Monday, March 30, 2009

T1 Bandwidth VS A DSL Line .... Do The Same Distance Restrictions Apply?

The general answer is no. T1 Bandwidth does not have maximum distance "limitation" as does DSL. Network carriers can use multiple T1 repeaters to regenerate (not just amplify) the T1 signal.

However, 2 distance "sensitive" components can increase T1 cost.

First, the T1 access loop. Most local exchange carriers (LECs) (e.g., AT&T/SBC/BellSouth, Qwest and Verizon) charge the ISP for T1 access based on distance between the ISP's router (Internet POP) and the customer's local serving exchange (LEC Central Office.) That is why most ISP's T1 quote tools require the customers local phone number, or at least the 1st 6-digits (NPA-NXX) which identify the local CO exchange, in order to caculate the distance to the ISP's closest IP POP (Internet router).

Second, extrordinary construction costs. If the customer location is a great distance from the closest T1-equipped LEC central office, then the LEC must install addition T1 repeaters and possibly incur other transmission equipment / construction costs to reach the customer. In this case, the LEC has 2 options to deal with construction cost: either absorb cost themselves, or pass it on to the ISP who then pass it on to the end-user customer.

Assuminng no extrordinary construction cost, there are ISPs that offer flat rate Internet T1s for $500-750 per month, anywhere in US, with no distance limitations between ISP POP and customer's serving CO. The flat rate cost includes T1 access loop and 1.5 Mbps Internet port.

However, for most locatons that are under 25 miles to the ISP POP, we are seeing Internet T1 prices in general range of $300-$400 per month +/-.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Comparing Cost And Function Of DS3, OC3, FastE, And GigE Bandwidth Solutions

If your business already has a DS3 line .... and you are considering an upgrade to more bandwidth .... you need a solid understanding of how cost and function parameters may affect your decision. In particular how an OC3 circuit, fast ethernet (FastE), or gigabit ethernet (GigE) choice may .... or may not .... be the answer for upgrading your network connectivity.

Of course there will be a cost difference (more on that later). But beyond the cost difference between DS3 bandwidth, OC3 bandwidth, and ethernet bandwidth .... the more noticable variable is the wide range of speed from 45 mbps to 155 mbps to 100 mbps to 1000 mbps (FastE to GigE). However, in regards to reliability they're similar therefore this is not an issue. The reason is that all are dedicated bandwidth circuits. Meaning they're yours .... no sharing "traffic" with mobs of other users like the typical DSL lines for example.

So how does OC3 and ethernet fit into your upgrade decision?

An OC3 is part of the optical carrier numbering scheme called SONET .... for Synchronous Optical NETwork. OC3 runs at 155 Mbps at max speed. For comparison .... an ethernet connection whether it's a FastE or GigE (gigabit ethernet), can run at up to 1000 mbps. OC3 is the abbreviated term for Optical Carrier level 3, and is used to specify the speed level of fiber optic networks over SONET. The speed itself is measured through SONET (Synchronous Optical Network) standards.

You need to be aware that an ethernet connection is still limited in certain areas, usually to major cities where the network providers (e.g. AT&T, Verizon, Qwest, Sprint, Level3) have a fiber grid already laid out in the community. This is commonly called Metro E (Metro Ethernet). When ethernet isn't available, an OC3 bandwidth solution is the best option for a company needing more bandwidth to grow.

A popular option for providing just the right bandwidth solution for critical business network applications is an OC3 circuit . An OC3 circuit works as a reliable fiber optic backbone for large networks with substantial voice/data/video traffic needs. For example, applications that need high bandwidth such as headquarters phone lines (PBX and/or VoIP), company Supply Chain Management (SCM) systems, High traffic websites, Hospital medical imaging and diagnostic systems, data/disaster recovery and backup networks, video conferencing facilities, multi-media or virtual design centers, high security networks, and ISP backbones.

An important factor to understand is that OC3 circuits can be burstable, which allows you to start at usually 60 mbps and increase your bandwidth as your needs grow. A Burstable OC3 is the ideal solution for businesses who seek ultra-fast connectivity for their Internet needs ..... and don't routinely require full OC3 load capacity yet but may in the future. Options include selections from 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 120, 140, or a full 155 Mbps of service. By the way ..... FastE or GigE are also burstable. So keep that in mind too.

Here's a tip to consider when making your decision. It is ideal to get an OC3, FastE, or GigE at one of the colocation/data centers as the fiber is already there. Plus you would have to pay very little local loop cost ... and at times only a cross connect charge of a few hundred. Otherwise the local loop for an OC3 can range from around $3,000 to $10,000+ per month .... depending on the location. The port charge may vary between around $3,000 to $7,000+ per month .... depending on the area and network providers.

If you're fortunate and you're in an area where ethernet connections are available .... whether they're FastE or GigE .... the cost can vary from around $1500 to $10,000+ per month depending on the bandwidth needed and local loop. The FastE cost and GigE cost are usually less per megabit than an OC3 or OC12. That would be the recommended option if a company is price sensitive and the solution is available.

Although the decision process to upgrade your network may appear somewhat complicated and frustrating .... it doesn't need to be. You can save a lot of time and effort on your part by availing yourself of the no cost assistance .... and rate quote comparisons for OC3, FastE or GigE .... available through Bandwidth Solutions

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Would Make Bluetooth Easier To Use?

Why is it that Bluetooth mice and other devices typically require a USB adapter even if many laptops are sold today with native Bluetooth? It seems very difficult to get mice to work with the native bluetooth. It is really not that much fun to try to connect/disconnect the dongle or prevent yourself from bumping it while setting up a presentation.

On a broader scale, it would seem that an easy way to connect and use bluetooth would be excellent. Is it really standard, or does it have some distance to go?

I think many can sympathize with the distress over bluetooth usability. Many of the first generation bluetooth devices used way to much power and were always out of battereis. On later products some vendors seemed to abandon standards, like logitech, who uses a proprietary bluetooth connection for some of their headphones or other vendors that do or dont use the same support standards, example stereo headphones and the a2dp standard. For mice as you mentioned you have some of the same type of issues.

In addition to these issues connection disconnections buttons on most bluetooth devices seem to be tiny and hard to use.

As far as mice specifically go Logitech builds some non bluetooth wireless mice that use the receivers so small that they are not precariously placed and endangering the wellbeing of your laptop/receiver.

And let's not forget the easiest option to connecting a mouse - a wired mouse, where you always know when it's connected and when not and you never need to worry about batteries.

Overall the "problem(s)" are caused by the device vendor (laptop, mouse, headset, phone , etc) not including all of the software service providers (ie drivers) in the bluetooth software on that device. So for instance a headset works fine with a phone but would not pair with a hp PDA, yet the hp PDA will pair with a laptop for internet access.

Second trying to explain this to a user is basically too technical and in reality should not be required, ie the device should meet user expectations of its use and have the software support built in. For the vendor however this means adding more cost in terms of the additional software.

So my view is make all devices have all the expected software and support available OR ensure the packaging/manual is clear on what the device does do - CSR who supplies 80% of the bluetooth chips could help by being more market orientated and ensuring this message gets through the vendors and out to the end user. We would benefit and so would CSR.

Another issue ... Bluetooth support in Windows has been extremely poor up to now with only limited profile support. This has meant that vendors have to supply a Bluetooth stack with their device and due to licensing issues that also means they have to provide a Bluetooth dongle.

You can get lucky and get a laptop with the same Bluetooth stack as supplied by your peripheral vendor but it's pot luck unless you know what to look for.

The most common stacks are Toshiba, Widcomm and Blue Soleil but they all require licenses built into the Bluetooth dongle for full functionality. Vista has better Bluetooth support so the problem may start to ease.

The most oft heard issue concerns batteries. My brother and his wife got bluetooth headsets for each of their cellphones. It didn't take long to discover that battery life was pitiful to the point of useless .... and the detection and connection process is a real pain in the ear.

So to close .... the likely top suggestion with the best chance of making the most BlueTooth users happy is better batteries, auto-discovery and connection.

If you'd like to add other issues .... or suggestions ... by all means leave a comment.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

How To Analyze Your Voice And/Or Data Network Performance

When it comes to analyzing your voice or data network .... time and effort can easily evolve into frustration and cost. Having a good handle beforehand on what to look at (and for) ... and how to look at it ... helps. So does having preplanned data collection so that decisions can be made overtime .... or as needed in real time .... in an efficient less stressful manner.

If you are focused on IT, telecom, or ICT (information & communications technology), you probably have a fairly good grip on the physical aspects of your network. You know your sites, the components at those sites, the circuits between those sites, and the capacity of those circuits. You probably have a Visio or similar network map, and might even keep it current.

If you are a bit more sophisticated, you might know the network costs associated with each site, the primary business role of each site, and the virtual network of corporate systems. You might have available the history of problems by location, duration, cause, and impact.

Maybe its time to step up your knowledge to the next level?

Every network has a wealth of business intelligence buried within how it is used. The data is in the traffic flows. The when, what, and who of that traffic is a key part of understanding how the network relates to the business. Of course, that understanding requires more than just technical data. The "who" in technology is a source/destination pair of IP addresses and MAC addresses. Linking those to specific individuals or roles is where the intelligence is found.

An example - when it is expanded to Joe Blow, top sales rep, it becomes intelligence the sales division can use to bring other salespeople closer to the performance levels of Joe Blow.

The problem has always been one of data overload. This is why many have moved from spreadsheets to network diagrams.

I believe the next step is to integrate the network data sets with other business data sets and then apply visualization tools to these.

If you aren't familiar with these, check out some of these sites.

* Genisis is Open Source and free.

* Alphaworks is an IBM package. There is a cost for using it within a private network.

* Gapminder comes from Google. Its online and is included here as an example of visualization tools.

* Swivel is another online example. Although I believe there is a private version also.

* Bubble Chart would make an excellent graphic of how particular circuits are utilized. Each application's data over a set period would be represented by its own bubble, for example. Perhaps even subsets of applications (such as SAP terminals versus print jobs). Show the capacity of the circuit over the same time frame as a second graph, or as the boundary of the chart, and the concept of data moving through a pipe is clear to anyone looking at it.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Great Resource For Cell Phone Accessories .... At Sale Prices

Looking for cell phone accessories ..... at a good price?

Here's a resource for you ... where you'll find what you want AND save money at the same time.

Cell Phone Shop

They carry accessories for Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, LG, Sanyo, Nextel, Sony Ericsson, Kyocera, Audiovox, Blackberry, Treo, Apple iPhone, and more.

They offer faceplates, chargers, batteries, holsters, leather cases, car kits, bluetooths, handsfrees, antennas, data cables, and car holders .... all on sale.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How To Reduce International Calling Costs

How do you lower international calling costs by a hardware solution? By hardware solution, I mean a method that does NOT include simply getting better rates from a carrier.

I'm thinking along the lines of a SIP gateway which interfaces with an international VoIP calling service. The key here is to deploy a solution which integrates with an existing PBX allowing international dialing via regular handsets.

Well, it sounds like a first step might be to install Trixbox on a virtual machine. From that point, you need a SIP account (Gizmo provides an affordable starter service until you discover exactly what you need). You will also need a hardware interface to your PBX -- the Trixbox and Gizmo community forums have reviews for a number of devices -- even some that can trunk Skype calls through the system as well.

A lot of people just purchase hardware adapters for Skype, which does give you affordable international calling -- but Trixbox will give you MUCH more control over your entire voice system, allowing you to integrate POTS with SIP and Skype, and whatever else you want to add into the mix (Microsoft Messenger, etc.). It also integrates your email system so that voicemails are linked to individuals' email accounts, and it can run an (international) automated call centre for you on the side.

An alternate method is adding a service like GrandCentral (by Google) to the mix; I've a colleague who uses it to have local phone numbers across the US, even though he's in a different country. People can call their local number and the GrandCentral routing system can intelligently route it to the appropriate phone or voicemail (or both). Unfortunately, GrandCentral is closed to the public at the moment. It's probably the easiest way to handle inbound long distance calling, as there is no additional hardware needed and minimal configuration.

If all of that sounds too "techie" to you ..... the old stand by is always available. Just get the best rate from whatever provider will give it to you. To see what options you may have try out the Best Rate Calculaltor feature here: Cheap International Calling

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Top 10 Mobile Phone Trends for 2009

Now that the Mobile World Congress has run it's course in Barcelona, what do you view as the top ten significant mobile trends for the rest of 2009?

Here's a list to get discussion started ..... please fill free to jump in and leave your own contribution via comments.

1. Mobile payments and wallet phones

2. GPS and location based services (LBS) such as navigation and mapping

3. Mobile search including location related search

4. QR codes and other 2D bar codes for information input into mobile phones

5. Ultra low cost mobile phones for low end not only in emerging markets but also in advanced countries in economic crisis times

6. Subsidized $1 mini-laptops with flat rate HSDPA (7.2Mbps) data plans

7. WiMax networks come into commercial service

8. Embedded B2B applications

9. Beautiful OLED ultra-high resolution screens (bigger than iPhone displays)

10. Mobile agent services

There you go .... feel free to add more as well as any comments or discussion you'd like.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

TDM Or IP Transmission .... Which Is More Efficient?

Both modes of voice transmission has its own advantages and disadvantages . For example TDM transmission works on circuit switched mode. If you take a telephone call on a ordinary phone a 64 Kbps is allocated for the entire length of your conversation which makes the quality of voice extremely good .... but we would not be able to make use of the bandwidth allocated for that circuit even if there is lot of idle time during the conversation. Whereas, in case of IP transmission as packets are switched, as long as you are having control over the bandwidth, usage can be optimised giving optimal quality based on our specs. But the key term here is control, if you do not have control over the bandwidth allocation and ratio of concurrent voice channels transmission, then voice quality can suffer if the traffic exceeds the limitation. This is again factored based on the compression equipment in place.

Any traffic on a TDM circuit can be considered travelling over a clear channel relating to the ordinary telephone call example mentioned earlier.

Other differences are TDM is a secure channel, but IP bandwidth if it is on Public Internet can't be termed fully "secure". However with the advent of MPLS technology, IP transmission has gained more predominance as packets getting switched has enabled security. Apart from this QoS is possible on MPLS networks and thereby applying CoS on the bandwidth allocate can prioritize voice and data traffic according your specs. (Your MPLS may have a T1 or DS3 bandwidth backbone)

All these points can significantly skew the results in favour of IP transmission over TDM. In a business case scenario, for accomodating multiple voice channels with optimum quality and cost, IP transmission as on date would win hands down. However, this can vary on a case to case basis depending on various other factors which are to be considered.

Now .... if you consider TDM over IP that's a different ballpark.

TDM over IP is often touted by people as a very "next gen" capability. However, it very often doesn't make much sense. It's actually not very bandwidth efficient at all. It's certainly less bandwidth efficient than TDM circuits over, say, SDH. The reason is regardless of the carrier technology, a TDM circuit like and E1 requires the full bandwidth of the circuit to be reserved across the network. There is no way of compressing it or statistically multiplexing it. The big efficiency benefit of IP networks is due to the statistical multiplexing capability for native IP apps. This benefit is destroyed when dealing with TDM transport.

The only real benefit of TDM over IP is that is *may* allow you to use an existing IP network. This may give you some efficiency that is specific to your application, location, or network setup. there may also be some efficiency in consolidating the management into a single network. There may also be commercial reasons why running over IP is better for you. However, these will be specific to your application. As a general rule, TDM over IP is less efficient than the common alternatives.

Consider that an IP network has to run over a transport network. Often this will be SDH (Sonet). Traditionally TDM circuits would run directly on the SDH network:TDM circuit over SDH. If you run them over the IP layer, then you will have TDM over circuit emulation over IP over SDH. The circuit emulation/IP is an additional layer, and additional layers add overhead.

However, this all depends on whether you have lots of TDM circuits or just a one or two. If you have lots then it may make sense to add the capability to the SDH network. If it's only one or two, then it may be better (cheaper/easier) to add this to the IP layer.

As I said, TDM over IP over SDH is nominally less efficient (will use more bandwidth) than TDM over SDH. However, specific local circumstances may skew this significantly away from the nominal.

For help walking through the options available to you for the most cost effective solution ... at ZERO cost to you .... request support through Business VoIP Solution

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Why Is MPLS A Good Choice For A Network Solution (WAN)?

MPLS stands for Multi-Protocol Layer Switching. There are many benefits to using MPLS as the structure of your WAN (Wide Area network). Only a few will be mentioned here as appropriate for incorporation into a bandwidth solution .... those you may not be aware of.

Note: most MPLS networks are designed with a T1 backbone .... but some may also use DS3 bandwidth.

For example some of the benefits of MPLS are that the carriers take on the responsibility of sizing their network as they are 100% responsible. If for say you are asking for 2.048 using G.703 as the physical .... if you purchased MPLS, then however many locations you integrate into your WAN would all have the same port and customer ID based usually on a pin or account number.

The beauty of this can be illustrated with this scenario .... you have an office in Miami, and 1 in New York, and 1 in Los Angeles.

First of all MPLS can cut your regular phone bill by almost 80% ....

And two, instead of the traditional hub and spoke, if you need to send data from Miami to Los Angeles .... with MPLS the data will go from the customer router, directly to the ONS switches ATT uses in it's core. They rely on over 100 years of experience and never design their network any higher then 40% of the total bandwidth for the pipe.

The biggest difference? Is that MPLS is on a private network where no virusus can get at you.

For help in designing the right MPLS network to meet all your business requirements .... at no cost to you .... I recommend submiting a support request via MPLS Network Solution

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Monday, March 09, 2009

How To Recycle Your Cell Phone .... Go Green

Would you like to recycle your cell phone .... computer .... laptop .... PDA .... other electronic "gadget"?

Recycling may be getting easier each year, but let's face it: People are lazy. That's why bottles get thrown into trash bins when recycling bins are a foot away. It's also why technology ends up in landfills .... digital electronics will eventually break or get replaced. But it's hard to know just what to do with the gadgets that get left behind.

Not any more ....

Just go to ..... Go Green

Tip ... they also PAY YOU cash for recycling your electronic items.

Plus, if you know a school, church, Boy Scout or Girl Scout group, or other organization .... this makes a great fund raising activity too.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

How To Accomplish WiMax Backhaul

What is the standard way of backhauling WiMAX, specially IEEE 802.16e?

The answer will depend on the type of WiMAX network operator and what network assets it has access to, e.g. fibre, radio, microwave, ethernet, etc.

However it is likely that most all WiMAX operators will need large (compared to 3G operators) bandwidth to each base station, typically in the order of 100 to 300Mbps. Therefore, from a BTS most all operators will use microwave to the next level, where upon it will disappear into fibre. Most backhaul suppliers can do a minimum of 50Mbps in unlicensed 5.8 rising through 100 to 1Gbps FDX at 18 or 24 GHz. Many operators are also investigating using 28Ghz (and possibly 32 & 40GHz) point to multi-point for short haul backhaul.

In all cases it will be ethernet/IP. For 802.16e networks you also have to consider the profile being used (B or C) and where the ASN is located and the routing of all traffic through the ASN. The latter can be typically located at a fibre POP assuming several BTSs have been backhauled to that location and your traffic profile is architected that way.

That may sound a bit overwhelming ... so if you would like no cost assistance to find the best solution for any given location in the world (including the most cost effective) .... submit a request for support through WiMax Backhaul.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Pros And Cons Of VoIP For Small Business

VOIP in a business environment can work very well. A lot depends upon your existing network though. If you have an overly secure network with a lot of traffic then expect the quality to fall. Try and keep your voice traffic on a different network to your data and remember that VOIP/SIP is not as secure as traditional telecoms.

First some of the benefits .... VOIP systems often cost less for recurring maintenance than traditional PBX equipment and are easier to configure when applying moves, adds, and changes. Incidentally, there is normally no configuration change required to move an extension in a VOIP network. Many VOIP systems also let you use the Internet for your outbound calling, which can reduce your long distance bill and displace the cost of a PRI or analog trunk circuits for access to the public telephone network. VOIP also enables Unified Messaging, which integrates email, voice mail, IM, and calendaring.

However there are some drawbacks ..... IP phones are more expensive than traditional analog phones and have more stringent requirements for the network to support them than standard email and web surfing. While VOIP systems do generally have a more intuitive interface than traditional PBX equipment, in a company of 20 you're not likely to see much turnover I would expect.

Additional drawbacks are:

- Voice quality (not all your calls will be as clear as a traditional analog line).

- Reliability. If your Internet or System Network goes down you are left without computers and a phone system.

- Basic Features are sometimes billed a la cart and can end up costing you more per user then a traditional phone system.

- Hosted VOIP solutions require you to buy the phones (and associated routers) and then bill you every month for the service. Where as a phone system (with all its equipment) can be financed over 3 - 5yrs and then you own the equipment and system features & service.

The best approach for determining the viability of such a move would be to have a cost analysis performed for each option and look at the total costs and system benefits, up front, at year five, and beyond.

For a small company, these are conditions that generally would indicate a possible business case for VOIP:

- Your company has multiple sites and pays for Wide Area Network circuits to connect those sites together as well as PRI circuits or Centrex lines for PSTN access.

- You have a number of "remote workers" who work out of remote/home offices, and the company pays for their home phone and long distance as well as their Internet access.

- Your company spends a significant portion of its technology budget on long distance or international calling.

- Your company has high turnover and/or personnel are constantly changing offices.

- Integration of unified messaging and/or advanced calling functions such as on-the-fly conference calls would allow your company to conduct business much more effectively, so much so that it would positively impact your bottom line.

- Your company is getting ready to move to a new facility and would have to pay to run cable.

Outside of those, I would say VOIP may not be your best choice. One option worth considering is a gateway that services traditional analog phones, but converts the call to VOIP when calling external numbers.

Don't get me wrong I love working with VOIP, but if your current system isn't broken or costing you an arm and a leg to maintain it, you may not need to upgrade.

A good resource for comparing both VoIP and traditional phone providers ... cost and features ... and finding deals is available at:

Business Phone Providers

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Monday, March 02, 2009

More On IPhone Compared To Blackberry

Comparing Iphone to Blackberry is just like comparing Mercedes E class with Lincoln Towncar. The BB tried to imitate some goodies from the Iphone, but basically they remained with their Typical bulky looks. Here I am referring to Blackberry Storm or Blackberry Bold. Everyone has their own ppersonal perception on differences.

Iphone Pros .....

- Sleek design and sexy looks.
- Excellent user interface.
- Excellent stability for most of the applications.
- The presence of lots of useful applications from the applications store is icing.
- If you are a Mac Programmer, you can make an application for your very own needs due to the availability of the excellent SDK.
- Easily the best to device to hit the market since.....well, BlackBerry. I love the screen size, the applications, ease of use, safari browser, its iconic status, push email etc etc

Iphone Cons ....

- Not yet great for enterprise use.
- Not as sturdy as the Blackberry and needs to be used delicately.
- Lacks the keyboards, which makes it really difficult to mail etc.
- Lacks Video recording.
- Lacks MMS, but this limitation is overcome as you have excellent browsing and mailing options.
- Can't forward SMS and a real struggle to get MMS. Another downside is you can't have multiple (non apple) apps running simultaneously which is a drawback if you want a decent sat nav application and then run something else!
- Batterly life is a bit poor but this is probably becuase the thing is so damn irresistable, that the screen is on most of the day!

Since I am comparing Iphone with BB, the pros in Iphone are more like Cons in BB and vice versa.

Generally for the Bold - A real bruiser of a device and easier to compose emails than the iphone. When you whip out a Blackberry, it says "this guy is all business" where as the iphone says "this guy is fun". Most folks use any functionality other than email, calendar and contacts but thats always the way with a Blackberry - they just work!

It really boils down to the features that are critical to you. For eg, SMS usability, MMS, enterprise application integration, Flash, etc.

Both Apple and RIM are trying to reach beyond their usual demographic market which is only natural in this economy. The iPhone is a clever leisure gadget trying to make its way into the corporate world. The Bb Storm comes from a no nonsense family of reliable corporate communications where it has cornered the market.

Both have great features with minor drawbacks, however, its only a matter of time before both phones evolve to where the technical comparison is near comparable.

The only thing that will separate the two phones is clever marketing, cult followers, and consumer perceptions. Ask yourself if you'd rather close an important business deal with someone who carried an iPhone or Blackberry.

The questions you'll need to ask is which phone would you want to be seen with by business associates? By friends? Which phone would be your preference because both, in time, will get the job done just the same.

For a more scientific approach I suggest that you list your requirements, and then prioritize or rank them. Then you can assess the features of iPhone vs Blackberry and score them. Finally, add up the score in the features list and you have your winner....

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