Samsung Downsizing Its Offerings

Carl Weinschenk
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Five Things that Field Workers Hate and How to Fix Them

A lot of big news came out this week – early blizzards, executive orders and other things -- but none was related to the IT or telecommunications sectors.

During that quiet time, however, we did see small bits and pieces and a lot of good commentary. Here are some highlights:

Ethernet Everywhere

Lightreading reports that Comcast is set to unveil Ethernet@Home next month. The service will connect office locations to workers in their homes. The example offered in the story is the ability of a hospital to connect over an all-Ethernet link to a physician’s home. More control, greater capacity and heightened security are keys to the services’ value.

Ethernet@Home will not be a residential service, but will take advantage of the hybrid fiber-coax network that the cable industry has deployed.

Even Viruses Need to Keep Up

Lucian Constantin, Computerworld’s Romanian correspondent, reports that the long-standing “NotCompatible” Android Trojan that runs “multipurpose mobile botnets” has been updated. It now is stealthier and more resilient, he writes.

It is dangerous, according to a security firm:

The botnet is mainly used for instant message spam and rogue ticket purchases, but it could be used to launch targeted attacks against corporate networks because the malware allows attackers to use the infected devices as proxies, researchers from security firm Lookout said.

Constantin says that it was the first “drive-by” download malware when it was detected two years ago. The updated version, NotCompatible C, encrypts its communications and communicates directly with other infected devices.

Bad Days for Sprint

WirelessWeek reports that Sprint received what Consumer Reports characterized as “dismal marks” in its annual survey of customer satisfaction. It wasn’t a small sample: The survey gathered opinions from more than 58,000 people. The bad grades were for voice, text, 4G reliability and value.

The top three finishers, in order, were Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile. The real story, however, was not in the top tier:

The standouts in the survey, however, were smaller MVNOs, such as Consumer Cellular, which runs on AT&T's network and scored tops overall in the survey. This isn't the first time smaller MVNOs have scored better than major carriers in the Consumer Reports' survey. Consumer Cellular and TracFone have consistently rated better than the major standard providers in customer satisfaction.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents with plans that limit data usage use half or less of their allotment, the story said.


Samsung Dials It Back

Samsung has hit a bit of rough sailing in recent quarters. The company apparently has concluded that a way to fight back is to reduce the number of phones it makes. That reduction, according to ExtremeTech, could reach 30 percent of its line.

The story says that HTC has taken a similar approach. The idea is that trimming will help it push back against the cheaper phones being released by Chinese Android OEMs. The change won’t be felt too widely, apparently:

So far in 2014, Samsung has released 56 smartphones. Some of these you will have heard of like the Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 4, and the Galaxy Alpha. But have you ever heard of the Samsung Galaxy Star 2 Plus or the Galaxy Ace Style LTE? Of course not — no one has. The only people who might know the name of those phones are the engineers who designed them and the handful of people who bought one because it was cheap.

ZigBee Updates

And, finally, comes a story about connecting the home. This week, The ZigBee Alliance announced ZigBee 3.0. Tech Hive notes that ZigBee, which emerged in 2004, was one of the earlier short-distance wireless standards. The problem, which ZigBee 3.0 is aimed at solving, is that multiple profiles and use cases emerged. That is no longer a practical approach.

The story quotes Ryan Maley, the director of strategic marketing at the ZigBee Alliance.

The goal for the Internet of Things is to connect as many devices as possible so they can be used together in new ways. For example, when a thermostat turned on the heat, it could direct another system to automatically close the drapes so heat doesn’t escape, Maley said. Today, those systems might be implemented using different profiles and be on separate networks. ZigBee 3.0 would let them communicate directly.

Several approaches are vying for this role which, of course, would bring great revenues to the companies controlling the standard. Its chances seem dependent upon the ability to reinvent itself.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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