Broadband via Satellite

WSJ writes:

Inmarsat PLC switched on the first phase of its long-awaited $1.5 billion satellite network [last] Wednesday, giving users across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia access to simultaneous voice and broadband Internet service.

London-based Inmarsat, which operates a constellation of satellites that enable voice and data services, said its Broadband Global Area Network, or BGAN, will allow data transfer speeds of up to 492 kilobits per second.

Inmarsat said that the satellites double the data speeds that were available prior to the launch and also offer 25% faster speeds than currently available with 3G, or third-generation, mobile operators.

The service can be accessed through a range of lightweight satellite terminals, the smallest of which is about half the size of a laptop computer. The cost of the terminal ranges from $1,500 to $3,500.

Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie

The New York Times asks if Ray Ozzie is the person who can “reprogram Microsoft.”

The Internet, Round 2, is now under way. Again, the computing terrain is changing remarkably, helped along by free software like Linux and the spread of high-speed Internet access. Today, all kinds of computing experiences can be delivered as services over the Internet, often free and supported by advertising. Clever Internet software can now turn flat, view-and-read Web pages into snappy services that look and respond to a user’s keystrokes much like the big software applications that reside on a PC hard drive. New companies are even sprouting up to offer Web-based word processors and spreadsheets, products long regarded as mature – and long dominated by Microsoft’s desktop programs.

The man whom Mr. Gates is counting on to make a difference is Ray Ozzie, a soft-spoken 50-year-old who joined the company just eight months ago. He has the daunting task of galvanizing the troops to address the Internet services challenge, shaking things up and quickening the corporate pulse.

The forces arrayed against Microsoft, analysts say, may well prove more formidable than ever. “The problem Microsoft faces today is that there is a totally different model emerging for how software is created, distributed, used and paid for,” said George F. Colony, the chairman of Forrester Research, a technology consultant. “That’s why it’s going to be so difficult for Microsoft this time.”

Yet there are optimists. Big industry shifts, they say, create opportunity. Inevitably, they note, Internet computing erodes Microsoft’s power to set technology standards, but the company can still benefit as the overall market expands. That’s what happened in the 1990’s. They say that if Microsoft shrewdly devises, for example, online versions of its Office products, supported by advertising or subscription fees, it may be a big winner in Internet Round 2.


Russell Beattie writes:

Conceptually this service is mind blowing to me. If you look at it from 10,000 feet youll see that the total amount of people who would ever be able to use RSS feeds just went from the roughly 800 million internet users to the over 2 billion mobile phone users world wide. Make that 3 billion by the end of the decade. Its incredible. You could say that RSS just became the world wide defacto instant communication system overnight. Sooo cool.

Okay, Ill calm down. So thats pie in the sky stuff assuming 100% penetration and ignoring cultural differences and logistical rollout problems and all that. This is why other people actually make these products and I just do the hand waving. Okay, right. So lets just focus on practical realities, shall we? Just the stuff thats actually possible, no hand waving or star gazing, just a simple summary:

Yahoo! just enabled every blog and news service in the world to update 200 million American mobile consumers instantly. Every feed, from any source online is now a potential mobile alert service, instantly notifying readers, customers and users of any updates, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week anywhere they happen to be.

End-to-End Thinking

Dan Bricklin writes:

An extremely important paper from the early 1980s, that I frequently make reference to, is Saltzer, Reed, and Clark’s “End-To-End Arguments In System Design“. Often cited as one of the basisses for the design and ultimate scaleability of the Internet, the term “end-to-end” is also often misunderstood. As used in the paper, “end-to-end” means each “end point” (such as the program on a PC) communicating to other end points — “end point talking to end point”. It does not mean “end point and everything along the way including the final end point”. The whole point of the paper is that you should minimize the special casing between end points. A “smart” network that “knows” what the end points need is what the paper argues against. The idea is to build simple, general purpose infrastructure that doesn’t assume certain specific uses. Companies that brag that they have an “end-to-end solution” when they mean “soup-to-nuts” (or as Bob Frankston likes to say, “womb to tomb”) solution are really saying, according to the paper, “We have a brittle, hard to evolve system tuned to what we think we know today”.

TECH TALK: The Best of 2005: Year-End Reflections

December in Mumbai is perhaps the best time of the year weather-wise (except July if one likes the monsoon). There is a nice chill in the air. Even the afternoons outside are quite pleasant with low humidity. One can even use the carefully preserved sweaters on some days!

December is also a time to meet friends and extended family visiting from the US. It is a time that seems much more relaxed than the rest of the year. Maybe there is a mental transition that is taking place as one year gives way to the next. It also becomes a time of reflection on the year that was, and the one to come.

This series of Tech Talks will do just that look back at the year that was, and also look ahead.

On the technology front globally, this year has seen the rise and rise of Google, and the call to arms by Microsoft. We are ready for yet another epic battle in technology. My feeling is that one doesnt have to lose for the other to win. What is clear is the shift to Internet-centric computing over broadband connections. This was also a year when the meme around Web 2.0 got stronger. Blogs, tagging, podcasts collectively classified as user-generated content is the foundation for Web 2.0 a Web built by us for us. The other defining trend is the rapid spread of mobile phones and their coming transition from talk-and-text devices to multimedia network computers.

For India, 2005 has been the year when the promise of a better tomorrow is slowly getting realised. Growth all around has been quite good. One can see the New India being built out. The best part is perhaps the positive attitude towards the future. India still has a long way to go. Weve just started on what has to be at least a decade-long programme of infrastructure building. It will still take time to call India as the New China in terms of opportunities, but the grassroots change that are happening augur well. The most important thing is to sustain the momentum. On this point, I am fairly certain that it will be irrespective of the political parties in power.

For me, 2005 was a year of three important transitions. First, Abhishek came into my life and is now nearly eight months old. Second, I started building out the elements of tomorrows world through co-founding and investing in a series of companies which collectively I like to think of as the Emergic Ecosystem. Third, in Netcore, I finally know what Id like do for the rest of my life a focus around building services for consumers and enterprises (especially, small- and medium-sized enterprises) around the Internet and mobiles with a focus on emerging markets. 2005 has been when a lot of the ideas that Ive thought and talked about have all come together.

It is an exciting time to be an entrepreneur. Every morning brings forth its own challenges and opportunities. A lot thats happening around holds immense promise for building a better tomorrow for the middle and bottom of the pyramid in the worlds emerging markets.

Tomorrow: Ajax and Web 2.0