Wednesday Nov 28, 2007

Verizon Opens up, a little!

Verizon announced today that they are opening their network to all compatible phones and services.  For years, Verizon has had the "walled garden" business model where they control everything.  This means that all services have had to go thru Verizon so you could not acquire applications or ringtones unless you paid Verizon.  As a result, it cost more to download a stupid 15 second ringtone than it cost to download the entire song (in high quality).  Remember when Verizon offered a service to backup your contacts OTA for...$3 / month?  That kind of price gouging didn't work, no one bought it and eventually, they offered it for free because it caused them less work when someone had to replace a phone.  The walled garden model spilled over to what Vzn let consumers do with their phones.  My phone has bluetooth, but it only works with a headset - I cannot sync data wirelessly with it!  Why? Well Verizon wants me to sync my data with their servers for a fee and then resync it w/ my phone. It will be a cold day in hell before I do that and I take great pleasure in syncing my device with a cable knowing that eveytime I do I am sticking it to the man!  It is this kind of perversion of the market that Verizon lived on and I and everyone else hated it. 

This latest move, of course, is clearly a reaction to the market in which Apple opened their iPhone and Google is going to offer SAAS via the Web.  The only way for Verizon to stay relevant in this market where people have access to free services, is to open their network. This move parallels the open source movement - make it open and they will come and innovate.  By opening the network, Verizon will encourage development of new and innovative services that will provide me something I want at a reasonable price.  For Verizon, this means an erosion of their business model (think large holes in the walled garden) as they have to rely more on revenue from moving bits and less on revenue from overpriced applications and services. Tearing the wall down will ultimately be good for everyone.  The really useful services from Verizon will continue to sell, new services and phones will bring more people to their network and drive volume on their towers thus lowering their costs (which will ultimately be passed onto us thru lower prices or more minutes).

Monday Nov 27, 2006

Unlocking mobile phones ruled "Legal" by U.S. Copyright Office

Today, the copyright office ruled, what was obvious to just about all consumers, that it is legal to unlock your mobile phone. For years the mobile carriers have locked the phones to their network in a feeble effort to keep you from switching carriers. To combat this, a number of folks offered unlocking codes and programs on the Web so that you could buy a really cool phone in Europe and use it on your local network in the US. One particularly stupid implementation of this was Cingular locking out former AT&T phones from their network. When Cingular bought AT&T wireless, they refused to recognize AT&T phones. So my AT&T Treo 600 would not work on the Cingular network. So rather than buy a new Treo from Cingular, I spent $7 and downloaded an unlocking program that removed the lock and enabled me to make calls on the Cingular network simply by inserting my SIM card. I am just happy to know the US Government finally got around to agreeing w/ consumers on this.

Wednesday Oct 04, 2006

Living with Comcast Digital Phone Service

So Comcast made me an offer I couldn't refuse and I switched back to digital voice. What was the offer? One Bill. I pay for a couple of comcast cable TV accounts, internet and phone and they all come on separate bills making it difficult to figure out which one I paid (since they all look exactly alike and seem to arrive every week). Comcast is offering cable tv/ Internet / phone for $99 a month for the first year and it is billed on ONE bill. So I took the plunge and switched from SBC back to Comcast phone.

A little history. I was one of the first to switch to Comcast phone service years ago because it was going to be cheaper and they had customer service on the weekend. 5 years ago, Pac Bell / SBC or whatever they were called, stopped offering customer service on the weekend and since it was either Friday nights or the weekend that I called them bout a billing problem and no one would answer, I decided to switch.

About a month ago 2 nice gentleman showed up at my door w/ a new modem and spent about an hour and a half installing by new digital phone line. The new modem replaces my Motorola cable modem with one that has 2 jacks for phones and one ethernet connector for my computer. It also contains an integrated backup battery which I now know can keep the modem powered for several hours (just remember to plug the modem into a plug NOT controlled by a wall switch like it did, oops!).

I now have my internet and 2 phone lines running off the cable modem and its worked well for about a month and a half. Telephone sound quality is fine (this is not VOIP so it has the reassuring background hiss of a regular phone) and my internet runs at a measured 6 MPS download speed. I had one power glitch the other day and my internet stopped working, but resetting the modem fixed that issue and it was as simple as pressing the reset button. You can no longer just disconnect the power cord due to the internal back up battery. Overall, I am very happy with the service.




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