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.

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.

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.

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 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.

WiFi chip sales continue to increase

This news come to no surprise to those of us who have been following the advent of WiFi closely, but it's still pretty significant.

A new study released by the Wi-Fi Alliance along with In-Stat says that sales of WiFi chipsets have increased by 25% this year over the same period last year. The companies say that sales are expected to top 200 million units in 2006.

The jump in sales can be attributed to the increased use of wireless networking both in homes as well as in the business sector and, of course, coinciding with that are the increased sales of devices that leverage wireless technology, such as laptops and smartphones.

Wireless is only going to get bigger, folks, and it appears that those companies producing products that use wireless technology have an excellent chance of making a nice profit.

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).

Hooray! New study suggests that cellphones DON'T cause cancer

A new study out of Denmark published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute says that after tracking 420,000 Danish cellphone users, the results showed that these people are no more likely to get cancer than anyone else.

Scientists matched the phone records from these people to the Danish Cancer Registry which records every citizen who contracts cancer. Of course, there is still more research to be conducted, and cellphones have only been around for a relatively short amount of time (> 30 years), so the results could be different 15 to 20 years from now. The effects of radiowaves emitted from handsets still have to be studied.

However, the good news for now anyway that all is well when it comes to using your cellphone.

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.

Hotspots heating up in Russia

A new report from J'son&Partners says that the number of public hotspots in Russia will increase to 7,000 by the end of the year and to 13,000 by 2010. Golden Telecom, a domestic telecom services provider, is one of the major operators of the hotspots.

It goes without saying that Russia is one of the great untapped markets for wireless services. We don't read or hear much about wireless technology in the country, but reports like this will likely spur providers to get their foot in the door there.

Smartphone sales going through the roof

While this is not a big surprise, it certainly is a significant piece of news.

Some recent studies by Gartner and In-Stat indicate that sales of smartphones are growing exponentially, and that it only bodes well for the cellphone manufacturing and wireless data service markets.

In-Stat reports that smartphone sales for the first half of this year increased 50% over the same time in 2005, and Gartner predicts that 81 million smartphones will be sold this year.

Those are pretty big numbers. Why are they so big? Mainly because the prices of smartphones have come down significantly this year--new models of the BlackBerry, Nokia's E62, and Samsung's BlackJack all sell for under $200. But where the real money is for the wireless providers is the suite of data services that they are marketing to consumers such as streaming video, music downloads, e-mail, text messaging, and so on. These services can add up to about $50 a month per user, and if you multiply that by 81 million, then you're talking about some serious cash.

Survey says the holidays won't stop us from using our wireless devices

I don't know what this means exactly, but let's take it for what it's worth.

T-Mobile has just come out the results of a survey they just took of 1,000 subscribers, and they concluded that the majority of them will make or receive calls as well as send text messages during the upcoming holiday season. Other key points of the survey include:

  • 70 percent of adults aged 18 to 22 and 56 percent of parents say they've made or answered wireless calls during a holiday gathering.
  • 35 percent of those same young adults say they've read or sent an e-mail or text message under the dinner table.
  • 67 percent of parents and young adults now agree that it is okay to use their mobile phone during gatherings.

In addition, T-Mobile came up with some holiday cellphone etiquette tips, such as:

  • Don't isolate yourself at a holiday gathering to make private calls or text message under the table.
  • Don't give in to the pressure to answer your cell phone every time it rings.
  • Don't be a "conversation paratrooper" and suddenly bail out of a holiday chat just because a text message or mobile call has come in.

I guess this all makes sense, but haven't we as a society gotten to the point where our cellphones have become an extension of ourselves? As soon as our cellphone rings, we're going to pick it up, unless we absolutely don't have to. Just because we're on the cusp of the holidays doesn't mean we're going to act any differently.

TWR's Top 5

As we put the cap on another busy week here at The Wireless Report, we ask that you take a glance at our Top 5 stories from the past seven days before we shelve them and get ready for another week of wireless news and information. Enjoy!

  1. Have vehicle, surf web
    Many folks like me can't get enough of the web. We surf the web at home, at work, at the airport, on vacation, and on and on. But there is still one place where most of us haven't tried to surf the web yet--until now.
  2. Astrology dictates mobile phone love usage
    I wonder if the global wireless providers look at subscriber birthdates and group customers into astrological signs in order to predict revenue levels? They should, according to Virgin Mobile UK, which recently conducted some research which it claims is rather revealing in the way in which your astrological sign impacts upon the way you use your mobile phones.
  3. What's on your wireless holiday shopping list?
    As I'm sure you are quite aware, the holiday season is just around the corner. (In my family, I think it started the day after Halloween.)
  4. Can RFID e-Passports be hacked?
    With newer international passports being enabled with RFID technology, can these systems be hacked and compromised easily? There are some that say any electronic representation that communications beyond its own chips can be hacked given enough patience and persistence. When it comes to electronic passports, though, that is a scary potential situation.
  5. Despite growth of smartphones, many of us still carry more than one wireless device
    Despite the proliferation of smartphones and other wireless devices that can do it all--telephone, e-mail, web browser, camera, text messaging, streaming video, downloading of music, and so on--it seems that many of us have more than one device to perform one or more of these applications.

Got "BlackBerry Thumb"? Get massage treatment

I don't know whether to take this story seriously or place it in the "You've Got to Be Kidding" file.

With so many of us using our smartphones and other wireless devices for tasks such as sending out e-mails and text messages, we really do type on those tiny keyboards mostly with our thumbs. And, of course, after doing this repeatedly everyday, one would imagine that your thumbs may get a little tired, maybe a little sore.

In addition, we've heard about the so-called malady "BlackBerry Thumb" for those folks who because of constantly tapping away on their favorite device have developed pain in their thumbs as well as at the base of their hands. In fact, the American Physical Therapy Association has categorized BlackBerry Thumb as an official workplace injury.

To combat this growing epidemic, Hyatt Hotels is now offering a special 30-minute hand massage at many of their spas in North America that includes heat treatment and "BlackBerry Balm" in order to alleviate the pain that sufferers are feeling from using their BlackBerries too much. The treatment goes for about $30.

Now, I'm not a doctor, and I don't play one on TV, but here's a simple solution that I'm offering for free: PUT THE DAMN THING DOWN! Is is that important to be constantly on your BlackBerry for hours at a time? How about resisting the temptation to impress your friends and business associates and strangers on the street by not pulling out your BlackBerry Pearl every five seconds to show them how it works?

"BlackBerry Thumb", seriously. What's next, "Treo Tonsils"? "Razr Rootcanal"?

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