January Newsbits 2009

Even the second largest U.S. phone company (and No. 1 mobile carrier after completing its acquisition of Alltel this month) is not immune to the recessionary trends that seem to be hitting everyone everywhere.Verizon Communications reported fewer-than-expected wireless subscribers for the fourth quarter and warned that pension and other post-retirement expenses would hurt earnings in 2009, bringing its shares down more than 5 percent.

Verizon said in a statement Tuesday that quarterly profits rose to $1.2 billion, or 43 cents a share, from $1.1 billion, or 37 cents a share, a year earlier. Earnings per share before items fell slightly to 61 cents from 62 cents.

Verizon Wireless was the winning bidder for a nationwide spectrum footprint (excluding Alaska) in the FCC-termed C-Block group of licenses, plus 102 licenses for individual markets around the country last year. The new spectrum, which will not be completely cleared for use until later this year, will increase the company’s average spectrum depth per market from 52 MHz to 82 MHz.

Verizon said in April that “broadband is a cornerstone of [its] strategy overall.”

The company saw impressive growth in its FiOS service, which competes with cable service providers. Verizon reported 303,000 net new FiOS TV customers and 282,000 FiOS Internet customers for the quarter, the biggest gains ever, helping to offset the loss of traditional wireline subscribers. Read more coverage at InternetNews.com.


The Senate passed a bill on Monday to delay the nationwide switch to digital TV signals, giving consumers nearly four more months to prepare. The transition date would move to June 12 from Feb. 17 under the bill that was fueled by worries that viewers are not technically ready for the congressionally-mandated switch-over. It also would allow consumers with expired coupons, available from the government to offset the cost of a $40 converter box, to request new coupons. The government ran out of coupons earlier this month, and about 2.5 million Americans are on a waiting list for them. For the full story, click here. For more on how the spectrum switch affects Wi-Fi, read “Opinion: The Ubiquitous Promise of Wi-Fi is Near.”


Hospitals in Texas that used computers to keep track of patient records and manage care had lower rates of deaths, complications and costs, U.S. researchers said this week, offering a strong argument for hospitals to go “paperless.”

They said patients treated in hospitals that ranked highest in use of health information technology to manage patient records and physician notes were 15 percent less likely to die compared with patients in hospitals that ranked lower. Click here for the full Reuters story at InternetNews.com. Click here to read about Wi-Fi in hospitals.

January 22, 2009

One of the most historic days in the U.S. Presidency was also a historic opportunity for Web video–with millions of users turning to streaming video sites to get their fix of the day’s events. But as it turned out, the surging traffic choked key sites and corporate networks, making access to streamed video feeds spotty for many.

Despite the problems, video providers say millions took to the ‘Net to watch President Obama’s speech in real-time, breaking records for sites like CNN.com, MSNBC.com, and others.

But for many, tuning in online was an experience marred by technical difficulties. A New York Times article yesterday reported that many users fed up with problems in accessing online video feeds reverted to mainstream broadcasts to watch the event. Some sites sought to throttle the traffic: CNN.com placed users into a queue before they could view live video, and provided updates on their place in the line. For more, read the full story at InternetNews.com.

January 16, 2009

Waltham, MA-based Onset Technology announced Thursday the launch of its expanded METAmessage Advanced Paging solution, which provides enterprises in the health care sector with paging features on smartphones transmitting on reliable cellular data lines, as well as over secure Wi-Fi connections.

Onset says its METAmessage Advanced Paging system can integrate with existing paging solutions or function as a standalone solution, and it provides protocols for two-way paging so that physicians can respond immediately to pages via text or by clicking on a voice link embedded in the page.

Onset Technology is a Research In Motion (RIM) Platinum Partner is fully integrated with all BlackBerry smartphones. Advanced Paging is also available for Windows Mobile, Palm, and Symbian OSs.

For more on Wi-Fi in health care, read “WISPs Bring Affordable Broadband to Rural Health Care Providers.”

January 7, 2009

In anticipation of the Netherlands release of the Wi-Fi-enabled open source Android-powered G1 by T-Mobile later this month, the second AndroidDevCamp will be taking place in Amsterdam this week. 

Alexander Muse, co-founder of Big in Japan (developer of the popular Android application ShopSavvy), will present the keynote address at AndroidDevCamp Amsterdam on January 8. The day-long event will be held at Pakhuis de Zwijger in the Netherlands’ capital city. More than 250 developers have registered for the event. Members of the public can attend for free by registering here.

More on the G1 here.


Wi-Fi RTLS provider, Ekahau, announced today that it will be deploying its Real Time Location System (RTLS) services to University HealthSystem Consortium’s (UHC) U.S.-based member hospitals.

UHC is an alliance of 103 academic medical centers and 191 of their affiliated hospitals representing approximately 90 percent of the nation’s nonprofit academic medical centers.The three-year agreement enables UHC facilities to use Ekahau’s Wi-Fi-based systems for tracking assets, inventory, patients, and staff. Using the RTLS system for these purposes has been proven to dramatically reduce costs, and also to improve overall efficiency, safety, and patient care. [More on that here.]

Ekahau RTLS uses a hospital’s existing Wi-Fi network to locate objects (or people wearing tags or carrying tagged devices) with room-level accuracy, regardless of vendor or generation of the infrastructure. Ekahau’s system stands out as a medical center solution because of its accuracy and cost-effectiveness (no new APs), but also for its ability to operate over Wi-Fi without deploying new proprietary chokepoints or readers, which can cause interference with medical equipment.

“We wanted a system that can cater to the unique tracking needs of each of our member hospitals and yet be simple and cost-effective to deploy,” said Cindy White, UHC’s vice president of operations in an Ekahau release today.

Ekahau, one of the leading providers of Wi-Fi-based RTLS solutions, nearly triples its hospital deployments with this agreement (currently Ekahau’s solutions are being used in roughly 150 hospitals around the world).

Other applications for Wi-Fi-based RTLS include manufacturing plants, mining companies, oil rigs, gas companies, government agencies, retail stores, and military bases.

For more on Ekahau, read “Tracking Shoppers with Wi-Fi and RTLS.”

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