Monday, 27 September 2010

Smart Device v Dumb Pipe - can the networks cope?

Last week I attended the TEN event, 'Smart Device v Dumb Pipe - Can the networks cope with the content demands of digital natives?' The event took the form of a discussion panel with some pertinent questions raised. A few of the points raised by the panellists ...
  • Video will dominate IP traffic and 3D will dominate in 5 years 
  • 40% of 3’s mobile broadband traffic is now video
  • By 2020 households will require 3GigaBIT per second bandwidth 
  • Mobile networks currently deliver speeds of 1.5 Mbs (on average) 
  • Before mobile, telecoms expenditure represented 1% of GDP; mobile took it to 2%. Will media take it to 3%? 
  • To drive revenue, content providers must create an emotional want from consumers 
  • Broadcast media must be the right quality for each device; HD for the home, lower resolution for mobile devices 
  • Should delivery be capped to stop service degradation for all?
  • Content providers must have control of content quality 
  • Adaptive bit rate technology would allow graceful service quality degradation for all but takes away control from content owners 
  • Digital privacy is an issue because users don’t understand it and content providers don’t manage it consistently or in some cases responsibly 
  • Who is responsible for security?
  • Mobile coverage is still a big issue but who should pay to make it contiguous

There is still limited consensus about what the relationship should be between content and network providers.  IP content delivery and consumption is still in its early stages and will need significant additional bandwidth across both fixed and mobile networks to deliver an acceptable quality of service, as the demand for services like video grows.  There is little indication that the networks understand what this means for them yet and that they have the network expansion plans in place.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Next Generation Billing 2010 - what's on the roadmap?

In November I'm again heading over to IIR's Next Generation Billing conference. It's always a good opportunity to catch up with key influencers in the billing market (although this year, one at least will unfortunately be missing!). 

Key discussion areas for me include the opportunity for telcos to monetise content delivered across their networks via billing and payments; and the impact of content billing on the consumer experience. These are both areas I'll be discussing at the conference. Consumer demand for IP content is set to soar, especially with more and more video being delivered to consumer devices. As the telcos upgrade their networks to cope with this demand they need to look for additional ways to monetise this content and payments presents a big opportunity.

Maybe see you in Vienna.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Apple AirPort Express - a simple answer to wireless printing

It's not often that I'm surprised by how simple a new piece of hardware is to set up. Usually I'm left thinking that for the average user it will be a source of angst! Judging by the requests for help I receive from friends and family, PC related 'stuff' is not as simple as it should be.

A while back I bought a Linksys wireless print server to allow all our laptops to wirelessly print to a single HP OfficeJet. The setup was a nightmare and even with the help of Linksys technical support I never got a wireless connection between the router and print server and had to settle for USB. The wireless connectivity between laptops and printer proved very unreliable and in the end I ditched it. The replacement setup was a direct USB connection between an ancient desktop PC and the printer, with the laptops connecting wirelessly to the printer via the desktop. Not a satisfactory solution as it meant leaving the desktop running the whole time. Whilst I was using the desktop PC regularly it wasn't a huge issue but when I switched to my MacBook Pro it became a waste of power and source of unnecessary noise to leave a redundant PC running.

Having heard good things about the AirPort Express, I eventually got round to ordering one last week. I took it out of the box, connected it via USB to the OfficeJet, plugged it into the wall and fired up AirPort Utility on my MacBook. I ran a simple configuration utility and my MacBook was connected to the printer. On each Windows laptop I downloaded Apple's Bonjour Print Services and ran the program which instantly found the printer. Within a matter of minutes I had wireless connectivity for all our laptops and could power off the old desktop. Yet again an Apple device had delivered a great user experience.

Yes Apple devices are often expensive and of course I wish they were cheaper. However they deliver a top user experience and that certainly justifies some sort of price premium!

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