The End Of Wireless Tether For Android…For Some People

Yesterday Information Week ran a story entitled, “The End Of Wireless Tether For Android.” The story quite rightly describes how Google is responding to carrier requests to disable the distribution of free tethering apps via the official Android Marketplace.

According to the author,

“The wireless carriers would rather you pay a fee either for tethering plan or buy a device like a MiFi or USB dongle that will let your PC get online.”

..further…

“Take the example of AT&T. To require a data plan that is 80% more expensive than a non-tethering plan is a bit of a money grab. AT&T has data caps, so why do they care how you use it?”

I’ve long held that there’s a fundamental disconnect with how wireless data is handled. It should not matter what device I use, as long as I’m paying for the data. If I pay for 5 GB/month then why does the fact that I’m using a netbook, laptop, tablet or cell phone make any difference?

If I had a USB type interface I could well move it between a desktop, netbook, laptop and even some tablets. The carrier simply wouldn’t know anything beyond the amount of data consumed transferred. And why should they?

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OnSIP & Android 2.3 (a.k.a Gingerbread)

Earlier this week the Android development team released some news about Android v2.3, aka Gingerbread. This has a lot of people more than a bit excited as one of the new features is a built-in SIP stack.

Some point to this as being a major step toward the integration of Google Voice and Android devices. With a SIP stack included in the OS it will be much easier for people to develop soft phones that leverage the hardware and the data side of Android handsets.

The built-in SIP stack will work with any SIP service provider, giving users tremendous flexibility in choosing who gets their business. It also means that close integration with an IP-PBX will be easier than ever before.

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Counterpath’s Bria For Android On A T-Mobile G2

A few weeks ago Counterpath released a version of their Bria SIP soft phone specifically for the Android platform. This was one of the factors that influenced my purchase of a T-Mobile G2. I’ve had the G2 for a few weeks and have been mostly very pleased with the device. My twitter stream has reflected various experiments using it during recent travels.

Counterpath was good enough to provide a licence for their Bria SIP soft phone which dovetails nicely with my employers OnSIP hosted PBX. As I have been travelling a bit these past few weeks I’ve not made much use of Bria until very recently.

For an in depth look at Bria on Android you should look at the OnSIP site as the staff over there have posted a nicely detailed review. They report some crashing of the application, which has not been my experience but I expect that the user experience varies with hardware platform.

Around my home office, and on my local Wifi, I find that Bria Android Edition is stable and reliable. It seems to handle calling extensions local and remote without any NAT issues.

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Comparing Hotel Wifi, 3G & 4G Net Access in Marietta GA

This week I find myself in the Atlanta area for a couple of days. To be specific, tonight I’m at the Crowne Plaza in Marietta GA. This hotel was booked by a co-worker on the basis of its proximity to my work site. He booked it at a discount through Priceline.com. It was good choice. It’s a nice hotel.

Like most of the upper-end hotel brands this facility was wired for internet access in the days when wifi was not ubiquitous. As such, there remains a wired internet connection in the rooms.

Reflecting more current trends there’s pervasive wifi as well. In a remarkable twist, both are offered free of charge. It has been my experience that many of the more up-market hotel brands still charge a nightly fee for internet access.

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A Curious Pair: Skype & Traditional Broadcasters

As Skype has become more and more popular various other parties have tried to ride on their coat-tails, including old media companies like TV stations & broadcast networks. I know of at least one TV station that was clandestinely using Skype over broadband to “phone in” breaking news events. The station in question even went so far as to promote the fact that they were using Skype. They did so without prior permission from Skype, and were eventually asked to stop doing so by Skype’s lawyers.

TV stations have been doing “Live Remotes” for decades. Most often this involved using a vehicle equipped with microwave relay gear to send the video feed back to the station in real-time. Much effort goes into ensuring that the video signal looks good when it finally hits air. Larger TV stations or more important projects might merit the use of satellite transponder time to get the video feed back to the station via a satellite link, at considerable expense.

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A Blackberry User Considers Android

I’ve been a loyal Blackberry user  for about four years. RIM not long ago released the Blackberry Torch to modest fanfare in the US. While Jim Courtney tells me that it’s worth a look, it’s only offered by AT&T, which makes it a non-starter for me.

In contrast, today marks the official launch of the G2 on T-Mobile. With it’s landscape mode keyboard the G2 just might be the handset that entices me to make the leap to Android. I’m going to try and lay hands on one this evening. Further, my wife wants a new handset as well. We might be in the market for a pair of handsets.

This comes at an interesting time as Counterpath just this week announced the pending release of Bria For Android. Todd Carothers’ blog has something to say about this release. The availability of a solid SIP client on Android is a welcome thing, although I’ve heard good things about SIPDroid. It’s nice to have options.

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