Posts tagged Verizon
Another major cloud service is angling today to join the pantheon of public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Rackspace and Windows Azure. Verizon Terremark, a unit formed by Verizon’s $1.4 billion purchase of the Miami-based cloud vendor Terremark in 2011, is launching two new public infrastructure services today: Verizon Cloud Compute and Verizon Cloud Storage.
But what will this new public cloud offering give the world that it already doesn’t have?
Verizon Terremark’s infrastructure-as-a-service Cloud Compute and object storage Cloud Storage offerings are most analogous to Amazon Web Service’s EC2 and S3 services, respectively. But VT claims it offers some key technological and business advantages. Let’s have a look.
The Technology Argument
For starters, VT claims its networking architecture will allow for multi-tier networking, with multiple network interfaces available to any virtual machine. Applications running on the VT cloud service can have any number of tiers available, from the client-server two-tier architecture, to the more stable three-tier presentation-business-data architecture that is common for many web apps and beyond.
Using multi-tier networking can introduce a lot of stability and fault-tolerance into an application; the more parts of an application’s process that are handled by different machines on the network, the less chance there is for the application to fail. And, if you want to swap out a software component of the application, it can be done without rewriting the whole app.
But, there’s a catch. Any time an application process or data has to jump from one machine to another, it slows the process down. The more tiers introduced, the slower the process gets, as information has to potentially hop multiple times from one server to the next.
To adjust for this problematic latency, Verizon Terremark CTO John Considine told me that the topography of the network will also be laid out as an “ultra-flat network,” which means that inside each of the new public cloud’s seven regions, virtual-machine-to-virtual-machine communication will be done in one network hop, even if there are hundreds of thousands of virtual machines within a region’s virtual network.
This is a sharp departure from what Considine called the typical leaf-and-spine topography seen in many places today. That topography, he claims, leaves many network links oversubscribed and can introduce latency into the system—especially with multi-tier network architecture. ”We’ve removed the restrictions on where in a region we put a customer’s servers,” he said. “We can do this by rewriting network packets on the network layer as the packets move through the network.”
Besides the improvement in multi-tier processes, Considine argues, Verizon Cloud customers shouldn’t have to suffer the so-called “bad neighbor” effect that can adversely affect one or more virtual machines if a nearby virtual machine is hogging too many network resources. Considine says that should help increase reliability of the VMs on the network.
This kind of network flexibility is pretty much what you would expect a network provider would feature: after managing a network of its own for so long, one would expect VT to have some decent tricks up its sleeve. Such network flexibility should translate into faster multi-tier applications, if developers want to build them.
The Business Argument
From a business perspective, Verizon claims its Cloud Compute customers will have far more control over the resources they use on the cloud.
For example, in AWS’s EC2 service, the m1.small server instance offers 1.7GB of RAM. So, Considine said, a customer with a 2GB app can either try to squeeze the app into the smaller 1.7GB space, or upgrade to Amazon’s next instance, the 3.75GB m1.medium, and pay more.
By contrast, Verizon prices its services are priced by the gigabyte and the gigahertz. Servers, then, can be better sized to a customer’s actual need, Considine said.
Verizon has also simplified pricing by eliminating, for instance, charges per input/output of memory transferred.
Simplified pricing would be a cool part of this new cloud service; given that some customers actually attend seminars to learn just how to read a bill from AWS, simplicity would be a welcome breath of fresh air.
The Bottom Line
U.S. customers will get the most access right now, with four available cloud regions. The EMEA will have two available cloud regions, and another cloud region in Brazil. The APEC region will see availability of Verizon Terremark cloud services in 2014, Considine said.
If these cloud services deliver what they promise, Verizon Terremark could shake up the public cloud market. The company is targeting enterprise customers (naturally), but it is also driving towards medium-sized and government clients as well—the latter being a direct square-off with AWS’s recent claim staking of the government sector this summer.
Lots of companies have tried to knock AWS off the top of the public-cloud heap, but Verizon Terremark might have a better chance than most. Unlike AWS and all of the other cloud competitors, VT controls a network, which may give it an advantage until the other services can catch up.
Image courtesy of Wikimapia
View full post on ReadWrite
Verizon is laying claim to its name. The US phone company is spending $130 billion to buy the 45 percent of Verizon Wireless it didn’t already own from Vodafone, its longtime British partner.
It’s a high price—$59 billion in cash, the rest in stock, and almost as much as Verizon itself is worth. That in itself suggests that the future of telecom is in wireless, since the market doesn’t seem to attribute much value to Verizon’s traditional wired phone business.
The Very Local Phone Business
It also highlights how, in a rapidly globalizing age, the wireless business remains oddly local. Vodafone ultimately withdrew from the joint venture because Verizon retained control over it. While Vodafone’s been able to spread in Europe and emerging markets, its attempts to go into the United States and Japan foundered. Verizon Wireless threw off a lot of cash for Vodafone, but did little for it strategically.
Verizon, meanwhile, gets control over an American wireless business. It is trying to enter the Canadian wireless market, drawing heavy criticism from the established players there.
Consumers and developers, meanwhile, care less and less about the brand of the network their apps run on, and more about who makes the phone and who runs the app store. Apple, Samsung, and Nokia run global device businesses from California, South Korea, and Finland. And American companies—Apple, Google, and Microsoft—run the marketplaces that let app developers set up shop instantly in dozens of countries at once.
Single-country telecom businesses, the legacies of monopolies either heavily regulated or owned by national governments, seem archaic in this context.
Stop Branding, Start Building
But we still need telecommunications infrastructure. Every wireless connection must hit the wires at some point; the legacy fiber-optic backbones of AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, once meant to link phones plugged into walls with copper lines, turn out to be very good at carrying wireless traffic, too. And the wireless data they transmit is increasingly just more bits in the sea of Internet traffic.
To the extent that they must remain local, Verizon and the other legacy carriers should keep building on this infrastructure to accommodate the ever-growing demand for data. That should be their presence in the marketplace: the strength, resilience, and reliability of their network, not the particular lineup of devices they have.
A particularly silly practice that they should end is the branding of devices with the carrier’s name. Remember the Verizon Droid? Incredibly, Motorola still plays along and makes these smartphones for Verizon. Do you buy the new Moto X or the Verizon Droid Maxx? Well, if you think Verizon is great at picking smartphone software for you, you might opt for the latter. Otherwise, there’s not much difference.
All-In On The Internet
The consolidation of Verizon and Verizon Wireless should help with another move Verizon has been making: Replacing copper lines with wireless connections. In developing countries, the ability to leapfrog to high-speed wireless broadband, skipping old copper infrastructure, is seen as a positive. But in the United States, Verizon’s plans to abandon its old wired networks in some areas have proven controversial—particularly in Fire Island, New York, where Verizon is opting not to replace hurricane-damaged wiring.
The universality of the old Bell network was a great thing in the 20th century. But in the 21st century, data wants to be fast, wireless, and ubiquitous, and it’s hard to see how copper fits.
Verizon will be cash-constrained for a while as it pays down debt from buying out Vodafone. Something will likely have to go—and it’s likely copper lines. Good riddance.
Photo by Shutterstock
View full post on ReadWrite
In a very brief press event in New York today, Verizon has showcased the next line of Motorola’s Droid-branded phones: the Mini, the Maxx, and the Ultra.
All of the new Droid devices, which will be replacing the current RAZR models, will feature a Kevlar, unibody design, which will give them a thinner look and lighter feel.
Each device has its own market niche, at least as far as Verizon is concerned. According to Jeff Dietel Verizon’s VP of Wireless Devices, the Droid Ultra “is all about thin,” and the Droid Mini will be “a compact design.” The Maxx is “all about battery life,” and the specs are impressive if they perform in real-life: the Droid Maxx will have 8% more battery life than than its RAZR Maxx predecessor—up to 48 hours of power.
While the camera hype on the new devices was nowhere near as high on as the recent Lumia announcements from Nokia, the phones will have new on-board software like Quick Capture to speed up picture taking and Droid Zap, which will enable users to share photos with nearby friends using gestures.
Pre-ordering can start today. The Droid Mini will run $99, the Ultra $199 and the Maxx $299. All three of the devices will hit the shelves on August 20th.
View full post on ReadWrite
The blanket order requires only that the logs of the calls be handed over to the intelligence agency, and not the actual content of calls. But the order requires Verizon Business Network Services to turn over all records on “an ongoing daily basis.” It is not known if other Verizon customers, such as residential users, or customers from other US carriers are affected by similar, unknown, court orders.
View full post on ReadWrite
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has posted its annual report on which Internet vendors do the most to help protect their users’s private information. And this year’s two best protectors by the EFF’s definition? Twitter and Internet Service Provider Sonic.net.
Each of these two vendors scored well within the EFF’s six criteria used to judge online services in the organization’s Who Has Your Back? 2013 report posted today.
For the EFF, the most privacy-oriented companies should comply with these policies:
- Requiring a Warrant for Content
- Telling Users About Government Data Requests
- Publishing Transparency Reports
- Publishing Law Enforcement Guidelines
- Fighting for Users’ Privacy in Court
- Fighting for Users’ Privacy in Congress
Each rated company gets a star when it does well with one of these criteria. Twitter and Sonic.net nailed it with six stars. LinkedIn, Dropbox and storage service SpiderOak received five stars, having each missed the fighting for users’ privacy in court category.
The worst performers in the EFF’s round-up of privacy advocacy? Social media platform MySpace and cellular carrier Verizon, which were awarded no stars at all. Apple, AT&T and Yahoo, only received one start apiece, with the latter getting the award for pushing back in the courts and the other two companies achieving the fighting for users’ privacy in Congress star.
Overall, the EFF thinks that things are getting better among these vendors that deal with so much user data.
“We’re happy to report that several of the companies included in last year’s report have significantly improved their practices and policies concerning government access to user data,” the organization reported, “Comcast, Google, SpiderOak, and Twitter earned two new stars this year while Microsoft earned three new stars. Foursquare went from zero stars in 2012 to four in 2013.”
The report might seem a bit disjointed in its approach, lumping a lot of companies in together with the only common thread being the handling of user data. Users’ expectations on a social network like Facebook is much different than privacy concerns on Verizon or Amazon.
But this is a report about government overreach, not expectations of privacy. The government may be able to see your data on your Facebook page, but to use it in a trial or investigation, they should still use a warrant, the EFF is arguing. Users may be surprised to see so many large data handlers that don’t even have that basic requirement.
Things are getting better, but there is still a long way to go.
View full post on ReadWrite
What cable cutters? If Verizon Communications latest quarterly earning are any indication, over-the-wire services have little to worry about in the near future.
Verizon’s wireline FiOS revenue for pay TV and Internet leaped 15.1% higher in the prior quarter, up to $2.6 billion. That figure is especially telling, given that Verizon FiOS hasn’t expanded into any new markets lately. Verizon’s pay-TV service seems to be figuring out how to get more customers out of the markets it’s already in, probably to the detriment of other cable and satellite providers in the same markets.
“FiOS continues to make inroads in the internet and video markets taking away share from the cable companies,” Roger Entner, Lead Analyst and Founder of Recon Analytics commented.
All told, FiOS added 169,000 new customers to its TV plans, and 188,000 new Internet customers. The lack of decline in users broadly demonstrates that there still hasn’t been a mass “switch-off” from pay TV providers, as these businesses are still showing signs of growth.
Verizon did pretty well in the wireless side of its business, too, pulling in $19.5 billion in revenue, up 6.8% from the first quarter of 2012. The company also noted that per-account revenue went up 6.9% from this time last year, a sure indicator that more customers were signing up for those hefty data plans.
They’ll need those data plans, too – for the second straight quarter the iPhone made up more than 50% of smartphone sales, clocking in at 55.5%. Since smartphones made up for 61% of contract user sales that means 33.9% of all phones sold to Verizon Wireless contract users were iPhones.
The story of Verizon’s first quarter earnings is very much one of in-market attrition – they are building revenue by offering plans and services that customers like, and still increase Verizon’s bottom line.
“Verizon is firing on all cylinders. In an increasingly saturated market, the company is accelerating subscriber, revenue and profit growth. The ShareEverything plan is being received enthusiastically by consumers,” Entner added.
The growth of smartphone sales over feature phones is something businesses should continue to note as well, since it effectively means the target audience for reaching mobile users is still getting bigger, just like everyone predicted.
It’s a perfect circle, in a way, as more smartphone customers participate in commerce and social interaction with their devices, Verizon and its competitors will continue to see smartphone growth… which will in turn spark the availability of more commercial services. Today’s earning report is part of the turning of this mobile commerce wheel, which shows no signs of slowing.
Coupled with the growth of its wireline FiOS service, Verizon is sitting pretty in the marketplace now.
View full post on ReadWrite
We will soon be witness to the death of 3G. At least, we will from Verizon.
Speaking at the Deutsche Bank Media, Internet and Telecom conference, Verizon chief financial officer Fran Shammo said that Verizon could start phasing out its 3G CDMA chips by the beginning of 2014. The goal, ultimately, will be to lower subsidies that carriers pay to smartphone manufacturers to carry new devices.
As it stands in the United States, the big carriers pay full price for smartphones like the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S 3 then retail them at a reduced cost tied to two-year contracts. This subsidy costs the carriers a lot of money up front and is a drain on their quarter-to-quarter revenue. The carriers end up ahead if a user stays for the life of the contract (or pays an early termination fee), but anything a company like Verizon can do to lower its subsidy prices is good for its bottom line.
“Then if you look out into late 2014 then you start to think of things like, okay, so now I can start to take the CDMA chip out of the phone and just have a pure LTE handset. That also starts to reduce subsidies. So over the next two to three years I think we will start to see subsidies come down,” said Shammo, according to a transcript of the interview from Thomson Reuters (PDF).
What is stopping Verizon from phasing out its 3G CDMA network and moving to LTE permanently now? The answer lays with an overlooked aspect of smartphones that users tend to forget exists: voice.
The Coming Of Voice Over LTE
As it stands now, smartphones running LTE cannot make calls over the 4G network. LTE is a big, fat data pipe and it is indeed very fast. Yes, you can use some IP-based services to make calls (Skype, for instance), but the traditional phone call is not available on the newest wireless standard.
The challenge is that LTE is an IP-based system (akin to Wi-Fi) and does not handle traditional voice. When you make a call with your 4G LTE Verizon phone, you are actually still using the 3G network. Most people do not know or care how that works, but it forces companies like Verizon to keep expensive chipsets in their smartphones to handle voice calls.
Verizon’s CDMA network is also why devices like the iPhone 5 cannot simultaneously make calls and browse the Web. The standard just does not allow it.
This will change when Voice Over LTE (VoLTE) is available, likely near the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014.
“So I am a believer that over the next two to three years subsidies will start to decrease just because of the ecosystem. Then, for us, I think – for Verizon Wireless one other important ingredient for us is obviously we are investing in all this LTE technology. We will ultimately get to Voice Over LTE, probably end of this year, beginning of next year,” said Shammo.
What Does It Mean For You?
More than any other industry, the mobile operators play a very fluid game of ARPU – average revenue per user. As we have seen in the past, the supposed “deals” we have seen from the carriers are really just rearranging how the language and structure of contracts are made. For instance, with Verizon’s “Share Everything” plan, you are going to pay basically the same as you were under the previous plan for data plus a couple extra dollars per device you add. It remains to be seen if Verizon will actually pass on savings from lower subsidies to consumers buying devices.
So, Verizon cutting out CDMA in the next year for the sake of lower subsidies is not likely to lower your own data bill. If there is anything that consumers can count on it will be that companies like Verizon will always be looking for ways to squeeze the ARPU out of them.
View full post on ReadWrite
In a note to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Verizon Wireless noted yesterday that it sold 9.8 million smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2012. In the brief release, Verizon noted that the total smartphone sales included, “a higher mix of Apple smartphones.”
Unlike its top rival AT&T (which yesterday said it had sold in excess of 10 million smartphones last quarter including record numbers of iPhone and Android devices), Verizon has shown more historical balance between the two dominant smartphone operating systems. In the third quarter of 2012, Verizon sold 3.1 million iPhones out of 6.8 million total smartphones, good for 45.5%. Verizon did not give a total on how many iPhones it sold in its SEC note for this last quarter, but expect the number to be closer to a 50-50 split with Android.
iPhone’s Magic Powers
The question to be asked is why would Verizon mention iPhone channel sales in its SEC note at all? Well, right or wrong, the carriers (and hence, investors) tend to think of iPhone owners as more lucrative consumers. iPhone owners tend to be loyal, thus giving carriers guidance for how many net postpaid subscribers they will have years down the line. So, if I am a carrier, I want to show investors that I have a large amount of people using Apple products as a sign of the health of my business.
As the rest of the fourth quarter smartphone sales from the top carriers in the United States come in, we are once again likely to see that Apple dominates the top of the American smartphone market. In Q3 2012, Apple controlled about 58.1% of U.S. smartphone sales for the three largest carriers (AT&T, Sprint and Verizon). Of those three, AT&T provides the biggest cushion for Apple, taking between 70%-80% of its total smartphone sales. As noted yesterday, AT&T likely sold more than 7.6 million smartphones last quarter. If Apple has a stronger 4Q with Verizon, the iPhone may break the 60% mark for control of U.S. marketshare among the big three.
Research analytics firm comScore notes that Android still controls the overall U.S. smartphone market. According to comScore Mobile Lens, Android U.S. subscribers grew 1.1% between Aug. 2012 and Nov. 2012 to a total of 53.7%. Apple grew 0.7% in that same period to 35% of U.S. subscribers.
View full post on ReadWrite
Last week, a friend of mine called from the Verizon store. His girlfriend was looking for a new smartphone and wanted my opinion on what she should get. The choices were the iPhone 5, the Samsung Galaxy S III and, “something from HTC.”
I cringed. HTC has not had a desirable device on Verizon for a long time. The option presented was the Rezound, the successor to the flawed Thunderbolt and already a year old. When asked if she should consider the Rezound, my response was, “oh god, no.”
Verizon is the largest cellular carrier in the United States – and the one that sells the highest proportion of Android devices. The fact that HTC has had nothing worth worth buying on the carrier for basically all of 2012 has been a major problem for HTC.
The Droid Incredible 4G LTE was an also-ran device for HTC on Verizon, a reprise of a past hit updated for 4G LTE. Verizon passed on HTC’s flagship One series – it went to AT&T. Sprint remodeled the One X to be the EVO 4G LTE. Verizon stuck with its aging HTC models even as it released new devices from the likes of Motorola and Samsung.
About Time For A New HTC Phone
On Tuesday, HTC finally announced a new top-of-the-line smartphone, exclusive to Verizon. The Droid DNA is a 5-inch Android 4.1 Jelly Bean device that HTC dubs as “the ultimate smartphone.” It’s screen packs a pixel per inch rate of 440 (quite a bit higher than the iPhone’s 326 ppi), an 8 megapixel camera, Beats Audio with a 2.55 volt headset amplifier, 2020 mAh battery and a 1.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor. The Droid DNA will run HTC’s Sense 4 Android skin on top of Jelly Bean. It will be available for $199 on a two-year contract from Verizon starting Nov. 21.
The 5-inch screen may be a touch excessive for some, but otherwise the DNA is everything an Android fan might want from a smartphone. Whether or not it lives up to HTC’s marketing blather, “the ultimate smartphone” is indeed quality competitor on Verizon.
That’s critical for a comany whose numbers have been abysmal over the last two quarters. HTC’s revenue in the third quarter was 23% down from the second quarter and 48% down from Q3 2011. The manufacturer has not gained traction with the One X or the Evo 4G LTE, and the lack of a decent option on Verizon has been even more damning. The most lucrative market of Android users in the U.S. has been essentially lost to HTC for the better part of 12 months.
Will the Droid DNA be enough to reverse HTC’s downward trend? Not entirely.
This holiday shopping season has more great mobile devices to choose from than ever before. But expanding its distribution channels with high quality devices has to be one of HTC’s first priorities as it begins climbing back towards the top of the smartphone ladder. The Droid DNA is a good step in that direction.
View full post on ReadWrite
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Apple’s newest iPhone finally brings 4G LTE to the device, a long awaited transition, but customers of Sprint and Verizon find themselves in a familiar situation. The iPhone 5 on both carriers will not allow simultaneous voice calls and data transmission, a feature AT&T long has lorded over its rivals. A combination of technology restraints and design decisions by Apple once again leave Sprint and Verizon customers without a feature that, theoretically, should be very simple.
Consumers want technology to work. They do not much care how. But a quick explanation of LTE, as simplified as possible, informs why the iPhone 5 on Sprint and Verizon does allow simultaneous voice and data usage.
On its most basic level, LTE is a wireless standard designed to send data from one point to another. It functions on an Internet Protocol-based standard that is more akin to Wi-Fi than traditional cellular service. LTE, for the most part, does not yet have a dedicated speech channel for voice calls, as “2G” and “3G” do. Companies are working on the function, known as Voice Over LTE, (VoLTE), but it is very limited and not ready for public consumption.
So how can many LTE phones, including Samsung LTE smartphones on Sprint and Verizon, support simultaneous voice and data? There are two reasons for this.
AT&T and T-Mobile operate on a standard called Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). Sprint and Verizon’s networks are built on a different standard known as Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). LTE is a natural extension of GSM. When smartphone manufacturers develop phones for various carriers, they decide what types of antennas to use based on the wavelength a carrier uses to transmit its signal, commonly referred to as a spectrum band. LTE runs on multiple bands, requiring multiple antennas. For AT&T, this is not a problem. The same architecture that supports its GSM-based voice function can also access data on LTE bands. For CDMA, a third antenna is necessary to handle this function.
Consequently, when you make a call on your 4G LTE smartphone, your voice is not actually transmitted via LTE but rather a 3G network. The phone switches from the LTE band to the 3G band. On AT&T this requires two antennas. For Sprint and Verizon, it would require three to support the “switchback” to the CDMA-based 3G network.
“This quite literally means you drop from 4G LTE to 3G WCDMA (where voice and data are already multiplexed) for the call, then hand back up to LTE when you’re finished,” wrote Brian Klug, senior editor of smartphones at AnandTech. “This is the way that voice works at the moment for all GSM/WCDMA carriers, and on all those handsets with LTE to date,”
Samsung can support simultaneous voice and data on LTE smartphones because they decided to implement that third antenna. Apple did not. According to reports, the motivation for this was to not only create a very thin smartphone, but to simplify manufacturing so Apple can make as few unique versions of the iPhone as possible while still hitting as many LTE-capable markets as possible. As reported by Klug, according to FCC documents, two unique versions of the iPhone 5 exist that are nearly identical except for the types of antennas they include. To support simultaneous voice and data on Sprint and Verizon, Apple would have had to make a third unique version. Doing so would complicate the manufacturing process and cut into Apple’s profit margin, something the iPhone maker is very protective of.
In the end, the iPhone 5′s functionality is motivated by profit. Sprint and Verizon customers are still going to buy the iPhone 5, with or without simultaneous voice and data. The are used to doing without it, so it does not behoove Apple to change its design to achieve a marginal result. Essentially, for Apple it is more headache than it is worth.
The only way it will change, outside of a drastic change of course in Apple’s design and manufacturing approach, is when VoLTE becomes ready for public use, eliminating the need to fallback to 3G networks for voice capabilities. As it stands, VoLTE is not expected to be ready for widespread use until 2015-16.
View full post on ReadWriteWeb