It's Monday, November 19, 2007, and welcome back to Good Day, BWIA, a light compendium of news, items of interest, irreverent commentary, and occasional light analysis relating to Broadband Wireless Internet Access (including WiMAX, public access Wi-Fi, etc.).
EarthLink will be redirecting their efforts from the Metropolitan Wi-Fi business... into... what, exactly... the dialup business? My colleague and friend Ken DiPietro neatly turned a phrase to describe this new strategy for EarthLink: The stupid is powerful with this one. :-) OK, I get that Earthlink has some challenges, and they've sunk a lot of money into various rathole businesses like Helio. But, short of selling out completely... how, exactly, are they going to actually maximize shareholder value considering that they're not growing their customer base any more - it's rapidly shrinking because they only thing that they offer now where they get to keep most of the profit is dialup. I agree with DiPietro that current EarthLink CEO Rolla Huff is simply shuffling the deck chairs of a sinking ship in preparation for selling EarthLink. My snarky elaboration on DiPietro's speculation - some private equity fund should buy EarthLink, buy NetZero, buy AOL out of Time Warner, maybe even the MSN access business out of Microsoft, consolidate them all into some uber-dialup company... and it still wouldn't be that significant any more. I'll say it again; Metropolitan Wi-Fi networks are viable with the right business model and the right technology. EarthLink had some of the former, and none of the latter. Now that the right technology is finally here, it will take some vision (Craig Settles has it, keep reading MuniWireless.com) and some capital, but it's a more-than-viable business.
Today's Clearwire Modem Weather Report - Hollywood Hill, Woodinville, Washington - Solid 3 Bars; chilly and a bit foggy / gloomy here in the Seattle area.
Consolidation effect of WiMAX on BWIA companies claims another victim SR Telecom is now under bankruptcy protection. It's one of those companies that enjoyed some success in the BWIA industry prior to the rise of WiMAX, including the acquisition of AT&T Wireless / McCaw Cellular's fabled Project Angel system, but one of the many who couldn't clearly differentiate its products within the WiMAX ecosystem. It won't be the only BWIA vendor to fall in the near future, unfortunately, though hopefully it won't collapse into a black-hole-of-patent-spite like another BWIA vendor did a few years ago.
Radical new source of content for connected devices... books, newspapers, magazines, blogs This came out of left field for me - Amazon's Kindle; an $399 ebook tablet equipped with Wi-Fi and (Sprint) 1xEV-DO. One breakthrough is that you don't pay a fee for the Sprint 1xEV-DO access; apparently it's paid for in the price of a book purchase, but you're also also allowed free online access to Wikipedia. Those are pretty cool features, but, overall, without a general purpose browser to have access to the web (even if that was restricted just to using the Wi-Fi connection), it's a non-starter. I just can't see people carrying yet another dedicated-purpose, walled-garden digital device.
Maybe, just maybe, if you could download current news and periodicals such as NYT or WSJ or maybe even digital editions of weekly newsmagazines it would be viable. Oops... they have them - NYT $13.99/month, WSJ $9.99/month, Forbes, Time, even selected blogs such as Slashdot, GigaOm, Huffington Post, etc. (for "as little as" $0.99/month!). But even with the discount of downloading a current book at $10, I can't see the potential audience for this being any larger than "minuscule". OK... maybe Amazon does have something here. This begins to make sense to stick in your portfolio for "comfortable chair at Starbucks" times. It's good that Amazon keeps fighting the good fight to keep Apple and Microsoft on their toes to keep improving digital content options and now the iPhone and Zune, respectively. Reading a bit more... one real breakthrough on the Kindle that Apple and Microsoft just have NOT gotten is that the Kindle doesn't require a desktop computer in the loop at all - it's just the individual Kindle device and Amazon via the wireless connection(s). Want it? Order it, download it, read it. Although... if that's the case, then why is a USB cable bundled with the Kindle? This was kind of cool too, and potentially somewhat useful: Eliminating the need to print, Kindle makes it easy to take your personal documents with you. Each Kindle has a unique and customizable e-mail address. This allows you and your contacts to e-mail Word documents and pictures wirelessly to your Kindle for only $0.10. Kindle supports wireless delivery of unprotected Microsoft Word, HTML, TXT, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, PRC and MOBI files. That's a bit of out-of-the-box thinking. Someone's going to figure out how to use Amazon / Kindle to distribute private circulation newsletters with that feature.
... third [T-1] outage in two weeks, caused by a technician who came to connect a fax line for someone else in the building, and disconnected [our] T-1 in the process Pretty good story by AP on Towerstream. and why businesses are choosing Broadband Wireless Internet Access over more conventional wireline Internet Access options such as T-1. My thanks to best friend Craig Jensen for the pointer to this story.
By Steve Stroh
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(Last updated 2007-11-06)
This article is Copyright © 2007 by Steve Stroh except for specifically-marked excerpts. Excerpts and links are expressly permitted (and encouraged).
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