Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Free Goods, Pricing

One need not be a landlord to realize that offering free goods and services often leads to "tenancy risks" of one kind or another. This goes back to Oliver Williamson's basic notions of economic realism: "Opportunism" and "Bounded Rationality".

So, it is no surprise when AT&T finally pulled the plug on a free service that was actually being used by a significant, albeit small minority, to its promised limits. It stopped offering unlimited data plans for it mobile subscribers.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Number Portability Actually Works

I originally wrote this entry on September 29, 2004, and published it on

I don't know how many of you have changed mobile operators, but I've done it quite regularly: PacBell, Verizon, AT&T Wireless, Cingular and now T-Mobile. Part of the reason is that I want to change mobile devices or try different operators while receiving the device discounts. Sometimes, I like a device or an operator and stay longer than usual. What matters to me most is that I can sign a 1-year contract.

In the past, when subscribers changed operators, they would end up losing their mobile number, partly because the Supreme Court kept admitting requests for delays in implementing the FCC-mandated number portability feature. The operators were asking for delays because, they argued, the systems had not been prepared adequately to make the process smooth.

In any case, now, the process seems to work like a clock. I put in my request last night. My new "mobile station" (to use GSM-ish language), which was originally attached to a temporary number, has been working with the transfered number since this morning. (For all I know it could have been operational right after my number transfer request last night. I didn't get time to check.) A Sun partner visiting our offices just called me to remind me of the time he was arriving. He called my old number, and I got him on my new phone.

Number portability actually works and is quick!

Should I go or should I not . . .

I originally wrote this entry on September 26, 2004, and published it on

I was supposed to attend (as vice chair and participant) the Open Mobile Alliance - Mobile Web Services working group meeting in Orlando early next week but Hurricane Jeanne has closed the airport until Monday afternoon, and going through 15 hours of travel and airports (not including the delays) while ending up with the opportunity to attend (possibly) less than one day of a meeting is not my idea of resourcefulness. So, I think I'm going to have to cancel this trip. This will incur Sun some cost but the savings in time, energy and individual productivity outweigh the losses. So, Sunday morning when I wake up, my first move will be to put a cancellation order in motion. Missing the meeting will unfortunately mean that I will also miss what promises to be a great presentation on Fast Web Services by Paul Sandoz. (He seems to have gotten to Orlando, from France, just before the airport closure.)

Some have expressed curiosity regarding how the OMA board could have allowed the meeting to be arranged during a hurricane-prone season in Orlando? Can Mickey Mouse really produce such an irresistible pull for our European OMA colleagues? I doubt it very much.

Danger Gets Dangerous

I originally wrote this entry on September 27, 2004, and published it on

I'd been waiting for more than a couple of years to get Danger's Sidekick.

No, this is certainly not like Enkidu, the sidekick to Gilgamesh, that primordial myth-model of heroism, from Mesopotamia, a land we now know better as Iraq.

Nevertheless, every hero needs a sidekick, even if it is to be a cyber-sidekick.

Gilgamesh had Enkidu, and I got my Sidekick at the Palo Alto T-Mobile outlet on University Avenue this Sunday. If I'm satisfied (and I get 14 days to decide), I will then have to see about number portability. I'm told it now takes a very short time to install. I will write about this more in a couple of days.

My criteria for the purchase of a sidekick had been a color screen and tri-band radio capabilities. Sidekick II meets both. Not only that, I now have IMAP/SSL accounts I can set up. I haven't had time to set up an IMAP account yet but I had enough time to take a picture of Roberto Chinnici. He visited me (or was it a visit to my Sidekick II) just a few moments ago. More about Roberto later.

Trying a "Mobile" Weblog

I originally wrote this entry on September 27, 2004, and published it on

On my first day of owning a Sidekick II device, I've been able to start and manage a mobile weblog in less than 3 minutes, with great ease and directly from the mobile device itself. The device design and service integration are strikingly smooth. Many efficiencies are included.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SIP capabilities, a good introduction

I wrote this entry, originally, on July 5, 2004.

If you are looking for a good introduction to Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), you can find one titled "The Future of Communication using SIP" in the Ericsson Review, No. 1, 2002.

You might want to start by reading the section titled "Capabilities supported by SIP." These are on pages 31 - 32 and give you an ideal perspective on (the technical) environments where SIP would be useful.

Mobility and Single Sign-On

I wrote this entry, originally, on July 3, 2004.

For mobile telecommunications operators, single sign-on (SSO) is not just a cool technology. It is increasingly an economic necessity.

One may argue that mobile telecommunications operators already have a form of single sign-on operating under the covers.

As the "mobile station" (the technical, GSM term for the mobile phone) moves, it needs constantly to access distinct resources (or services).

When a mobile station moves, the cellular tower giving it access to the public land mobile network (PLMN) will eventually hand off to the next cellular tower. The radio network server will use signal strength comparisons between the towers as an indication of when and where hand-off needs to occur.

However, single sign-on to network resources and services is a truly general concept in need of a more broad treatment. In fact, the Liberty Alliance, a standards organization has addressed the problem of single sign-on in its ID-FF (identity federation framework) set of specs.

So, where does the economic necessity come from?

Mobile telecommunications providers are focused in providing connectivity, access, identity and other voice and data services to their customers. From their point of view, a service is a kind of network interaction for which the subscriber is willing to pay. However, as we move to the a mobile age filled with perviously unimagined forms of voice and data communications, various "services" will need to be composed to provide the required features in a sophisticated and billable service.

A simple example may help.

Let's say you're a network operator serving 15 million people, offering them Multi-media Messaging Service (MMS) capabilities. Your subscribers are carrying mobile stations that can take pictures, which they can send to others through MMS or other means. Your subscribers also receive multi-media messages, say pictures or video clips, from friends, family or other services (e.g. sports, whether, etc.) to which they have subscribed.

What if your subscriber wants to maintain an album for all these in-coming and out-going multi-media messages? Should you be providing that service or should you be "outsourcing" it to another business that specializes in maintaining large multi-media albums and libraries? You'll probably choose the latter course because the business of providing digital albums for multi-media content is not within your core competency. The album business is a separate business. In fact, your subscribers will want to access their albums in multiple ways and will probably want to preserve a distinct identity with their album provider.

This example simply shows that the decision to host a broad SSO solution can be an economically rational decision for the mobile telecommunications operators simply because economics of sophisticated services will push them to "sub-contract" or "outsource" many of the "services" which they will have to compose into a billable service.

In the presence of sophisticated service composition, one would need a very good SSO and identity model. Hence, the advent of the Liberty Alliance.