Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Real-Time Ethernet Lookup Tool

More and more today's businesses are looking for ethernet as part of their IT infrastructure bandwidth solution (e.g. Metro Ethernet, GigE, etc.). This makes business sense .... especially in today's economy due to the cost savings combined with increased transmission speed. However, in order to make this happen for your company .... you need to know where ethernet is available in relation to the location you want serviced.

Accomplishing the necessary research used to be an arduous task .... but no longer. You now have access to a real-time Ethernet lookup tool ..... which can locate lit buildings from XO, Level3, Cavalier, Time Warner Telecom, MegaPath, Nuvox, Telnes (and more) in just seconds. With a tool like this at your disposal, you can make faster more accurate network decisions ..... AND save money.

Find Gigabit Ethernet In Your Area

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Visec Security Software Video Surveillance System

What is Visec?

VISEC is an amazing computer program that turns your computer into a powerful security system. It's simple to use, and available for an immediate free trial download.

Visec can run on a PC 24 hours a day, even while you work on your computer. Use your existing computer and web camera and be notified to your cell phone, home or office when motion is detected. Log in from anywhere in the world, including your cell phone.

The VISEC program can be set to record all VIDEO activity, or just when motion appears. The program can email you when it detects motion and even upload all images to different websites. With the Internet, you can connect directly to your personal computer and see in real time, live and historical video. Visec even makes it possible to send out email alerts with surveillance recordings included.

This allows you to remotely whenever and whatever activity your camera captures. Visec utilizes a breakthrough in motion detection technology that incorporates complex and advanced algorithms (without the need of separate sensors) allowing an operator to just record only when motion is detected, saving you time and the cost of continuous recording as in traditional CCTV Systems.

For more information visit Video Surveillance System

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Is Bluetooth On A Collision Course With Wi-Fi?

The recent appearance of some "Wi-Fi" mobile phones on the market has many folks wondering "what could be". With regards to Bluetooth vs WiFi phones are we seeing a potential collision of capabilities? Not so fast...don't be blinded by the light.

OK, you may have seen a couple of mobile phones with Wi-Fi on the market lately... and it appears that the penetration of these mobile "Wi-Fi" phones is only going to increase with time. It also seems that what the current user can achieve with Bluetooth... may also be possible via Wi-Fi at some time in the not too distant future.

Below I've listed the primary use cases for Bluetooth and how Wi-Fi "may" offer a solution.

1. Wireless headset - Wi-Fi headsets take up a lot more current than Bluetooth, this doesn't seem to be insurmountable in due time though.

2. Wireless data transfer - Already possible via Wi-Fi

3. Security - Bluetooth's frequency-hopping transmissions ensure security and less interference, but this again is not an insurmountable hurdle for Wi-Fi

4. Mobile to PC Sync - Possible via Wi-Fi

If a manufacturer is paying $X per chip to put Wi-Fi in... they might as well work towards solving these problems and remove BT from phones.

However, in my honest opinion there's more to the story if you really look under the hood.

So, I believe rather than competing, the two are coming together.

Bluetooth will probably always remain in the handset for two reasons. The first is that it enables low power headsets. Unlike Wi-Fi, Bluetooth enables synchronous voice transmission without the need for VoIP. It was one of the key requirements for the Bluetooth specification and means that headsets can be made that give a good talk time with small batteries. The overhead of VoIP processing for any standard that does not support native voice means that Wi-Fi is unlikely to ever take this market away. And despite the publicity of Wi-Fi in handsets, the only wireless connections that most people ever make is to a headset.

What will reinforce the continuation of Bluetooth in handsets is the new low power variant, also known as Wibree or Ultra Low Power Bluetooth. This is exciting the handset vendors because of its ability to connect the handset to a new range of accessories, such as watches, sports equipment and health sensors. This technology resides inside the same Bluetooth chip, so will add functionality to the handset for no additional cost.

The other important thing to realise about Bluetooth and Wi-Fi is their different topologies. Wi-Fi usually talks to access points, whereas Bluetooth devices talk to other Bluetooth devices in what is know as an ad-hoc connection. 802.11 - the standard behind Wi-Fi can in theory cope with ad-hoc connections, but it's a feature that is poorly implemented and lacks interoperability. Much of the power of Bluetooth has been in building the higher level stacks that provide the ability to find other devices, connect to them securely and perform a range of data transfers. It's taken Bluetooth the best part of ten years to get this aspect right. Wi-Fi hasn't yet started on it.

That's why there is now work going on to combine Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so that Bluetooth is used for this initial setup of the connection, and then Wi-Fi is switched on, under the control of Bluetooth, to perform a higher speed transfer. There are potential issues to this approach, as both use the same frequencies and if the two are being heavily used at the same time, there may be performance issues that are apparent to the user. To combat that, handset and equipment vendors are also working hard on a combination of UWB and Bluetooth. This provides better immunity to interference, higher data rates at short ranges and a much lower power consumption that can be achieved for a similar data rate using Wi-Fi.

The reality is that we will probably end up with three short range wireless standard in cellphones in the next few years - Bluetooth (including Ultra Low Power), Wi-Fi and UWB. In the near term it's likely that Bluetooth and Wi-Fi will coalesce into a single chip, with UWB as an additional RF chip. If they're all controlled by Bluetooth, the good news is that the user will only have to deal with one application interface.

For a simple online tool to help find the right cell phone for you .... Bluetooth or otherwise .... go to this website: Cell Phones And Accessories

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How To Calculate Data Transfer And Bandwidth Requirements

Calculating your data transfer needs, the associated bandwidth and its effects it will have on hosting your web site can be anything from easy; but it is one of those calculations that you'll need to do at some point if you want to make sure that you won't be stung with unexpected costs.

There are various problems associated with calculating your data transfer and bandwidth requirements. How do you account for cached pages and images? What size unit does the host use for their calculations, and how can your bandwidth limit affect the quality of your hosting?

Be Careful

Not all data transfer limits are created equally; units of measurements can vary between hosts and if they don't make it clear be sure to ask them how many bytes per kilobyte they used when drawing up their comparison tables.

Caching and it's Effects on Data Transfer

Many ISPs use proxy servers to help speed up Internet access for their customers. The idea is that these servers keep a copy of your page on the proxy server (for a certain amount of time), and update their copy as you change your page. The effect of this is that while your page may have only be downloaded from your server once, it may have been seen by a number of people.

If you have static pages that rarely change, then caching can go some way to reducing your hosting bill. Clever use of meta tags can tell the browser not to bother reloading the page from the server if it is available on the users computer or a proxy server. Since these revisited pages do not have to be reloaded from your server, a single page request in your logs could equate to several-hundred page views for that page (particularly if you were paid a visit from a large proxy server used by some of the bigger ISPs).

Dynamic pages are not so suited to caching, but if the dynamic elements of pages are not visitor or time sensitive, then caching can be used to some degree to keep that data transfer bill down; for example, a page using the date may only need to be built by the server once each day. In the case of building dynamic pages, caching can also be used to reduce the server load by storing results of database queries in the server cache.

Bandwidth and the Quality of Hosting

When looking for a suitable host, be sure to check out the amount of bandwidth that will be available to your site. Even a site that does not require a great deal of data transfer per month could run slow if you are hosting on a shared server; particularly if you are on the same server as a more popular or bandwidth intensive site.

The more sites hosted on a server, the more likely they are to compete with each other for available resources; including bandwidth. This is why you may notice a slow down in server response times during busy periods, or a sudden peak in traffic at a busier site on a server you are sharing.

Redundancy Matters

How much bandwidth is left unused at any time to allow for sudden peaks in traffic is known as redundant bandwidth. The more redundant bandwidth a particular server has, the better it is likely to cope with sudden peaks in traffic; which can make all the difference between a pitiful and a successful site advertising campaign.

If your site is consistently slow and busy (particularly at set times during the day), then it could certainly benefit from having more bandwidth. The chances are your host does not have enough redundant bandwidth to deal with normal demand; they may need to upgrade their bandwidth capacity or simply review their bandwidth management strategy.

Ideally any host you are considering should have connections to the backbone with at least two service providers and at least 25% redundancy in all its connections. The higher the number of connections, service providers and percentage of redundancy, the better it will cope when things get busy or are unavailable.

Bursting the Bandwidth Barrier

By looking for a plan that allows for burstable bandwidth, you will be going some way to prevent slowdown experienced by your visitors during peak traffic periods. All burstable bandwidth means is that you can use more bandwidth than your hosting plan would normally allow, should you need to; which is extremely handy should the flow of traffic coming and going from your server suddenly peak. Note that the additional bandwidth available to you will depend on the level of the redundant bandwidth in the backbone connections your site has access to.

Hosts that offer burstable bandwidth with your package will let you make use of some (or all) of the redundant bandwidth to help your site cope with the traffic. It would be worth pointing out that it should only be used as a short term solution; since if you are consistently utilizing more bandwidth than your hosting package allows, you really ought to upgrade.

Serving Large Files and Multimedia

If you hadn't guessed already, bandwidth availability can go a long way to determining both the quantity and quality of site downloads; whether they be large archives or multimedia presentations. As access to the server becomes more difficult, the number of packets lost increases. For small files, such as web pages and images, this isn't such a problem; packet loss is (statistically) less likely to occur on small files. On the other hand, larger files are more likely to loose data during transfer since there are more opportunities for packets to become lost. These lost packets can adversely affect the quality of the download. Files can become corrupted; streaming media gets jitterier the more data is lost.

If you intend to host downloads or multimedia files on your site, it is worth shopping around for a host with plenty of bandwidth, data transfer and a good level of redundancy in its connections to the backbone. Having a server that can support resume if serving large files is useful for saving unnecessary data transfer.

Your bandwidth and data transfer costs will make up the bulk of your hosting bill. While burstable bandwidth may be a luxury you could afford to do without, it is always a good idea to get as much bandwidth and redundancy as your budget will allow.

Bandwidth Resources

To help navigate through the decision process and emerge on the other side with the best solution for your business .... utilize the free services from Business Bandwidth

If your application is more residential in nature use this tool to help find the right bandwidth solution .... Residential Bandwidth

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Primer For Businesses Evaluating DS3 Bandwidth Costs

Before deciding on a bandwidth solution for your business there's basic fundamental questions you must be aware of. Not just what they are but also how the answers will impact your network application(s)... and most importantly the impact on potential cost of implementing that network.

Part of any business plan for installing or upgrading a computer network infrastructure is estimating potential costs .... with bandwidth requirements an obvious big chunk of the deliberation. To do this appropriately you need to know what you're getting into first. Overlook these factors ..... or make assumptions on their affect to network installation, management, and performance costs means you may end up paying more than you expected.

Here's a scenario to illustrate the message .....

You are intending to upgrade your company's computer network in the coming months basing the infrastructure on DS3 bandwidth. You are getting several quotes for adding another upstream provider, as well as trying to price new accounts. You want to know what are average costs of a DS-3's (full 45 Mbps)to end users and 100 Mbps connections?

First, there are three components of cost for upstream bandwidth that you must be aware of...

1. access, sometimes called the local loop, is the circuit between your physical location and the carrier POP (Point Of Presence)

2. port speed, which is essentially how many megs you're buying

3. equipment to interconnect between the carrier and your network.

Access price will depend on your various locations and where you can take delivery of the service. Some carriers will have "lit" buildings that will be less costly for them to serve. Generally, the farther any location you want serviced is from a POP the more your loop cost will be. The closer it is the less your cost will be. This is the most often overlooked component of any pricing exercise .... and the one that can up your costs quickly and drastically. Here's a tip ..... if you're within a reasonable distance for their POP many providers will waive the loop cost. So make sure you ask about that.

Port speed will vary by carrier, by product type, and by any specific vendor promotions ongoing at the moment. These costs are generally on the decrease overall so you should make out here .... but still ensure you compare multiple providers and negotiate for the best cost. Also make sure that provider port speed promises include a SLA (Service Level Agreement) and QoS (Quality of Service) commitment which penalizes the provider for non-compliance and protects your financial investment. Getting less bandwidth reliability than you need will impact on the performance of your intended application(s). If you learn this too late you will end up paying more through the lost productivity to your business.

Equipment costs turns to zero if you take an Ethernet connection, but typically you have to be in a "lit" building to take advantage of that. Otherwise to hang a router on a DS-3 the carrier may charge a few extra hundred dollars per month. If Ethernet connectivity is available .... grab it. It will cut your expenses dramatically. Also ask if the provider will "give" you a free router. Many do so today as sales incentive.

There you have it. The basics of what to ensure is incorporated into any deliberations on your computer network bandwidth requirements. Gloss over any of these and you will end up paying more than necessary. There are of course some more complicated and technical considerations your IT staff will ponder. But to make business sense at least the above must be your starting point.

Should you like to save even more in the deliberation process (time, effort and money) I suggest using the services of a no cost consultant such as DS3 Bandwidth who can navigate the maze on your behalf. They'll do all the research and negotiations for you .... and simplify your involvement to a less stressful approve/disapprove. That just makes even more business sense.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

If Not WiMax, Than WiWhat? The Wisp Persepctive

The WiMax craze is not over, but the train has certainly slowed a bit. The difference between what was expected and when it finally arrives has tempered some enthusiasm amongst Wisp afficiandos. Just what will we see... and when?

Some of the advertising for WiMax promised we'd all be delivering internet, tv, phone, running water, nicely done toast, etc to 300 customers per AP... all while driving 250mph in their Porsche's. So far it's not there yet and some wonder if it really even makes sense for the average rural Wisp. The current lineup of 802.11 gear has it's issues when used outdoors like Wisp's do, but the low cost and good compatibility between suppliers has allowed many Wisps to turn a profit (finally). Most aren't excited at all about spending lots more for equipment that solves problems that they really don't have. Not everyone is rural, but with low population densities it really doesn't pay to do much more than internet. Maybe some VoIP, but the investment for other services is hard to make work with too few possible customers.

So, what do Wisps really want? Personally, I'd think they'd like to not make their investment in equipment worth zero really quick, so it would be great if whatever comes next is compatible with some of the current hardware (8186, etc). Also, the idea of having more customers per application is great, but everyone has their own poling design. Also, better and more stable links with better NLOS capability are things Wisps can all use. Part of what makes the Wisp thing work is low cost equipment... and low cost equipment happens when there is decent competition and a standard to design to.

I doubt it will be backwards compatible. For years manufactures of Wimax were going back and forth arguing over "who's" standard to use. To this date everyone is still scratching their head to see who's they plan to use!

Wisps build out networks on todays equipment. That's just reality. They are not going to wait around for the magic bullet that will never appear... and if it does will not be anywhere near what they claim.

Generally, as a Wisp you have to look at what the needs are in your specific area and go from there. For example 802.11 b /g "stuff" will only take you so far. If you ask, I am sure every Wisp has started with it in one form or another... and expanded from there due to the needs of the environment and or client.

In all honesty, what you buy today will still be good a couple years down the road. And if you lay out your business plan correctly it will all be paid for... and you will be turning a profit by the time any new stuff comes out that you may need based on your client's needs. Then again... maybe you will be happy for the next 5-6 years with what you have now.

The moral of the story? Change is not always bad... but beware what you ask for. In the meantime keep truckin' with what you have. That may be all there is for awhile.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Skype "How - To" Video

If you're a Skype user ..... and you'd like to tweak your voice conversations to studio quality level ..... this is a video you should have a look at.

It's actually a video about how to setup and produce online interviews using Skype. Great idea for the small business person.

The technical information on this video is exceptional and you will learn to tweak Skype to a very high degree. So go ahead and try it out ..... afterall it's FREE.

Skype for Interviews How-to Video

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Metro Ethernet Speed Measurement .... Tool

Many businesses are looking for an automated way to measure the throughput (especially circuit capacity) to each of their network locations (WAN usually) and record it to a file. The general idea is to install endpoint software on each locations servers .... for example Novell and Windows servers (and/or others).

Some businesses use QCheck from Ixia to manually check throughput to each network (spoke) location over their connections that are currently in place (normally T1 or DS3 bandwidth ... but also metro ethernet). They may also use Solarwinds Orion to track circuit availability, usage, and response time. Some may try the full-featured Chariot product from Ixia, but it would usually require custom scripting to do what they need ..... and also the cost may be prohibitive.

It would make smart business sense for a company to be able to check that the provider (bandwidth .... T1, S3, OC3, Ethernet) is providing the level of service that the company is paying for. Ixia QCheck does this, but it would be better if a business had something where they could schedule automated tests and keep historical data. Without costing them an arm and a leg.

With the above general "set the stage" description in place .... what, if any, off-the-shelf products exist that will measure throughput to a number of endpoints on a schedule AND keep historical data?

Here's one suggestion for you ....

Although it's not automated, you should have great success testing metro ethernet circuits (circuit capacity etc.) with IPerf. You can write scripts to test end to end with both TCP and UDP. Measure Metro Ethernet Speed

IPerf looks like it may work. In the few minutes playing with it you should be able to automate it using a scheduled task in Windows and have the server log the data to a file. The output isn't pretty, but I think it will give you the info you need.

Also ..... should your business network require any bandwidth solutions (new install or upgrade) for metro ethernet, DS3, or OC3 ..... I highly recommend taking advantage of the FREE consulation provided through DS3 Bandwidth

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Call Center Business VoIP Solution .... How To Find One

A key component of any business plan for a call center is to maximize cost effectiveness of necessary operations. Of course the largest piece of that puzzle is what you're paying for your phone calls. In order to control these costs as low as possible many call centers are turning to application of VoIP technology to meet their needs.

The process of choosing just the right call center business VoIP solution can be daunting at best. There's much to choose from .... and much to understand before making an educated decision. What makes business sense ....for not just cost but ALSO performance and reliability.

Rather than attempt to provide the entire education here ... I'll just point you in the direction of an invaluable resource.

You can ensure you have every factor considered .... and are getting the right solution at the best price ..... by utilizing the no cost advisory service found here: Call Center Business VoIP Solution

This resource is the right choice for anyone looking for help to find the best call center OR corporate business VoIP solution. You should take advantage of it. Afterall, it doesn't cost you a penny.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

DSL, Cable, Or T1 Bandwidth .... What's Right For Your Business?

Deciding what is the right bandwidth configuration for your company's voice/data network is a common issue. It's not always obvious either .... but it can be.

The common question considered is “Isn’t DSL or Cable sufficient for my office?”.

Well ....this depends upon the size of your company and how you’re going to use the bandwidth. If you have 10 or more employees all using an internet connected computer plus a telephone line each, it would be advantageous to have a full T1 installed.

T1s are usually the preferred choice of communications for businesses that have moderately high bandwidth needs with many users (upwards of 40 with low/moderate use) AND that require a stable, reliable, constant connection.

A T1 line can send a gigabyte of information in less than 10 seconds and since the upstream/downstream bandwidth is symmetrical, it has the capability of many simultaneous "conversations" or voice/data/video connections within.

Whether it's for internet access or telephone service, your T1 will have an average uptime of near 100%, compared to DSL and Cable which can randomly experience outage problems throughout the day, whether it's for a split second or several minutes/hours- mostly due to the line being shared, oversubscribed, and of lower quality. Many T1 carriers will even guarantee a certain level of uptime such as 99.9% (for internet connectivity) secured with a contract called an SLA (Service Level Agreement) which will reimburse you with a credit for that month should the line become interrupted for any reason.

If you're planning on operating a Voice over IP (VoIP) phone system, T1 will provide much better call quality compared to DSL and Cable because a T1 is a dedicated connection to your local phone company’s central office, and unaffected by excess bandwidth usage from your neighbors- as a result: lower latency and higher throughput.

In other words ... T1 Bandwidth is usually a better choice for many reason. With the recent drop in prices ... add cost effectiveness to the answer too.

To help you find the best T1 solution for your network needs take advantage of the no cost assistance provided by: T1 Bandwidth

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Monday, January 07, 2008

What Are The Top Challenges In IT Infrastructure Management?

When considering what the top challenges are for an IT Manager (sic CIO) the truth may surprise you.

Following is an eye opening insight from Robin Felix of Felix.org

Contrary to what some may initially believe the reality is that the top challenges are far less about technology than about the intracompany services being provided. In short, technical problems are easy, but social problems are hard. The CIO, like Janus, looks in two directions: up-and-out, and down-and-in. Both views provide top challenges, though of very different types.

Looking up-and-out, the CIO is the interpreter of needs, translating business requirements into services within cost constraints. The key to success is the ability to abstract the business problem, framing it technically for implementers and conceptually for peers or superiors, then crafting an acceptable compromise solution.

The role of CIO requires one to be a mediator to frame a viable business answer to answer competing requirements, though one must possess sufficient technical competence to choose a robust and survivable technical approach among the many technologies and vendors clamoring for attention. One must also have enough business savvy to appreciate the tradeoffs between technical constraints and financial constraints.

An example need often faced is the integration of business development activities over acquired companies, uneasy new allies still stretching to become a cohesive whole. The business developers are familiar with personal visits, phone calls, faxes, and email. Their development approach generally involved power through control of information and contacts, and information sharing was not comfortable for them.

Thus, the business problem can be nominally framed as a legal requirement for preventing organizational conflict of interest, although the underlying goal is to have these cowboys work together for the greater good. The technical requirement is to create a solution that would enforce data sharing in a way that would be useful and easy to avoid it withering away through disuse. Finally, the financial constraint is significant, as the budget allocated to attack the problem is usually slim to none. Once framed this way, various answers became apparent, but the definitional process is key to the solution.

Looking down and in, the CIO's daily challenges include service levels, configuration, throughput, security, et al. However, the top challenge is creating and maintaining a service-oriented IT organization. The MIS and IT support organization is a business enabler; it generates no revenue and is generally noticed within the organization only when system failures occur, or when internal "customer service" becomes so bad that general managers start complaining. Compounding this challenge is the personality type typical of engineers and technicians. Stereotypically, they do not go into a technical field to provide customer service, but rather to solve problems, create solutions, and explore new technologies.

The CIO's top down-and-in challenges, then, are threefold. The first consists of traditional IT/MIS problems, ensuring adequate communications and processing capacity with appropriate security. The second is creating and selling a metrics-based customer service focus as the highest goal of the IT/MIS shops, using carrots and sticks, logic and emotion. The third is ensuring that the results of the first two challenges are measured and recorded, providing ammunition to educate management concerning the achievements and needs of IT and MIS as contributors to business success within the organization.

All the above, other than the day-to-day leadership of the IT/MIS troops, is applicable to outsourced IT/MIS services also. It is useful to constantly compare the costs and benefits of an internal organization to outsourced services. This provides the wily CIO with external ammunition to persuade management when expanding or outsourcing and internal ammunition to convince subordinates of the seriousness of customer service.

Overall every CIO must recognize that the challenges they're likely to face will not fit nicely into some neat little box.....with clean labels for what and when. To the contrary they'll require a grasp of the flexibility to maneuver between technical, personel, and business related issues. Not always individually and often simultaneously.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

What Is The Best SmartPhone On The Market Today?

The answer to this question is really a personal one. Everyone's likes, wants, and needs will be different. Now... how do you decide which is right for YOU?

In all honesty there is no 'best" smartphone, just the best one currently available for your needs. For 5 different use cases, there will be 5 different "best" choices, so I can only guess as to your use case.

Is there a particular carrier you have to use?

Also, there are lots of different definitions of "smartphone". To me a smartphone means that I can load my own applications on it. It can get my e-mails, contacts, and appointments over air from a MS exchange server. And that it has a means for significant text entry, for responding to e-mails.

There are some great phones that don't meet my definition (IPhone doesn't yet have an official way to load your own applications, Sidekick doesn't let you load apps, Nokia N95 doesn't have a high volume text input method, etc...). There is lots of room for experienced users to disagree with me on this definition, so be warned.

The Windows Mobile OS (current version is 6) is used in the Motorola Q series, the Blackjack I/II, Palm treo 750 and many of the HTC phones.

The RIM OS is used in all Blackberries.

There are other OS out there (OSX for the IPhone, Palm for the Treo 755/Centro, Symbian for several of the Nokia phones, etc...). But only the MS OS has a universal way for syncing over air to a corporate exchange server. All the others require an additional piece of middleware. Of those solutions, the RIM Blackberry Enterprise Server is by far the most popular. So if I have to guess for you, I'd limit myself to those two OS's.

The RIM OS is pretty easy to use, reliable, and straight forward. It does what it's intended to use well. That's why for non technical users, I almost always recommend a RIM based phone. It may not have every bell and whistle but it's a workhorse for sending and receiving e-mail.

In Blackberries you basically have the choice of a full size keypad (Blackberry 8800 or "Curve" style), or you have a streamlined keyboard (8100 or "Pearl" style). The Curves are much better if you have to write a lot of e-mail. The Pearl's are better if you need a smaller form-factor, and are reading more e-mail than you are writting.

In the windows OS there are many different shapes and sizes. I prefer units with a full keyboard like the Motorola Qm or the Blackjack II. Slider phones like the Wave, Wing, etc... You'd need to try some to pick the form-factor you like, but they all will perform similarly since they are based on the same OS. In general the windows based phones can do more, but are more flaky and less reliable. It's not uncommon for some windows based phones to occasionally crash and the user needs to remove the battery to reboot the phone (insert your favorite anti-Microsoft joke here).

Once you've picked a carrier, OS, and form-factor, here's some final criteria to look at.....

A removable battery is a must (another deal break with the iPhone). Is there an option for a higher capacity battery if you don't mind a bit more bulk.

How does it charge? A standard mini USB port will make it way easy to charge in a variety of circumstances and save you money on chargers.

Does it support the latest/fastest wireless data for your carrier? EVDO Rev A for Sprint and Verizon, HSDPA for AT&T.

Does it have a removable media slot (micro SD, etc...).

Does it have an integrated GPS chip? Has the wireless carrier turned off that chip so you aren't allowed to use it? Is the chip the highly sensitive (a good thing) Sirf III chip?

Do you need a camera? 2 Meg is a nice bump over 1.3 as it gives you good enough resolution to actually take pictures of business cards and then have software convert the picture to contact data.

Do you need WiFi?

If I answer all of the above for me, no phone exisits that has it all.

If I had to guess for you with no more information... I'd go with a Blackberry 8800.

Whatever Smart Phone you're looking for .... here's a good place to find great deals: Smart Phone Deals

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What Are The Bandwidth Requirements For IPTV Implementation?

Many see IPTV as the "next big thing". However, often both providers and users are unclear on one of the most basic tenants of IPTV quality functionality. The required bandwidth. So... just what is the minimum bandwidth which will give a "good" movie experience?

Actually, the question posed in those terms does not make a lot of sense.

As a matter of fact you must take into consideration the resolution in pixels of the video. Example, for a 16:9 broadcast the numbers are as follows:

704x480
1280x768
1920x1080

The frame rate will be 24, to match the cameras used to film movies.

Then you should consider the codec in use to compress the image ..... and the bitrate you want to use.

Then you must move on to the audio part. Again you should use an appropriate codec and bitrate.

The TV set used plays an important role as well. For example, a 52 inch 16:9 LCD/plasma flat panel will show more artifacts than a 32 inch analogue 16:9 CRT TV.

Also the media could be a notebook or a mobile phone instead of a TV....

As stated earlier, this is a difficult question to answer and it all depends on your network design to be honest. Some providers have done HD quality streams at a constant 1Mbps and viewed it on a 50+ inch plasma .... which wow'd clients. One sample provider streamed a maximum 8 sessions on a demo from 8 different countries via MPLS ..... and has a multicast stream of about 2.5Mbps in HD.

MPLS helps ..... but you have to keep in mind that your network engineers should know multicasting extremely well, as well as QoS. Plus your equipment should not slack. MPLS means nothing if your network is engineered improperly. It also means nothing if your MPLS provider is clueless ..... and or peering with someone else who is not honoring packet coloring.

Generally speaking, there are quite a few variables as to how much bandwidth is required. On ITVN and Fios systems, 1.2Mbps seems to deliver 480 equivalent video and 5.1 audio. HD content usually requires at least 5 Mbps. The biggest issue normally seen is the consistent availability of bandwidth. If there are multiple users in a household or in the same area, the bandwidth fluctuations can cause buffering and degrade the picture quality. You may also see latency issues running ping tests or excessive pings.

To be able to truely predict (IPTV) Bandwidth Requirements on equipment selection and deployment it is useful to have a base starting point for simultaneous Multi - Play Service Delivery to the Digital Home.That makes sense as a Portofolio offering and not separating the streams vs. the whole package when predicting capacity.

The initial assumption would include 2 x Standard Definition (SD) and one High Definition (HD) TV streams ..... and let's say three Voice over IP (VoIP) phones along with some streaming digital audio/music.

Using H.264 this B2C basic scenario suggests a minimum bandwidth requirement of 15 megabits (not 6 Mbps) .

This most probably will increase as HD content is becoming more ubiquitous and HD-capable displays are appearing more and more in every home.

The planning folks within your orginization have to bear in mind that there'll be about three simultaneous HD streams - usually and nowadays the average number of streams per household. This means about 24 megabits give or take... without even considering the potential future applications (e.g. video telephony , personal broadcast). With potential future applications ..... the bandwidth required to the Digital Home may go up to 50Mbps!

As for planning from an Operator's point of view - understand that IPTV is a major investment critical to the success for your orginization. Not to be confused with WebTV which is a step before (full) IPTV.

With this in mind choose your Bandwidth Service Providers (BSP) carefully. There's more to consider than just cost. A stable Tier 1 provider with a solid SLA (Service Level Agreement) and QoS (Quality of Service standard) is a MUST.

Try to work with your chosen BSP on Capacity Planning and Backhaul. Validate 4 major critical investments: 1 to 6 months , 6 months to 1 yr. , 1 yr. to 3 yrs. and 3 yrs. to 5 yrs. Try to use a MPLS backbone to the full extent that you can. (Note: you may get lot of potential applications on top of it later on as likely move to "Intelligent" BackHaul.)

Again ..... make sure you take into consideration the HD implications as mentioned above which will double your bandwidth requirements per household served.

You'll incur significant investment if you plan to provide IPTV. It is not only about Fiber Optics to the Premises/Homes ..... but also the whole backhaul design plus the transport and enablement of such capacity. Thus my suggestion(s) to approach your BSP with some type of partnering arrangement (at least in the early stages) to share the Business Case in a fairly win-win proposition (keeping your initial costs lower).

Should you need bandwidth for any reason .... it's best to use a no cost consulting service to get rate quotes and information on SLAs and QoS. Here's the one I recommend: DS3 Bandwidth

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