoS interoperability problem."

We recently talked on the phone with Chano Gomez, Vice President for Technology and Strategic Partnerships at DS2. He confirmed that the G.hn specifications, which will be completed this year, will include support for AVB. He said "we have all the elements in G.hn so that it can run AVB," with most of the AVB specifications contained in a mandatory annex.


BroadSync HD Technology

Given Broadcom's strong push on AVB, it was no surprise that mid-March brought the announcement of BroadSync HD technology ( investor.broadcom.com/releaseDetail.cfm?ReleaseID=374105 ). The announcement said BroadSync HD would "enable extraordinary streaming of high definition (HD) audio/video (A/V) traffic over Ethernet to networked electronic devices. ... BroadSync HD technology is Broadcom's custom implementation of the AVB draft standard.

"Broadcom is leading the effort to promote the AVB draft standard, which uses standard Ethernet connectivity (i.e. Category 5 cabling and RJ45 connectors), as the common underlying technology for high quality network-based streaming that will eventually replace most other types of connectivity presently used in A/V equipment."


The AVnu Alliance

Late August brought yet another AVB announcement: the formation of the AVnu Alliance. The press release ( www.avnu.org/news_and_events/launch_release ) said "The AVnu Alliance aims to establish a professional quality A/V experience in networked environments, whether an HD television or music studio, a car, a concert hall, a stadium or a home theater. ... The founding members ... include Broadcom Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Harman International, Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., and Xilinx, Inc."

While AVB's roots are in Ethernet, AVnu advocates the use of AVB to provide "professional quality A/V" over all lower-level networking technologies "to ensure reliability in a heterogeneous network based upon open industry standards". AVnu expects to play a role for AVB similar to the role the Wi-Fi Alliance plays for IEEE 802.11: compliance and interoperability (C&I) testing, and promotion.

To learn more about AVnu (pronounced like "avenue" without the "en"), we interviewed Rick Kreifeldt, AVnu Alliance Chairman and President. Rick's "day job" is VP of the System Development and Integration Group at Harman International, a long-time leader in professional, automotive and consumer electronics. (Dave told Rick that he knew Harman well - his very first paycheck from his first job out of college went to buy a stereo system based on a Harman-Kardon amplifier and pre-amp.) Rick has worked at Harman for close to 16 years, mostly on the professional side, and now runs an advanced R&D group which works on AVB, cutting across all three Harman market segments.

Rick said AVB would be applied first in the professional AV market. "If you look at large stadiums or convention centers, they're doing AV streaming using proprietary technologies. It takes a lot of engineering to hold it together. Hitting latency is hard; and a little bit of traffic can interfere with streaming." He said the alliance is reaching out to players in the other markets "The companies that are involved in AVB understand what’s going on in the ecosystem" and pointed out that the founding members included such major players as Broadcom, Cisco, Intel, and Samsung as well as Harman.

Harman Professional has already started showing products based on Ethernet AVB. At an industry show in April, Rick demonstrated a digital matrix processor and amplifier connected through an Ethernet AVB switch ( blog.livedesignonline.com/briefingroom/2009/04/01/harman-professional-to-demonstrate-preview-of-end-to-end-ethernet-av-at-pro-light-sound/ ). In his talk about AVB at the show, Rick said "Harman has long been a very active participant in this group and we’re very pleased to see the momentum this initiative has generated from such a diverse host of technology companies."

The Resource Library ( www.avnu.org/resource_library ) on the AVnu website currently includes four white papers. "No-excuses Audio/Video Networking: the Technology Behind AVnu" is an overview of AVB technology by Michael Johas Teener. Individual white papers cover the three markets: automotive, consumer electronics and professional A/V.

Automotive is perhaps the least obvious application of AVB. In the automotive white paper, Rick and his co-authors describe the various forms of data and media in cars today, and the complex problems designers face in integrating audio, video, control and diagnostics over the wiring buried in the car. AVB would make it possible to use Ethernet for all the links.


Whole Home Networking With AVB

We have long written about "whole home networking"--a unified network for all data and media traffic in the home. We have always believed that no one technology would provide everything needed, and that a combination of technologies would be required.

End-to-end QoS is an essential requirement for whole home networking. But until AVB, QoS has been missing in Ethernet. Wi-Fi and the wide variety of exiting-wiring technologies all use different approaches for QoS.

AVB is the missing link. It provides the framework to solve the last major outstanding issue in the Broadband Home. It will be incorporated into all future Ethernet devices. Work is already underway to incorporate it into Wi-Fi and G.hn.

The next generation of industry-defined existing-wiring technologies (MoCA, HomePlug, UPA) are now on the drawing boards. To fulfill the vision of whole home networking, we hope AVB will be an integral part of all these technologies.

( www.broadcom.com ) ( www.pioneerelectronics.com ) ( www.ieee802.org/1/pages/avbridges.html ) ( www.ieee802.org/3 ) ( www.ieee802.org/1 ) ( www.ds2.es ) ( www.avnu.org ) ( www.harman.com )


One User's Experience With Remote PC Support

[Dave]If you're like me, you've often had the experience of trying to help someone--a business colleague, friend or family member--solve a PC problem. This is often frustrating. It's very hard to figure out what's going on if you can't see the user's screen, and difficult to explain what you'd like him or her to do to gather information.

There are a variety of remote support tools on the market. I've tried several and run into problems with all of them. For example, Microsoft's Remote Desktop Support seems to work over a local network, but not over the Internet--at least not if there's a firewall in the way. I've never found a tool I liked.

So it was interesting to be on the other end of this, and experience a good tool in the hands of a very good support person.

I'm an instrument-rated private pilot, and have subscribed to Jeppesen's Airway Manual paper charts for close to forty years. Like most pilots, I've gotten tired of lugging twenty pounds of books onboard our plane every time we make a trip, and throwing away reams of unused paper when the approach plates are updated. Every time I renew my subscription, I think about switching to an electronic update service.

This year the cost of the updates finally got high enough that I decided to switch over to JeppView/Flitestar, Jeppesen's PC-based flight planning and chart service. All the approach plates are now downloaded and stored on my notebook PC, and updated over the Web every two weeks. When I plan a route, I print only the plates needed for that route. The system is designed to keep track of the changes that occur during the update cycle, and prints out only the plates that have changed since I last printed that route.

"Exemplary use of a remote support tool"

That sounds fine in principle. But after planning our first trip, I wanted to print all the plates for the route, and couldn't figure out how to do it. After several attempts, I called Jeppesen tech support, which operates 24x7. After asking a few questions, the tech support person asked if he could use remote support. When I said "yes" he asked me to open a web browser and type in a short URL. I was asked for an activation code, which he read to me. Soon after I typed in the code, he had taken control of my PC. Moving the mouse on my screen, and talking with me on the phone, he very quickly showed me how to tell JeppView to print the whole set of charts.

I then asked if there was a simpler way to check for updates than the one I had been using. He said "sure," and showed me which program to select from All Programs. Then he said "would you like it on your desktop?" and when I said "yes," he put the icon right where I could easily find it again.

This took all of about five minutes. It was an exemplary use of a remote support tool, in the hands of a very proficient person. I called back to find out what tool Jeppesen uses, and found it is NTRSupport. I'm thinking about signing up for a 15-day trial and using it myself.

"The support person is key"

A week later, I downloaded an update and couldn't figure out how to get JeppView to print only the charts that had changed. So I again called tech support, and pretty soon the (different) support person had taken over my PC. After a few minutes of talking with me and trying to get it to work, he said he was going to get some help and put me on hold. With music playing in the background, I watched him move the mouse around my screen. After about 5 minutes, I wanted to tell him that I had other things to do with my PC and would try to figure it out later--but I couldn't because he had me on hold.

Five more minutes passed, still on hold. He obviously hadn't solved my problem and seemed to be flailing around. I had work to do. So I grabbed the mouse and moved it on the screen to signal that I wanted to talk with him. He didn't get the hint, and went back to what he was doing. At that point, I grabbed the mouse and closed JeppView--that got his attention and he came back on the line. I told him that he'd had my PC for at least ten minutes, I had other things to do, and I'd deal with JeppView later (hopefully with someone who understood it better).

The lesson learned? The support person is key. Great tools require great support people. Companies that use remote support tools really need to pay attention to how their support procedures impact their customers--and tell their support people not to leave customers on hold!

( www.jeppesen.com ) ( www.ntrsupport.com )


Upcoming Conferences

August is over and the conference circuit is getting back into full swing. Some of the noteworthy conferences that will be happening in the next few months include the UTC Smart Grid Workshop, Partners Healthcare 2009 Connected Health Symposium and Telco TV. We're planning to get to all of these, and we hope to see you there.

UTC Smart Grid Workshop

With the greatly increased money and focus on Smart Grid, the Utilities Telecom Council's (UTC) gathering in Atlanta on September 29-30, 2009 at the Hilton Atlanta Airport is a great place to get an update on the state of smart grid activities, including legislative and regulatory drivers, standards, technology, architecture and business cases. ( www.utc.org/smartgridworkshop09 )

Partners HealthCare's 2009 Connected Health Symposium

The theme of this year's Connected Health Symposium is "Up from Crisis: Overhauling Healthcare Information, Payment and Delivery in Extraordinary Times". It couldn't be much more timely. Its focus is on moving Healthcare beyond the hospital and clinic and into the day-to-day lives of patients and consumers, and the roles that information technology can play in helping people manage chronic conditions, maintain health and wellness, and age with independence. The conference takes place at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, October 21-22, 2009( www.connected-health.org/events/symposium-2009.aspx )

Telco TV 09 8th Annual Conference & Expo

Telco TV is focused on the converging ecosystems of broadband and entertainment. It is oriented toward technical solutions and content to help telcos compete against cable and satellite providers. The conference is being held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL on November 10-12, 2009. ( www.lightreading.com/live/event_information.asp?event_id=29081 )