Verizon’s Bets Big on Fiber-optics

April 22, 2007 at 6:44 pm | Posted in Assignment | 11 Comments

The Future of Landline Telecom – Verizon’s $18 Billion Bet on Fiber-optics 

It’s only been 4 years since the CEO of Verizon, Ivan Seidenberg, said that Verizon was committed to creating the network of the future and less than 3 since initial construction began in
Keller, Texas.  To many people Verizon is a wireless company but, historically speaking, it has its roots in the twisted copper pair of wires that through most of the 20th century was the principal means to make voice calls.  About 20 years ago, wireless began to emerge as the next technology to be embraced for making voice calls due to its mobility capability for consumers.

In 2000 when Verizon and Verizon Wireless were created, the handwriting already was on the wall as new wireless technologies – including the nascent wi-fi that carries data –  began to replace the existing landline phone.  It also wasn’t long after that when VoIP and cable phone emerged as additional alternatives to the landline phone.  At the same time, consumers and marketers began to find a nexus in so-called ‘bundles’ for services.  Initially, this included steep drops in the price of long-distance service and broadband service.  Within the past 5 years, TV service and wireless service have been added to this picture.

So, what does this mean to Verizon and to traditional telephone companies?

  • Line loss that is accelerating due to competition and the fact that the next generation of consumers doesn’t use a landline voice phone.
  • The need to bundle service packages that include both broadband and video, particularly as there is a migration to digital and high definition TV.
  • Providing broadband-only options that do not include voice service for those who want it or price voice service low enough to compete with VoIP.

Since the company began its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) build in 2004 it has now crisscrossed a large swath of states and passed more than 7 million homes to date with an expected 18 million or more to be passed by the end of 2010 at a net cost of $18 billion.

What value does this fiber-optic network have for the consumer?

  • A fiber-optic connection directly to the home that offers exceptionally fast download and upload  broadband speeds starting at 5mbps/2mbps and capable of virtually unlimited speeds in the future.
  • Unparalleled video/TV display, channel lineup and widgets.
  • A competitive price point to existing cable company service bundles

PROPOSED WEBSITE LAYOUT

First Page  Changing consumer behavior (consumer photos – wireless, wi-fi) 

Verizon’s Challenge –

Washington
State (landline loss graph)

FTTP photo (fiber-optic cable lit up)

Second Page 

Verizon executive comments (photo)

Employees at work  (photo)

TV customer comment (photo)

Broadband customer – probably a gamer – comment (photo)

Third Page 

FiOS capabilities video 

Service price/comparison graph

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Visual Design Methods for Interactive Apps

April 21, 2007 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Reading | 2 Comments

Vanderdonckt’s reading is filled with numerous considerations for website development – all ultimately geared to usability.  The guidelines are simply there for the reader to absorb and consider when displaying information on the Web.

Given that he holds degrees in mathematics and computer science I am reminded of TC 502 (now supplanted by TC 511) – a graduate course I took more than two years ago here.  In that course, the focus was how the user interacts with both text and visual displays.  There the focus was on cognitive psychology and how the mind responds to structure through text and visuals. 

While there may be traditional and non-traditional audiences as noted by Vanderdonckt, there is enough research on the topic of visual design to suggest that unity, from the designer’s perspective, implies consistency and offers the predictability a user expects.  Our exercise last week reviewing different websites brought that home.

As we looked at Sideways, Grey’s Anatomy and IMDB, we all reached varying conclusions, depending on our familiarity with the site or the subject matter.  There was dead space, clutter and distraction IMO on different sites and, perhaps, a difference in audience – i.e., traditional v. non-traditional in Vanderdonckt’s terms, but when consistency and predictability are lacking for a user, the purpose of the site can be lost.  I guess we’re back to journalistic style – if you can’t capture the attention of the reader with the headline, maybe photo and cutline, and the first few sentences, the reader moves on.

Selecting the right visual objects, the layout and the purpose of the site are the ultimate goal of a web designer – to entice those who either seek out or happen upon a site to spend more time and learn about the content.

Questions:

1. If dissociation is a visual technique for web design, doesn’t it ultimately rely on the user’s ability to associate the various visual elements to create comprehension, and therefore, unity of design is the overriding consideration?

2. Should visual patterns within a site reflect the logic of the site since users attach meaning to the visual patterns they detect?

3.  What can we say about the layout design for the best cheeseburgers?  Yes, Dick’s is on the list. . .

Content Management

April 17, 2007 at 10:28 am | Posted in Reading | 1 Comment

I’m late with this due to travel. . .  Met an interesting guy as part of a technology tour at Galileo High School in San Francisco yesterday.  More on that in another post.

Like Barrie, I hope that the article by Megan Santosus in CIO was the correct one.  It brought home the absolute value of an automated content management system in spades.  Imagine that BCBSRI is updating 3,000 articles monthly from the renowned Mayo Clinic alone!

The salient point of the article is that the various business units take more responsibility for their content and the process of publishing.  Through the use of ECM, they are able to turn around new or revised content more quickly; at the sametime the IT staff fills more of a role as guide-on-the-side or helping to troubleshoot any hardware or software interface issues.

More and more, business is putting the tools of communication management in the hands of those closest to the topic, thus eliminating more of the “information passing” role that is found in traditionally hierarchical organizations.

Looking at “Manage, Don’t Mangle. . .,”  I drilled down on the HBO DAM process and found that they use Interwoven software just like BCBSRI does for management, though in a different fashion – one for content generators and one for consumers of content; however, to the multi-point suggestions made by Coursey, by-and-large they’re good guidance.  The notion that more and more information is free, of course, hits the nail on the head.

However, I’m not certain that I agree paid content is more difficult to search. . .  I currently have an annual online subscription to Consumer Reports and I find it very easy to search and locate articles/content.  On the other hand, the Verizon corporate intranet leaves something to be desired in that arena, but that’s a different product than a paid internet-based content system.

I also like the point about ‘secret shoppers’ – those who work in your company and go to your website and  pretend to be users or hiring or asking others who do this to visit your site and give feedback.  It is so easy to overlook the limitations of your site just like in writing – you rewrite something so many times that you are blind to whether it ultimately says what you wanted it to say in the first place.  A fresh pair of eyes always helps you refine your message! 

Science Net Links – Antibiotic Attack!

April 10, 2007 at 8:12 pm | Posted in Assignment | Leave a comment

This is a fun game for kids that was put together through the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.  Science Networks has Antibiotic Attack for 3rd through 5th graders – one of many tools for teachers in the classroom brought to you by Thinkfinity.

Entertainment Tonight

April 10, 2007 at 7:56 pm | Posted in Assignment | 1 Comment

Each of the entertainment sites has its merits and its drawbacks.

 IMDB

I’ve been here a few times before and find it has a good, simple database, plenty of options for interaction via reader comments and links to see slide shows and/or trailers for many movies.  Generally simple enough to order a copy if interested, too.

Didn’t like the advertising that flashes all over the place, limited movie descriptions/plot lines.

SIDEWAYS

Very cleverly done and built on icons with Flash animation.  User pretty much relies on limited text and visuals to get where you’re going.  Interesting links to various related sites and good opportunity to get to reviews and related sites.

It was a little to gimmicky in terms of the animation and on wi-fi, Flash takes more time to load. . . found on a couple of occasions that I was unable to get a specific menu icon to open up along the top when I was at a location.

GREY’S ANATOMY

Excellent site with numerous animated links. . . character/actor/bio quite good.  Relies heavily on visual cues and moves quickly, effortlessly – much better than Sideways site.  Highly interactive in that it offers a character quiz – “Who are you most like?”

 Although there is some clutter on this site, it’s easy to navigate – always have a sense of where you are and where you’ve been. . . blogability is great.  A highly entertaining site as you’d expect.  Advertising is distracting, but not to the same degree as IMDB.

Can You Hear Me Now?

April 9, 2007 at 4:40 pm | Posted in Proposal | 7 Comments

It’s difficult to be decisive some days when there are so many appealing possibilities for an individual project, but I’ve decided to stay close to home.  Yes, it’s the telecom landscape that I will profile for my proposal.

I have mentally modified this so that I can concentrate on what is closest at hand for me. . . the fiber-optic landline network that we are building on the Eastside and Snohomish County (as well as elsewhere in the country).  This is a more manageable look at change and whither the network of the future goes. The wireless element will only be touched upon.

The development of this infrastructure that will reach close to 20 million homes nationwide by the end of 2010 is a major investment in the future and provides virtually unlimited capacity for the continued evolutionary thrust of digital media.  In fact yesterday I was called by one of the owners of GearLive who is planning to move from Seattle to a Verizon fiber-optic network area because 768K upload of files to his server in Texas just ain’t gettin’ it. . . To the degree that bandwidth is the name, all-fiber-optic networks will be the game. . .

The rapidly changing environment is throwing everyone for a loop on whither it shall go. . . Mobility is a principal driver thanks to continuing technological innovation, but policy at national, state and local levels is influencing the long-term outcome.

There is continuing consolidation, spectrum disposition and acquisition, consumer confusion and expectation, new players with technologies that live outside existing policies and new policies for existing technologies.

What is clear is the watershed shift that is occuring on multiple fronts:   Long-distance competition, the initial point of reference in breaking up AT&T almost 25 years ago, has almost disappeared as a discrete service .  Wireless communications has grown exponentially from its early days 20 years ago; IP technology has taken the lead in the past 5 years, making a PC become that holy grail of the ‘one device’ that will do it all – process data, optimize searches, communicate, etc.

Wi-fi and its sister technology, Wi-Max, are coming into play to distribute easily accessible broadband in American cities and even into the heartland as rural consumers raise a ruckus about the digital divide. . . The cable companies, power companies, landline phone companies, wireless companies and the silicon community are all making their way into our communications needs and expectations.

I hope to provide enough background to set the stage for the future of communications, even as we experience it now.  I will use industry, consumer and related research sources to create a sense of the  evanescent nature of what – not so many years ago – was a fixed network for talking which, presumably, will continue to be an importat form of communication. 

However, with the many variations on a theme here that we experience whether we IM, e-mail, text, chat or talk, the future may be something that we can’t even see today, though, like the landline telephone, predicated on a previous technology.

Reading Demands Rereading

April 9, 2007 at 1:57 pm | Posted in Reading | 1 Comment

 NOTE:  Luckily I read this yesterday and put a few notes in here for the blog.  Today the server is wreaking havoc with all attempts to get into e-reserve.  Hope this makes some sense to you. . .

 This read brought some Greek into my vocabulary – understanding the patterns of hypertext, like some literature, isn’t intuitive.  When we wander off into various permutations of hypertext and how it may function, a brave new world is opened.  I think Bernstein may be arguing that the various patterns for hypertext links he describes are beyond the linear text of literature; however, the various forms that literature or other art forms – e.g., movies like Memento  – take aren’t that far afield from the capabilities of hypertext.

The idea of robotic hypertext is intriguing – the notion that the logic of the hypertext trumps the logic of the reader.  A reminder to us that in any website design it is the ‘logic’ of the user that trumps that of hypertext – otherwise the information doesn’t serve its intended purpose.

I think there’s some truth and value to considering Neighborhoods as laid out by Bernstein.  His example of the Musee d’Orsay helps bring home how a site’s visual coherence and reliance on a certain minimal visual structure, can continue to keep the user oriented in the site despite any possible disparate elements on subsites/pages.  It brings me back to the basic statement that form follows function(ality) but with Bernstein, it’s not clear to me that this is the underlying insight or approach he’s sharing.

 Like Luke, I’m looking forward to discussion in class on this.  It’s a little too dense for me to get in a single reading.  Next time I’ll download it.

Paper Tigers 紙老虎

April 6, 2007 at 2:06 pm | Posted in Assignment | 8 Comments

There are many things I considered. . . Seattle has a host of possibililties, but I’ve decided to leave some of that off the table here.

During the course of the next few weeks the die should be cast for the future of the two Seattle daily newspapers, the Seattle Times and Post-Intelligencer.  This equals change for both Seattle and, likely, media ownership.  It seems to me a story worth talking about and, of course, researching. . .

For our Taiwanese students, I hope this will help you understand English a little better.  See:  The Die Is Cast

Readability

April 3, 2007 at 6:31 pm | Posted in Assignment | 1 Comment

This is a brief information piece on my local school district website.  It comes out at 11.4 grade level.

Summer school info

This AP story about high speed wireless internet in Mexico City came out at grade 13. 8.

 And this from Charles Schwab on mutual founds came up to grade level 12.5

Genre Creator!

April 2, 2007 at 6:47 am | Posted in Assignment | 1 Comment

There’s no question that viral video – particularly political satire – rings my bell.  Here is an example of what makes me laugh and cry.  Karl Rove mashed up to tell a story that is visually appealing and quick.  This genre of storytelling is the wave of the future, IMO.  If you can’t visually edit, then you can’t tell your story!

Here’s another way to tell the video story . . . Perhaps more formal, more talking-headish.  Not a VIRAL video, but a way to supplement what you read and I wonder if it’s beyond the inverted pyramid – I mean the lead catches your attention, but it isn’ the focus of the story.  And for all of these, there’s a link to a related story.  The point here simply being that READING isn’t always what will draw your interest.  BUT, a visual may lead you on to read.

Finally, there are the quick organized ‘chunks’ brought to us via the Tech Traks blog in the Seattle Times.  It’s readable – and personable, because all of the writers have photos and bios.  It is personalized in the sense that I feel I know who I’m dealing with, the credibility of their business – the Times and because I can easily reach them by post, e-mail or phone.

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