What’s Next on the Grid (Healthcare Edition)

There is a lot of activity in the Smart Grid space these days, particularly in the buildout of the infrastructure necessary to get going on at the least the initial vision of the Smart Grid whereby utilities will monitor home and commercial building energy consumption to optimize the generation and distribution of energy during times less stressful on the same generation sources, distribution networks, and ultimately pocketbooks of those purchasing the energy. However what is beyond the infrastructure and what are truly new services that can overlay or be completely new experiences for the end users and monetization opportunities for the service providers, which may include the utilities but not be exclusive to them? I argue that these new services need to be thought of in terms of the target “consumers” of the services and new lifestyle attributes created from these services. As the first in the What’s Next on the Grid series, this article will discuss at a high level how Healthcare is one of these many new services and lifestyle impacts that the Smart Grid++ will create.

What do Healthcare and the Smart Grid have in relation to each other, apart from the fact that the same end consumers of the Smart Grid services are all human beings (Ed.: machine-to-machine applications on the grid notwithstanding) that need to lead healthy lives? At first glance, pretty much nothing in common. However let’s look at a few characteristics that the two have in common.

  1. Both use wireless technologies. In Smart Grid, AMI is implementing Zigbee and Home Area Networks (HANs) are implementing several wireless technologies such as WiFi. In Healthcare, hospitals and clinics are implementing WiFi for voice and data communications (and other proprietary wireless) and the Healthcare vertical has been an early adopter of wireless technologies due to complexities with running wired infrastructure for connected devices.
  2. Both are connecting their devices. Meters, appliances, thermostats and TVs connected to a network is the first step to monitoring their energy consumption. Similarly connecting X-ray machines, home dialysis machines, medicine carts, patient tracking badges and in-home heartrate monitors are the first steps to creating anywhere, anytime patient monitoring.
  3. Both see mobile devices and technologies as game changers. Whether it is iPhones, iPads or other mobile Internet devices and displays, remote and on-the-go manageability is an absolute need for doctors, nurses, building managers, or utility operations personnel. We’re seeing the traditional closed NOC center become more and more distributed as mobile becomes pervasive.
  4. Both are seeing significant innovations in the cloud. This dimension is more of a When and not If it will happen. But also How it will happen. Scalability and reliability of the cloud has been proven time and time again. However both Smart Grid and Healthcare have requirements for privacy of consumer/patient information, massive data management of petabytes and exabytes of detailed data (real-time energy consumption data from dozens of devices in a home to large MRI and other diagnostic imaging data from radiology departments), and strict regulations of who can access this data.

Rather than looking at each of the above dimensions individually and in a vacuum of minutiae, let’s look at them from a couple of fictional usage scenarios centered around how they benefit the lifestyles and livelihoods of the users. Fictional only in that I’ve not heard they’ve been actually implemented but technically very feasible.

I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up

Babyboomers are the largest new segment of the population entering their “golden years” but with both financial capability and a desire for wellness not just visit their doctors when they catch a bug. Many are staying proactively healthy with exercise, activities and good dietary habits. Imagine their stationary bicycles and Stairmasters connected to a converged wellness management system that also gives them suggestions or implements automated rules that reduce their energy spending. The stationary bicycles send their physicians and dietitians real-time and historical information of how they’re exercise program is going, their heartrate range from at-rest to peak performance, weight, etc. If the users also included some anaerobic cardio such as swimming in their programs, wouldn’t it be nice if the pool heater and pool pump energy consumption were activated according to the people’s schedules? If there were changes to the schedule, they can enter the new schedule via their mobile smartphones or simply via their locations the schedules can be altered.

Code Blue in Room 305

There are many critical systems within a hospital environment such as the intensive care wards, radiology departments, patient and asset tracking systems, access to medical records and so forth. Some, but not all, hospitals have backup generators to weather through power outages but the rise of renewables such as solar and other alternatives could make the hospital environment its own micro-grid with these various power source subsystems that can be tapped and utilized in optimal times and conditions. However a holistic view of all the critical systems WITH the available alternate power subsystems implemented in a Critical Intelligence and Rules service ensures that all of the patient care and hospital management systems are available at all times in the most efficient manner. The MRI machines draw a lot of power so they wouldn’t necessarily be switched to a battery bank while the 900 MHz Asset HAN can easily operate on duty cycles conducive to drawing from the batteries during peak tariff periods.

Check On Grandma

Many of us having aging parents and grandparents who we’d like to be able to check on from time to time, given our very active lives with traveling, taking care of kids or running companies. In comes the mobile phone as the portal to many of these personal facets of our lives. I can see to ensure the temperature is comfy for Grandma in Miami because there happens to be a major cold chill sweeping through the area and she doesn’t know how to work that new programmable thermostat the utility installed. At the same time I can see that she’s up to date on her heart medication because she’s been taking the pills at the same times every day (RFID on the pill container with an integrated alert) and her in-home heart check monitor is giving me a green indication stating all is well. I’m on vacation in Europe with the kids so I sleep much better knowing this. We’ll give her a call tomorrow after the gondola ride.


There are no lack of opportunities where the Smart Grid is more than just a grid for distributing energy at the right time of day. The ultimate uptake by consumers will be in the many layered ways they perceive these services touch and improve their lives. Some parts will be slower than others but beyond the infrastructure, the services need to be developed in a very user and customer-centric manner if they are to make good business sense as well.

Smart Appliances: Star Trek or Stars of the Smart Grid?

Recently there was a Park Associate white paper titled, Consumer Attitudes and the Benefits of Smart Grid Technologies (you can download the paper at the link), talks about the plight of smart appliances and their slow evolution and adoption. Some of the reasons are:

  • Consumers are unlikely to replace existing appliances with smart appliances until existing appliances fail or become too expensive to maintain.
  • The premium most consumers are willing to pay for smart appliances is unlikely to cover additional material costs.
  • Public utility commissions (PUCs) will have to approve rate structures that accommodate smart appliances, a potentially time-consuming process.
  • Many consumers balk at allowing utilities to control their appliances.

Yes, there will be additional costs. Yes, PUCs and utilities operate slowly (or at least slower than Internet pace). Yes, consumers are finicky at best and these days are not willing to part ways with their cash unless they are either emotionally attached (READ: iPhone et al) or see a great benefit for themselves and livelihoods (READ: save lot’s of money). And kinda yes, consumers aren’t terribly crazy about having utilities, or anyone for that matter, control stuff inside their homes.

With all this stated, there are STILL great opportunities to bring really cool services and savings to consumers related to Smart Grid technologies, even if they’re not initially offered by the utilities.

  1. Replace existing appliances? Not necessarily. There are existing and emerging plug load management devices with wireless connectivity (OSIAN from People Power, ZigBee, ZWave, etc.) that may give consumers all they need to know for the time being…how much is this appliance costing me per month, year, or right now.
  2. Smart appliance premiums? Not necessarily. There are some CE manufacturers that are using “smarts” in upcoming devices and appliances for creating new upsell services and reasons to reach back out to their customer base. And the manufacturers are not passing the cost of the embedded smarts to their customers but rather they see it as a new sales and marketing vector which didn’t exist before.
  3. PUCs need to approve smart appliance rate structures? Maybe. Recently at the OpenSG conference I attended in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, there was great dialogue and action being taken by the various industry consortia and standards development organizations (UCAIug, NIST for example) driving various specifications and recommendations which will undoubtedly create tension to the regulators for needing to “think outside the box”. Jury is still out, but I’m hopeful.
  4. Consumers reluctant to allow control of their appliances? Maybe. Control on day 1, unlikely. But visibility and enabling the consumer to monitor, very likely. Control or “proactive management” will come after the consumer sees value in modifying behavior and someone else (utilities, ISPs, Google, whoever) can do it for them inexpensively, securely and reliably.

It is possible Park Associates is looking at the consumer sentiments with an overly utility-centric lens but it is my belief that consumers will modify their behavior if they see direct benefits to themselves and their lifestyles. When the price of gas shoots up to $4 or $5 per gallon (in the US), cars are driven less, people work at home more, take more public transportation and other non-standard behaviors. The same can happen with a good plan, novel solutions and no-brainer benefits to the wallet holders.

Smart Grid and Telecom Carriers…Friends or Foes?

I’m attending the OpenSG conference in Ft Lauderdale this week hosted by Florida Power and Light. The event is chock full of smart people, smart discussion and debate (as industry consortia go, there appears to be sparce rhetoric among the participants…although this is my first OpenSG event). I’ve had several sidebar conversations with utilities, consultants, vendors, and standards bodies or industry forum coordinators thus far. The conversations have ranged from smart grid security to OpenADR conformity and verification to more general smart grid topics and trends. It’s relatively impressive the pace at which the various working groups and committees are developing their specifications and recommendations that may ultimately become standards through more formal standards development organizations (SDOs) like IETF, IEEE, and so forth.

One category of participants which I’m not surprised is not in attendance though have high hopes this will change soon are the telecom operators or network operators in general. At least I’ve not noticed them in attendance. So the likes of AT&T, Sprint (and I know they have a Smart Grid initiative) or Verizon are persona non grata. I’m not surprised because I believe the evolution of the smart grid is such that it’s pretty early in the business model critical mass curves of the telecom operators. Simply put, I don’t believe they know how to make money on the smart grid at this point. This is fine but will need to be reconciled soon. There are many many parallels between the smart grid and telecom as far as how each will or has evolved to the Internet model, as well as their opportunities to collaborate. I had this exact discussion with a colleague from EnerNex. And not surprisingly both he and I had significant telecom backgrounds both from service provider and vendor perspectives (he was at Verizon and I was at Cisco and Motorola). That also appears to be a big gap in terms of smart grid/utility industry engaging the telecom players…if you don’t know who and how, it’s a harrowing experience just showing up on the lobby and saying “who do I talk to about your smart grid business?” An example I derived from the Smart Grid Security bootcamp I attended on Monday proved this point or at least just provided a useful datapoint. When the speaker took an adhoc poll of the years in the power industry among all the audience participants, the average was roughly 10-15 years! This ranged from 2 years (myself and another participant) to as high as 25 years.

Some of the parallels among smart grid and telecom that the EnerNex gentleman and I briefly discussed were:

  • both had to overcome major legacy from business models to operations to adoption of new radically different technologies (e.g., IP)
  • both suffered from extremely vertically integrated businesses and operations infrastructures
  • both see themselves as service providers with unique offerings
  • both are beholden to the whims of regulators and regulatory pressures
  • both are actually VERY good at customer service from the perspective of customer care and billing relationships are core to their businesses
  • both look at industry and standards for making decisions on adoption of new technologies and practices
  • IMPORTANT: both certainly can benefit from the guidance of people who’ve “done it before” for softening their respective migration to the New World

This last point is a key one. For example (and a gratuitous infomercial of my company) at People Power we have a significant presence of engineering, sales and executives that came from the computing and mobile industries. In other words we have experience dealing in complex value chains and ecosystems, embedded technologies, lengthy certification cycles, painful standards processes, and migration from legacy to new connected technologies. Hmm, looks like the same script being played out with a new stage and cast! What do you think? Should smart grid and telecom become BFFs or hate each other?

Wal-Mart and New Age MVNOs

Wal-Mart recently its new MVNO wireless brand called Wal-Mart Family Mobile. This is a great move for what is undeniably the largest retailer in the world and has unfettered access to a tremendous customer base. While the plan is not quite optimized yet (new lines are $25/line and a bit too expensive, phones are locked to the Wal-Mart service, among others) I’m sure they’ll learn a lot after launch, marketing and selling the service. In fact, they’ll find out that as they rollout into international markets, i.e., outside of the US, the requirements and behaviors from those local markets will be different. Details of the plan are outlined below:

“The service, called Wal-Mart Family Mobile, will run on T-Mobile USA’s network and will cost $45 per month for unlimited voice and texting; additional lines can be added for $25 per month. Interestingly, there is also a prepaid component to the plan: Users who want mobile data can pay into a prepaid account that can be pooled for an entire family, and the data does not expire. The first 100 MB of data are free, and come pre-loaded on all of the phones using the service. Customers can buy more data for an extra charge: $10 for 200 MB, $25 for 500 MB or $40 for 1 GB.

Importantly, Wal-Mart’s plan does not have a contract for customers to sign or come with early-termination fees. However, phones for the offering will be locked to Wal-Mart’s service, and will not be able to work on other networks or even under a T-Mobile plan.”

What are the most disruptive of this are: big brands launching new mobile services, and who owns the customer. Best Buy Mobile is marketing and selling many devices across many carriers. When will they actually launch their own service under their own brand? They are one of the largest CE and appliance retailers, not quite on the same plane of existence as Wal-Mart but in a different one (Ed.: Stephen Hawking may chime in here). Or LVMH in France? Or Boots or Tesco in the UK? It’s just a matter of time as costs of smartphones (or tablets or other interesting devices) come down and infrastructure-based carriers, especially tier 1.5 or 2, are willing to open up their networks to other big brands. Of course Amazon has been doing this since the launch of the Kindle and is very successful though hard to tell if Sprint or Qualcomm are making money on leasing their infrastructure to Amazon/WhisperNet.

The longer term and most disruptive impact will be ownership of the customer relationship and ultimately wallet. Prime example is the iPhone. Does Apple or ATT own the customer relationship? Some may disagree but I think it’s Apple, hands down! They own the AppStore, all extensibility of the device, upgrades, and most of the profitability of the value add elements of the device. ATT charges for the 3G service voice and data pipes. I don’t trivialize this but it’s a matter of who you think of when you think of iPhone. Case in point. Yesterday as I was trekking down University Avenue in Palo Alto, CA, I noticed an ATT store right across the street from the Apple Store. ATT store was desolate…Apple Store was booming! As always.

What do you think of the future of the convergence of MVNOs and big brands with big customer bases? I think it only has one direction: up and to the right.

Nations First Mobile Emergency Messaging

The state of California recently announced in cooperation with Sprint their Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA) will be rolling out a mobile emergency messaging service to its residents, http://www.govtech.com/gt/articles/768874. This is certainly a great idea that has been around form quite some time especially so around heightened emergency incidents such as Columbine, Fort Hood or any such events that require a localized emergency notification to inform people what to do or where to go.

The cellphone is THE most pervasive messaging device available at the finger tips of pretty much every citizen, resident or visitor to the United States. Short Message Service, or SMS, the the least common denominator for every one of those same cellphones whereby all the cellular operators support this ubiquitous protocol. I commend CalEMA for standing up to do something about it. But speaking of cellular operators, where are the #1 and #2 in Verizon and AT&T in supporting this emergency notification service along with Sprint and CalEMA? Irrespective of the prepaid, postpaid or MVNO subscribers on the Sprint network, they pale in comparison to Verizon and AT&T.

I guess we have to wait for phase 2 on the roadmap? Not much of a consolation for those California residents on Verizon and AT&T that didn’t get the text during the next wild fires, floods or God forbid school shooting.

The ABCs of xANs

Recently I’ve had some discussions with industry analysts, friends in startups and even large companies regarding the alphabet soup of xAN (example: LAN for Local Area Network). The discussions primarily centered around how fragmented the technical abbreviations are getting across a multitude of industries. An example is LAN is associated to the IT industry (not others) and IAN (Incident Area Network) is associated with public safety, but again not others. I figured it would be a useful exercise to catalog the xANs and the industry(s) that they generally apply to.

Maybe a frivolous intellectual exercise, maybe a candidate for Wikipedia, maybe nothing at all. Here goes. (Ed. note: I don’t have all the answers but some and several guesses). And thank you, Wikipedia for many of the definitions!

  1. AAN: n/a
  2. BAN: Body Area Network, relatively new term that is self explanatory to the network of devices within an individual person (example, a soldier or firefighter); applies to IT, Public Safety, Military/Defense
  3. CAN:
    1. Controller Area Network, a vehicle bus standard designed to allow microcontrollers and devices to communicate with each other within a vehicle without a host computer; applies to IT and Computer Engineering
    2. Campus Area Network, a computer network made up of an interconnection of local area networks (LANs) within a limited geographical area; applies to IT and Telecom
  4. DAN: n/a (though it Divers Alert Network is near and dear to me as a scuba diver 😉
  5. EAN: Enternet Aggregation Network but there is an Enterprise Private Network which could apply, network build by an enterprise to interconnect the various company sites (production sites, head offices, remote offices, shops etc.) in order to share computer resources over the network; applies to IT.
  6. FAN: Facility Area Network(?); applies to Smart Grid and Energy Utilities, based on recent discussions.
  7. GAN: Global Area Network, a network used for supporting mobile communications across an arbitrary number of wireless LANs, satellite coverage areas, etc.; applies to IT.
  8. HAN: Home Area Network, a residential LAN which is used for communication between digital devices typically deployed in the home, usually a small number of personal computers and accessories, such as printers and mobile computing devices; applies to IT+Smart Grid
  9. IAN: Incident Area Network, an emergency responder network focused on the immediate geography of an emergency incident occurrence; applies to Public Safety.
  10. JAN: Jurisdictional Area Network, an emergency responder network possibly containing multiple IANs and with a higher level onsite command structure than the IANs; applies to Public Safety.
  11. KAN: n/a
  12. LAN: Local Area Network; applies to IT
  13. MAN: Metropolitan Area Network, common network and administrative domains within a city or municipality; applies to IT and Telecom
  14. NAN: Neighborhood Area Network, analogous to MAN although a more constrained geography localized to a neighborhood; applies to IT and Telecom
  15. OAN: n/a
  16. PAN: Personal Area Network, a network of devices constrained within a room or individual office, sometimes proximity based in the case of wireless; applies to IT
  17. QAN: n/a
  18. RAN: Radio Access Networkpart of a mobile Telecommunication system. It implements a radio access technology. Conceptually, it sits between the Mobile phone, and the core network (CN); applies to Telecom
  19. SAN: Storage Area Network, an architecture to attach remote computer storage devices to servers in such a way that the devices appear as locally attached to the operating system; applies to IT
  20. TAN: Tiny Area Network, a local area network with 2–3 nodes connection. Usually implemented for shared files, folders and printers in a home or small office environment; applies to IT…also defines what you get on Miami Beach (time unbounded TAN evolves to BURN)
  21. UAN: n/a
  22. VAN: Vehicle Area Network, an electronic communications network that interconnects components inside vehicles; applies to Automotive and IT…is also bigger than a car
  23. WAN: Wide Area Network, a computer network that covers a broad area (i.e., any network whose communications links cross metropolitan, regional, or national boundaries; applies to IT and Telecom
  24. XAN: n/a
  25. YAN: n/a
  26. ZAN: n/a

Comments, corrections, flames? BTW, I wrote this on Virgin America flight between San Francisco and Ft. Lauderdale connected to Gogo Wireless (combination of a LAN and GAN…WiFi + Satellite). I already paid the $12.95 so may as well consume some bandwidth. Now time to consume the “May-I-Have-Another-Cocktail Area Network”!

Cognitive Radios For Dummies

It’s not really cognitive radio for dummies, but this video from Nokia is probably THE best layperson’s way of describing the benefits of cognitive radio and where it can solve real-world problems.  I won’t belabor the point by getting into a dissertation…enjoy!

The Cloud Completes the Connected Experience

Owners of iPhones are probably tired of hearing all the AT&T “network issues”, dropped calls, or other user experience degrading issues. I’m certain AT&T is also tired of hearing the complaints. I know the customer service agent who took my call last week had a fair bit of experience with iPhone customers calling in to complain. But this post is not yet-another bitchfest about AT&T’s network or how I love the iPhone…except for the phone! In experiencing the stellar experience with the iPhone platform and its extreme dependence on the network, I’m reminded of just how important the carrier experience is for the overall positive user experience.

Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, agrees with this. He delivered an engaging keynote appearance at Mobile World Congress stating the importance of the cloud, i.e. operator network, in the device and application experience.

“We feel very strongly that we depend on the successful business of operators globally,” he said. “We need advanced, sophisticated networks.”

Eric was reacting to an audience member’s statement that Google would basically make the operator network a “dumb pipe” and all the value would be over-the-top. But I disagree with this mindset. The connected experience that we are increasingly engaging with our smartphones, app stores, data, and social media would incur a tremendous amount of friction and dissatisfaction without the right networks in place and operating properly. Good session and roaming management will yield great experiences to end users, and that results in sticky, ARPU-rich subscriptions to all kinds of services and applications.

“Applications are sharing-intensive, and the cloud is all about sharing and replication,” Schmidt explained. “An application that does not leverage the power of the cloud is not going to wow anybody.”

It’s hard to find a successful application on an iPhone or Android device that does not have some sort of persistent or recurring network connection. Whether it’s location, gaming, messaging or productivity, the application experience is enriched with a great network. It seems that I’m stating the obvious however the notion of Over-The-Top has been on the minds and desired of users and application developers ever since the first walled garden went in place. Yes, many mobile computing platforms will have a variety of applications on them and accessing services in the cloud that are relatively transparent to the billing platform of the wireless operator (maybe the application specifics, but not the bits). The ultimate Always Connected User Experience will happen only with the integration and cooperation of the end-to-end value chain elements. This includes the pipes!

Tanks to Thinktanks: Migration to Cyberwar

For quite some time there has been speculation and vehement discussions around how the war of the future won’t be fought on the traditional battlefield (at least not there alone) but online and in cyberspace. This statement is no more true as of lately due to the advent of the battle of giants: Google and China! Additionally this morning on IT-Harvest there are a multitude of compelling pieces on how cyberwar is expanding “to a new front”.

“This is a watershed moment in the cyber war,” James Mulvenon, director of the national-security firm, Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis at Defense Group Inc., said last week. “Before, the Chinese were going after defense targets to modernize the country’s military machine. But these intrusions strike at the heart of American innovation community.”


The proposals aren’t just ending at making statements about where the new front is being fought, but high level military officials are actually now saying to revector military budgets partially away from tanks and planes to high tech cyber defense and potentially even cyber offensive capabilities. General David Richards, Great Britain’s army chief, is of this mindset.

Britain’s armed forces are facing a new “horse versus tank moment” in dealing with the challenges of modern warfare, he told the weekly broadsheet. “People say I’m only talking about war with non-state actors,” Richards said, such as the Taliban insurgents currently being fought in Afghanistan. “I’m not. I’m saying this is how even war between states is more likely to be fought in the future.”

Let’s think about the facts here.

  1. Conventional and mechanized war is expensive; cyber threats are cheap.
  2. The skills to fight conventional war take time to develop; cyber criminals can be high school kids in any part of the world.
  3. There are significant barriers to entry and obtaining tools for fighting conventional warfare; cyber threats are available in open source and scalable tools.
  4. Conventional reconnaissance mostly finds the conventional threats; new cyber threats using wireless devices and technologies may NEVER be detected until it was already too late.
  5. Who has been investing longer in their cyber skills? The criminals! The good guys need to catchup and look at this problem in a very different way than how they’ve been trained in the past. Throw out the old rule book!!!

We certainly can’t move completely from equipping our soldiers and Marines with headphones and keyboards rather than helmets and rifles. But the relatively unsophisticated new enemy “combatant” is working on very novel, subtle and inexpensive ways of affecting our economy, national security and critical infrastructures to our nation. We need to take a lesson or two from them to beat them at their own game.

Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later

Prepaid mobile services have been around for quite some time in many countries worldwide. This financial model offers cellphone services for those that either cannot or choose to not opt for postpaid plans. Pay-as-you-go of sorts. This was the first plan my kids got on cellphones and as their financial ability, but at least as important, their usage increased, they then migrated to postpaid plans with the appropriate size buckets of voice minutes and SMS texts (for my daughter, UNLIMITED!).

As long as the plan had the right balance of bucket size and payment size (a perceivably good price-performance on what you get), then prepaid remains an attractive option for many of us. Usually the biggest advantages are the lack of contracts or commitment periods associated with postpaid, although some wireless operators (usually MVNOs like Virgin Mobile and Cricket Wireless) offer postpaid plans without contracts or commitments.

The first basic question that prepaid users ask is, “do I use the service enough to justify a postpaid plan?”

  • Will they talk or receive calls on the cellphones to go for a higher minute plan?
  • Will they need some more advanced features that only postpaid plans offer, such as 3G data?
  • Or do they need to have just enough connectivity with a mobile device without taxing their monthly budget?

There is another large group of devices that have been coming online that are asking the same question. The mobile compute platforms such as laptops and netbooks (or the cleverly named smartbooks such as HP and Qualcomm’s recent announcement) are increasingly being connected to mobile networks in addition to WiFi.

There is a recent flurry of noise from the mobile operators on prepaid mobile broadband plans with megabyte and gigabyte buckets available for as little as $10 for 100 MB, in the case of Virgin Mobile USA. But the larger operators such as AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless will offer prepaid mobile broadband to complement their postpaid options. I think prepaid as an economic model is ABSOLUTELY made for:

  1. connected platforms now such as laptops (to avoid the “everything they can eat, and they will” problem operators encounter with data hogs)
  2. emerging connected devices later such as cars, gaming platforms, eBook readers (bundled today in the Kindle but I predict this will change)
  3. many other multimedia and entertainment devices…can you say iSlate?

Recently Tariff Consultancy published a report stating that:

“Pre Pay Mobile Broadband will become the norm for the majority of users to access the Internet worldwide, with a third of a Billion users by the end of 2013″

The notion of “becoming the norm” is the operative phrase here. Similar to how cellphones have become the norm for communications and ultimately having resulted in cannibalizing fixed line services, is it feasible to think that mobile broadband will cannibalize fixed line Internet access? At a minimum, it will be complementary in that high use devices such as media servers, Hulu, Playstation Online, torrent servers, or groups of PCs and Macs will demand more than what the mobile network (or even local femtocells) would be capable of providing. But in either developing countries or smaller connected households, the advent of $10 or $20 (or even less in some countries) to last a month or two for web and email connectivity is more than sufficient to serve their needs.