Archive for December, 2002

Cidade de Deus

Sunday, December 29th, 2002

Saw this likely Oscar contender the other night in a suburban Rio theater with Patty and her family. Cidade de Deus (“City of God”) is nominally about gang violence in the Rio favela (slum) of the same name during the 60′s and 70′s, but it goes deeper than that. Although I understood very little of the slang-laden fast Portuguese dialog, this is a film that clearly anyone with eyes will intuitively understand. The cinematography is striking but not overdone, and the story of little kids picking up guns and starting a life of crime is overpowering. The movie is full of violence, but it’s not Tarentino-like violence, it’s just the way things are in this part of this city at this time in Brazil’s history.

I think this movie has a strong shot at the foreign film Oscar, especially with Miramax behind its international distribution. Clearly, there is a something in the movie for everyone, but it must mean far more to Brazilians who both lived through the period and who deal with drug trafficking problems in society even today.

In any case, for Brazil to elect a president from the left and to watch films deploring their social problems is a strong sign of openness for a country coming of age on the international stage.

Cidade Maravilhosa

Thursday, December 26th, 2002

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First Day in the “Marvelous City,” Rio

Patty surprised me with an amazing Christmas gift: a helicopter tour of Rio. For mid-summer in the tropics, the weather was perfect, with no clouds in the sky and pure sunshine. We had the Bell JetRanger III for a 20 minute tour of the best parts of the city, including the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, the Sugarloaf mountain, the Maracana football stadium, and Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado mountain.

On my first day in Brazil, Rio didn’t disappoint. Some images we took from the helicopter:

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Cristo Redentor (“Christ the Redeemer”)

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Pao de Acucar (“Sugarloaf Mountain”)

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Maracana Stadium, built for the 1950 World Cup (seats 100,000 crazy spectators)

WiFi Gets Real

Thursday, December 12th, 2002

InformationWeek > Wireless Access > Wi-Fi Gets Real > December 6, 2002

25%!
Nearly 25% of the U.S. workforce — 40 million people — are considered mobile workers, according to research firm Yankee Group.

Epic Healthcare

Thursday, December 12th, 2002

Epic Systems Corporation

IT infrastructure for large healthcare organizations

Cometa Networks

Wednesday, December 11th, 2002

Verbatim from The 802.11 Report:

1. Cometa Networks, I: IBM, AT&T, Intel form new Wi-Fi company, set ambitious goals
2. Cometa Networks, II: Many questions yet to be answered

Also noted: To understand how Cometa will compete — understand the market place

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1. Cometa Networks, I: IBM, AT&T, Intel form new Wi-Fi company, set ambitious goals

Three computing and communication giants — IBM, AT&T, and Intel — have formed a new 802.11 company called Cometa Networks and set an ambitious goal for it — to make hot spots readily accessible throughout the United States. Specifically, the new company will build its wireless antennas so that dwellers in the largest fifty U.S. urban centers will never be more than a five-minute walk from the nearest Cometa hot spot, while people who live in rural areas will not be more than a five-minute drive away from a Cometa-run facility. No details were given with regard to pricing and size of calling plans, but it was made clear that the new company will target the business traveler. Among the VCs funding Cometa are 3i and Apex Partners.

The new company will join other Wi-Fi players such as Boingo Wireless, T-Mobile, WayPort, GRIC, and (soon) Verizon in trying to grow and exploit the wireless public Internet access market. The market is attractive: Yankee Group reported that in 2003 public WLAN revenue will increase to $82.4 million, up from $9.1 million in 2002. In 2004 revenue will reach $216.6 million. In 2007, when Cometa’s planned 20,000 hot spots will already be in operation, revenue will reach more than $1.6 billion. Cometa’s CEO Larry Brilliant said that “More than 100 million Internet users in the U.S. will be able to access their current Internet accounts, office systems and corporate networks via their current [service] provider, and their existing billing arrangements… The only thing that’s new is that once Cometa is in place, all of us will be able to sign on from anywhere, at any time.” (See more in #2 and the Also Noted section below)

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2. Cometa Networks, II: Many questions yet to be answered

There are several questions about Cometa’s business model and vision which are yet to be answered. The company will rely on the AT&T IP network and fiber capabilities for the back-haul part of its service, and will likely benefit from AT&T’s network management experience. Integration with the providers’ billing and subscriber systems will be handled by IBM Global Services, which will also likely address the issue of roaming among the networks of various providers (although it is not yet clear how much roaming capabilities Cometa would allow its users). Authentication, authorization, and accounting will be done by the carriers. It is not clear yet whether it would be Cometa or the carriers and providers who will negotiate with the vendors supplying the physical home for the hot spots. Also left unanswered were questions regarding the compatibility of Cometa’s yet-to-be-determined roaming solutions with two major wireless roaming initiatives — those promoted by the Wi-Fi Alliance and PassOne consortium.

Alan Reiter pointed to the five major challenges Cometa will have to overcome:

Negotiating with thousands of locations to have the Cometa hot spot installed is complicated and demanding; some of these locations (for example, convention centers) already have hot spot agreements with other providers
It is not enough to install hot spots — they have to be installed at the right places to be profitable
Cometa is coming into a market in which experienced players already operate; the success the three founders of Cometa have had in their respective fields is not a guarantee that they will succeed in this new endeavor
Building hot spots, even a network of hot spots, is not the problem; rather, it is the “soft” aspects of the business — advertising, marketing, customer education, pricing strategies, etc. — which make or break new ventures
The “If you build it they will come” approach may work in baseball, but not in other areas. It is not clear that Cometa’s founders, as of yet, rely on more than a wishful hope that the mere presence of many of their hot spots would entice users to use them.
Cometa’s executives are hopeful, though. They see corporate users already adopting wireless communication, and the presence of many more hot spots from which a mobile workforce can do its work away from the head office would likely make corporations embrace wireless communication even more enthusiastically. This will be helped by the sheer increase in WLAN-enabled devices on the market (not the least of which is Intel’s Banias microprocessor — which will allow for an effortless, if not automatic, connection and roaming). Brilliant estimates that, today, there are fewer than 3 million 802.11-enabled devices in the U.S. market. “Banias will take that number by an order of magnitude at least. When you have 80 [million] or 100 million devices, they will be seeking the [wireless] network that, today, isn’t there.”

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Also noted:

To understand how Cometa will compete — understand the market place

The launching of Cometa has given rise to an argument among analysts regarding the companies whose turf Cometa will be eyeing. Christian Gunning of Boingo argues that while Wayport will compete directly with Cometa as far as negotiating installation contracts with hotels, convention centers, and other premium locations, Boingo views Cometa as another carrier-class hot spot operator with whom to establish wholesale access agreements. In fact, Cometa’s announced intent is to wholesale access to telcos, ISPs and other enterprise service organizations (not customer-direct).

This approach is in agreement with the value chain segmentation which Boingo has been pursuing since it launched a year ago. As the market grows, vertical integration is not a sustainable business model, Gunning says. Instead, the market has to segment to provide the cost efficiencies of a category. Companies will compete on the same level, and partner with the other levels. In some instances this creates the so-called “coopetition,” in which a mutually beneficial agreement between levels occasionally also includes some competitive elements on another level (for example, Boingo and EarthLink theoretically compete for end users as branded service providers, but EarthLink’s established customer base relationships gives the company the marketing advantage in adding ARPU from its existing customer base, while leveraging the Boingo aggregated product).

To understand the way Cometa — or Boingo and Wayport — operates in the hot spot space, Gunning suggests we view this space as consisting of four levels:

1. Brand = customer service and relationship (Boingo and other WISPs; EarthLink and other ISPs; Fiberlink and other corporate RAS providers; AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile, and other wireless telecoms, etc)

2. Aggregator = bringing disparate fragmented networks together for users/brand owners
(Boingo, iPass, GRIC, etc.)

3. Network Providers = negotiating venue rights; installing and maintaining the network (Cometa, AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile, Wayport, Surf and Sip, etc.)

4. Venues = property owners or leasing agents (airports, hotels, coffee shops, etc.).

Tibco example of the business need for integration

Wednesday, December 11th, 2002

Here’s an interesting article on Tibco’s website that does a decent job of painting the picture of the need for integration:

Tibco Delta Airlines Customer Story

Some interesting numbers:
- Delta wanted 10,000 events / second
- Tibco showed them 180,000 events/second