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Verizon to Randomly Punish Heavy Data Users

Apparently, Verizon is going to begin throttling the data speeds of the top 5% of heaviest data users.  While I am sympathetic to the need to manage capacity on their network, this approach is just wrong on so many levels.

  • Most importantly, you have no knowledge or ability to control your situation.  If they said “over 500 gigabytes will get you penalized” (and gave you tools to understand your consumption; for now, this requires third party tools), I would be somewhat sympathetic (though probably not happy).  Now, however, you only know you’re offending after the fact.
  • This also creates a situation whereby if we all start conserving data access, to avoid being in the top 5%, we’ll reduce data usage and yet the top 5% will still get penalized.
  • I think Verizon is going after the wrong party.  I’m guessing the biggest issues are with high-bandwidth consumption sources like streaming video.  Hmmm…like their Vcast video service.  So, basically they’re selling you access to video services (for which you pay a premium) and then when you actually use the service, they say you’re doing it too much and cutting your service.  I don’t pay for any Verizon premium (high bandwidth) services like their GPS solution or their video packages but if I did, I’d be screaming bloody murder.  (How much do you bet that under the covers they’re actually going to exempt their own services from counting towards bandwidth consumption?  Next to scream, then:  Netflix.)

If Verizon has a data capacity issue, here’s how I would solve it:

  • Set pre-defined limits so that we know the playing field.
  • Give us tools so that we know when we’re approaching those limits and, more importantly, what our offending apps are.  I don’t know which of my apps are bandwidth hogs under the covers.
  • Figure out how to throttle speeds selectively.  If you throttle my low-bandwidth applications, like Foursquare check-ins or text emails, I probably won’t even notice the difference.  For me, no notice.  For you in aggregate, maybe enough of a difference that you don’t have to pursue these other painful approaches.

Congratulations!  You’ve bought a smartphone.  You paid big for the phone.  You pay big for the data package.  Now go in the corner.  You actually use all of the things we sold you.  Who told you to listen to us?!

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IBM: Officially No Longer the Bellwether

It used to be that IBM was the bellwether for the technology industry.  As went IBM, so went the industry.  Of course, for the early years of my involvement in technology, IBM was the technology industry, or a sufficiently large percentage of it that this was almost a tautological statement.  IBM had its fingers in everything.  Literally everything.

No longer is any of this true.  IBM isn’t in everything.  For us old-timers, it’s still hard to think of IBM as first and foremost a services company but that’s clearly what it is.  For my career, November of 1981 was a watershed moment, when IBM introduced its original PC.  I spent much of the the next 20+ years of my life chronicling the evolution and revolution that IBM fomented with that introduction.  But that’s not the IBM of today.  They long ago lost the standards-bearing battle in the industry they effectively launched and today don’t even make PCs any more.

What causes me to reflect on this is IBM’s remarkably strong earnings announcement of yesterday.  Does their strength bode well for anyone else in the industry or has IBM in fact become a leading negative indicator?  IBM’s strength is due to a few factors:

  • Increased outsourcing, driven by staff reductions and demand for much greater flexibility.
  • The early impact of the Satyam affair and subsequent deep questions about the Indian outsourcing industry overall.  Already the economy was driving consideration of “near-sourcing” and IBM was starting to benefit from that.  The Indian affair, while late in the quarter, only added to the IBM momentum and is certainly a factor in their rosy outlook.
  • Even mainframes performed well, as customers look to significantly consolidate their hardware expenditures on more heavily utilized machinery.  While virtualization is likely to be the biggest winner in this space, better leveraging the installed base, IBM showed that there’s at least some strength in new sales of a more mature solution.

This is all happening against the following backdrop:

Clearly, IBM is no longer the tech bellwether.  I’m not prepared to call them a negative indicator because I can contemplate scenarios under which IBM performs well even while the sector recovers broadly.  But don’t look to IBM for hints where technology is going.  For better (now) or worse, IBM is off on a different trajectory.  It used to be said that “as goes GM, so goes America.”  Let’s hope not as the announcement came today that for the first time in over 80 years, GM did not sell the most cars in the world — Toyota did.  So too it used to be the maxim that “as goes IBM, so goes technology.”  No longer, and never again.

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