If you follow me on столовеTwitter, you know that I do have opinions. When appropriate I’ll post long-form rants on LAist. My latest is about how pathetic it is that I can’t make a wireless voice call from my house no matter what the carrier is. And it’s been that way since I moved here four years ago!
Oh yeah, the data coverage is fine. I’ve been spoiled by AT&T’s 3g data coverage since 2006 and never turned back. Did it bother me to only have nine keys and #0* on my LG CU500 and a small screen? No. It was 3g. Did I at least use T9 predictive text or would I actually make 10 entries on the keypad just to spell “s-h-i-t?” Hell no, I became the fastest texter in town. Why? Because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t hear more than scratchy sounds and broken words coming from the other end of the handset. Didn’t matter where or how I stood in the house or on the block. I was in a black hole. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile. You can’t NOT lose. It’s 2010, and I still find myself going to the mall just so I can have a coherent phone conversation with Mom.
The upgrades from 9000 aren’t HUGE, however, more memory for apps (and I use quite a few — driving my 9000 over the edge) as well as the big kicker — trackpad replacing the trackball — just may be enough. I’m on my 3rd Bold in a year (2 replacements due to failed trackball). Might have to get on the horn with AT&T Premier business and see what we can do!
I was surprised to jump to Amazon.com just now and find the Ooma box as the top featured item. I’ve been using Ooma as my “land” line for about a year-and-a-half as a Beta tester and have been awaiting reports of improved sales of the VOIP boxes since they recently started promoting it for about half of the original $399 sticker price. I found it a bit ironic that it was featured alongside Amazon’s Kindle — which is so overhyped on the site and perpetually claimed to be “out of stock” ala recent Nintendo Wii marketing ploys.
When I first learned of Ooma, the idea of having a box at home through which to make phone calls (for free) and having access to messages online and via e-mail was intriguing. I do not have a personal land line and was tired of paying for Skype. I was using GrandCentral but wanted an alternative since cell reception at my house is so spotty. I was lucky to meet Andrew Frame, founder of Ooma, for a tour of Ooma’s HQ in Palo Alto in the summer of 2007, when I was an intern at the San Jose Mercury News (video below).
When I returned to Los Angeles, I signed up as a beta tester and was impressed with the quality, and loved having a phone number that I could remember (909-0090 nearly trumped the AT&T land line number I had when I first moved to LA — 669-9969). I’d recommend it to anyone who uses VOiP and incurs charges above and beyond ooma’s one-time-only charge for their Core system — now $219.90 at Amazon. If it means anything to you, Ooma still has the endorsement of the almighty Michael Arrington as well.
So is Ooma about to take off into the mainstream?
Or is it nearing its last gasp?
SpeedMatters.org recently concluded a survey exemplifying the embarrassing brick wall (likely agreed upon by telco and cable monopolists and duopolists) keeping out broadband Internet speeds at low levels relative to the rest of the world. At 2.3Mbps average download speeds, last mile connectivity has only inched up in the past year, according to the report (PDF), and it would be decades before we experienced the speeds and functionality experienced by internet users in Japan, who connect at over 60Mbps.
Evident in the unscientific studies is the sharp increase in business districts in which connectivity is often an expensive T1 connection, as opposed to publicly available high speed broadband (which here in LA, is mainly limited to AT&T and Comcast, although competitors such as Speakeasy are able to offer better service at slightly higher rates). California ranks 25th in SpeedMatters’ survey of median download speeds. how does your state rank?
I’ve documented the U.S.’s position on broadband ubiquity and connectivity many times, as well as it’s position in relation to other OECD countries throughout here and here. I first profiled SpeedMatters.org (a project of the Communications Workers of America union) here and encourage everyone to participate in their call to action: