Why is Persistent Location Important for Mobile Devices?

Introduction to Persistent Location at SXSW Conference 

Watch this video which outlines the benefits of persistent location on mobile phones.  Persistent location is the active monitoring of multiple sensors on your phone to determine your location.  Location is important for application running on your phone to determine intent and anticipate your needs before you do.

For example, sometimes you are indoors and don't have a view of the sky for satellite and a different sensor maybe used to determine location.  Companies like Skyhook use a database of WiFi hotspots IP addresses to determine location.

Many privacy advocates will likely have a problem with knowing too much information about mobile phone users.  However, the benefits far outweigh the the privacy issues.  This industry needs to be very transparent about the use of the data and disclosure of how to use it.  Data silos might be the solution.  

Panelists Include; 
Tyler Bell Factual - Databases of geo data
Peter Marx Qualcomm - Chipset manufacturer
Sam Liang Alohar Mobile - Automatic place detection platform
Kipp Jones Skyhook Wireless - WiFi Location Database

One question that was not asked of the panel that I would like to know?  What happens if you are in a complete dead zone with no WiFi, no view of the sky for satellite or cellular signal?  

Google TV & Broadband Internet $70 Month

How many people are sick of paying $200 per month for cable, internet, phone and TV that you hardly use?  Most people don't realize it but we are all subsidizing channels like ESPN for those who don't necessarily watch the channels.  If Google launches a Nationwide fiber to the home network as it is testing in Kansas City, Missouri.

The traditional cable TV industry like Time Warner, Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-Verse, Comcast are going to be in big trouble protecting their margins if this happens.  The only reason they would disrupt the traditional cable monopolize is because they will likely make more money from local targeted advertising.

Here are some highlights from this article at FastNetNews below..

Sergei Brin and the team at Google want to move ahead on a plan to run fiber to 10’s of millions, maybe hundreds of millions of homes. That’s implied by the $70/month price, which is high enough to be quickly profitable if 20-30% of homes sign on. Google’s research says they’ll get that high a rate, but no one is sure until they actually offer the service to 170,000 homes in Kansas City.

The box has two terabytes, enough for 500-1000 hours of HD video and/or a fine home music collection. It also has eight tuners, so it’s almost impossible to have a problem with too many simultaneous shows. With two HD channels fitting in 7 meg and almost no sites effectively downloading at more than a meg or two, it's rare for most people to max out at 10 meg. For the small amount of time they do, many aren't willing to pay.

There is empirical examples of surprisingly low high speed take rates from Sweden, France, Britain, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, and California. A difference of $10 to $30 discourages 3/4ths of the customers. Google is looking for $70/month for a gig, compared to 10 meg cable at about $50 and 3 meg DSL at about $35. Cable in Kansas City can easily offer 20 or 30 meg for the same price and possibly 50-100 meg.

A $50 difference between 10 meg cable and 50-100 meg DOCSIS has been standard in the U.S. and the take rate on the higher speeds has been so low no company will reveal it. Cablevision is coming down to $70 and we’ll soon know if it helps. All of these prices are approximations and available with different deals and bundles, of course, so none of these comparisons are exact.

HBO and other networks are refusing to sell to Google at a price Google considers reasonable.

Marin County Cell Phone Reception Review

Marin County Cell Phone Reception Dead Zones
Marin County Cell Phone Reception Dead Zones
(Click on the Map to Submit a New Location)

I was shocked recently on our family vacation how poor the cell phone reception was in Marin County.  I would be surprised if cell phone companies Verizon, Sprint & T-Mobile had any satisfied customers in the area.  The terrain is quite hilly and the trees are enormous.  It is one of the most beautiful areas in the County but probably has the worst cell phone reception of anywhere I have ever visited or vacationed with a reasonable population density.  This area is also the home to thousands of commuting technology professionals who work in San Francisco and rely on coverage during their daily commutes.

West Marin County especially almost had no reception at all.  This was surprising to me because of the population density and the amount of tourism and residents.  I would guess it is also a safety nightmare for emergency services in the area.  There are long stretches of road that have no signal and the roads are dangerous.  There are bicyclist all over the narrow roads that don't have any shoulder to ride on.  The roads are steep, have lots of blind curves and make for hazardous driving conditions if you are not alert behind the wheel.  I would imagine there are lot of car accidents.

Here is a list of cities, highways and locations in the area that had NO RECEPTION for T-Mobile and Verizon.  AT&T had a weak signal in many of these locations.

Bolinas - No signal
San Anselmo - No signal
Muir Woods National Monument - No Signal
Highway 1 in West Marin - No Signal most of the way
Panoramoic Highway - No Signal
Ridgecrest Blvd. - No Signal
Sleepy Hollow - No Signal
Butterfield Rd. - No Signal
Stinson Beach - 2 bars of 2G Edge on T-Mobile

AT&T probably had the best reception in the area and this seemed to be the carrier of choice for most residents in the area.  If any reception was available it was likely 2G and downloading data or email was virtually impossible.  I would imagine that there are lots of AT&T Microcells used by residents in the area.

I was not able to review Sprint's coverage in the area but it is likely not much better.  Thankfully I am a  T-Mobile customer and was able to make and receive phone calls through WiFi at our friends house.  T-Mobile WiFi phone calls save the day once again.

I would imagine there is lot of resistance from the residents for installing cell phone towers in the area.  I would characterize the population of residents to be quite "earthy".  I have found these communities and the City Council's o be quite resistant to the installation of cell phone towers or new antennas.  

How to Select an AT&T Shared Data Plan

Shared Data Plan Options

Mobile Share plans from AT&T allow customers to share data across multiple devices. These new plans allow families to share a single bucket of data with smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, plus get unlimited domestic voice and text Up to ten devices can share the same plan, which includes tethering and access to AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots. Learn more about the data plan that works best for you and your mobile devices at https://www.att.com/mobileshare.  Watch this video which explains how to choose a plan and various options.

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