Does the US Have an Emergency Cell Phone and Internet Shut Off Switch?

Does the US have emergency shut-off switch for the internet and cell phones?  Unfortunately, only a few people in the Government and within the telecommunications industry know and we will not likely find out anytime in the near future.  However, a huge event in telecommunications history happened this week in Egypt. A large country of 80 million people suddenly had their cell phones and internet turned off. I think we all know why the government did it. To control information flow and hamper the ability for its citizens to gather easily in one place. How did they do it? Read more at Gizmodo.

Ironically one of the people CNBC interviewed today while in Davos, Switzerland was Sean Parker who is one of the co-founders of Facebook and Napster. I thought it was rather timely considering the disruption both of his companies have caused on various industries. So is Facebook and Twitter the new offensive and defensive tools for governments to use?  Is the internet going to get turned off the next time the US has an emergency crisis?  Does Listen to Seans interview.  

Did You Know This About The iPad 3G?

Wi-Fi Only Tablets Selling More Than 3G
#1) Did you know that that WiFi, not 3G/4G/LTE is taking most of the traffic from iPads?

#2)  Did you also know that carriers are looking to offload 30-60% of traffic via WiFi?  

Carriers plan to secreting do this through femtocells and WiFi landlines and won't give their customers any transparency that what they are paying for is actually free. Carriers say WiFi could double their effective capacity on their bloated, expensive and congested data networks.  So why are hyping and spending so much money on their LTE 4G networks?

If it were up to the carriers they would never include a cheap WiFi chip in the devices that Apple and HTC sell.  The WiFi offloading percentage goes up very quickly as consumers realize their 3G and 4G networks are likely congested around them. So when Mr. Stankey of AT&T, Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon and Humm of Deutsche Telekom say they have a video offering it will be highly dependent on WiFi. They have a plan their engineers are confident will handle it for many years.

Mobile data offloading is the used to complement a 2G, 3G or 4G network for delivering data. The offloading rules triggering the data offload action on the handset or tablet can either be set by a subscriber or an operator. For mobile phone users the purpose of data offloading is to save money so you won't get a huge bill for streaming huge files. For carriers the main purpose for the offloading is to relief the congested cellular networks.

The best solution if you must have your iPad connect connect to the cellular network is to simply tether your iPad to your 4G phone

Free Google Ad Supported WiFi Hotspots are Coming

The FCC has approved nine companies to be curators of the database for the newly opened up white space wireless or this is also known as long range WiFi or Super WiFi.  Google led the group and was joined by Comsearch, Frequency Finder, KB Enterprises and LS Telcom, Key Bridge, Neustar, Spectrum Bridge, Telcordia Technologies and WSdb.  Google has been backing the use of this spectrum between the frequencies used for television broadcasts as a way to deliver affordable and likely free ad supported wifi.  This is an interest from the related Google Fiber project initiative. Read more at

This is tremendous news for supporters of free WiFi and location based advertising.  There is no reason that everyone shouldn't be able to surf the internet on their smartphones and tablet iPads from anywhere that reaches one of these super antennas.  Carriers are obviously wildly opposed to this White Space initiative because in cannibalizing their huge investments in fast LTE 4G.  Our theory is that properly supported WiFi could be plenty of bandwidth for consumers to use their phones with a Chrome browser and location based ad.  Therefore I am not bullish on consumers paying upwards of $60-$100 per month for high speed broadband.  Kudos for Google to making wireless affordable to everyone and not just the rich. 

What is Wrong With Wireless? does not have compelling consumer friendly mobile phone strategy.  Does this site about get you excited about buying a phone from them versus going to a AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon or Sprint retail store?  Are they missing out on mobile, smartphones and tablets which is in boom times?   Amazon is one of the largest eCommerce communities in the world and could be a powerhouse in mobile phones if they had any balls to get aggressive about provide real consumer value.

Amazon Wireless is a half baked site that has very few good offers for  customers switching carriers but none for existing customers.  The site also doesn't tell me squat about the coverage I might receive if I switch carriers or reviews about problems with phones or data speeds.  It also could be a tremendous marketplace for mobile and tablet app reviews for the Android and iPhone but I find nothing.  However, they seem to be afraid of taking an aggressive stance against Verizon and AT&T who continually market 4G bullshit.  Amazon or Best Buy could be one of the few retailers that could clean up the the wireless carrier fraudulent marketing.  Consumer Reports sure sucks at it and we are making an effort with our coverage map. 

Why Does The iPhone Battery Replacement Cost $79?

Apple's iPhone battery replacement program has come under scrutiny and has many customers angry. The iPhone battery life problem is bigger than you think.  iPhone uses Pentalobe screws (see above) on the phone which makes it difficult for iPhone owners to open the phone and replace the battery without professional assistance.  Pentabobe screwdrivers are not very easy to find and thus makes it difficult for users to avoid the $79 fee.  This seems right in line with Apple's philosophy of maintaining control over its products and charging you for every little thing that you need.

Poor batter life is one of the reasons I think the smartphone business may suffer as a result of the tablet business taking off.  Tablets can hold about batteries that are 3 to 5 times larger thus increasing the battery life up to sometimes 12+ hours and a few days.  Smartphones on the other hand can barely work for 3 to 4 hours without needing a charge.  So, its going to be interesting to see how users begin consuming content on tablets instead of smartphones because the battery life is so much better.

One of the biggest issues with the iPhone is the poor battery life and what contributes to this?  Poor AT&T cell phone reception.  The biggest contributor to battery drain is when the cell phone is continuously searching for a mobile network indoors or in a dead zone.  The battery also gets drained if you are using a lot of data services on WiFi as well or the 3G network is congested.

It is disappointing to see such a large company convince its customer base that they are responsible for replacing the batter it the product is not warrantied. I have had several phones in my lifetime and all of the batteries need replacement after about a year.  I often take two batteries when I am on the road and will not be able to charge the phone for several hours.  So, once again it becomes a hassle for iPhone customers to actually use their phone when the battery life is so short.  I think carriers should do the right thing and simply replace all batteries at not extra charge since their congested networks are responsible for the batter drain. 

Apple & Google Have CEO Leadership Issues

Who is Running Google & Apple?
Its kind of scary to think about the two largest technology companies Google & Apple going through management changes at the top.  Steve Jobs, Apples CEO announced this week he will be taking a medical leave of absence and Tim Cook will be managing the company day to day. In the same week now Eric Schmidt steps down as CEO and now Executive Chairman and Larry Page will take over as CEO.  I am all for management change when things are going badly but right now we happen to be in boom times again.  CEO's typically are replaced when companies need to steer the ship in a new direction.  This time both CEO's seem to be leaving while their stocks are trading near all time highs and their market capitalizations are enormous.

Tim Cook is not a very compelling communicator and is also not that inspiring the way he speaks.  Larry Page is also not a very compelling speaker and not very inspiring to listen to.  I think these people are brilliant thinkers and leaders but I question whether they are good fits to lead these companies?  Inspiration and speaking capabilities are the most important attributes for CEO's and I am not sure this change is positive for each company.

Steve Jobs leaving is for obvious reasons his health and we hope he gets better.  However, Larry Page taking over for Eric Schmidt might reveal some friction in the management decision making.  Can Google become the mobile phone powerhouse it wants to become?  Is Larry Page taking over temporarily in order to hire a new CEO from the mobile industry?  We will soon find out on Apple's earnings call that is about to start. 

AT&T & Verizon May Have Overstated Earnings by Billions

AT&T may have overstated earnings by $17B over the past decade according to Craig Moffet. AT&T has written off $2.9B and like many other companies, they've been wildly unrealistic about their pension plans. For 2010, AT&T found $1.2B in health care plan savings resulting in a cost increase of only 1.7%, far below the actual health care cost inflation. For 2011, T is assuming an 8.25% return on assets. In an economy unlikely to grow substantially, that's optimistic. I've also reported over the years on numerous AT&T "special items" that had the net effect of raising profits.  Given AT&T's actions, it seems like a certainty that Verizon will have to follow its lead. Verizon's pension liabilities are proportionately larger than AT&Ts, with slightly worse funding statuses.  Read more

10 Reasons Why the Motorola Xoom Tablet is Better Than the iPad

Motorola Xoom vs iPad 2
Firstly, I am a proud owner of an iPad but also a heavy Google Apps users so I have been suffering a bit for the last year with the lack of multi-tasking and lack of app integration.  I will most certainly be purchasing this tablet in the near future but will not be buying the 3G or 4G version.  WiFi only tablets or iPads work just fine, especially when you tether a tablet to a 4G phone to save money paying for an extra data plan that is not needed. Here are 10 Reasons why the Motorola Xoom Tablet is the best tablet on the market and better than the iPad and likely the iPad 2.

1) First Android operating system Honeycomb 3.0 design specifically for tablets
2) Front facing web cam with Google Talk integrated
3) HD video capture
4) 5MP camera
5) 3G upgradeable to 4G & Verizon launching in Q1 2011
6) Dual core processor for multi-tasking and speed
7) 10.1 Inch HD display
8) Adobe Flash Player 10.1 videos play inside the browser
9) Scrollable widgets on the home screen for easier multiple tab browsing
10) It won the CES Best in Show 2011

The only questions I have are the following:  #1 What is the battery life like?  #2 Are any Android apps available in the marketplace ready for the tablet form factor?  Will it be available in the WiFi only version?  Will Best Buy or Amazon sell it?  Will the price point be $500 or less for the WiFi only version? 

10 Differences Between AT&T & Verizon iPhones

3G or 3G? The iPhone 4 will not work on any HSPA+ or LTE network so waiting for the iPhone 5 is your best option.  AT&T is building out its HSPA+ network which will be faster that 3G and thus waiting for the iPhone 5 might be prudent if you are already an AT&T and iPhone customer.  Verizon's 4G is going to be LTE and this should be fast but its going to be very expensive and don't expect the phone to come out anytime soon.  4G HSPA+ works great on T-Mobile and its fast and has been running for many months now on many Android phones.  

Data Speeds: AT&T does have a faster data network than Verizon's CDMA.  AT&T iPhone 5 will likely be compatible on HSPA+ and the iPhone 5 for Verizon will likely be on LTE.  No one knows exactly what the speeds will be but you will not likely notice the difference as a user.

Data Plans:  Paying $29.99 per month for unlimited data is very expensive especially when you are only using 50% or less of your voice minutes and that usage is declining.  

Multi-Tasking:  AT&T is only capable of talking on the phone while surfing the web or reading email.  Verizon says they are working on a solution but it will likely require WiFi.

Battery:  We speculate that AT&T's network might be a bit more battery friendly than Verizon's CDMA network which has been notoriously bad on the Motorola Droid battery.

Tethering:  Its not clear who will offer tethering and at what price but we speculate this will be an issue.  Most sophisticated users are simply tethering their iPad or Laptops and not subscribing to an additional data plan for the device.   T-Mobile's HSPA+ network is most friendly about tethering on the Android G2 and MyTouch phones.

Antenna:  Verizon moved the antenna in the phone presumably to fix the death grip problem.  However, its not clear if the Verizon phone will still need an iPhone bumper to prevent the hands from shorting out the antenna signal.

Traveling:  GSM networks are more widely used worldwide and its easier to switch data plans and SIM cards when traveling overseas.  

SIM Cards:  CDMA Verizon iPhones will not use a SIM card making it more difficult to switch handsets. 

Dropped Calls:  In theory Verizon CDMA should drop less calls but its not clear what impact the iPhone will have on its slower 3G data network.  It will likely be good at first but who knows what will happen if 5-10M users suddenly start taxing the network with data usage.

No Contract:  Verizon is starting to sell the Verizon phone without a contract as rumored in the press release.

Related Stories:
10 Reasons Why The iPhone 5 May Flop
Verizon iPhone vs Verizon iPad
Verizon Data Plans Suck
AT&T Data Plans Suck

Apple iPad, HP Slate, Samsung Galaxy Tab Screens Compared

Here is a  photo of the iPad, Microsoft Surface and Galaxy tablets side by side next to each other.  This shot was taken at CES last week and should give you an idea of their form factors.  The iPad is 10 inches in diameter, the Microsoft Surface is 12 inches and the Galaxy Tab is 7 inches as we understand it.  The brightness of the screens are similar so please disregard this photo which is simply try to show the difference in size of each device.

Verizon iPhone 4 Is CDMA Not 4G LTE

Verizon iPhone is 3G NOT 4G LTE
Sorry Verizon customers but you are going to be stuck on 3G for another 2 years if you decide but the dated iPhone 4 that will only work on CDMA and not LTE.  Verizon has been hyping their new 4G LTE network but yet still come out touting the availability of their new iPhone 4.  Who really cares and does the Verizon iPhone even matter now that the iPad tablet is becoming form factor to view content?  7-12 inches of screen space is ideal for content and we predict that smartphones will soon be a thing of the past as the tablet computing wave is in full force.  Verizon analysts are predicting that 15M units will be sold.  I would short this prediction today and won't be surprise to see Apple's and Verizon stock to sell off sharply on this news.  So if you are a sucker and at the end of your contract and must have the iPhone from Verizon.  Go get it in February.

Where is ESPN 3D for FiOS?

Watching the National Championship game with a 3D TV in my home and I can't watch it in 3D. When are the Verizon FiOS 3D channels coming?  I am tired of waiting for the 3D content after paying a premium for a new 3D TV from Samsung earlier this year from Best Buy.  Verizon FiOS was heavily promoting the content at CES in Las Vegas as well but yet they have nothing but marketing hype to back it up.

DirecTV always seems to pay their way to the front of the line to block other cable providers from getting content.  It surprises me that the government continues to allow these types of monopolistic partnerships to continue. Another example is DirecTV's cozy relationship with the NFL that no one seems to get angry about.

Verizon iPhone vs Verizon iPad

Does the Verizon LTE iPhone even matter now that iPad is out?  Who is going to pay a premium for LTE on their smartphone if they have any iPad?  Smartphone are great for messaging and talking and iPads are best for consuming content.  Smartphone users are getting smarter and realizing the ideal form factor is 7 to 12 inches for viewing and reading content on devicies similar to the iPad, Galaxy and Android Tablets.  Yes, Verizon might have more reliable voice coverage than AT&T but their data speeds on an LTE or 3G network have not yet been tested.  I am a skeptic and think Verizon and Apple have wildly over-forecasted the number of people that are willing to buy an iPhone on Verizon.  Most of these will soon learn they can have a better experience on the iPad and just stick with their basic phones.

A 3.5 inch iPhone is a nice to have but its just a tease for content you really want to watch and read on a device that is 7-12 inches. I have been an Android G2 customer for many years and its a great phone with 4G speeds and a beautiful screen like the iPhone.  However, as soon as I got the iPad I don't spend anymore time using the phone to consume content.  No longer do I watch Slingbox, read Google News or Tweetdeck on the Android phone now that I have a 12 inch screen that looks and feels like a big smartphone.  The iPad experience is incredible especially if you tether the iPad to your smarthphone and have an unlimited data plan.

The term for when a device when it finally loses its "luster with consumers" is called "jumping the shark".  I think the iPad "jumped the shark" as soon as the iPad came out and AT&T realizes the same thing.  We won't be talking about the iPhone 6 or 7 phones in the future because tablets are where its at and the phone is going to get cut out of the party.

4G vs LTE Marketing Confusion

Lets face it the AT&T, Verizon, Sprint & T-Mobile and the rest of the wireless carriers have enough money to convince most naive consumers to think what ever they want you to think.  Over that last decade carriers have spent billions of dollars trying to differentiate their speeds and new phones.  But at the end of the day the consumer does not care if their phone uses Wimax, 4G, HSPA+ or LTE.  They just want a reliable connection that is can access data speeds quickly.  Unfortunately, the carriers drink too much of their own Cool-Aid and marketing becomes a self fulfilling prophesy of listening to your own BS. 

Here is a case in point based on the survey completed by IDC:  3G was a clever marketing term to convey faster speeds on phones and the industry spent billions of dollars promoting it. 85% of people understand it because they remember what 3G is. Remember the 3G Super Bowl commercials just a few years ago?  You would think that the industry would simply wrap their arms around the 4G marketing concept and run with that for a few years and save themselves some customer service headaches of explaining something new.

No, instead the industry has adopted a new technology called LTE which is mobile broadband.  LTE works as mobile broadband for your home network and also on some phones eventually.  Is it necessary for carriers to spend billions more educating consumers that they have LTE when they could have simply just called it 4G?  Someone in a marketing department at Verizon will eventually get fired over this if they don't figure it out soon.

Carriers Releasing WiFi Security Propaganda to Promote 4G

4G Wireless Propaganda is a PR strategy aimed at influencing the attitude of a consumers towards believing the accessing data over WiFi is not secure and 4G is.  The carriers have starting releasing articles like his one "Amazon cloud can help hack WiFi networks - expert" to promote fear into the minds of wireless consumers.  Carriers are not presenting the facts about WiFi because it would be a disservice to their business models which are essentially competing with free.   Carriers are hoping to change the ground swell of WiFi users in order to influence the industry towards their expensive and often inferiors solutions for data connectivity.  WiFi vs 4G is now in the early stages of a political warfare and I hope that all geeks understand this and read every "fear" article with a grain of salt.

We attending CES this week and 4G is now starting to get heavily promoted to consumers but I am not seeing a groundswell of people that are convinced their pricing models are going to hold up.  I am a bit of a contrarian which it comes to 4G being the next product for carriers to boost their margins and expand their customer base.  Does 4G have any credibility when 3G still sucks?  Here is an article on the 4G bullshit and some other posts that will help you understand our position on the topic of 4G vs Free WiFi and carriers promote LTE by discounting reliability of WiFi.

AT&T LTE vs WiFi Quality of Service

Quality of service is going to be the biggest differentiator from LTE to WiFi. Is this enough to get people to pay $50 per month for this reliability? We challenge some of the claims the wireless industry is making that best efforts WiFi isn't enough. Bandwidth alone is not going to be enough to get consumers to pay. The example that Wifi stinks in your hotel so you need LTE is poor marketing and will not help convince the masses that you need LTE.

Is 4G hype?  Does AT&T have any credibility promoting reliably with all of their network problems and dropped calls? I don't think so and in most cases WiFi actually works better on the iPhone than 3G.  I really hope the blogger community wakes up and smells the coffee and does not get bamboozled into believing that 4G is going to any better than 3G or Edge reliability.  We are also not surprised that carriers are starting to unleash their WiFi security propaganda in order to put fear into the ears of consumers who are using public hotspot networks.  The truth will emerge in due time.

T-Mobile HSPA+ is Fast in Las Vegas

Las Vegas Hotel WiFi is Too Expensive & 4G Works Great
We are in Las Vegas for CES and have been testing out T-Mobile's HSPA+ on our G2 Android phone.  We have also been tethering our phone to the iPad and our Laptop PC without paying our hotel for the $19.95 per day WiFI pass.  Hotel owners in Las Vegas should be concerned about 4G eating away at their ridiculous fees for WiFi at $10-$20 per day.  4G is real if you have Sprint and T-Mobile today and it also looks like AT&T will soon be getting into the game with HSPA+ and Verizon with their LTE.  However, neither of these carriers will be very friendly about allowing you to tether your phone to create a WiFI hotspot similar to the MiFi.

CES 2011 Live Updates

Look out CES here we come.  This is going to be a tremendous year for the consumer at CES as this could finally be the year that data connectivity is fast enough to get excited about.  Nope we are not very excited about LTE or 4G because its just ok.  We are more excited about the potential that WiFi finally has on the entire communication process for voice and data on tablets.  4G and LTE is over rated and we think WiFI is going to be the future of mass communication for thousands of reasons but its primarily costs. Here 10 things we are researching while at CES and will provide live updates if you subscribe to our blog:

1) Tethering applications on smartphones through WiFi (similar to G2 Android phone)
2) Skype has a booth this year to promote VoIP
3) Google's plans to become a carrier and possibly buy T-Mobile or Sprint
4) Google's whitespace plans
5) Mobile TV
6) LTE phones
7) AT&T HSPA+ plans
8) Mobile location based advertising
9) Android tablets
10) More tablets

Motorola Droid Pro Battery Life is Horrible

Don't leave WiFi on your keep you apps active because this Motorola Droid Pro from Verizon will suck your battery dry in just a few hours. Its amazing how inneficient the phone is compared to the HTC G2. Avoid the phone at all costs unless someone has some suggestions on how to fix it. The phone has a fast processor but the battery is not sufficient to handle it. The Droid sucks your battery life as well if your screen is bright. The screen display is also not impressive when you hold it up next to a G2 or an iPhone. Motorola or Verizon should be embarrased about this phone because it is a sad display of their capability to put out an impressive smart phone.

How To Fix iPad WiFi Problem

Turn Auto Lock To "Never" in General Settings

Is your iPad dropping your wifi signal? When your iPad goes to sleep does it fail to reconnect to your wireless network? When moving between applications does it lose the wifi signal? If yes to any of these issues try adjusting the settings of your router. We discovered that using WPA worked fined and WPA2 had lots of problems. We are not sure why but would appreciate any technical expertise on the networking and security topic. We did not try WEP but understand these are not experiencing the same problems.  See also, how to boost your WiFi signal

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