Posts Tagged ‘3g’

WiFi and Tablets- Two Tech Tools to Leasing Freedom

March 20, 2013

Advances in technology have certainly improved various areas of our professional lives, and streamlined processes which otherwise require much time and resources. Many companies are making the decision to digitize more than ever before; and this is especially evident in the property management realm.

A recent article published by Units Magazine in the March 2013 issue, outlines how management companies are becoming [even stronger] advocates of community-wide WiFi access, in conjunction with implementingImage wireless devices to aid in the leasing process. In the article, author Paul Bergeron III explains that these technological advances are not simply for the larger REITs or national firms, but work favorably for management companies and communities of all sizes. Bergeron follows two management companies in particular throughout his article, Pillar Properties of Seattle, Washington, and Roscoe Properties of Austin, Texas, and documents their experiences concerning the implementation of property-wide technological systems.

Vice President of Pillar Properties, Billy Pettit, explains why their management company decided to install property-wide WiFi access, and what advantages have come of that decision, “Our agents can connect from anywhere on the property: from the underground parking garage to where they are standing on the roof. With our system, they don’t have to ‘sign in’ every time they walk into another part of the property.” He continues to add, “We’re finding that there is a segment of the prospective resident base that would choose not to live with us if we didn’t deliver this kind of connection speed.” For Pillar Properties, technology has drastically helped them to lease and retain renters; Pettit states, regarding a recent 234-unit opening, “It leased in four months (November to February)– which happens to be traditionally four of the slowest leasing months of the year.” For Pillar, it is undeniable that community-wide WiFi and technology advances at the property on the management end have helped to expand and sustain their base of business.

And it is no different for the folks over at Roscoe Properties, either. Vice President of Administration for Roscoe Properties, Steven Rea, said, “From what I see, we are way ahead of most in the country when it comes to applying mobile strategy to our marketing. I see us as being a digital company in an analog business.” He continues on to add, “The tablet has helped improve the agents’ ability to close leases at a moment’s notice– and when the moment is right.” In addition to the ease and readiness of using tablets to streamline the leasing process, Rea firmly believes that using state of the art tablets and technology vs the standardized paper forms, shows residents that their management company is cutting edge and tech-savvy, innovative and ahead of the curve; “They like that”, he concludes.

It is undeniable that we are amidst a technological revolution, and certainly the implementation and use of such technologies is to the advantage for modern businesses. Property-wide WiFi access is becoming an absolute make or break deal for the majority of today’s renters; and certainly the property management sector is headed down a new and exciting technological path. For Rea, his company’s goal is to be 100% paperless by years’ end; for some, this has become common place. For others, this is only the beginning.

Just How Important is Wi-Fi?

January 14, 2013

The proof is in the pudding. A recent survey conducted by global research and consultancy firm Analysys Mason for Amdocs reveals that not only is Wi-Fi evolving into a critical differentiator for service providers, but also revealed just how important it is.

                Regardless of lingering technical and business related issues, 89% of all surveyed service providers (which include fixed, mobile, and cable), either already have or planned to deploy/leverage a Wi-Fi network. In addition to this, respondents rated the importance of Wi-Fi as >7 out of 10, with emphasis on the value of Wi-Fi for growth as a service provider.  Most business owners tend to equate “Wi-Fi” with free access, and, if this is you, this might be key to differentiating your business. Free Wi-Fi access is a great way to essentially reward your customers for their patronage, and incents them to come back. With many network providers also offering email marketing kits linked to the Wi-Fi network, there is no limit to the advantages and benefits one might yield. Think as a business owner for a second: if you had the ability to completely customize the splash page of your in-house Wi-Fi network with branding, offers, coupons, and other enticing offers for your customers, wouldn’t you fully take advantage of this massive marketing advantage? Sounds like a win-win situation for business owners and service providers alike.Image

                It is no secret that people want Wi-Fi, and they want it everywhere—seamlessly. Numerous municipal efforts to implement Wi-Fi prove this; and although many of those efforts have been terminated, cities are still striving for blanket Wi-Fi availability, including Chicago and Seattle who are both looking toward the advent of public and private networks, and New York City who just made an agreement with Google to light up part of the city.

                A “seamless experience”, between cellular and Wi-Fi, which rated a staggering 8.1 out of 10 by those surveyed, still proves to be one of the top technical barriers in deploying; second only to authentication issues.  Amdocs own vice president for product solutions marketing, Rebecca Prudhomme, stated, “This underscores the importance of having secure, scalable authentication and authorization solutions in place for ensuring a seamless experience as customers move in and out of the Wi-Fi network. Furthermore, real-time policy control opens up new opportunities for Wi-Fi monetization by allowing service providers to offer a range of differentiated services over Wi-Fi, such as tiered services and premium quality of service.” Which brings me to my next point:

                Monetization. As most of the technical issues will be sorted out in due time, another area which needs a fair amount of innovation are service providers’ monetization models. While a generous 57% of service providers whom have already deployed Wi-Fi networks state they are monetizing their offerings, the survey also found that many of them are looking to revamp “old” monetization models which eliminate directly charging customers.

“Our research shows that while the service provider Wi-Fi market is still in its early stages, service providers are adopting a forward looking attitude that goes beyond using regular Wi-Fi to offload congested 3G and 4G networks. While offload is still a priority, it’s clear that service providers are looking to service provider Wi-Fi as a competitive differentiator, and there is strong interest in exploring new and innovative business models for Wi-Fi monetization.”,  said Chris Nicoll, principal analyst at Analysys Mason. This survey has revealed much about where the service providers will likely take the market next, and has also shed some insight onto the importance of Wi-Fi for not only data offload, but for a competitive advantage.Freeing up data with the implementation of Wi-Fi networks, either city-wide or more localized will certainly be a massive stepping stone in this technological era we are experiencing.  

AT&T & Apple face lawsuits over data cap on iPad

June 28, 2010

iPad consumers are angered over AT&T’s new rate plans and the impact that they will have on iPad users.  AT&T’s new plans, which went into effect on June 7th, coordinating with the release of iPhone 4, no longer offer unlimited data.  For the new plan details, click here.   AT&T advertised that iPad users would have the ability to easily be able to opt in or out of unlimited data plans.  While, AT&T is allowing iPad users to keep unlimited data for now, if they skip a month, they will no longer be able go back to having unlimited data.

AT&T’s announcement of their new plans came very quickly after the release release of the 3G enabled iPad (which had previously only been available with Wi-Fi capability).  Consumers feel as though they have been tricked into either waiting to purchase the 3G iPad or trading in/ upgrading their Wi-Fi only iPad to the 3G version – only to find out that there are now data caps on the plans.  One customer was quoted on fiercebroadbandwireless.com as saying:

I originally purchased a standard iPad. Three weeks later, I returned it to the Apple store, paying an additional $130 plus sales tax to upgrade to an iPad with 3G capability. I thought the iPad 3G was worth the additional money because, with the unlimited data plan, I could work outside my office or home and access all the data I needed for a fixed, monthly price,” commented plaintiff Adam Weisblatt in a release distributed by law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein. “But I also knew that for several months each year, with my schedule, a lesser expensive, limited data plan was sufficient. I would have never purchased a 3G-capable iPad if I knew Apple and AT&T were planning on suddenly taking away from me the freedom to opt in and out of an unlimited data plan at my choice.

The cellular companies have long been scrutinized for sucking consumers into long term contracts with large cancellation penalties, making new offers available only to those willing to sign more contracts and charging huge overage and equipment charges.  It seems, however, that the data plan caps have sent consumers over the edge.  The lawsuit being filed claims that AT&T and Apple used a “bait and switch” tactic that tricked consumers into purchasing the 3G capable iPad.  iPad users frustration is understandable, especially since both AT&T and Apple advertised the 3G enabled iPad as having a easy to use unlimited data option for so long and then switched the plan so soon after the 3G iPad release.

We will keep you posted on this situation as it unfolds!

AT&T femtocell service is included in new data usage limits

June 23, 2010

This is just mind boggling to me:

We wrote about the AT&T femtocell awhile back.  AT&T’s femtocell, the “Microcell”, is a mini-tower that can allow up to 10 AT&T phones to get 3G signal (four at once) – the devices covers 5000 sq. ft.   The femtocell comes at a one-time cost of $150 dollars and for $20/ month you can recieve unlimited calling over the femtocell.  Some were assuming that usage over the femtocell would not be included in the newly imposed data usage caps that have begun by AT&T and other cell carriers.  However, that is not the case.  Data usage over the femtocell WILL count against data caps.

In a DSL article, AT&T spokesman, Seth Bloom, speaks to AT&T preference of Wi-Fi for offloading data:

3G MicroCell is primarily intended to enhance the voice call quality experience in your home. While it can carry mobile data traffic, that’s not the primary solution it provides. WiFi is the optimal solution for home mobile data use. We encourage people to take advantage of Wi-Fi capabilities – that’s why all of our smartphones include WiFi radios, and usage on WiFi doesn’t count against your mobile data usage bucket.

Wait.  Stop right there.  Let’s go back to how this all works.  The Microcell (AT&T’s femtocell) routes both calling and data over the same broadband connection that is used by Wi-Fi, so why would the user be charged not only for minutes usage but for data usage as well when the data is utilizing the customers already-paid-for broadband connection?  AT&T’s justification here makes absolutely no sense and is upsetting alot of people, which I am surprised that AT&T is willing to do after all of the frustration subscribers have experienced over the 3G network and the added anger that came with the announcements of Microcell pricing.
DSL reports on how “AT&T tries, fails to justify 3G cap-eating Microcell”.  We agree with DSL that most people would probably elect to use their Wi-Fi connection when in the home over using the Microcell, however, that really is not the point.  Quite simply, AT&T is squeezing every possible dollar out of the consumer and this is just to get service to be satisfactory.  And, as it is with the Microcell, you are routing calls over the broadband service that you are already paying for.  So, in addition to being charged for the equipment ($150) and being charged a $20 “unlimited” calling fee (which does not include data) you are in essence being re-charged for your broadband (in some instances by a company which does not even supply your broadband service).  It really is ludicrious when you think about it.  We also must remember that the Microcell is a piece of hardware that benefits the cell carrier – you are doing them a favor by having it.  DSL said it well:
Consider these are users shelling out for a home broadband connection, a wireless 3G and data connection, possibly an added landline connection, the upfront cost of hardware, and an additional $20 if they want unlimited voice that doesn’t eat away at their minutes. Just how much are we expecting the average consumer to pay per month for simple, regular-use voice and data connectivity?Either AT&T’s gunning to make an additional few million annually in revenue off of those incapable of differentiating between 3G and Wi-Fi, or they’re incapable of getting the Wi-Fi/3G femtocell billing straightened out and don’t want to admit it.

Read more about data caps over the Microcell from fiercebroadbandwireless.com.

AT&T announces iPhone tethering – gets rid of “unlimited data” in plans

June 2, 2010

According to fiercebroadbandwireless.com, AT&T announced, that as of June 7th (the anticipated date of the new iPhone OS 4) they will be changing their current smartphone pricing plans.  AT&T is doing away with unlimited data usage and instead will offer 200 MB of data for $15 per month or 2 GB of data for $30.  According to AT&T the unlimited data plan is unnecessary, reporting that 98% of AT&T smartphone users are using less than 2 GB per month and 65% use less than 200 MB per month of data.  That sounds all well and good – but why get rid of the unlimited data plan then?  If only 2% of customers are benefiting from the unlimited data, why risk agitating them if it’s a non-issue?  That doesn’t seem to make much sense. What does make sense, however, is that in an effort to curb the ongoing data gridlock issue that AT&T has been experiencing for sometime now, in addition to providing free Wi-Fi in areas like NY and pushing consumers towards the Microcell,  AT&T is doing away with offering it’s subscribers unlimited data.

On the upside, however, AT&T will not be charging ridiculous overage charges in the event that a user exceeds their data plan.  For the present billing cycle, the customer will simply receive another monthly data purchase of the amount of data that they currently pay for (200 MB or 2 GB).

In more big AT&T smartphone news – AT&T is finally announcing that users will be able to purchase tethering for the iPhone OS4 (read about the stolen iPhone OS4 here).  For an additional $20 per month, iPhone will be able to tether to their laptop via USB or Bluetooth (if they have purchased the higher data usage plan called: DataPro).  This is huge news as one of the main features of competing smartphones, such as the Droid OS (FroYo) is the availability of tethering.  Consumers and technology news outlets have long been wondering when Apple and AT&T would bring tethering to the iPhone.  Apple has brought, upon itself, a lot of controversy by not offering features with it’s mobile devices that are proving to be expected and common-place features  (such as tethering, Flash support, etc) as well as keeping a tight reign on app production (such as WiFi Sync – an app that was hugely beneficial to many consumers).

The makes data gridlock solutions like Cell-Fi™ even more important.  Now that iPhone users will have a cap on their data consumption – it will become even more important to offload data to Wi-Fi networks to avoid racking up even more charges on your monthly cellular bill.  Data usage over Wi-Fi will not go against the data that one uses over the 3G network.

Signaling traffic, not video, creates data gridlock over 3G network according to Fierce Wireless article

April 21, 2010

Image Courtesy static.guim.co.uk

As fiercewireless.com staff writer, Lynnette Luna indicates in her article, “We have been bombarded with news during the past year that a tsunami of data traffic threatens to overwhelm 3G networks–and even 4G networks down the line.”  This is absolutely true.  It seems as though a major publication mentions  data gridlock over the 3G and (soon) 4G networks and possible solutions (such as Wi-Fi) at least once a week and cellular companies seem to be scrambling to come up with a solution (not to mention the masses of bloggers that address this issue everyday).  Many articles in the past have indicated that the largest contributor to the 3G problem comes from people streaming video on their Smartphones.  For example, a MacDailyNews article from December quotes AT&T Executive, Peter Svensson, as saying, “that the most high-bandwidth activity is video and audio streaming” and refers to “Wireless data hogs who jam the airwaves by watching video on their iPhones”.

According to Luna’s article, video mobile data traffic being responsible for 3 and 4G data gridlock, may not necessarily be the case.  Luna points to “Signaling Traffic” as the big contributor.  Basically signaling traffic is when your smartphone has to set up a “signaling path” when a request is made.  For example, if you are constantly checking Facebook, IMing, Tweeting, etc. your smartphone sets up a signaling path and then goes into standby to preserve battery – as soon as you go to send another message (which for many of us, may only be minutes or seconds later) a new signaling path needs to be set up by your smartphone.  Put even more simply: you are asking your smartphone to repeatedly coming out of idle to perform a task.  These constant requests made over 3G (signaling traffic) is, “outpacing actual mobile data traffic by 30 to 50 percent, if not higher”, Luna quotes Michael Thelander, CEO and founder of Signals Research, as saying.

The article also touts Wi-Fi as being the solution to offloading data gridlock that cellular companies, such as AT&T, are beginning to have no choice but to utilize.  Finally, Luna’s article also mentions the femtocell that cellular companies are beginning to offer to solve their poor indoor coverage issues, she mentions femtocells as part of the solution to the 3G data gridlock issue, however, I think that she was incorrect in bringing femtocells into the data gridlock issue, because, as one of the responders to her post, “Amit Shaked” stated, “it looks like Femtocells will more likely be used for voice-offloading solution (e.g. solving 3G coverage indoors) while Wi-Fi will most likely be used to offload large volumes of data traffic, like video and photo sharing.”  A following responder, “KK” went on to express many consumers dissatisfaction with the femtocell and referred to it as being, “the dumbest invention I have ever heard of…Femtocells serve zero purpose and they solve zero problems.”  As we have mentioned before, we have created the solution: Cell-Fi™.  Cell-Fi™, using your smartphone over the Spot On Wi-Fi network, does a few things.  First of all, you are able to offload data off 3G onto our Wi-Fi network.  In return, you are experience faster data transfer.  You are also about to use voice over Wi-Fi, eliminating dropped calls, poor signal and the need for a [pointless] femtocell.  Learn more about Cell-Fi™.  View Spot On Networks coverage area.

The Wi-Fi Revolution… it’s not just for internet

April 2, 2010

One of my favorite benefits of using Wi-Fi in my home is having the ability to stream my Netflix movies to my TV.  I go on my laptop, add a bunch of movies to my queue and then they are up on my big screen TV, thanks to Wi-Fi.  So, I was more than thrilled to read in The Washington Post about the Netflix app for the iPad (which some thought to be only rumor), which is free and allows the user to watch  streaming movies and TV shows over Wi-Fi on the iPad.

I’m calling this a “huge deal”.  People are simply fed up with the insane amounts of money that they pay to stay connected.  If you add up landline phone, cellphone, cable, movie channels and cable or DSL internet service together – you are talking about hundreds of dollars in monthly bills, sketchy service contracts and in many cases less than stellar service (think 3G).

Here comes The Wi-Fi Revolution™!  People now have a choice – they can have the best in internet technology, clear VoIP calling, Cell-Fi™ (cellphone over Wi-Fi) movies, TV, etc. are all made possible at a reasonable cost to the public, thanks to Wi-Fi.  Cellular, cable, DSL, etc – these technologies are becoming obsolete – the public is simply not willing to pay ridiculous prices for connectivity.  It’s The Wi-Fi Revolution™ -a revolution in the way we think, the way we communicate and the way in which we connect to one and other – not to mention how much we are willing to pay for it.  Thanks to the Netflix app, users will now have access to over 20,000 movies, TV shows, etc.  So, drop those Cable movie channels – and get on that Wi-Fi!

So, AT&T, THIS is you answer? Better service within reach – for a price…

March 30, 2010

I could not help but laugh at the image this image that appeared in this New York Times article.

Image courtesy of New York Times/ Illustration by Nick Bilton

We blogged about an article written a couple of months back where Nick Bilton suggested “AT&T” phone booths so that AT&T users could make calls inside or at the office, instead of all being huddled by the window, trying to catch a signal.  The above is his illustration,  pretty funny and dead-on, because all in all, AT&T seems bent on holding back technology – not going forward, especially with their supposed “answer” to their major service issues: 3G Microcell.  So, here is how it works: for a one-time fee (of course) of $150.00 you get this thing that looks like a cable modem, is portable and can allow up to 10 AT&T phones to get 3G signal (four at once) – the devices covers 5000 sq. ft.  For $20 you can get unlimited calling on Microcell.  Let’s stop right there.  So basically I can BUY (and not cheaply) better 3G coverage from the company that I buy my 3G coverage from right now.  Wow.

This is a bandaid, if I ever saw one – and with so many unanswered questions – 3G is the problem here, not the solution – spotty service, dropped calls, very slow data transfer – sure, maybe at least I can now pay to have bars in my home or office, but I will still experience all of the 3G problems that I get when I have 5 bars.  In fact, more people on the network = more data gridlock for 3G.  The answer here, is simply, calling over Wi-Fi (Cell-Fi™) for very minimal cost or even free in some areas, you can use your smartphone over Wi-Fi and completely forgo the 3G network when you are able to access Wi-Fi.

Spot On saw this problem coming a long time ago.  Residents were unable to use their phones at all in their own apartments and condos, business owners could not connect in their office, etc, etc.  We developed Cell-Fi™ as a solution for them to save money (forgo the unlimited data and use 3G as a backup while on the go and Wi-Fi from home/ office), save minutes (forgo the expensive minute plans and save minutes over Wi-Fi) and experience better call clarity and no dropped calls.  It’s all a part of The Wi-Fi Revolution.™ The cellular industry can put as many bandaids on the failing 3G network as they want, but the solution is obvious: it’s Wi-Fi.

AT&T Microcell, image courtesy of The New York Times

Fortune magazine touches on Cellphone Gridlock

March 22, 2010

Fortune Magazine’s Scott Cendrowski has jumped on the bandwagon to touch on the issue of cellphone gridlock over the 3G and 4G networks.  What’s the solution, according to Fortune?  Like many have already said, offloading data to Wi-Fi networks is the answer (Cell-Fi).  Fortune’s Cendrowski,  goes on topraise the Wi-Fi networks as “cheaper to operate and can be 10 times faster than 3G” (a thing we in The Wi-Fi Revolution love to hear).

We know the solution, but what is the actual problem?  According to Fortune, the 3 and 4G networks were simply not designed for this type of traffic.  One smartphone user can generate the traffic of 30 cellphone users and when you have tens of thousands of people utilizing the same network and generating data traffic (through surfing, video, etc.) you get: gridlock. Fortune also mentions the large of amounts of people who use their cellphones and smartphones at home, at work, sitting at their desks – these networks were designed as an “on the go” service.  Now cellphone and smartphone use is the standard and many people forgo the landlines altogether (I know I do).

Learn more about Cell-Fi.  We will be posting a video shortly that shows you how to access the Wi-Fi network from you smartphone for less dropped calls, faster data transfer and less cost.  Stay tuned….

iPad pre-order sales rumored to top 120,000 on day 1!

March 17, 2010

Looks like the iPad is going to be pretty hot stuff – several technology news outlets are projecting first day pre-order sales to exceed 120,000 (not including in-store reserves).  This number would make the iPad the most successful “e-reader” launch to date.  It appears that, despite complaints on everything from the name of the device to Apple’s decision to remain soley on AT&T’s 3G, the iPad is going to be nothing short of the hottest device on the market.

As most all of know, AT&T appears to be marketing the iPad as a device intended primarily for Wi-Fi – with 3G being almost the back-up option.  This is evident from 3G plan details emerging that say the ability to activate your 3G account, upgrade it or shut if off will be handled from the iPad, itself – thus, putting more of the service aspect of the 3G hands on Apple than on AT&T.