- Let go of the physical world
- If you have to lie to a reporter, it's too late
- Let go of the physical world
One area that's been a tad quiet recently has been the wireless space (if you'll excuse the pun).
Wireless technologies are always being touted as the Next Big Thing (TM) and as local loop killers: that is, if you install the right wireless gear you don't need to pay Telecom anything, ever again.
Local company Walker Wireless has been a pioneer of the wireless networking game and recently announced it was ditching the technology everyone expected it to use in favour of what it describes as fourth-generation wireless.
Remember, this stuff works better if you're in one spot so while Telecom and Vodafone are working on mobile wireless, these guys are talking about fixed wireless. You can get higher bandwidth provision because the network doesn't have to track you moving to and from across cellsites and the like.
It seems Walker Wireless' new project is based on Wideband CDMA (similar to Telecom's JetStream Mobile technology) and is a combination of this, plus Vodafone's GPRS mobile phone technology. Because the modems are so small, about the size of a PDA, this is fixed wireless but it's portable - portable, not mobile. It's a tricky but important distinction. Users can set up their wireless gear in any location and if they're within range of the CDMA terminal, get broadband and if they're not they default to GPRS and speeds of up to 80Kbit/s. While the hand off isn't automatic at the moment that's a great idea.
I dined recently with a chap from Ericsson Australia who's written a white paper outlining why this kind of mixed approach makes sense for end users and telcos alike.
Mario Davoli says the problem with a pure wireless LAN product, or a pure 3G cellular product for that matter, is that they're costly and don't offer what the end user wants. By starting out with a wireless LAN, such as on offer from Walker, the end user gets used to the idea of having high-speed LAN access from a notebook anywhere in the building. The next logical step is to allow them to roam beyond the building out into the world and get the same kind of connectivity. Walker CEO Bob Smith says that is exactly what the company hopes to offer in the near future, starting with a trial in Auckland in a few weeks.
Best of all, Smith says Walker will offer the technology not only to corporates and businesses but also to the consumer market, which is great news for those of us who want broadband at home. Competition in the market is a great thing.
A former Walker Wireless chap, Paul Stoddart, has set up RoamAD, a company that is working on its own version of 802.11 technology, the so called WiFi wireless hot spot gear that works in the unlicensed radio spectrum. RoamAD wants to offer high-speed access to users in the CBD using WiFi rather than CDMA or GPRS. The cost to the end user is much less, about $300 for a WiFi card if it's not already part of your laptop, as opposed to $1100 for a CDMA or GPRS card, and the cost to the network operator is much less because it hasn't had to buy spectrum licences.
RoamAD says its technology enhances 802.11's reach - instead of talking in tens of metres, RoamAD says its gear can reach for hundreds of square kilometres.
And while we're talking about wireless, can I just ask: did anyone else receive dozens of emails from Telecom's media team relating the upgrades to the CDMA network? Rather than one email outlining the entire national upgrade, Telecom sent many emails outlining the costs and reach of each separate location where work has been carried out in the last few months. There are quite a few of them.
Amusingly, every email was identical except for the name of the town and the dollar amount spent, right down to the quote from the mobile networks manager, Stephen Crombie, who says "the new facilities will provide more mobile coverage and increased capacity" over and over again. Good on ya, Steve.
InternetNZ hasn't graced these pages (bytes?) for a while, which is always nice. Too much time was spent hearing all about the innermost workings of the society formerly known as ISOCNZ. Too many lawyers fees were paid getting stories checked over, too many late nights poring over leaked emails.
This time round the Bankers Association has re-applied for a new second level domain (2LD) name, .bank.nz, and in doing so opened up a whole can of worms.
Recently, you may recall, the Maori Internet Society managed to steer its way through InternetNZ's tricky and lengthy procedures to get .maori.nz cleared. The bankers were knocked back first time round so now they're having another go, which is nice to see. I like banks to be tenacious. It bodes well I feel.
On the Network Operators Group mailing list (NZ NOG) and on the public discussion list set up by InternetNZ to debate such issues, the groans could be heard for miles around.
There seem to be two arguments going on. Firstly, why do we even bother debating such things - InternetNZ has four rules that each applicant must meet in order to get accepted in the first place so why not make that the first, last and only thing anyone has to do to get a new 2LD approved? The second argument is, why have a second level at all? Why can't we just have whatever.nz and leave it at that?
Both are good arguments. If we do away with the second level what do we do with the 5000 or so names that conflict? Telecom.co.nz doesn't point you to the same site as telecom.org.nz so who gets telecom.nz?
Similarly, if anything goes in the 2LD space, you could register names like fryup.nz, telco.nz, isp.nz, geek.nz, virtualreporter.nz and so on. How would anyone find anything online ever again?
The answer to that last one is probably Google, since that's how most people find most things online I think, but the debate is, well, robust to put it mildly.
The current 2LD approval process requires several discussion periods, votes and a hefty fee and takes several months. Any new process should be shorter in length, if there's a process at all.
InternetNZ will have a close look at this later in the year when it introduces a new domain name registration process called the shared registry system (SRS) - more on that as it gets closer to launch date. In the mean time, why not check out the debate and join in. You don't have to be a member of InternetNZ to have your say - it's our internet, remember.
- If you have to lie to a reporter, it's too late
Media training time again.
First off: if you get called by a journalist and don't want to tell them anything, hang up. It's that simple. There isn't a law that says Thou Shalt Talk, so if you don't want to, don't.
Whatever you do, don't lie. You'll be caught out, you'll be found out and you'll look like the world's biggest tosser because of it. Not that difficult, right?
Secondly: Embargoes and non-disclosure agreements. These are tricky beasts - basically you're contacting a journalist to tell them something only you don't want them to report it. Eh? Short answer: if you don't want them to know, don't tell them.
Sure, there are some embargoed announcements that make sense - like the Budget. Each year it's a big deal, it's highly complex and it's officially released at a certain time; however, readers are expecting some analysis of the Budget as it's released so journalists are taken to a locked room and given a preview of it on the understanding that they don't report it early. Fair enough.
Embargoed press releases are the worst of the bunch because, basically, it's advertising without buying an ad.
"We've got a story to tell but we want you and you and you to all report it at the same time because that'll look so cool, so it's embargoed".
This is fine if you check with the reporter first. If you ring and say "I can tell you something but it's embargoed till Monday, do you want to know?" that's okay. We can say yes or no as we see fit. If we say no, then no harm is done.
What you shouldn't do is send out an unwanted press release marked EMBARGOED without asking first. We won't abide by them, especially if it's a story that we're already working on. Otherwise you could squash any potentially negative story by simply sending out a release about it with EMBARGOED TILL 2004 on it and that would be that.
Got it? Clear on that? Let's say no more about it then.