My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: November 2010

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Telecom Providers and Satellite Broadband - Quantum of Solace and The Tourist

And the flight of Angels shall sing thee to thy rest!

Shakespeare, Hamlet, V, 2

Looks like Johnny Depp’s character in the movie Iron Man (2008) was onto something big when he made that Satellite Video Call, and in the same vein as well: Satellite Broadband.

In the movie, there was a scene where the eccentric character Mr. Stark, played by Johnny Depp, is seen clearly making a Satellite Video Call on what appears to be an ordinary smart phone, effectively a demonstration of practical Satellite Broadband. A US Military standard but a rarity for people in some Third World Countries desperate and desirous of basic access to Telecommunication Services such as simple Voice Telecoms and basic Broadband Internet, a luxury the First World enjoys.

Telecom Provider AT&T had stepped up to the plate with their support of the TerreStar Genus as per the article “AT&T launches satellite phone”, published September 21, 2010 9:32 AM PDT by Lance Whitney, CNET News - Wireless and stated previously in my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers and Satellite Calling - For Your Eyes Only”.

The TerreStar Genus smart phone is a big improvement in terms of its smaller form factor for a satellite phone (remember those Colombian FARC Rebels?) that offered Voice and Data Services, albeit speeds closer to HSDPA 7.2 (1.5MBps on average!!).

Now it seems that the Other Three Billion of humanity may be able to get access to Satellite Broadband, if OC3 Communications, the OC3 standing for the “Other Three Billion”.

Funded by the likes of heavy hitters such as Google, HSBC and The Development Bank of South Africa, is successful in their satellite deployment over the next three (3) years. This gives you an insight into their target market by 2013, the date that these birds [satellites] will go live as stated in the article “Arianne 5 brings satellite broadband closer to home”, published 29 November, 2010 15:18 By Ben Woods, ZDNet UK.

Thus Satellite Broadband, the other half of the coin, is coming to the fore, at last. Telecom Providers on the Ground supply the handsets and equipment; meanwhile Satellite Providers (new Telecoms term!) provide the Infrastructure. Truly, Google, The World is Not Enough (1999) as per the James Bond movie.

This is now becoming apparent after OC3 Communications launch of their satellite on November 26th 2010 riding aboard an Arianne 5 rocket along with an Avanti Communications' Hylas 1 satellite

OC3 Communications also with the intention to provide Satellite Broadband services but mainly targeting roughly about one hundred and thirty five (135,000) Europeans living in the “boonies” (such colorful America lingua franca) with similar speeds in the 10Mbps range.

This also seems to be the apparent model behind the recent push by Hughes Network Systems and their intended launch of a 100Gbps capacity satellite capable of offering speeds of up to 20MBps theoretical.

This is aimed at approximately two million (2,000,000) customers that Terrestrial Telecom Provider Wireless and Wired Broadband Networks are not capable of reaching due to unavailability of Infrastructure as stated in the article “Finally, broadband satellite with real speed”, published November 9, 2010 4:00 AM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

Its potential for Telecom Provider AT&T cannot be overlooked; an offering tailored to American customers in Government services, Telecom Provider AT&T and others could not only commercialize their product into a World Phone (another layer in International Calling along with VoIP!!) but may also herald the dream of many a Telecoms Engineer.

That dream (I wish Google would champion this idea) is a World where there are no complex web of International Calling Prefixes. Instead, the ITU (International Telecommunications Union), would mandate a replacement of the complex web of International Calling Prefixes with a simpler four (4) digit prefix followed by the three (3) digit Exchange code and the four (4) digit station code (Landline and Mobile phones Internationally).

This would usher in Global Mobile Number Portability (GMNP) for all Pre-Paid and two (2) year Contract Postpaid Calling Internationally.

The Global Village would become real, a chanticleer shooing away “style”izations by such movies as Adam Sandler’s You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008), which poked fun at Telecommunications and their cumbersome International Calling codes. The poor of Africa, to will rise up and bless the ITU, Telecoms Guardian of the United Nations and Google, if truly this is their long term plan.

But it seems that Voice Calling and Basic Data services were not enough. There is a pent up demand for higher speed broadband, as people living in the “boonies” (American colloquial again!!), having gotten a taste of the addictive Internet and its potential for improving global commerce, want more.

After all, the United States of America and Canada do have vast swathes of land space yet to be touched by civilization and lacking access to Broadband Internet as stated in the article “Survey: 40 percent in U.S. have no broadband”, February 16, 2010 10:11 AM PST by Lance Whitney, CNET News – Wireless.

An affluent First World country sharing the same problems like Third world Africa and Australia (?), both STILL with very primitive Telecoms Infrastructure, with Satellite being their only Quantum of Solace (2008) as per the James Bond movie! Latency and Terrestrial and Atmospheric Issues that affect the Satellite Broadband aside, the price is prohibitively high, once you wade thought the above article.

So realistically one is expecting this to remain a reality for the desperate-for-broadband-out-in-the-woods crowd wealthy enough to afford it while the rest of us nine-to-five people can only dream about its regular usage.

Google Earth, now with a Street View 3-D Layer available on desktops and soon to be on smart phones, may soon be our only connection to the birds [satellites] as per the article “Google Earth: Now with 3-D trees Street View Integration”, published November 29, 2010, 12:56pm PST by Sam Diaz, Between the Lines - ZDNet.

At least Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) and GPS, (with or without an installed GPS module) is availed to the common man, so the above developments may one day trickle down to us mere mortals living on Earth but nonetheless dreaming of the stars and being a Conde Naste International Traveller, much akin to Johnny Depp buttoned down version of his Iron Man (2008) character’s latest movie, The Tourist (2010).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Broadcasters, Radio and DSO - What will be the Fate of Radio after DSO


Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my King, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies.

Shakespeare, Henry VIII, 2

It seems that the MAJ (Media Association of Jamaica) is up in arms with regards to the lack of consultation with any of their members with regards to DSO (Digital Switch Over), based on how vocal they are in their complaints as stated in the article “Media Association against 2015 deadline for digital switchover”, published Friday, November 26, 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

Strangely enough, in the announcement made about a week prior by the Broadcasting Commission as stated in the article “Timeline set for digital switchover; Broadcasting Commission, media group disagree on pace”, published Sunday November 21, 2010 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner and expanded on in my blog article entitled “Broadcasting and Digital Switch Over - Back to the Future to compete with LIME TV”, no mention is made of the transitioning of Radio to Digital Transmission, more complain worthy, as Radio is dying in Jamaica.

FM going DSO (Digital Switch Over) would be perfect set-up for the panzer advance for Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks to utilize the extremely prized spectrum in the FM Band, frequencies between 88.1MHz to 107.9MHz as per our spectrum allocation, which are suitable for high speed data applications.

A 30KW transmitter would have a reach of nearly 100km, being as Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) uses Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM), which is a lot like WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) and employs QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) with speed capabilities of up to 300MBps best effort with T1’s fully provisioned as stated in the article “801.11n Wi-Fi standard finally approved”, published September 11, 2009 5:33 PM PDT by Dong Ngo CNET News – Wireless.

So while the MAJ is quibbling over timelines of other countries for DSO and cost of the transition of their precious free-to-air Television which no one watches, preferring Cable TV, time shifting as stated in the article “Survey of viewers shows extent of TV time shifting”, published Tuesday August 17 2010, 6:53 am ET by DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer, Yahoo! News.

Or streaming content over the Internet, a phenomenon picking up steam ever since Wireless Broadband burst unto the scene, as per my analysis in my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers, 100MBps Broadband and the Broadcasting Commission - Redemption Song”.

So what then is the fate of Radio?

Media Practitioner Marcia Forbes, a supporter of licensing of free-to-air spectrum as stated in the article “Radio, TV stations could soon be asked to pay licensing fee to regulator”, published Thursday November 11 2010, The Jamaica Observer asked this question in a previous opinion piece, entitled “What fate for Radio in Jamaica?”, posted Monday, March 15, 2010,  By Marcia Forbes. John Public takes a look at the phenomenon, wearing his RF hat, as hopefully the MAJ does not have me on their hit list!

First thing, data collection methods have to be improved by the MRSL (Media Research and Survey Limited) in order to accurately capture data on how the different target demographics i.e. Generation Y [14 to 28 years] and Generation X [29 to 45 years old] presently consume media, as phone calling and paper based surveys are being biased by Social Control related issues.

Young people may be choosing not to answer questionnaires for fear of the “free internet” access being cut off, nicely proffered in my blog article entitled “MRSL Survey and how to capture unbiased statistical data”.

Which was an answer to Media Practitioner Marcia Forbes published article “'Jamaica to the World' via the Internet”, published Thursday March 25th 2010, by Marcia Forbes, The Jamaica Observer.

Summarizing my referenced blog post, which may be a bit onerous to read; the VERY same Social Media that Media Practitioner Marcia Forbes audited after she went bonkers and joined Twitter as stated in her article “Twitter, Twits and Tweets”, published Thursday 22nd April 2010 by Marcia Forbes, The Jamaica Observer will be the best method to conduct these surveys to, ironically, find out if and why the Internet is killing Radio among Generation Y [14 to 28 years], apparently afraid to “talk up de ting dem” about their ACTUAL Internet usage.

Once MRSL completes the above required survey, and gives them a reward for their troubles, (cash to my PayPal Account would be nice!) it will quantify the obvious, that being the fact that Wireless and Wired Broadband Internet is killing Radio.

This when compared to Wired Broadband Internet from Triple Play Providers such as Cox Communications, Comcast and local Triple Play Providers such as FLOW losing customers to streaming over the very same Broadband Internet Service that they provide as state in my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers, 100MBps Broadband and the Broadcasting Commission - Redemption Song” as well as the most recent article on the phenomenon of cord-cutting entitled “US Cable TV bleeds subscribers as online grows”, published Sunday November 28 2010 by AFP, Yahoo! News.

Throw in LIME TV eminent Christmas 2010 launch as stated in the article “The people and ideas behind Mobile TV”, published Friday, November 12, 2010 BY EDWARD TAYLOR, The Jamaica Observer as well as on my blog article entitled “LIME TV and Broadcasting - The Andromeda Strain and My Science Project”.

Then we can all start holding hands and singing “When the roll is Called up Yonder”, and offering up prayers and supplantations to the Television Gods, praying for the revival of free-to-air Broadcasting, as any service with video games is sure to kill Radio and Television!

Thus, on this basis, it would also be in the best interest of Local Radio Broadcasters to also go DSO (Digital Switch Over) and transmit their programming using HD Radio, much as it the case in the United States of America, which dual broadcasts their Analog Radio in HD, with features galore.

Aside from the obvious issues of Spectral efficiency that would be achieved, Local Radio Broadcasters, by virtue of being licensed, stand to benefit from the structured auction of their spectrum to Telecom Providers for the purpose as suggested above.  

This is as the demand for Data Services, based on the collected statistical data from the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) as stated in the article “Telecom revenue hit record in September Q” published Wednesday July 7th 2010, The Jamaica Observer, suggests that Broadband subscribers, assumedly including both Wired and Wireless, have surpassed the hundred thousand (100,000) mark, increasing by 16.5% to 109,790 subscribers.

With other reports suggesting 17% broadband penetration as stated in the article “Internet penetration lagging broadband speed”, published Wednesday, September 22, 2010 by CAMILO THAME Business co-ordinator, The Jamaica Observer this can only improve towards 2015 AD, the Year of DSO for Jamaica albeit 2012 is more likely.

Streaming via downloadable apps on smart phones as stated in the article “Smart phones Make Mobile Radio Sing”, published July 12, 2010, 11:49PM EST by Olga Kharif, BusinessWeek - DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT.

Even embedding FM Radio in smart phones has its technical difficulties as stated in the article “Broadcasters defend push for mandatory FM tuners”, published August 27, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Declan McCullagh, CNET News - Politics and Law leaving Radio Stations vulnerable to the vagaries of the adoption rate of touch screen smart phones in Jamaica.

The same Jamaica which is still in love with Blackberry’s and are not yet ready to graduate to the higher prices, more complex smart phone, which many may not even be “smart” enough to use, despite the training wheels provided by Blackberry in the form of the Blackberry Torch 9700 as stated in the article “Blackberry Torch already being sold at discount”, published August 17, 2010 8:14 AM PDT by Don Reisinger, CNET News - The Digital Home.

With such a hit-and-miss culture with smart phones, a transition to an independent HD Radio Network is necessary, possibly with listeners having to purchase a HD compliant Radio as will be the case with Television by 2015AD as stated in the article “TV purchase alert: In the Digital Age, HD is king, says regulator”, published Sunday November 21, 2010 The Jamaica Gleaner.

This will not necessarily save Radio, as per Media Practitioner Marcia Forbes article entitled “What fate for Radio in Jamaica?”, posted Monday, March 15, 2010,  By Marcia Forbes, but merely guarantee spectral efficiency and its survival as a relevant medium for communication.

What Radio needs to beat the Internet is more Ragashanti-esque, Social Media and Generation Y slanted programs if they wish to draw audiences in the Generation Y category. No equation required! 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Google Voice and Google Nexus One - All's Well that Ends Well



There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium’s capital had gather’d then
Her Beauty and her Chivalry, and bright
The lamps shone o’er fair women and brave men.

Byron, Childe Harold, III

Google Chrome OS is now the ONLY hope to save Netbooks and Laptops, if the words of Google CEO Eric Schmidt uttered and witnessed in a recent interview with EnGadget at Web 2.0 in November 2010 as stated in the article “Eric Schmidt: Chrome OS aimed at keyboard based solutions, android optimized for touch”, published November 15th 2010 by Joanna Stern, EnGadget and as per the analysis of my blog article entitled “Google Chrome OS and smart Books - Connection between SSD's, Fountain of Youth and Lazarus” are to believed.

Google Chrome is confirmed to be shipping with the latest batch of Netbooks and Laptops later in November 2010 as stated in the article “First Chrome OS notebook coming this month”, published November 2, 2010 by Molly McHugh, DigitalTrends.

Hopefully Google’s partners realize the cost reductions that using the Google Chrome OS and its Cloud Computing concept implies and have taken a cue from the Apple MacBook Air and used SSD (Solid State Drives) as SSD’s = Lower operating temperatures + better performance at lower processor speeds as implied in the article “Will HP, Dell, Sony answer 11-inch MacBook Air?”, published October 30, 2010 2:04 PM PDT by Brooke Crothers, CNET News - Nanotech - The Circuits Blog, and as stated in my blog article “Dell Inspiron Duo and Solid State Drives - Charles Darwin and the Survival of the Fittest”. So says the Gingerbread Man sitting on Google’s front lawn.

What then, is the Bard to make of their venture into the smart phone arena? Has their Google Nexus One been a total failure? Or does Google have something special in mind for their first branded smart phone baptized in the Mobile arena? John Public puts on his Telecoms Hat and analyzes the data of Google’s happenings for the year and comes to a startling conclusion that, if true, would certainly hasten the coming of DSO (Digital Switch Over), MNP (Mobile Number Portability) and foreign investment here in Jamaica.

Here in Jamaica, you say? Yes indeed. In fact, almost everything here in Jamaica is connected to the possibility of Google coming to Jamaica, and in a very big way, so I shall try to keep it simple.

The integration of thus far successful Google Voice into Gmail as per the article “Google: 1 million Gmail calls during first day”, published August 26, 2010 12:38 PM PDT by Stephen Shankland, CNET News - Deep Tech as well as my blog article entitled “Google and Google Voice - The World is Not Enough” is a sure sign of a further push into Telecoms. Jamaica may stand to benefit, with the efforts of some good lobbying to get Google to come to Jamaica and thus proving the equation DSO + MNP + Spectrum Auctions = Telecoms Investment + Increased GOJ Taxes.

Google in Jamaica is not too big a stretch. Google already has investments in Telecom Provider Clearwire, the provider of WiMax 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d, e) as stated in the article “Report: Clearwire gets more cash from investors”, published November 9, 2009 10:56 AM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

As well as their subsidizing of Fiber Optic testing to develop applications that use 100MBps bandwidth as stated in the article as stated in the article “Google subsidizing ultrafast Broadband test”, published February 10, 2010 8:58 AM PST, by Stephen Shankland, CNET News - Deep Tech.

Ironically (or is it coincidentally?), Triple Play Provider FLOW announced that they were offering 100MBps Cable Broadband as stated in the article “FLOW to bring 100Mbs to Jamaican homes”, published Saturday October 16 2010, The Jamaica Observer, with Telecom Provider CLARO declaring a push towards LTE (Long Term Evolution) a mere six (6) days later as stated in the article “Game on!”, published Friday October 22, 2010 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

With Telecom Provider Verizon in North America throwing their hat in the ring by declaring that they were offering 150MBps FIOS (Fiber Optic Service) at a pricey US$149 for a thirty (30) day subscription as stated in the article Verizon intros 150MBps broadband on FIOS”, published November 22, 2010 3:31 PM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength, (http://www.cnet.com).

This just in, folks: Google Voice has now been accepted by Apple as stated in the article “After tussle, Google Voice application comes to iPhone”, published Tuesday November 16 2010 by AFP, Yahoo News and stated in the article “Apple relents and approves Google Voice app for iPhone”, published Wednesday November 17 2010 by NewsFactor, Yahoo News.

Score one for Google! You see, Google, which has clearly been pushing into Telecoms, has also launched the Google branded Nexus One, their answer to the Apple iPhone designed for them by HTC and powered by their Google Android 2.2 OS codenamed Froyo.

It too, like Google Buzz, launched earlier in January 2010, “tanked” as the American would say, mainly because Google was trying something experimentally new: selling a smart phone online, with no Customer Care and not tied to a two (2) year contract, effectively an unlocked phone, except with the proviso that the gave the user the option to choose which of the four (4) Telecom Provider the Customer wishes to use.

Google only sold one hundred and thirty five thousand (135,000) units in seventy four (74) days, effectively riding the “fail whale”, (another catchy America phrase!!) especially in light of the one million (1,000,000) sold at the debut of the Apple iPhone in 2007 on Telecom Provider AT&T Network as reported by Flurry Analytics in the article “Why Google's Nexus One hasn't flopped (yet)”, published March 16, 2010 1:03 PM PDT by Tom Krazit, CNET News - Relevant Results.

Google’s Android Head of Development, Andy Rubin, later made statements attributed to him, saying that they [Google] would probably sell only “150,000 Nexus Ones”, thus making Google Nexus One more about shaking up the current Telecom business of smart phones locked to specific Networks and their plans on sale as opposed to giving Customers the freedom to choose the phone then have the choice of the Telecom Provider and its Plan separate. A brilliant plan, if only it had worked.

People still wanted Customer Care, especially as the phones gave problems after purchase as stated in the article “Google launches Nexus One phone support”, published February 8, 2010 8:55 PM PST by Steven Musil CNET News – Wireless and they later backtracked on their initial model by offering the phone at retail stores through Telecom Provider T-Mobile, after Telecom Provider Verizon and Telecom Provider Sprint backed out of the arrangement as stated in the article “Google turns Nexus One strategy upside down”, published May 14, 2010 9:55 AM PDT by Tom Krazit, CNET News – Wireless.

The words of Google’s Android Head of Development, Andy Rubin sums it up best: “While the global adoption of the Android platform has exceeded our expectations, the web store has not; It's remained a niche channel for early adopters, but it's clear that many Customers like a hands-on experience before buying a phone, and they also want a wide range of service plans to chose from.”

Back to the drawing board with the results of the experiment: Google Android is popular platform for smart phones but need to include online Customer Care via Google Voice Integration with Gmail and design the smart phone to be able to work on both CDMA [Telecom Provider Verizon and Telecom Provider Sprint] and GSM [Telecom Provider AT&T and Telecom Provider T-Mobile] Networks for Voice Telecoms Services and utilize 3G, 4G or WiMax Networks for Data Telecom Services.

Thus the comeback of the Google Nexus One in August 2010, which was snapped up by app Developers eager to experiment with this otherwise unlocked Google Android 2.2 powered smart phone as stated in the article “A flop with consumers, sold-out Nexus One scores with developers”, Friday August 20, 2010 4:50 pm ET, by Ben Patterson, Technology Writer, Yahoo News prompted Google’s Tim Bray to state on Google’s Android Developers blog that Google, quote “blew through the (substantial) initial inventory in almost no time”, hinting quite succinctly at the possibility of more units to be ready for Christmas.

After sneaky Google staffers placed a gigantic Gingerbread man on Google’s front lawn, rumours of a possible coming of a Google Nexus Two made by Samsung, not HTC and running on Google Android OS 2.3 codenamed Gingerbread as stated in the article “Is Samsung making Gingerbread-powered 'Nexus' phone for Google?”, published Friday October 29,2010 4:01 pm ET By Ben Patterson, Technology Writer, Yahoo News.

Evidence can be seen in the article “More evidence of revamped Nexus phone spotted”, published Thursday November 11, 2010 2:49 pm ET By Ben Patterson, Technology Writer, Yahoo News are already making the New Year look bright – and Apple CEO Steve Jobs have restless nights with all these rumours.

Meanwhile here in Jamaica, DSO (Digital Switch Over) for the Big Three (3) Broadcasters is now set for 2015 AD by the Broadcasting Commission’s as stated in the article “Timeline set for digital switchover; Broadcasting Commission, media group disagree on pace”, published Sunday November 21, 2010 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner and predicted in my blog article entitled “Broadcasting and Digital Switch Over - Back to the future to compete with LIME TV”.

Equally, MRSI (Mandatory Registration of Subscriber Information), a perfect set-up for MNP (Mobile Number Portability), long stated as being necessary as stated in the article “OUR signals policy shift on portability - says Jamaica running out of phone numbers”, published Friday November 20, 2009, by Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This is now enshrined in law as an additional tool to allow the Police to track and apprehend suspected criminals using requests for mobile instrument call history and Geo-Location information from the Big Three (3) Telecom Providers as stated in the article “Cabinet approves MRSI Bill”, published Thursday November 18 2010, Go-Jamaica, The Jamaica Gleaner a well as stated in the article “Phone companies to be forced to provide information”, published Friday, November 19, 2010, The Jamaica Observer,

My blog article entitled “MRSI and MNP - Where the Spies Are” provides further evidence. The power of Government Regulation in the face of lazy Private Sector, who would sit and resist change while making money; now the Big Three (3) Broadcasters and Big Three (3) Telecom Providers are now merely goldfishes in a fishbowl swimming around on the new set of Smile Jamaica on Television Jamaica!

Newspapers, watch out, regulation is soon coming!

Throw in the now open auction of spectrum by the Spectrum Management Authority in the 1900 MHz and 2100MHz region, which despite being a bit high, is still suitable for a WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) based Data Networks as stated in the article “Government mulls new mobile provider”, published Wednesday, November 24, 2010 The Jamaica Observer.

Thus you have the perfect regulatory environment for an investor of the caliber as Google, to set up their own Telecom Network (may I recommend Ericsson for everything?) to provide both Voice and Data Telecom Services selling their own branded Google Nexus One and Google Nexus Two smart phones with Google Voice support.

But it also sets up the stage for Google to purchase the RJR Communications Group and fund the DSO, which they apparently are having difficulty doing as the article “RJR's future profitability looks shaky”, published Wednesday, October 20, 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

Thus, if Google follows through, launches Google Nexus Two with above improvements and purchases the RJR Communications Group and a Telecoms License here in Jamaica, confirmation of which we may read of in the newspapers as to who has actually taken up this spectrum offering, then the following equation would have been confirmed: DSO + MNP + Spectrum Auctions = Telecoms Investment + Increased GOJ Taxes.

In one fell swoop, Google can become both a Broadcaster and a Telecom Provider. Telecoms is a relatively profitable venture in Jamaica, being one of the few countries where Telecom Providers are still reaping rewards, with increases in calling and profits of Telecom Providers based on a report by the OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) despite the current Global Recession as stated in the article “Telecom revenue hit record in September Q” published Wednesday July 7th 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

With profits up by 6.5% year-on-year to US$13.5 billion!

Just to get themselves started, though, Google could begin by offering Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) services by buying fiber optic T1 connectivity from Columbus Communications, the parent of Triple Play Provider, to compete with Wayne Chen and Lee’s owned Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks Dekal Wireless [a Droid] as stated  in the article “Wayne Chen, Lees enter Wireless Broadband Market”, published Friday July 30th 2010 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Ditto too for upstart Nubian-1 Tech Services Ltd [Princess Amidala’s Royal starship] as stated in the article “Another small player emerges in the wireless Broadband market”, published Friday August 2 2010 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner, another set-up for “Super” Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n). All’s Well that Ends Well, as per the Bard.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Google Chrome OS and Smart Books - Connection between SSD's, the Fountain of Youth and Lazarus

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
Shelley, Ode to the West Wind

With the emergence of Apple’s improved iOS 4.0.1 as stated in the article “Does iOS 4.0.1 make a difference?”, published July 21, 2010 5:35 PM PDT by Kent German, CNET News - iPhone Atlas, now running on the entire Apple ecosystem of devices (I love Biology!!).

Even the latest minted Apple product, the Apple MacBook Air, based on its rather impressive specs as stated in the article “Apple - MacBook Air - Technical specifications of the 11-inch”, viewed on Wednesday October 27 2010, Apple

Also the new Mac 10.7 Lion, the eighth major Operating System release for the Mac, incorporates elements of iOS 4.0, with an apps store and integrated technology for a touch-interface as stated in the article “Mac OS X Lion first take: Apple's next big Cat”, published October 20, 2010 11:59 AM PDT by Topher Kessler, CNET News – Reviews

This is also stated in the article “Apple refocuses on Mac with lighter MacBook Air, Lion software”, published October 20, 2010, 5:33 PM EDT By Adam Satariano and Peter Burrows, Business Week (http://www.businessweek.com).

Even their Tablet, the Apple iPad, runs on Apple iOS 4 and its slew of expected updates, mainly to address “jail breaking” and its now apparent unfettered approval by the Copyright Office as stated in the article “Apple: Jailbreaking an iPhone will (still) violate your warranty”, published Tuesday July 27 2010 by Ben Patterson, Technology Writer, Yahoo! News  and corroborated by the article “The jailbreaking exemption has its limits”, published July 29, 2010 11:45 AM PDT by Larry Downes, CNET News - Politics and Law.

Understandable, as the nascent Tablet form factor is fast becoming a target for competitors as well as hackers. Competitors thus far, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tablet as described in my blog article entitled “Samsung Galaxy - Apple iPad's contender for the Christmas”, have opted to use Google Android OS 2.2 codenamed Froyo.

Even after Google had warned Samsung not to, as it is optimized for a touch interface with a screen size of a smart phone and not a Tablet or larger sized device, making the apps unable to work properly as stated in the article “Google's Big Tease on Tablets: Android or Chrome OS?”, published Saturday September 11, 2010 12:11 pm ET by Jeff Bertolucci, Yahoo! News

Other Tablet makers, such as Hewlett-Packard and their Indianapolis 500 inspired 8.9" HP Slate 500 Tablet as stated in the article “Meet the HP Slate 500”, published October 21, 2010 3:05 PM PDT by Erica Ogg, CNET News - Circuit Breaker.

There is also Dell with their Netbook-Tablet Hybrid, the 10” Dell Inspiron Duo Tablet as stated in the article “We get out hands on the Dell Inspiron Duo”, published November 18, 2010 1:25 PM PST by Dan Ackerman, CNET News – Crave have opted to commit the same sin by using Windows 7 in the name of competition.

Windows 7 is itself equally not optimized for the touch interface, as touch screen Tablet killers were nowhere on the radar of the Baby Boomers [ages 45 to 90] who are the movers and shakers [CEO’s and Presidents], the real power in Silicon Valley. Even Apple iOS, which is a tailor made version of the original Apple iPhone OS modified for the Apple iPad’s size, initially had problems with game apps that were pixilated when run in original form on the bigger screen size.

This forced apps developers to change the way in which they wrote their apps and websites for the new screen size as stated in the article “ iPad Already Changing the Way Web Sites are Built”, published Thursday April 1, 12:01 pm ET Dan Hope Tech News Daily Staff Writer, Yahoo! News.

To paraphrase Princess Leia in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1997), save us Open Source, you’re our only hope against the pricing tyranny that is Apple. Enter Google Chrome OS, stage left again, to save the day!!

Google Chrome OS, Microsoft Windows killer on Netbooks that was based on Google Chrome Browser (hence the name), was a cloud based OS that was promised to make Netbooks cheaper as suggested in the article “Google Chrome OS could shake up PC Market”, published Wednesday June 6 2010 by Jeff Bertolucci, PC World, Yahoo! News.

It was essentially an Industry supported OS that was free, true to its Open Source roots, with apps such as Google Docs being streamed from the cloud, a rather expensive but clever method of Copyrighting Software, as everyone would be effectively using the same apps hosted on a common set of shielded servers.

The Apple iPad and it slew of competitors chasing down the White Unicorn (I prefer call the Apple iPad the White Whale!!) killed Google’s dreams, obvious from the usage of Android for the first bona fide Tablet competitor, the Samsung Galaxy Tablet, as per my article on Administrator Kirk’s Geezam blog entitled “Samsung Galaxy - Apple iPad's contender for the Christmas

The Samsung Galaxy Tablet runs on Google Android OS 2.2, when in fact only future versions of Android such as Android OS 2.3 codenamed Gingerbread and Android OS 3.0 codenamed Honeycomb may be more Tablet friendly and thus other would be Apple iPad assassins are awaiting CES (Computer Electronics Shows) 2011 to debut their Tablets offerings.

They will have a tough fight on their hands, with Apple already commanding 95% of the Tablet market, based on the statistics from Strategy Analytics as stated in the article “Apple has 95 percent of Tablet market: Strategy Analytics”, published Tuesday November 2 2010, 7:59 am ET, Reuters, Yahoo! News.

Google quickly re-organized and presented their Google Chrome OS as an Open Source alternative to its competitors and even Android for the nascent Tablet market as stated in the article “Chrome-powered Tablet and store may take on iPad”, published Wednesday August 18, 2010 2:03 pm ET by Jennifer LeClaire, newsfactor.com, Yahoo! News.

All of the above not being optimized fully for a large screen touch interface! Cloud Computing is what enables most of the content, from e-books to streaming video, to be readily enjoyed on the Tablet interface, with the cloud being more secure both in term of viruses as well as protecting the Copyright of Developers.

However, ever since the announcement by Apple CEO Steve Jobs in his “one more thing” announcement in October of 2010 which debut the Mac OS 10.7 Lion with the ever popular iOS Platform and apps, geared to be a success as stated in the article “Why Apple's Mac App Store will be a Hit”, published Monday October 25, 2010 11:17 am ET by Jared Newman, Yahoo! News.

The super thin, long lasting 13” and 11.6” Apple MacBook Air, now at an earthly price of US999 when purchased from the Apple Store as per my article on Administrator Kirk’s Geezam blog entitled “MacBook Air and FLASH-based Hard drives - The Quest for Instant On”, murmurings about the smart book have returned, and all eyes have turned again to Google Chrome OS.

Google, not to be caught off guard and sensing the shifting wind and the tide of fortune, has changed their tune with regards to Google Chrome OS. Google CEO Eric Schmidt has confirmed recently in an interview with EnGadget at Web 2.0 in November 2010 that Google Chrome OS will be aired at Netbooks and Laptops with future deployments of Google Android OS.

In other words, Google Android OS 2.3 codenamed Gingerbread and Android 2.4 codenamed Honeycomb (which suggests Artificial Intelligence!!) being aimed at touch-centric devices such as smart phones, Tablets and All Their Children as stated in the article “Eric Schmidt: Chrome OS aimed at keyboard based solutions, android optimized for touch”, published November 15th 2010 by Joanna Stern, EnGadget.

To make Google CEO Eric Schmidt statements sound more solid, Digital Trends Reporter Molly McHugh has announced that Google Chrome OS Netbooks and Laptops with their promised lower pricing point will debut in November of 2010, confirming Google CEO Eric Schmidt as stated in the article “First Chrome OS notebook coming this month”, published November 2, 2010 by Molly McHugh, Digital Trends.

Hopefully Netbooks and Laptops designed with the same form factor, price, features and the use of SSD’s, the Fountain of Youth in which the Apple MacBook Air has been dipped, rejuvenated and redefined what a Netbook should be, especially if it is going to be cloud based, as 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) are energy hogs.

People, say hello to the smart book, effectively what the Netbook should have been!  This is also a text book case of the Lazarus Effect for Netbook form factor, as Google Chrome OS will raise Netbooks and Laptops from the dead, something which the pricey Windows 7 cannot do. Thus, Open Source has now gotten a chance to come on the world stage, as per the bard Shakespeare declaration that “all the world’s a stage”, in a VERY big way.

Finally, Google says something that makes them sound more organized, as typically Engineering people tend to be anything but, having worked in similar work environments at C&W (2001 to 2004) now rebranded after their 3G launch as Telecom Provider LIME and Telecom Provider CLARO (2008 to 2009) and being the odd duck out.

This is mainly because I am a designer by nature, always dreaming up altius citius fortius (Higher, Faster, Stronger) versions of the Technology throwaways in Jamaica – but most likely because I love reading Shakespeare.

Yet, as I recall, I was the call-to individual whenever problems arise which the non-book centric Technicians cannot handle, my love for the verbose tedium of manuals ever so resplendent in my own writings on my blog.

If these Netbooks and Laptops [smart books] makers in partnership with Google follow my above suggestion and use SSD’s, then the naysayer, such as Yahoo! Writer Ian Paul predicting the demise of the as-yet-to-be-seen-in-the-wild Google Chrome OS as state in the article “Google's Chrome Smart books have already lost to Apple's MacBook Air”, published Tuesday November 2,2010 1:00 pm ET by Ian Paul, Yahoo! News will also have to take a dip in the Fountain of Youth as well

The seemingly out-of-touch Baby Boomers [ages 45 to 90] Presidents and CEO of Silicon Valley, Generation X [ages 26 to 45] who have lost all hope and Generation Y [ages 14 to 25] who are into their FaceBook and FarmVille and are basically idc (I don’t’ care), the Fountain of Youth is open to everyone. Not to mention a little revenge against the naysayer from my former workplaces as 2011 will be the Year of Open Source.

Oh for the Bard to be alive today to see these so-called Engineers befuddled, unable to follow Trends, as I pen these words.

Google Chrome, you ARE our ONLY hope against the high priced Microsoft Windows 7 and Apple’s lower priced yet still pricey Apple MacBook Air, the game changer for Netbooks for the Christmas of 2010, dipped into the Fountain of Youth and returned to us from the dead, like Lazarus, as Open Source takes over Netbooks and Laptops in the year 2011AD.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Broadcasting and Digital Switch Over - Back to the Future to compete with LIME TV

Conquering, holding, daring venturing as we go the unknown ways,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Walt Whitman, Pioneers! O pioneers!

The wonder that is DTT (Digital Terrestrial Transmission) is soon to come to Jamaica by 2015, if the Broadcasting Commission gets their way as stated in the article “Timeline set for digital switchover; Broadcasting Commission, media group disagree on pace”, published Sunday November 21, 2010 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Disagreements as suggested in the title mainly stem from the cost of the changing of Transmission equipment, estimated to cost US$100,000 per transmission site based on the utterances of President of the MAJ (Media Association of Jamaica) and Managing Director of the RJR Communications Group, Gary Allen (what a long title!!).

But alas, what are goldfishes to do against the Broadcasting Commissions Director Dr. Hopeton Dunn, after the National Steering Committee on Digital Switchover (DSO), which began discussing DSO (Digital Switch Over) since 2009 as stated in the article “Slow road to digital switch-over  - Cable groups mum; Flow ahead but network coverage behind”, published: Saturday  August 15, 2009 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner?

Worse, they are losing money as stated in the article “RJR's future profitability looks shaky”, published Wednesday, October 20, 2010, The Jamaica Observer and will soon lose advertisers too.

As soon as LIME TV come on stream as stated in the article “The people and ideas behind Mobile TV”, published Friday, November 12, 2010 BY EDWARD TAYLOR, The Jamaica Observer.

Thus I put it to you that the Big Three (3) Broadcasters may wish to themselves push the date up to 2012AD as I had postulated in my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers, 100MBps Broadband and the Broadcasting Commission - Redemption Song”.

This decision means that, depending on your pocket, a HDTV (High Definition Television) is definitely in your future as stated in the article “TV purchase alert: In the Digital Age, HD is king, says regulator”, published Sunday November 21, 2010 The Jamaica Gleaner.

Like it or not, as the Government of Jamaica is unlikely to wish to subsidize set-top boxes in order to assist the Media, their long time adversary, especially in light of their desire for “Media Independence” as the Government of Jamaica redistributes their allotted (or contracted?) time slots.

Now due to their insistence on “Media Independence”, the Broadcasting Commission has made it clear their intention to outlaw payola [bribing radio Disk Jockey’s], with the threat of hefty fines if caught as stated in the article “Broadcasting Commission wants payola a criminal offence”, published Saturday, November 13, 2010, The Jamaica Observer

Licenses for previously free-to-air broadcasters spectrum, both Radio and Television, to cover the cost of the work of the Broadcasting Commission as stated in the article “Radio, TV stations could soon be asked to pay licensing fee to regulator”, published Thursday November 11 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

A leaner and meaner Broadcasting Commission!

Now that it is all but confirmed that Telecom Provider LIME will be launching their DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting – Handheld) Television service called LIME TV as stated in the article “The people and ideas behind Mobile TV”, published Friday, November 12, 2010 BY EDWARD TAYLOR, The Jamaica Observer, a European standard that supports mobility.

LIME TV, the name of Telecom Provider LIME’s service, will also be making On-Demand Television and the “TV-Anywhere” on Mobile handsets a reality as stated in the article “LIME goes Mobile TV”, published Saturday August 28th by Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

So putting the politics aside, what is DTT?

Does that mean that the Big Three (3) will have to accelerate their plans to roll out Digital Television or risk being cannibalized, as per Sir Charles Darwin’s “Survival of the Fittest” theorem in his controversial Theory of Evolution, especially as Telecom Provider LIME is working on an app/codec that will make LIME TV viewable on any smart phone, irregardless of Network Providers?

Looks like the perfect setup for the Big Three (3) Broadcasters launching early as per my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers, 100MBps Broadband and the Broadcasting Commission - Redemption Song”.

John Public puts on his Telecoms and Broadcasting Hat yet again, hopefully with a clearer explanation of what is essentially a very confusing field in Broadcasting: DTT.

DTT is basically the equivalent of 4G services for Broadcasting, as ironically the exact same criteria set by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) the Telecoms arm of the UN (United Nations):  Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM), effectively the same signal multiplexing inherent in WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access), a descendant of CDMA Networks and speed capability demonstrable in achieving 100MBps and higher.

There are five (5) families of DTT standards:

1.      DVB (Digital Video Broadcast) used mainly in Europe, Russia, India parts of Africa and Australia
2.      ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) is used chiefly in the United States of America and Canada
3.      ISDB (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting) is used chiefly in Japan and Latin America and DMB (Digital Multimedia Broadcasting) and its subsets CMMB (China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting)
4.      ADTB (Asynchronous Digital Terrestrial Broadcast) are used in the People’s Republic of China and South Korea.

Despite the long winded acronyms (wow!) all are orthogonal and 100MBps capable, have a Terrestrial (Fixed, Satellite or Cable) and Mobile (Handheld) subset of the basic protocol.

This is similar to WiMax which has Fixed (IEEE 802.16a) and Mobile (IEEE 802.16m) and use MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group) Layer 2 and Layer 4, AVC and AVS for encoding Video and MPEG Layer 3, AC-3, AAC and HE-AAC to encode Audio. Digital Terrestrial Television does away with the AM Modulated Video and FM modulate audio composite signal with the pilot synchronization signal used in the older composite analog NTSC (National Television Systems Committee) Standard.

A mountain of acronyms which amounts to a spectrally efficient system no different from streaming over a WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) Wireless Broadband Channel e.g. LTE (Long Term Evolution) or WiMax, the secret that Broadcasters wish no one to know, as they would lose money if hackers could figure out how to intercept and decode and record their digitally encrypted content.

Best of all, it is one common transmission Channel all of the Big Three (3) Broadcasters can use, as WCDMA uses QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) is interference limiting thus resulting in their sharing the same transmission Channel space (if so required) and resulting in the entire island just having one logical “Channel” for each broadcaster e.g. Channel 7 for Television Jamaica, Channel 8 for CVM TV. Television made simple.

However, unlike the Telecom World, the Broadcasting World, also controlled by the ITU, no matter what protocol or transmission schema is used, their market is more fickle. Thus jostling for who has the most “G’s” like the Telecom Providers is unimportant, merely ensuring that the Digital Signal effectively covers their assigned areas as effectively and interference-free as possible.

Because of its orthogonal nature, akin to 3G or 4G services of Telecoms Providers, it uses fewer spectrums as more Channels can be compressed into the same spectrum as a standard NTSC standard broadcast (approximately 6, assigned 1MHz within the 6MHZ Vestigial Composite Television Signal) and is cheaper to maintain after installation by the Broadcaster.

An additional side benefit to the Broadcasters and Telecoms Providers is the sale of their now soon-to-be-licensed spectrum to Telecom Providers and the possible sale of the “White” Space Frequencies in-between the NTSC standard broadcast Channels spectrum license free for the purpose of providing “Super” Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks as per my my blog article on the subject entitled “Telecoms and White Spaces - A Man for All Seasons and the Big Bang Theory”.

Even more interesting are the benefits for the viewers, benefits which they can see; cleaner clearer pictures requiring no fiddling with the antenna, as the receiver either can decode or not decode the Digital Carrier signal, showing a blue screen or “No Signal” if it cannot get the minimum signal level required for noises free decoding, an effect we Telecom’s people refer to as the “Cliff” Effect.

Additionally, the Channel changing will not be as instantaneous, a foible of the decoding process within the Television set, which takes up considerable processing power and thus seconds may elapse.

The viewer can be provisioned with interactive services, so called “Red Button” services as simple as Viewer Feedback to as complex as Video Calling, Broadband Internet, Online Banking Services and even Election Voting as stated in the article “Digital Terrestrial Television”, retrieved Monday November 22 2010 by Wikipedia.

This is similar to how Triple Play Provider FLOW plans to operate in the future, now bristling with their new 100MBps service as stated in the article “FLOW to bring 100Mbs to Jamaican homes”, published Saturday October 16 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

Thus viewers will appreciate the irony; that for a one off investment in a HDTV compliant Television Set or the purchase of a US$100 set-top box (at the time of writing, it is not yet clear what Technology will be used), viewers may be able to get Triple Play Provider FLOW-esque service without the cumbersome restriction of running cables.

Subscription Television was definitely not the way to go for the Big Three (3) Broadcasters, as that is dying, with viewers opting to keep their Triple Play Cable Service’s Broadband Internet and watch Television service over that medium.

Thus effectively ditching their “premium” Channel packages as opined by CNET News Reporter, Marguerite Reardon in the article “With Internet TV, cable wins even if it loses”, published October 29, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

Most likely, akin to Telecom Provider LIME’s soon to be launched Christmas service, LIME TV, the National Steering Committee on Digital Switchover (DSO) may opt to use DVB-H instead of ASTC, the standard for DTT that our American cousins use.

Simply because it would prevent Jamaicans from easily acquiring and hacking a ASTC Set-top box instead of legally purchasing one from affiliate partners with the Broadcasters e.g. Courts, Singer, as part of Digital Switch-Over, which will occur on one (1) day.

But best of all, it that it would allow the Broadcasting of premium content, such as just released movies, without fear of hackers being able to easily intercept and record content illegally for redistribution.

Thus the obvious is clear. National Steering Committee on Digital Switchover (DSO) plan to go DSO by 2015 is impractical. A better date is 2012, as in two (2) years, LIME TV will make the still Analog Big Three (3) Broadcasters unnecessary, as it will catch on.

Once the hardware, price and the option to use your own Mobile device to receive DVB-H broadcast irrespective of Telecom Provider is in place as per my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers, 100MBps Broadband and the Broadcasting Commission - Redemption Song”.

Even if one argues that people will be watching Television JamaicaCVM TV  and Love TV via the LIME TV Mobile and Set-top box service, the Analog facility will still be Broadcasting to Television sets that no one will be watching.

Instead, they’ll be opting to watch Triple Play Provider FLOW or use their Broadband Internet service to watch Television via their Apple iTV, Roku Box, Boxee box, SlingBox player or Google TV – or simply their LIME TV enabled Mobile smart phones.

TV Anywhere and On-Demand will rule Television for the foreseeable future. After all, why would Television Jamaica now start backing up their content in shielded servers online for later playback of their content?

Viewers, based on anecdotal information as well as information locally are going the route of “time shifting” by recording their programming on their DVR (Digital Video Recorders) for later viewing a trend that Triple Play Provider Comcast, which did the survey, expects to pick up as stated in the article “Survey of viewers shows extent of TV time shifting”, published Tuesday August 17 2010, 6:53 am ET by DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer, Yahoo! News.

A reality among viewers both in the United States of America, Jamaica and Latin America, as everyone, too busy to sit down and watch TV, can only watch Television when they have time, busy as bees working.

A case of the Big Three (3) Broadcasters going Back to the Future (1985) as per the movie in order to compete effectively with the coming of LIME TV which I may now call a game changer in Broadcasting.


Throw in Video Game playing over the LIME TV as a “Red Button” service and Analog is toast, as the Americans would say.