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Topic # 13954 7-Jun-2007 07:06 Send private message

Hello to the Geekzone people and especially to Mr Freitas who helped me get into the system.

I'm not a registered geek and not even an associate geek.  I had to be told to copy/paste the link to sign up to Geekzone rather than just click on it.  BUT I have spent a LOT, meaning ALL, of our family's money on geekdom in the form of those companies so I'm very interested in Geekdom. 

But I remember punching Fortran IV cards in 1972 at Auckland University in civil engineering.  I worked in the oil industry, mostly for BP Oil [NZ/London and Belgium].  So I'm a civil engineer by education,  downstream [marketing] oil man by employment and Geekdom bloke by investment [since 1991].  

My main Geekdom interest right now is Zenbu Wi-Fi which is at http://www.Zenbu.net.nz [and yes, I have had it explained to me by an official geek [son Tarken who developed Zenbu Wi-Fi] that it is not done to use a capital letter in a url].   Yes, I like brackets.   Also http://www.Zenbu.co.nz  which is a New Zealand directory competing with Yellow Pages and the like, developed by Sam Giffney.  

http://www.RoamAD.com is probably already known around these parts but is a Wi-Fi technology for metropolitan zones.  Zenbu is a hotspot business.   

Globalstar http://www.Globalstar.com is one of the low earth orbit satellite phone systems and I have one because for a few years I was a director of Globalstar Australia [a service provider for Globalstar Inc which owns the constellation and some gateways and in which I bought shares, including first time around which went to bankruptcy].  

QUALCOMM http://www.QUALCOMM.com should be well known around here too, being Telecom's and Vodafone's technology inventor.   I've followed that since 1991 after meeting one of their engineers in San Diego.  I had thought in 1989 that Fourier transforms could be used to encode and decode cellphone signals to increase spectrum capacity and was lucky enough to find someone at QUALCOMM who told me what that that's what they were doing.  

Okay, now I'm in [I think], so I'll have a look around.  






Maurice Winn
Shareholder,  Zenbu Networks Ltd

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  Reply # 73739 7-Jun-2007 08:25 Send private message

I personally see no future for WiFi hotspots unless you're part of a global network such as Boingo. Why do I think this? Because WiFi is expanding from a PC only feature to being something embedded in mobile phones, WiFi phones, and satnav systems. Using VoIP over WiFi on my Nokia E65 is awesome but I don't want a web based authentication system that I have to enter my login details because it's just to complex from a phone. Hotspot authentication needs to transparent and seamless to the end user. Boingo currently have software for Pocket PC's and Symbian devices that will automatically connect to hotspots allowing VoIP for US$7.95 per month. This is the future. As more and more devices support embedded WiFi players such as Boingo will incorporate their software into devices becuase they have the worldwide partners to do this. Ignore it at your own peril..




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  Reply # 73777 7-Jun-2007 10:54 Send private message

True enough, any sign-on or authentication is a hassle to a greater or lesser extent.   I had trouble just getting in Geekzone.

But cyberphones have browsers and signing on to Zenbu isn't very difficult.   The phone can then be set to autologin.  

Our idea all along has been that devices would eventually be cyberphones, with people using Skype and other web services.  It has got to be easy to use.  

You are indeed right, it's a competitive world and it has to be ubiquitous, cheap, convenient, fast, reliable, secure, culturally attuned and all the rest.  

Globalized services have the advantage of economies of scale, but each country has their own legal, cultural, local, and business norms, so there is a balance between globalized and localized.  

With cyberspace, it doesn't take very many millions of people to make almost any software an economic proposition as copying it costs nothing.   It's an amazing world, making the industrial revolution look trivial.   To build another bunch of cars required iron mines, steel production and big car factories, with unit costs very very high, pollution and social impacts.  To copy software is ethereal and free.  

For now, we are taking our chances on Zenbu and fancy our chances. 

Does Boingo have a New Zealand directory and mapping linked to it like Zenbu does?   That's a local advantage of Zenbu.   There are more advantages, such as NZ ADSL is hideously expensive and slow, so megabyte management rather than daily or hourly connection is needed.    Japan enjoys 100 mbps fibre at low prices.  We have twisted pair dial-up [with "broadband" taking off slowly].  One user using BitTorrent would block the system meaning other users on a daily or weekly plan couldn't get going.  

Thanks for your comments.  

Mqurice




Maurice Winn
Shareholder,  Zenbu Networks Ltd



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  Reply # 73779 7-Jun-2007 10:56 Send private message

SBiddle, I just noticed you are "Pizza lover".   Have a look for pizza at http://www.Zenbu.co.nz   and try out the "nearest" function.

Pretty cool eh?

Mqurice




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Reply # 73784 7-Jun-2007 11:07 Send private message

Zenbu.co.nz looks slick as "near me" locator... Any work with the ProjectX guys? Are they competition?









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  Reply # 73800 7-Jun-2007 12:26 Send private message

I have no idea sorry Mauricio:  
freitasm: Zenbu.co.nz looks slick as "near me" locator... Any work with the ProjectX guys? r are they competition?
   You have asked a question outside my Geekdom abilities.    Sam Giffney does all the http://www.Zenbu.co.nz development.   You could ask him.  

I tried clicking on that Zenbu.co.nz link you gave, but it took me here:  http://www.geekzone.co.nz/default.asp  Again, I have no idea why.  

I use the Zenbu directory to put things I want to find, such as business addresses, phones, names etc.   It's quick and easy and I won't lose bits of paper. 


Mqurice




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  Reply # 73803 7-Jun-2007 12:42 Send private message

MauriceWinn: True enough, any sign-on or authentication is a hassle to a greater or lesser extent.   I had trouble just getting in Geekzone.


Things aren't quite so simple. If I want to use the VoIP on my E65 over WiFi from a public hotspot I need to open the web browser and authenticate myself by entering my login and password. This takes time and is a real hassle. If you want to make access easy for mobile devices you need to start supporting something like WISPr which for authentication since it's become the defacto standard for hotspot authentication. Anybody who's got a WISPr capable mobile device can then connect without the hassle.

I also believe the market for standalong WiFi providers is very limited unless you're going to start partnering with a provider such as Boingo. I don't want to sign up for multiple VoIP providers, I want one login that will give me access anywhere that I am. GSM took off because of roaming - WiFi is no different.




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  Reply # 73857 7-Jun-2007 17:24 Send private message

As you say, people do want just one account to do a bunch of related things, and they dislike log-in hassles: 
sbiddle: If I want to use the VoIP on my E65 over WiFi from a public hotspot I need to open the web browser and authenticate myself by entering my login and password. This takes time and is a real hassle. If you want to make access easy for mobile devices you need to start supporting something like WISPr which for authentication since it's become the defacto standard for hotspot authentication. Anybody who's got a WISPr capable mobile device can then connect without the hassle.

I also believe the market for standalone WiFi providers is very limited unless you're going to start partnering with a provider such as Boingo. I don't want to sign up for multiple VoIP providers, I want one login that will give me access anywhere that I am. GSM took off because of roaming - WiFi is no different.


Boingo is an overseas Wi-Fi service which doesn't have much to do with New Zealand.   People in NZ do travel, but Wi-Fi access isn't a [significant] roaming issue internationally.   It is an issue locally.   Having several Wi-Fi accounts will be really annoying to people.   But people will move to different services if the price is cheap enough, using the more expensive services where they have no choice.   Telecom's $8 an hour is absurd.   I think people will go to the trouble of logging on to Zenbu to save a lot of $$$.   $10 a day is way too much too.   

I don't know about WISPr, but I dare say our technical division does [especially now that I've mentioned it].   Very easy log-in and authentication will be essential.   Rome wasn't built in a day.  RoamAD has been under construction for 6 years now.    Zenbu is just up to walking stage now after a fair bit of testing to make sure it is all working fine, robust and what people want.  

Thanks for the suggestion about WISPr.   

Mqurice




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Reply # 73859 7-Jun-2007 17:31 Send private message

What's your involvement with RoamAD?

As for Wi-Fi, simply put, business people won't worry about paying $10 a day to plug to Wi-Fi to save. They will plug to any service, providing it works.

I pay $20 to connect to Cafenet and get 70 MB, and this lasts me a long way because I only do it occasionaly, but when I am travelling overseas I have no problem paying $19.95 for a full day access to a Wi-Fi network overseas - it beats my $600 Vodafone roaming bill any time.

Expensive is relative to the value the user put into the service offered.







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  Reply # 73866 7-Jun-2007 17:55 Send private message

I'm an early investor in RoamAD [October 2002 I think it was]
freitasm: What's your involvement with RoamAD?

As for Wi-Fi, simply put, business people won't worry about paying $10 a day to plug to Wi-Fi to save. They will plug to any service, providing it works.

I pay $20 to connect to Cafenet and get 70 MB, and this lasts me a long way because I only do it occasionally, but when I am traveling overseas I have no problem paying $19.95 for a full day access to a Wi-Fi network overseas - it beats my $600 Vodafone roaming bill any time.

Expensive is relative to the value the user put into the service offered.


Yes, business people aren't worried about a dollar here and there, or even $20 there and here.   But they don't like to throw it away.   They want performance, security, speed, convenience and the rest.   But a LOT of people are NOT business people and the big mistake most businesses make is to try to head for the high-end market where the money is.   Not all the merchants can fit in to the high end [there are only so many big spenders to go around] and the mass of regular humans provides the bulk of economic activity.  Keeping regular humans on side is vital to most businesses such as Wi-Fi service.     

Zenbu can offer service so cheaply that regular humans will sign up for it.   I have paid my share of US$20 daily Wi-Fi charges overseas and while I could afford it, I don't like paying more money than it should be.   Taking people hostage because there's no other option is fine for a while, until there's another choice, then they remember the unfriendly expensive service they got, and change supplier.   

$600 roaming bill for Vodafone?   You are obviously an excellent customer.   You can use  a Vodafone 3G device, hook it up to a Zenbu router and have Wi-Fi available.    It works well.   You could sell service to passersby.   You could do that overseas too [with Vodafone roaming].   I was in Melbourne and had plugged a Zenbu router into the hotel's ADSL while I was there so I could use my notebook computer.  Somebody found the service and bought some megabytes. 

Zenbu subscribers [regular humans] visiting from overseas, comparing Telecom at $8 an hour with Zenbu at 10c a megabyte and will  have an easy choice.  They can use Skype to make calls to friends and family around the world.   Wi-Fi services which are unmanaged will run slowly and provide unpleasant voice calls [due to somebody watching videos, listening to music or running BitTorrent].   Quality matters to people without money too.   

Mqurice




Maurice Winn
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  Reply # 73872 7-Jun-2007 18:25 Send private message

I can't see how you can control quality on your network when it's being built by selling cheap wireless routers to anyone and getting them to plug them into and share any internet connection?





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  Reply # 73876 7-Jun-2007 18:31 Send private message

Also time is also a more tangible way to bill wifi usage compared with data used, for most people it's far easier to comprehend, imagine if cabs charged based on gas used or vodafone charged on distance between two cell phones.

You may view the service from a business standpoint purely on data transferred but most customers will only know how long they've been online.







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  Reply # 73892 7-Jun-2007 20:44 Send private message

I suppose when I say "quality" it leaves a big question on what that means.   Coverage with Wi-Fi is always going to be poor quality compared with wide area networks from high-powered cellular base stations.  But data rates are normally a lot higher.   I meant quality of service compared with systems which get over-loaded as free systems do when controlled by time, not megabytes: 
mike: I can't see how you can control quality on your network when it's being built by selling cheap wireless routers to anyone and getting them to plug them into and share any internet connection?


There is also the problem of ADSL quality at a particular location which can range from awful to typical low speed New Zealand "broadband".    So yes, quality in terms of speed is going to be variable.  But not as variable as "free" services. 

Most people know that with Wi-Fi you have to be close to the router and if you get too far away, data rates drop off and soon fall to nothing.    Each Zenbu zone operator runs their own system so quality of coverage varies a lot.   For example, Chloe's Motel wanted robust coverage, so they put in two Zenbu routers and a $3000 system and give the service away to guests.    Matai Lodge wanted a cheap service which they could sell to their guests, who sit around the living areas, close to the router though most of the rooms have coverage.   Sunbeam Lodge got a single router and gives the service away to guests.   Aquarius Motor Inn wants high gain antennae but is seeing if the standard antennae are in fact good enough - they are selling the service, not giving it away.   The router they were using was not able to cover their rooms adequately.   The Zenbu [Linksys WRT 54GL] router does a good job.  

Mqurice






Maurice Winn
Shareholder,  Zenbu Networks Ltd



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  Reply # 73893 7-Jun-2007 20:57 Send private message

Zenbu customers can see their data credit on-line constantly.   In the mid 1990s, data was charged by the megabyte, but then pricing went increasingly to flat rate, eat all you like, controlled by time, and by quantity if people ate too much.   It's now easy enough to measure and show quantity:  
mike: Also time is also a more tangible way to bill wifi usage compared with data used, for most people it's far easier to comprehend, imagine if cabs charged based on gas used or vodafone charged on distance between two cell phones.

You may view the service from a business standpoint purely on data transferred but most customers will only know how long they've been online.


It wouldn't be reasonable to charge a taxi by the fuel used as that's but a tiny part of the total cost.   But airlines do have "fuel surcharges" because fuel is a significant part of the cost.   Charging needs to reflect what customers actually want to buy and in cyberspace, they are wanting data, not time.    If they are at a cybercafe, there also has to be a time component because they take up space and equipment and it wouldn't make sense to have them paying by the data they use if they are taking hours to hunt and peck a few emails.  

People will know how much data they've used. 

The distance between cellphones doesn't have much to do with the cost of providing cellphone service.   What matters more is instantaneous demand.  

Since voice is a fairly standard amount of data per minute, it makes more sense to charge per minute for voice than by megabytes.   the price per minute should be varied according to demand.   Motorola in 1993 patented variable price per minute, showing on the handset, for the Iridium system.   Variable pricing enables maximum useage, lowest prices, maximum profits and maximum customer satisfaction [never getting a busy signal, with lowest overall prices].   Ideally, Zenbu should charge variable pricing per megabyte depending on demand at particular places and times, but that's in the too-hard basket.   Denial of service is not a good way to manage demand and supply.  Price is the best way. 

As you say, some people will want time measurement, rather than quantity of data.   It's not possible to keep everyone happy.  

Mqurice




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  Reply # 73896 7-Jun-2007 21:33 Send private message

MauriceWinn:
As you say, some people will want time measurement, rather than quantity of data.   It's not possible to keep everyone happy.  

Mqurice


Why not offer both? IMHO you're possibly not maximising your revenue potential by only offering the single pricing model you have adopted.



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  Reply # 73925 8-Jun-2007 02:54 Send private message

sbiddle: Why not offer both? IMHO you're possibly not maximising your revenue potential by only offering the single pricing model you have adopted.


Since ADSL is so limited, it seems unfair to charge by time.  A customer sitting there with the clock ticking, not getting data, while somebody else is filling the pipe with BitTorrent, would not be a happy camper.  

We prefer not to tell people "Your mileage may vary".   If they only pay for what they get, then at least they won't feel ripped off.   It's reasonable to say "We might not be able to deliver, but if we can, this is what you'll pay for what we do actually deliver".   

I'd like to see a bandwidth charge too = as a router gets busier, the price would go up, with subscribers effectively setting the price with their bids.    Denial of service is really annoying.   It's better to have access always available even if it is $10 a megabyte [not that it would get that high] if one wants to send an urgent message or get some vital information.   Having one person desperate to use cyberspace while another is mindlessly streaming some video isn't the way to maximize value to subscribers or revenue to Zenbu.  Price is the arbiter of such competing interests.   

I'd like to see low prices when a router isn't busy and higher prices when it is.   But that's in the too-hard basket for now.   There are so few people wanting to use Wi-Fi at present that routers are not often over-loaded.   For now, a simple 10c a megabyte [or less if the zone operator wants to charge less] seems a reasonable price and is a lot less than competitors.  

Mqurice




Maurice Winn
Shareholder,  Zenbu Networks Ltd

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