Will customers want AT&T wireline and wireless in one package?

Since AT&T is getting rid of the Cingular name -- a mistake if you ask me -- its new ad campaign seems to be trying to lure customers into combining their landline and wireless business into a single bill, integrated in form and function and just about anything else.

Although the concept of "bundling" is mundane -- you can find better prices sometimes and more featured products and services by going with multiple companies -- it's no surprise that AT&T is doing this. Will customers bite on this? Who on earth knows -- but AT&T now has the "largest" community to feed from.

Qualcomm close to releasing MediaFLO

A familiar name in the wireless industry is expected to launch its touted MediaFLO service in the next few months as Qualcomm prepares to enter the service provider business.

With Verizon Wireless probably being the first carrier to pick up Qualcomm's MediaFLO mobile television service, expect this to be the hardest push yet for carriers to get customers to subscribe to mobile television services.

Current mobile television services and solutions are pretty inelegant and not worth much really. MediaFLO could change all that.

Merry Christmas to one and all!

We're taking a bit of a break to be with our loved ones over the holiday, and we hope you are too. A very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, and we'd like to pass along a heartfelt "Thank You" for your readership. We'll be back posting again tomorrow once we can burn off some of the egg nog!

Seven companies vying for Silicon Valley wireless network bid

The proposed wireless network that would cover the entire Silicon Valley is moving forward with seven companies who have submitted proposals by this past Friday's deadline.

Among the companies who sent in proposals were MetroFi, Fire2Wire, and Cisco Systems. Surprisingly, neither EarthLink or Google submitted a bid. (It'll be interesting to see if one or both of them will comment as to why they didn't enter the fray.)

The goal of the network is to cover all 1,500 square miles of Silicon Valley, a quite ambitious venture. The bidders will certainly approach the network in various ways, from MetroFi's model of building a free- and fee-paid structure to VeriLAN's idea of building it and then leasing it to other ISPs.

The winning bid will be announced on September 12, and then a timetable will be established as to when the network will be launched.

Who is going to run citywide WiFi better -- cities or private companies?

We've talked about this at length in some recent podcasts -- so what's your opinion? Should citywide WiFi networks be run by cities with tax dollars subsidizing part or all of the service, or should private industry -- a company like MobilePro -- run citywide WiFi networks?

With broadband internet access no longer some kind of luxury item -- but being a mode of communication essential to everyday life -- this is a tough question to answer. In many cases, privatization works wonders and ends up being the best choice -- but how about here? We're interested to hear our reader's comments on this one.

Verizon offering kid tracking service over wireless

I love the name of this new service from Verizon -- "Chaperone". Heh. That's a good one, and it's light way of saying, "here's a service that will let parents track the infinite details of their kids travails". From a teenager's perspective, this is Orwellian. From a parent's perspective, this lets them keep their paranoia on tap at all times.

Chaperone basically is a "child locator" service that is more aimed at smaller children than teenagers, although with the Motorola RAZR V3c being a compatible device, I don't see too many eight year-olds sporting a RAZR on the playground. The prices of this service, ranging from $9.99 to $19.99 per month, sound about just right, although a tad overpriced if you ask me.

Get your mobile eBay on with Sell It Mobile

So, you're an ebay hound who is constantly on the move? How about trying to manage your auctions while out and about using your mobile device? If you are really pinched for time (and a computer), this this service out and see if mobile ad creation on ebay can do the trick for you.

If you have a camera phone (who doesn't anymore), you can simply take a picture of the item you want to sell and with defined ads, create a complete ebay listing, complete with a description and a photo, right from your phone. Pretty slick if you ask us.

[thanks Kurtis]

ID theft comes to opening wireless phone accounts

You know ID theft has hit the tech mainstream when the first thing the crook does is start opening wireless phone accounts with a stolen identity. Wireless service is such a ubiquitous thing in this day and age that some folks will have wireless service before many other utilities.

So, what to do if you think your identity may have been lifted? Start checking your credit reports and cancel credit cards under your name for starters. Secondly, close those ten Sprint Nextel and Cingular accounts you have if you find out you have many accounts under your name (here's your sign).

Sling Player Mobile coming to Windows Mobile smartphones soon

In addition to working already on Windows Mobile pocket PC phones, the new SlingPlayer Mobile service will soon be available on Windows Mobile 5.0 devices on the smartphone platform -- this includes devices like the T-Mobile SDA and i-mate SP5m as well as the just-released Motorola Q.

SlingPlayer allows a customer running a Windows Mobile network-enabled device to watch and control content on their home SlingBox from anywhere there is a cellular signal. So, if you just can't stand not being able to watch your TV shows while out and about, this may be the solution for you -- if you own a Windows Mobile pocket PC or smartphone, that is.

Is wireless home theater equipment next?

In what we can only hope becomes commonplace in the next five years or so, LG Electronics has announced a new wireless-equipped home theater system that includes floor-standing speakers, a subwoofer and a complete Dolby Digital/DTS amplifier/receiver. We're not quite sure which wireless technology this system uses (UWB, perhaps?), but it bodes well for the future nonetheless.

Although LG is not known in the U.S. for making higher-end home theater equipment, this package looks might nice -- and the cutting out of speaker cabling is an awesome feature. One thing that needs to permeate the home theater space is wireless technology -- but now, we'll still have to suffer through the spaghetti-mess of cables and cords.

Is your wireless network secure?

We've written about this before, and, well, here we go again. This article talks about (and reminds some of us) that our wireless networks, if not very secure (pointers below), can be just as disastrous as leaving our front doors wide open all night. I doubt many of us do that.

A few things that will make your wireless network just about as secure as possible. Some of these options are not best set by the faint of heart, though. The industry and manufacturer are to blame for making settings and adjustments so non-friendly.

  • Disable SSID broadcast and rename your wireless network to a unique name
  • Enable MAC filtering and *only* allow computers and devices you know by assigning each individual MAC address to your network's allowed list
  • Enable WEP encryption, or better yet, use WPA encryption if you have a newer wireless router

Vonage VoIP goes WiFi in Canada, eh!

Vonage -- you know, the commercial with the impossible-to-forget jingle -- has introduced WiFi-capable handsets into their product offering for Canadian customers. So now, you folks north of the U.S. needn't be tied to the wall while you slap the local telco in the face by using uber-cheap and portable voice over IP. But, we have to ask -- what's with the orange stub antenna?

Although this is just now being introduced in Canada, Vonage probably wants to expand beyond North America -- and who could blame them? Just take your Vonage handset with you and find a local WiFi hotspot anywhere in the world -- and the rest is history. Have your portable home telephone number and all your calling features available with you when traveling for a low monthly cost. The baby bells in the U.S. could not have envisioned a better foe. Market disruptions are fun, aren't they?

Another plea for securing your own wireless network

Here's another story on how easy it is for hackers to steal vital information from any unsecured wireless network. The securing of these networks is becoming a cottage industry, and companies are charging big bucks to assist companies in locking hackers out from enterprise networks.

Of course, the everyday person can't afford to pay those kind of prices to have a consultant come in and secure a home wireless network, so it goes without saying that user education is essential. You've got to take the time to learn how to secure your network, or your most sensitive information will be open for the piggybackers to see and steal.

The morale of the story is that if it can be done in Oshkosh, it can be done anywhere.

Sprint unveils Disney Mobile-like child locator service

We knew it would come, and it's getting all the headlines on tech blogs and the mainstream press (for reading parents) - you can now track your child using a Sprint Nextel handset. The days of Orwell's 1984 or Burgess's A Clockwork Orange are here. Psych - just kidding! We jest by using an old iPaq as our accompanying image - remember those days?

The service lets parents access graphical maps on their cellphone screens to pinpoint where their children are at any time, and it's aptly called the "Family Locator" service. It appears than this new service is riding on the back of the GPS unit in most Sprint phones, and works similarly to the E911 service that has, um, been trying to roll out for what seems like an eternity (much to the chagrin of emergency departments nationwide).


Clearwire moves into the VoIP space

Clearwire, the wireless broadband internet provider founded by cellular mogul Craig McCaw, has announced its entry into the Voice-over-IP market with a $30 per month offering, very similar to what Vonage offers. The fact that a wireless broadband company with deep pockets and savvy management is telling to the industry I think.

It seems every other day, there is a stab at killing the local access telephone market still used by tens of millions across the U.S. - but the landline operators are seeing dwindling subscribers every year as customers move to an all-wireless (cellular) solution or take up VoIP solutions over their broadband internet hookup. So, for today, here's yet another one. What are we going to do with all those flimsy copper wires leading into every home? If $13 per month DSL is any indicator, they will be in use for quite a while.

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