Bye-Bye, So Long, and Farewell

Happy trails to you,
Until we meet again.
Happy trails to you,
Keep smilin' until then.

Well, that's all folks! After three years of existence, The Wireless Report weblog is being retired after today. A decision has been made to close or consolidate a number of blogs in the Weblogs Inc. network and, sadly for us, this blog is among the ones that are being shut down.

Back in 2004, this blog started out as seven separate blogs--Wireless, WiFi, Wireless Development, Bluetooth, Ultra Wideband, WiMax, and RFID. In January of last year, all of those blogs were consolidated into one "super blog"--The Wireless Report.

Mike has been here since the very beginning, and a few other bloggers have posted here as well. Last year, Brian White joined us, and he has been a terrific co-blogger as well as a helluva great guy to work with. Together, we have done our best to post the best wireless news and information as possible, and we also produced a well-received series of podcasts. All in all, we have a lot to be proud of, and we can honestly say we did the very best we could.

In any case, today is the day The Wireless Report packs its boxes, turns in its (RFID-enabled) passkey, and rides off into the sunset. The both of us will be remaining with the Weblogs Inc. network--Brian currently contributes to Blogging Stocks, and Mike posts to Blogging Baby and TV Squad. The both of us will soon be writing for the Engadget blogs, so you should be seeing our names on them in the next few days.

So, that's it. If you'd like to drop us a line, we would really appreciate it. Feel free to e-mail us at thewirelesswatch@gmail.com, and one of us will respond to you as soon as possible.

Thanks for being such a loyal audience. Bye-bye, so long, and farewell.

Happy trails to you,
Til we meet again.

Michael Sciannamea and Brian White
The Wireless Report

TWR's Top 5

It's been another wild and wooly week at The Wireless Report. Here are our top 5 stories of the week. Enjoy!

  1. 1 billion wireless handsets sold in 2006
    2006 was a banner year in the wireless handset industry, as 1 billion of them were sold last year globally. The market jumo was due mostly to low-end shipments to emerging countries, but still.
  2. Atlanta chooses EarthLink to build citywide wireless network
    Score another big-city win for EarthLink. The company was selected by the city of Atlanta, Georgia to build and manage a citywide wireless network. The contract has to be worked on and agreed to by the local government, so at this point, a definite timeframe has not yet been established, but one would guess we will see a timeline very soon.
  3. My personal mobile carrier experiences (spoiler: long post)
    Well, it's been a long time coming, but the below post sums up my personal experiences -- as objectively as possible -- with the top three mobile carriers in my area. I've used them all for a few months now (in my home market of Oklahoma City and while traveling) and have come to a conclusion and a rating for each.
  4. Editorial says SF wireless network naysayers have no credible alternative plan
    Just came across this GREAT editorial in today's San Francisco Chronicle regarding the city's board of supervisors and their upcoming "examination" of the citywide wireless network contract.
  5. The lowdown on low-cost wireless handsets
    Every wireless handset maker is trying to bring down the cost of handsets these days -- for lower costs of manufacturing (of course) and also to feed the need for emerging markets that need low-cost handsets -- and hundreds of millions of them.

My personal mobile carrier experiences (spoiler: long post)

Well, it's been a long time coming, but the below post sums up my personal experiences -- as objectively as possible -- with the top three mobile carriers in my area. I've used them all for a few months now (in my home market of Oklahoma City and while traveling) and have come to a conclusion and a rating for each.

Whether you agree or disagree, drop a comment and let me know your experiences. Note: the post below is more tilted from a "personal" use angle rather than a "business" use angle -- but I have used all these services for both personal reasons and for small-business reasons. I'll be summarizing both voice and data features from a handset perspective -- no datacards or heavy data use stuff this time.

Carriers used:
Cingular Wireless
Sprint Nextel
T-Mobile

Java applications used:
Opera Mini
Gmail Mobile
TeleNav

Here we go...

Continue reading My personal mobile carrier experiences (spoiler: long post)

TWR's Top 5

It's been an interesting week here at The Wireless Report. Here are our top 5 stories of the past seven days. Enjoy!

  1. Can cameraphones be used to fight crime?
    Who would have thought that cameraphones could be used to fight crime in the big city? New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced a plan that will allow 911 and 311 callers to send digital photos and videos directly from their cellphones.
  2. Carriers going full-speed ahead on 3G rollouts
    With 3G high-speed wireless data becoming the norm now, some of the country's largest carriers have announced new markets for their respective high-speed data services.
  3. Long Island counties issue wireless network RFP
    Nassau and Suffolk counties on New York's Long Island have just issued a RFP this week to further explore their options in having a wireless network cover both areas.
  4. Can your cellphone check you in at the airport?
    With cellphones stating to become the "swiss army knife" of electronic gadgets, there are two Japanese airline carriers -- Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways -- that are starting to use alternative methods for checking in passengers.
  5. Could SF WiFi deal be in jeapordy?
    After a long period of negotiations, the city of San Francisco recently agreed to a deal with EarthLink and Google to develop and deploy a municipal wireless network. However, the contract still needs to be approved by the city council, and an EarthLink executive has been quoted as saying that approval is not a guarantee.

TWR's Top 5

It's been a hectic week of wireless news and information, and here are five stories we think will keep you plugged in to the action. Enjoy!

  1. SF WiFi contract a done deal
    It's taken a while, but the city of San Francisco and EarthLink and Google have finally agreed on a contract for the development and deployment of a citywide wireless network.
  2. And it's official -- Apple intros the iPhone (finally)
    Just a little bit ago, our pals over at Engadget -- who were liveblogging the Apple MacWorld keynote address by Steve Jobs in San Francisco, dropped the bomb.
  3. Vonage to sell wireless internet service, courtesy of EarthLink
    In an attempt to broaden its portfolio of services, Vonage says they will be selling high-speed wireless internet access provided by EarthLink. Under the terms of a deal announced by the two companies, EarthLink will allow Vonage to offer access anywhere that EarthLink provides WiFi services.
  4. Democrats waste no time in addressing public safety wireless
    With the U.S. Congress now being in control of the Democratic party, public safety issues like nationwide communications interoperability is already on the radar of the new houses of Congress.
  5. Free WiFi in Philly available for 10 days
    OK Philadelphians, now is your chance to see what this citywide wireless thing is all about.

Interview: Microsoft and Sprint talk about mobile partnership

A while back, The Wireless Report spoke to executives from both Sprint Nextel and Microsoft about their alliance in mobile search and the partnership that Sprint and Microsoft were going to form on Sprint's wireless web property (WAP deck).

Answers below were courtesy of Michael Inserra at Sprint and Matt Champagne at Microsoft. Thanks guys for being so kind in answering our questions! Let's begin.

1) Please explain the Microsoft Windows Live search and its capabilities related to its partnership with Sprint for our readers.

While developing Windows Live Search for mobile we had an essential understanding that mobile search is not the same as searching on a PC. Searching on your device, on the go, is more about immediacy and action, so we are designing software and striking partnerships that make mobile search more efficient and usable in the hands of a mobile customer. We've worked to make sure Windows Live Search for mobile allows consumers to search the Web and search for local points of interest, providing easy access to precise answers alongside actionable and useful information.

As brought to life by this announcement with Sprint, we have also worked very hard to ensure that Windows Live Search for mobile is optimized for the needs and business models of our partners, such as Sprint. This "optimization" delivers more accurate search results of content in the operator portal, monetization opportunities for local businesses and advertisers, and more meaningful results for mobile search customers. Translated to devices, when a Sprint customer pulls up the Sprint vision deck, at the bottom of listing page is a search box. This search box is now powered by Windows Live to connect users to people, places and businesses. Any search will return relevant location-based content from the Internet as well as Sprint's catalog of ringtones, games and related services. For example, a customer who searches for "sports" on their wireless phone will see results from Sprint's catalogue such as NFL-related wallpapers, screensavers and ringtones, in additional to local information available online such as business listings like sports stores, maps, directions to the nearest ballpark or relevant advertisements from local businesses. The user can see driving directions or execute a save-as for contact information (phone numbers, street number/names) to their handset.

From Microsoft's perspective, we're approaching the mobile search opportunity looking at the technology and user experience, while also considering partnerships and the best way to engage with the industry to not only deliver the best services to customers, but also provide new opportunities for mobile operators, OEMs and advertisers to drive new revenue streams and build up the ecosystem.

2) Will Windows Live Search completely replace the search tools and capabilities across the WAP decks for Sprint? How about Nextel?

Other local search applications we offer on devices will still be available. However, a major difference is that Sprint's mobile search powered by Windows Live combines the functionality of local search services with the ability to search internal content such as ringtones, applications, etc. Also, Sprint's local search text entry box is integrated on the Sprint mobile web home page - where it is more easily accessed, discovered and used then other solutions. Additionally, Sprint's service will be immediately available, and at no extra charge, to Sprint data users (on compatible handsets) without requiring a download, web page re-direction, or any other action from the end user - unlike other search applications.

Sprint's mobile search powered by Windows Live is not available on Nextel devices today (those that operate on our iDEN network) but it will be in the future; the specific date is TBD.

3) With Sprint recently acknowledging that it will provide a link to the new downloadable Google Gmail java application for mobiles, will the Windows Live Search feature some kind of mobile access to email beyond the searching applications for Sprint's entire WAP deck?

No. The search application and email applications are separate. We do offer access to Google Gmail from the device, as you indicate. In late November, Sprint launched Sprint Mobile Email, a new downloadable email client powered by SEVEN. The application provides easy access to multiple email accounts in one place and users can access their accounts from well-known providers including Windows Live.

TWR's Top 5

The new year has gotten off to a rollicking start in the wireless world. Here are five stories we believe will get your juices flowing as we hit the first full work week of 2007. Enjoy!

  1. Will the Apple 'iPhone' come to pass this next week?
    With all eyes on the Consumer Electronics Show that starts next week, many eyes will be on Apple Computer, and if the company actually unveils a wireless handset. The speculation around this one event has gone crazy for nearly two years and I for one want to see Apple release something or not. Just put the rumors to bed.
  2. Avis to rollout WiFi hotspot system in its vehicles
    Avis Rent A Car, Inc. says it will be introducing a rolling WiFi hotspot system, developed by Autonet Mobile, in its vehicles by March. Drivers will be able to access the internet through a notebook-sized portable device that plugs directly into a vehicle's power supply. The service is expected to cost $10.95 per day.
  3. Wireless electronics spending to slow globally
    While we continue to hear that smartphone devices -- like phones based on the Windows Mobile platform -- will continue to increase in sales numbers, apparently other wireless electronics won't be following the same growth path in the future.
  4. Wireless access vendors still face skepticism from local governments
    A number of municipalities across the nation, including San Diego, are being romanced by a number of companies who are willing to build a wireless network for residents and businesses. MetroFi, who is already providing free wireless networks in Portland, Oregon and Aurora, Illinois, among others, offers access with the network being paid for by advertising and sponsorships. If users don't wish to view the ads, they can opt for a paid service.
  5. Making mobile technology accessible to the disabled
    Is mobile technology enabled for use by our disabled citizens here in the U.S.? That question is sure to bring about a litany of debate, but the National Council on Disability (NCD) has released a policy paper that explores key trends in information and communication technology -- and it highlights the potential opportunities and problems these trends present for people with disabilities.

Happy New Year to our faithful Wireless Report readers

Well, 2006 is about to come to a close, and there has been a ton of wireless news and important events that affect all of us in a *wireless way* this year.

2007 should hold more of the same, with wireless transforming the way we do just about everything -- from connecting over the Internet to each other to talking (the old-fashioned way) to data usage to....well, just imagine the possibilities. You think we've seen quite a bit? I think wireless -- in many ways -- is just in its infancy.

Have a safe, happy and fruitful New Year folks -- we are so glad to have you as part of our readership. We'll begin podcasts again shortly after the start of 2007, as they've been on hiatus over the holidays.

Have a Happy New Year!

Mike Sciannamea
Brian White

www.thewirelessreport.com

TWR's Top 5

As we close out the year and gear up for the new one, here is our last Top 5 list for 2006. Enjoy and Happy New Year to our faithful Wireless Report readers!

  1. Do you still use a pager?
    Remember numeric and alphanumeric pagers? Those devices that one were as ubiquitous as wireless phones are now have become relics of an age where one-way communication was better than nothing.
  2. Negotiations to finalize SF WiFi contract going down to the wire
    It looks like it'll go right down to the wire in the race to wrap up negotiations between the city of San Francisco and Google and EarthLink to shore up the contract to begin developing and deploying a citywide wireless network.
  3. Will the Apple 'iPhone' change the wireless biz?
    Although the rumors around a possible Apple wireless handset have been in the mill for years now, the fervor has taken on a new fever pitch with so many "confirmed" rumors swirling about on what Apple CEO Steve Jobs may unveil at a January event for the Apple community.
  4. WiMax, Italian style
    The Italian government says it will be opening up spectrum to allow room for WiMax and will offer licenses for space in the band in 2007.
  5. Do you want kid-tracking wireless phones?
    Tracking features built into most newer wireless handsets -- mostly used for e-911 services using GPS -- are finding newer and better ways into many newer wireless handsets these days.

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!

TWR's Top 5

As we near the finish line of our holiday shopping and into the pure joy of spending time with our families and friends, here are some tasty wireless-related stories to chew on with your eggnog! Happy Holidays to you, our faithful Wireless Report readers from Brian and me!

  1. The Big Easy goes wireless
    Today marks the official launch of New Orleans' citywide wireless network, which will be managed by EarthLink. The first phase of the network will cover a 20-mile-square area that stretches from Tulane University to the Woodland Highway with eventual build-out to the entire city.
  2. How will things look in the wireless world at the end of 2007?
    With this year already concluded, I wanted to post a look at how the wireless world may shape up during 2007 -- and how it may look a year from now.
  3. Anchorage, Alaska issues RFP seeking bids for citywide wireless network
    The city of Anchorage, Alaska has just issued an RFP for companies to submit their proposals on the development and deployment of a citywide wireless network.
  4. Mobile subscribers should be given full and unfettered wireless Internet access
    This analyst angle at RCR Week brought up a few niggling points with me. For some in the mobile industry, there is some fear that giving customers access to everything and anything on the *wireless* Internet will bring some kind of gloom and doom.
  5. What is going on with the Nokia-Siemens merger?
    Although the merger between the network divisions of Finnish giant Nokia and German giant Siemens was announced some time ago, the merger apparently will not be happening until the end of the first quarter of 2007 -- months longer than planned.

How will things look in the wireless world at the end of 2007?

With this year already concluded, I wanted to post a look at how the wireless world may shape up during 2007 -- and how it may look a year from now.

I'll cover just a few areas this time in this "prediction list" of sorts: cellular wireless and municipal WiFi/WiMAX.

Continue reading How will things look in the wireless world at the end of 2007?

TWR's Top 5

As the holiday shopping season hits its fever pitch, here are our Top 5 stories from the past week that will help to bring a little sanity to your weekend. Enjoy!

  1. U.S. wireless users losing interest in buying ringtones, study says
    In a study that should send shivers up the spines or wireless carrier CFOs everywhere, a new study from M:Metrics says that U.S. wireless users are bored with ringtone buying over their cellphones, even as Italian teens are leading their U.S. and Western European counterparts in consuming user-generated content and social networking applications.
  2. Smartphones find greater acceptance in Europe than U.S. (for now)
    Although we are seeing more smartphones enter the American marketplace, the devices have long been accepted by European consumers and it will take a while before the U.S. catches up.
  3. High prices for mobile content hurting consumer adoption
    In something I have preached for over a year, there is finally a study that says the high prices of mobile content is actually hurting consumer adoption. Data prices for mobile content like phone wallpapers, ringtones and downloadable music selections is still way too high. For some reasons, the carriers think they'll recoup their investments with higher content prices. Wrong.
  4. Wireless 911 systems must be enhanced NOW!
    Officials in Napa, California are planning to take steps to enhance its 911 dispatch center so that emergency calls from cellphones will go straight to responders.
  5. Cell Broadcast testing is underway for emergency use
    CellCast held a test last month that had the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) probably quite interested. In the test, CellCast tested the *Cell Broadcast* feature that lets an operator or authorized agency send out a text message to every phone on a cell, in an area or on the entire network at once.

TWR's Top 5

As the winter chill begins to set in, here are five sizzling hot stories from the past week brought to you by The Wireless Report. Enjoy!

  1. What is Palm doing now?
    Palm, the handheld operating system company that seems to not know where it is headed, has now paid Access Co. -- the Japanese outfit that bought the operating system from Palm -- to get access to the latest Palm operating system version, called Garnet.
  2. Vancouver, British Columbia hesitates on jumping into the muni WiFi fray
    City officials in Vancouver, British Columbia have been studying the possibility of developing and deploying a wireless network to its residents, but there are concerns that the project could end up costing the city up to $12 million, and some are not sure whether the project is worth the investment.
  3. Consumer Reports rates the top handsets and services from all carriers
    Consumer Reports has rated the top wireless carriers and their handset selections recently, and mobile operators Cingular Wireless and Sprint Nextel were somehow singled out as poor performers in this report. Now, honestly, I don't pay to much attention to Consumer Reports -- the reviews are almost always to vague, they don't rate what's important to many of us and the reviews are not comparative enough to be useful. But, the country pays attention and that is what counts here.
  4. New Jersey counties to conduct wireless network feasibility study
    The southern New Jersey counties of Gloucester and Camden said they will join together to conduct a feasibility study to see if a wireless network will be beneficial to their residents. The study is expected to cost $250,000, and officials from both regions say they will split the cost equally in order to have it done.
  5. Too much complexity in the mobile content space
    KISS -- Keep It Simple Stupid -- is a method for delivering content, ideas, products, marketing, messages and other things with little to no complexity so that consumers and business users can grasp the value of whatever the object it without going into deep specifics (which usually make eyes glaze over).

TWR's Top 5

We've made it through another week here at The Wireless Report, and we proudly serve you five of our tastiest nuggets. Enjoy!

  1. Contract near for EarthLink/Google wireless network for San Francisco
    After what seemed like an endless period of negotiations, it looks like a contract between EarthLink and Google and the city of San Francisco to develop and deploy a wireless network is about set to be completed.
  2. Panoramic photos coming to cameraphones soon
    Ever wish you could take a nice and wide photo with your cellphone's camera that would look great on a computer screen? Scalado has just launched a software package for camera phones which enables them to take wide panorama photos by stitching together several photos in sequence.
  3. Newton, Mass. alderman makes plea for city's mayor to approve WiFi plan
    Ken Parker, a Newton, Massachusetts alderman, has written an editorial asking for residents to contact the city's mayor to approve a plan to develop and deploy a citywide wireless network. The deadline to approve the plan that Mr. Parker assisted in developing is midnight on December 31, so if citizens want their voices heard either way, they should take the time to do a little research and then contact city officials and make their opinions known.
  4. Adult wireless content to reach fever pitch soon
    Although American wireless carriers will continue to keep adult content at certain reaches from their customers for the foreseeable future, Juniper Research says that European mobile users will help the mobile adult content market grow from $1.6 billion this year to more than $3.3 billion by 2011.
  5. Houston wireless network bid down to two finalists
    It's down to two companies who are slugging it out to win the bid to develop and deploy Houston's citywide wireless network, which is expected to cost over $40 million and cover 600 square miles by the time it is completed in 2008.

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