US Government to Improve Customer Service?

Taking a break from a hard-to-start assignment, I scanned my Google Reader looking for a diversion.

And then this improbable subject line appeared: “Federal Agencies to Improve Customer Service”.

We’re no longer citizens, I thought for a second, but customers in USA, Inc.

Reading what was a press release from a call center company, I learned that in an Executive Order from President Obama—that would be “Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service”—US agencies are charged with using best practices from the private sector to improve interactions with the citizenry.

Holy Biden!Continue reading

Back at the FCC: Congress Responds to AT&T Merger

With everyone on vacation or preparing for vacation, the FCC released letters from our Congressional representatives regarding their feelings on the AT&T acquisition of T-Mobile.

None of the opinions express should come as a surprise to anyone following this debate. The longest and most detailed letter was drafted by Rep. Herbert Kohl, Chairman of the House Anti-Trust Sub-Committee.

Kohl strikes a blow for smaller regional wireless carriers, noting that they already pay high access charges to AT&T and Verizon to complete cellular calls.  And with these two former Bells acting as primary toll collectors for long-distance connections, regional wireless players are not very motivated to go national and face steeper chargers or other barriers. Continue reading

Summer Fun: Baseball and Phono

Last week, I wrote about the under-appreciated but impressive Phono, a jQuery plugin that lets you embed a softphone into any web page.

Phono is made by Florida-based Voxeo, a long-standing and innovative telephony software vendor.

With a pinch of JavaScript, anybody—developer, HTML-phobic designer—can add a voice channel widget, accessible from laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

What’s cooler than an embedded JavaScript softphone?

Connecting said softphone up with Tropo, Voxeo’s server-side telephony environment.

I usually free associate baseball, not JavaScript, with the month of August, so I decided to take on a small Tropo project to read back current major league baseball scores into my Phono widget, which I’ve conveniently inserted into this post.

Go Yankees!Continue reading

Test Your VoIP Connection with OnSIP

OnSIP, the virtual PBX service that we use, has a web page that allows you to test your VoIP connection.

It simulates a voice conservation to OnSIP’s remotes, measuring packet loss and jitter or variation in transit times.

My performance over my information cable provided by Comcast here in NJ was pretty good: no packet loss and .9 ms in jitter. Continue reading

Comcast Responds to Bloomberg

The  200+ page response  to Bloomberg TV’s complaint that it had been exiled in Comcast’s lineup from the major players news neighborhoods —Fox, CNN, CNBC, etc.— has been submitted to the FCC.

The lawyers must have had loads of fun writing this thing.

The gist of Comcast’s argument is that it all depends on what you mean by news and a neighborhood. Continue reading

Back at the FCC: CableCARD Returns From the Dead

The FCC’s cableCARD initiative was supposed to crack open the proprietary set-top box provided by the cable operators and give consumers more box choices.

The idea was that you would purchase a PCMIA card for decrypting the cable signal and then have the luxury of inserting your CableCARD into a huge selection of third-party boxes, from the likes of TiVo, Roku, and zillion of others.Continue reading

AT&T 2Q2011 Results: Still Wired

While AT&T may be boasting about the wireless side of the business in its 2Q results, Ma Bell 2.0 is still very dependent on its copper cables.

True, wireless revenue has been doing the growing, rising to $14.1 billion over the last three months and 7% ahead of last year’s numbers.

Other good news: AT&T claims over 3.5 million iPhone activations this past quarter, in spite of sharing this market with its cousin, Verizon.

Bottom line: AT&T’s operating income for wireless this past quarter was over $4 billion, compared to the wired side’s “mere” $2 billion.

As carriers and the FCC currently review pulling the plug on POTS,  it’s a good time to look again at all the revenue that remains in voice and POIS (Plain Old Internet Service). Continue reading

Cisco’s Internet of Things

Over at “The Platform”, Cisco’s Dave Evans has posted a great infographic showing that communicating things—essentially embedded sensors —have already outstripped the number of communicating homo sapiens.

That happened in 2010.

By 2050 there will be 50 billion such devices—think coffee makers, cars, trains, refrigerators, gas pumps—that will be notifying and texting each other across the Internet.  Continue reading

Is WiMax 4G? Nooo…Yes

CNET has a nice, easy-to-drink article on telecom terminology perfect for this lazy July day. One of the terms they try to define is 4G.

In their jargon glossary, CNET includes WiMax and LTE under the “4G” umbrella, and specifically refers to Sprint “using an older version of 4G called WiMax”.

I guess you can say mobile WiMax or 802.16e is an older version of 4G.Continue reading

TV Retransmission Fee Dispute: Fox vs Missouri’s KSFX

It’s been about two weeks since I attended Consumer Electronics Week at NYC, watched 3D TV on big screens and small, and met with local TV entrepreneur Jack Perry. TV is still very much on my mind.

Perry’s company Syncbak provides a new revenue source for local TV stations and network affiliates: retransmitting their content over the Internet, but only to subscribers in the local viewing area.

And I should add, this is a less contentious source of revenue, say compared to retransmitting a TV signal over a cable network.

During the weekend, I learned from The New York Times that a Fox affiliate in the Ozarks couldn’t come to terms with the Fox parent company. At issue was KSFX’s (Springfield, Missouri) own retransmission agreement with an unnamed cable operator.

Fox wanted a greater cut of the revenue that KSFX receives for allowing its signal (local news and Fox programming) to be seen by cable viewers.Continue reading