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!

Motorola getting new marketing chief

Motorola is getting a new chief marketing officer, as former packaged goods expert Kenneth Keller has joined the company. Keller is a Procter & Gamble veteran who was recently responsible for development of the Heinz and Pringles brands globally among other large responsibilities.

Former Motorola marketing wunderkind Geoffrey Front -- who dies unexpectedly last November -- helped turn Motorola's fortunes around in a huge way. Newer designs like the RAZR, SLVR and others were influenced by Frost, as well as him doing away with highly-technical model names in place of names like the RAZR, KRZR, MOTOFONE and others -- something that other manufacturers still have not figured out for some reason.

Optag RFID to track in-airport passengers

Want to be tracked from luggage check all the way to the airplane door -- using RFID? That kind of tracking may be coming soon to airports across the pond from the U.S., as passengers will be issued an RFID token of sorts so that they can all be monitored as they make their ways through the terminal and snack bars, or high-end lounges and bars as well.

This technology is a little different from standard RFID. This new "Optag" RFID system has a range of 10 to 20 meters (instead of mere centimeters) that can be used to track moving objects. The perfect place for this is obviously an airport or even a retail environment I would think.

Optag has been designed to improve airport security by virtue of its ability to track the movement of suspicious passengers, which would enable security personnel to bar them from entering restricted areas, and in addition, it has the ability to locate individuals quickly that would aid airports in an evacuation situation.

Ask.com looks to expand mobile search offering

With Google and Yahoo! continuing to expand their mobile mobile search and mobile everything offerings, Ask.com is not leaving itself behind in any way. The growing Internet search provider has upgraded its mobile website to include an expanded way to search as well as having available driving directions, maps and weather among other things.

With more and more consumers across the globe accessing the Internet on mobile phones in addition to (or replacing) PCs, and with high-speed mobile data *finally* becoming a reality, this move by Ask.com at this time was the right move I say. Kudos to them and the folks at Google and Yahoo! for upping the ante in the mobile arena recently.

WiMAX World USA show comes to Boston

The whole world of WiMAX is crashing down this week in Boston, as several WiMAX vendors are laying down strategies and equipment in hopes of striking partnerships with those companies that would deploy all-networks-WiMAX in the next few years and beyond.

I particularly like this announcement from Sequans Communications -- the company unveiled its mobile WiMAX chip (model SQN1110), which draws a mere 350mW of power and delivers throughput speeds of more than 10 megabits per second. Forget HSDPA and EV-DO, yes?

International Basestation conference coming to Dallas, Texas

Looks like not only CTIA is starting today, but as Mike and I have talked about a few times recently in The Wireless Report Podcast, the fall season is usually lit up with wireless events that span the U.S., if not the globe. There are many wireless-focused tradeshows and technical exhibitions happening this fall, starting with the CTIA show getting underway, well, right this second.

One such event is the "Dallas Basestation Conference" in November that will feature the highlighting the three key wireless themes: Network Evolution, Technology Evolution and Service Evolution. Presenters will include Navini Networks, Tropos Networks, Sprint Nextel, Vodafone, Nokia, Ericsson and Nortel -- and standards such as HSDPA and EV-DO will be on tap as well.

Some serious WiFi going on in France

France Telcom reports that it not has 2 million WiFi customers on its network, Livebox. Livebox feeds phone calls over DSL, cable television and of course broadband internet. When France has 2 millions folks on a wireless broadband network shuttling many types of entertainment and data around at the same time, this is a good sign. Or, as Bill Engvall has said, "here's your sign".

France is a relatively small country by population standards, so 2 million customers is quite an achievement here. Maybe this is a sign of things to come on other European countries?

USB Is Going Wireless Using Ultra Wideband

The battle many of us have fought for 20 years with our PCs may soon change. The battle, that is, to get rid of the rat's nest of cables snaking everywhere behind and beside our PCs and laptops. Apple's PCs famously have minimized and even stylized this clutter, but for the rest of us with generic PCs, the cable mess is one we'd like to see go away.

So, when devices start shipping wit wireless USB later this year, PC owners 'round the world can rejoice. And then, of course, buy all new peripherals (maybe that's what the manufacturers want). Since the new wireless USB standard will be based on UWB, the potential for more interference - like we don't have enough of that already - should be minimized. So, it looks like UWB's breakthrough into the consumer space will be with the PC. Joy.

Book Review: Fighting the Good Fight for Municipal Wireless

The citywide wireless movement has gained tremendous momentum across the country over the last few months. Big cities including Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and San Francisco are in the throes of putting their wireless networks in motion, and many other cities--small, medium, and large--are following suit.

If you're a local government official or someone heavily involved in your community, and have been reading all of the news stories about citywide wireless networks, what do you have to do to bring this phenomenon to your town so it doesn't fall behind in the wireless networking race?

If you want to do it right, the first place to start is to get your hands on a copy of Fighting the Good Fight for Municipal Wireless: Applying Lessons From Philadelphia's WiFi Story (Hudson House Publishing) by Craig Settles, who has written THE guide to understanding both the business and political issues that need to be addressed before developing and deploying a citywide wireless network.

Continue reading Book Review: Fighting the Good Fight for Municipal Wireless

Mobile TV On Display at 3GSM

Consumers have to need a compelling reason to upgrade their handsets every so often - not only to create revenue for handsets makers but so carriers can sell them more financially lucrative advanced services revolving around mobile TV, DRM music (yawn) and other multimedia-rich features. With voice minute usage maturing and being commoditized, you have to keep those revenues growing. The old story is to push features (that many consumers could care less about) and collect increasing revenue. Of course, the rule of simplicity seems to go right out the window as this mish-mash of features becomes harder to figure out that a 10-million piece puzzle of the Great Wall of China.

So, will the grandfather of easy-to-sell-and-understand features - Mobile TV - become a hit and take off where music downloading has withered? With the unbelievable complexity on using downloaded music the way *you* want it - at least from Verizon and Sprint Nextel - I really believe music will continue to be a terrible failure, regardless of what the carriers blab - because of its limitations. Consumers want choice, not locked-in options (history proves this). Mobile TV, if broadcast (no DRM and inflexibility, but only a subscription), would be easy to understand for consumers and would be a natural choice at some advanced feature actually working like consumers expect. Sprint TV is a decent first start, but after experiencing it recently, there is much work to be done.

3GSM Happening Next Week in Barcelona, Spain

Next week is sure to bring a bevy of announcements from new handset models - both humans and phones - and new, up-n-coming technology like ZigBee. We'll be blogging about all the goodies from Spain next week, so keep your  browser or RSS reader ready. It's going to be a wild week.

With that said, some of the neater pre-released or pre-announced products include  Cicero's wVoIP (now, which letters are capitalized?), a very slick wireless VoIP system for carriers. If you thing Vonage is a mold-breaker, the firms that step up to the plate early and offer VoIP using the airwaves (and WiFi/WiMax airwaves at that) are going to hit homerun after homerun. When you can take your wVoIP handset to any public or municipal hotspot and have it auto-login and be ready to make/take voice calls -  that will be a mind-blower for many of us (and worrisome for telcos and cellular carriers). UMA is a decent first stab at this kind of mobility thinking I think (to many thinks there).

More neat news seems to be on the plate from Macromedia, now part of Adobe Systems. With Flash being the global standard for online low and high-bandwidth web animation and visual engagement, what have they got in store for mobile devices? The same kind of engagement you can get from regular web content on a PC? Let's hope so. Macromedia ought to have some neat stuff in store for next week.

Wireless Networking in the Developing World

When equipment costs continue to be reduced while capabilities inversely rise, there is sure to be a phenomenal shift in the way people residing in developing countries contribute to and receive knowledge from the "global village". So much, in fact, that simply showing industrious, intelligent minds how to properly run a wireless network or mesh network is the focus of a free publication entitled "Wireless Networking in the Developing World", available as a PDF download from here under the Creative Commons license.

This is an ambitious yet needed resource for the continuing development of what could be true information liberation for hundreds of millions of people (hopefully). After all, wireless is the all-important backend that is starting to allow us all to express whatever it is we would like to express. Yes, the internet was the revolution that started it all - wireless is the evolution, unless we all like to be chained to, well, something with a computer on it. Show of hands, please?

So...Who Wins The Prize For Best Cellular Customer Service In 2005?

For the third year in a row, it seems that T-Mobile USA has won the JD Power & Associates rating for best U.S. wireless carrier customer service. That's an achievement in and of itself, but not all that unexpected since merger-mania has been the standard operating procedure the last three years or so (T-Mobile not included). Maybe 2006 will even see another (which carriers is anyone's guess).

So, if you are completely confused by the vast array of minute plans, data plans, music plans, phones, features (let me gather my breath), and plans, plans, plans, then don't forget to consider the other side of the coin, which is service after the sale. If you have to contact the company (most likely a call center), you *definitely* want a good and efficient solution to whatever you are calling about, and we can start without having to wait an eternity with make-me-pull-my-hair-out muzak. Throw an XM or Sirius station on your hold lines, ok?

Enough MVNOs Already...

Are the big cheeses still wanting more Mobile Virtual Network Operators? Holy cow - although Virgin Mobile made it there before any of them, we now have Boost, AMP'D and soon, Helio in the U.S. - all looking like they are geared to what appears to be the last untapped (or at least, un-marketed to) demographic: the 14-30 set (my range, heh). But, how are these MVNOs going to differentiate? Geez - they look almost the same to me (a result of marketing failing to differentiate the customer message, perhaps?). Helio is still kinda new, so not sure on this one. Yet.

Virgin Mobile - the original (?) still advertises/positions to the teen/tween set
Boost - what the old Nextel was thinking on this is beyond me. Maybe PTT in mosh pits? The tagline "Where you at?" seems appropriate
AMP'D - this near-death experience was rescued to take on Virgin's playground. I like their positioning (gotta DL those $$ ringtones and calltones..more, more!)
Helio - another MVNO with Earthlink and SK Telecom as the backers, with limited marketing so far outside the big East/West metros. Should come on strong in 2006. What is their target market?

Can Sprint Nextel's and Verizon's CDMA networks handle any more of this? CDMA is theoretically capable of it, but C'mon - the noise floor hits the wall somewhere! Both need a sign on their respective HQs - "no longer seeking MVNOs".

Yahoo! Go vs. Google Mobile: Two Different Wireless Approaches

With Yahoo!'s recent "Yahoo! Go" announcement at CES a few weeks ago, it would seem that they are finally making every effort to expand beyond internet users to their space and bring the mobile phone user (a base much larger, as in MUCH larger) into the Yahoo! network if they are not there already. Yahoo!'s faux-pas recently about ceding search to Google (at least that's how it has been interpreted) overshadowed their not-so-secretive strategy. That is, to replicate Yahoo!'s bevy of services to as many devices as possible and morph (if they are not already) into a more social relationshipper than service provider to the typical Yahoo! subscriber. Come one, come all instead of come one and search, I figure. This means: gotta get onto the cellphone, now. This also, unfortunately (to me), means, "proprietary app running on selected wireless carriers" - at least initially, as I don't know Yahoo!'s plans beyond Nokia S60 devices and Cingular in the U.S. Content and delivery control is ok (and somewhat safer as in a disciplined launch), but platform-agnostic wireless access hits me harder as a service easier to use, with infinitely more accessibility. That is where Google Mobile comes in.

Google seems to be taking the opposite approach; that is, make the Google Personalized homepage and Gmail accessible via industry standard WML interfaces - no apps needed (at least initially). Alas, just a recent web browser on a plain-jane handset from almost any carrier globally, and we'll let you interact with Google on a personal level, instantly (no waiting!). No apps to install, to structured rollouts with carriers (which seems safer, but I'll digress), no proprietary anything really.

Continue reading Yahoo! Go vs. Google Mobile: Two Different Wireless Approaches

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